World’s Coolest Cities: Cape Town

Naturally gorgeous, artsy, and cosmopolitan. Cape Town is definitely the cultural capital of South Africa, and one of the World’s Coolest Cities.

Forbes magazine named it one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and National Geographic included it on its “Places of a Lifetime” list.

Positioned on the shoreline of Table Bay, Cape Town’s historical origins are as a supply station for the Dutch East India Company in the 1600s. Ships sailing to Eastern Africa, India and the Far East would stop here to stock up on necessary goods. It later evolved into the first permanent European settlement in South Africa. Today it is Africa’s most popular tourist destination, thanks to the warm and welcoming climate, beautiful natural wonders, and well-developed infrastructure.

Climate: Subtropical Mediterranean (mild, wet winters and very warm and dry summers)

Population: 3, 497, 097

Currency: South Africa Rand

Language: Believe it or not, South Africa has eleven official languages! They are Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Nothern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tswana, Tsonga, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu!

Table Mountain

Table Mountain, Cape Town
Table Mountain, Cape Town

One of the most prominent landmarks of Cape Town is the flat-topped mountain that overlooks the city, known as Table Mountain due to its unusual shape. It was named by Antonio de Saldanha, the first European to land in Table Bay, in 1503.

The mountain is part of Table Mountain National Park, which also includes the Tokai Forest and a number of protected marine areas. This area is an absolutely beautiful wild area to hike and explore, and the views of Cape Town from Table Mountain are outstanding. You can choose to make your way to the top the hard way, by hiking up one of the many routes (most only recommended for experienced hikers). Or you can go the easy way and take the Table Mountain Cableway. This cable car takes its passengers up 302 m above sea level to the plateau at the top of the mountain. The specially designed cable cars rotate 360 degrees during the ascent, so that you can see a panoramic view of the entire scenery.

Greenmarket Square Flea Market

Greenmarket Square, Cape Town
By Maethordaer [CC BY-SA 3.0 us or CC BY-SA 2.0 fr], from Wikimedia Commons
Set within a cobbled square between Short and Long Market Streets is one of Cape Town’s oldest marketplaces. Greenmarket Square has been the market square since 1710, and a market is still held here every day except Sunday. Here you can find fantastic unique clothing, jewellery, knick-knacks, sandals, music CDs, sunglasses, paintings, glassware and handmade craft art from nearly every country on the continent, within a buzzing and lively marketplace atmosphere.

Buskers play on, mime artists draw crowds, and colourful jugglers show off their talents in this large open-air square. Why not take a break from shopping and enjoy a snack and a drink at one of the cafes that surround the square? Most have outdoor patios, so that you can sit back and watch all the flea market fun!

Baboon Tours

Baboons, Cape Town
Baboons, Cape Town

Baboon Matters is an organization that raises awareness of the plight of baboons in southern Africa. They strive to facilitate the rescue and rehabilitation of this amazing creature. If you are up for a real walk on the wild side, you can take a baboon tour with Baboon Matters. These educational and ecological trips will take you on an adventure with a small group and an experienced guide into the natural habitat of the baboon in order to observe them as they eat, play and socialize.

It is fascinating to see these creatures in the wild, and great care is taken to ensure that the tours do not have a negative impact on the baboons or their environment. A Baboon Walk takes approximately two hours and is suitable for people of all fitness levels.

Huey Helicopter Co.

Huey Helicopter, Cape Town
Huey Helicopter Taking Off

For that authentic Apocalypse Now experience, you can jump aboard onto an ex-Vietnam US Marine Corps Huey Chopper and go on one of the most exhilarating rides of your life! This vintage piece of aviation history flies with open doors, just to get the butterflies in your stomach going.

The open doors also allow you to take in the sights as you fly over top of Cape Town’s scenery. Or, if you want something a little more heart-pounding than the sight-seeing flight, you can go for the Simulated Combat Mission. This thrill-a –minute ride takes you on steep climbs, hard banks, and low level manoeuvres that simulate a flight through a combat zone. You can sign up for a Huey Helicopter Co. ride at the booth next to Cape Union Mart at the Waterfront.

Whale Watching

Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa

The Southern Tip of Africa is the natural habitat of the largest mammal on earth, the Southern Right Whale. There are many companies in Cape Town that offer whale watching experiences, which give you the opportunity to see these amazing and enormous creatures close up.

You can also try to spot the whales from the steep cliffs around Cape Town. Fish Hoek, Cape Point, Chapman’s Peak, Hermanus, and Cape Aghullus are all excellent viewing points for seeing whales. It is a good idea to invest in a quality pair of lightweight binoculars with a sturdy strap, so that you can watch the whales frolicking in the water.

Check Out Cape Town For Yourself!

Cape Town
V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

We think that Cape Town is one of the Coolest Cities in the World, but don’t take our word for it, go there and see for yourself!

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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One Comment

  1. I am Nigerian and I have never been to South Africa. I definitely want to go and to explore Cape Town. Specifically because I love nature, I really would like to visit the Tokai forest and Table Mountain. I feel that the beauty and uniqueness you describe there will be breathtaking, because all of the countries in Africa as a whole are very spiritual.

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