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Situated on the shores of Table Bay, with the city centre nestled at the foot of the iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town offer it's visitors a variety of cultural, scenic, historic and culinary delights. Here are a list of "must-see" options to explore while visiting our beautiful Mother City. 

To stay informed on the latest happenings around the City, please visit our "What's on in Cape Town" page for the latest events. You can also visit our Blog on www.dolphin-inn.tumblr.com or our facebook page.

 

 

OUR TOP 10 RATED "MUST DO" CAPE TOWN EXCURSIONS:

 

1. TABLE MOUNTAIN

Table Mountain, the city's most prominent landmark and one of the most popular tourist attractions, forming part of the Table Mountain National Park, is proud to be one of the provisional New7Wonders of Nature. Competing against major international attractions, Table Mountain made it to the top seven after a campaign that attracted more than 100-million global votes. Take the Cable Car from the lower cable station on Tafelberg Road, about 302 m above sea level, to the plateau at the top of the mountain. The upper cable station offers views overlooking Cape Town, Table Bay and Robben Island to the north, and the Atlantic seaboard to the west and south. Or choose one of the many hiking trails from either the city side or from Kirstenbosch Gardens. Please note that hiking on the mountain can be extremely dangerous and  has claimed many lives in the past. Routes vary in difficulty and the easiest option is Platteklip gorge. Weather conditions change quickly, so be prepared, take water, comfortable shoes and never hike alone. Registered mountain guides can be contacted to accompany you on a selection of routes.

Table Mountain has an unusually rich biodiversity. Its vegetation consists predominantly of several different types of the unique and rich Cape Fynbos.

The mountain's vegetation types form part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas. These protected areas are a World Heritage Site, and an estimated 2,200 species of plants are confined to Table Mountain - more than exist in the whole of the United KingdomMany of these species, including a great many types of proteas,  are endemic to the mountain and can be found nowhere else. In addition, the Table Mountain range has the highest concentration of threatened speciesof any continental area of equivalent size in the world.

Cable car operating hours vary according to seasons and weather changes. Please visit www.tablemountain.net for more information.


2. ROBBEN ISLAND

From the 17th to the 20th centuries, Robben Island served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment, famously known for its political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, during South Africa's Apartheid era.

It was also used as a training and defence station in World War II (1939-1945) and a hospital for people with leprosy, and the mentally and chronically ill (1846-1931).  

This iconic landmark,  declared a World heritage site in 1999, is also a protected nature conservation area with a complex, sensitive eco-system hosting about 132 bird species,  23 species of mammals,  including small herds of bontebok, springbok, steenbok, fallow deer and eland. An increasing number of ostriches, lizards, geckos, snakes and three species of tortoise can also be found. On your ferry trip across to the island keep a sharp look out for marine mammals, including Cape Fur Seals, Southern Right Whales and Dusky and Heaviside Dolphins

Ferries depart at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm, weather permitting, from Nelson Mandela Gateway, at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. It is recommended to pre-book tickets in advance as they are often sold out weeks in advance during peak season and public holidays.

For more information visit: www.robben-island.org.za


3.  CAPE OF GOOD HOPE NATURE RESERVE

The park runs approximately north-south along the range of mountains that make up the mountainous spine of the Cape Peninsula from Signal Hill in the north, through Lion's Head, Table Mountain, Constantiaberg, Silvermine, the mountains of the southern Peninsula, terminating at Cape Point.

  - Lion's Head, a popular hike with all age groups, peaks at 669 metres (2,195 ft) above sea level. The peak forms part of a dramatic backdrop to the city, with spectacular views over the city, and the hour-long walk to the top is particularly popular during full moon] Its slopes are also a popular launching point for paragliders.

  - Cape Point - At the tip of the Cape Peninsula 60 km south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, Named the ‘Cape of Storms’ by Bartolomeu Dias in 1488; a nature reserve within the Table Mountain National Park; a declared Natural World Heritage Site. Often mistaken as the most southerly point of the African continent, it is the most south Westerly point, with Cape Agulhas being the most Southerly.

Encompassing 7 750 hectares of rich and varied flora and fauna; abounding with buck, baboons and Cape Mountain Zebra as well as over 250 species of birds, Cape Point is a nature enthusiast paradise.

Rugged rocks and sheer cliffs towering more than 200 metres above the sea and cutting deep into the ocean provide a spectacular background for the Parks’ rich bio-diversity. Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park. The natural vegetation of the area, fynbos, comprises the smallest but richest of the world's six floral kingdoms.

In 1859 the first lighthouse was completed; it still stands at 249 metres above sea-level on the highest section of the peak.

Please visit www.capepoint.co.za for opening times and rates.


