Cape Town is a port city on South Africa’s southwest coast, on a peninsula beneath the imposing Table Mountain. Slowly rotating cable cars climb to the mountain’s flat top, from which there are sweeping views of the city, the busy harbor and boats heading for Robben Island, the notorious prison that once held Nelson Mandela, which is now a living museum.
Hikers’ paths crisscross the slopes and also climb the mountain, via forests and manicured lawns at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the lush wine-producing suburb of Constantia, and steep Platteklip Gorge. In town, the V&A Waterfront is a chic shopping and entertainment district that includes the Two Oceans Aquarium. Historic sites include the Dutch-built, 17th century Castle of Good Hope. City beaches range from ritzy Clifton to Boulders, where there’s a penguin colony. Popular out-of-town trips take in Chapman’s Peak Drive, with coastal views, and the Cape of Good Hope, where craggy cliffs meet the ocean.