The sprawling suburbs aside, Cape Town is a compact city, fitting snugly into the bowl created by Table Mountain and the coast.
It's a city that lends itself to being walked – just apply the standard rules of the street (don't carry flashy camera equipment, try not to look too lost and take care of your valuables) and stay away from the central train station (nothing to see or do) – and become a pedestrian for a day.
Most things in Cape Town that are worth seeing are all within walking distance of each other and there are plenty of shady cafés and cool bars to revitalise tired legs.
Cape Town's suburbs, like everywhere else, are full of modern shopping malls; head for the city centre to do some old-fashioned retro shopping – in real shops.
Take a stroll down St Georges Mall, a pedestrian precinct abuzz with dancers and vendors, and the best place to get a competitive deal on diamonds.
Have a browse around the stalls in Greenmarket Square if tourist souvenirs are your bag, but our advice is to meander up and down Long Street – Cape Town's main shopping arterial and home to a spread of shops and restaurants ranging from antique book dealers to achingly fashionable clothing stores.
If shopping is you thing, be sure to have a look at our comprehensive Cape Town shopping page.
Cape Town might not be Venice or Paris but that's not to say that you can't get a decent dose of culture. A casual glance around the city centre will reveal the odd art deco building rubbing shoulders with solid Victorian churches and town halls; compare this to the eyeball-searing colours of the houses and minaret-bristling mosques in Bo Kaap - the traditional Cape Malay stronghold.
Walking tours are popular here – a great opportunity to see a largely overlooked facet of Cape Town.
Wander your way the leafy Company's Garden – planted by the Dutch settlers to provide fresh produce for their scurvy-ravaged ranks – and you'll find yourself having to choose between the National Art Gallery, the South African Iziko Museum and an excellent planetarium. Why not just do them all – entrance fees are minimal and their cool corridors offer a respite from the heat and wind.
For those who want to see what life was like before the democratic revolution, head to the east side of the city and the District Six Museum – a disturbingly compelling testament to life under apartheid.
Other museums worth checking out are the centrally located Gold Museum, the Slave Lodge and the Jewish Museum. Have a look at our Cape Town Art and Culture page for more information on these museums and other cultural attractions.