Top Reasons to Go to Cape Town

City Sophistication: Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city with a rich heritage that's proudly on display. It might be more laid-back than Johannesburg, but it has shaken off its sleepy, parochial air and now bristles with world-class shops and restaurants and cutting-edge art and design.

Table Mountain: Fantastic Table Mountain towers over Cape Town and dominates the whole peninsula. Exploring the mountain is a must; you can either take the cable car to the top or hike up various routes. It’s not a particularly difficult climb, but having an athletic frame will help you pull and scramble up the odd steep bit, and there are easy routes, too.

Nature's Playground: Capetonians are proud of their city's stylish good looks and make the most of the mountain and beaches. In summer you'll find professionals shrugging off their suits as they head for the beach after work, surfboards, picnics, and sundowner drinks in tow. In winter they bundle up against the cold and go walking, mountain biking, or running in the city's countless green spaces.

Markets Galore: Cape Town's markets are the best in the country—informal, creative, funky, and with a good selection of both tacky and splendid African curios. The Old Biscuit Mill is all about designer food, and the Oranjezicht City Farm Market is a community garden in the midst of established, well-to-do suburbs right below the mountain.

Historical Heritage: Cape Town is saturated with an extremely rich and fascinating history. At Robben Island you can stand in Nelson Mandela's old cell and learn about political and social banishment during apartheid, and the District Six Museum tells the poignant tale of the destruction of one of the country's most vibrant inner-city neighborhoods. The Castle of Good Hope—the first European building on the continent—is also a remarkable piece of history, with interiors of antique furniture and historic paintings.

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