Indeed, Cape Town is one of those ‘have-it-all’ towns. Most people stay in the country’s oldest city for at least three to four days (five or six are even better), taking advantage of all the things to do there and taking in all the breathtaking natural beauty. We’ve created a list of the top things to do in Cape Town while on vacation.
1. Observe the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
The Cape Floral Kingdom, a World Heritage Site and the smallest and richest of the six floral kingdoms in the world is highlighted in Kirstenbosch, one of Africa’s most stunning public gardens. Here, you may find a huge variety of native fynbos, as well as protected prehistoric cycads that date back to the time of the dinosaurs.
Beautiful photos can be taken on the spotless grounds, which are surrounded by Table Mountain’s rear slopes. One of the most tranquil activities in Cape Town, if you have time, is having a picnic in Kirstenbosch and watching hadedas (a species of ibis with an infamous call) forage on the lawns.
2. Enjoy a Walking Tour of the City Center
Cape Town’s city centre is small, compact, and easily accessible in a day, even without a guide, being bordered by Table Mountain, its two summits, and the Atlantic Ocean. There are sculptures, mosaics, and street art all across the city, and historic structures are right next to slick, contemporary high rises.
The top destinations are:
- Bo-Kaap is well-known for its brightly coloured homes and enticing Cape Malay spice stores.
- The national museum, national art gallery, and intriguing planetarium are located on either side of the Company’s Gardens, Cape Town’s “green lungs.”
- Historic Greenmarket Square is well-known for its African crafts market.
- Bree, Long, and Kloof Streets provide a stylish selection of restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.
3. At the V&A Waterfront, you may shop and eat.
Africa’s most popular tourist destination is the V&A Waterfront. Tourists and locals alike throng to this area for the premium shopping, diverse dining options, and activities that cover the range from museum and gallery visits to boat excursions and sunset cruises. It is part of an active harbour and offers some of the best views of Table Mountain, particularly from its numerous eateries, bars, and pubs.
4. Enjoy the sun-kissed beaches.
The beaches of Cape Town are among the most stunning in the world. Although only the most dedicated surfers and swimmers brave the chilly Atlantic Ocean, there is a beach for every kind of sun worshipper, so don’t let that dissuade you.
If you would really prefer warmer water, head out to Muizenberg (which has excellent surf breaks), St. James, Kalk Bay, and Fish Hoek for quaint tidal pools and cheerful beach huts.
You might also choose Noordhoek Beach’s horseback riding paradise, which is further away and back on the chilly Atlantic side.
Visit the renowned Boulders Beach to meet the local, critically endangered African penguins for one of the city’s most distinctive experiences.
5. Wine tasting in the Cape Winelands is a must.
The Winelands of Cape Town, which date to the 1700s, are possibly the oldest in the southern hemisphere. The oldest vineyards are located in the lush Constantia, a section of woodlands and winding mountain roads that are conveniently located outside of the city.
Here, you may unwind in a historic Cape Dutch manor house while sipping fine wines and munching on small plates created by top chefs. Additionally, there is no need to drive yourself because we can set you up with a private driver-guide who will design a custom itinerary that includes your top wine varieties.
You may also venture a little further from the city to the bottle-green slopes of Stellenbosch, the administrative centre of the Cape Winelands, and to the lovely town of Franschhoek, dubbed the culinary centre of South Africa.
6. Learn about Robben Island’s past
Robben Island, known in the original Dutch as “Seal Island,” is a small island with a rich history that is visible from both the city and Table Mountain. It has been a leper colony, a bustling village, and—most infamously—a prison that housed notables like former president Nelson Mandela at various points in time.
To get a sense of South Africa’s turbulent and changing history, you may now take a tour of the prison grounds and visit the tiny, sparsely furnished cell where Nelson Mandela was held. African penguins, endangered oystercatchers, tortoises, gannets, and darters are just a few of the numerous avian and marine species that call the island home.
7. Climb Table Mountain on foot or via cable car.
Frequently referred to incorrectly as “Tabletop Mountain,” Table Mountain is one of the planet’s oldest mountains, estimated to be around five times older than the Rockies and six times older than the Himalayas. Its sandstone sides have slowly worn over thousands of years, leaving an impressive-looking outcrop that is manageable for day hikes despite its size.
The top of the mountain offers breathtaking vistas, lovely fynbos, and amusing “dassies” (rock hyraxes). You can also use the revolving cable car to get there. The sights include Robben Island, the endless blue sky, the Durbanville hills and neighbouring mountain ranges, Camps Bay (the side for spectacular sunsets), and others.
8. Discover Cape Point
Despite not being the southernmost point of Africa (that distinction goes to the much less impressive Cape Agulhas) or the exact location where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans converge (which is technically defined as Cape Agulhas), Cape Point is a magnificent craggy strip of land that juts out into the crashing waves below.
Because it is surrounded by a national park, you may easily spend a day exploring the area by bicycle, hiking, or strolling to vantage points and spotting pelagic birds like eland, zebra, antelope, and baboons.
The historic lighthouse, which offers views of False Harbour, is reached by the Flying Dutchman funicular. False Bay earned its nickname because it was the “wrong” harbour that sailors frequently entered when searching for Table Mountain, which is located in the appropriately named Table Bay.
9. Visit a Natural Adventure
Capetonians enjoy being outside, and the city is fortunate to have many scenic areas with outstanding natural beauty nearby. Bring your hiking boots if you want to climb Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak. Enrol in tandem paragliding off Lion’s Head for a bird’s-eye view of the Atlantic Coast if you desire to soar.
Mountain bikers are spoiled for choice with the variety of trails in Table Mountain National Park, while kiteboarders can drive to Bloubergstrand for some of the best kiting conditions in the world. Go snorkelling with Cape fur seals for a low-key sport that is one of the best things to do in Cape Town if you want to get out on the water.
10. Fly in a scenic helicopter
The best way to see Cape Town from the air is to embark on an exhilarating private helicopter tour. Admire the beaches, undulating hills, and rocky cliffs as you fly around the famous Table Mountain to explore the Cape Peninsula’s stunning coasts. This is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking things to do while on vacation in Cape Town and a fantastic opportunity to view the city and its surroundings.