48-Hours in Cape Town, South Africa
Sir Francis Drake on seeing Cape Town, South Africa for the first time in 1580 wrote in his journal, “This cape is the most stately thing and the fairest cape we saw in the whole circumference of the earth.” Indeed, Cape Town's setting on a peninsula is unrivaled, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side, enormous Table Mountain with its stunning views (accessed via a cableway), over the Cape Peninsula and the Winelands on the other, and the Indian Ocean meeting the Atlantic at the Cape of Good Hope. Plan to visit beaches for sun and top notch surfing, historic sites like Robben Island ( a notorious prison, like Alcatraz in San Francisco, in Table Bay, now a museum), vineyards, and the wonderful cultural offerings of South Africa.
Day one-Arrive in Cape Town and transfer to your hotel. A fine hotel on The V & A Waterfront is The Cape Grace Hotel. It is a favorite hotel, and to quote DK Eyewitness Travel Guide South Africa- a Wearever trusted resource- "The aptly named Cape Grace offers stylish accommodation, a mind-boggling array of services...The atmosphere is intimate, with exquisite decor and personalized service...(and has) wonderful views." The Waterfront offers an eclectic mix of shopping, nightlife, and outdoor cafés. It was opened in 1992, and effectively revived the harbor, one of the most visited destinations in South Africa. It is also the launching point for day trips to Robben Island, or a bay or sunset cruise from Quay 5 and North Wharf. Tomorrow, it is a day spent touring the Cape Peninsula.
Now, the fun really begins. Before you start your drive down the Cape Peninsula, the District Six Museum is a good first stop of the day to experience the day-to-day upheaval during the apartheid era. Then plan the rest of the day for a tour of Cape Town and the spectacular Cape Peninsula, including the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, home to a herd of Bontebok, an animal endemic to South Africa and almost hunted to extinction in the 1930s. Then, take a hike or catch the funicular to the lighthouse at Cape Point (built with rocks carved by hand from the current car park!) to enjoy the views over False Bay. False Bay was so named because early sailors thought that they had arrived at Table Bay. Visit the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans collide. You may even see a baboon and pods of whales at Roooikrans, a fab viewing point! If you have the stomach for it, there is a spectacular scenic drive ( akin to Route 1 in California) over Chapman's Peak, 2000 feet above the ocean. Be Inspired-Stop for a visit in Simon's Town and Boulders Beach on the Cape Peninsula to see its natural colony of penguins. An Off the Beaten Path stop is a visit to the Cape Point Ostrich Farm. Ostriches, the world's largest birds, eat stones, and anything else for that matter-true fact. Probably not for everyone! Plan dinner at Gold Restaurant, famous for its drumming workshop before local African dinner specialties. Another good restaurant choice is PotLuck Club, on the top floor of an old biscuit mill with great views, and very trendy.
Back to Cape Town for a wonderful dinner at Test Kitchen restaurant, also in The Old Biscuit Mill, fine dining using local seasonal produce. Rest up for your day tomorrow in The Winelands. Another Be Inspired tip- Botany anyone? If you have time, the Kirtenbosch National Botanical Garden is a world-renowned garden established in 1913 to highlight and preserve the native flora. It is located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
Day two-Spend a full day touring The Winelands region which sits in the mountains just beyond Cape Town. While on the Cape Peninsula you may have had the opportunity to visit the Groot Constantia Wine Estate, South Africa's oldest wine producing farm founded in 1685. Today's wine route includes the towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. As the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide South Africa notes, "After Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront and Cape Point, The Winelands are the Western Cape's most popular attraction." It is going to be a great day! You should have time to visit 3 or 4 wineries before your evening return to Cape Town.
Franschhoek is farmland in a valley with a very French feel still left from its early settlers, the Huguenots. The Franschhoek wine route was first established in the 1980's, to highlight the area's excellent wines and cuisine. Off the Beaten Path stop-the Franschhoek Motor Musuem is a must for antique auto enthusiasts. Ferrari anyone?
Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa next to Cape Town, and is quite beautiful. It is said that nearly every building on the main street has been declared a national monument because of the unique architecture. Its nickname is Eikestad or Town of Oaks, since its streets, brimming with Cape Dutch buildings, are lined with these beautiful trees. It is an old university town, and is really suitable to walking and exploring its charming streets filled with interesting architecture. The town has a culture of learning, and is also home to a vibrant arts community. There are many galleries and studios to shop away the day local artists' wares like pottery, ceramics, weavers, and other craftsmen. Spend some time strolling through the town center, shopping for local crafts, and plan to stop in at Oom Samie se Winkel, an authentic village store with some amazing local wares. Now, it is time for some wine tasting on the Stellenbosch Winelands route. Lanserac winery has tasty wines and a nice restaurant for lunch. A more lavish winery is Tokara, also with a fine restaurant with lovely mountain views, especially at sunset. Neethlingshof Winery is another great stop, as is Vergelegen just to see the grand manor house and octagonal garden.
Paarl in The Winelands surrounds magnificent Paarl Mountain, and produce almost 1/5 of all South Africa's wine. Paarl is the largest town in The WInelands, and is definitely worth a quick look see. Fairview is a popular wine estate, as is Avondale. Fairview try to attend the wine and cheese tasting, and watch the goats climb the tower. It's true, they can. Two other vineyards near Paarl recommended by DK Eyewitness Travel Top 10 are Laborie and Rhebokskloff.
Return to Cape Town, dinner tonight at Signal Restaurant, the 39th Best Hotel Restaurant in the World as rated by The Daily Meal 2013. More wine anyone?
Now, what to wear? Here are some outfit-inspirations for your 48-hour Cape Town adventure to get your packing jump started.
More for you:Top 7 Things To-Do in Provence