Why you should go to Cape Town !

Multicultural Cape Town, often called the Pink City or the Mother City, is the gay capital of the continent. Gay life is centered in the De Waterkant Village with tree-lined cobblestone streets and colorful 18th century Cape Dutch cottages. One of Clifton's four popular beaches is predominately gay. But LGBTQ visitors can enjoy everything this laid-back city has to offer, including destination weddings. It is rich in breathtaking views, colonial architecture, biodiversity, the arts, cuisine, beaches, outdoorsy activities and extreme sports like surfing with the sharks. It has vibrant music and a gay nightlife scene, but many venues are only open on the weekend.

South Africa's oldest city - founded by the Dutch East India Company in the 1600s - is best visited during its warm and dry summer months November through February, the season also for the Mother City Queen Project party and Cape Town Pride. Overall it enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with fluctuating temperatures and sudden rain showers in the winter. It boasts 3,100 hours of sunshine each year and is often compared to Southern California - particularly the chilly waters of the Atlantic beaches, which are filled with beautiful bronzing bodies. Temperatures in the Indian Ocean off the surfing beach of Muizenberg are more like Nice.

Cape Town was where Nelson Mandela and other anti-apartheid activists were imprisoned, Athol Fugard wrote groundbreaking plays, and Christiaan Barnard performed the first successful heart transplant. A British colony from the early 19th century until independence and revitalized after apartheid was defeated, it is a diverse city with peoples of all hues and numerous languages. Many residents are bi- or tri-lingual. English is the lingua franca and the predominate language in the southern suburbs, including posh Constantia. Afrikaans, developed in Dutch colonial days, is popular mostly in the northern and eastern suburbs and is also common in the Cape Flats, once described as "Apartheid's dumping ground" because "Colored" (mixed) and black residents were forcibly resettled there. Xhosa is also widely spoken in Cape Town homes.

Be inspired

View itineraries for a sample day out in Cape Town

A Downtown Geography Lesson

The City Bowl downtown is a natural amphitheater with the bay on one side and mountains - including Table Mountain - on...

Cape Town = College Town

Adding to the city's flavor is the University of Cape Town, founded in 1829, making it the oldest university in South...

Cape Malay Cooking

Unique to Cape Town is spicy Cape Malay cuisine, created by mostly Muslim slaves brought from East Asia during Dutch...

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Getting around

Most of the tourist destinations are conveniently located in the City Bowl between the mountains and the harbor and can be reached by walking or taxi. But no trip to Cape Town is complete without an excursion to Stellenbosch and the wine country or down the coast to the Cape of Good Hope. These are best reached by hiring a car - with driver if you are sampling local vintages - or an organized tour. The more adventuresome and those traveling without a timetable may want to sample public transportation like Metrorail or mini-buses.

Cars can be rented at the Cape Town International Airport, which is about 12 miles (c. 20 km) southwest of downtown. Traffic is generally crazy, so you may want to hire a car with driver for day trips. Driving, remember, is on the left with steering wheels and gear shifts configured accordingly.

Biking for transportation, pleasure or sport is popular in the western cape. Bicycle CPT has laid out suggested routes for transportation, tourism or sport that can be downloaded to mobiles or GPS devices. You can rent bikes and motorbikes at shops around town and sign up for bike tours. Upcycles is the city's first drop-and-go bike rental company with stations at the Pavilion on the Sea Point Promenade, Clock Tower Square at the V&A Waterfront and the Hotel Mandela Rhodes Place downtown. Just remember helmets are required for all bikers and wearing earphones is illegal.

Metrorail, a network of commuter and suburban trains, serves the western cape, but don't count on it if you have to be someplace at an appointed hour. Most trains on the four lines operate out of the 24 platforms of the downtown Cape Town station. The first-class cars - MetroPlus - are always on the section of the train closest to Cape Town center. The safest time to travel is during commuting hours 7 am to 9 am and 4 pm to 6 pm.

Golden Arrow buses have been moving folks around Cape Town for 150 years, today offering 1,300 routes in the city and suburbs but not necessarily to tourist destinations. One-way tickets cost R10 - R15. City Sightseeing, the hop-on/hop-off sightseeing bus, has two routes: Blue headed to the Southern Peninsula and Red around the City Bowl. Buses leave from the Aquarium from 9 am, departing every 20 minutes until 5 pm. One-day tickets cost R170 ($12); two-day pass is $180 ($19).

"Taxi" in South Africa refers to traditional metered sedans but also to mini-buses. Sedan service is considered expensive at about R12 a kilometer. The Cape Town Tourism Visitor Information Center can provide a list of recommended companies. Uber also operates, including service to Camps Bay, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Mini-buses are only about R5 in the city and are generally reliable. Just make sure you known the end of the route and have your fare ready before hailing one.`