Blessed with natural beauty, scarred by history and fuelled by wine, Cape Town is packed with awesome experiences delivered with friendly African culture. Here are our favourites.


There’s no hiding Cape Town’s beauty.

Squeezed between the mountains and the ocean, it’s hard to imagine a more lavish setting for a city. With the towering face of Table Mountain on one side and golden beaches on the other, Cape Town is a tantalising temptress of travel experiences within a stunning natural setting.

Some of our favourite things to do in Cape Town rely heavily on this natural beauty; others remind us of its challenging past. Some are just great experiences.

Within a melting pot of native African and European colonial culture, Cape Town is a thriving modern city. A trendy café scene sits alongside outdoor activities, epic mountainous road trips, humbling cultural encounters and breath-taking scenery.

While many unmissable Cape Town attractions take place in the city centre, others involve escaping the gaze of Table Mountain and heading further along the southern cape. Here, and beyond, a host of sun-soaked, wine-fuelled, nature-driven experiences await on the other end of a mini road trip.

Here are our favourite things to do, in and around Cape Town.

THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

In the city centre


The city centre is the cosmopolitan heart of Cape Town and the home of many historical events that have shaped the city you visit today. Many are within easy walking distance of each other so they’re a great place to start.

VISIT THE DISTRICT 6 MUSEUM

The District Six Museum tells the story of the forcible ejection of local multi-racial communities from the Sixth District in inner Cape Town. It has both permanent and temporary exhibitions that provide a painful yet objective look at apartheid in Cape Town. The local guides who offer personal insights into the museum make the experience much more tangible.

STROLL AROUND GREENMARKET SQUARE

The tourist market at Greenmarket Square is one of the first places we head to when we get to Cape Town. It’s a great way to get a feel for the African spirit in the centre of the city. The range of colourful art and safari-inspired ornaments always bring a smile to my face and remind me that we are actually in Africa.

POP INTO BO KAAP

Bo Kaap has a rich multi-cultural heritage, thanks mostly to the descendants of slaves who were brought over in the 16th and 17th century. Today it’s an interesting neighbourhood to stroll around and admire the colourful houses. Although the exhibits in the museum are average; a good TV presentation documents the residents of Bo Kaap as they reflect on their life and the development of their community. It’s engrossing.

RETAIL THERAPY ALONG LONG, LOOP & KLOOF

Cape Town is known for thoroughly embracing the cool café and retail scene. The epicentre of this movement can be found on Long, Loop and Kloof streets. Start with a carefully crafted coffee in the hip hangout of Yours Truly, followed by a wander through the art galleries of Kloof and Loop streets. After collecting clothes shops, vintage bookstores and trendy restaurants, round out the experience at Village Idiot with a proper braai.

DINE ON THE V&A WATERFRONT

The V&A Waterfront is the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere and it’s still going strong – attracting over 20 million visitors a year. Being one of them, dine in on-trend restaurants, sit at bars with stunning views of Table Mountain or shop in one of the many designer outlets. There’s also a host of activities for all ages including a fine aquarium.

TAKE A TOUR OF ROBBEN ISLAND

Robben Island was used by the South African government as a prison for political prisoners and convicted criminals from 1961 until 1991. During this time it held many of the leaders of the anti-apartheid movements including Nelson Mandela. Today the island is home to a number of former inmates who work as tour guides, providing very personal – and at times – harrowing accounts of their experience in the prison. Ferries to Robben Island depart from Victoria and Albert Waterfront and booking in advance is recommended. The whole trip takes around 4 – 5 hours.

THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

Outside the city centre


Venturing just outside the urban centre, the beauty of Cape Town’s setting is on full display. Golden beaches, mountainous backdrops, luxurious vineyards and stunning gardens provide the canvas for a range of great activities.

TAKE THE CABLEWAY UP TABLE MOUNTAIN

There’s no better way to get a feel for the impossibly stunning setting of Cape Town than by a trip up the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. At 1,000 metres above the city centre, with the Atlantic Ocean in the background, the views are stunning. The top of Table Mountain is 2 kilometres from one end to the other, so there’s also some space to have a hike around this geological wonder.

HIKE UP LION’S HEAD

The well-trodden path up Lion’s Head offers spectacular views of Cape Town, Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay beach. The views from the top are stunning and it’s one of our favourite hikes in Cape Town. Arrange to get to the top by late afternoon to have a beer as the sun drops and the surrounding vistas are lit in all their golden glory. Alternatively, take a sunset tour for a fantastic start to the day.

