Chart a course for the Tavern of the Seas—that’ll be Cape Town, which harbors a cool community allure.
Travel writers have called Cape Town Africa’s LGBTQ+ capital; that’s impossible to judge, given the continent’s size, but there’s no doubt that this vibrant city, located at the juncture of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, is welcoming. Look no further—okay, pause to admire those spectacular waters and mountains visible from the city centre—than De Waterkant (The Waterfront) and Somerset Road for trendy cafés, eateries, and boutiques, as well as campy bars and neon-lit saunas. Expect boisterous drag shows, pub trivia and games, stand-up comedy, cabaret, and theme nights—with themes like “fetish night” (dress code: leather, ball gags, and that fetching uniform, sailor!) and “naked night” (dress code: nada!). For live music venues and dance-oriented clubs, head to Bo-Kaap (Upper Cape) in the historic city centre. Cape Town’s nightlife stays rollicking until 5am, but, with community-owned guest houses aplenty, you won’t be left adrift.
Some Cape Town establishments have an exclusively gay male clientele, although the city’s famous cultural and ethnic diversity means there’s something for everyone under the rainbow. Head to Distrik Ses (District Six) to find nightclubs showcasing POC (person of color)-led drag performances. The District Six Museum, displaying handwritten notes, remembers the forced relocation of 60,000 residents during the 1970s’ Apartheid era, which ended in 1994. South Africa’s 1996 Constitution makes specific provisions for LGBTQ+ rights, and, a decade later, the country became the first in Africa to legalize marriage equality. Cape Town Pride runs in late February to early March, and it’s a spectacular weeklong display steeped in African heritage.
Table Mountain National Park has got you covered any time of year! Hike Table Mountain itself, a flat-topped mountain overlooking Cape Town at 3,558 ft (1,084.6 m), and admire Devil’s Peak, Signal Hill, and Lion’s Head, along with sweeping views of the city. Or chill out and take the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, which is like a gondola for photographers instead of skiers: the cableway’s car floors rotate in a full circle for perfect panoramic views! Southeast of Cape Town, stop and smell the roses—or the proteas and the fynbos—at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, dedicated to preserving indigenous South African plants. While you’re southerly, swing by Boulders Beach, home to a colony of African penguins found only around Southern African coasts. If you’re sticking around the city centre, go cycling and beach bumming (or surfing!) along the promenade linking Mouille Point, Green Point, and Sea Point, and watch the sunset with a glass of local wine in hand. There’s no better way to cap off a lekker (good, if a little boozy!) time in Cape Town.