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Top 10 List: Great Places to visit in Cape Town

Studying abroad in South Africa? Here we present you a list of 10 great places in Cape Town that you can’t miss!

by Dr. Dane Claussen
Athena Study Abroad

1.Table Mountain. Table Mountain is stunning, with or without its own clouds on top at any given moment. From the second you see it, you will want to take a cable car to the top and you will be glad you did. (But see #6.)


2. Robben Island Museum & Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. To see Robben Island, book tickets at least several days in advance. The waterfront’s Nelson Mandela Gateway is a smaller but fine museum on its own if you can’t get to the island. (Plan ahead, as visitors often encounter canceled boats to the island.)


3. Castle of Good Hope. Take time to see every nook and cranny of this 17th century Dutch fort, as it will be well worth your time and effort. (If you walk in and just glance around, you might be disappointed, so take your time to savor all that it has to offer.)


4. Cape Point Nature Reserve. Forty-three miles from Cape Town, you will have to plan to go this 19,000-acre park with 250 species of birds, other animals, and high cliffs.


5. Two Oceans Aquarium. A very fine aquarium, perhaps one of the world’s best, that continues to hold its own even as it competes against other world cities’ gigantic new ones. Favorites include the penguins, touching various creatures, and probably getting to see a giant spider crab (from Japan) molting–naked without a shell!


6. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Newlands). One of the world’s first outdoor botanical gardens, this 1,300-acre park is peaceful and beautiful without large numbers of tourists. On the other side of Table Mountain from the city, you can try to hike up the mountain–but it’s not quick or easy.


7. Bo-kaap. “Painted Ladies” Victorian houses in San Francisco have nothing on this bright, historically Muslim neighborhood where every house is a different brilliant color. A small museum tells Cape Town’s Muslim history.


8. District Six Museum. This museum documents the lives of 60,000 black residents who were forced to move out of their neighborhood in the 1970s. Looking backward but also forward to a better future.


9. Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The Waterfront continues to be (over?) developed and is a favorite for shopping, restaurants, hotels, upscale residents, and more, including the Aquarium, Nelson Mandela Gateway and a Nobel Prize winners memorial. The clocktower is a favorite.


10. Iziko South African Museum. This is Cape Town’s primary history and natural history museum. The history sections were closed when we were there in May 2018 and are still closed in May 2019. The natural history is worth seeing for those interested, again if you take time to see everything.

Honorable mentions:
Cape Point Ostrich Farm, Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Waterford Estate, Franschhoek Motor Museum, Cango Caves, and the African Penguin & Seabird Sanctuary.

Places you might want to avoid:
*Spending too much time at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, which will start reminding you of similar areas all over the world.
*Long Street—lots of restaurants and bars, but similar to many high-tourist areas, petty crime can be prevalent so exercise caution.

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