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September 11, 2013

Dawn Jorgensen’s Top 5 Places to take a first time visitor to Cape Town

We asked local Capetonian travel blogger Dawn Jorgensen to share her Top 5 places to take a first time visitor to Cape Town and this is what she had to say: "The decision to visit Cape Town by any tourist or friend should be richly rewarded with a list of the must-sees on offer. In a city like ours, it isn’t easy to narrow these down to just a handful and when I was thinking about the Top 5, my mind – and heart, burst with recommendations. These making my final list."

1. Table Mountain – Cape Town from the top.

Iconic to the Mother City and recently named one of the Natural New 7 Wonders of the World, Table Mountain stands 1086m tall and can be summited by using one of the many and varied strength hiking trails. Easier than that though is to take the revolving cable car, first choice of most, including me. Once on the top the views towards the city bowl, Table Bay, Robben Island, Camps Bay and even as far as Hout Bay, offer a wonderful orientation of the city. Making this a good place to start any visit.

Usefulness: Once on top, take the full 45-minute circular walk. It really is as flat as a table up there, with incredible fynbos and many a dassie and lizard to photograph.
If the weather has the cable car closed, a drive up Signal Hill is very good compensation.

2. City Bowl – Cape Town by foot.

There’s something very special about walking a city to truly take in the smells, sounds and feel of it. This is the first thing I do when arriving in any new place, and what I recommend to any visitor to Cape Town. A city map will play guide, but its simple enough to start at the Foreshore and head up towards the Company's Garden, with zig-zags into Shortmarket, Bree, Long and Wale St, as well a look at St. George’s Mall. There are many options for African traders, antiques, coffee, lunch, chocolate, craft beer, galleries, churches and museums along the way. The Company's Garden offers a perfect reprieve at the end of it.

Usefuless: Look out for Green Market Square and take a few moments to connect to the free wi-fi in the Company's Garden, catch up with those back home, upload your pics to Facebook and Instagram and spread the Cape Town love.

3. The Castle of Good Hope – Cape Town’s oldest building.

The cannon at the Castle of Good Hope taken by Dawn Jorgensen

Built between the years 1666- 1679, not quite a traditional castle by European standards, but rather a fort and certainly Cape Town’s oldest building. The Castle of Good Hope is a pentagonal stronghold with moat and bastions at each corner, each named after the titles of the Prince of Orange, is well worth a visit. Catch the shooting of the cannon; visit the military museum and William Fehr Collection of paintings and antiques. A guided tour offers a look at the life of early settlers to the Cape, as well as a visit to the Cape Dungeons.

Usefulness: Climb up on the Castle Walls and walk around the edge, taking in the views towards the ocean and city, imagining what it was like 350+ years ago. Visit the coffee shop for a traditional ‘gatsby’.

4. Cape Point – Cape Town from the very tip.

Dias Beach at Cape Point by Dawn Jorgensen

Irresistible to any visitor and a draw to locals, a visit to Cape Point allows a circular route from the city, driving the False Bay coastline through St. James, Kalk Bay, the naval base of Simon's Town and on to the Cape Point National Park. Must see’s here are a visit to the original lighthouse, by footpath or funicular. As well as to the South-Western most tip of the continent. With the waves crashing onto the rugged shore, the beaches and plains game for spotting, this is a beautiful place to pause and breath in the natural beauty of the Cape. There are many shipwrecks in this area, the most famous being that of the Flying Dutchman. Be on the look out for baboons. The drive back to the city can be along the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive.

Usefulness: My favourite beach is found here, Dias Beach. If you opt to walk from the main car park to the point, you can take a path down to it. There’s never anybody there, leave only your footprints.

5. Mzoli’s in Gugulethu – An African feast.

Touring is hungry work, and lunch at Mzoli's offers a good African flavoured solution to this. A butchery and restaurant in one of Cape Town’s township’s, Gugulethu’s Mzoli opened in early 2003 and has fast become the place to be found, especially if tucking into a mountain of braai’ed meat is what makes you happy. This is a rustic and real township experience, infused with house music and a mix of interesting and beautiful people from Gugs, the city surrounds and abroad. Its also a linger and deserves much time.

Usefulness: If the idea of just meat is too much for you, feel free to take a salad and some fresh bread to add to your African fair. I’ve even gone there with a vegan and we did very well!

About the author:

The lovely Dawn from The Incidental Tourist with her dog, Tuscan Storm

With more than a decade’s experience designing dream holidays, and taking many myself, as The Incidental Tourist I ventured into travel writing and photography, allowing me the opportunity to share these experiences with others. Based between Cape Town and a small farm in Wellington, from which the family distills, I cherish both local and international travel. Always with a trip in my future to look forward to. Always with Cape Town offering a true sense of home.


A beauty seeker and earth advocate, my focus moves towards the creatures of the earth, specifically those water based. I write restaurant and accommodation reviews, campaign for causes I believe in, and live my life with an enormous amount of gratitude.

In my spare time its long walks with my dogs, fencing and yoga. I love full moons and big skies. Music and art. The ocean and the bush. And believe that we all deserve true happiness. Also that travel really matters.

Dawn Jorgensen
The Incidental Tourist
Twitter and Instagram: @dawnjorgensen

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