Best long haul: Cape Town
The world is shrinking by the day. Competition between the major airlines and the rise of travel websites has made going to the other side of the world an affordable luxury.
For us the best long-haul destination has to be Cape Town in South Africa. Cape Town is popular with young people for its party scene, great wine and the fact that once you're there, it's actually very cheap.
Geography: Considered one of the world's most beautiful cities, Cape Town is found on the extreme south west coast of the African continent. The city is overlooked by the famous Table Mountain and cushioned by vertical cliffs, like the ominously named Devils' Peak and Lions Head.
Currency: The Rand (R)
Climate: The summers are very warm (sometimes tipping into the high thirties) and June to September is cooler, ranging from seven to 24°C. These winter months bring some much needed rain, making the region's vineyard owners very happy.
GMT: South Africa is one hour ahead of GMT.
Visas: If you hold a valid British passport, you will not need a visa for visits of less than 90 days.
Languages: It's very easy for UK travellers to get by in Cape Town as English is widely spoken. The other main languages are Afrikaans, Sotho, and the bizarre and beguiling Xhosa, which incorporates tongue clicks into everyday speech.
Do's and don'ts
- Don't wander around the streets Cape Town on your own after dark. The level of crime in Cape town is often exaggerated, but it still pays to be careful.
- Don't flash cash or expensive jewellery around.
Getting there/getting around
All of the major airports have flights to Cape Town. Many flights go from the UK to Johannesburg. A two-hour flight with South Africa's excellent domestic air service will get you to Cape Town. Tickets will cost anything from £400 and this will undoubtedly be the largest expense of your holiday.
Getting around the city is not easy but it is achievable. By far the easiest way of getting about is to hire a car. Cape Town's train infrastructure is accessible and if you want to splash out a bit, you could get cabs everywhere. But beware; cabs in Cape Town are slightly more expensive than cabs in the UK. Cape Town's 'taxis' (dilapidated minibuses driven by boy racers) are best avoided.
Cape Town offers everything from cutting edge boutique hotels to backpackers' crash pads. If you want to save your pennies for partying and wine tasting, self-catering apartments are a good choice. They offer inexpensive, private and relaxed holiday accommodation from £20 per day.
Sightseeing & activities
Cape Town is one of the most visually rich cities in Africa, if not the world. Check out the cultural heritage of this historic city, be it theatre, art galleries or live music.
For those up for a bit more action, Cape Town's temperate climate offers a variety of outdoor activities all year round including surfing, running, cycling, paragliding or hiking on Table Mountain.
The cooler part of the year also sees the annual arrival of whales to this part of the Atlantic Ocean. Hundreds of whales arrive en-masse to enjoy the warm coastal waters. Dolphins live off the Cape coast and sightings of large groups are not uncommon.
The regions just outside Cape Town are full of vineyards offering wine-tasting sessions for a very reasonable price. Day-trips to the wine regions can be arranged by the local tourist board.
Entertainment & nightlife
As the temperature at night starts to drop, the city begins to heat up. Cape Town is well known for its vibrant and varied nightlife; most clubs get going at 11pm and carry on all night. A good place to start off the night's festivities is one of the many bars on Kloof St and watch the sun setting over the Atlantic, then head off into the city to check out the clubs. Long Street has so many great bars and clubs it can be almost impossible to decide were to go.
Food & drink
It is easy to eat very well for very little cash in Cape Town. Many visitors are shocked by Cape Town's tradition of great cuisine and the genuine love of food and dining shown by Capetonians. The Malay slaves transformed the traditional dishes of Europe and Britain into a unique "Cape Malay" style, using spices from the boats coming into the harbour. Such dishes include Bobotie and Breedies. But many of the restaurants in the city are more influenced by Mediterranean and Pacific Rim cuisine and there are a growing number of African restaurants. As you'd expect fish and seafood play a major part in Cape Town cuisine.
Because of the city's proximity to hundreds of vineyards, inexpensive wine of amazing quality is available everywhere.
The final word
Ben Wright of London has just returned from Cape Town and had the time of his life. I absolutely loved Cape Town, I went to some of the best parties I have ever been to. The food and wine was fantastic and, best of all, it was all really cheap," he says.
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