What makes a great travel spot?
Why is Cape Town the top travel destination in the world? According to Tripadvisor it’s more beloved by travelers than the serene beaches of Indo, the mountains of Switzerland or the frenzy of New York. So what makes it so great? After two years in the Mother City, I have a hunch.
Variety of Activities Available
It’s human nature to categorize things. You want to know if you’re headed off to a party spot, a beach vacation or going on a cultural trip. It helps prepare you for where you’re going; what to expect, what to budget, what to wear. The bad news is that Cape Town is a difficult one to nail down. The good is that Cape Town is a difficult one to nail down. Cape Town offers enough variety to fit into many categories. Ok, you can count it out for ski holidays, but otherwise you’ve got the beaches, the hiking, the biking, the bright architecture, the vibrant night life, the sobering history, the jumping sharks and the world class wine farms. Oh, and within each category is more variety. What type of beach shall it be today – long and sandy, private and surrounded by rock formations, windy and moody? What type of wine shall we taste – merlot, chardonnay or cab sav? Let’s hope you don’t mind choosing between everything Cape Town has to offer.
Sure it’s cliché, but Cape Town is a stunner. Normally you have to choose whether to visit a place with beaches, rocky mountains, rolling wine farms or colorful wildlife. In Cape Town you get it all. The backdrop to the city just happens to be a new natural wonder of the world.
The waters in front host some of the most epic kite surfing championships and shark cage diving tours in the world. Sunsets aim to impress and you can watch from any number of sandy inlets, boulders or rooftops. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is listed as a top picnic spot worldwide. And the people are beautiful, too. Like really pretty. Guys and Girls, get ready for some fun people watching at the beach.
Lots of Night Life
What are you in the mood for? Ready to teeter around in your mile high stilettos, or do you feel more like listening to live music in your old t-shirt? Cape Town has clubs, pubs and wonderful dive bars galore. Head to Blouberg for a few chilled drinks at the local surf bar, Yo Mojo, or go to Caprice in Camps Bay for your weekly intake of pretention. Park the car for the night while you stroll down Long Street, gay it up in the Cape Quarter, or (pretend to) be sophisticated at wine bars in Constantia. And chow down on fresh sea food just about anywhere.
Fair enough, you don’t want to spend your vacation inside dark museums. In Cape Town the history is outside all around you. Take a walking tour around District Six to learn about a community’s forced relocation. Celebrate color in the Bo-Kaap or Cape Malay Quarter. Wander the old castle that has stood guard under about a million different flags. Gain a new respect for the ocean’s fury at Cape Point, or find another reason to love dogs at Simon’s Town. Drink up your history at some of the oldest wine farms in Africa. And of course, remember to take a moment to reflect while visiting Nelson Mandela’s cell on Robben Island.
South Africa has the world’s fourth bluest sky. No big thing. The fact that 80 percent of days are sunny and bright is just
the norm for you Brits and Midwesterners, right? Ok, ok Cape Town winters can be a little grey. But, for all the moaning I heard about them before I moved here, they’re really not that bad. Hey, you babies up in Jo’burg who whine about Cape Town winter, get over yourselves. A little rain, a little wind for about two months a year (mostly June and July) and then it’s back to blue sky paradise.
Easy to get Around
Cape Town is an anomaly: an African city that actually seems to work. That’s right, there is such a thing as public transportation. I mean buses, not the near-death experience of an African taxi that I romanticized just a few weeks ago. The infrastructure makes it easy to get around, find a place to stay and explore. A friend recently asked if she should rent a 4×4 when she comes to visit. No, this isn’t Mozambique. Roads in town are actual roads. With pavement and everything. Get used to driving on the left, but no need to break out the quad.
Welcoming and Progressive
Sure things here haven’t always been so rosy. But today South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world and Cape Town is the nation’s hub of progress. Cape Town is the San Francisco of Africa; the continent’s gay capitol. Gay marriage isn’t a point of discussion – it’s legal everywhere in the country and has been for years (get with it, USA). Unmarried couples aren’t chased around by One Million Moms with pitchforks. We’re given special visas to make living here a little easier. Medical breakthroughs, like the world’s first open heart surgery, happen here. World Cup games are played here, even if no one back home watches soccer or knows what rugby is. Cape Town is where creative media and architecture are awarded at the Loerie Awards. In fact, Cape Town is so into her design she has been awarded the World Design Capital for 2014 (take that, Dublin). As a visitor this means there’s a lot to experience and that everyone is welcome.
It all adds up to one great vacation destination.
Why do you love Cape Town?