10 Surprising Cape Town Fun Facts that will make you go WOW!

Cape Town is a multi-cultural city located on the Cape Peninsula and north of Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

From the famous speech of Nelson Mandela freed after imprisonment in 1990, to the World Cup of 2010 and the extreme drought of 2018, Cape Town is a city that hit the news by storm multiple times in history and is today one of the most well-known cities in Africa, both for its natural beauty, its complex cultural heritage and its historical meaning.

In the past, I had the chance to visit this gorgeous city with my sister for about a week, and here I would like to share with you 10 astonishing fun facts that surprised me and made me see Cape Town from a new perspective.

I am sure, you will be surprised too! 😉

Let’s dive right in! 😀

cape town secrets unveiled - me in front of table mountain frame

 

Discover 10 Curiosities about Cape Town

that will Enrich your Visit! 🙂

1. Cape Town is also called the “Mother City”,

as it was the first European Settlement in South Africa

cape town - mother city - ancient old drawing of how it was

Cape Town is also nicknamed the “Mother City”, as it was the first European settlement in South Africa.

The first European to reach the area was the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias, who initially named the land he approached as “Cape of Storms” because of the stormy coast he encountered on his path.

A few years later, the King of Portugal John II renamed it as “Cape of Good Hope”, moved by its great optimism about opening a new sea route to India.

In 1497, Vasco de Gama recorded a sighting of the Cape of Good Hope too, and in the following decades, many Dutch and English boats would stop in Cape of Good Hope for a restoring break.

It was not until 1800 though, that an initial permanent settlement named “Cape Town” was born.

In 1814, after a few years of fighting, England ultimately conquered the land from the Dutch and for almost two centuries contributed to transforming it into the largest economic centre in South Africa, giving it the name of “Mother City”.

 

2. Cape Town is Synonym with Adventure,

as it Offers the Craziest Entertainment Activities

skydiving in cape town

We spoke a lot in the past about how crazy Cape Town is, if you want to have fun!

If you like adrenaline like me, you can skydive (yeah, that’s me over Cape Town in the picture above! 😉 ), or perhaps take a city tour onboard a Vietnam War Helicopter.

If you like chillier things, you can take a stroll on the Table Mountain, have a cup of wine at the Waterfront, or perhaps dance on a sunset cruise while the sun dives into the ocean!

Or even cooler, if you like partying with your loved ones, you can explore the multitude of exciting and diverse party venues in Cape Town: from chill hippie places to non-stop disco pubs, stylish family-friendly gardens, and nightclubs, Cape Town has options for all tastes!

Cape Town is a city that never sleeps, so why would you? 😉

 

3. Cape Town is one of the Three

Capital Cities of South Africa

The Three Capital Cities of South Africa on a Map - Cape Town Legislative - Bloemfontein Judicial - Preotria Administrative

South Africa is the only country in the world that has not one, not two, but even THREE capital cities!

From North to South, they are:

  • Pretoria is the Administrative Capital
  • Bloemfontein, is the Judicial Capital
  • Cape Town is the Legislative Capital

The reason for the three capital cities is of course to keep in balance the governmental powers not only politically, but also geographically.

There is one capital for each branch of the government in the country (the government is divided into three different branches: legislative, executive, and judicial).

4. Robben Island was

a Super Inaccessible Prison

robben island

Robben Island is a rather large island, visible from all the coastal areas of Cape Town.

Today, the island is one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city, but in the past, it was a maximum security prison from which it was impossible to escape: Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life imprisoned on this island too!

To reach the island, we took a 30-minute fast-boat ride, and the waves to reach the island were enormous: people screaming like crazy, life jackets and kids flying left and right, the boat jumping up and down…

It wasn’t even the stormiest day ever (just partially cloudy), but when we arrived we were glad to touch the ground without puking our souls out.

We clearly understood why it was an inescapable prison: the ocean currents between Cape Town and Robben Island are so strong, that any escape attempt by swimming would have been just suicidal!

All in all, the visit to the island is in our opinion something you still cannot miss if you’re interested in learning the history of Cape Town and understanding its present culture fully!

5. Near Cape Town,

you can Find Penguins!

penguins on a beach in Cape Town

Yes, near Cape Town you can find penguins…but not just a few, hundreds! 😀

In fact, since 1982, a colony of African penguins has found a new home on Boulder Beach, a few kilometers south of Cape Town.

The area is today a protected national reserve (you cannot walk on the beach), where you can see these little penguins swimming and enjoying the sun.

A fun fact we noticed while starring at them, is that they tend to walk in pairs (so cute!) and that they are a species much smaller than the Emperor Penguin we normally picture in our minds when we think about penguins: they are just 30-40cm tall (so double cute!) 😀

6. The Table Mountain is the Landmark of Cape Town,

and the Cable Car is an Experience!

table mountain in capetown

Extremely photogenic, 1086 meters high, and incredibly flat (like a table!), Table Mountain is the undisputed landmark of Cape Town and one of the best natural wonders in the world I would recommend you to see in your lifetime!

