A few years ago, I returned to Cape Town from an epic three-month tour of the United States. From the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge and Washington D.C.’s collection of monumental treasures to the Seattle Space Needle and California’s “Big Sur” – is widely regarded as one of the most scenic drives in the world – I witnessed and explored some of the continent’s most iconic views, monuments, cuisines, and attractions.
These big American cities were, to a Capetonian, beyond comprehension in size and vertical scale; yet, as much as I was compelled to walk around with my jaw perpetually unhinged, I still find Cape Town to be the most beautiful city I have ever been to. It was this revelation that occurred to me as Table Mountain came into view on my homeward bound flight. Why dream of travelling elsewhere when Cape Town is one of the most amazing cities in the world?
Here’s how you can rip off your jade shades and become a tourist in your own backyard this summer…
Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour
One of the best ways to explore a city’s best sights and attractions without having to negotiate public transport or traffic is a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. For a single fee, you can spend the entire day relaxing on the top of an open bus, listening to the commentary, enjoying the fantastic scenery, and learning about Cape Town’s history and heritage. A Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour shows you the city from a fresh perspective and totally eliminates the stress and hassle of driving. City Sight Seeing South Africa offers a variety of bus tours, from single attraction trips to full-day tours.
Check out the website for more details: City Sight Seeing South Africa.
Free Walking Tours
I have lived in Cape Town for most of my life and I had no idea that our city runs free, guided walking tours. Departing every day, twice a day, from Greenmarket Square in the heart of Cape Town, these walking tours expose visitors to our rich, yet troubled history and diverse culture, offering up titbits of advice on things to see, places to eat, and where to grab a beer or cocktail afterwards. The tours are completely free (you can tip the guides at the end) and are run by knowledgeable guides with big personalities. So, why not spend a Saturday or Sunday reacquainting yourself with our gorgeous city?
Check out the website for more details: Cape Town Free Walking Tours
Go on Safari
Tourists spend obscene amounts of money flying to South Africa to go on safari. All we have to do is pack up the car and our family and drive an hour or two to camp or spend the weekend in a chalet at one of our local game farms! On our doorstep, we have a variety of public and private wildlife and nature reserves, including Buffelsfontein, Helderberg, Fairy Glen, Aquila Safari, Sanbona Wildlife, and the Garden Route Game Lodge. There are countless more wildlife and nature reserves a few hours’ drive outside of Cape Town so your only limitation is finding the time and perhaps convincing your partner to spend the weekend in a tent.
Become a Culture Vulture for a Day
When last did you visit Iziko Museum? Have you ever been to the South African National Gallery? And what about the Planetarium? With our city’s national museum, art gallery, and planetarium located practically on top of each other in the historic Company Gardens, you can experience some of our city’s top attractions in just one day. Afterwards, take a stroll in the shady Company Gardens and buy some peanuts from a local vendor to feed the squirrels.
Try a New Restaurant, Bar, or Wine Estate Every Week
Cape Town has an incredible number and variety of eateries, bars, bistros, and wine farms catering to just about any budget. Rather than hitting up the same old tried-and-tested spots this summer, make it your goal to try a new restaurant, bar, or wine farm every week. Make it your goal to see, taste, and experience a different cuisine and a different side of Cape Town each time you go out; you’ll be truly amazed at the hidden gems a little adventurous spirit can unearth.
My world travels have shown me that while every city offers up a unique menu of delights, Cape Town’s dramatic peninsula and past, fertile countryside and culture, and rich heritage and history are without peer. So, if your plan this summer is to stay local, why not become a tourist in your own city and remind yourself just how lucky you are to call Cape Town home.