For those who like to keep close tabs on travel trends, it’s likely that you’ve already heard of Cape Town from the mouths of in-the-know globetrotters. A Lonely Planet Best in Travel winner for 2014 and a top emerging gay travel destination, Cape Town is winning over scores of travelers with its iconic beaches, lively nightlife and music scene and proximity to outdoor adventures. Here, we highlight some of our favorite reasons to that Cape Town is proving to be an LGBT travel mainstay.
13. The views from Cape Point. Every good traveler knows they can’t return home without a few Instagram or Facebook-worthy photos documenting their legendary adventure. Cape Town has made it an easy feat with the sweeping vistas that are offered at Cape Point, the furthest southwest tip of Africa. Home to nearly 20% of Africa’s flora, you can stand among lush greenery and set your sites on the miles of breathtaking bays and rolling hills nearby.
12. Easy access to wine country. While most wine-loving travelers often have to choose between the city and country when looking for a good grape, Cape Town makes it easy to experience both. With the closest vineyard a short 30 to 40 minute drive outside of the city, you can sample brandy and champagne and take in the sweeping views from any of the artisanal and gourmet restaurants.
11. Cape Town Pride. Spanning 10 days, Cape Town Pride celebrates both the local and global LGBT community through seminars, pageants, drag shows and picnics. Culminating in a festive celebration in the popular Green Point neighborhood, the festival is held in February or March of each year.
10. It’s the St. Tropez of South Africa. Along Cape Town’s Atlantic Coast, Clifton is a see and be seen hotspot. It would be hard to keep your eyes off the Millionaire’s Row mansions or stunning coastal stretches if the jet-setting crowd wasn’t so good-looking. For a young, hip LGBT crowd, head to the popular Clifton 3rd beach.
9. The Mother City Queer Project. Every year, this themed night draws a stylish and fun-loving Cape Town crowd. Last year’s theme was Space Cowboys and held at Cape Town’s largest stadium, with over 10,000 light saber yielding, Clint Eastwood-inspired cowboys in attendance. We can only imagine 2014 will be equally epic.
8. The wildlife. To truly appreciate the term ‘urban jungle,’ stop by one of the dozens of aviary, monkey, and penguin sanctuaries in town. Or, to catch a glimpse of these locals in their natural habitat, head to Boulder Beach, where colonies of African Penguins mingle with beachgoers for an unforgettable experience.
7. Everyone else likes it. Hey, you shouldn’t always care what others think, but sometimes it’s okay to listen to the pack. Cape Town is among the top 20 gay travel destinations for 2013, according to a survey conducted by Out Now Business Class, who specializes in the LGBT market.
6. De Waterkant. Cape Town’s trendiest suburb has seen an explosion of LGBT culture in recent years and is now one of the city’s most sought-after addresses. Funky restaurants and art galleries are reminiscent of NY’s Greenwich Village or London’s Soho and the small-town vibe is great for making friends.
5. The Out in Africa Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. For film buffs, Cape Town’s LGBT-centric film festival draws attention to identity and lifestyle concerns of the gay community following South African Apartheid. Running since 1994, the festival screens both local and worldwide debuts.
4. The V&A waterfront. Like 5th Ave in New York or Rodeo Drive in LA, The V&A Waterfront sees heavy tourist traffic thanks to its swanky restaurants, top-notch shopping and museums and attractions. Get up close to sharks and penguins at the Two Oceans Aquarium or shop for designer duds along the district’s designated designer section.
3. No discrimination. In South Africa it is illegal to discriminate against people because of their gender or sexual orientation. Because of the protection this law affords, LGBT culture and businesses flourish and find an ease of acceptance among South Africans.
2. The nightlife. Cape Town’s buzz-worthy nightlife includes a notable LGBT community, with a number of colorful restaurants, bars and theme nights. Bubbles Bar is a drag queen favorite, while Beulah is a popular lesbian club.
1. Getting married here. What happens when you combine reasons 13-2 and add in the legalization of same-sex marriage in 2006? Well, it sounds to us like you have a recipe for an unforgettable wedding and honeymoon. And, with an increasing number of venues popping up that specialize in hosting LGBT weddings and receptions, it’s easy to find a perfect venue for the big day.
For more information on Cape Town or to start planning your getaway, visit our site.