HIT THE BEACH AT CAMPS BAY

Camps Bay is a curving wide stretch of beautiful white sand, close to the centre of Cape Town. Being on the Atlantic Ocean, the water can be on the refreshing side of downright freezing. But with beautiful surroundings, a bustling strip of bars and restaurants, and year-round party vibe, Camps Bay is one of the best beaches in Cape Town. Sunset cocktails at Chinichilla over-looking the beach are not to be missed.

TAKE WOODSTOCK STREET ART TOUR

Woodstock is an urban regeneration success story, but one that is still a work in progress. The street art tour unveils the transformation from industrial wasteland to creative hub. Learn about the local community and their battles to improve the safety of the area while discovering some very cool art. In what is still a very impoverished part of Cape Town, the Woodstock Street Art tour is a colourful way to support the locals.

GO PARAGLIDING AT SIGNAL HILL

If there’s one thing Cape Town has over other cities, it’s location. One of the most dramatic ways to capture it is by Paragliding from Signal Hill. The views from the flights are incredible and it’s all captured by a GoPro strapped to your head, the footage from which you can purchase later. Prices start from around £60 – and it’s money well spent.

THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

East of Table Mountain


Cape Town doesn’t end at Table Mountain. Just over the other side, encounter a wide range of experiences from a humbling township tour to an extravagant boozy lunch at some of Cape Town’s wineries.

VISIT A LOCAL TOWNSHIP

It’s important to understand how many of Cape Town’s citizens still live within the ongoing legacy of apartheid. A township tour is a rewarding and insightful Cape Town experience and a great way to support the community. There are a few to choose from; we spent a morning learning about life in Langa, a small tight-knit township just east of Table Mountain. It’s a Cape Town experience we highly recommend.

HIT THE CONSTANTIA WINE ROUTE

On the Constantia Wine Route, it’s important to stop at a good number of vineyards to ensure you can form an accurate assessment of the South African wine scene. Groot Constantia and Fairview are a must for excellent tastings. Buitenverwachting is a treat for lunch with an innovative menu and excellent execution. Be there before 2pm or you’ll miss lunch.

LISTEN UP AT KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANIC GARDENS

A stroll around the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a great thing to do in Cape Town for the stunning gardens alone. But in summer, the Marque Lawn is taken over by live music concerts featuring anything from local Indie bands to huge international artists. A glass of South African wine, views of Table Mountains from the lush gardens and great live music create an excellent Cape Townian afternoon.

TAKE IN A GAME AT NEWLANDS

With Table Mountain keeping a watchful eye over proceedings, a visit to Newlands Cricket Ground is a classic Cape Town activity. Outside cricket or rugby season, take a tour of the stadium which includes a peek inside the President’s Suite and the very posh South Club. However, the best way to experience Newlands is with a beer in hand watching Australia thrash South Africa in the cricket.

THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

Cape Peninsular & the coast


A day trip from Cape Town puts you in touch with some cute bohemian towns, rugged coastal landscapes, thrilling activities, native wildlife and some of the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere.

TAKE THE CHAPMAN’S PEAK DRIVE

For one of the most spectacular drives anywhere in the world, it’s hard to go past Chapman’s Peak Drive. For a small fee, buzz along a windy road that clings to the red rock boulders of the southern South African coast. It’s superb road trip territory with both a fun road and sensational scenery. For a great day trip from Cape Town, collect Chapman’s Peak after lunch at Hout Bay.

SNORKEL AT HOUT BAY

Affectionately known as the Republic of Hout Bay by locals keen on maintaining their uniqueness on the tourist-friendly Cape, this traditional fishing harbour is a great outing from Cape Town. Dive into the bracing Atlantic Ocean on a snorkelling tour with the Cape Fur seals before feasting on excellent seafood in one of the many relaxed places lining the harbour.

HIKE CAPE POINT & CAPE OF GOOD HOPE

The Cape of Good Hope is a rugged corner of coastline with howling winds and the occasional opportunity to spot whales.  From the carpark at Cape Point, a short walk takes you around to the new lighthouse where you can get an appreciation of the dramatic rugged coastline in this part of the world, while keeping an eye out for aquatic life. There are regular tours from Cape Town.

SEE THE PENGUINS AT BOULDER’S BEACH

The big attraction at Boulder’s Beach is the areas diminutive star, the African Penguins. Sadly now listed as endangered, the penguins are under the protection of the Table Mountain Protected Area. Boardwalks have been built to keep the penguins safe, which also provides easy access to get up close to these cute little creatures. Allow a couple of hours to stroll around getting some shots.

SWIM AT ST JAMES TIDAL POOL

Just 30 minutes from Cape Town, St James Tidal Pool is one of the best hidden beaches in South Africa. Tucked away behind the railway line and in front of a chorus of colourful beach huts, a protected stretch of sand provides a relaxing spot for a swim. If it’s not quite warm enough to brave the water, late afternoon is a great time for some gorgeous sunset photography.

