Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Top choice in Cape Town

Flowers in the Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens below Table Mountain.

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Location and unique flora combine to make these 5.28-sq-km botanical gardens among the most beautiful in the world. Gate 1, the main entrance at the Newlands end of the gardens, is where you’ll find the information centre, an excellent souvenir shop and the conservatory.

Added for the garden's centenary in 2013, the popular Tree Canopy Walkway (informally known as the 'Boomslang', meaning tree snake) is a curvaceous steel and timber bridge that rises through the trees and provides amazing views.

The gardens run free guided walks, or you can hire the MyGuide electronic gizmo (R40) to receive recorded information about the various plants you’ll pass on the signposted circular walks.

More than 7000 of Southern Africa’s 22,000 plant species are grown here, including the Cape Floral Kingdom's famous fynbos (literally, 'fine bush'; primarily proteas, heaths and ericas). You’ll find a fragrance garden that has been elevated so you can more easily sample the scents of the plants; a Braille trail; a kopje (hill) planted with pelargoniums; a sculpture garden; a section devoted to 'useful' medicinal plants; two hiking trails up Table Mountain (Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine); and the significant remains of Van Riebeeck's Hedge, the wild almond hedge planted by Jan van Riebeeck in 1660 to form the boundary of the Dutch outpost.

The outdoor Summer Sunset Concerts, held here on Sundays between November and April, are a Cape Town institution. The gardens are a stop on the City Sightseeing bus. The quiet Gate 3 (aka Rycroft Gate) is the first you’ll come to if you approach the gardens up Rhodes Dr from the south. There are three cafes, including the excellent Kirstenbosch Tea Room.