Things to Do in Cape Town
With an endless supply of natural beauty, cultural sites and delectable food and wine, there’s no shortage of things to do in Cape Town. If you only have a few days in this South African city, these are the things that should be at the top of your to-do list:
Venture to the top of Table Mountain
If you manage to do just one thing in Cape Town, Table Mountain should be it. The imposing peak towers 1,000 metres over the city, making it not only a great sight to see from below, but also from atop its flat summit.
How to do it: There are a number of ways you can visit Table Mountain. Try the aerial cableway, which offers a scenic journey to the top. This journey is part of the Table Mountain and City tour, which is included in all of our South Africa holidays. If you’d rather a more challenging journey, there are a number of hiking trails you can follow to the top. Be warned though, even the quickest route – the Platteklip Gorge route – takes around 1.5 hours and isn’t without its challenges, particularly in the heat.
Tour Robben Island
Located in Table Bay off the coast of Cape Town, Robben Island has played an important part in South African history. With a sordid past as a political prison, dating all the way back to Dutch settlers in the 17th century, Robben Island became world-famous when the late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned there in 1964. Mandela spent 18 years there, incarcerated for fighting apartheid and conspiring to overthrow the state. In 1991 the Robben Island prison closed and Mandela famously went on to become the President of South Africa in 1994. Today the prison has been transformed into a museum and acts as a symbol of the triumph of the human spirit.
How to do it: The best way to visit Robben Island is with a tour which will include ferry access and take around 3.5 hours in total. Tours of the island are incredibly popular, so we recommend booking your tour well in advance to avoid disappointment. A tour of Robben Island can be added to any of our tailor-made holidays and is already included in our Cape Town, Wine & Safari itinerary.
See the penguins on Boulders Beach
You might not be able to go on safari in Cape Town, but the city isn’t completely without its wildlife-watching opportunities. Just 31 miles from the city centre lies Boulders Beach and its famous colony of 2,000 endangered African Penguins.
How to do it: Boulders Beach is part of Table Mountain National Park and is around a 55-minute drive from Cape Town. To ensure the penguins remain happy and healthy, the beach has an allocated penguin viewing platform and boardwalk, allowing you to watch the colony without causing them distress.
Stroll along the Sea Point promenade
For some ideal sightseeing and people watching, we recommend spending an afternoon at the Sea Point promenade. As one of Cape Town’s most affluent suburbs, the promenade is home to plenty of impressive beachfront homes and upmarket restaurants, as well as locals going about their day; walking, jogging and socialising.
How to do it: Sea Point is located just three miles from the city centre. The easiest way to reach the promenade is by driving but, if you prefer to stretch your legs, walking there will only take around hour. Time your visit to coincide with sunset for perfect views and then stay on for dinner.
Learn to cook in Bo-Kaap
No visit to Cape Town should be without a visit to the technicolour refion of Bo-Kaap. Located on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre, Bo-Kaap is a historical area featuring brightly-coloured homes that date back to the 18th century. The area was originally home to slaves brought from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia by the Dutch, and even today is still referred to as the city’s Malay Quarter. After Britain took over in 1795 the slave trade was abolished, allowing Bo-Kaap to thrive.
Today the area is still mainly home to Malaysians and in turn, a large Muslim community. And while many people visit to see the brightly-coloured houses, it’s the food that people often end up staying for. To truly get a feel for the area, its culture, and its cuisine, we recommend taking part in a local Malay cooking class such as the Cape Malay Cooking Safari.
The safari begins with an intimate tour of the Bo-Kaap Museum followed by a tour around the surrounding historical area. You’ll then visit a local Bo-Kaap home where you’ll enjoy a cooking workshop demonstrating how to mix masala, fold samosas and cook a Cape Malay curry. The safari of course finishes with a traditional Malay meal.
How to do it: The Cape Malay Cooking Safari is included in our Cape Town, Wine & Safari holiday and Tastes of South Africa holiday. As with all of our holidays, we can also tailor make a South Africa holiday for you to include the cooking safari.
Go hiking in the Cape Point Nature Reserve
If seeing the penguins on Boulders Beach wasn’t enough to satisfy your wildlife-watching appetite, you can venture further into Cape Town’s wild side at the Cape Pont Nature Reserve. Forming part of the Table Mountain National Park, the nature reserve spans over 19,000 acres of rich flora and fauna, as well as valleys, beaches, bays and a historical lighthouse. If you keep your eyes peeled you may be able to spy the reserve’s wildlife including Cape Mountain zebra, baboons, buck and over 250 species of birds.
How to do it: The Cape Point Nature Reserve is located 37 miles south-west of Cape Town, so it’s best to drive there. From the park you can take part in a number of walking trails, or ride the funicular up to the viewing point near the old lighthouse. After your walk or ride, the reserve is also home to an on-site restaurant which offers spectacular views over False Bay.
Want to live out these activities and more? Check out our Cape Town holidays or tailor make your own with our Experts today.