The 2010 World Cup in Cape Town

The year 2010 has been much anticipated by South Africans, bringing with it the coveted FIFA World Cup Soccer Championships. Some 500,000 additional visitors are expected, welcomed by a host of impressive new infrastructure developments -- from the total overhaul of the nation's international airports to the implementation of long-awaited rapid transport systems linking airports with host cities. The world's most widely played and televised sport will bring South Africa massive global media exposure, the likes of which have never been witnessed in this part of the world. More eyes will be trained on South Africa from June 11 to July 11, 2010, than during Nelson Mandela's release from prison almost 2 decades earlier. All things being equal, a growth spurt in an already burgeoning tourism industry is pretty much a foregone conclusion.

Nowhere is this optimism and energy more evident than in Cape Town, where numerous developers, restaurateurs, and tour operators have been focusing their entrepreneurial spirit. Impervious to the flurry of development at its feet, Table Mountain National Park still dominates the city, and I challenge you to find another urban destination with quite so much diversity packed into such a compact and genuinely beautiful area. Be prepared to regret that you cannot double whatever length of time you plan to spend here.

The lynchpin to these developments is, of course, the newly finished Green Point Stadium, glowing like a luminescent sculpture on a vast, freshly landscaped urban park near the Waterfront. This area, which includes the cobblestone De Waterkant enclave, is set to become ground zero for pedestrians on the prowl for great shopping, dining, and entertainment diversions. Visitors can sample it now along the newly constructed Fan Walk, stretching from Grand Parade in the city center to the stadium. At the heart of it all, Cape Royale -- a smart new all-suites hotel with one of the city's best spas and a rooftop pool -- is practically across the road from the stadium. The Waterfront, which is within walking distance, has also been expanded and now incorporates a bevy of designer stores, as well as two new hotels: the resort-atmosphere One&Only and the fabulously intimate and luxurious Dock House, the finest place to stay in this touristy quarter. The city's best-looking new guesthouse is Boutique Manolo, a chic and fabulous hideaway on Tamboerkloof's very own "Mulholland Drive," with 'round-the-clock views of Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town. Manolo is a good value, given the standards of accommodation, but if you're looking for a real bargain, look no further than the new Rouge on Rose, in Bo-Kaap, just above the city, and Grand Daddy, in the center of town; the chapter also has some great self-catering options, ideal if you're traveling as a family. We've also extended accommodation coverage on the False Bay coast, with its selection of delightful seaside towns that lead to Cape Point: If a dreamy setting with the sound of the ocean lulling you to sleep sounds like it's just the ticket, pack your bags for a seaside sojourn at Zensa Lodge, one of the most beautiful and laid-back shabby-chic B&Bs in the country.

Wherever you decide to base yourself, make sure you plan to have at least one meal at The Roundhouse, tucked into a forest on the grounds of an old hunting lodge, with distant views of Camps Bay's palm-lined beach. Finally reopened after many years, the latest addition to Cape Town's fine dining scene enjoys by far the best location in the city; prepare to be bowled over by the views, food, discreet service, and wine selection. After immersing yourself in the city's natural splendors, do make time to visit the so-called black and "coloured" townships, where a number of novel tours and experiences enable you to get under the skin of various local cultures -- whether through dining, listening to personal stories and parables, or making music, visitors can get up close and personal with the people of Cape Town in ways once never imagined possible. Other new experiences are visits to our headline-grabbing democratic parliament, or touring the operating theater where the world's first heart transplant took place, now called the Heart of Cape Town Museum.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.