Cape Town, also known as South Africa’s Mother City, is consistently listed amongst the best cities in the world. It is endowed with abundant natural beauty, umpteen opportunities for adventure, world-class shopping, delicious food, and captivating history. There are so many places to visit in Cape Town as well as things to do in Cape Town - whether you are a first-time newbie, a resident or a regular visitor.
Cape Town’s most famous attraction is Table Mountain, recognized as one of the world’s seven wonders of nature. This flat-topped mountain is a prominent landmark overlooking the city. The aerial cableway will take you to the top of the mountain. If you’re fit enough, you can also opt to hike up. Once on the mountain, you can see indigenous flora and fauna, and enjoy a picnic high above the city. The panoramic views of Robben Island, the city and the Cape Peninsula, from the top, are stunning. Book your tickets in advance as it is busy.
During the many years of incarceration on Robben Island, we often looked across Table Mountain at its magnificent silhouette … To us on Robben Island, Table Mountain was a beacon of hope. It represented the mainland to which we knew we would one day return.– Nelson Mandela.
This is where former President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years that he was incarcerated. Today, Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a must-do in Cape Town. A ferry will take you to the island, where you can go on a guided tour and even see Nelson Mandela’s former cell. Book your tickets well in advance though as this attraction is very popular.
This is one of Cape Town’s oldest, and most colourful, urban residential areas. Situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, the Bo-Kaap is steeped in history. The narrow cobbled streets, lined with brightly painted houses are an Instagrammer’s delight. Locals will show you around the area where you can visit the museums and even do cooking tours.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most magnificent gardens in Africa and one of the great botanical gardens of the world. It lies at the foot of Table Mountain and is the perfect place for a relaxing family day out. One could easily spend a full day here, admiring the different gardens and other features. Be sure to walk along the tree canopy walkway to get great views of Cape Town.
This is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. It was built in the 1600’s as a defensive fort. It is now a national monument. You can walk around the castle grounds and see the exhibits as well as a live cannon-firing demonstration. Book tickets here.
The V&A Waterfront is located in the Cape Town harbor. It is a sprawling shopping centre with many eateries, but there is more to it. It is surrounded by other attractions like an aquarium, a giant observation wheel, markets, museums and boat cruises. The ferries to Robben Island leave from here too.
There are many types of boat cruises to choose from. They include sunset cruises, sight-seeing cruises, harbour cruises and adventurous cruises. You are likely to see seals on many of these cruises. Cruises from Simon's Town, will take you to Seal Island, home to 75,000 Cape Fur Seals.
Cape Town has many stunning beaches. The Clifton beaches are amongst the best in the world, Camps Bay Beach is the place to see and be seen. Muizenberg Beach and St James Beach have colourful beach huts and there is a lovely walkway between the two. Boulders Beach is a must-visit if you have children. It is one of the only beaches in the world where you can get so close to African Penguins. For a free option, check out Seaforth Beach, next to Boulders Beach where some of the penguins venture.
The City Sightseeing Cape Town hop-on, hop-off bus is a convenient way to see Cape Town and will take you to most of many of the city’s attractions. There are several different routes. A running commentary is provided by earphones in 15 different languages. Book tickets here.
Cape Town, and the area around it, has some of the most spectacular scenery in the world. The best way to see it is to rent a car and take long drives along the coastline. Drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive to Hout Bay, where you can eat fresh fish. Drive further to Cape Point Nature Reserve, and Cape Agulhas, the southernmost tip of Africa, where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet.
As you can see, a trip to Cape Town will include many different experiences. I would recommend staying there for at least a week.
If you’re looking for accommodation in Cape Town, here are some hotels I’ve personally stayed at and would highly recommend.
The 12 Apostles Hotel is where many royals and celebrities from around the world choose to stay when in Cape Town. If you can’t stay there, then go for high tea or sun downers while you watch one of Cape Town’s most breath-taking sunsets. Read about our stay at 12 Apostles Hotel.
