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Sights in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the capital of South Africa and has a rich maritime history and more somber history of apartheid and discrimination. It is certainly a place worth exploring for its wealth of museums, natural attractions, and family-friendly attractions.

  • Table Mountain—a mountain with excellent views and multiple hiking areas; Table Mountain National Park
  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden—internationally recognized as one of the seven most magnificent botanical gardens in the world with 528 acres that includes a garden and nature reserve as well as restaurants, a nursery, a gift shop, a bookshop, and a permanent Zimbabwean stone sculpture collection; Rhodes Drive
  • Cape Point Nature Reserve—located within the southern section of Table Mountain National Park and declared a World Heritage site with rugged rocks, cliffs towering more than 200 meters above the sea, and a storied maritime history; Cape Town Central
  • Green Point Park and Biodiversity Garden—adjacent to the Cape Town Stadium with views of the stadium and Signal Hill and themed areas within the garden; Bay Road
  • District Six Museum—a memorial museum to a neighborhood destroyed during South Africa’s apartheid period with maps, photos, and other artifacts from the old neighborhood; 15 25a Buitenkant Street
  • First South African Perfume Museum—includes a permanent collection that provides a glimpse into the world of perfumes; 3 Viola Road
  • Two Oceans Aquarium—provides a glimpse into the oceans surrounding the South African coast with sea creatures such as Knysna seahorses, sea turtles, and giant spider crabs as well as a touch pool and full ocean tunnel; Alfred Basin, Dock Road
  • Company’s Gardens—beautiful gardens with a national gallery, rose garden, vegetable garden, trees, and wildlife; 19 Queen Victoria Street
  • The Springbok Experience Rugby Museum—tells South Africa’s story through its most popular sport with more than 60 audiovisual displays where visitors can watch the history of South African rugby unfold as well as interactive activities for children; Portswood House, Portswood Ridge, Portswood Road
  • Cape Town Diamond Museum—illustrates the evolution of the diamond over time and the most famous South African diamonds; Level 1 The Clock Tower
  • Bugz Family Playpark—a large amusement park for young children with an indoor play area and outdoor playground; 56 Tarentaal Street
  • Simon’s Town Museum—a former Dutch East India Company property owned by the former governor contains crafts and artifacts that depict the cultural history of Cape Town and South Africa; Court Road
  • Chavonnes Battery Museum—home to international photography exhibitions and archaeology exhibits, models, displays, and information panels; Clock Tower
  • Warrior Toy Museum—home to a toy collection that includes model cars, dolls, soldiers, ships, and matchbox trains; St. George’s Street
  • Arderne Gardens—a collection of hundreds of species of trees and shrubs that is the best collection of exotic plants in South Africa; 222 Main Road
  • Cape Town Science Centre—home to science exhibits, workshops, puzzles, and games; 370B Main Road
  • Bishopsford Bonsai Garden—offers bonsai planting courses in the largest bonsai nursery in the Western Cape; 3 Muscat Lane South
  • Museum of Gems and Jewelry—shows the evolution of diamonds over time and teaches visitors about unique and rare gemstones as well as the history of jewelry; Huguenot House
  • Blouberg Beach—a popular beach divided into two bays that provide areas for surfers, sunbathers, families, and for activities such as kite flying and kite surfing
  • Bo-Kaap Museum—built in the 18th century, this museum was once the home of Abu Bakr Effendi, a Turkish scholar and Muslim leader, who wrote one of the first books in Afrikaans, and now recreates the lifestyle of a Malay family in the 19th century; 71 Wale Street
  • Boulders Beach—part of Table Mountain National Park, this beach is known for its colony of African penguins which can be viewed at their breeding beach which is not open to visitors and on penguin-viewing platforms; Kleintuin Road, Sea Forth, Simon’s Town
  • Cape Point—a park with incredible views from a platform of False Bay and the Hottentots Holland Mountains and an old and new revolving lighthouse are able to be viewed; off the M65 (Plateau Road)
  • Cape Town Holocaust Centre—a memorial to the victims of the Holocaust as well as an education center that reminds us of the dangers of prejudice, racism, and discrimination; 88 Hatfield Street
  • Castle of Good Hope—South Africa’s oldest building that was built between 1665 and 1676 by the Dutch East India Company that was designed as a fortress to replace an earlier fort erected in 1652 and has served as the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company and the governor’s residence; 1 Buitenkant Street
  • Groote Kerk—a Gothic church that is one of South Africa’s most famous churches and was built in 1841 on the foundation of a Dutch Reformed church built in 1704 featuring enclosed pews for wealthy families with doors, a large pulpit, and an enormous organ that is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere; Church Square, Parliament Street
  • Irma Stern Museum—a small museum featuring the paintings of Irma Stern, one of the greatest painters from South Africa, with paintings inspired by her trips to the Congo and Zanzibar and a collection of African artifacts; Cecil Road
  • Old Town House—a building designed in the Cape Dutch style that is home to the Michaelis Collection which is a 17th-century collection of Dutch paintings including some by Rembrandt; Greenmarket Square
  • Rhodes Memorial—a memorial dedicated to the memory of the prime minister who presided over the Cape from 1890 to 1896 whose vision was to develop a Cape-Cairo railway; the memorial is set atop Rhodes’s old estate, Groote Schuur; off Rhodes Drive
  • Robben Island—this island has had a long history in various incarnations as a prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, leper colony, mental institution, and military base that is now a museum and a World Heritage site featuring an embarkation center and conference center named after Mandela with interactive exhibits that display photos of life in the prison and boat rides across the water; Nelson Mandela Gateway
  • Scratch Patch—a gemstone factory that allows visitors to buy and fill bags with gemstones picked from a garden deeply filled with gemstones such as rare blue lace agate with an attached store that sells gemstone jewelry; Dido Valley Road, Simon’s Town
  • Slave Lodge—built in 1697 by the Dutch East India Company as a home for slaves, convicts, and the mentally ill, it became the supreme court from 1815 to 1914 and is now a museum that depicts slavery in Cape Town with temporary exhibits that delve into apartheid and racism; 49 Wale Street
  • South African Jewish Museum—this museum has its home in South Africa’s first synagogue and is adjacent to the Cape Town Holocaust Centre with interactive and multimedia exhibits about the Jewish population in South Africa, an active synagogue, a Discovery Center for tracing family histories, a gallery for rotating exhibits, an auditorium, a restaurant, and a shop; 88 Hatfield Street
  • South African Museum—a museum featuring rock art from ancient Khoisan culture, fossils of prehistoric reptiles and other animals, exhibits on sharks in Shark World, a planetarium, and photography exhibits; 25 Queen Victoria Street
  • South African National Gallery—an art museum with a collection of 19th and 20th century European art, South African pieces, and regularly rotating exhibitions on topics such as South African struggles with HIV/AIDS or documentary photography; Government Avenue
  • South African Naval Museum—a naval museum with model ships, navigational equipment, old diving equipment, life-size boats, and a submarine; Naval Dockyard, St. George’s Street, Simon’s Town
  • George’s Cathedral—once the seat of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the country’s first black archbishop of Cape Town who criticized apartheid and strove for a democratic government, this cathedral contains the largest stained-glass window in the country and a 1,000-year-old Coptic cross; 5 Wale Street
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