If you’re looking for an amazing travel destination, look no further than Cape Town, South Africa! This incredible city has something for everyone. From stunning beaches and awe-inspiring mountains to world-class restaurants and vibrant nightlife, to wine tasting nearby in the wine country, there is something for everyone in Cape Town.
I lived in Cape Town and South Africa for many years and absolutely loved the Mother City. Cape Town Tourism has really picked up in recent years which is always great to see and hopefully my blog posts will inspire you to take the trip!
In this blog post, we will highlight 26 of the best things to do in Cape Town. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Cape Town today!
Get lost in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
With over 300 species of proteas, the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is home to the largest collection of these unique flowers in the world. The Kirstenbosch Centenary Tree Top Canopy Walkway is also not to be missed when visiting this amazing attraction!
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is an absolute must see attraction. Opening every day of the year, the admission fee is just R41 for adults. A wide variety of African plants mixed into the garden, with a walking path makes it easy to get lost during the afternoon.
When traveling to Cape Town for the Summer Season (from December through March), be sure to see a performance of the Kirstenbosch Summer Concert Series. Even with no musical experience it will certainly be worth it! Bring picnics with you and your guests and get to the stage early to secure your place on the turf to attend the music performance.
See the penguins up close at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town
Just a short drive from the city center, Boulders Beach is home to a colony of African penguins. This lovely beach is also a great spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking. Be sure to bring your camera so you can snap some photos of these adorable animals!
Boulders Beach is located in Simon’s Town, a naval base about an hour drive from Cape Town. It is one of the few places where you can see African penguins up close in their natural habitat. The best time to visit is early in the morning or later in the afternoon when the sun is not as harsh. You can also take a boat tour to get a closer look at the penguins and other wildlife in the area.
Keep in mind that Boulder’s Beach is a very popular attraction and it gets very busy at peak times. Nevertheless, you’ll always have great opportunities for photos and often times you can find a penguin wandering away from the pack close to the sidewalks of humans!
Head to the Beach in Cape Town
While visiting Cape Town, make sure to see one of the many stunning beaches the city has to offer. From Camps Bay to Clifton Beach, there is a beach for every taste and preference. Be sure to pack your sunscreen, swimsuit, and beach towel so you can enjoy a day in the sun!
There are so many great beaches in Cape Town that it’s hard to choose just one. Camps Bay is a popular choice for its white sand and turquoise water, while Clifton Beach is perfect for those who want to escape the crowds. No matter which beach you choose, you’re sure to have a great time!
Keep in mind even though it might be very hot outside, the water temperatures at places like Camp’s Bay beach and Clifton Beach will be very cold to swim in.
Make your way around the V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town. With over 80 stores and restaurants, there is something for everyone at this vibrant destination. Be sure to check out the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Cape Wheel, and the Nelson Mandela Gateway while you’re here!
The V&A Waterfront is a great place to spend a day or two. There are plenty of things to do, including shopping, dining, and exploring the area. The Two Oceans Aquarium is a must-see for animal lovers, while the Cape Wheel offers stunning views of the city.
If you’re looking for something more historical, be sure to visit the Nelson Mandela Gateway. No matter what you’re interested in, you’re sure to find something to do at the V&A Waterfront.
Go up Table Mountain
One the absolute best things to do in Cape Town and undoubtedly one of its top attractions, Table Mountain was recently voted as one of the new wonders of the world. It’s not hard to see why. Its impossibly flat peak is visible from all of the surrounding area and is perhaps the most iconic landmark in Cape Town. Sandwiched between Devils Peak and Lions Head, Table Mountain stands 1km above sea level. It is also one of one of the oldest mountains in the world being hundreds of millions of years older than even the Himalayas.
Then there are the views. Panoramic views of Cape Town, all the way down to Cape Point can be seen from its peak allowing for breathtaking photos.
Cable car up Table Mountain
Unlike Lion’s Head, which can only be hiked, there is the incredibly popular table mountain cable cars that will take people straight to the top. Two cars, holding 60 people a piece go up and down this thing and it’s only a short 7 minute ride. However, during high season on ANY nice day, the line for this place is ridiculous. I came once before, with the intention of using the cable car but the line was 3 hours so we gave up and went to Lion’s Head instead.
The second time, I was determined to use this damn thing to get to the top. We came here at 8am, thinking we’d be early enough to avoid the lines but not a chance. Even at 8am, the line was 2 hours.
We had some friends wanting to hike up the mountain which I wasn’t against, and after discovering the long line, I was all for hiking. Also, the hike takes the same amount of time so screw it, hiking up we go. The cost for the cable car if you’re willing to wait is 210R round trip. Tickets can also be purchased ahead of time online, but you still need to wait in line.
