10 Reasons to Love Cape Town

All About Cape Town asked local experts why they love their city. From beautiful beaches and dream surf conditions to foodie finds and art galore, Cape Town’s got it all.

1. ITS BEST-IN-THE-WORLD BEACHES

Cape Town: One of the best places to be a beach bum. Clifton isn’t only the best beach in Cape Town, according to nature and hiking guide book author Fiona McIntosh, it’s among the best in the world. Read more

2. TASTE THE CULTURE

Cape Town has a fascinating, multi-faceted heritage – and food is a great way to start exploring the diverse cultures that make up the city’s character. Sit down to eat with a Cape Malay or Xhosa cook and hear a story. Cape Town cuisine is an unusual mix of umngqusho (a corn and bean stew), pickled fish, melktert (milk tart), ulusu (stewed ox tripe), bobotie (mince curry with a savoury custard) and koeksisters (knotted pastries soaked in syrup). Iain Harris, whose company Coffeebeans Routes runs a cuisine route in Cape Town, chats to us about the link between food and culture. Read more

3. IT’S A FANTASY-LAND FOR FOODIES

Cape Town is often called the culinary capital of South Africa – and there’s an almost endless line up of eateries to keep your taste buds tempted. Take for example, The Foodbarn in Noordhoek Village, which serves a delectable menu of award-winning, French-inspired food. Executive chef, co-founder and author Franck Dangereux has made Cape Town his home and his creations offer us a celebration for your taste buds – so he’s perfectly placed to explain just what makes the flavours of Cape Town so distinctly unique. Watch the video 

4. THE COOL COFFEE SHOPS

Coffee culture in Cape Town is evolving at the speed of light, or should we say, with the energy you get from a triple-shot-fair-trade-sourced espresso. New coffee shops pop up all the time, and Cape Town city centre’s foodie strip Bree Street recently welcomed a new coffee kid to its trendy block. Introducing Folk Coffee Anthropology. Read more 

5. YOU CAN SURF (ALMOST) 365 DAYS A YEAR

With an unbeatable landscape, two oceans and a wind factor from any direction that almost guarantees epic waves, Cape Town is a surfer’s dream destination. Just ask pro big wave rider Matt Bromley. Watch the video

6. ITS OLD AND NEW WINE (AND WINEMAKERS)

Cape Town is kingdom of wine, with plenty of seasoned bards in the wine industry as well as a host of up-and-coming young winemakers. Respected wine judge and certified Cape Wine Master Winnie Bowman tells us that the young ones are well worth seeking out, and recommends three to start with. Read more

7. THE MEN IN GREY SUITS (AKA GREAT WHITES)

Cape Town is one of only three places in the world where you can cage dive with great white sharks. Shark-diving pro Broqc Maxey from Shark Explorers explains why no trip to Cape Town would be complete without coming face to face with these powerful predators… Watch the video

8. IT HAS SERIOUS JAZZ SWAGGER

Cape Town’s got swagger – jazz swagger, that is. With a freestyle jazz jam on almost every night of the week, a lowdown is needed. Enter saxophonist and session musician Claire de Cock on what’s hot. Read more

And for the ultimate Cape Town jazz experience, there’s the Cape Town International Jazz Festival (1-2 April 2016 ). As one of the largest music festivals on the continent, this event is a drawcard for jazz lovers from across the globe. Find out why…

9. THE SUPER-SMART STREET ART

Stories must be told. Cape Town creatives use a range of mediums to tell those from the city dwellers – none more vibrantly than local street artists. Take a tour with Martin Lund, one of the artists livening up Cape Town’s wonder walls… Watch the video

10. IT HAS PLENTY NATURAL HIGHS

Cape Town’s natural beauty is awesome … and edible! With our abundance of edible plants and two coastlines dishing up plenty of sea-salted treats, this is the perfect place to forage for food, says Roushanna Grey, founder of Veld and Sea, an organisation that runs courses to teach people how to forage for foods from the natural environment. Read more

6 must-see museums in Cape Town

The Iziko Museums are a cluster of 12 museums that preserve Cape Town’s history and culture. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can expect to find in half of them.

