“This Cape is the most stately thing, and the fairest Cape in all the whole circumference of the earth,” wrote British explorer Sir Francis Drake upon his first encounter with Cape Town in 1580. For thousands of years, people have been drawn to this lovely city at the edge of Africa. You could while away weeks experiencing all of Cape Town's wonders, natural and man-made alike—where else can you find mountains and oceans within city limits, and vineyards, deserts, and game reserves not too far beyond? When my friends come by for a short visit, I need to prioritize to make sure they see the highlights. If you’re pressed for time and have only earmarked a couple of days for a visit to the Mother City, these are my top picks: from natural beauty to somber history to vibrant architecture, the following attractions encompass the best of what Cape Town has to offer.
Robben Island Museum
Cape of Good Hope
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Home to more than 7,000 species, Kirstenbosch is a prime place to see the flora and fauna of the Cape Floral Kingdom. It's also a great picnic spot, and, in the summer, is host to live concerts and open-air movie screenings. Bonus: a treetop canopy walkway popularly known as the "boomslang" just opened in May, giving you a new aerial perspective over the gardens.