• Cityscape Summits and seascapes
  • City life Eat, drink, dance and sunbathe

Glorious beaches and soaring mountains frame this thriving city built on the foothills of Table Mountain, along the edge of the Atlantic.

The oldest city in South Africa, this patch of the world also experiences one of the highest numbers of sunshine hours a year. Mind you, you may want to banish all thoughts about how you look in a bikini, as eating and drinking in Cape Town is world-class and wonderfully inexpensive. The city’s cosmopolitan personality and welcoming spirit is best experienced among the lively cafés, bars and vibrant boutiques of Long and Kloof streets and the Cape Quarter, while Camps Bay is the bustling holiday strip where sun-worshippers flock to its white beaches by day, and crowds fill the bars for the local tipple, a sundowner, at dusk. Once you’ve had your fill of the surf, there is no shortage of excitement on turf – from animal-watching on safari or sampling the fruits of the winelands. And as it is only two hours ahead of GMT, European visitors can delight in escaping any jet lag.

Do go/Don’t go

Cape Town is a fantastic year-round destination, but March until May is when the sun and the wind are at their most enjoyable. If you plan to travel here during the school holidays, which are in January, be sure to book your hotel well in advance.

Getting thereView map

  • Planes Flights take 11.5 hours from London; Virgin | BA | South African Airways fly direct. Cape Town airport is a 30-minute drive from the city centre and there is a half-hourly bus service into town: www.airports.co.za. On the way home you can use the comfortable airport lounge for R140 and enjoy one last glass of South African wine. It's also wise to have your luggage wrapped in plastic at the airport | especially if flying via Johannesburg where things notoriously go missing in transit.
  • Trains Public transport around Cape Town isn’t fantastic. There are mini-bus taxis and slow trains from certain parts of town, but you’re better off driving; see automobiles.
  • Automobiles Hiring a car to drive is easy and cheap (particularly if you’re British: they drive on the left side of the road) | although you need to book cars well in advance as they get booked out. It’s worth noting that it is South African law to carry your international driving license at all times. Also | some driving tips: at roundabouts there are four-way stops where whoever gets there first | leaves first. And minibus taxis have right of way – let them go ahead.
  • Taxis For rides such as from the city centre to the Waterfront, try Rikki's Intercity (+27 (0)21 418 6713) minibuses, otherwise hail cabs in the street or ask your hotel to arrange one.