Cape Town is one of the world’s great cities. This dynamic South African city offers cosmopolitan charm, wonderful cuisine, friendly people and stunning vistas in every direction. It’s an excellent choice for couples, with many romantic options. Here are four unique choices:
Overlooking the whole of Cape Town, this iconic, flat-topped mountain adds to the drama of the landscape here. A quick drive from the center city will get you to the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, where cable cars carry 65 guests at a time to the summit, located at 3,500 feet.
A series of trails across the mountain top lead you to one view after another. The views of the city are nothing short of spectacular—and you can see the blue Atlantic Ocean in the distance, as well as Robben Island on clear days.
In the other direction, you’ll have a great side view of the Twelve Apostles, a series of peaks that extends to the southwest. Fog often dots the intricate valleys, and it will occasionally spill over Table Mountain toward the city, an effect that locals refer to as the tablecloth. You can spend a half hour at the top, take in the views, and head back down—or spend an hour or two hiking the easy trails, taking in views at every turn.
Boats regularly depart from the city’s V&A Waterfront to Robben Island, located a few miles offshore. The island is famous for its prison compound, which held Nelson Mandela for 18 of his 27 years in prison. The whole tour, including boat rides, takes about 3.5 hours.
Once on the island, you’ll ride buses around the island, as part of the guided tour, seeing landmarks such as the leper graveyard, quarry and even a boardwalk where African penguins frequently congregate. After that, a former political prisoner leads groups on a walking tour of the prison.
While the island is rife with history, the government-owned tour needs to rethink and revamp this tour. Precious little history or context was given to Mandela himself, and visitors unfamiliar with his story and importance might leave totally mystified about his significance here. They’d do well to study Alcatraz’s well-liked audio self-guided tours, which could work very well at Robben Island.
Juma’s Art Tours offer a wide variety of tours focusing on art and the local townships. We tried his Woodstock Art, Cultural, & History Experience, and it was a delight. Juma and his assistant Anastasia took us through this slowly gentrifying neighborhood, where murals are being encouraged on blank walls, businesses and homes.
There’s even an artist in residence program, and they’ve had artists from Japan, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, the U.K., Israel, France and even Johannesburg. Juma, who started these tours in 2012, has a natural gift for connecting with people, and nearly everyone we passed on the street knew him—and warmly greeted him.
He explained what each artist had in mind for the different murals, and shared details about them, as well as the history about how different paintings ended up on different buildings, and how the owner was convinced.
Cape Town’s fascinating and eclectic waterfront area, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, is home to hotels, restaurants, shops, entertainment and remnants of its shipbuilding and industrial past.
The whole area is well planned, and busy with pedestrians most any time of the day or night. The view back to the city, with Table Mountain towering over it, is a thing of beauty, and the harbor lights shimmering in the evening are a perfect backdrop for a casual dinner or drinks.
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