Things to see in Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the world's most beautiful cities and is filled with many reminders of its historical importance on the trade route from Europe to Asia. Three hundred years have left their mark in Cape Town in the form of the impressive architecture and layout of the city. In Cape Town´s surrounding areas there are many superb vineyards, originally established by the early settlers, producing some of the country's most exquisite wines. A cruise around Cape Town´s Table Bay harbour allows visitors to experience the Cape as seen by its early settlers, of mountains dissolving into clear blue ocean or golden sand with the stunning spectacle of Table Mountain in the distance.

The Cape Town city center is surprisingly small and is best explored on foot. Walk up St George's Mall from Thibault Square. Stop at Greenmarket Square, the colorful heart of the City, which overflows with African crafts, funky clothes, eccentric characters and good vibes.

At the top of the Mall visit the Cathedral and continue up the tree-lined Government Avenue, past the Houses of Parliament, S.A. National Gallery and the peaceful Company Gardens. These beautiful gardens are the oldest in South Africa and house the S.A. Museum and Planetarium, as well as a large number of friendly squirrels. Return down Long Street, the liveliest street in Cape Town, which is lined with restaurants, bars and cafes.

Other things to see in Cape Town central for the gay tourist include the Grand Parade, bordered by The Castle and City Hall as well as the suburb of Bo-Kaap, with its steep cobbled streets and brightly colored homes.

A few minutes from town is the lively suburb of Sea Point. The suburb's bustling nerve center - main road - is lined with a great array ofgay friendly café's, restaurants and shops. The seaside park and promenade, popular with dog walkers, roller blades, joggers and gay men cruising are ideal for a pleasant sunset stroll.

Cape Town´s Atlantic Seaboard boasts a spectacular selection of unspoiled beaches. Take a drive along Victoria Road, the beautiful coastal road set against steep mountain slopes, and enjoy the white sands of gay beach Clifton 3, Camps Bay, Llandudno, Sandy Bay and Hout Bay. The picturesque Hout Bay valley has a busy fishing harbor and Mariner's Wharf where fish are sold fresh from the boats. Most visitors love the boat trip to Duiker Island to see the seals. Other places worth visiting include the World of Birds and the spectacular, cliff hugging Chapman's Peak Drive.

There are some great beaches along the South Peninsula including Noordhoek Beach and a magnificent coastal drive via Scarborough. The Cape Point Nature Reserve has a wide variety of indigenous flora and fauna including baboon, springbok and ostrich. The views from the high sea cliffs at the tip of the reserve are breathtaking.

Don't miss the colony of penguins at Boulders Beach, or the interesting coastal towns of Simonstown and Kalk Bay. There are magnificent views over Muizenberg beach from Boyes Drive.

The lush Constantia Valley is home to the most historic wine farm in Cape Town, Groot Constantia, as well as other award-winning estates such as Klein Constantia and Buitenverwachting. The forested mountain slopes have extensive hiking and horse riding trails.

Kirstenbosch Gardens boasts a dazzling diversity of Cape flora, set amongst rolling green lawns. There is also an impressive collection of sculptures. Definitely worth a long, leisurely visit.

Sports fans should head for Newlands, home to two world famous sporting venues; the Newlands Cricket Field and Newlands Rugby Stadium. Above Rondebosch, on the slopes of Devil's Peak are the beautiful ivy-covered buildings of the University of Cape Town. Nearby is the neoclassical Rhodes Memorial built in memory of Cecil Rhodes and guarded by eight large granite lions.

Cape Town Museums

  • The Bo-Kaap Museum recreates a typical 19th century Cape Muslim family home and portrays aspects of Cape Muslim culture. Inquires: tel. (021) 461 8280; fax. (021) 9592.
  • The District Six Museum commemorates the area of District Six that was destroyed under the Apartheid Group Areas Act from 1966. The poignant displays provide excellent insight into the trauma experienced by people forcibly removed from their homes in the old South Africa. Inquires: tel. (021) 461 4735; fax. (021) 461 8745. Address Lower Buitenkant Street, opposite Caledon Square Police Station.
  • South African Cultural History Museum 49 Adderley Street, Cape Town. Tel: +27 21 461 8280. Open Mon to Sat, 09:30 - 16:30. The S. A. Museum set in the beautiful Company Gardens is definitely worth a visit. Highlights include the huge Whale Well filled with real whale skeletons, the dinosaur and rock art displays and the fascinating shows at the Planetarium. Inquires: tel. (021) 424 3330; fax. (021) 424 6716.
  • South African National Gallery Government Avenue, 8000 Cape Town. Tel: +27 21 451 628. Holds both permanent and temporary exhibits of South African paintings. Open: Tues to Sun 10:00 - 17:00, Mon 13:00 - 17:00.

Day trips from Cape Town

  • The Winelands are forty-five minutes from Cape Town by the N1 or N2. Head for Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Maps and booklets are freely available from gay hotels and other gay accommodation establishments and information offices. If you are in Cape Town for more than 24 hours do not miss the wine lands. 45 minutes from the city, they have great charm, terrific natural beauty and fine wine.
  • Stellenbosch is the oldest and by far the most attractive town in South Africa. Walk down Dorp Street; visit the Stellenbosch Museum and Botanical Garden; stand on Die Braak (central square). Drive up the Idas Valley (R44) towards Paarl. Stop at the farms along the way for tastings. Paarl Main Street is very historic; take a slow drive past the fine architecture. The Backsberg and Fairview wine estates are popular for tasting.
  • Franschhoek is set in a lovely valley and has excellent restaurants and gay friendly accommodation. Take a drive up the pass or on the back roads beyond the town. Boschendal is an historic estate and the journey back to Stellenbosch via Helshoogte is most magnificent.
  • Another wine region which is much closer is the Constantia region. Just on the other side of the mountains and easily reached by M3 to M63.. The people are friendly and encourage you to try their wines. This region specializes in whites as opposed to reds. It is possible to get a car or van with a driver to take you around to the winers and then drive you back home if you and your gay friends wanting to do some serious drinking (er, I mean tasting).
  • Robben Island is 20 minutes by ferry from the Waterfront. You are required to join a guided tour of the island and museum. Robben Island Museum 11 kilometers off Cape Town in False Bay The island is now a museum and nature reserve.