At the southernmost tip of Africa, you will find the Western Cape, one of South Africa’s nine provinces. The Western Cape is South Africa’s premier tourist destination where visitors can experience its natural beauty, mountains, vineyards and its vibrant capital, Cape Town.
Cape Town is home to the Cape Town International Airport and thousands of tourists flock here every year to experience the majestic Table Mountain and Cape Peninsula. It is the gateway to the Western Cape, a region which offers visitors good food and wine, scenic nature, history and overall, a really good time. To learn more, have a look at our Cape Town holiday accommodation and travel guide.
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Visitors generally start their travels in the Western Cape with a stay in Cape Town, which is a destination in itself. The Mother City, as it is fondly known, is where the first development in South Africa took place in the mid-17th century.
The Cape Winelands is only 40 minutes’ drive from Cape Town and offers a large variety of experiences and tastes for the gourmand visitor. An hour and a half’s drive from Cape Town takes visitors to the wide expanse of the Overberg with magnificent coastal towns and inland beauty. The Garden Route offers magical forests and trees and stunning seaside hides. Visitors who head north from Cape Town experience the West Coast in all its glory. This area with its Mediterranean vegetation is atmospheric and bursts into a colourful flower display in spring each year.
Where to go
Anywhere along the Atlantic Seaboard will make a great space for your Cape Town visit – whether you’re looking at Sea Point or Clifton, Bantry Bay or Camps Bay, you will find a fun time near the coast.
Stellenbosch (a student town), Somerset West and Franschhoek are busy and popular, while the Boland towns of Paarl, Wellington and Riebeek Kasteel are quieter with many gems still to be discovered.
Visit the quaint towns of Elgin, Bot River and Greyton, or head to the coast to experience Hermanus and the many other interesting seaside spots down the Cape South Coast
Wilderness is a beautiful coastal town and the nearby Sedgefield also has special appeal. Brenton on Sea is the closest coastal stay to Knysna, which never fails to delight visitors to the area. Plettenberg Bay is a hot resort town not to be missed.
Yzerfontein and Langebaan flank the West Coast National Park, where endemic fauna and flora can be sighted. Paternoster is a very popular West Coast town and further north, Elands Bay and Lamberts Bay offer West Coast charm.
- Take the Table Mountain Cableway or hike up this majestic mountain, which has been proclaimed one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature.
- Visit the V&A Waterfront to shop at more than 450 retailers; enjoy restaurants, pubs and coffee shops; catch a ride on the Cape Wheel, take a Robben Island Tour departing by boat from the Nelson Mandela Gateway or marvel at the marine life on display at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
- Experience Cape Town’s numerous beaches and seaside attractions.
- Tour the Cape Winelands. Every area has its own wine route which lists the wineries you can visit.
- Watch whales in Walker Bay’s Hermanus and all along the Cape South Coast. While at least 37 species of whales and dolphins can be found in South Africa’s oceans, the southern right whales, humpback whales and several coastal dolphin species are spotted more frequently. African penguins, Cape fur seals and black oystercatcher birds can also be spotted along the coast.
- Don your trail shoes or rent a mountain bike to explore hundreds of kilometers of hiking, running and biking routes in the mountainous Western Cape – take your pick since these scenic routes can be found throughout the province.
- Enjoy the Garden Route and Knysna forest, take a lazy boat trip on the Knysna Lagoon and relax in this beautiful area known for its slow lifestyle.
- Head up the West Coast to eat fresh crayfish (local lobster) and black mussels, get to know the unique culture of the area and enjoy watching fields of flowers budding everywhere in springtime.
The Western Cape has hot summers, temperate springs and autumns and cold wet winters. Between November and January, the South Easter wind (also known as the Cape Doctor) can play havoc on visitors’ beach plans, although there are wind-free beaches on the Cape Peninsula where you can always soak up the sun. February and March bring in grape harvest time and local festivals in celebration of the gifts of the earth abound. Winter in the Western Cape is a good time to enjoy award-winning local red wines and delicious meals next to roaring fireplaces. Whale watching is also a popular winter activity. If flowers are your thing, spring is perfect to catch the Western Cape in full bloom.