Despite its impressive size, reaching its summit is pretty easy thanks to a modern cable car that can drop you right on the top (the ticket price is about 20 euros for a go-and-back ticket).

The ride is an experience itself: you can see the whole of Cape Town from above while being suspended in the air I-Don’t-Even-Know-How-Many-hundreds meters from the ground! 😀

The alternative of the cable car, is a free, but steep 3-hour hike to the top (doable if you’re in healthy physical conditions, but slightly nightmarish if you plan to do it on a warm summer day)!

The top of Table mountain is relatively flat and easy to walk for anyone: just remember sun cream and a hat as there is almost no shadow at all (it’s flat!) 😉

7. Traffic in Cape Town is a Mad Mess!

cape town traffic is crazy

The traffic in Cape Town is a mad mess!

We drove in the city for just one week, and I think I’ve never seen so many accidents in my entire traveling life: cars out off the road, a van turned on its side, crashes in the lane next to us…was an “immersive” drive to say the least ^^’

The most dangerous things we saw on the road were white “minivan-taxis” for “colored neighborhoods”.

According to what some locals explained to us: they are taxis for poor neighborhoods, that serve people who can afford to pay only a handful of Rands to get in and out of the city, and so these taxi drivers are forced to make a living out of the QUANTITY of people they can move.

In a few words, the drivers are forced to rush like crazy in the traffic in an attempt to earn enough money to make the day.

That of course is dangerous for them, for other cars, and for their passengers too! While the problem is getting slightly better year after year, a lot has still to be done, and traffic in Cape Town remains chaotic and wild (to use an euphemism).

8. At the Waterfront, there are

Four Statues of Four South African Nobel Prize Winners

the statues at waterfront of cape town with their names added

The waterfront is one of the most popular, lively, touristy and secure neighbourhoods of Cape Town.

Right in the central plaza, in a place where it’s impossible to not notice them, there are four larger-than-human scaled statues, smiling to the main square, with the table mountain and the port on their back.

When I first saw them, I recognized Nelson Mandela (the ex-President of South Africa) on the left.

But who are the other three?

After some research, I found out that the four statues represent four South-Africans who won the nobel prize for peace.

In order from left to right, they are:

  • Albert Lutuli (former nationalist party leader who promoted non-violence, Nobel Prize in 1960),
  • Desmond Tutu (Anglican archbishop who fought against apartheid – Nobel Prize in 1984)
  • Frederick W. De Klerk (South African President who freed Nelson Mandela and gave the civil rights of white people to everyone – Nobel Prize in 1993)
  • Nelson Mandela (social activist and first non-white president of South Africa – Nobel prize in 1993 with De Klerk)

 

9. Cape Town is renowned for its Wine Production

and many Winemakers are Open for Tasting!

our glasses while on a wine tour in stellenbosch

South Africa is a wine country. Full stop!

As a beer lover, it made me quite angry at first, finding out that the only liquor stores open on Sundays can sell only wine, but not beer (mind-blowing!).

Apparently, local wine enjoys also tax benefits (it’s MUCH cheaper than imported wine and beers) and an eye of care (protectionism *cough*) from the South African government too.

Said that, forced by a sudden Sunday thirst, I decided to join my sister on a wine tour in Stellenbosch, an incredible wine valley located just outside Cape Town.

After a few stops in a couple of wineries here and there, my anger went away fast: the wine culture in Cape Town has truly its flavour!

Not only I find out that wineries around Cape Town are top-notch (and they don’t have anything to envy to more trendy French wines), but they are also extremely open to visitors: on a wine-tasting tour you pay on average 1-2Euros per glass of wine, and both taste and locations are amazing!

10. In Cape Town is one of the

Youngest Cities in the World

cape town young people street

When you walk or drive around Cape Town, you will easily notice that there is a disproportionate amount of children and youngsters compared to elders (at least by European standards!).

The fact is, that indeed Cape Town is one of the “youngest” cities in the world with an average population age of 29 years old.

Compared to the average age of London (37 Years old), New York (38yo), Rome (46yo), or Tokyo (48 Years Old), that looks like a pretty different demographic snapshot!

The young population of Cape Town is also one of the motors that make this city so energetic and forward-looking, and that contributes to grow the Cape Town tourism sector and making it so attractive as it is today (over 5 million visitors come to Cape Town every year!).

Conclusion

me and my sister at cape of good hope south-westernmost point of africa

And here we come at the end of the article!

In this post, we’ve seen 10 curious fun facts about Cape Town coming straight from our experience in the Mother City 🙂

Now you know that Cape Town is a young wine-loving city.

Now that you know that it’s full of entertainment and crazy traffic, with an enormously precious cultural heritage!

And now that you know that in Cape Town you can also find hundreds of cute little African penguins well…

Now I guess it’s your time to see this gorgeous place with your own eyes!

All in all, I hope this article was interesting, entertaining, and useful to you 🙂

Before going, I would like to ask you:

  • Did you like the article?
  • Did you already know some of these curiosities?
  • Do you know any more fun facts about Cape Town that could make it to this list?

Let us know in the comments below! 😀

Thank you for reading,

and see you in the next article! 😀

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