The red city route includes the beaches of Camps Bay, whilst the longer blue peninsula route travels to Kirstenbosch Gardens and the fishing village of Hout Bay. Be sure to visit the Castle of Good Hope, the Houses of Parliament with their lovely gardens, and vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront with its many shops, restaurants, museum, aquarium and other attractions.
A visit to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, is also a highly recommended excursion on all Cape Town holidays (advance booking is essential in season, as the ferry is small). You will get postcard views of Table Mountain from the ferry and prison guides are all former inmates, willing to share their personal stories. It is insightful to combine this with a visit to the District Six Museum, dedicated to the forced removals of the apartheid era, and a tour of the Bo-Kaap (the old Malay slave quarters). Township tours are also offered, to showcase modern township life.
Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve
Another essential must-do on a holiday to Cape Town is a day tour to Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, a long peninsula extending into the Atlantic Ocean with dramatic views along Chapmans Peak. Here you may see baboons, ostrich and antelope. Along the way you can take a boat to Seal Island where great white sharks breach, and visit the resident penguin colony at Boulders Beach.
It’s a short drive from Cape Town to South Africa’s world-famous Winelands - the historic university town of Stellenbosch and the foodie capital of Franchhoek are less than an hour away. Paarl also has a wonderful wine route and the charming small towns of Wellington, Tulbach and Ceres are all waiting to be discovered, if you have a little extra time. A wine tasting day tour from Cape Town is the easiest way of visiting these vineyards and cellars, but you can easily spend a few nights here. Complete your Cape Town holiday with a worthwhile trip to the Cheetah Outreach project at Somerset West.
A little further afield is the small seaside town of Hermanus, which offers the best land-based whale watching in the world. From July to November the Southern right and Humpback whales come here to breed and give birth, wallowing right up to the cliffs. A whale-watching boat ride can give even closer views. Great white shark cage diving is offered in neighbouring Gansbaai, but be aware this is a thrilling adrenalin activity not for the faint-hearted! A little further along the coast you will find Cape Agulhas, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, De Hoop Nature Reserve and the fishing village of Arniston.
The West Coast
If you head up the rugged West Coast to Langebaan Lagoon, you can see small fishing villages and holiday towns. Visit Postberg Flower Reserve between mid-August and mid-September, where on a sunny day thousands of wildflowers emerge and carpet the ground in vivid colours, but the timing is dependent upon the rains.
If it’s beaches you want, stay at Milnerton, Blouberg or luxurious Camps Bay, with its relaxed café society. The waters of the Atlantic Ocean are cold here, so these are beaches for sunbathing and relaxation.