[Article credits: Adam Taplin on Fodors.com blog]
If you’re traveling to Cape Town for the World Cup, you may very well be inspired to wander further afield by the mesmerizing views of nearby Table Mountain. Here’s how to maximize your trip.
1. Cape Town weather changes in a blink of an eye, so make sure your plans are flexible. If Table Mountain is on your must see list, make a beeline for the mountain on your first sunny morning; those with limited time should take the tram (aka Table Mountain Ariel Cableway) to the top of the mountain and allow an hour to walk around the top. If you have more time and want to climb or hike to the top, ask locals for advice on the best routes. Another tip: reserve tickets ahead of time so you won’t have to wait in line.
2. Don’t let bad weather spoil your trip. There are numerous options to fill your day. If shopping’s your thing, head to the V&A Waterfront. There are hundreds of shops, restaurants, bars, and a few movie theaters to occupy your time. The V&A Craft Market, right next to the Two Oceans Aquarium, is a great place to find unique gifts and souvenirs. Plan to spend a few hours poking through the stalls that feature locally made jewelry, rugs, glass, pottery, and leather sandals. If you’re looking for something more genteel, try high tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, the grand dame of Cape Town. The lavish afternoon tea is served daily from 2:30 to 5:30 and costs R150. You’ll dine on finger sandwiches and every sweet imaginable.
3. Kids won’t be bored. Two Oceans Aquarium is considered to be one of the best in the world and it’s hands-on. Don’t miss the feeding time at the predator tank every day at 3 pm. The South African Museum has Shark World and a planetarium that has children specific shows throughout the week.
4. Don’t miss the penguins. It’s not every day that you get the chance to see penguins up close and in their natural habitat. Boulders Beach, just outside of Simon’s Town—part of Table Mountain National Park, is home to African penguins, the species that call this area home. You’ll see penguins everywhere as you walk along the boardwalk that takes you through the park. One penguin is cuter then the next and even the hardest hearts will melt when a baby is spotted.
5. The Winelands can’t be missed. While you may think you can pass up a visit to South Africa’s wine country because you’ve been to Napa, think again. Just 45 minutes east of Cape Town, the region is home to some of the country’s best restaurants and hotels, and of course, wine. There are three major areas that fan out around the historic towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Paarl. We suggest picking an area to explore and planning two full days to do so, making sure to spend a few hours in the towns themselves. Make sure you designate a driver. Tastings will run you about R10 to R30 for four or five glasses, which is no more then $5, depending on the exchange rate—oenophiles will think they’ve died and gone to wine heaven. Don’t be surprised if you buy a few bottles at each stop. Oh, and be sure to try Pinotage. It’s the only truly South African varietal.