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, many opportunities for adventure, world-class shopping and food, and captivating history. I often get asked about things to do in Cape Town so here are my recommendations. I have listed over 50 things to do in Cape Town whether you are a first-time visitor, a resident or a repeat visitors.
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 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 snoek 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 three wonderful places to stay. I’ve personally stayed at them and can recommend them.
The Twelve 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 more here.
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 more here.
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 more here.
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 more here.
Find more budget-friendly accommodation.
If you live in Johannesburg, a road trip to Cape Town is a great way to go there.
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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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Things you must do in South Africa
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