The Western Cape, South Africa

If the Western Cape were a woman, she would turn heads. As a province of South Africa, the Western Cape draws millions of visitors each year to a seemingly small area if compared with other provinces in South Africa, but one that is so beautiful that it can’t help the distinct attention it draws. And, with the vibrant metropolis of Cape Town as its capital, it is no wonder that it continues to be one of South Africa’s treasures.

Did you know? Table Mountain, Cape Town’s most famous landmark - A quick spin by revolving cable car to the 1,086m summit, will give the visitor a splendid view of Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and of course the equally famous Robben Island.

Affixed to the tip of Africa as it is, the Western Cape lies bordered by two oceans - the Indian Ocean to the south and the Atlantic to the west - which goes a long way to clarify its allure. The wild Cape Agulhas coast, the extraordinary magnificence of the Garden Route, the sparse, sweeping stretches of sand, punctuated only by rocky outcrops and fishing villages, of the West Coast notwithstanding, it is not the coastline alone that draws the crowds.

The constant reassuring presence of immense peaks form the backdrop to a land so lovely in parts that the emerald lakes and indigenous forests of the Wilderness, the sun-drenched vineyards of the Cape Winelands, the magnificent passes to reach the interior and the wide, windswept arid spaces of the Klein Karoo seem part of a fantasy landscape that often defies description.

The heart of the Western Cape is without doubt the city bowl of Cape Town. With a distinct flavour of its own, affected in no small part by the cultural melting pot of Indonesian, French, Dutch, British and German settlers who each indelibly stamped their mark upon the foundations of the city, Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world today.

The inner city is an eclectic mix of architectural styles that combine the past with the present in a mishmash of high-rise office blocks, Edwardian and Victorian buildings and narrow, cobblestone streets that give rise to fine examples of Cape Dutch design. It is also home to a blend of corporate and independent business that lends it a striking aliveness, particularly at lunch time when the streets spill over with a combination of lunch time diners and consequent entertainers and market stalls.

Did you know? Once you've booked your hotels or accommodation in Cape Town, explore the destination pages for info on attractions, activities and things to do when you visit the Western Cape Province in South Africa.

Constantly engulfed by the vast maternal presence of Table Mountain, the inner city combines with an effortless choice of white sandy beaches, must-visits like Robben Island, Cape Point and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, magnificent green areas with rivers, vleis and dams, a floral kingdom that is wholly unique to the Cape and an effortlessly warm climate that makes the Western Cape a logical destination throughout the year.

The vibrant coastline that stretches from Lambert’s Bay on the West Coast all the way around to Witsand, offers an incredible diversity. From sweeping sandy beaches that are perfect for swimming and sunbathing, where children get to splash in the shallows, to stormy narrow shores with crashing waves that threaten your very mettle but provide awe-inspiring views from surrounding cliffs, along which some of the country’s greatest hikes like the Otter Trail pass, you will not be disappointed.

The Cape Whale Coast in particular creates quite a stir and draws to our shores a uniquely intelligent and remarkable creature that never fails to ignite in those who come to see them a sense of well-being and incredible pleasure at having viewed them from so close. Whales, including the Southern Right Whale and less commonly the Bryde’s (pronounced ‘broodess’) and the Humpback Whale, are frequently sited along the Cape Overberg Coast from Stony Point near Betty’s Bay, along the cliff paths of Hermanus, Kleinmond, Onrus, Walker Bay, the De Hoop Nature Reserve and Witsand. These gentle giants spend summer feeding around Antarctica and then migrate thousands of miles to our waters where the sheltered bays of the South African coast provide perfect refuge to mate and calve.

The Cape Winelands of the Western Cape are another of the huge draw cards to South Africa that manage to effortlessly combine the beauty of ripening vineyards, Cape Dutch manor homes and excellent cuisine in valleys surrounded by indigo mountains to such effect that visitors return to fully appreciate the many wine routes and estates on offer. Many of these are within easy reach of Cape Town, particularly those in Stellenbosch, Paarl, Franschhoek and Wellington, but there are those slightly further afield in other wine-producing valleys - the Breede River Valley, the Swartland and the Olifants River Valley, to name but a few - that are equally inviting (see Cape Wine Routes).

The Overberg with its myriad villages, mountains and coastline; the citrus-bearing Cederberg with its incredibly intense summers and amazing mountain scenery, and the Breede River Valley that includes timeless villages like McGregor, Swellendam and Malgas are other reasons to visit the Western Cape if you haven’t yet added it to your itinerary.

The Western Cape as a destination

Must See in the Western Cape

Landmarks

Table Mountain

Since the first person laid eyes on Table Mountain, it has exerted its powerful and charismatic pull, enchanting and drawing any and all who fall under its spell. The way to the top has never been easy, and for many centuries only a handful of bold and ...

National Parks

Table Mountain National Park

At the south-western tip of South Africa, the Table Mountain National Park encompasses the incredibly scenic Peninsula mountain chain stretching from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south, a distance of approximately 60 km. The narrow ...

Marine Protected Areas / Landmarks / World Heritage Sites

Robben Island

For nearly 400 years, Robben Island, 12 kilometres from Cape Town, was a place of banishment, exile, isolation and imprisonment. It was here at Robben Island that rulers sent those regarded as political troublemakers, social outcasts and the unwanted of ...

Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is world renowned for the beauty and diversity of the Cape flora it displays and for the magnificence of its setting against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Kirstenbosch grows only indigenous South African ...

Landmarks / Entertainment / Shopping

V&A Waterfront

One of Cape Town's biggest tourist attractions, the Waterfront evokes images of the early activities of the harbour. Much of its charm lies in the fact that this busy commercial harbour is set in the midst of a huge entertainment venue with pubs, ...

Landmarks

Cape Point

Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese seafarer, was the first to sail around the Cape. This was in 1488. On his return voyage, which must have been particularly stormy, Dias stopped at the south-western tip of Africa, and named it Cabo Tormentoso, or Cape of ...

Landmarks / Beaches

Cape Town Beaches

The Mother City has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and something to offer everyone. It is no surprise that South Africa was one of the first countries outside of Europe to earn blue flag status for some of her beaches - there are three ...

National Parks

Karoo National Park

The Karoo National Park is situated close to the N1 highway between Cape Town and the hinterland, approximately 1000 km south of Johannesburg and 500 km north of Cape Town. Because of the sparse vegetation game viewing in the Karoo National Park is ...

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