Robben Island#12 in Best Things To Do in Cape Town
Sitting several miles off the coast of Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, Robben Island stands as a reminder of South Africa's troubled history. Since the city was founded back in the 17th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has acted as a military base, a home for a leper colony, a mental institution, and, most famously, a prison. It was on this fairly desolate land mass that Nelson Mandela, militant anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa, was held captive. Today, Robben Island houses a fascinating museum detailing the history of the island and offering tours led by former inmates of the former prison, including Mandela's cell. The guides convey first-hand accounts of what the island used to be like.
Some visitors describe a trip to Robben Island as a sobering experience and praise the museum for its efforts to transform the site from a place of banishment to a symbol of the triumph over apartheid. Others, however, say that the site could use some work. According to one TripAdvisor user, "Buses were crowded and the guide difficult to […] understand. The walk through the prison was hurried and unless you kept pace alongside the guide you could not hear."
To get to Robben Island, you will have to take a ferry from the Nelson Mandela Gateway, located at the V&A Waterfront. The price of the ferry ride is included in the overall admission cost, which also incorporates the guided tour of the island. Admission is 230 ZAR (just under $30 USD) for adults and 120 ZAR (around $15 USD) for children. Tours to Robben Island depart every day at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. and last approximately 3.5 hours. To learn more, visit the Robben Island website.
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#1 Table Mountain
Easily the city's most recognizable landmark, Table Mountain towers over Cape Town just south of the city center. Having earned its name from its unique, flat-topped shape, the mountain is the most popular attraction found within Table Mountain National Park (which encompasses other top attractions like Boulders Beach and the Cape of Good Hope).
There are numerous ways to experience Table Mountain. Adventurous travelers can hike to the summit along one of the mountains numerous trails, although the region's fickle weather can turn an on-foot excursion into an unpleasant, muddy walk. Recent travelers strongly recommend using the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway instead. These suspended cable cars rotate 360 degrees, offering passengers spectacular views of the city and the ocean. According to one TripAdvisor user, "We had to queue for over an hour to get our tickets so recommend booking on-line. The cable car floor rotates so everyone get a chance to see the views."
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