The so-called 'Mother City', Cape Town is the country's best loved metropolis - and it's easy to see why. Its temperate, Mediterranean-style climate is pleasurable in the extreme and with old Georgian buildings, smart restaurants, leafy squares and oodles of cultural flair, the whole city is a feat for the senses.
At the heart of Cape Town and an ever-present backdrop is Table Mountain, the flat-topped city symbol that's as beautiful in the rain as in the sunshine. Start here with a six minute cable-car ride up the mountain and you'll quickly get your bearings.
The city is flanked on two sides by beaches with the warm waters of the Indian Ocean and the crystal clear Atlantic lapping against long sands that have made Capetonians a city of beach-lovers. To the south-west and a half-day excursion away is the Cape of Good Hope; below is Robben Island, former prison home to Nelson Mandela and another must-see.
The South Africa Museum, St George's Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament are key sights in the old town, as well as popular Green Market and landmark hotel the Mount Nelson. By night the action moves to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, where restaurants, bars and boutiques line a marina packed with yachts and fishing vessels.
After a few days in the city, head north-east through the mountains to the vineyards and Dutch-style homesteads of the South African wine-growing region. At is heart, just 18 miles from Cape Town, is Stellenbosch also known for its university and abundant colonial-era architecture.
Many estates here and in nearby Franschoek welcome visitors for tours and tastings. An increasing number have excellent restaurants and hotel accommodation, too, and a few days exploring the Winelands has become a must for visitors to Cape Town and the Western Cape.
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