11 Spectacular Things to do in Cape Town

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The major port city of South Africa, Cape Town, is a city of cultural diversity and natural beauty. The people are charming, the activities numerous, and the sights are just beautiful. There is an innumerable amount of things to do in Cape Town during a visit.

If not for the slight Afrikaans accent and the comforting shadow of Table Mountain, you might think you’re vacationing somewhere in Europe.

Cape Town is truly one of my favorite cities. There is something so unique about the combination of mountain, sea, and city that really offers something for everyone from adrenaline junkies to casual vacationers. 

Don’t waste time and money, get your Cape Town City Pass: Free Entry to Cape Town’s Top Attractions & Experiences today. 

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Southern Africa (Travel Guide)

11 Best Things to do in Cape Town

Table Mountain - Things to Do in Cape Town

1. Table Mountain

Cape town is encompassed by a large, mostly flat mountain that literally looks like a giant table. It is often enshrouded by fog floating around the top which everyone cleverly calls “the tablecloth.”

If you love adventure you can take a somewhat grueling 1-2 hour hike up the mountain (which is totally worth it) and abseil (or hike) back down. Many locals use this mountain as their natural gym and climb it 2-3 times a week; and once you see the view from the top, you’ll know why.

A view of a tapered mountain, the ocean, and a city breathing around it – there’s nothing quite like it. You will feel like you earned this view.

If you’re not the athletic type, you can still enjoy the view by opting to take the cable car, both ways are mostly glass and it actually revolves as you descend so that everyone can get a view from every angle.

Our top recommended tours:

Cape of Good hope in South Africa

2. Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point

When in Cape Town, a day trip to the cape is a must. This is the end of the line, the absolute southernmost tip of Africa. The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point are the two points at the end of the Peninsula where the rocky end of this large continent juts out into the turbulent sea.

Only 10 minutes apart, both spots are extremely windy and cold because of the harsh wind coming from the ocean, but there is plenty to see and do. Hike the beaches, climb to the lighthouse, take in the amazing views, and even spot some wild animals like baboons and ostriches.

Our top recommended tours:

Penguins at Boulder Beach in Cape Town

3. Boulders Beach

Boulders beach is located on False Bay along the coast, about 25 miles south of Cape Town. The beach is named for the large boulders scattered around the area, and out of all the beaches available near Cape Town, this is probably the most inviting to swim at.

But the real reason to visit is for the penguins. The beach is home to a rather large colony of African “jackass” penguins, nicknamed for the odd braying sound they make during mating season.

It’s definitely neat to visit these tuxedo buddies, but do not try to pet them as they have seriously sharp beaks!

Click to view and book: Boulders Beach tour

Great White Shark Cage Diving in South Africa

4. Shark Cage Diving

One of the most exciting activities that people come to South Africa to do is shark cage diving, but make sure you go with a good company. We were well hosted by White Shark Diving Co.

The crew throws out a large tuna head into the ocean to draw the sharks in and you are placed in a cage just under the surface. In groups of 3 or 4, you take turns waiting for shark interactions.

While shark cage diving can seem exhilarating, there are some things to be prepared for. First, obviously bring a swimsuit and choose a wet suit that isn’t too tight. Second, the water is going to be frigid, and staying in for 10-15 minutes waiting for a shark can be frustrating.

And third, it is not uncommon to get seasick during this excursion so take a seasickness tablet before embarking. The waves are choppy and the boat ride to Shark Alley is 20-30 minutes.

Related Article: Shark Cage Diving Adventure

Stellenbosch Wine Tour from Cape Town

5. Wine Tour

Surprisingly, South Africa has a number of brilliant wine tours. Head to the mountains just north of the city, and there you’ll find are plenty of vineyard regions and restaurants that offer wine tasting.

Check out the Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch regions by car or you can take the Franschhoek Wine Tram, a hop-on-hop-off tram that goes around to the different vineyards allowing you to drink without needing a designated driver. Touring around the different regions is a great way to spend a day.

Our top recommended tours:

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

6. V&A Waterfront

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is a central hub of shopping and entertainment. It’s one of the largest shopping centers in the area, so you take a couple of hours to wander around.

