Things to do in Cape Town, South Africa

Bo Kaap neighborhood, Cape Town
Things to do in Cape Town. Wander around Bo Kaap neighborhood.

This Things to do in Cape Town guide uncovers all the attractions and activities you can do in the Mother City. Written by locals, yes, we’re lucky people to live in such a great place, with useful insider tips. In this guide you’ll find ideas for a romantic city holiday, vacations with children, things to do for adrenaline junkies and more. If you’re planning a visit to Cape Town our complete Cape Town guide might be quite helpful.

Must see places in Cape Town

Table Mountain it’s difficult not to see it if you’re in Cape Town go up the mountain for a stunning view of the city is a must do thing. You can take a cable car or walk up Platteklip gorge. Note! For safety reasons walking is recommended during daylight and is better to do over weekends when there are many people hiking.  

Lion’s Head, the second popular mountain in Cape Town not as high as Table Mountain though to get to the top is a bit of mission as there is no cable car you are forced to walk. It’s not that long but the last section is a bit tricky and involves rope and ladder climbing. If you sounds like too much of a mission rather go to Signal Hill, the one next door, you can drive all the way there.  

V&A Waterfront is probably the best and the safest area in the city for strolling through, stopping for a coffee or lunch, watching street shows and going out at night. It’s always busy and full of people, nice festive vibe and some great places for lunch and dinner here. We love Vovo Telo coffee shops and bakery, they have good coffee and hot chocolate and fresh delicious pastry.

Bo Kaap neighborhood is the funkiest place in Cape Town, if you’re looking for a great Instagram photo spot you won’t find a better one. Colors rule here; bright green, red, blue, orange, purple houses it’s difficult to choose where to pose for photos. Bo Kaap originally was a for settlers from Southeast Asian countries, mainly Malaysia, nowadays it became one of the city symbols like Table Mountain or Robben island.

Robben island, a place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. The total area of the island 5km, since 17th century for many years the island was used to keep prisoners. In 19th century a leper colony from Caledon was moved here. You can get there by boats, they leave from V&A Waterfront, a tour takes 3h30min. By the way ‘rob’ in Afrikaans means ‘seal’, expect to see these playful guys around as well as African penguins. Tour price (include return boat and island tour, total 3-4hours); adults – ZAR340, children – ZAR190.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden a piece of paradise in arid Cape Town, you will be surprised by this lush green garden, every time we come here I can’t believe it’s a part of the city. Beautiful, well-maintained park with many walking trails and good facilities, you can bring food with and have a picnic on the grass or go to one of the local restaurants for lunch. There are several thematic gardens here. Not to miss canopy tree walk, a bridge over the garden that offers great views. Entrance fee; adults – ZAR65, children – ZAR15. 

Camps Bay, the fancies neighborhood of Cape Town with beautiful beaches, expensive restaurants and the most expensive property in the country. A great area to come for a cocktail, to stroll in your bikini along the beach or just to take some awesome photos.

Yellow frame photo with Table Mountain, Cape Town
Take a yellow frame photo with Table Mountain is a must do thing in Cape Town. The main frames are at V&A Waterfront, Signal Hill, Big Bay and Roben island.

Cape Town outdoor and adventure activities

Table Mountain is the number one spot in the city for outdoor adventure; hike or run up Platteklip Gorge route just grab a jacket as it’s usually windy and chilly up there and water, this steep hike up the mountain makes you very thirsty. For thrill seekers tandem paragliding from the top of Table Mountain as well as Lion’s Head and Signal Hill, amazing view is guaranteed. Price from ZAR1200 pp. 

Lion’s Head is a great place for uphill running with some elements of rock and ladder climbing, it is a very popular hike. By the way it’s one of the best sunset spots in the city. We would recommend that you avoid this hike during full moon since there are thousands of people storming its peak. To walk up and down will take you a couple of hours. Tandem paragliding is possible from Signal Hill.

Cape Town has several excellent surf spots spread out along its coast suitable for all levels.  The best time to surf is in winter when the bigger swells come through. Inside False Bay the water is slightly warmer and breaks are relatively safe for beginners.  The best spots for beginners are The Surfer’s Corner in Muizenberg and Big Bay, a beach break close to Bloubergstrand, both about a 30-minute drive from the city center. Long Beach at Kommetjie is a good spot for more advanced surfers. Surfing lessons (1h30min) from ZAR500, including board and wet-suit; board rental from ZAR145 per hour. 

