Nestled into the shoreline of Table Bay against the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain, lies magnificent Cape Town. The sun-drenched metropolis basks in its reputation for being South Africa’s finest city. Its sleek edifices are evidence of an on-going urban renewal scheme, which recently earned it the title ‘World Design Capital’ for 2014.
But no amount of architectural beauty can keep Cape Town’s inhabitants indoors for long. Cape Town’s beautiful harbors and white sand beaches are complimented by a Mediterranean climate, while a vast nature reserve surrounding the iconic Table Mountain provides the perfect adventure playground to incite an outdoor lifestyle. Cape Town’s residents are passionate about sport - its namesake football stadium, which hosted the 2010 FIFA World Cup is testimony to this.
The city’s economic strength has been a beacon for people from the impoverished Eastern Cape and neighboring countries in search of a better life. City planners are struggling to contain the informal settlements, which now stretch almost as far out as Stellenbosch’s wine country.
The region’s stunning biodiversity, however, has provided considerable incentive to curb the city’s sprawl. Cape Town’s location at the convergence point of several different soil types and micro-climates places it bang in the middle of one of the most richly bio-diverse regions in the world. Unfortunately urban sprawl is smothering these ecosystems and threatening hundreds of unique species, making urban planning an imperative.
Cape Town’s colorful Cape Dutch architecture and leafy suburbs, its cafes, restaurants and clubs, its bountiful natural beauty and proximity to vineyards, beaches and mountains, and its magnanimous, multicultural society make it an enviable expat destination.
What is special or unique about your city?
Welcome to Cape Town, Mother City of Africa, and the Western Cape, an area that is regarded as one of the most beautiful regions in the world. Cape Town has so much to offer and has a unique cultural and natural heritage all its own. Considered to be one of the world’s top travel destinations, the Mother City has developed an adventurous spirit and is full of diversity. It has an architecture and lifestyle that are very worldly yet exclusive to Cape Town. Another exclusive aspect is Table Mountain, recently voted one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World. This mountain looms over the city and for centuries has been a guiding beacon to mariners. It is highly recognizable, with its massive, flat-topped shape. Another special quality of Cape Town is the awe-inspiring landscapes, which range from lush gardens and beautiful mountainsides to sandy beaches. All of this makes Cape Town the perfect place for anyone to unleash their adventurous spirit.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
For the most part, newcomers find Cape Town an exciting city bursting with beauty, diversity and adventure.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Typically, these impressions do not change because Cape Town's aura is contagious.
What is the local language?
The local languages in Cape Town are English and Afrikaans (similar to Dutch).
Here are a few Afrikaans phrases to help you when you arrive:
- Hallo! Hoe gaan dit? / Hello! How are you?
- Baie goed, dankie. / Very good, thanks.
- Praat jy Afrikaans? / Do you speak Afrikaans?
- Praat jy Engels? / Do you speak English?
- Ja / Yes
- Nee / No
- 'n Bietjie / A little
- Wat is jou naam? / What is your name?
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
South Africa has 11 official languages so you will hear a variety of dialects, but with English and Afrikaans the most widely spoken, not knowing either of these two languages could make communicating with the locals difficult.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Some tips to avoid offending residents of Cape Town are:
- It's impolite to point at someone with your index finger
- Talking with your hands in your pockets is also considered rude
- Maintaining eye contact when speaking is a sign that you are interested in what they have to say.
- Never instigate or join racist or sexist conversation.
- South Africans are generally good conversationalists; silence during conversation is often a sign of awkwardness
- Holding hands is a sign of friendship
- Backslapping and handshaking is common during conversation
- Handshaking is the customary greeting
- When passing through a doorway, it is customary for African men to precede the women
- Conservative dress for women, such as skirts, dresses, and pants, are normal attire. In rural areas, women should avoid wearing revealing or sleeveless clothing
- Formal social gatherings will necessitate more formal dress
- When sunbathing, the rule is to "do as others do."
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Cape Town has a Mediterranean climate and is blessed with mild winters and pleasant summers. Lying between the Indian and Atlantic Oceans, Cape Town has summer temperatures during the months of December to February that range from 15 to 30 degrees Celsius (60 to 86 degrees Fahrenheit) and winter temperatures during the months of June to August between 7 to 20 degrees Celsius (45 to 68 Fahrenheit). Rainfall is moderate throughout the year. There are refreshing breezes that can sometimes turn a little brisk during the winter, earning the city the nickname "The Cape of storms." However, beware of the forceful "Cape Doctor," a strong southeasterly summer wind that tears through the city on a semi-regular basis, clearing the air and covering Table Mountain with a blanket of clouds, aptly referred to as the “tablecloth.”
Whatever season you have chosen to visit Cape Town, be advised of the old joke: Cape Town has four seasons … sometimes in the same day.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Cape Town is full of many friendly residents and it is common to say hello or to help each other out. However, just like any other city, there are some neighborhoods that are not safe. With that in mind, avoid unlit areas at night and seek safety in numbers and you will be just fine!
A fun Cape Town fact is that we are a very well-known spot for models and the film industry. Many top films have been shot in Cape Town. The movie "Safehouse," starring Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds, was shot almost entirely on location in Cape Town.
A few other good tips to keep in mind are:
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash
- Do not leave any belongings unattended
- Take special precautions at lonely outlook points at dusk and or after dark