Cape Town, South Africa, nestled against the rough waters of the Atlantic Ocean, is a cruise port that provides visitors with an experience of a lifetime, both visually and culturally. It’s often overlooked when seeking a warm weather cruise, Cape Town, a city under the shadow of towering Table Mountain and washed by two oceans, is considered one of the top 5 most beautiful seaside cities in the world!
That reputation is part of why it’s becoming a more consistent port of call for world cruises and other 12 to 14 day cruises along Africa’s coast.
Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city, having been first settled by the Dutch in 1652, as a rest station on the long route from the Netherlands to the East Indies. In 1814, the British gained control of the city, and many Dutch moved inland to ultimately establish Johannesburg and Pretoria.
But some remained behind, and it was their architectural heritage, language and customs that became interwoven with those of the British, East Asian immigrants and the native African people. Today if there is one element of Cape Town’s cultural scene, it is the blending of these distinctive traditions that marks the everyday lives of its nearly 4 million residents.
Spending just one day in this mesmerizing port of call, it can be a difficult to narrow down the options! Let us help with these suggestions.
A few of our favorite places to help you dive deep in to this rich area are:
Experience the breathtaking views of Cape Town from the summit of Table Mountain. Table Mountain is a majestic plateau that stands watch over Cape Town, offering visitors spectacular views of Robben Island, Table Bay and the surrounding region.
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront offers plenty of shopping and dining options. This lively area around the Cape Town dock is an easy way to spend a day in Cape Town on foot and experience a taste of South Africa’s vibrant culture.
The Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre houses hundreds of retails shops, open markets, cafes, museums and restaurants. South Africa is world-renowned for its fine jewelry and Victoria Wharf has several reputable jewelry stores where visitors can find a high-quality, one-of-a-kind piece to take home.
When shopping for authentic South African souvenirs, look for vendors offering unique handmade jewelry, baskets and other crafts. Be wary of mass-produced souvenirs that may be imported from other countries.
In addition, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront offers amenities such as:
For a life-changing glimpse into South Africa’s history, do not miss the chance to tour Robben Island, home of the prison where Nelson Mandela spent almost two decades. Visitors can view Mandela’s actual prison cell on tours led by former inmates who describe their personal experiences and discuss the history of apartheid in South Africa. Ferries to the island depart from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront throughout the day.
Robben Island, situated seven miles north of Cape Town, has a colorful history which includes a leper colony, mental institution and the infamous prison. Cruise ship visitors can take a half-day tour of the island to learn about the apartheid-haunted past of South Africa, as well as the transformations that have taken place since its banishment in 1990.
These three activities barely scratch the surface of ways to spend a day in Cape Town. If you have more time, here are a few more options to consider: