Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa and is also the capital of the Western Cape Province. It is located on the southwest corner of South Africa on the shore of Table Bay and has become an attractive tourist destination for travelers who want to explore some historic sites, learn about local culture and history, and explore the provincial capital. Cape Town is the second-most populous city in the country and also serves as the seat of the National Parliament. It’s considered to be one of the most multicultural cities in the world and has grown to become a major destination for expatriates and immigrants from around the globe. The city currently has a population of about 3.5 million people and is still growing steadily.
The history of Cape Town dates back to the 15th century when Europeans first made their way to the area. The Portuguese, French, Danish, Dutch, and English made their way to Cape Town in the late 16th century and made frequent stops in Table Bay on their way to the Indies. Cape Town served primarily as a trading post for tobacco, copper, iron, and fresh meat. Members of the Dutch East India Company were sent to Cape Town in the 1650s to establish a way station for ships that were making their way to the Dutch East Indies. The settlement grew very slowly during this time and the labor shortage triggered demand for importing more slaves from Indonesia and Madagascar. These slaves soon became ancestors of the first Cape Colored communities.
Britain captured Cape Town in 1795 after the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. However, the Cape was returned to the Netherlands by a treaty signed in 1803. British forces managed to recapture the Cape in 1806 after the battle of Bloubergstrand. In 1814, under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty, Cape Town was permanently ceded to Britain and became the capital city of the newly-formed Cape Colony.
Cape Town served as the home of many leaders during the anti-apartheid movement and many political prisoners were held on Robben Island for several years.
While it is not known to be a prime tourist destination, Cape Town does attract many tourists who want to explore the beautiful peaks, valleys, and mountainous regions around Cape Town. The peninsula is a beautiful destination for a variety of outdoor activities, nature walks, and just for enjoying the natural scenery. It’s located in a CI Bioderversity hotspot and the unique Cape Floristic Region, boasting more than 19 different types of vegetation and hundreds of plants and animal species.
You can enjoy a variety of natural attractions, modern sites, and shopping opportunities in the urban area around Cape Town. Tourists often come here for a relaxing retreat and to enjoy some cultural events and other festivities throughout the year. Whether you’re staying in Cape Town for a few days or for an entire week, you can look forward to plenty of fun and interesting things to do around this busy South African city.
Cape Town Weather and Best Time to Visit
December through February are usually the peak season months in Cape Town because it is still quite warm but humidity levels drop to their all-time low. New Year’s is a grand event in Cape Town and you will find yourself short on beach space if you don’t get to the coast earlier in the day. Winter in Cape Town runs from June through August and you will likely encounter very wet weather for several days at a time. However, this is the time of year to find the lowest rates on hotels and other travel packages. October and November, and March through May are among the best times of year to travel to Cape Town because the weather is warm and humidity levels are comfortable. October and November are Cape Town’s spring months but you might still encounter some windy days. Fires are a serious problem during the summer months and many of the parks experience some very damaging fires.
Experience Cape Town
Cape Town has a fairly large metropolitan area that spans from Durbanville and Somerset West in the east, to Cape Point in the south and Atlantis in the north. The city center encompasses the area between Table Mountain and Table Bay. Many first-time visitors plan a tour package that lasts for three to five days so that they can take a tour of the natural sites, explore the wine routes, and take guided walks through various neighborhoods and territories. You can always plan a trip without a guide, but having a guide by your side is advised when you are traveling through the area for the first time.
The easiest way to get in to Cape Town is by flying in to Cape Town International Airport, the second largest airport in South Africa. You can also take the scheduled South African passenger trains which are operated by the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa. Most of the roads around Cape Town are in very good condition so it’s fairly easy to travel around the area by car. Several major highways link some of the smaller regions in South Africa to Cape Town, and can make it very easy to travel multiple routes in the area. Several major bus companies also travel between different cities and towns throughout the region. Princess Cruises offers Cape Town as one of tis destinations and the RMS St. Helena stops at Cape Town en route to St. Helena regularly.
It’s fairly challenging to get around Cape Town just by walking so you will need a rental car or be dependent on taxi services when you are staying in the area for a few days. You could also rent a small motorbike or scooter. Some visitors prefer to use the public train system that operates a network of more than 80 stations throughout the region.
Whether you’re visiting Cape Town for the first time or are a return visitor, you’ll find a wealth of things to do and experience throughout this multicultural city. Take some time to learn about the region’s most-visited sites, festivals, events, and tourist attractions so that you can make the most of your visit.