1. TABLE MOUNTAIN.
Looming 3,000 feet above the city and often eerily draped in cloud (the so-called “tablecloth”), Table Mountain is the defining symbol of Cape Town, South Africa. Take the cable car to the summit for a stunning panorama, weather permitting. The Lower Cable Station is on Tafelberg Road, reached by bus or taxi. Cable cars depart every 10 to 20 minutes, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. (May-Oct.), 8. a.m. to 10 p.m. (Dec.-Jan.). The restaurant at the top serves a full breakfast. The Summit Boardroom, which seats 18, can be booked for high-altitude business meetings. Views are spectacular in every direction. Three thousand feet below, the city spreads out like a living map. Allow at least an hour.
2. ROBBEN ISLAND.
Lying eight miles offshore, Robben Island is Cape Town’s answer to Alcatraz. Voyage there by ferry from the Nelson Mandela Gateway on Victoria and Albert Waterfront (departures 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Advance booking recommended (www.robben -island.org.za). Tours, often guided by ex-prisoners, include a bus trip around the windswept island (wildlife includes ostriches, antelope and penguins), and culminate in a visit to the former Maximum Security Prison in which Mandela was held. This bleak, dreadful place has become an inspiring symbol of reconciliation and hope. Allow 3-1/2 hours.
3. VICTORIA AND ALBERT WATERFRONT
(www.waterfront.co.za) is the epicenter of modern Capetonian life. Centered on the Victorian docks, this historic district was subject to a multimillion dollar revamp in the 1990s. It is now a hive of activity, day and night. Here you’ll have 300 shops from which to choose, plus 70 restaurants, crafts markets, an aquarium and an IMAX cinema. If you stay at one of the seven waterfront hotels, all this will be on your doorstep-the perfect place to unwind.
a lush suburb immediately behind Table Mountain, is the oldest and most accessible of the Cape Winelands. There have been vineyards here since 1705, and three are still active. They are all open to the public for cellar tours and wine tasting. The most visited is Groot Constantia Estate (www.museums.org.za/grootcon), open daily for prebooked tours, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch at Constantia’s café is an excellent diversion en route to the Cape of Good Hope by rental car.
5. THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE,
40 miles south of downtown, requires a half-day excursion, but it is a must-see. From the cliffs at Cape Point (www.capepoint.co.za) there is a grandstand view of
the dramatic clash of the Indian and Atlantic oceans. Watch out for strong gusts of wind, which often sweep away the hats and glasses of unwary sightseers. And keep an eye out for the resident baboons, which occasionally ride on top of visitors’ vehicles, leaving baboon-shaped dents in the bodywork.
6. CHAPMAN’S PEAK DRIVE,
on return to the city from Cape Point, is one of the world’s most scenic roads, reminiscent of California’s Big Sur. The road wends precariously along Atlantic cliffs for just over six miles, affording jaw-dropping views of the Atlantic rollers far below. If there’s time, stop off for a stroll along the beautiful beach at Camp Bay, set between the sea and the Twelve Apostles, a series of hills adjoining Table Mountain.
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