Celebrate Heritage Day in the Mother City with the red bus

19 September 2018 | Libby Peacock

On Monday 24 September 2018, South Africans – and many visitors to our shores – will be honouring our nation’s cultural wealth and diversity. If you’re in Cape Town, make Heritage Day a movable feast by hopping on the City Sightseeing red bus and hopping off to celebrate at the stop of your choice.

Head to one (or more) of these top Mother City destinations for a joyous and meaningful day, reflecting on what unites us as a nation.

Have a glorious garden party

No matter how many times you visit Cape Town’s globally acclaimed Kirstenbosch Garden, this national botanical garden is on the eastern slope of Table Mountain, you will never get enough of its sublime setting and views, pristine natural beauty and magnificent displays of fynbos and other flora.

Every season brings something new, but spring is when the most flowers are in bloom, making a lazy day in a shady spot in this 105-year-old botanic garden a perfect Heritage Day choice. Bring a picnicbasket and blanket and secure your spot early. Adults can kick back and relax, while the kids will play and explore for hours.

How to get there: Hop off at stop 20 on the Mini Peninsula Tour. Entry fees are R70 for adults, R40 for South African students, R20 for kids aged six to 17, and free for kids under six.

Get a modern African art fix

Cape Town’s Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), set in an imaginatively repurposed old grain silo complex, opened with a great artistic bang a year ago.

Head to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront’s (stop 1) Silo District to celebrate the day surrounded by the very best modern art our country and continent have produced. Even better, entry to the Zeitz MOCAA will be free on Heritage Day.

Explore the 100 galleries filled with art, marvel at the groundbreaking modern architecture and then enjoy a meal at the restaurant on the sixth floor.

How to get there: Hop off at the City Tour’s stop 2 at the Clocktower. Entry is free on Heritage Day (last admission is 5.30pm).

Survey our heritage from up high

Named Hoerikwaggo or “Mountain in the Sea” by the early Khoi and San people, Table Mountain’s history stretches back hundreds of thousands of years, with evidence that Stone Age hunter-gatherers lived on its slopes in the bygone mists of time.

Join the millions of people who have ascended Cape Town’s world-famous flat-topped mountain – by foot or, since 1929, by cable car – and spend your Heritage Day on top of the world!

There’s plenty to see and explore, dassies (rock hyraxes) to spot, views to admire – and a café and Wi-Fi Lounge at the top, so you can share your public holiday snaps in real time.

How to get there: Hop off at the lower cableway station at stop 7 on the City Tour. (By your tickets  online beforehand to save time.) Tickets range from R71 (one way) to R293 (adult return) – but there are various student, pensioner and other specials, and kids under four are free.

Reflect on history and look ahead

Step back in time on a free City Sightseeing historic city walking tour and learn more about the Mother City’s history and heritage – from colonial-era slavery and the devastation of the apartheid era to life in the present day.

Reflect on our collective past as you stroll by Greenmarket Square, a place where slaves were once sold but that thankfully now houses a large market. Honour our hard-won democracy when you gaze up at the new life-sized bronze statue of former president Nelson Mandela on the balcony of the Cape Town City Hall (where he made his first speech as a free man in 1990), and remember the pain of apartheid-era forced removals at the District Six Museum.

Finally, amble by the peaceful Company’s Garden and beautiful, historic St George’s Cathedral, also known as “the people’s cathedral”.

How to get there: Hop off at stop 5 at 81 Long Street and simply join the free 90-minute walking tour (look out for the guide with the red umbrella). Departure times are 10.30am, 12pm, 1.30pm, 3pm and 4pm. For more ideas on where to hop on and off to celebrate Heritage Day in Cape Town

Hop-on Hop-Off

Hop on the open top red bus and enjoy the sights of Cape Town – from Table Mountain to the V&A Waterfront, from Camps Bay to Kirstenbosch. The Classic package gives you one full day on the bus covering all hop-on, hop-off tours.

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