Cape Town: We’re heading back, and here’s why you should too

By: Dave Gunner

February 12, 2020

Cape Town Table Mountain © Shutterstock

Cape Town Table Mountain © Shutterstock

Here at Virgin Atlantic we're thrilled to announce our return to beautiful Cape Town later this year

Winter sunseekers can head down to South Africa on our new daily service flying from London Heathrow on a 787-9 aircraft. The new service launches on 25th October and will complement our existing daily A350 service between London Heathrow and Johannesburg. The VS478 will operate as a night flight departing Heathrow at 16:20 arriving into Cape Town at 05:55 whereas the inbound, the VS479, will depart at 08:00 landing later that day at 18:00. Return Economy fares start from £713 per person.

“2020 is an extremely exciting year of continued growth for Virgin Atlantic,” said our chief commercial officer Juha Jarvinen. “We’re delighted to be flying to Cape Town again, and we’re expecting a high proportion of leisure travellers on this route, taking advantage of the winter sun, the safaris and of course, the world-famous wine region.”

Clifton 4th Beach © Shutterstock

You can book your place on our service from 18th February 2020, which gives you plenty of time to start planning your next trip. If you need some inspiration, we’ve rounded up our favourite reasons to visit the Mother City, from the world renowned wine farms of the Constantia region to the challenge of hiking up Table Mountain. We’re already counting down the days.

The beaches

We’ve written before about Cape Town’s embarrassment of amazing beaches, but it bears repeating. Few cities in the world offer access to so many glorious stretches of sand. In fact, it’s one of the top reasons people come here in the first place. Whether you’re after family friendly fun (Glen Beach, Hout Bay) a buzzing beach party vibe (try Camps Bay or Clifton 2nd Beach), great wildlife-spotting opportunities (head to Boulders Beach for penguins or Kalk Bay beaches for whales) or wild and windswept walks (Noordhoek or Platboom on the Cape Peninsula) there’s a staggeringly beautiful beach just for you.

Boulders Beach, Cape Town © Shutterstock

Table Mountain

This flat-topped, 600-million-year old massif lords it over the city of Cape Town, dominating the landscape from every conceivable angle. On one side it ripples along the seaboard in a series of imposing buttresses known as the Twelve Apostles, while its north face overlooks the CBD with the prominent peaks of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill to the west. All are part of Table Mountain National Park, which stretches all the way to Cape Point at the tip of the Cape peninsula. The park is a biodiversity hotspot and home to more plant species than the whole of the British Isles, as well as being part of the wider Cape Floristic Region.

The 1085-metre summit is most easily reached via a 5-minute rotating cable car journey, offering awesome views of the city, coastline and Robben Island. But that’s not the only way up of course – you can also hike. One of the most popular – and supposedly easiest – routes is via Patteklip Gorge, a craggy gully that forms a heart-pumping staircase to the summit. A much more strenuous option is the Skeleton Gorge trail, which leads through indigenous forest and over a series of wooden ladders. Make sure you’re in tip top condition and have a head for heights! If you’re feeling particularly adventurous once you reach the top, you can abseil part of the way down.

Table Mountain © Shutterstock

The dining scene

Cape Town is a world-class dining destination and the city’s food scene is booming. The richness of cultures in Cape Town makes for an incredibly global culinary landscape, while a wonderful mix of ingredients from nearby farms, vineyards and small-scale producers ensures a high quality experience even in the more basic restaurants.

Start with the small and low-key: Neighbourgoods Market, housed in the Old Biscuit Mill warehouse, features dozens of innovative micro-merchants, from artisanal breadmakers to sustainable honey producers. It’s an ideal way to discover the breadth and diversity of the scene. Or why not take an intimate Cape Malay cooking class in the colourful Bo-Kaap neighbourhood? Several local residents have opened their homes to visitors, as a way to preserve their heritage and share their aromatic dishes with the world. If you’re more into sampling the slickest hangouts, try one of the hotspots currently making waves: we love The Shortmarket Club, with its fabulously quirky interior, vibrant Maaya on Loop Street for its distinctive Nikkei (Japanese-Peruvian) cuisine, and Camps Bay’s Salsify for its creative tasting menu and gorgeous mountain views.

Market dining at the Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town © Gerrit Vermeurlen/Flickr Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

The wine farms

The Cape Winelands attracts both connoisseurs and more casual enthusiasts from around the world. If you have time and transport, the winelands of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all within easy reach of Cape Town and even if you don’t, the City Sightseeing hop-on hop-off bus can transport you to the Franschhoek Wine Tram so you can experience some of the famous wine estates in this extraordinarily scenic valley.

But there’s no need to leave the city to get a taste of the action. In Cape Town’s southern suburbs the historic Constantia area is the longest-established wine producing region in the Southern Hemisphere, and home to some of the most esteemed wineries in the world. Visit them on your own steam, or for a more laid-back experience (with someone else doing the driving) book a place on a guided wine tour – try the Constantia Wine Tour or Uncorked.

Vineyard near Cape Town © Shutterstock

The side trips

The wealth of things to do in and around Cape Town is what makes it one of the world’s premier holiday destinations. The Winelands are a major destination for many visitors, but there’s plenty more to experience beyond the vineyards, starting with the unmissable road trip along Chapman’s Peak Drive. The road, which runs alongside the Atlantic Ocean between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, is one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. It may be only 9 km long, but it manages to pack in 114 curves and a curved cantilever canopy, plus 60 picnic tables and plenty of scenic pull-outs so you can enjoy the magnificent views. No car? No problem. Tours are available, including Harley Davison or vintage sidecar rides.

Continue on after Chapman’s Peak Drive, and you’ll eventually get to the Cape of Good Hope, where towering sea cliffs soar more than 200 metres over the Atlantic. Reach the old lighthouse via the Flying Dutchman funicular – the only one of its kind in Africa – or have a seafood lunch at the Two Oceans restaurant and soak up the ocean views. Other brilliant Cape Town excursions include trips to Aquila Private Game Reserve in the semi-arid Karoo region, which is the only place near Cape Town where you can go on safari and see the Big Five. If you want to see Southern Right whales, head two hours along the coast to the town of Hermanus, which claims to have the greatest land-based whale watching opportunities in the world.

Chapman’s Peak Drive © Shutterstock

Ready to make the dream a reality? Book a seat on our new service to Cape Town from 18th February 2020.

Dave Gunner

Dave Gunner

I love telling the story of our people, our planes, our places and our planet through Ruby Blog.

Categories: Our Places