Known as the “Mother City,” Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa. To me, it’s a hidden gem among places like New York, London, Paris, and all the other cities that are marveled at by tourists and locals alike. For those adventurous enough to take the flight south to the tip of Africa, or for those that are even more adventurous to study there, you will be pleasantly surprised by Cape Town. As students studying in the smaller town of Stellenbosch, Cape Town was our weekend playground.
Just a short train ride away, I have been heading to Cape Town every chance I get. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to be, as Cape Town offered so much in one area. As a bit of a history buff, I was able to get my fill of the past—South Africa is a nation with some of the most unique and diverse history. A fraction of this history is displayed at the District Six Museum, which offers an education on the harsh reality of racism in the heart of Cape Town during Apartheid.
For all you adventurers, Cape Town is one of the best places you can be. Not only is Table Mountain a uniquely shaped marvel that makes a great postcard, it’s a heck of challenge to climb. Up top, one can see all the way down Cape Point and overlook the entire city. Lion’s Head mountain, a personal favorite, is a fast hike known for its views of full moons where locals gather to climb the mountain and enjoy a bottle of wine or a picnic as the full moon rises in the sky. It is also a common launching point for paragliders and makes for a great shot to capture from your GoPro when you skydive over the city. Both of these activities are a must-do in Cape Town and both of them I eagerly completed.
If you’re looking for a more relaxing day, the beach is always calling. One can go a ways up the coast to Blouberg and enjoy ice cream or a cold drink by the water or watch the many kitesurfers that catch some waves in the kitesurfuing capital of the world. Taking surf lessons with the many longhaired, amazingly-friendly instructors is a blast, too.
Lastly, it would be a sin to not talk about the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, more commonly known as the V & A. It is a plaza with shops, restaurants, and plenty of sights right along Cape Town’s harbor. One can shop at the luxurious mall, shop for crafts and souvenirs from local vendors, or catch the Ferry out to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment.
It’s not too often that the same day you learn how to surf can also be the same day you climb a mountain and then unwind with a night out in most vibrant, booming city—but in Cape Town you can. I will be leaving my heart in this city and know that I will have to return one day to get it.