 4. V+A WATERFRONT

Situated within a stone’s throw from the Cape Town Stadium and in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, the V&A Waterfront has something on offer for everyone. Indoor shopping and entertainment venues, restaurants with ocean vistas and mountain views, high speed  boat excursions to mellow sunset and champagne cruises. Shop til you drop or just gently soak up the cosmopolitan, vibrant atmosphere. More than 80 restaurants bring a fusion of international food, from rustic al fresco fish and chips to starched table-cloth cuisine. 

Also on offer in the V+A is the ever popular Two Oceans Aquarium. Education and conservation with an entertaining twist, the Aquarium offers something for the whole family. Get to know the ins and outs of 88 of the species currently on display at the Aquarium. Learn all about the cold Benguela Current and the west coast's marine life and the vibrant and colourful world of the warmer Indian Ocean in the Oceans of Contrast. The impressive Predator display is home to ragged tooth sharks, turtles, sting rays and a variety of open ocean predator fish. The enchanting Kelp Forest Exhibit will give you a glimpse into the underwater world of the Western Cape, and you may be lucky enough to spot the occasional African Penguin diving down for a visit. 

For the more adventurous - Take the Plunge and dive with the Ragged Tooth Sharks and other open ocean fish in the Predator exhibit, where sharks and perfect conditions are guaranteed! No cage required! 

www.aquarium.co.za for opening times and prices


5. KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.

The Garden covers 36 hectares in a 528 hectare estate that contains protected mountainside supporting natural forest and fynbos along with a variety of animals and birds. Kirstenbosch lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site – another first for Kirstenbosch, it is the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site. 

Every year from December to April, Kirstenbosch hosts a summer concert in their gardens every Sunday afternoon. The programme is varied and suitable for all ages. Pack a picnic basket and enjoy some good music in this amazing setting with Table Mountain as a backdrop. Advisable to book tickets in advance


 6. WINELANDS

The Western Cape's mild Mediterranean weather provides the perfect climate for winemaking. 

The Cape’s winelands stretch from the coast to the plains of the Little Karoo, where grapes are also grown in the riverine valleys. There are currently some 560 wineries and 4 400 primary producers of vineyards in the Cape, divided by the Wine of Origin Scheme into 4 main regions: The Breede River Valley, The Little Karoo, Coastal and Olifants River. 

South Africa's oldest vineyard,  just 20 minutes outside of the city, the CONSTANTIA WINE ROUTE has swelled from its original 5 wine estates to 8. The estates have a rich history of winemaking that dates back to the late 1600s. Travel further afield to some of the most scenic wine regions in the world. Well known Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Paarl regions where you can explore a multitude of farms offering a range of the award winning reds and whites that will satisfy even the most discerning palate, including our own unique Pinotage, a red wine grape that is South Africa's signature variety. It was bred here in 1925 as a cross between Pinot noir and Cinsaut.To celebrate your visit to our city, try some of  our own world class Sparkling wines, "Method cap Classique" made in the traditional champagne style. 

If you are a serious wine lover you'll not be disappointed at the endless wine tasting  possibilties!

The Cape Winelands also boasts world-class golf courses and endless kilometers of cycling, walking and hiking routes. 





www.capewinelands.gov.za or www.winelands.co.za for more information


7. BOULDERS BEACH

Situated just around the corner from the seaside village of Simonstown, home to the SA Naval Base, Boulder's Beach is a popular tourist stop because of a colony of African Penguins which settled there in 1982 and is the only penguin species that breeds in Africa and is confined to the Southern African waters. Boulders Beach forms part of theTable Mountain National Park.

Sadly, endemic African penguins are in danger of extinction. Scientists believe this endangered marine bird will be extinct in the wild within 15 years. Major reasons include depletion of their food from overfishing, climate change and pollution from incidences such as oil spills. 

Boulders Beach is ideal for kids as immense boulders shelter the cove from currents, wind and large waves - but please always take care. Also, don't touch or feed the penguins. They might look cute and cuddly but their beaks are as sharp as razors and if they feel threatened they have no qualms about nipping the odd finger or nose. Boulders Visitor Centre: +27(0) 21 786 2329.


8. CAMPS BAY AND CLIFTON BEACH

Playground to the rich and famous, these popular beaches have hosted a range of celebrities seeking an undisturbed place to soak up the sunshine. Clifton's beaches are often protected from the wind when the notorious "Cape Doctor" starts to blow. White sand, blue water and beautiful people, Clifton offers safe swimming beaches, where you'll often find a flotilla of luxury yachts competing for the perfect spot to drop anchor. Camps Bay Beach has a vibey, yet relaxed feel where you can stroll across the road from the beach to a host popular beachfront bars and restaurants. Amongst many others, the ever popular Caprice, Blues and St'Yves will keep you re hydrated, well fed and entertained until the early hours!


