There are many amazing places to visit in Cape Town. Even if you live here it’s difficult to visit all of them. Like any other big touristy city, Cape Town has some highlights that can’t be skipped. In this post, we selected the top attractions that are must-visits for first-time travelers.
If you don’t have enough time to visit all 15 suggested attractions and have to choose just a handful of them I’d suggest Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Bo Kaap, Constantia, and Boulders Beach. These five are our favorite places in Cape Town. You can visit all of them in one day.
Popular Cape Town tours
- Table Mountain Cable Car, Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Full-Day Cape Point & Cape Peninsula Sightseeing Tour from Cape Town
- The Cape Town Official City Pass
Travel insurance for your Cape Town tripConsidering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Bucket-list places to visit in Cape Town
Cape Town is an incredible city with a great variety of attractions from incredible natural landmarks such as Table Mountain or Lion’s Head to man-made sights. In Cape Town, you can see diverse wildlife and incredible landscapes without leaving the city. The following 15 places are the best places to visit in Cape Town in our opinion.
We have a detailed 3-day itinerary for Cape Town that might help you to plan the trip.
You can visit most of Cape Town’s top attractions on a 3 Days Private Tour: Cape of Good Hope, Penguins, Table Mountain & Robben Island.
- When to visit – morning or evening (not if you’re planning to hike), it often covered in clouds in the afternoon
- Admission fee – adult from ZAR 340/US$18 return, children (4-17) from ZAR 195/US$10 return.
- Opening hours – the cable car operates depending on the season between 8am and 8pm (summer), 8am-6pm (winter).
- Hop-on bus route – the red route. You can buy a combined hop-on-hop-off bus and Cable car ticket.
Table Mountain tours
- Table Mountain: Platteklip Gorge Hike
- Cape Town: Table Mountain Hike via India Venster
- Cape Town: Table Mountain Scooter Tour
The most recognizable attraction is the city is definitely the place to visit in Cape Town. Table Mountain is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World. The views of the city and the surrounding area from the top are spectacular.
There are different ways of getting to the top. The easiest and fastest one is to take a cable car from the parking lot. Walking to the top is another option but I’d strongly recommend, for safety reasons, choosing one of the popular hiking trails up Table Mountain. Morning is the best time for hiking to the top; it’s nice and cool even in the summer and there are quite a few people on the trails, especially on weekends.
If you decide to hike up make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Take at least 1 liter of water per person, the ascent is tough and you’ll be thirsty. There is no place to refill the water until you reach the top. Put on sunscreen, wear a hat or a cap and take a light jacket, on top, it might be quite chilly even on a sunny day.
If you like hiking there are many amazing hiking trails in Cape Town with stunning views that you might enjoy.
- When to visit – at the sunset
- Admission fee – free
- Opening hours – 24 hours, no gate
- Hop-on bus route; the red route goes past Lion’s Head but there is no bus stop there, the nearest stop is at Lower Cable Car station.
Lion’s Head tours
It’s another great place to visit in Cape Town with spectacular views of the city and the coast. If you have a good imagination you will be able to see that the shape of the hill has some resemblance with a lion’s head. To get to the top of it you’ll have to walk there is no other option. The first part of the route is just a steep footpath, it just makes you a little bit tired. The last part is more challenging and involves some ladders and ropes, don’t worry most people will be able to do it. To get beautiful views you don’t have to climb all the way to the top.
As an alternative instead of hiking up Lion’s Head, you can go to the top of Signal Hill. It’s the neighboring hill that is easier to access, the road goes pretty much all the way to the top. The views from there are impressive as well.
Lion’s Head is one of the best places to watch the sunset in Cape Town. On a nice summer day, there are hundreds of people going up the mountain for the sunset. If you want to make it in time for the sunset I’d recommend coming here a couple of hours earlier to find a parking spot and to have enough time to make it to the top.
