Cape Town: An insider's guide to the Mother City
Cape Town is one of the world's most diverse cities. Here we offer an insider's guide to help you explore every side, from the most popular spots to the locals' favourites.
Everyone who visits Cape Town has a favourite memory. It might be summiting the peak of the iconic Table Mountain; partying in Long Street; reliving Mandela's years of incarceration by visiting Robben Island; or diving with great white sharks. But it's equally likely to be something less well known, like watching the sunset from a local bar, learning to kite surf, or volunteering on a local community project.
In the ocean
Over the summer months the city is home to the world's elite kitesurfers. Rising up to five metres from the water, the best kitesurfers seem to fly through the air like rockets before gently floating down to the waves like feathers. The sport's popularity has grown so rapidly that it will appear in the next Olympics.
On the famous Kite Beach in Table View (a west coast suburb of Cape Town) you can see the over 200 kites in the air, each dragging along their fearless rider. And with a three day beginner course anyone could be on the road to glory at Rio 2016.
Beside Table Mountain, half the size and often ignored, Lions Head is an easier trek. Ascend to the summit around full moon and enjoy the show - first comes the sunset, lines of yellow and red that take an eternity to drop from the horizon, then slowly the city lights come on until the moon rises to illuminate your descent.
To the north there is a whole coastline of pristine sand to explore. Inexplicably underexplored by tourists these beaches come with the memorable view across the ocean to Table Mountain.
As well as Kite Beach and the relaxed suburb of Table View, people with their own transport can go further up the coast to deserted enclaves of sand and the sort of waves that turn surfers into excitable kids.
But to get really involved there are a number of community organisations that will benefit from an extra pair of hands. Volunteering enables people to fully immerse themselves in the local culture, share experiences with communities full of life and laughs, and help improve lives.
NightlifeLong Street might be Africa's most energetic night out, and with a seemingly never-ending row of parties, live music and drinks offers, its popularity is well justified.
Nightlife isn't just centred on the city centre though, and if you want to party with locals it's good to travel further afield. As with any water sport community, Table View knows how to look after its patrons. A series of lively bars open on to the ocean and offer majestic views of the sunset.
On the other side of the city, Mzolis is a Cape Town institution. Arriving early is essential; the tables quickly becoming packed with a mixed crowd. Beer is bought in cardboard boxes across the street and trays of prime barbequed meat from the butcher. DJ’s play their tunes through a throbbing sound system, spinning African house music as people devour their meat before joining the dance floor.
Where to stayHostelling International offer a wide selection of hostels in Cape Town, so no matter what you plan to do there's somewhere great to stay. Check out our hostels in Cape Town to see what's on offer. Hostelling International offers hostels throughout South Africa - check out our South Africa page for a full list of hostels and make your booking today!
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