 9. TOWNSHIP EXPERIENCE  

Feel the spirit and pulse of a historical African township on your doorstep. Visit an arts and craft market, shebeen, traditional healer, African beer tasting, District Six Museum and much more!!!  Gugulethu, along with Nyanga, was established in the 1960s due to the overcrowding of Langa,  which was the only black residential area for Cape Town at the time. During the Apartheid era black South Africans were not permitted to live in the city of Cape Town, and many people were removed from areas such as District Six to Gugulethu, Nyanga and Langa. Langa is the oldest while, while  Khayelitsha is the largest.

Though there is criticism of township tourism as being voyeur istic, the upshot is that it brings a por tion of South Africa’s lucrative tourism sector to the poorest of its people. Local restaurants, bars and crafts men benefit financially from the tours, and there are even a few guesthouses rid­ing the wave, for the more intrepid traveller who fancies an overnight stay. At the same time, it shows them a place not just full of poverty and strife, but also full of energy, culture and hope for the future. Perhaps the most famous venue in Gugulethu is Mzoli’s Place (www.mzolisplace.co.za), where you will find local and international visitors on any given day of the week. Catering here takes place in various forms, with meat cooked on the open fire a favourite.

There are many reliable local operators who are able to guide you safely and meaningfully through the different townships. Despite all the positives that are highlighted, there still are serious crime problems, so please don't attempt to venture into the townships after dark or on your own if you are unfamiliar with your surroundings. 


 10. CITY SIGHTSEEING BUS TOUR AND MUSEUMS

Explore Cape Town’s attractions at your own pace. Simply hop off and on at any of our stops with your ticket.  www.citysightseeing.co.za

Some museum options en route:

 - South African Museum on the Red City Tour. Set in the city Gardens and close to the Planetarium, this museum is rich with South African heritage. It is the oldest museum in Sub-Saharan Africa founded in 1825 by Lord Charles Somerset and is the second oldest scientific institute in the country - the Royal Observatory was established just five years earlier. It is both a research and educational institution and offers collections of natural history and anthropological objects that document all forms of life, living and extinct, from Southern Africa.

 The South African Museum also traces the material cultural heritage of our indigenous populations back to their earliest origins, and the research collections are studied by scientists and students world-wide.

  - District Six museum - District Six was named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867. Originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants, District Six was a vibrant centre with close links to the city and the port. In an effort to preserve the memories of District Six and create a monument to the thousands of people around the country forcibly relocated under apartheid, the District Six Museum Foundation was established in 1989. Later in 1994, it was renamed The District Six Museum and now houses an impressive collection of historical materials including photographs, paintings, artefacts, physical remains like street signs, books and studies as well as audio-visual recordings of District Six, most which were donated by its former residents.

 - The Castle of Good Hope, the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. The Castle was built between 1666 and 1679 by Jan van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a maritime replenishment station and a defensive fort against unwanted visitors and even the unpredictable weather at times.

The actual building of the Castle itself was done by soldiers, sailors and slaves, who built the walls with local stone. The Castle of Good Hope was to fulfill its role as a replenishment station of the Dutch East Indian Company and to protect its logistical and financial interests along the “spice route”. The Castle was a welcome sight for sailors traveling up to six months at sea and referring to Cape Town as the "Tavern of the Seas".

Soldiers are still present to this day at the Castle in honour of its history and safeguarding of the facility, guard duties and military ceremonies. The Castle is the seat of the military in the Cape, and houses the Castle Military Museum and Iziko Museums of Cape Town. Here one can get a glimpse of life at the Cape during the 17th and 18th centuries and the Castle History Museum.

 

For the more adventurous at heart - take a look at our ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES Page.


In and Around Mouille Point.......

1. Metropolitan Golf Course - Created in 1895 and redesigned in 2010, the course belies it's 9hole status, with long and separate tees, together with 14 world class greens, it plays much like an 18-hole layout. 

2. Sea kayaking 

3. Virgin Active Gym Situated a short walk through the Urban Park with tennis courts, indoor swimming pool and squash courts among the other standard gym facilities.

4. Spa treatments and salon

5. Picnic in the Urban Park

6. Bicycle Hire collect your cycle at the Sea Point promenade or the V+A Waterfront and cruise through the city or along the promenade and the Beach front area to Camps Bay. A great way to explore the city on your own steam.











7. Green Point Lighthouse The oldest working Lighthouse in the country.

Green Point Lighthouse



8. Sea Point PavillionLooking for a great place to cool down as temperatures are about to start soaring?....... With the chilly Atlantic opposite the Guesthouse to dip your toes into (only for the brave!) - head down to the Sea Point Pavillion, about 3kms along the promenade. A great public swimming pool, with probably the best views across the ocean! Providing fun for the whole family with a good lap swimming pool, a kiddies pool and a high board diving pool. Life guards are on duty and a small kiosk offers a few snacks. Open every day from 7am. 



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