If it’s proximity to the seaside combined with affordable family-friendly comfort that you’re looking for, then look no further than The President Hotel, situated in Bantry Bay, between Sea Point and Clifton. Read about our stay at The President Hotel.
A luxurious halaal hotel located at the beginning of the Bo-Kaap district, close enough for one to immerse oneself in the culture and colour of the neighbourhood but not enough to encroach on its ambience. Read about our stay at the Hyatt Regency Cape Town.
Tintswalo at Boulders is a luxurious boutique villa with the most dramatic views and direct access to the Boulders Penguin Colony via a meandering boardwalk. Read about our stay at Tintswalo at Boulders.
For a Cape Town city experience, stay at the Taj Cape Town. It is housed in two historic buildings in the heart of Cape Town, across the historic Company’s Gardens. The hotel offers a fascinating complimentary walking tour for guests. Read about our stay at Taj Cape Town.
Hotel Verde is Africa’s greenest hotel. It is conveniently located near the airport. The hotel features advanced recycling technologies and other green features, and has won many awards worldwide. Read about our stay at Hotel Verde.
Find more budget-friendly accommodation.
If you live in Johannesburg, a road trip to Cape Town is a great way to go there.
Download the GPS guide here.
Click here for things to do in Johannesburg.
What are your favourite things to do in Cape Town ? Let me know in the comments below.
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I haven't had the opportunity to go to South Africa and Cape Town yet but it's on my list! Hopefully I can go soon and see all those amazing places by myself!
I love Cape Town & would love to go back. There are so many things I missed. Thanks for all the information.
Bo-Kaap looks so beautiful, I love the colours! Cape Town looks like an amazing city with a lot to do!
There's no doubt that there is plenty to do in Cape Town! Miss it. Thanks for giving a few more suggestions.
Oh my god Sara this is such a well done post on Cape Town. Its one of the cities I really want to head out to once this pandemic is over and your post is compelling me more than ever to make this plan ASAP 🙂 I really like how you have listed out every thing that can be done here and taken care of activities, food, stay - everything! Very thorough post.
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[…] The following day (whilst eagerly awaiting the arrival of our luggage) we explored the city, where there is so much to do! […]
Thanks for sharing this information.I have shared this link with others. Keep posting such information..
If I do become a travel blogger which I hope to start next year, Cape Town will be my first stop. 😊
That would be a great choice, Siphosetu - seeing that Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world 🙂
Cape Town seems like an awesome travel destination which I hope to cross off my bucket list soon! How many days would be enough to experience all the highlights there?
A week in Cape Town would be great but if that's not possible, then 3 full days should be fine, even though it may be a bit more rushed. Hope you get to visit soon.
Wow, Great article about Cape Town and It`s an amazing place to visit it
These things and details are very useful and helpful, These photos are incredible and have the magic of nature also, I like It so much
Thank you very much for sharing your experience with us
Thank you Driver in Istanbul. Glad you enjoyed it.
Very good site, thank you so much for your time in writing this post.
I've been wanting to visit forever and your post just makes me want to go even sooner! Hoping for early next year.
That's great Cherene . Cape Town is amazing. I'm sure you'll love it!
I cannot thank you enough for the post.Really looking forward to reading more.
Some great suggestions here, including some I've not heard of! But to be honest, I'd go for the penguins alone... 😊
Thank you Jill. The penguins are a huge drawcard. I love going to Boulders Beach to see them myself 🙂
This is a great list! I've been to Cape Town twice and I totally agree with your recommendations.
Thank you Jewels. What did you enjoy most in Cape Town?
great tips! I'm hoping to visit later this year so it is a helpful guide!
That's amazing, Gabby. Try to avoid December if you can though, because it's really busy (and more expensive) then.
Love Cape Town too much I accepted my company's offer to stay here! I have done most of these and will recommend these as well. And those stinky penguins is ❤️!
Wow Christine, you're so lucky to get a company offer to stay in Cape Town. What's your favourite thing to do there?
This Bo-Kaap and the penguins - just a perfect combination for me! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks Ana. The Bo-Kaap is beautiful and everyone loves the penguins!