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Cape Town is a modern, cosmopolitan city surrounded by nature. Centred around Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of the world, the Mother City is known for its beautiful beaches, stunning biodiversity, award-winning food and wine, and sheer variety of experiences on offer.
A coming-together of cultures, cuisines and landscapes, there’s nowhere quite like Cape Town, a singularly beautiful city crowned by the magnificent Table Mountain National Park.
Cape Town is South Africa’s crown jewel and the most European city you’ll find on the continent. Founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, it was South Africa’s first attempt at a modern metropolis, earning it the nickname “The Mother City.” Because of its strategic location at the southwestern tip of Africa, for centuries it played an important role in global trade. Today it’s one of South Africa’s three capital cities. The metro area covers 950 square miles and is home to 3.5 million people. The city’s setting, a dramatic coastline in the shadow of Table Mountain National Park, is as picturesque as its history is problematic. Like the rest of South Africa, Cape Town is still trying to recover from the apartheid era which ended in 1994. While crime and corruption are still issues, in 2010 the city helped host the FIFA World Cup and tourism has only grown since then.
Sitting at the feet of iconic Table Mountain, Cape Town is a little city that packs a big punch. Established in 1652 with the arrival of Dutch settlers who were sent to start a halfway station for passing ships, Cape Town is known as Africa’s “Mother City.” Like most other African cities, it has a complex colonial history, but one that has brought about truly magnificent diversity. —Mariette Du Toit-Helmbold
Humidity is quite low in Cape Town, so while the summers are hot, they aren’t too muggy. Wintertime, however, is chilly with the ocean winds blowing in from the southeast. The best times to visit are the cusp months, October and November, springtime in South Africa, or from December to February when the days are at their longest and warmest. Winter from June to August tends to be rainy and cold.
Cape Town is worth visiting year-round. That said, it looks different each season. Late December through March is South Africa’s summer. It’s when Cape Town is alive with tourists escaping their own winters back home and locals enjoying the gorgeous weather. It’s sunny, dry, and warm enough to warrant a dip in the ocean. The city’s social calendar is packed with events, and while prices might be higher during this peak season, at least everything is open. If you’re looking for lower prices and fewer people, visit during the winter, late June through late September. Pack a raincoat because winter means wet. If your goal is to see whales, check out the Hermanus Whale Festival usually held in late September. However, July and August are also considered great months for whale watching. Finally, the shoulder seasons can be just as unforgettable. Spring, September through early December, is when the wildflowers are in full bloom. Autumn, late March through early June, is thought to be the best time to go cage diving with great white sharks.