DEVOUR SEAFOOD AT KALK BAY

Kalk Bay is a small seaside town with a relaxed bohemian vibe and a vibrant collection of weird and wacky independent shops. Having a particular penchant for brunch, there are a number of cool cafés to choose from.  But lunch or dinner at Livebait – a great, reasonably priced seafood restaurant so close to the front your feet are likely to get lapped by waves if you’re sitting on the deck – is still one of the best things to do in town.

SURF AT MUIZENBURG

Muizenburg, or Muizies as you’ll be calling it after a day or so, are the waves in which many budding surfers come to cut their fins. The shallow waters and regular schedule of family friendly classes provide the ideal environment to learn how to surf. With great fish and chip joints and a thriving local community, Muizenburg is a great day out with a noticeably different feel to Cape Town.

THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

Our favourite overnight excursions


Pack your bags for a mini excursion from Cape Town. This part of South Africa is perfect for a good old fashion road trip and here are some of our favourites.

SAMPLE THE PRODUCE IN THE WINELANDS

A stay in Franschhoek – a cute town in the centre of the winelands – is a rightly popular Cape Town attraction and the perfect way to sample excellent wines in beautiful scenery. There’s nothing better than a slow meander along the roads of Franschhoek, stopping off at whichever wineries take your fancy. We loved Delaire Graff Estate for a posh boozy lunch and Tokara for their excellent modern tasting hall.

GET COASTAL AT HERMANUS

Hermanus is perched on the cliffs overlooking the sea south east of Cape Town. An afternoon walk along the coastal path that runs for about 10 kilometres from New Harbour to Grotto beach is ideal for trying your luck spotting dolphins. Bientang’s Cave Restaurant and Wine Bar does superbly fresh fish and chips literally meters from the spray of crashing waves.

THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN

Where to stay in Cape Town

Tamboerskloof and Camps Bay are both excellent locations but for different reasons. Tamboerskloof is younger and cooler, close to the city centre with access to the café and bar scene of Kloof Street. The views up to Table Mountain are pretty great as well.

Camps Bay on the other hand is a bit older, but stunningly set on one of the most beautiful city beaches in the world. A number of cocktail bars and restaurants line the front.

CENTRAL HILLSIDE – OUR PICK

MANNABAY


A beautiful converted house decorated with contemporary African art, Mannabay has amazing views from their hillside location. The service is excellent and it’s close to the Kloot street nightlife.

CHECK PRICES

GOOD VALUE CHIC

JARDIN D’ÉBÈNE GUESTHOUSE


This quaint five-bedroom guesthouse in Tamboerskloof is decorated in modern African style with luxurious organic textiles. Breakfast on the deck beside the plunge pool is the perfect way to start your day.

CHECK PRICES

ALL OUT STYLE

THE MARLY


Located along Camp’s Bay’s stunning promenade, The Marly is great for unwinding on Cape Town’s most popular beach. With an enviable location, this is an excellent option for some boutique indulgence.

CHECK PRICES

CENTRAL HILLSIDE – OUR PICK

MANNABAY


A beautiful converted house decorated with contemporary African art, Mannabay has amazing views from their hillside location. The service is excellent and it’s close to the Kloot street nightlife.

CHECK PRICES

GOOD VALUE CHIC

JARDIN D’ÉBÈNE GUESTHOUSE


This quaint five-bedroom guesthouse in Tamboerskloof is decorated in modern African style with luxurious organic textiles. Breakfast on the deck beside the plunge pool is the perfect way to start your day.

CHECK PRICES

ALL OUT STYLE

THE MARLY


Located along Camp’s Bay’s stunning promenade, The Marly is great for unwinding on Cape Town’s most popular beach. With an enviable location, this is an excellent option for some boutique indulgence.

CHECK PRICES

MAP

Things to do in Cape Town

We’ve listed our favourite things to do in Cape Town based on four main areas that make up city and it’s surrounding areas: the city centre; outside the centre; the area east of Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsular.

Download our map which has all these Cape Town attractions listed. To save our map, click on the star to the right of the title – this will save the map to: YOUR PLACES -> MAPS in Google Maps.

WHERE NEXT?

If you found this guide useful, please head over to Instagram and follow us to stay up to date with our adventures.

There are so many things to do in Cape Town it’s a good idea to have a strategy for how to put them all together. We’d recommend 5-days in Cape Town to really get a feel for this modern cosmopolitan centre.

If you have longer in South Africa, our 3-week itinerary covers a whole lot more of this fascinating country.

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