Gateway to the Rainbow Nation, Cape Town is famed for its natural beauty, diverse culture, fine wines and celebrated restaurants. It's also a city made for outdoor living, with a host of adventure activities right on its mountain-framed doorstep.
Indeed, it's a setting enjoyed by South Africa's finest city hotels, which, from the large and luxurious to the delightfully boutique, are dotted between the lively waterfront and city centre, and tucked away amid the many picturesque bays and on the slopes of iconic Table Mountain.
The buzzing and bustling V&A Waterfront is the cosmopolitan heart of Cape Town. Still a functioning maritime port, it's fluttering sails and busy docs are testament to the city's maritime heritage. But it's now set alongside a full spread of trendy bars, restaurants and street food stalls that form one of the city's most eclectic culinary centres. That's alongside any number of museums and exhibits, designer boutiques and luxury hotels, including one of our favourites – the excellent Cape Grace. The V&A is within walking distance of the city centre and regularly showcases musical, artistic and cultural exhibitions.
Table Mountain dominates the Cape Town skyline, a looming flat-topped crag that provides one of the world's most iconic city settings. And tumbling down from its often cloud-topped summit, Table Mountain National Park is globally recognised for its rich biodiversity. Here, an entire floral kingdom is host to more than 2000 species of fynbos plants as an entire network of walking and cycling trails link flower-strewn valleys with scenic viewpoints. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway offers five-minute rides from city to summit where fabulous 360-degree views take in the coastlines of the Cape Peninsula.
Robben Island once served as a place of banishment, isolation and imprisonment for South Africa's most famous political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, who spent 18 years there. A poignant reminder of the country's recent strungles, today this World Heritage Site is a must-see attraction, accessible by ferry from the mainland.
Many informal settlements surround Cape Town and, of these, Langa and Khayelitsha are perhaps the best known. Built by the apartheid government, they are the oldest and largest of the city's townships, where many residents now take part in innovative arts and crafts projects, which, alongside street food restaurants and cultural centres, can be explored on locals-led guided tours.
The Cape Peninsula is one of the world's most diverse and complex marine environments, a place where mountains and seas collide. Driving south from Cape Town, you'll have the opportunity to explore the Dalebrook Marine Reserve, visit the fishing harbour at Kalk Bay, meet and even swim alongside African penguins at Boulders Beach or cage dive with Great White Sharks. Further along the coast, the dramatic landscapes of Cape Point signal where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet.