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Things to do in Cape Town

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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Regarded as one of the great botanic gardens of the world, Kirstenbosch – or rather, the land on which it sits — was bequeathed to the government by Cecil John Rhodes. Situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, a mere 13km from the city centre, Kirstenbosch includes a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, a garden that features 2500 species of plants found on the Cape Peninsula, a Protea garden (best seen in spring!), a braille trail, and a cycad amphitheatre. There is also a glasshouse – the Botanical Society Conservatory – which houses plants from the continent’s more arid regions. If you have little ones, you simply must take them to see the cycad amphitheatre. Dotted among the cycads are life-sized anatomically correct sculptures of dinosaurs and a pterosaur! Kirstenbosch also features a sculpture garden, where you’ll find an ever-changing exhibition of African stone sculptures, and bronze animal sculptures by Dylan Lewis. Your kids will also enjoy a walk along the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – affectionately known as the Boomslang. This 130-metre steel-and-timber bridge snakes its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum, providing stunning views of the Garden and the Cape Flats.
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Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley – picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300-year history. Passengers aboard the hop-on hop-off tour will experience a unique and leisurely introduction to the Franschhoek Valley as they journey through rolling vineyards in an open-side tram and open-air tram-bus stopping at some of South Africa’s oldest and most distinguished wine estates
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Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is a public not-for-profit contemporary art museum that collects, preserves, researches and exhibits 21st-century art from Africa and its diaspora; hosts international exhibitions; develops supporting educational and enrichment programmes; encourages intercultural understanding, and guarantees access for all. The galleries, spread over several floors, are dedicated to a large cutting-edge collection gallery; exhibition galleries; and Centres for Art Education, Curatorial Training, Performative Practice, Photography, and the Moving Image.
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Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront, which attracts roughly 24 million visitors each year, is South Africa’s most-visited destination. This is hardly surprising when you think about how much it has to offer! While it is still technically a working harbour – you’ll no doubt catch a glimpse of fishing boats and container ships – the V&A Waterfront is more frequently thought of as a shopping destination. Covering 123 hectares (think: 180 rugby fields), the V&A Waterfront is divided up into five shopping districts: Victoria Wharf, the Watershed, The Alfred Mall and Pierhead, The Clock Tower, and Breakwater Point. With more than 450 stores, you’ll find everything from local designers to big international brands. For crafts and local talent, make sure you pop into the Watershed, and, if it’s art or jewellery you’re after, head over to The Alfred Mall and Pierhead. All that shopping is likely to work up an appetite, and the myriad restaurants, coffee shops and fast-food outlets will keep you fuelled. Of course, some of the restaurants and bars are reason enough to visit the V&A Waterfront.
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Crystal Pools Hike
Jump into a pool of refreshing mountain water and escape the city just an hour outside of Cape Town when you hike to Crystal Pools near Gordon’s Bay. By “refreshing”, of course, we mean quite cold—in true Cape Town fashion. But after 45 minutes to an hour of hiking at the Steenbras Nature Reserve, it comes as sweet relief from the heat. The first pool is about 45 minutes from the start of the trail and you can stop here for a snack or break in the shade. For some serious swimming and kloofing opportunities, it’s best to hold out for the second pool, which is another ten to fifteen minutes up. There is also a waterfall, which you can stand below and enjoy an open-air cold shower. It’s only a 2km hike, but your legs will beg to differ. It starts out fairly easy but the climb gets tough. If you’re up for the challenge you can keep going after the second pool to the third pool that offers more swimming opportunities and an excellent view of the area.
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Penguins at Boulders Beach
The beautiful Boulders Beach is one of Cape Town’s most visited beaches and the only place in the world where you get close to African Penguins. Cape Town definitely has no shortage of amazing beaches, but Boulders Beach in False Bay offers something extra special – a colony of African Penguins in all their smartly dresses, waddling glory, right under your nose. In fact, it’s the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins. In 1982 a couple of these little crowd-pleasers settled on the soft white sand between the large granite boulders that protect the beach from wind and large, stormy waves, and currently the population is estimated between 2,000 and 3,000 birds. Sadly the African Penguin has been classified as an endangered species, due to things like overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, and irresponsible tourism activities, and the Boulders Beach colony has also felt the effect, with numbers dwindling over the last couple of years. Boulders Beach isn’t just a great place for penguins, it’s also a popular family-friendly swimming beach where kids can climb over the boulders, explore the rock pools, or swim in the cool, clear False Bay water. It’s also a great place for a leisurely picnic. Due to the R65 conservation fee, the beach is rarely packed.
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Company's Garden
The Company’s Garden is Cape Town’s green lung. This oasis right in the centre of the city is a favourite for both locals and tourists. The site is important historically, and is a thriving urban space where buskers strum guitars while office workers sun themselves over lunch hour. There is plenty to do, but here are our top six things to… The Company’s Garden was first built as a refreshment station for the trade route that rounded the tip of Africa between Europe and the east. Ships sent by the Dutch East India Company would stop by after months at sea and stock up on fresh produce grown in the garden—hence, “The Company’s Garden”. There is so much to explore in terms of history inside the garden. Near the Adderley Street entrance a statue of Queen Victoria stands overlooking the Slave Lodge, while a statue of Jan Smuts looks on. Just over the road is the St George’s Cathedral, known as the “people’s church”—even during the apartheid era, all races were welcomed. It was also the starting point for the 30,000-strong demonstration led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 1989—and where Tutu coined the phrase ‘rainbow people’ to describe the diversity of South Africa’s population.
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Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
The best views of Cape Town are from the Table Mountain Cableway, a unique and 87-year- old method of seeing the wonders of the city. Travel up to the summit of the majestic flat-topped mountain and be astounded by vistas of the Mother City, Robben Island and the Peninsula.
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Robben Island Museum
Robben Island is famous, or rather infamous, as the holding place for the imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Mandela served 18 of his 27 years in prison incarcerated on the island’s prison, but Robben Island has also housed a hospital, mental institution, leper colony and military base during its rich history.
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The Labia Theatre
The Labia Theatre is one of Cape Town’s favourite lesser-known attractions. The locals, of course, know it very well. It’s one of Cape Town’s favourite things to do, especially on nights when there’s a dinner special running.