The ABCs of Cape Town

A is for Atlantic

Cape Town is the meeting point of two oceans—the Atlantic and the Indian. The Atlantic Ocean on the west is cold, while the Indian Ocean is warmed by the equatorial waters from the north. The mixing of these currents makes for some astounding marine diversity. From great white sharks, dolphins, and orcas to kelp forests, corals, and jellyfish, the waters around cape town are absolutely teeming with life. You can get a taste of the magical marine life the Two Oceans Aquarium.

B is for beaches

Cape Town has many beaches to choose from, each with their own character and vibe. Some are great for surfing, while others are better for sunbathing. There are beaches that allow dogs, and others where you can spot the famous African penguins. Remember that the Atlantic side is much cooler, so it’s not always the best for swimming, although it is often more sheltered from the wind.

C is for Cape Point

Cape Point is a spectacular sight with towering stone cliffs, endemic fynbos, breathtaking bays, beaches and rolling green hills and valleys, just an hour outside Cape Town. The Two Oceans Restaurant offers some of the greatest views in Cape Town, and the fauna and flora make for a memorable trip.

D is for dassies

This creature, also known as the Rock Hyrax, is one of the characters you’re sure to meet at Cape Point, Table Mountain, or basically anywhere you find rocky outcrops. They’re social animals, living in groups of up to 80. These furry brown creatures use sentinels as a lookout and have 21 different vocal signals to communicate danger. Unlike most mammals, they can’t fully regulate their temperature, which explains their sun lounging. Look out for them on your adventures, and keep an eye out for other urban wildlife in Cape Town!

Dassie on Table Mountain

 

E is for eating

Cape Town is a foodie’s paradise! There are always trendy new eateries popping up, and there are many firm favourites that locals swear by. You’ll also find many award-winning fine-dining restaurants, and cooking courses like the Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour, which will allow you to take the unique Cape Town cuisine home with you!

F is for fynbos

The Cape Floral Region is one of the world’s richest plant zones, with over 70% of our flora growing nowhere else on earth! It has three times the number of plant species than the Amazon Rainforest. Anywhere you go in Cape Town, you’re bound to see the indigenous fynbos, with its distinctive shrubs and blooms.

G is for gardens

Cape Town has some incredible green spaces. There’s Kirstenbosch and the Company’s Garden, as well as a huge number of public parks. So grab your picnic gear and head for the gorgeous lawns!

H is for hiking

The hiking opportunities in this city are endless. Try a hike up Table Mountain, a moonlit meander up Lion’s Head, or Crystal Pools ion Gordon’s Bay. Just remember to read our hiking safety tips before you go!

Hiking safety in Cape Town

 

I is for Iziko Museums

The Iziko Museums of Cape Town is a group of museums, referred to as the city’s ‘Museum Mile.’ Visit the natural history collections at South African Museum and Planetarium. Check out the art at the South African National Gallery or the Iziko Michaelis Collection. There’s also the Castle of Good Hope, Groot Constantia, Slave Lodge, Maritime Centre, Social History Centre, Rust en Vreugd, Koopmans-De Wet House, Bertram House and the Bo-Kaap Museum. Hitosry buffs will have a field day (or three!)

J is for jellies

The weird and wonderful jellyfish is one of the cool creatures you’ll find in the waters around the peninsula. The best place to see them is at the Two Oceans Aquarium, where there’s a truly magical jellies display.

K is for !Khwa ttu

The original inhabitants of the Cape Town area were known as the Khoi and San. !Khwa ttu is an organisation dedicated San culture and heritage that provides tailor-made training for young San women and men of Southern Africa.

L is for live music

The Mother City’s music scene is as varied as it is awesome. The Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts are a summer staple,while the Cape Town International Jazz Festival is known as Africa’s grandest gathering. You’ll find local live music all over town, and no matter your taste you’re bound to find your groove at one of the many live music venues in Cape Town.

Jeremy Loops performing at Kirstenbosch

Jeremy Loops performing at Kirstenbosch, by Craig Howes

 

M is for markets

Whether you’re into antiques, good food, organic produce, trinkets, boutique clothing, second-hand goods… or just about anything else money can buy, Cape Town has a market for you. Check out our favourite Cape Town markets and food markets.

N is for nightlife

Cape Town has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs catering for all tastes. There are dance clubs, trance parties, laid back indie venues, hip and bustling bars… it’s all up to you to decide how you’d like to party in Cape Town!

O is for outdoors

There are few better places in the world to enjoy the great outdoors than Cape Town. Cape Town is tucked between mountain and sea, with everything from beaches, forests, and rivers to dramatic cliffs and field of wildflowers. You’re never more than a 5 minute drive from some beautiful natural scenery in Cape Town!

P is for penguins

The African penguins at Boulders Beach are much-loved denizens of the Mother City. There are few things that can bring a smile to even the grouchiest face like these tuxedo-ed, waddling critters. Just look at those faces.

Two penguins looking into camera boulders

 

Q is for quagga

The Quagga technically went extinct in the 1800s, but The Quagga Project aims to bring the zebra-like Quagga back. They look just like zebras, except only the front of their bodies has stripes. Thanks to this project there are now more than 120 quaggas at the ten breeding locations, and you can often spot them on the hill just above Hospital Bend while driving onto the M3.

R is for Robben Island

Robben Island is famous, or rather infamous, as the holding place for the imprisoned Nelson Mandela. Mandela served 18 of his 27 years in prison incarcerated on the island’s prison, but Robben Island has also housed a hospital, mental institution, leper colony, and military base during its rich history. It’s a fascinating trip for those interested in South African history.

S is for street art

Cape Town is home to some incredible artists, and there are many hubs where you can explore the street art that makes our city so colourful. There is an amazing Woodstock Street Art Tour you can check out.

T is for Table Mountain

Table Mountain is just about impossible to miss on a trip to Cape Town. Try a hike up the mountain, or take the Aerial Cableway to the top for some of the best views in town.

hiker_on_table_mountain_looking_at_lions_head

 

U is for Universal Access

Cape Town prides itself on taking accessibility seriously, and there is a growing movement to make the city accessible to all differently-abled people. There are many wheelchair-friendly activities on offer, and we’re proud to work with Universal Access and Responsible Cape Town to keep improving this city for all.

V is for vineyards

Wine is one of Cape Town’s specialities. There are a number of wine routes to choose from, each with their own distinct character. Don’t forget to try pinotage—a varietal that was created right here in the Cape Winelands!

W is for wildlife

Most people think they have to venture further north in South Africa to experience our amazing wildlife, but it’s possible to have an amazing safari experience near Cape Town! A great option is Aquila Private Game Reserve, where you can see the Big Five and enjoy the luxurious spa and world-class dining.

Lions at Aquila

Image courtesy of Aquila Private Game Reserve.

 

X is for Xhosa

isiXhosa is one of the 11 official languages in South Africa, and one of the most widely spoken in Cape Town. Check out the Ubuntu Bridge’s online courses so you can chat to the locals when you arrive, or if you’re here for a little longer, try the great eight-week course in person.

Y is for YOLO

You only live once—the proverb of millennials the world over. Cape Town will let you embrace your YOLO spirit to the fullest. Tick items off your Cape Town bucket list, go on a thrilling adventure, and seek out enriching and authentic Cape Town experiences.

Z is for Zeitz MOCAA

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa opened at the end of 2017, and is the heart of Cape Town’s incredible art scene. It’s located in the Silo District of the V&A Waterfront and has nine floors of amazing art from Afirca and its diaspora. It’s the latest addition to our list of the top art galleries in Cape Town.

 

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Tags: Featured, Editors Pick