The Paris of Africa: How Cape Town Surprised Me

Cailin O Neil February 13, 2014 1

Before visiting South Africa for the first time, I will admit that I was a bit apprehensive about it. The country had been painted in a way that advised me to use caution while travelling there. However, this drove me to get there and experience it for myself, and hopefully debunk any negative ideas about South Africa. I soon learned that this wasn’t hard to do. What started off as apprehension turned into excitement as I realized there was much more to Cape Town than my pre-conceived notion of it.

Cape Town and Table Mountain on a clear day.

Cape Town and Table Mountain on a clear day.

I have now visited Cape Town twice and have had only positive experiences each time I have visited. This city is hands down the best in the country, which many visitors and locals alike will tell you. Perched on the Atlantic Ocean and nestled against the Table Mountain National Park, it is also quite literally one of the prettiest cities in the world, and there is so much to see and do.

As with any foreign country, you should certainly take caution in travelling through various parts of a city, and be sure that you don’t accidentally wander to less safe districts. One of the safest and more popular areas to stick to in the city is the V&A Waterfront Precinct, which also happens to be one of the popular spots to stay, have dinner, shop for souvenirs, sightsee and just hang out. This is also where you can ride on the Cape Wheel (similar to the London Eye) where you can see from Robben Island to the Table Mountain and everything in between.

Shops line the V & A Waterfront.

Shops line the V & A Waterfront.

The next popular spot to visit is the iconic Table Mountain. You can either climb your way to the top, or take the easier way up and ride in the cable car for amazing views over the city. If you are a daredevil, you can repel down the mountain or even go paragliding off of Lion’s Head Mountain nearby. Another great place to get a spectacular view is the top of Signal Hill just next to the Lion’s Head mountain. Nearby is also the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood, one of the most colourful places in the world.

If you want to get out of the city and connect with the surrounding nature, then rent a car, get a GPS and make your way to Boulders Beach where you can find the popular Jackass penguins basking in the warm sun. Also nearby is the Cape of Good Hope, home to the smallest but richest floral kingdom in the world. Many species of flora and fauna can be found here, including many baboons, over 250 species of birds and some of the most gorgeous coastline areas around.

The penguins of Boulder Beach.

The penguins of Boulders Beach.

Cape Town is also known for great food and I ate very well while I was there. I enjoyed some of the best seafood and also some of the very best wines. A great day trip from the city is to the suburb of the Constantia Valley, a popular place for boutique hotels and fine wines.

Tasting the wines of the Constantia Valley.

Cape Town has been described as the Paris of Africa, and although there may not be as many cobblestoned streets as Paris, the food and culture definitely compare. If you are visiting South Africa for the first time, Cape Town is definitely a great city to get started in.

One Comment »

  1. Anna April 1, 2014 at 9:19 am - Reply

    I’m glad you enjoyed Cape Town. It’s a great place! You can read more on South Africa on my blog. =)

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