Note that the second time I visited was during New Years so naturally you’ll see a spike in tourism. It’s not always so packed, but you should always plan for a crowd in the summer months.
Hiking Table Mountain
The hike up iconic Table Mountain is no joke. It’s physically more demanding than the Lion’s Head hike and far less fun. It is, to sum it up, just non-stop stair-master. The hiking trail is very structured, and consists of thousands of rocky steps. The hike starts from the Plattekip entrance, about 1km down from the cable car.
The signs here say it’ll take 2.5 hours to hike to the top, but if you’re in decent shape, which I’d consider myself to be in, it should take no more than 2 hours.
With a few breaks in between, we completed the hike in 1.5 hours. They also recommend 2 liters of water for the hike, I think that’s a little ridiculous. 0.5-1 liter should be plenty because you don’t want to weigh yourself down.
The hike was taxing, but we took about 5 short breaks (1-2 min), and we were up before we knew it. There were some crazy people that more or less ran up the mountain and did it in an hour. I’d also recommend doing this hike in the morning or before sunset so to avoid the heat.
A Table Mountain hike is definitely something every serious hiker should do but if you are limited on time, go to Lion’s Head instead.
After 1.5 hours, we’re finally at the top, and what a gratifying feeling it is. The top of the mountain is huge and you have to walk to the edges in order to have a view. There are many viewing points and I’ve yet to find the ultimate picture spot but I’m sure I will be back. There is a restaurant/cafe up here that serves food, and beverages, including alcoholic ones to celebrate the climb! We stayed up here for about 1 hour to have some drinks and take our pictures. We took the cable car down as we had enough to hike for the day. The line was much shorter to get down.
Take a free walking tour in Cape Town
Cape Town is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. If you’re on a budget, be sure to take advantage of the free walking tours offered by many companies. This is a great way to see the city and learn about its history and culture.
There are many different companies that offer free walking tours of Cape Town. These tours are a great way to see the city and learn about its history and culture. Be sure to do some research before you choose a tour, as they vary in length and difficulty. most importantly, don’t forget to wear comfortable shoes!
Catch an epic sunset Hiking Lion’s Head
Of all the things to do in Cape Town, Lion’s head is my favorite. Shortly after hiking Table Mountain, we were aiming to go to Cape Point midday but the traffic was so horrible that we turned around and went back to our hotel in Camps Bay. A short nap later, I decided we needed to climb Lion’s Head as well so to get both mountains in. Climbing both Table Mountain and Lion’s Head in the same day is not for the feint of heart and most people thought we were crazy to do it.
But we did it anyway! Compared to the first time I climbed this, I was not hungover, and I wore proper shoes which made it much easier to climb. I wasn’t winded at any point and I think this is one of the best hikes I’ve ever done.
To get to Lion’s Head, simply drive on the road towards Signal Hill and the base of Lion’s Head will be located before you reach it. There is parking all on the side of the road and you’ll know where the entrance is just by the row of cars parked.
The hike up Lion’s Head is much easier physically than Table Mountain. Not only is it a shorter hike but it zig zag’s around the mountain whereas Table Mountain is a straight shot up. Lion’s Head is also a more fun hike in my opinion as there are some very minor rock climbing (chains and ladders) aspect to it!
All in all, the hike will take about 45 minutes to 1 hour. When you’re at the top, you’ll see many other hikers soaking up the views. There are no bars and no restaurants here, it’s completely untamed which I absolutely loved. During the summer months, the top can be quite packed but can you blame people for appreciating such stunning views?
To make it even more enjoyable, make sure to take some beers, or a bottle of wine from perhaps a previous day of wine tasting in Stellenbosch with you to enjoy at the top with incredible views of the Atlantic ocean and Cape Town’s city centre. I didn’t do this the first time and got serious FOMO by seeing all my fellow hikers cracking open beers and wine bottles. Fewer places in the world offer nicer views than Lion’s Head!
I’d highly recommend this to anyone that wants to do something active in Cape Town, likes amazing views, or want to get actively romantic with their significant others like my friends did on their honeymoon!
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most scenic roads in the world, and it’s no wonder that it’s a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The road winds its way along the coastline, offering stunning views of the sea and the cliffs.
It’s definitely worth taking your time to enjoy the drive, and there are plenty of places to stop along the way to take photos or just soak up the view. Just be sure to keep an eye out for the baboons! They’re often seen near the road, and they can be pretty cheeky.
If you’re lucky, you might even spot some dolphins swimming in the waves. Chapman’s Peak Drive is definitely an experience that you won’t forget.