Travel Insurance for South Africa. If you’re planning to do hiking or any other outdoor activities around Cape Town it’s highly recommended to have travel insurance that will cover you in case something goes wrong during your holiday. Always choose a reliable international insurance company to make sure they won’t let you down. We can recommend World Nomads. It’s a world-renown travel insurance company that works with travelers from all over the world. Their insurance policy is very flexible and easy to purchase online at any time during your trip. Get an instant quote now!
- When to visit – during the daylight
- Admission fee – free
- Hop-on bus route – the red route
Bo Kaap tours
The most colorful neighborhood of the city is a must-visit place in Cape Town. Its cobbled streets with colorful houses painted in red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple are a real city’s gem. Bo Kaap is one of the favorite spots for photographers and Instagrammers.
Bo Kaap is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. The name Bo Kaap in Afrikaans means “top Cape” referring to the location of the neighborhood on the top of the hill. The history of Bo Kaap dates back to the times when slavery was still allowed in the British Empire and thousands of slaves mostly from Malaysia and Indonesia were brought to South Africa. Many of them settled down in Bo Kaap. Most of them were Muslim. Bo Kaap is home to the oldest mosque in the country.
Originally the neighborhood wasn’t that colorful, all houses were painted white. After the abolition of slavery residents of Bo Kaap painted their houses in bright colors as a sign of freedom.
- When to visit – morning, it’s easier for planning the rest of the day
- Admission fee – adults – ZAR600/US$33, children (2-17 yo) – ZAR310/US$17. The price includes a return boat ride to the Island and a 2-hour guided tour.
- Opening hours – boats depart 4 times a day at 9am, 11am and 1pm, and 3 pm.
- Hop-on bus route – the red route and the blue route.
Robben Island tours
The Island played an important role in South African history. Nelson Mandela spent 20 years in prison on the island. Robben Island is about 7km away from the mainland. The name means “Island of Seals”. Its total area is only 5km. From the early 17th century till 1991 the Island was used as a prison. In 1999 the Island was declared a World Heritage Site.
Robben Island can be visited only as a part of a tour. You can buy tickets online. During the tour, you might be able to see penguins, seals, and dolphins.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
- When to visit – morning and evening
- Hop-on bus route; the red route and the blue route
One of the safest and most touristy areas of Cape Town with many restaurants, souvenir shops, a couple of malls and expensive hotels. It’s not the place to get an authentic experience but it’s just nice to stroll along the harbor, watch local musical bands performing on the street and drink a cup of coffee with the sea view. The Waterfront is a nice place to come for the sunset to drink a glass of wine. If you want to have a special evening you can join a Sunset Champagne cruise from the Waterfront. You can combine the cruise with a 3-course dinner.
Another idea for a romantic evening is to board the Cape Wheel for a picnic in the sky. You can have a 30-minute ride with a picnic basket that you fill with your favorite snacks at one of the local stores.
Things not to miss at V&A Waterfront
- The Harbor
- The Cape Wheel
- V&A Clock Tower
- Waterfront Swing Bridge
- Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art
There are several tours that depart from the Waterfront. For the best views of Cape Town take a 30-minutes helicopter flight. You’ll get a chance to see Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Cape Point, the Stadium, and pretty much everything in and around the city. It’s a great way to start your Cape Town trip because you’ll get a much better idea of the city and its main attractions.
Two Oceans Aquarium
- When to visit – feeding times. Penguin feeding – daily at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Shark feeding – Saturdays at 12pm. Sea turtles, rays and large – Mon, Wed, Fri at 12pm.
- Admission fee – adults – ZAR 220/US$12 adults, children (14-17 yo) – ZAR 165/US$9, children (4-13 yo) – ZAR 105/US$5,5, children under 4 years old – free.
- Opening hours – daily 9.30am to 6pm
- Hop-on bus route – the red route and the blue route.
Two Oceans Aquarium is definitely a must-visit place for travelers with children. There is a lot to learn and to see here. You can spend half of a day admiring the incredible diversity of marine life in the cold water around Cape Town. The environment created inside makes you truly feel like you’re underwater.