With excellent spots and consistent winds Cape Town is known as one of the world’s best kitesurfing locations. The south easterly wind that blows almost constantly in summer blows parallel to the beach on the west coast of the peninsula, creating perfect conditions on most days in summer. You can kitesurf here all year round, but the best time is November to March when the winds are strong and consistent. Kite lessons, 3h30min. from ZAR950 per day including gear. 

There is some fantastic scuba diving or snorkeling inside False Bay, diving with seals, large 7 gill cow sharks and some very interesting nudibranchs. Inside False Bay is best dived in winter months when the prevailing north-westerly winds flatten and cleans the bay.  In winter visibility is normally between 5 and 10m. The Atlantic side is best to dive in summer when the South Easterly winds bring in cold clean water, visibility can go up to 20m, but water temperatures can drop to 9C! There are some excellent caverns, wrecks and interesting aquatic life on this side of the peninsula. Snorkeling with seals ZAR950, including gear. Boat dives ZAR1900 for two dives, including gear. 

Combine hiking, canyoning and kloofing go for a day adventure in the mountains. The easiest and safest way of doing it is through one of the tour operators, transfer, guide and meals are included. Price from ZAR950 pp. 

Paragliding from Signal Hill
Paragliding from Signal Hill, stunning view on the city. Adventure activities in Cape Town

What to do in Cape Town with children?

Two Oceans Aquarium is a must visit for you, interactive, educative and fun for the whole family. Here you can see or the local marine life as well as tropical reef fish, sharks and rays, turtles, penguins and more. The Aquarium has Children Play center with many different activities for kids; puppet show, educational excursions for children, art center etc. The Two Oceans is definitely a must visit place for travelers with children. Entrance fee; adults – ZAR175, children (14-17 yo) – ZAR130, children (4-13 years old) – ZAR85. 

Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, it’s both thrilling and spectacular. When at the top check for rock badgers (dassies pronounced dussy), they are local stars here running around in search of food. At the top don’t limit yourself with the main view point at the cable car station, go and explore the area, there are many stunning view points. Price, one way; adults – ZAR151, children – ZAR71.

Board Jolly Roger Pirate boat at V&A Waterfront and go on a journey to explore the water of Cape Town and to spot marine animals; seals, whales, dolphins and penguins. The boat goes out three times a day; in the morning and afternoon and at sunset. Price; adults – ZAR170, children – ZAR85.

Do your kids like trampolines? Then JumpAround is the place for you! Main attraction of the park is a huge hall with 50 interconnected trampolines both fun and exercising are guaranteed. There are several other activities you can do here including dodgeball and jumping in a foam pit. Price; ZAR120 pp per hours.

Visit Boulders Beach in Simons Town, just 46km from Cape Town to meet the African penguin, the cutest penguin in the world. Here you can chill on the beach or go for a swim surrounded by these guys. Entrance fee; adults – ZAR75, children – ZAR40.

If you have more than three days in the city do a day trip to Stellenbosch and visit Fairview Cheese and Wine farm and Spice Route, both places offer activities and tasting for both kids and their parents. First go to Fairview do wine and cheese tasting here, kids will love cute goats walking around, climbing up the tower and crossing the bridge. Then spoil your children with chocolate and ice-cream tasting while you enjoy beer and cured meat at Spice Route, 500m away from Fairview. You can spend the whole day here, tasting and trying a lot from fine wines to chocolate and cheese and enjoying beautiful view.

Goats at Fairview cheese and wine farm near Stellenbosch
Goats at Fairview cheese and wine farm near Stellenbosch. Awesome things to do with kids in Cape Town

For older kids, especially for boys of all ages Franschhoek Motor museum will be very interesting. It’s a collection of more than cars from the first models to Formula 1 racing cars. 80% of the cars are still running. The museum is located on a beautiful wine farm you can have lunch here and do some wine tasting. We loved this museum! Entrance fee; adults – ZAR80, children – ZAR40. On the website it says the museum can be visited only by appointment but we didn’t make any just drove there at their working hours. You can combine this trip with a visit to Franschhoek and wine tasting, for kids chocolate tasting at Huguenot chocolate factory will be a treat.

