I've spent quite a bit of time in Cape Town and have very fond memories of being there. My happiest Capetonian memories are of time spent in the outdoors. Here is the list of my favourite places to appreciate the natural beauty of this wonderful city:
Table Mountain dominates the city completely and is a fantastic place to explore. Take the cable car up or even better, take the hike up Platteklip Gorge (not for the uninitiated). Remember to take lots of water. From the cable car station there are lovely hikes to do, Maclear's Beacon, the Reservoir and Echo Valley are favourites, and for rock climbers the mountain is a playground. Do pick up maps and route guides beforehand. Listen out for the alarm on the "table top" if you plan on using the cable car to descend the mountain as the cable station does close when winds are too high or if visibility is too poor.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a lovely, calm oasis away from the bustle of the city. The setting is absolutely magestic; it lies on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and is a fantastic place to view the indigenous Cape fynbos. There is also a sculpture garden and a wonderful cycad collection. There is a tea room and a restaurant and you can also order a picnic basket in advance, though visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic baskets. In the summer, Kirstenbosch hosts the Summer Sunset Concert Series, where bands perform on a stage in the gardens.
The challenging hike up Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge starts at Kirstenbosch.
I am not a beachy person. The idea of lying on a beach for hours simply does not appeal, but add penguins into the mix and suddenly I am very, very interested. Boulders Beach houses a colony of African penguins. The penguins go about their lives while the beach-goers, on this admittedly small beach, swim along with them. Fantastic photo opportunities abound.
Chapman's Peak Drive
If you fancy feeling like a character in a Bond movie, take the breath-taking drive along Chapman's Peak Drive. This is the toll route between Noordhoek and Hout Bay along Cape Town's rocky Atlantic coastline. The road hugs the cliffs above and the sea below and the views out to sea, especially at sunset are absolutely magnificent.
The Twelve Apostles at Sunset
Visit any of the beaches along Cape Town's Atlantic seaboard at sunset for the amazing views of Table Mountain's "Twelve Apostles", the string of 18 peaks stretching from the Table Mountain cable car station along the Atlantic side of the mountain. The water is cold, so bring a picnic and enjoy the view as the mountain turns orange and gold as the sun begins to set in the sky. Beautiful!