Cape Town South Africa

48 Hours: Pre-/Post-Cruise in Dazzling, Dynamic Cape Town

Dazzling, Dynamic Cape Town South Africa

This vibrant city at the southernmost tip of the African continent has become one of the most sought-after, must-see travel destinations in the world. It’s gorgeous, rimmed by mountains and flanked by the sea, with pristine, sandy beaches stretching along its coastline. But the Mother City, as it’s affectionately nicknamed, is not just a pretty face. Downtown Cape Town South Africa thrums with cool urban energy. It’s become a center for cutting-edge art and design, and a home to world-class restaurants, diverse neighborhoods, and a range of cultural resources that showcase and preserve its rich — and often dark — past.

For Foodies

The culinary scene is buzzing as an influx of young talent floods the city, drawn by its creative vibe and natural resources. Expect multicultural flavors, a strong farm-to-table ethos, and a passionate coffee culture (with more than 60 independent coffee roasters).

Get your java fix — and a perfect flat white — at the funky Truth Coffee Roasting (36 Buitenkant St.), located in a former 18th-century furniture factory. The award-winning brews are hand-roasted in a vintage cast-iron drum.

For bucket-list dining, make reservations well in advance for Chef Luke Dale-Roberts’ Test Kitchen (The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd.), named one of the best restaurants in the world. Roberts performs culinary alchemy, serving an around-the-world, multi-course dinner to 40 guests nightly.

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Sip a glass of pinotage in the bar, while you wait for a table at Chefs Warehouse & Canteen (92 Bree St.), a lively, contemporary eatery serving internationally-inspired small plates.

Head to laid-back Bacon on Bree (217 Bree St.) for arguably the best BLT on the planet. And for the freshest fish and a fun beachy vibe, check out Codfather Seafood & Sushi (37 The Drive Ave.)

For View Seekers

Flat-topped Table Mountain looms over the city, often blanketed in clouds, which locals call “the tablecloth.” Ride the cable car to the top for spectacular mountain-to-sea views. Join a free guided tour to learn more about the mountain’s flora and fauna, or take a walk along one of the interpretive hiking trails.

Driving scenic Victoria Road from Cape Town to Hout Bay offers pure eye candy. The road skirts the shoreline with views of the towering Twelve Apostles Mountain Range on one side and the sea on the other, with several picnic areas along the way. Hout Bay is a charming seaside harbor; stretch your legs with a walk on its sandy beach, or browse downtown galleries and shops.

Several worthy restaurants offer views of Cape Town’s waterfront, including The Granary Café at The Silo Hotel, Azure at the Twelve Apostles Hotel, and Grand Africa Café & Beach, where you can stick your toes in the sand.

Cape Point, located about 40 miles from Cape Town, is a stunning site, with lighthouses perched on steep, rocky cliffs. The double-decker Cape Point Explorer bus offers a full-day trip, with a penguin-viewing stop at Boulders Beach.

For Culture Vultures

Robben Island is one of the most popular attractions in South Africa, with a dark and storied past. It was once home to a leper colony and to a maximum-security prison, where thousands of South Africa’s freedom fighters were incarcerated. Visit the cell where Nelson Mandela served 18 years as a political prisoner.

Completed in 2017, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, the first contemporary art museum in South Africa and the largest on the continent, has more than 100 galleries showcasing the works of innovative African artists.

In 1966, the District Six neighborhood was declared a white area and more than 60,000 people were forcibly removed and their homes destroyed. The District Six Museum tells the story with multi-media exhibitions, videos and photos.

Other museums worth visiting include the Slave Lodge, detailing the long history of slavery in South Africa; the Bo-Kaap Museum, where you can learn about the…

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By Diane Bair and Pamela Wright

Photo: Lisa Burnell: Cape Town Tourism

Now in its 25th year, Porthole Cruise and Travel Magazine is published bi-monthly and available worldwide through digital subscription. It offers the latest news in cruise and travel, with in-depth features on voyages, new ships, the best destinations, readers' picks, onboard cuisine, entertainment, and more!