Franschhoek Motor museum
Franschhoek Motor museum, a great place to come with kids from Cape Town

Things to do in Cape Town on a romantic holiday

Here are some great ideas that will help to make your romantic stay in Cape Town unforgettable.

Take a helicopter ride to see the Mother City from the skies. This is something very special and definitely worth of money, Cape Town from above looks stunning. Helicopters leave from V&A Waterfront every day (depending on weather). Price from ZAR1800 pp. 

Wine tasting in Constantia. Here you will find some of the finest wine estates in the country that make exclusive wines. What can be better than driving around beautiful wine farms, taste great wine and stop for delicious lunch at one of the estates. Some of the best wine estates in Constantia are; Klein Constantia, maybe one of the most beautiful wine farms in Cape Town; Groot Constantia, the first wine farm in South Africa; Steenberg Vineyards, it boasts a luxury hotel and produces great wines. If you’re planning to do serious tasting rather take a taxi or use a shuttle bus don’t drink and drive.

Watch sunset from Lion’s Head. What can be more romantic that enjoying a sunset with your beloved one! Lion’s Head is one of the best place in Cape Town to do it. Beach is quite a special for sunsets as well, we love watching sunset at Blouberg beach usually while running. For a dinner with sunset and sea view at Blouberg beach go to Blue Pieter. Check out sunset times.

Go to a concert in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. You can combine this with wine tasting the Garden is located in Constantia. We love Kirstenbosch summer concerts and try to go every time we can. Bring a picnic basket with or order one from restaurant, find a nice spot on the grass and enjoy music. For some concerts e.g. Cape Town Philharmonic it’s better to buy tickets in advance.

Rent a porsh Cobra and spend a day driving Chapman’s Peak . The scenery is stunning, plus there are many nice restaurants and coffee shops as well. Rental price Cobra ZAR2850 a day. On the way don’t forget to visit Cape Point National Reserve there are several walking trails and some beautiful and usually empty beaches. Entrance fee; adults – ZAR147, children – ZAR76. 

Going out in the sea on a beautiful yacht is another great idea for a romantic holiday in Cape Town, plus you will get a chance to see dolphins, seals and maybe even whales in season. Enjoy sunset at the yacht with champagne and dinner for two. Price ZAR1500 pp, for 1h30min. cruise. 

Go out for dinner, there are so many great places for any budget in the city. Whatever cuisine you like you will find a place to satisfy you. 

Chapman's Peak drive, Cape Town
Scenery at Chapman’s Peak drive, a great day activity for a romantic holiday in Cape Town

Cape Town for art and history lovers

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is our first pick, opened recently in September 2017 the museum has already become one of the most important modern art centers in the country. It’s the biggest museum of this kind on African continent and is definitely worth of visit even if you’re not a big fan of modern art. The building itself is a masterpiece, maybe one of the most interesting buildings in Cape Town. You’ll find here photography, sculpture, painting and installations created by modern artists from different African countries. Entrance fee; ZAR180 – adults, children – free. 

Castle of Good Hope in the downtown of Cape Town. It was built in 17th century by the Dutch East Indian company as a fort to stop on the way from India and Europe. Inside the castle there used to be church, workshops, houses, shops and some other facilities. Entrance fee; ZAR28 – adults, ZAR12 – children.

District Six museum where you can find out about the history of this Cape Town district that once was populated by the mixed racial community till in 1901 when black people were removed from there, later in 1966 it was proclaimed the white area, many residents were forced to leave their houses which later were demolished. Entrance fee; ZAR40 – adults, ZAR15 – children.

South African National gallery that houses fine examples of old African and European art.  The permanent exhibition get shuffled from time to time to make sure more masterpieces reach the audience. There are often temporary exhibitions of African and European art. Entrance fee; ZAR30 – adults, ZAR15 – children.

Best weekend markets in Cape Town

There are several food and craft weekend markets in and around Cape Town here are our favorites for each day of the weekend.