Have a drink and go out on Long Street
Visiting Cape Town is not complete without a night out on long street in downtown Cape Town. Long Street in Cape Town is one of the city’s most vibrant and eclectic streets. Lined with an array of cafes, bars, shops and restaurants, it’s the perfect place to spend a day exploring.
There’s something for everyone on Long Street, whether you’re looking for a relaxed coffee or a night out on the town. And with its central location, it’s easy to get to no matter where you’re staying in the city. Even if you’re not looking for anything in particular, it’s worth strolling down Long Street just to take in the sights and sounds. With its central location and array of attractions, Long Street is one of Cape Town’s must-see areas.
Day trip to Cape Point (A must do)
If there’s one thing I tell my people not to miss when visiting Cape Town is a day trip to the absolutely stunning Cape Point. Cape Point is home to the famous Cape Point lighthouse as well as the Cape of Good Hope where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. It is not the southern most point of South Africa, that honor goes to Cape Aghulas but that is a 3 hour drive from Cape Town.
Cape Point, along with visiting Boulders beach home to the African penguin colony, Muizenberg beach, and the Chapman’s peak drive make for the absolute perfect day trip from Cape Town. If this sounds like something you’re keen to do, then all you’ll need to know about planning the day will be in this post!
If you’re staying in Cape Town, make sure to also read my Ultimate Cape Town Travel guide for insider tips on what to do and see in the mother city.
A Day Trip Itinerary for Cape Point from Cape Town
So now that you’re keen and ready for visiting Cape Point, this is how I would arrange the day. This is of course really only applicable if you’re self-driving or you have a private driver taking you around. If you go on an organized tour, then you’ll follow whatever schedule they’ve laid out for you.
9:00am – Leave Cape Town and drive towards Hout Bay
10:00am – Enjoy fish and chips at Snoeckies, enjoy Hout Bay beach
11:00am – Drive along Chapman’s Peak until you reach Boulder’s Beach
11:30am – Visit the penguins at Boulder’s Beach
1:30pm – Arrive at Cape Point, walk or take funicalar to the top of the lighthouse
3:00pm – Leave Cape Point and drive to Muizenberg Beach to look at the iconic colorful houses
5:00pm – Leave Muizenberg Beach back to Cape Town
6:00pm – Arrive in Cape Town.
Booking an organized tour
If you’re not keen for driving, then rest assured, there are many tours you can book that will take you to most of these places. This is what I do when I plan honeymoons for my readers to the Rainbow Nation as most honeymooners aren’t keen to drive on the other side of the road. If you are keen for driving, rest assured that the roads around Cape Town are in perfect condition and the traffic is pleasant.
On Viator, I normally book this tour for my readers as it visits all the main sights I’ve listed below, as well as a wine farm in Constantia. It is a bit rushed for my liking but it is a fair price for what it is.
Alternatively, you could just book a private driver for the day and tell them to make all the stops listed on this post. They may even have more insider tips than me and take you to cool spots I’ve never heard of before! My preferred tour with be the small group Instagram Cape Point tour that visits all the places that I highlight on this itinerary and in a small group setting.
Check out the surf (or just the surfers) at Muizenberg Beach
Usually when people come to the Cape Peninsula for a surf trip they’re going to go to Muizenberg Beach. It’s a great place to learn how to surf and the vibe is really relaxed. It’s also one of the most beautiful beaches in Cape Town with its bright colours and epic sunsets.
Go wine tasting and drink amazing wine in Stellenbosch
The wine region of the Western Cape is in my opinion, the most underrated wine region of the world. It’s not undiscovered by any means, but it is lost in the shadows of places like France, Italy, Mendoza, and Napa Valley. I can safely say that Cape Town’s wine region is more stunning than all of the aforementioned, not to mention a hell of a lot cheaper with wine tastings that average R50.
For those visiting South Africa, a visit to the wine region is an absolute must to sample delicious South African wine. I’ve visited many more wine farms than what I will list below so make sure to read about all of the wine farms I’ve visited in Cape Town.
While I’d highly recommend a few nights stay in the fabulous wine country, not everyone has the time so I’ve come up with the ultimate one to two day wine tour for those looking to do day trips from Cape Town. Although I’d like to think I’m a sommelier at heart, I am mostly just an amateur that likes to drink wine.
Almost all the wine I’ve had during my time in South Africa is great, I’m just focused on which wineries (they’re called wine farms in South Africa), are the most stunning and picturesque.
Enjoy amazing rooftop views at the Silo Rooftop Bar
Perched atop a grain silo in the heart of the city, Silo Rooftop Bar offers stunning views of the skyline and a relaxed atmosphere that is perfect for unwinding after a long day.
