24 hours in Cape Town
Written by Graham Howe Illustration by Fernando Volken Togni
Laidback locals affectionately call it ‘the mother city’ – which says it all. Cape Town originated as a strategic calling post for the tall ships midway between west and east on the fabled spice route. The spectacular location of the city at the southernmost tip of Africa has lured settlers and travellers from around the world for centuries.
Set on the slopes of Table Mountain on a rugged coastal peninsula of iconic golden beaches and seaside resorts on the Atlantic riviera, Cape Town is renowned for the natural beauty of its landscape. Shaped by colonial Dutch, French, British, Malay, and indigenous African cultures, the fledgling settlement has grown into a ‘rainbow city’, which attracts visitors to a cultural melting-pot of art, music, cuisine, and people.
One of the trendiest tourist playgrounds on the planet, Cape Town offers visitors the best of the big outdoors from mountain to sand and sea in a metropolitan setting – along with vibrant urban attractions ranging from boutique malls at the biggest waterfront in the world to the vibrant downtown nightlife.
Cape Town, South Africa
By night, the easiest (and safest) way to get around within the downtown area is by tuk tuk or taxi.
As many attractions are within easy walking distance, it’s a rewarding way to explore downtown and the waterfront.
The big red double-decker bus with informative multilingual commentary is a great way to hop on and off at tourist destinations around the city and peninsula.
Ride metro rail along the False Bay coastline to quaint seaside stations along the water’s edge to the end of the line at naval Simon’s Town.
Cape Town is a small city with a big heart and oodles of charm. Expect an African welcome as radiant as the sunshine. Divided into historic quarters, the downtown is easily navigated between the old slave quarter of the Bo-Kaap, Cape Quarter, De Waterkant, the restaurant and club zones of Kloof and Long Street, the tourist hub of Greenmarket Square, beaches on the Atlantic seaboard, and museums in the gardens. It’s difficult to get lost in a city with a towering landmark like Table Mountain. Dress for four seasons in a day, from sunny blue skies to the dramatic tablecloth which rolls over Table Mountain bringing the seasonal southeasterly wind known as the Cape Doctor because it blows all your ills away.