Friday

Blue Bird Garage market in Muizenberg, every Friday between 4pm and 10pm. A cozy indoor market with great vibe, mostly locals come here, great place to come on Friday evening to have dinner and drink a beer. Mainly food market though you can find some crafts and souvenirs here. Food is delicious from burgers and pizzas to vegetarian dishes, desserts and even Argentinian empanadas (pies). We loved this market!

Saturday

Neighborhood Goods market at The Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, Cape Town. It takes place every Saturday morning, between 9am and 2pm. One of the favorite capetonians’ markets, gets very busy by 11am. Here you literally can find food from all over the world just stroll through the market and you’ll see real Spanish paella, Italian wood fired pizzas, South African steaks, Japanese sushi, Chinese noodles and the list goes on. Very social vibe, great place to come with a group of friends. There are long tables in the middle where you can find a spot, enjoy your food and chat to people.   

Sunday

Root 44 market, at Audacia wine farm near Stellenbosch, 50km from Cape Town is one of our favorite markets. Great place to come with friends or family, bring your kids they will enjoy a big playground area here. At Root 44 you can find clothes, souvenirs, toys, paintings, furniture and of course food. The food section is our favorite it’s a real paradise where you can find food from all over the world, our favorites here are Lebanese shawarma stall, we share one every time, wood fired pizzas are great, fresh fruit shakes go along with anything. There are many tables outside around the stage where you can listen to life music. Great place, cool vibe, delicious food. There is a big playground area for kids bring them with they’ll love it.

Neighborhood Goods market at Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town
Neighborhood Goods market at Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town

Best beaches in Cape Town

Cape Town is surrounded by many beautiful beaches. Be aware all beaches are not safe for walking, there have been a couple of muggings and robbings at Noordhoek beach in 2018. If it is not a touristy beach, find out if it is a safe area. Kommetjie beach is fine to go for surfing during the day when there are other people but we wouldn’t recommend to walk there alone especially at night.

Camps Bay Beach, quite a fancy beach, great beach to show off your new bikini or yourself in it. Beautiful soft white sand and cold water.

Clifton Beaches, there are four next to each other, like the previous beach these are located in Camp Bay. Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in South Africa, these white sand beaches surrounded by hills are great for sunbathing and chilling, swimming here is not that pleasant as the water temperature varies between 12°C and 16°C.

Blouberg Beach, long and usually not very busy beach, best place in the city for kitesurfing. We go for a run here almost every day. The beach is very long and even on holidays it doesn’t get too busy compare to the other city beaches.

Muizenberg Beach, the most popular surfing spot for beginners and nice beach for chilling though gets quite crowded on weekends and holidays. Don’t miss here colorful beach houses, they make a great contrast with white sand beach and blue sky.

Diaz Beach, Cape Point National park. Probably one of the most beautiful beaches in Cape Town, sort of hidden at the not really for swimming water is very cold here.

Boulders Beach, nature reserve. The most favorite children’s beach as here you can see cute African penguins swimming and walking around. The beach is beautiful; soft white sand, huge boulders, rather smallish and cozy.

Diaz Beach at Cape Point National reserve
Diaz Beach at Cape Point National reserve, one of the most beautiful beaches in Cape Town

Best coffee shops in Cape Town

Our top picks for you, don’t get it wrong we’ve been to more than three but these are our favorites.

Truth Coffee, an atmospheric coffee shop on Buitenkant street with great coffee made in all possible ways and delicious desserts, their chocolate muffin was the best. This coffee shop is something different everything from design to the menu will make you to remember it. Always quite busy and social with super friendly staff and great service.

Mischu coffee shop is the one not to miss if you’re a real coffee snob, recently voted as the best coffee in Cape Town this place at Sea Point won’t disappoint you. They offer espresso based drinks and desserts. I’m a big cappuccino fan and it’s great here, their cappuccino was voted several time as the best in Cape Town and in South Africa.

Beleza, a Portuguese coffee shop and one of our favorites in the city, located in Tamboerskloof more off the beaten track though on the way to Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. This is more of a place for locals which means you get really good value for money here compare to other tourist orientated places. Coffee here is great and food is delicious, the Beleza breakfast is a great option for brunch.

Beleza coffee shop, Cape Town
One of the locals’ favorite coffee shops, Beleza
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4 Comments

  • 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!

    • 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!

  • 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.

    • 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!

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