I was totally unprepared for how beautiful Cape Town is. It's a city after all, and although I love an urban aesthetic, that is not what Cape Town provides. The city is mountainous; huge hills poking out from every corner an of course, the impressive and dominating Table Mountain which I never tired of seeing. The architecture is bright and colourful, but it's the natural environment that made me fall head over heels for the place. Here's how to find the best views in Cape Town:
Table View Beach
The famous mountain can honestly be seen from pretty much anywhere in Cape Town, but the first time I saw it in all its unbelievable glory was from Table View Beach. What you don't realise when you're in the shadow of the mountain, which is always when you're in central Cape Town, is that houses, businesses and tourist attractions alike are essentially nestled into its base. From Table View Beach you not only see the mountain, but the entire city and its true vulnerability, all whilst dipping your toes into the crystal clear, but bloody freezing cold, ocean.
My visit to the infamous location of Nelson Mandela's imprisonment was really disappointing (more on this another time), but the real highlight was the stunning views of Cape Town as we bounced across the ocean for our tour. The water was utterly serene and delighted us with a blink-and-you'll-miss-it glimpse of some passing whales. But on a gloriously sunny day, the view of the city, sheltered by Table Mountain, getting smaller as we zoomed away was perfect. And the perfectly framed lookout point from Robben Island itself was pretty special too.
From the air
The 20 minute helicopter flight I took over Cape Town afforded me some of the most breathtaking views I have ever seen. Flying with NAC Helicopters* on New Year's Day and feeling rather delicate, I was slightly concerned that my stomach wouldn't like the experience, but sitting up front I was so in awe of the views, I needn't have worried. We could see out to Robben Island, over Lion's Head and Signal Hill, and around gorgeous V&A Waterfront. Sadly it was too windy for me to go up Table Mountain on my visit, but this way I got to see the independent lakes at the top which I had no idea existed. It was absolutely my favourite way of seeing Cape Town.
Staying with a local in Cape Town meant I got to see a few sides of the city I may otherwise have missed in the week I was there. I was driven up to Signal Hill for a view over the ocean at sunset; but we certainly weren't alone as it's a favourite spot to take a bottle of red, some snacks and say goodbye to the day. We watched as the sky set on fire, the sun bowed out for the evening, and we drove back down, seeing Cape Town's street lights start to illuminate the city below.
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Disclaimer: My flight with NAC Helicopters was complimentary, but could I really fake enthusiasm for views like that?!