The City of Cape Town is a sophisticated gateway to one of the world’s most mysterious and magnificent continents. It boasts a mix of cultural influences that are apparent in its architecture, its cultural life, and its people. Resting on a peninsula that marks the convergence of two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian, the Port of Cape Town is a place of tremendous natural beauty amidst busy urban life. There are far too many things to see and do in the Port of Cape Town to list in this article. For detailed information, visit the Port of Cape Town’s tourism website.
The Port of Cape Town enjoys a Mediterranean climate with four distinct seasons. The summers, from November to March, are dry and warm. Winters, from May to September, are punctuated with cold fronts, heavy rains, and strong winds. Temperatures range from an average high of 41 °C (106 °F) in March to an average low of 18 °C (64 °F) in June, July, and August.
At the foot of Signal Hill in the Port of Cape Town is the heart of the city’s Muslim community, Bo-Kaap or the “Malay Quarter.” The area is the home of many Muslim descendants of slaves who were brought here in the 16th and 17th Centuries from Southeast Asia and other places in Africa. With colorful buildings, mosques, and quaint cobbled streets, the neighborhood has been the location for many film shoots.
Initially built on the coastline of Table Bay at the Port of Cape Town, the 17th Century Castle of Good Hope is a star fort (and the oldest surviving building in South Africa) that is now near the city center due to land reclamation efforts. The castle holds large collections of historic military items, displays telling the castle’s story, an impressive art collection, and the famous William Fehr Collection. The Castle also holds a restaurant. William Fehr was a turn-of-the-century Port of Cape Town businessman who supplied his collection of furniture, oil paintings, ceramics, and metal and glassware dating from the 17th through the 19th Centuries. Many of the oil paintings depict the early colonial settlement and maritime life. Before 1811, the Castle served many different purposes that included barracks, apartments for top officials, a workshop for wagon-makers and blacksmiths, an apothecary, a shop for luxury goods, a wine cellar, and even a grain store.
The Port of Cape Town’s Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens covers 528 hectares and grows only those plants that are indigenous to South Africa. Plants range from rare succulents to a giant baobab tree to medicinal plants. The grounds have many paths that wander the gardens on Table Mountain as well as several restaurants and a gift shop. Home to the National Biodiversity Institute, the gardens also have a nursery for indigenous plants. During the summer, visitors enjoy musical concerts at sunset.
Robben Island lies just off the coast at the Port of Cape Town. From the 17th Century and during the 20th Century apartheid era, the island was used as a prison for political dissidents, including Nelson Mandela. This World Heritage Site is also a museum, and tours are available several times per day. Some tour guides are former prisoners who have dramatic personal stories.
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is more than a harbor. It is also a large shopping and entertainment area with many unique shops, restaurants, and amusements like the Marine Museum and the Aquarium. The area is very popular where tourists can start their tours of the harbor and to Robben Island or find helicopter flights to the peninsula. In the heart of the Port of Cape Town’s working harbor, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront offers wonderful views of the surrounding mountains and the sea as well as world-class hotels and an outstanding residential marina.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of Cape Town by sea can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.