Cape Town, often referred to as "The Mother City," is a gorgeous place that’s definitely a requirement of any visit to South Africa. While there are plenty of things to do and see in the oldest city in South Africa, here’s a few things you’ll want to check off your list before you leave.
1. Visit the Winelands - More than just Stellenbosch
As a wine enthusiast, believe me, it was high on my priority list to take a stroll through the vineyards of Cape Town. You may or may not know, but South Africa is known for some of the best wine, arguably in the world. And along with that wine, comes fresh and amazing food that helps further the experience. Like most people who visit Cape Town Wine Country, I longed to visit Stellenbosch. While gorgeous, I also was guided to hidden gems in Franschhoek, and my advice, don’t miss it either on your stay!
Delaire Graff - While no time to do a proper tasting at this regal and esteemed vineyard, we did enjoy some of the finest cuisine they, and possibly all of South Africa had to offer. Fresh line fish, sautéed veggies, a bottle of sparkling wine and incredible views, make Delaire Graff a definite go-to on your wine tour.
Tokara - Incredible and official wine tastings, patient and knowledgeable staff, unique brandy tasting and olive oil for sale. Tokara felt like a place where old friends came to reconnect and new friends could be made on site. We sampled 2 white wine and 2 red wines, while there and each were uniquely distinct! I would have to say not only is the atmosphere warm and amazing, but I recommend you try the Sauvignon Blanc with notes of lemongrass or the Director’s Reserve 2011 Red when you visit.
Spier Wine Farm - Lovely patio and good wine. We opted to order bottles here and just enjoy while on the patio, letting the Manager choose her best options for us. The Weisser Riesling and Red blend are a must. So when you arrive, have the staff choose their favorites for you, be surprised, and relax!
2. Table Mountain at Sunset
No visit to Cape Town is complete without an experience at Table Mountain. As cliché as it sounds, you have to experience the breathtaking beauty from above at sunset. Table Mountain overlooks all of Cape Town and as someone who is deathly afraid of heights, landing on the other side was worth it. They were not lying when they said Table Mountain was one of the 7 wonders of the world, and you really need a couple of hours to take in all of its glory. It is an extraordinary place, and for me, being at that top of the mountain was almost spiritual. It was the most beautiful and serene place. A place to take a moment and clear your mind and reflect on all the beauty and goodness of the world. Note: reward yourself with a treat at the Café once you get to the top, and allow more time for you to breathe it in!
3. Greenmarket Square - Downtown Cape Town
Every time I visit a new city, if time permits, I like to do local shopping of some sort. My goal is to get a different type of cultural experience, to support local businesses & artists, while interacting with the natives. Greenmarket Square is a vibrant daily market in downtown Cape Town that did not disappoint. It is near Long Street, the famous area similar to Bourbon Street for food and nightlife. While in Greenmarket Square, I was able to bargain shop and pick up some beautiful clothing and bags from the local designers and seamstresses. Never miss an opportunity to support the economy and connect with the locals!
4. Shark-diving in Gansbaai
While Gansbaai is quite the trek from Cape Town proper, if you can build up the courage to go the extra miles and commit to shark-diving, do it. It sounds crazy to some, even sounded crazy to me, and as we drove to our date with the sharks, I even questioned why I would do something so outrageous. After watching some extensive footage and circling for hours, I calmed my anxiety and remembered that this was on my bucket list! I chose to do this, because it is a daring part of the South African experience! While seeing sharks are never guaranteed when you reach the waters, seeing as they are extremely nomadic, I myself even started to believe that it was not in the cards for our group that day. However, towards the end of our time on the water, we did receive a call from another tour group that had spotted a shark. Seeing it from the side of the boat was worth the money alone, but as I quickly changed into gear, I realized nothing would compare to sharing the same water and being a mere few feet away from that shark. While being in the cage and having a shark pass by you is still frightening, it is worth it, even if just for a moment!
5. Robben Island
Just a ferry ride away from Cape Town Center, Robben Island is a deeply informative tour on the grounds where Nelson Mandela and countless others who fought against apartheid and oppression were imprisoned. The first part of the tour, shows the beauty of the landscape and animals in their natural habitat. While stunning, it is not easy to forget the purpose of the journey and exactly what happened on those grounds. While beautiful, you are immediately aware that the prisoners who were sentenced there did not have the time or luxury to appreciate such beauty, due to circumstance. As the tour continues, they drive you through the prison grounds and to the actual cells, which were still in use no more than 21 years ago. Upon arrival, you are met by a tour guide, who is a former prisoner. He is to guide you through his experience, give some additional history on Mandela’s time there and answer any questions. To hear the stories of experiences during apartheid, after being tried and convicted, his punishment and mistreatment at the hands of the guards (some of whom he now works side by side with today) was infuriating, heartbreaking, and such a testament to the human spirit and its ability to overcome all types of hardships, adversity and challenges. After visiting the Apartheid Museum, Mandela House and Soweto in Johannesburg, Robben Island was a full circle moment that brought the history of that time together. While it is tough to get through, it is well worth the time and extended ferry ride.