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City Guide: Cape Town
Cape Town, located on the Atlantic coast of South Africa, is the third most important city in the country following Johannesburg and Durban. Bartolomeu Dias, a European explorer from Portugal, was the first person to arrive in the city, the farthest point to Europe, in 1488. The city was a British colony after that for a long time.
Cape Town is named after the world-renowned Cape of Good Hope that the city hosts. When Dias first discovered the Cape, it was called “the Cape of Storms.” Dias was given the mission to discover a new water route leading to the east by the Portuguese King Joao II. When Dias informed Joao about the discovery, the king renamed the cape as the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Town is also known as the “Mother City.” A reason for that is the fact that the city is the first place of colonial settlement in South Africa. Today, Cape Town is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Africa due to its beautiful nature, nice climate, and well-developed infrastructure. Cape Town is one of the cities that will host the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Tourist AttractionsThe Cape of Good Hope: The Cape of Good Hope is perhaps the most well-known place in Africa. Located at the intersection of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, the cape was declared as a protected area due to the fact that it harbours various endemic plants and animals. You will come across baboons most often. However it is forbidden to feed them.
Castle of Good Hope: Jan van Riebeeck, a Dutch merchant who arrived in the island in 1652 together with 72 men and 8 women, started the construction of the castle using dirt and wool. The construction of the castle with stones brought from the Netherlands began in 1666, eventually lasting 30 years until its completion. The castle was built as a means of defense from external threats. It is known as the oldest building in not only Cape Town but in South Africa as well. Presently, it serves as the military base of the Cape Region and includes the museum which hosts the William Fejr Collection.
Camps Bay: This gulf shore, with its white sand beaches, is very popular. The night life of the region, which has many restaurants and cafes on the shoreline, is very alive.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: The former busy harbour of the city, today serves tourists.It offers countless options that promise a good time with two large aquariums, a maritime museum, boat cruises departing from the harbour, and more than 50 restaurants.
Green Market Square: The square located in downtown hosts African handcrafts and exhibitions of young African designers. The festival atmosphere of the square is maintained by the performances of street dancers to drum beats.
Long Street: The meeting point of tourists with backpacks and young people. Long Street is very energetic with its night clubs playing alternative rock and also its cafes.
District 6: This neighborhood was formed as a reminder of the forced removal of locals by the whites who wanted to build themselves a residential area. Trips are organized to District 6 daily.
Table Mountain: Anybody sitting in a park with a little bit of space before it will see this mountain. The table-like top of the mountain offers a marvellous view to people who reach the top by cable-cars or after a long trekking trip. The locals of Cape Town illustrate the table-like nature of the top of the mountain, by the tale that a giant eats when the top is covered in clouds.
Signal Hill: While it was used as an observation post in the old times, today Signal Hill serves the young population of the city during sunset. It is especially mesmerizing with its 360 degree view of the city. There are also picnic areas in Signal Hill.
Kirstebosch Gardens: Classical music and jazz concerts are organized in this botanical garden harbouring various plants unique to South Africa.
Kalk Bay: This small coastal region is for antique-hunters. In the small but nevertheless crowded coastline, there are small restaurants and bars.
Simon’s Town: This historical town located in the south part of the city, is a fishermen’s town that has buildings dating back to the colonial era. You can see penguins on the beaches alongside the road.
Bo-Kaap: Bo-Kaap is the Malay region that nearly every tourist takes photographs of due to its picturesque view.
Robben Island: The island 12 kilometers beyond the city serves as the Robben Island Museum in which Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years. It is also a must-see with the richness of its natural life.
Beaches: For many tourists the beaches of Cape Town are at the top of the list of places to visit. The city has several Atlantic Ocean beaches and you can swim in many different parts of the ocean during the day. While the waters of the beaches of False Bay are fairly warm, you can find very nice restaurants near the beaches in the Clifton Area.
Culture & EntertainmentThe biggest festival of the city, Minstrel, that starts with the new year and continues for the month of January and in which street walks accompanied by dancing and music take place is the number one culture and entertainment activity. The Cape Town Jazz Festival starts at the end of March.
Cape Town’s Istiklal Street, the bohemian Long Street in which there are theaters and cafes, is the center of the culture and entertainment life. You can not only gain insight on the history of the country by visiting museums such as Bo-Kaap, District Six, and the South African Maritime Museum, but also watch performances of modern art in performance halls such as Artscape, Armchair, and Baxter.
The favorite sport of the city is cricket due to the city having been a British colony for a long time. Other sports common in the British culture such as rugby or football are also important parts of Cape Town’s culture.
Food & DrinkAlmost every dish of the Cape Town Cuisine is considered a luxury. You must try seafood, because fishing is a lifestyle in Cape Town. The city is also one of the most important fruit production centers of the region. Be sure to taste local fruits. In Cape Town, one of the centers of New World Winery, many dining and wine tours are organized.