There are several gigantic aquariums that display local fish such as sharks, rays, turtles, yellow-tails, and many others. A 10-meter-long aquarium tunnel is one of the highlights, you’re surrounded by water, and anywhere you look you see fish and other marine life. If you’re planning to visit the Aquarium on the weekend or during the December holiday I’d strongly recommend buying your tickets online to save time.
The Aquarium offers some unique experiences such as scuba diving or face-to-face penguin encounters. For scuba diving in one of the aquariums, you’ll need a minimum Open Water qualification or a same-day PADI Discover Scuba Diving course.
- When to visit – any time during the daylight
- Hop-on bus route – the red route and the blue route
Sea Point Promenade is one of the most popular places for jogging, cycling, or rollerblading. It stretches along the coast for 4km from the Waterfront almost all the way to Clifton Beaches. Many locals come here on weekends or during holidays to practice sports, meet up with friends and family, and just spend some time enjoying the ocean. There are no particular sights to see here, just a lone promenade with street cafes and food kiosks. It’s a nice area to stay in, it’s close to the ocean and the city center but not as expensive as V&A Waterfront or Camps Bay.
- When to visit – any time, looks very beautiful at the sunset.
- Hop-on bus route – the red route and the blue route.
The fanciest neighborhood of Cape Town with perfect white-sand beaches, ice-cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and luxury mansions crowning the top of the hills. It’s one of the most picturesque areas of the city. The views from Maiden’s Cove parking are spectacular; huge boulders at the waterline, sandy beaches, and the town squeezed between the ocean and the Twelve Apostles mountain range.
Camps Bay is a great area to stay if you can afford it there is no budget accommodation here. If you’re not planning to stop for lunch here, 30 minutes will be enough to see the area and to make a couple of photo stops.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
- When to visit – afternoon in the summer. You can spend the hottest time of the day in the shade of the trees and enjoy a picnic on the grass. Free guided tours in the Garden are Mon-Sat at 11am and 2pm.
- Admission fee – adults – ZAR210/US$11, children (6-18) – ZAR30/US$1,5, children under 6 – free.
- Opening hours – daily, September to March – 8am-7pm, April to August – 8am-6pm.
- Hop-on bus route – the blue route of the hop-on-hop-off city bus
Kirstenbosch is a green paradise within the city. If you have time you can spend pretty much the whole day here. The Garden occupies 528 hectares, it’s one of the largest Botanical Gardens in South Africa. Visitors can see here thousands of species of plants and flowers that grow in different parts of the country. Every season Kirstenbosch is different. Spring is the best season for visiting Cape Town and the Garden when you can see the most flowers and trees in blossom.
There are several walking routes inside the garden including the Skeleton Gorge hike that ends on the top of Table Mountain. If you’re planning to do one of the hikes, the morning is the best time before it gets too hot. Make sure to carry enough water, to wear comfortable shoes and a cap.
Kirstenbosch is a great place for a picnic on the grass. You can bring your own food or buy a picnic basket at one of the restaurants inside the Garden. Moyo has a very diverse picnic menu that includes meat, pescatarian, gluten-free and vegetarian options.
- When to visit – the afternoon is the best time you can combine lunch and wine tasting
- Admission fee – entrance to the farms is free, and wine tasting costs around ZAR100/US$5 per person.
- Opening hours – most tasting rooms are open between 10am and 4pm.
- Hop-on bus route: first, take the blue route to get to Constantia Nek Wine stop. From there switch to the purple route with three stops at Groot Constantia, Eagle’s Nest and Beau Constantia.
It’s definitely the place to visit in Cape Town for wine lovers. Constantia is the oldest wine area in South Africa and the oldest wine-producing region in the Southern Hemisphere. Groot Constantia, one of the most famous wine farms in the area, was established in 1685 by Simon van der Stel, the governor of Cape Town.
There are several wine estates in Constantia. I’d recommend choosing 2-4 places depending on how much time you have. Wine tasting takes time, it’s difficult to enjoy it if you’re in a rush. If you prefer not to drive while tasting wines you can join a tour. Tours usually include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel in Cape Town and a visit to 3 wine estates with tasting and lunch. You don’t have to worry about anything, just relax and enjoy the day.
