The South African Airways global headquarters is in Johannesburg, so I end up travelling to Cape Town perhaps once every quarter. My visits are for both business and leisure, and I enjoy visiting the city as often as the need arises. The first thing you notice when you get into Cape Town is the Table Mountain. It is a flat-topped mountain that forms an impressive backdrop to the city. It is also a popular tourist attraction.
Cabs are easy to find, and are perhaps the best way to get around. Apart from walking: I spend several evenings walking along the Victoria Wharf, which leads to the beach. The other option is to rent a car and drive. It gives you the convenience of travelling at your own pace and preference.
My favourite hotel in Cape Town would be The Table Bay Hotel. It is well known for its facilities, service, rooms and the views it offers—a choice between the Table Mountain and the expansive Atlantic Ocean. Staying here always turns out to be a pleasurable experience.
But there is also The Grand Daddy Hotel, a funky member of Cape Town’s hospitality culture. Its penthouse is actually a converted trailer. The caravan park sits atop The Grand Daddy’s roof; it has a rooftop cinema and a bar, not to mention quirky interiors. In all, the experience at the hotel is fabulous; you wouldn’t want to miss out on it when in Cape Town.
Apart from The Table Bay Hotel, which I think is perhaps the best place to stay in Cape Town, there’s the Taj Cape Town. Its structure was originally home to the South African Reserve Bank and Temple Chambers. Its suites offer an unmatched sense of sophistication and elegance.
For eating out options, more than a restaurant, it is the V&A market on the Wharf that I would recommend. It houses several food stalls that are known for reinventing regular food. Samosas, shawarmas and the like are presented with a twist; it is culinary creativity of an altogether different kind.
There are plenty of things one can do in Cape Town. Try out the restaurants at the Camps Bay neighbourhood; take a walk down the beach, there are some great restaurants there too.
Stellenbosch, about 50 km outside Cape Town, is well known for its vineyards and restaurants. Tours in their vineyards and olive farms are a great way to spend a day while enjoying great wine and food. You should also not miss out on the great food at the Basic Bistro in Stellenbosch.
Camps Bay has a vibrant nightlife. Almost every bar and restaurant offers a stunning view of the pristine beach along the Atlantic. Camps Bay is the ultimate destination for those looking to party the night away—there is no dearth of enviable options here, and you definitely won’t be disappointed.
If you are at Victoria Wharf, I would personally recommend sundowners at the restaurants there.
There are several places for those who want to go shopping; you’ll be spoilt for choice! Stores like African Image, Okha, Dolce & Banana and The Plush Bazaar offer a great variety of local artifacts, including textiles, sculptures, jewellery, furniture, ceramics and quirky paintings. Then there are markets like the Greenmarket Square and the Waterfront Craft Market. Greenmarket Square is a vibrant flea market, with a sea of stalls selling everything from clothes to souvenirs. It’s a great place to pick up local specialties, like ostrich eggs that are painted, or converted into lampshades etc.
If you are on a slightly longer business trip, there are adventure sports you must definitely try your hand at. Skydiving, helicopter tours and shark-cage diving are some activities Cape Town is well known for. While in the city, you also can’t not try quad biking through the vineyards and olive farms.
Go visit the Robben Island. Located in the Table Bay, this is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, before the fall of apartheid in South Africa. Robben Island is a world heritage site and a living museum. Lovers of history must not miss visiting the island.
Cape Town can be best described as a confluence of Europe and Africa. It is a fabulous city, offering tourists a plethora of options in cuisine, nightlife and more. The weather here is quite pleasant, but use sun-block when stepping out, the sun can get a little harsh sometimes. Hit the beaches; the water is cold and the sands spotless. Taste the Pinotage wines, made from red wine grape cultivated only in South Africa.
Surprisingly, there’s a lot to do in Cape Town for every kind of traveler: Romantic getaways, golf courses, adventure sports, an electric nightlife, experimental cuisine. The diversity is on offer at close range, so you don’t have to go too far to try out the next activity on your to-do list.
Sajid Khan is country manager, India, South African Airways
(Co-ordinated by Jasodhara Banerjee)
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(This story appears in the 16 May, 2014 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)
Cape town is a city which brings in a lot of memories to me and my wife. Be it the late dinners on the Victoria Wharf or the Helicopter ride around the Bay area.. In terms of pure adventure you will have to head east towards Durban (500 KM on the N2 Highway) where you hit the Bloukrans Bridge. Face Adrenalin runs the Highest commercial Bungee in the world and we were very thrilled to try it out. Essentially cape town and south Africa is one place which keeps asking us to come back again and again.on May 8, 2014
What a lovely description of everything that hurts about Cape Town. Apart from the blatant apartheid style segregation that is still the status quo in the Western Cape ,no mention is made of the places where the majority of the city\'s black population ejes out an existence.With the results of the social engineering projects perpetrated by the national and provincial government in full effect, I can see why the tourist view is the safest.on May 6, 2014