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Cape Town

If you are looking for a great value long-haul break this winter with some of the world's best beaches and hotels plus numerous touring options, then Cape Town ticks all the boxes.

The weakness of the South African Rand means the country is fantastic value at the moment - £1 buys you almost double what it did around five years ago - and just in time for the UK winter, British Airways introduces a new service from Gatwick to Cape Town, with three flights a week from 24th November. Another attraction is the lack of jetlag, with Cape Town being only an hour ahead of the UK, making even short break an attractive option despite the 11-hour overnight flight.

Cape Town itself must surely have one of the finest backdrops of any of the world's cities in the shape of Table Mountain. The 3,000-feet high monolith is only 2.5 miles from the city centre but a world away. The easy route up is by cable car but if you have the strength, local firms will guide you up some of the many hiking trails to the summit.

The restored Victoria and Albert Waterfront gives clues to the city's importance in the past, as it was established in 1654 by the Dutch East India Company. Walking tours will fill you in on the V&A's history, but its future is an exciting one, as next year sees the opening of the landmark Seitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa in a former grain silo. The launch of Africa's answer to Tate Modern is not until September, but in March the boutique 28-room Silo Hotel takes its first guests and establishes itself as a landmark stop for the Seitz MOCAA.

Moving back to the past, the city has two must-sees that tell the story of South Africa's apartheid era. The often-choppy ferry ride from the V&A Waterfront to Robben Island underlines the isolation former president Nelson Mandela must have felt when banished to the maximum-security prison there for 18 years.  Meanwhile, the District Six Museum tells the story of the forced removal and destruction of black communities throughout the country before reconciliation. The latter is often part of the township tour, which is a safe way to experience the welcome of the real South Africa and to see how ordinary people live.

 Cape Town is the starting point for South Africa's rugged Garden Route, one of the planet's most scenic drives. A three or four day itinerary is needed (self-drive or guided) to include stops for the vineyards and adventure options including cave exploration, rafting and surfing. You may share the white sand beaches with penguins or seals and over summer in Hermanus catch visiting whales  right under the cliffs. There is a bonus at the end of the drive at the Eastern Cape, which has Big Five game reserves that are malaria-free.

If you cannot manage the full Garden Route, there are many day tour options from Cape Town. Others will take you to Cape Point, along the Atlantic coast, where the beaches are crowded with Jackass Penguins, and which will include a visit to a Stellenbosch wine estate. Neither Cape Point nor the Cape of Good Hope is, however, the very southern-most tip of Africa, which is instead found at Cape Agulhas. At around three hours from Cape Town, the setting is not as spectacular as its more famous landmarks, but this is where the Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet and if bragging rights are important to you, put it on your itinerary.