The omnipresent fog over Table Mountain, surfers riding the waves and carpets of rolling vineyards: this is quintessential Cape Town. Blessed with one of the most distinct and diverse landscapes in Africa and pleasant weather year-round, Cape Town offers an exciting combination of great outdoor activities and relaxed, yet cosmopolitan city life, with art and craft galleries, fine restaurants and bars.
Exploring Cape Town’s diverse neighbourhoods is a great way to discover the city. Wander the lively cobbled streets of Bo-Kaap – the historic Muslim quarter with brightly coloured houses and mosques that is home to descendents of slaves brought over from Indonesia, India and Turkey by the Dutch in the16th and 17th century. The neighbourhood is a stark contrast to the glitzy nearby beach towns of Camps Bay and Clifton. You can also take a tour of the infamous Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for two decades.
Situated on a peninsula between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, Cape Town has mild winters, warm summers and moderate rainfall throughout the year.Winter temperatures range from seven to 12 degrees Celsius. Spring is unpredictable, with pleasant, sunny days often interrupted by the “Cape Doctor”, a southeast wind, with gusts up to 120kph. In summer, temperatures can reach the 40s (though the Cape Doctor keeps it bearable). March to April and early May have the best weather and gentle winds.
With its mild climate, Cape Town is popular year-round, but you can find cheap flights to Cape Town by planning ahead. The peak travel season is from November to end of January and it is particularly crowded during school holidays, especially the local summer holiday period from December 1 to January 15. Easter, July and August are also busy.
From February to March and in October, the weather is pleasant, there are fewer crowds are and you can find cheap flights to Cape Town and good hotel deals. The best deals can be found in winter, which still enjoys glorious days among the gloomy ones.
Cape Town sprawls across a large area, but you can always use Table Mountain to get your bearings. Central Cape Town is small and easily explored on foot.
Public transport is patchy but can get you around the city during the day. Many visitors use the commuter trains, particularly the line to Simon’s Town. City buses services stop in the early evening. Avoid public transport after dark.
Rikkis — open rickshaws — are a cheap way to explore the City Bowl area. Reasonably-priced minibus taxis operate mostly along bus routes. You can also hail a minibus taxi, but make sure you ask the driver where it is headed as they are unregulated and may not be safest option.
You can call for regular taxis, which are metered and expensive, but worth considering late at night.
If you are renting a car, be aware driving can be unpredictable and confusing, especially since the same road can change names several times. Get a GPS and remember Table Mountain is a handy landmark.