You can also enjoy attractions such as the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Ferris wheel, and the buzzing harbor.

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Southern Africa (Travel Guide)

Kirstenbosch Gardens, Cape Town

7. Kirstenbosch Gardens

Kirstenbosch is hands down the best gardens I’ve ever been to. They are beautifully nestled within Table Mountain, offering stunning views in every direction, and have a remarkable amount of biodiversity.

I was not expecting it to be as grand as it was. Not only is it a large, but it’s a peaceful place to wander around, lay down and read, or have a picnic with friends. There are a number more things to do.

Take a stroll down the walking paths, read through the informational dinosaur section, climb on a large jungle gym tree for kids, and best of all, walk the Tree Canopy Walkway.

More colloquially known as the Boomslang (a tree snake), the Tree Top walkway is a long, winding bridge located high in the trees made of mostly natural materials so as to be as unobtrusive to the forest as possible, which causes it to sway gently in the wind.

Click to view and book: Kirstenbosch Gardens Tour

African hornbill

8. World of Birds

Not far from the gardens is the World of Birds. The largest bird park in Africa, it houses over 400 species of birds from owls and parrots to buzzards and falcons. It also plays host to other small animals like monkeys and reptiles.

The most notable experience, being the monkey jungle, here you can watch squirrel monkeys swing around their habitat. This is a good place to go to with the kids. Get your World of Birds entry ticket or city pass below through Viator tours.

Our top recommended tours:

Robben Island, South Africa

9. Robben Island

One of the most common excursions from Cape Town is to Robben Island, the place where the distinguishable Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years for opposing an oppressive government before the apartheid was finally disbanded.

The tour, given by former inmates, takes you around the island and through the building where he and others were held captive. This experience really depends on the guide you get and their ability to share their personal accounts of what life was like on the island.

It is honorable for the government to turn a dark spot on South Africa’s history into a story of triumph over segregation but when I did it, the guide was difficult to hear and the tour was a bit rushed.

Our top recommended tours:

Martini Cocktail

10. Asoka Bar

Another thing not to be missed in Cape Town is the nightlife! Asoka Bar quickly became one of my favorites because of its delicious drinks. This bar is rated to have the 2nd best cocktails in the world and it totally lived up to it.

Please, please try the Porn star Martini – it’s made with a passion fruit puree that is to die for! It’s also worthy to note that 90% of Cape Town’s fruit is grown locally so everything was very fresh!

Food tours you can not miss in Cape Town South Africa:

Castle of Good Hope, South Africa

11. Castle of Good Hope

This fortress is one of South Africa’s oldest strongholds and is right in the center of Cape Town. It is fun to wander through the dark passages inside and explore the castle blindly. There are also guided tours that give a more historical context that you can take either on foot or by horse-drawn carriage.

Our top recommended tours:

Multi-Day Tours We Recommend:

  • Western Cape Wow– Start and end in Cape Town! With the discovery tour Western Cape Wow, you have a 3 day tour package taking you through Cape Town, South Africa and 6 other destinations in South Africa. Western Cape Wow is a small group tour that includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
  • Tour du Cap– Start and end in Cape Town! With the discovery tour Tour du Cap, you have a 3 day tour package taking you through Cape Town, South Africa and 12 other destinations in South Africa. Tour du Cap is a small group tour that includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
  • Tour du Cap, West Coast and Whales– Start and end in Cape Town! With the discovery tour Tour du Cap, West Coast and Whales, you have a 5 day tour package taking you through Cape Town, South Africa and 19 other destinations in South Africa. Tour du Cap, West Coast and Whales is a small group tour that includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more.
  • Cape Town Marine Ecotour– Start and end in Cape Town! With this tour Cape Town Marine Ecotour, you have a 3 day tour package taking you through Cape Town, South Africa and 2 other destinations in South Africa. Cape Town Marine Ecotour includes accommodation as well as an expert guide, transport
Recommended Tours
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Cape Town to Victoria Falls
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About Lina Stock

Lina is an award-winning photographer and writer that has been exploring the world since 2001. She has traveled to 100 countries on all 7 continents. Member: SATW, NATJA, ATTA, ITWA

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