The best way to explore the area is to stay here for one night and spend two entire days visiting wine farms and tasting local wines. The Constantia Valley is spectacular, a perfect place for a romantic holiday or weekend. You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy wines. Even if you know nothing about the wine culture during the tasting you’ll get a chance to learn a lot.
Places to stay in Constantia
- Budget | Wedgwood Cottage |
- Middle price | Silvermist Wine Estate | The White Manor |
- Luxury | Ikhaya Safari Lodge | The Cellars-Hohenort |
- When to visit – Fridays & Saturdays the town gets busy, there are a couple of street markets on Saturday.
- Admission fee – entrance to the farms is free, and wine tasting costs around ZAR 100/US$5 depending on the estate.
- Opening hours – most tasting rooms are open Mon-Sat between 10am and 4pm. Some tasting rooms are open on Sundays but they close earlier around 12pm.
- From Cape Town: Stellenbosch Four Estate Full-Day Wine Tour
- Stellenbosch: Guided Historical Walking Tour
- From Stellenbosch: Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tour Southern Route
Stellenbosch is a beautiful University town in the heart of Cape Winelands, a great place to visit as a day trip from Cape Town. There are more than 150 wine farms around Stellenbosch. Of course, not all of them do wine tasting and are open to the public but many are. We’ve been to Stellenbosch many times and every time we try to visit a couple of wine estates but so far we managed to do no more than 20 farms.
The town and the surrounding area look splendid in spring – the beginning of summer, it’s my favorite time to come here. Wine tasting is not the only activity here, there are many other things to do in Stellenbosch; hiking, MTB, horse riding, trail running, etc. Many wine farms have hiking and MTB trails on the estate where you can combine tasting with hiking or cycling.
If you travel with children they will enjoy visiting Fairview farm and Spice Route near Stellenbosch.
Places to stay in Stellenbosch
- Budget | Olive tree private apartment |
- Middle price | Courtyard Studios | Lauradale Accommodation | Stellenhaus Guest Cottage |
- Luxury | Summerwood Guest House | Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa |
- When to visit – any day is good but Sunday. Most places including restaurants are closed on Sundays.
- Admission fee – entrance to the farms is free, and wine tasting costs around ZAR 100/US$5 depending on the estate.
- Opening hours – most tasting rooms are open Mon-Sat between 10am and 4pm.
- From Cape Town: Franschhoek Wine Tram Hop-on Hop-off
- Cape Town: Cape Winelands Full-Day Shared Tour
- Franschhoek: E-Bike Guided Winery Tour
Franschhoek is another incredible place to visit in Cape Town for those who enjoy good wine and food. It is the food capital of South Africa that houses some of the best restaurants and wine estates in the country. The picturesque Franschhoek Valley is a perfect place for a romantic getaway or a honeymoon weekend.
There are many amazing things to do in Franschhoek. Dining and wine tasting are not the only activities that you can do in and around Franschhoek. Visiting Huguenot Monument and Museum, driving over Franschhoek Pass, and hiking in Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. Several estates offer hiking and cycling trails so you can combine wine tasting and outdoor experience.
Places to stay in Franschhoek
- Low-end | Cabernet Cottage | Dolce Vita Self Catering |
- Middle price | Chevandeaux 1 – Merlot | Franschhoek Country Cottages |
- High-end | Lavender Farm Guest House | Le Franschhoek Hotel & Spa |
If we talk about our favorite weekend drive in South Africa Chapman’s Peak Drive will be at the top of our list.
- When to visit – it’s beautiful at any time but at sunset, the area looks the most impressive.
- Admission fee – there is a road toll between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, ZAR 57/US$3 per car.
