Beautiful, sophisticated, socially progressive, democratic, engaging, hopeful -- these words capture Cape Town's very essence. Table Mountain majestically holds court over the city, found between Table Bay and the Cape Flats. This South African jewel serves as the ideal base for intrepid travelers wishing to explore all of the Rainbow Nation from the Cape of Good Hope and the rolling Cape Winelands to the adrenaline-charged safari game reserves, near the country's northeastern border.
This fishhook-shaped peninsula, lashed by fierce waters of the Atlantic Ocean, is an enigma. Cape Town often feels more like an old European bastion than an African outpost. Since banning apartheid in 1990, the city has become more cosmopolitan, while still struggling with the effects of years of social inequality. Case in point? Cape Town's Lamborghini dealership sits just blocks from the massive townships east of Table Mountain. Yet there's an infectious sense of hope, and the residents are some of the friendliest you'll find anywhere in the world.
Cape Town offers a range of mesmerizing opportunities to learn about South Africa, including its tribal past and more recent Dutch, British and Cape Malay influences. You can also indulge in the nearby wine region and explore unique flora and fauna (penguins, anyone?).
--written by Emily Payne