Every example of the Cape Town Cuisine can be found in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area. The Long Street area for dining is an alternative as the restaurants in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront area are a bit expensive.
As the city is very touristic, it is possible to see traces of cuisines all around the world in the local cuisine. The local cuisine, mainly under Malaysian and Indian influences, can be tried in certain restaurants. Be sure to try Bukharai from the Indian dishes and Cape Malay from the Thai cuisine.
ShoppingYou have a lot of options for shopping. Before all else, let us remind you that the most important gold mines in the world are in South Africa. Therefore be sure to set aside some time and money for jewellery. You can find various original designs shaped by the local African culture.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is the most important center of touristic souvenir shops and various boutiques. You may find merchandise with bargain prices in the bazaar that is set near the Green Point Stadium. In similar bazaars in many locations, you can purchase statues, carvings out of wood, handcrafted leather, and handcrafted glass out of the hands of craftsmen.
Century City, an area consisting of a theme park, shopping mall, business quarters, and residential premises, and Canal Walk, the largest shopping mall in Africa that has an area of 125.000 square meters are among places that you must stop by.
In Skylife Cape Town
The Mother City Cape Town
The Mother City Cape TownIn fact the only problem with Cape Town is finding time to fit in its many attractions and activities. A good place to start is the spot where the city itself essentially started. The Castle of Good Hope is the country’s oldest building, constructed in 1666 as the HQ of the Dutch refreshment station, where sailors stopped to replenish supplies as they made for the Indian spice route. Today, its low walls house historical exhibits and an excellent military museum that offers insight into the skirmishes that shaped South African history. A 20-minute walk from the Castle is the Company’s Garden, a superb city park that was once the very heart of the refreshment station – the site of the Dutch East India Company’s vegetable patch. En route to the garden, we stopped at some of the city’s superlative history museums and finished our stroll on Long Street, one of the most bustling in the city with its cool cafes, African eateries and stylish restaurants.
Cape Town’s weather is notoriously fickle and at any time the layer of thick cloud, known locally as the ‘tablecloth’ could settle on Table Mountain’s flat summit creating fine photos from below but obscuring the view if you’ve ventured atop its 1086 m peak. A trip up this mother of all city mountains is an absolute essential, so we planned to reach the top early in our trip lest the weather ruin our plans. Some hike, some climb, some even bike to the summit but most opt for the revolving cable car to the top. From the upper cable station it’s easy to appreciate why Cape Town constantly tops ‘prettiest city’ and ‘best destination’ lists. To the north, the urban sprawl of the city harbours top shopping spots, a myriad museums and eateries serving everything from home-grown Cape Malay dishes to Ethiopian specials and fine dim sum. To the west sit beaches worthy of any postcard while further south a wilder time awaits in the Cape Peninsula, where encounters with ostrich, penguins and baboons remind you that despite the often overwhelmingly European feel of the Mother City, this is Africa – at its very finest.
South Africa have attracted intensive migration over the centuries from India and the countries of the Far East. And a significant proportion of the immigrants were Muslims. In the 19th century the South African Muslims therefore formed a delegation asking the Ottoman Empire, then-leader of the world Muslim community, to send a religious scholar to teach them the precepts of Islam and resolve the existing conflicts. Upon the English Queen Victoria’s request to Sultan Abdulmejid, Ebu Bekir Efendi and his pupil, Ömer Lütfi Bey, arrived in Cape Town in 1863 and began teaching and enlightening the Muslim population. Built by Sultan Abdulhamid II in 1884, the Nur el-Hamidiye Mosque and several smaller mosques bearing the Ottoman star and crescent survive to this day as a reminder of the Ottoman presence in the country.
Whether we were sipping Rooibos tea at the historic Mount Nelson Hotel or experiencing another side of Cape Town in the Cape Flats, the sprawling suburbs east of the city, Table Mountain was watching over us. At times it even seems almost close enough to touch, highlighted so well against the vivid blue sky that you feel you could reach out and snap a chunk from its craggy outline. And few would argue that one of the finer spots to admire the mountain is the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Here we sampled South African cuisine as a male voice choir performed nearby, watched sea lions bathing in the sun and watched the boats come and go, all to the ever-attractive backdrop of the mountain.
It seems only right that a Cape Town tour should end at the place where once the world seemed to end – at the Cape of Good Hope. Once the scourge of sailors’ lives and home to the legend of the ghostly Flying Dutchman ship, the choppy waters around the Cape are now a major draw card for visitors. Those seeking the southernmost tip of Africa will be disappointed – that is to be found 250km east at Cape Agulhas – but at the Cape of Good Hope you can at least claim to have visited the continent’s south western corner and take a photo with the sign to prove it.
Architecture enthusiasts will be in heaven in Cape Town. From the most basic homes in the informal settlements of the Cape Flats to the elaborate Edwardian façade of City Hall, there’s a style to suit even the most demanding building buff. Shopping for souvenirs is one of the delights of Cape Town, with crafts ranging from wire sculptures and beaded jewelry to vivid paintings and intricate wooden carvings.