- Opening hours – 24 hours
Chapman’s Peak Drive starts in Hout Bay and finishes in Noordhoek. A 15-kilometer drive along the rugged coast of the Cape Peninsula. Before starting the drive you can stop in Hout Bay to watch Cape seals playing at the harbor. If you have enough time you can go snorkeling with seals. They’re very playful and curious and love interacting with people. Hout Bay is a popular spot for scuba diving in Cape Town as well.
Cape Point National Park
- When to visit – morning (in summer) if you’re planning to do some hikes, it can get very hot in the afternoon.
- Admission fee – adults – ZAR360/US$19, children (2-12 yo) – ZAR180/US$10.
- Working hours – daily from 7am to 5pm. The funicular, restaurants, and shops open at 9am.
Cape Point tours
- From Cape Town: Cape Point & Boulders Beach Full-Day Tour
- Cape Town: The Cape Point Instagram Small Group Tour
The Cape Point National Park is simply stunning. If you want to find a place for hiking in Cape Town this is the best and probably the safest area to do it. There are many hiking trails at Cape Point with boardwalks, rocky pools, mountain peaks, and beaches that you can safely explore. One can spend the whole day in the park. There is a 2-day trek Cape Point route that allows you to discover some hidden corners of the park and to enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Things not to miss in Cape Point National Park
- Flying Dutch Funicular that will take you up to the viewpoint. You can buy funicular tickets online, it’ll save you some time in the park.
- Old Lighthouse
- Diaz Beach
- Cape of Good Hope
- When to visit – you can see penguins at any time. It’s less crowded early in the morning.
- Admission fee – adults – ZAR170/US$9, children (2-11 yo) – ZAR85/US$4,5
- Opening hours – daily from 8am to 5pm
Boulders Beach tour
For many tourists, a visit to the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach becomes one of the highlights of their trip. The beach is stunning; fine white sand, huge granite boulders, clean blue water, and many cute African penguins walking and swimming around. You can see them from very close by and take some awesome photos.
African penguins inhabiting the beach are one of the smallest penguin species in the world. Adult species weigh 2,5-3,5kg and are 60-70cm tall. They can be found only in South Africa and Namibia. The reserve was established in 1982 to protect African penguins that were on the border of extinction. There were only a few of them left in the area. Over the last 28 years, the colony has grown to 3000 birds.
Boulders Beach is located in Simon’s Town close to Cape Point National Park. There are some great accommodation options for those who want to spend a day or two enjoying the views and exploring the Cape Peninsula.
Places to stay in Simon’s Town
- Low-end | Ollava Guesthouse | aha Simon’s Town Quayside Hotel |
- Middle price | Simonsview | Penguinden |
- High-end | Rocklands Seaside Bed and Breakfast | Whale View Manor Guesthouse & Spa |
- When to visit – the beach looks stunning before the sunset like any other beach around Cape Town. Don’t walk on any beach after the sunset in the dark, it’s not safe.
This beach town is a very popular surfing spot in Cape Town. Many people come here to learn to surf. There are a couple of big surf schools that offer lessons and accommodation. Like anywhere in Cape Town the water in Muizenberg is cold even in summer, you’ll need a wet suit to surf here. Whatever gear you need you can rent it at one of the surf shops along the beach. If you want to learn surfing it’s better to stay in Muizenberg for a couple of days.
Colorful beach cabins are another reason many tourists come here. Yellow, red, blue, and green color wooden cabins on the white sand beach make a perfect photo spot.
Keep in mind the drive from Simon’s Town to Muizenberg is only 16km but due to frequent traffic jams, it can take one hour to drive it.
Places to stay in Muizenberg
- Low-end | Pro Moni’s Guesthouse |
- Middle price | Admiralty B & B | Surferscorner Self Catering Apartments |
- High-end | St James Guest Houses |
Where stay in Cape Town?
Staying in the city center on Bree Street or Long Streets is great for single travelers, there are many bars and restaurants, and several hostels. It’s a very social area with many coffee shops and restaurants.