1. The South African Museum: The first museum in the country, the South African Museum was founded in 1825 and moved to its current location in the Company’s Garden (central Cape Town) in 1897. Home to more than 1.5 million specimens — including fossils from over 700 million years ago — the museum houses important African zoological, palaeontological and archaeological collections. And there’s a cool Planetarium.

2. The South African National Gallery: Also situated in the Company’s Garden, this gallery features collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art. On permanent display you’ll find a collection of 400 paintings, drawings and prints that were bequeathed to the gallery by diamond tycoon Sir Abe Bailey.

3. The Social History Centre: Housed on Church Square in the National Mutual Building, which was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and Francis Masey, the museum houses collections of artefacts from the colonial period in the Cape, indigenous cultural material from southern Africa and collections of ceramics, furniture, coins and textiles from around the world. It is also home to the Social History Library — a reference library that focuses on the history and people of southern Africa and, more specifically, the Western Cape.

4. The Bo-Kaap Museum: Many Muslims and freed slaves settled in the Bo-Kaap, the area directly above the city bowl, after the abolition of slavery. The Bo-Kaap Museum, which is situated in this colourful suburb of Cape Town, pays tribute to the role that the residents of this area played in the history of Cape Town. Established in 1978, the museum was originally furnished to portray the lifestyle of a 19th century Muslim family. However, it is currently being transformed so that it can better tell the history of the community. Permanent exhibitions look at the history of the Bo-Kaap, the role that the community played in building Cape Town and the tradition of the city’s New Year Carnival.

5. Groot Constantia Manor House: Built in 1685 on land granted to Simon van der Stel (first governor of the Dutch Cape colony), Groot Constantia is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa. It’s located in the leafy suburb of Constantia, a short drive from the city centre. The manor house museum depicts life as it has been at the estate over the past 350 years. Exhibits include old carriages in the Coach House, wine storage and drinking vessels in the historical wine cellar and a collection of furniture, textiles, ceramics and copperware in the manor house.

6. Koopmans-De Wet House: The first private townhouse in South Africa to be opened to the public, the Koopmans-De Wet house (on Strand Street in the centre of Cape Town) opened its doors as a museum in 1914 after the deaths of its last private owners, Marie Koopmans-De Wet and her sister Margaritha. The museum attracted nearly 17 000 visitors in the first year it was open! This house museum depicts how wealthy white people lived in the Cape in the 19th century.

This is where to go to learn more about Cape Town’s first people

The nomadic San — the original inhabitants of South Africa — lived on the land for approximately 100 000 years before the arrival of the pastoral Khoi 2 000 years ago. Roughly 70 kilometres north of Cape Town, along the West Coast, you will find !Khwa ttu, a San cultural centre that gives incredible insight into Cape Town’s first people.

Although the San, who were hunter-gathers, were the first people to live in South Africa, there are only a few distinct communities of San left. The San population and their way of life was first challenged by the arrival of the pastoral Khoi 2 000 years ago, then by other African nations travelling south, and finally by the arrival of gun-toting European colonists. Within two centuries, the colonists had decimated the San population.

!Khwa ttu is an initiative of the Working Group of Indigenous Minorities in Southern Africa (WIMSA) and a Swiss philanthropic organisation. It is a project dedicated to San culture and education.

Guided tours at !Khwa ttu, which are conducted on foot or in an open vehicle, give you a glimpse into the traditional lives and skills of the San. Your guide can show you how the San track animals — a skill they are renowned for — shoot with a bow and arrow, or use medicinal plants. A visit to a replica San village will give you insight into how San communities lived for millennia.

In addition to the guided tour, you can attend a language lesson where you will learn about the “clicks” in various San languages, check out the art and photographic exhibitions, or browse the items in the craft shop, which are manufactured by the San community.