Sporty, stylish, stunning, sociable… If Cape Town was a person, it would be that Hollywood starlet we all secretly envy. The Mother City is unlike any other destination in Africa: Separated from the rest of the continent by a ring of mountains, Cape Town stands as a glittering, metropolis juxtaposed with one of the world's most breathtaking natural landscapes. But good looks aren't the only thing Cape Town has going for it. You'll fall in love with this city's khaki-colored beaches, rolling vineyards, sizzling cuisine, thriving nightlife, and, of course, the spectacular Table Mountain. It may have taken an international soccer tournament to catch the world's attention, but since Cape Town took the global stage, no amount of buzzing vuvuzelas can drown out its magnificence.
Cape Town is by far the most cosmopolitan city in South Africa, as it hosts a hodgepodge of cultures that contributes to the city's eclectic music, food, and festival scenes. But to better appreciate Cape Town as it is now, it's important to understand what the city has experienced. Decades of racial and economic oppression invoked by apartheid has left a festering wound. Although many tourists only experience Cape Town's gorgeous beaches and vibrant restaurant scene, those who visit Nelson Mandela's jail cell on Robben Islandor peruse the exhibits in The District Six Museum will see that there's a somber undertone to this otherwise vibrant city.