The bar is divided into two sections – an indoor lounge area with comfortable seating and an outdoor deck where guests can enjoy the view. The menu features a selection of local beers, wines, and spirits, as well as small plates that are perfect for sharing.
Whether you’re looking to watch the sun set or simply escape the hustle and bustle of the city, Silo Rooftop Bar is the perfect place to relax and recharge.
Visit the Bo-Kaap neighborhood
If you’re looking for a unique and vibrant neighborhood to explore in Cape Town, be sure to visit Bo-Kaap. This historic area is home to a large community of Cape Malay people, and it’s known for its colorful houses and delicious food.
During the apartheid era, the Bo-Kaap was one of the few areas where people of color were allowed to live. As a result, it became a vibrant center of resistance against apartheid, with many political demonstrations and rallies taking place in the streets.
You can easily spend a day wandering the streets, admiring the architecture, and sampling the local cuisine. Bo-Kaap is also a great place to pick up souvenirs and handmade goods.
Whether you’re looking for textiles, jewelry, or art, you’ll be sure to find something special to take home with you. So whether you’re a history buff or a foodie, be sure to add Bo-Kaap to your list of must-see places in Cape Town.
Visit the Oranjezicht farmers market
Oranjezicht City Farm is a non-profit urban farm and farmers market located in the heart of Cape Town, South Africa. The farm grows a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers, and also sells eggs from their free-range chickens.
The market is open every Saturday & Sunday from 9am to 2pm and Wednesdays from 5pm to 9pm. The market features live music, food trucks, and a kids’ play area. Visitors can also take tours of the farm or participate in workshops on topics such as urban agriculture and beekeeping.
Oranjezicht City Farm is more than just a farmers market – it’s a community space where people can connect with nature, learn about sustainable living, and support local farmers.
I love going to the Oranjezicht farmers market on Saturdays. It’s such a great place to get fresh produce and meet new people. There’s always a great atmosphere, and it’s really fun to wander around and see all the different stalls.
I always find something new and exciting to try, and the prices are really reasonable. I definitely recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the area!
Have a sundowner at the 12 Apostles Hotel
The Twelve Apostles Hotel is truly a sight to behold. With its dramatic setting on the edge of a cliff, the hotel offers breathtaking views of the ocean and the nearby coastline. The hotel’s architecture is also quite stunning, and its rooms are spacious and well-appointed. Despite its luxurious amenities, the Twelve Apostles Hotel remains a warm and inviting place, and its staff is always eager to provide personalized service. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family-friendly vacation destination, the Twelve Apostles Hotel is sure to please.
Looking for a unique drink to sip on while enjoying the views from the 12 Apostles Hotel? Check out the hotel’s signature cocktail, the 12 Apostles. This refreshing drink is made with vodka, sparkling wine, elderflower cordial, and fresh lemon juice. The perfect balance of sweet and tart, it’s sure to please any palate. So whether you’re enjoying a sunset from the hotel’s rooftop bar or simply relaxing in your room, be sure to order a 12 Apostles and enjoy a taste of this one-of-a-kind hotel. Cheers!
Visit Robben Island; Nelson Mandela’s Prison for 27 years
Robben Island is a small island located in Table Bay, just off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. The island has a long and rich history, dating back to the early days of the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope.
In 1652, the Dutch East India Company established a refreshment station on the island, and it soon became an important way-point for ships travelling to and from the East. In the 18th century, the island was used as a hospital for lepers, and later as a prison for political prisoners.
Today, Robben Island is a World Heritage Site and museum, dedicated to telling the story of its fascinating past. Visitors to the island can tour the prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, as well as see the lime quarry where prisoners were forced to work.
The island is a powerful reminder of South Africa’s complex history, and is well worth a visit for anyone interested in learning more about this important period in time.
Visit the Cape Town Aquarium
The Cape Town Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, and it is home to over 3,000 sea creatures. Visitors can see everything from sharks and rays to seahorses and octopuses.
The aquarium also features a number of interactive exhibits, including a touch pool where visitors can get up close and personal with some of the resident creatures. In addition to being a great place to learn about marine life, the Cape Town Aquarium is also an important center for conservation and research.
The aquarium staff works tirelessly to rescue and rehabilitate injured animals, and they also conduct vital research into the behavior and ecology of local species.
Whether you’re interested in learning about ocean life or supporting conservation efforts, the Cape Town Aquarium is definitely worth a visit.
Helicopter Tour around Cape Town
There are few better ways to see the sights of Cape Town than from above. A helicopter tour provides an unparalleled bird’s-eye view of the city, offering a unique perspective on iconic landmarks like Table Mountain and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
And with so many different companies to choose from, there’s sure to be a tour that’s just right for you. Whether you’re looking for a short sightseeing flight or a longer excursion that takes in the surrounding area, a helicopter tour is an unforgettable experience.