Sitting some 12km off the Cape Town coast, Robben Island boasts a career that is both lengthy and varied. Today it has found its true calling as a fascinating museum, with half day tours leaving by boat from the V&A Waterfront. Street performers abound at the V&A Waterfront, with visitors especially keen to see the traditional male voice choirs who spice up their melodies with well-rehearsed dance moves.
The Garden Route is a popular tourist trail along the southern coast, some five hours east of Cape Town. The route covers a verdant stretch of forest, beach and mountain known for its outdoor activities, adrenaline sports and stunning panoramas.
The Cape Peninsula is a dream to drive, from the vertiginous pass alongside Chapman’s Peak to the sweeping views of the 12 Apostles route or the expansive vistas across flatter ground in the National Park where Fynbos plants, unique to the Cape, line the traffic-free roads.
A thousands-strong colony of African Penguins provides a family-friendly attraction in Simon’s Town, south of the city. View the diminutive birds from afar at Foxy Beach or take the chance to paddle with them in the chilly waters at nearby Boulders Beach.
Thanks to the range of cultures, traditional cuisine is deliciously diverse, from simple Afrikaner fare like biltong to the spices of Cape Malay cuisine – the city’s home-grown culinary offering. The most South African of all meals though is the braai (the local word for barbeque).
Brightly-coloured paintings, intricately carved ostrich eggs, beaded jewelry and wooden animal ornaments are available in city souvenir shops and markets. For better prices, head to the latter and don’t be afraid to haggle!
Undoubtedly the most photographed homes in the city are the brightly painted houses of the Bo Kaap, a district largely home to the city’s Cape Malay population.
Whether you go alone or join a guided tour of Cape Point, make sure you take in the main sights – the Cape of Good Hope sign and the lighthouse. Those with more time can picnic on secluded beaches – just make sure you keep an eye out for hungry baboons!
Robben Island’s most famous resident was Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 of his 27 years behind bars in the island prison. Today his cell is something of a pilgrimage site for visitors following the ‘Madiba Trail’ – a series of sites around the country that played an important role in Mandela’s life.
Turkish Airlines has Istanbul-Cape Town-Istanbul flights daily. Departure times are 11:45 p.m. from Istanbul and 5:10 p.m. from Cape Town.
Must do’s in Cape Town
Be sure to prolong the pleasure of the first light of day and the spectacular Table Mountain landscape by having breakfast overlooking the sea on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. Have a picnic at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in its foothills. Visit the excellent city beaches on Camps Bay and Clifton’s coves, and discover the wild life of the Cape Peninsula.
Two hours east of Cape Town you’ll find Hermanus, the country’s whale watching HQ. Their position noted by the iconic ‘whale crier’ whose Morse code-like signals let visitors know where to find the animals.
Greenmarket Square is a top place to shop in Cape Town, with a range of arts and crafts on sale at reasonable prices. If you’re not a fan of shopping, soak up the atmosphere in one of the nearby pavement cafes.
One of the city’s major coasts, there are actually four beaches at Clifton Beach. Some 2 million people keen to usher in the New Year on a sunny shore gather here to celebrate every year.
Public transport in the city is improving and the city center is compact enough for strolling between attractions, but the best way to explore is to hire a car.
One of Cape Town’s most popular local festivals, Kaapse Klopse will take place on January 2. A costume show in colorful local garb is part of the festival, which aims to celebrate the new year all over again. Not only that but the traditional Two Oceans Marathon will be run on April 7 on the slogan, “the world’s most beautiful marathon”.
Mzoli Ngcawuzele Manager
“Cape Town is more than a city – it’s a destination. There is so much to see and do, whether you’re looking for a beautiful landscape or a cultural experience. We have mountains, islands, beautiful beaches and of course lots of excellent places to eat. I really think people should experience the townships as well as the city.”
Ticket Sales Offices: Cape Town
|THY Airport Office - Cape Town|
|Address||CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, INTERNATIONAL ARRIVAL, FIRST FLOOR P.O BOX : 104 POST CODE: 7525|
0027-(0) 21 936 34 40
(South Africa) 0861 88 75 47
|Fax||0027-(0) 021 936 34 44|
Winter :09:30 / 17:30 Summer: 09:00 / 17:00 - Everyday
|Address||Menzies Aviation – GHA CPT Unit 6 Cargo Center Freight Road Cape Town Int. Airport|
Cape Town: Airport Map Information
Cape Town Intl. Airport
Address : Private Bag X9002 Cape Town International Airport 7525 Phone : +27 (021) 937 1200
Cape Town: Airport Map Information
Cape Town Info
- Wed 22°C
- Thu 16°C
- Fri 16°C
|Monetary Unit||:||South Africa Rand|
|Phone Code||:||+27 21|
|Language||:||Afrikaans, Xhosa and English|