- Low-end | Long Street Backpackers | 91 Loop Boutique Hostel |
- Middle price | Signature Lux Hotel by ONOMO | Long Street Boutique Hotel |
- High-end | Taj Cape Town | Hilton Cape Town City Centre |
Sea Point/V&A Waterfront
This area is a more suitable option for families, couples, and those who prefer the tranquillity of the seaside to the bustling streets of the city center. There are a couple of supermarkets, many restaurants, coffee shops, and one or two big playgrounds in the area.
- Low-end | Never@home Cape Town | A Sunflower Stop Backpackers |
- Middle price | Fairmile on Main (apartment) | The Greenhouse Guesthouse |
- High-end | Radisson RED Hotel |
How to visit the best places in Cape Town?
Renting a car is the easiest way to move around. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a couple of people it’ll be cheaper than doing tours. Having a car is great if you’re planning to visit some places outside the city e.g. Stellenbosch, Cape Point, safari parks, etc.
For visiting attractions within the city, the City Sightseeing Bus is a great option. There are four different routes that take you to all the sights in Cape Town. On the bus, you get informative comments about the city and the main attractions. You can buy a 1 or a 2-day ticket. A 2-day ticket includes the Sunset Bus tour, 2 walking tours, and a seal cruise. You can buy City Sightseeing bus tickets online.
If you’re planning to visit many city attractions and use the City Sightseeing Bus it might be worth buying the Cape Town City Pass. The Pass gives you free access to 90 attractions. You can use the City Bus for free for the duration of your Pass.
Trip planning resources
- Choose the best activities for you in Cape Town | Amazing things to do in Cape Town for any traveler |
- Where to go and what to do in the Cape Winelands? | Amazing things to do in Stellenbosch | Best things to do in Franschhoek |
- Where to rent a car in Cape Town? | Best car rental deals |
- Find the best accommodation in the city | Hotels, and hostels in Cape Town |
- Where to eat in the city? | 20 best restaurants in Cape Town |
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The pretty half of Stingy Nomads, responsible for all our land adventures (hiking, climbing, walking the Camino) and following them write-ups. Alya loves walking since she was a child, she prefers to walk 1000 km with a backpack rather than to do a 10 000 km road trip (actually any road trip). Alya is a big fan of Latin America, the Spanish language, and dancing. Every time we go away she desperately misses our dog Chile.
Sunday 8th of November 2020
wow so glad I discovered your website and blog, SO AWESOME!!! i grew up in cape town years ago and was a bit of a nomad for a couple of decades. Enjoy backpacking, bikepacking etc, but now with injury less active. Currently live in California, senior citizen but almost ready for new adventures! Look forward to doing your Camino routes, portugal , mexico so much more now that the kids are grown.... woohoooo GREAT BLOG thank you!!!!
Wednesday 11th of November 2020
Hello, Lynni! Thank you very much for the comment! Cape Town is an amazing place with so much to do and to see that even if you live here you hardly have enough time to experience it all! If you like walking I'm sure you'll enjoy the Camino, it's a very different travel experience and can be quite addictive. Keep well!
Sally Layton Hill
Thursday 28th of June 2018
Love all the info. My husband and I are flying into Johannesburg and taking the Blue Train to Cape Town. I plan on following many of your recommendations while in Cape Town. Your recommendations have made me even more excited than I already was. Thank you!
Monday 2nd of July 2018
Hello, Sally! Thank you for the comment! The Blue Train is probably the best transport experience you can have in South Africa. Enjoy South Africa and safe travels!
Tuesday 8th of May 2018
I have heard so much about Cape Town. And this post speaks for itself! Me and my wife are kayak fanatics and on our every trip we try to spend a day on water. Had to ask just one question. Have you tried bungee jumping there? If yes, How was your experience ? I'd like to gather some information before planning my trip. Thanks.
Thursday 10th of May 2018
Hi, Mike! Thank you for the comment! If you mean bungee jumping from Bloukrans bridge yes, we've done it. It was great and thrilling, we loved it and easy could do it again! You don't need to book it in advance, the guys there are professionals, they'll explain everything and prepare you in less than an hour. If you're in the area it's definitely worth it! Cheers!