Prices for a helicopter tour in Cape Town are reasonable compared to other cities around the world. The price for the standard 12 minute flight around Cape Town is R1,850 (As of 2022). This price is of course subject to change based on exchange rates and inflation.
So next time you’re in Cape Town, be sure to take to the skies and see the city from a whole new perspective.
Party with locals at Mzoli’s
The tourism industry is booming in Cape Town, and one of the best ways to experience the city is to party with the locals. Mzoli is a popular spot for music, dancing, and drinking, and it’s easy to find a group of people to join in the fun. Located in a vibrant township 15km from Cape Town, Mzoli the quintessential South Africa Braai experience.
The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, and you’re sure to make new friends quickly. Best of all, Mzoli is an authentic Cape Town experience that you won’t find anywhere else.
So if you’re looking for a night of fun and excitement, be sure to head to Mzoli for an unforgettable time.
Whale watching in Hermanus
Hermanus is a quaint seaside town about 1.5 hours east of Cape Town that is famous for its whale watching. During the winter months between June and October, Southern Right whales routinely come visit this part of the country.
There are multiple daily departures on whale watching expeditions to see these amazing animals. Also, Hermanus is just an amazing little town with some incredible scenery, and beaches. It is one of the top destinations in the world to kitesurf.
Shark Diving in Gansbaai
I did this countless times in South Africa because it is always at the top of people’s lists. After doing so much scuba diving, it’s hard for me to recommend this anymore as I don’t think it is healthy for the shark ecosystem to bring so many tourists.
Nevertheless, this is a very popular day trip from Cape Town. Located 2 hours east of Cape Town in the town of Gansbaai, this area of South Africa sees an insane amount of Great White sharks thanks to a large population of seals.
There are many tour companies that offer this activity in the area and prices include the pickup from Cape Town. Prices go up each year but in 2018, it hovers around R2000 per person.
Viewpoint at Maiden’s Cove
Located just between Camps Bay and Clifton, Maiden’s Cove is a breathtaking viewpoint away of Camps Bay and the 12 apostles. There is ample parking here if you’re driving, or you could just walk from Camps Bay or Clifton.
There are rocks along the beach that you can walk on as well if you’re feeling a little adventurous. Come here for the sunset or any other time of the day if you want the most amazing photos and views of the apostles mountain range.
A lot of the most quintessential and famous photos of Cape Town are taken from here and if this isn’t a reason to visit Cape town, I don’t know what is.
Visit Milnerton beach for the best views of table Mountain
The views from Milnerton Beach are simply stunning. On a clear day, you can see all the way down the coast to Table Mountain. And at sunset, the sky turns a beautiful pink and orange. It’s definitely one of the best places in Cape Town to watch the sun go down!
There’s also something special about being so close to the water. The sound of the waves crashing against the shore is incredibly relaxing, and it’s easy to spend hours just strolling along the beach.
If you’re looking for a place to unwind and enjoy some spectacular scenery, Milnerton Beach is definitely worth a visit.
Eat amazing steak in Cape Town
If you’re looking for an amazing steak experience, you need to head to Cape Town. The city is home to some of the best steakhouses in the world, where you can find perfectly cooked meat that’s full of flavor.
And since Cape Town is located in close proximity to some of the best cattle farms in South Africa, you can be sure that the steak you’re eating is fresh and of the highest quality.
Whether you like your steak rare or well-done, there’s a restaurant in Cape Town that will suit your taste. So why not treat yourself to an unforgettable steak dinner the next time you’re in town? You won’t regret it.
Have a world class coffee at the many cafes in Cape Town
Cape Town is renowned for its vibrant cafe culture, and there are plenty of great places to enjoy a coffee or bite to eat. From the popular tourist spots like Camps Bay and Clifton Beach to the more local haunts in the City Bowl and Observatory, there’s something to suit every taste.
And with such a diverse range of cafes on offer, it’s no wonder that Cape Town has become a mecca for coffee lovers from all over the world. Whether you’re after a strong espresso or a leisurely cappuccino, you’re sure to find the perfect cup in one of the Mother City’s many cafes.
Cape Town is quickly becoming one of the digital nomad hotspots of the world. It is certainly the most popular destination in Africa and it isn’t hard to see why. An incredibly beautiful city with countless amenities and a graet cost of living. Finally, don’t forget the cafes and co-working spaces Cape Town has to offer.
There are so many cafes in Cape Town and new ones are popping up all the time.
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