For the final installment of my South Africa travel diaries, instead of doing the usual consolidated list of places to see & things to do, I’ve decided to simply write about why Cape Town is my favorite city.This holiday was the longest I’ve stayed put in one place while on vacation, given that we spent a good sixteen days there. With so much to offer, I still think we barely scratched the surface; but as a tourist, however, we were able to maximize our stay, getting the best out of our time in what I now deem as my favorite city in the world. I first heard about the amazing things South Africa has to offer from a Contiki friend only a few years ago, and it wasn’t until early 2019 that I decided that this would have to be the year I cross-off another continent on the list. And the first step was having to get a visa, as South Africa falls under the list of countries you need a visa for – at least for Philippine passport holders. The goods news? It’s easy to obtain one, which I wrote about here: South Africa Visitor’s Visa Application for Philippine Passport Holders: VFS Manila.Planning the itinerary was a tough one, as two & a half weeks and a certain budget was not enough to cover all the things I wanted to do while in Cape Town, but luckily, two months worth of planning left us with the best itinerary taking into consideration time and budget constraints. With only six guided tours in tow – noted below – we planned to spend the rest of our time as we pleased, with no specific itinerary or schedule at hand, which made this holiday a real vacation.
- The Big-Five African Safari
- Lion’s Head Sunset Hike
- Table Mountain and Cape Town Half-Day Trip Tour
- Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point
- Franschhoek and Stellenbosch Wine
- The Robben Island General Tour
8 Reasons Why Cape Town is My Favorite City
And now, onto the trip itself. I have to admit that even if I was very excited about going to South Africa, I had no idea it would top all the other incredible trips I’ve been on. So why did I fall in love with Cape Town so much? Here’s a quick run-down of 8 reasons why Cape Town is now my favorite city to-date.
8) The Food & The Wine
As I’ve mentioned far too many times, food plays a big part in making or breaking a trip, and as noted in: A Surprising Foodie Destination: 6 Must-Try Restaurants in Cape Town, this is one of the many things I loved about being in Cape Town. The food scene is amazing, given how dynamic the options are and how the quality is always up to snuff no matter where we went or what dishes we tried. The wine scene is yet another highlight in this otherwise perfect city for drinking & dining, as mentioned in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch Wine Tour from Cape Town, as the local options are diverse for any palate, and even better – prices are competitive, so you won’t have to spend a fortune on good wine!
7) The Nightlife
Good food & good wine make for a great night, but who’s to say a night-out wouldn’t make for an ever greater one? And this is where Cape Town doesn’t fall short in either, as the city has districts filled with streets dedicated to nightlife. From Kloof Street, Loop Street, to Long Street, there are a multitude of clubs & bars to choose from, such as Reset, where we had a fun – albeit blurry – night out in the city. Whether you have laid-back plans with only a few drinks (Kloof Street House being a good option) or fancy a party vibe out in the club, Cape Town will have these options readily available, making it such an exciting city for nightlife!
6) The Shopping
Shopping isn’t exactly something that I spend a lot of time on while travelling – mainly because I’d rather be out & about exploring the city and because of limited financial capacities – however, Cape Town was one of the few cities where I had to set aside some time for shopping, be it for local finds, international brands, the supermarket, or even for shoes. It was in the V&A Waterfront area, particularly the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre & The Watershed (depicted respectively below), where I had such a great time both window-shopping and making actual purchases. Even better? The tax refund system is so convenient and I would say, is definitely one of the best systems in the world to get your tourist tax back. It’s as simple as informing the store upon purchase, keeping the receipt they put a stamp on, having the goods ready on the day of your flight (before luggage check-in) – as well as the receipts, and right after immigration, a counter will have your bank card ready. It’s a prepaid card with your total tax refund, which will be ready to be used upon email confirmation; mine only took 3-4 weeks to be credited! It also makes for a great souvenier, as the theme of the card is localized.
5) The Underrated Spots
There are just so many gorgeous places to visit in Cape Town that there are underrated attractions that tend to go unnoticed, such as those listed below – which you won’t really find in the top places to visit while in the city – but are just as beautiful as the most popular ones, which makes me love the city even more.
Goes to show that locals are so used to having such gorgeous views that while in the Uber on the way to University of Cape Town (depicted above & below), he asked us why we would want to go there; of course, while I wanted to say: why not? I explained politely that in photos, I saw that the architecture was beautiful and the views are unparalleled.
4) Out-of-this-World Views
Leading me to my next point, anywhere you go in Cape Town, you get a magnificent glimpse of the grandiose Table Mountain, which oftentimes can be taken for granted, but in my case – I appreciated it each and every day we were there.While I loved the views we got both in and out of the city, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden would have to be one of my favorites, as it serves up a view of the mountains, the city, and even the coast – as posted about in: 5 Reasons to Visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town.
3) The Outdoor Adventures
Capetonians are generally adventurous – I mean, who wouldn’t be, given the tons of options for outdoor adventures they have at their doorstep. Just a stone’s throw away is One of the Best Day Hikes in the World: Lion’s Head in Cape Town, South Africa, trekking Kirstenbosch forests, getting a bird’s-eye view of the city from a helicopter, paragliding, skydiving, snorkeling, and more – Cape Town is just full of adventures in the outdoors that’ll leave you filled with unforgettable memories.
2) The Wildlife Experience
Although we decided to spend 100% of our African vacation in Cape Town instead of jumping on a plane to go to other cities or neighboring countries for the safari experience, we still didn’t miss out on seeing animals out in the wild, as I wrote about in An Experience of A Lifetime: The Big-Five African Safari, Aquila Private Game Reserve. This just goes to show that Cape Town really does have everything tourists & travelers would look for in a holiday.
1) The People
Onto the last point of this post: the people in Cape Town are the kindest, warmest, and most welcoming people you will ever come to meet. Not only will they make you feel like it’s their privilege to have you as their country’s visitor, but they’ll go above & beyond to make fruitful conversations that’ll leave you humbled upon every encounter. Again, there are so many things I love about travelling, but if there is one thing that tops the charts, it would have to be meeting the locals, learning about their life & culture, their history & growth, and everything in between. These encounters are unrecorded – maybe partly because I can get shy about asking whether or not I could take a photo with the lovely people we’ve come across – but mainly because I often don’t see the need to do so, because the conversations we have are documentation enough to leave memories to last a lifetime.
To end this post, let me get straight to my main point: Cape Town has topped my list of favorite cities simply because they have everything. From the people, the culture, the history, the food, the sights, and the adventure – they seem to have everything in tow. If you fancy the beach, the mountains, the safari, the winelands, or even the shopping malls, they have it all! I could go on and on about how unbelievably remarkable this city & its people are, but let me just leave you with this little video montage I’ve finally gotten the time to put together. Here’s to closing this Cape Town travel series… Dankie, South Africa!