Walking Tour of Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town, South Africa, is considered by many to be the most beautiful city in the world because of its setting, sprawled around and including Table Mountain with its two peaks, Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head, and then drifting into the ocean. The views of the city from various locations are truly stunning. However, although the locals are friendly and the pace is relaxed, be aware that crime can be a problem here, especially in certain neighborhoods.
The City Bowl is the center of this thriving metropolis and the location of some of the sights of interest to the tourist. Perhaps most important here is the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront which is the major gathering place for tourists and locals alike (although visitors are cautioned not to walk here from the city center because of crime concerns).
My walk begins at Greenmarket Square, a cobblestone area with an open-air market, in the center of the city. The Old Town House, a building which has witnessed many historical events, sits at the southern end of the square.
Walk north from the square, on St George’s Mall, to observe the ubiquitous street performers and street vendors for a bit. Then, turn right on Strand Street (at the Southern Sun Cape Hotel), and then right again on Adderley Street, which is lined with beautiful, old buildings.
Now, turn left on Darling Street, which leads to the Grand Parade, location of a large flea market on Wednesday and Saturday mornings, and Cape Town’s City Hall, a magnificent Edwardian-style building.
Next, turn left on Buitenkurt Street to visit the Castle of Good Hope, actually a defensive fortification, dating to the mid-17th century, now a museum (there is also a Changing of the Guard ceremony here, daily).
Return to Darling Street and walk west, past City Hall, and then turn left onto Parliament Street. Here you will find the entrance to the Groote Kerk, South Africa’s oldest church, which has an interesting interior. After your visit, proceed south to Parliament House, not only a beautiful building, but visitors may sit in if the legislators are in session, and to the Company’s Gardens, a wonderful place to stroll, complete with fountains, rose gardens, and monuments. Be sure to check the lovely Tuynhuys, a former Governor’s residence.
At Hatfield Street, adjoining the gardens, you should visit the Capetown Holocaust Centre, not only a memorial but also an educational experience, and the Great Synagogue, with its twin towers and dome.
Now, exit the gardens on their western side, and turn right on Queen Victoria Street (museum-lovers will want to visit the South African Museum, at #25). Turn left when you reach Bloem Street and then right onto Long Street, which is another thoroughfare with elegant, Victorian buildings. When you arrive at Wale Street, turn right, past Mandela Rhodes Place, now a restored and renovated shopping mall, and then turn left on Queen Victoria Street (St George’s Cathedral is a brief distance past the intersection, on Wale Street). This road will return you to Greenmarket Square, where you began your walk.
While you’re here, be sure to take a cab to the most popular attraction in the city center, the Table Mountain Cable Car which offers great views along the way and several excellent walks at the top. Probably the most important tourist attraction within the city, these days, is Robben Island, famous as the prison where freedom-fighters such as Nelson Mandela were imprisoned. Access is limited and consists of guided tours only (advance reservations are essential). Make an effort to extend the time on the island to see the Cell Stories, vignettes or personal remnants of some of the incarcerated (it is not part of the regular tour). Take public transportation to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront to purchase tickets and access the boats.