10 of the Best Things to do in Cape Town, South Africa

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Cape Town is South Africa’s greenest city in Siemens’ African Green City Index. Cape Town’s topography allows the city to introduce new green spaces and its population has driven the rise of farmers’ markets and growth in locally sourced food.

South Africa was colonized by the Dutch in 1652 and then from the British Empire and its independence was granted on May 31, 1961. South Africa has increasingly become an attractive tourist destination due to its varied cultural offerings, eclectic food scene, architecture, and natural beauty.

In this post, we put together the top 10 things to do in the city.

Best Things to do in Cape Town

Cape Town has plenty to offer from its world-class restaurants and golden beaches, colorful historic districts and hipster farmer’s markets to the stunning coastal suburbs of Simonstown, Hout Bay and Fish Hoek await nearby and award-winning vineyards.

Robben Island
Photo credit: South African Tourism / Flickr

Visit Robben Island

The name of the island come from Dutch for “seal island.” Robben Island is a World Heritage Site and museum, offering daily tours. This was a place of isolation for nearly 300 years, housing many political prisoners and serving as both a lunatic asylum and leper colony, one of them was the legendary South African president Nelson Mandela who spent 18 years here during his imprisonment.

The tours are led by former prisoners and include a return ferry ride from the island, a tour of the island and also a visit to some of the old cells.

Table Mountain Cape Town
Photo credit: Jonathan Gill / Flickr

Climb the Table Mountain

Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top.

The ride on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is one you’ll never forget. The journey up the mountain takes about five minutes and the car rotates 360° as it ascends, slowly revealing better and better views as you approach the summit.

The Cableway operates from 8:30am until 5:30pm in winter and closes later in summer

You can gain free entry to Table Mountain Aerial Cableway with Cape Town City Pass. The pass also gets you free entry or amazing discounts on over 70 other Cape Town attractions!

Here’s a selection of tours to Table Mountain – both hikes and cable car; a mix of the two, or a proper adventure:

Penguins at Boulders Beach
Photo credit: Olga Ernst / Wikipedia

Walk with the Penguins at Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is located in the Cape Peninsula, near Simon’s Town towards Cape Point, near Cape Town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Cape Town has many beautiful beaches, but Boulders Beach offers up something the others don’t – a large colony of African penguins!

These African penguins are only found on the coastlines of Southern Africa – South Africa & Namibia. They are adapted to live in a warmer climate and you can see these little birds up close at Boulders Beach. It is located approximately one hour’s drive south of the city center. At the beach, an observation platform gives you the option to observe the penguins. There is a small conservation fee, which goes towards ensuring the future of this sadly endangered species.

Here’s a selection of the best tours that go to Boulders Beach:

Cape Winelands
Photo credit: Ralph / flickr

Tour the World Famous Cape Wineries

If you want to explore outside the city borders Cape Winelands is one of your choices. It spreads out around the famous wine-making regions of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Here you’ll find some of the world’s finest vintages.

Groot Constantia has been producing wine of outstanding quality uninterruptedly since 1685 with its award-winning wines still celebrated around the world today. The Simon’s and Jonkershuis restaurants at Groot Constantia offer visitors al fresco dining expertly paired with the estate’s award-winning wines.

If you have limited time then one of the best ways to see several different wineries is to book a tour on the Franschhoek Wine Tram. You can enjoy wine tasting, go for a tour of the cellars or a gourmet meal in a local farm restaurant with breathtaking views. Another wineries that you could add to your list are the iconic vineyard Spier Wine Farm.

Kirstenbosch Gardens
Photo credit: Delyth Angharad / flickr

Visit Kirstenbosch Gardens

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is an oasis in Cape Town’s city center. Nestled beneath Table Mountain, this botanical garden is one of the most famous places to visit in Cape Town, this garden is one of the most beautiful in Africa. It is the first botanical garden in the world to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

It offers many fantastic places to have a picnic. It also hosts concerts between November and April every Sunday, art exhibitions and more.

Culinary Scene
Photo credit: John Hickey-Fry / flickr

Explore the City’s Culinary Scene

Locally growth produced is boost also by the restaurants who offer fresh, local ingredients. The South African capital has a unique multi-cultural heritage that inspired culinary scene influences. The wineries themselves often house some of the region’s best restaurants. It has some pretty amazing restaurants, some of whom have earned internatonal awards.

V&A Waterfront Food Hall is one of the best places to eat in town.
Cape Town’s coolest restaurant strip is Bree Street in the Central Business District.

Bo-Kaap
Photo credit: SkyPixels / flickr

Explore Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap is known for its brightly coloured homes and cobble stoned streets. The area is traditionally a multicultural neighbourhood with immigrants from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia, and most of its population is Muslim.
Translated from Afrikaans, Bo Kaap means ‘Above the Cape’ and it has a long history dated back to the 1760s. It is a former township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center and is a historical center of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town.

The area is filled with history, visit the museum for a glimpse of the past and find out about the architectural heritage.

Camps Bay

Camps Bay

Camps Bay is considered Cape Town’s most beauteous living. It’s also known for its white sands and dolphin sightings, natural rock swimming pool and views of the Twelve Apostles mountains. Just a walk from the beach where you can find many trendy restaurants and cafes, cozy accommodation.

Nearby you’ll find also the Promenade Mall boutiques selling fashion and beachwear and the intimate Theatre on the Bay performing drama, musicals, and comedy.

Cape town Beaches
Photo credit: Stockvault

Walk Around the Beaches

Cape Town is home to some of the most picture-perfect beaches in the world, each with its own unique advantages.
The beaches along the False Bay coastline boast warm water and good swimming conditions when the Atlantic coast beaches have much colder water with a brilliant shade of turquoise.

Zeitz Museum
Photo credit: flowcomm / flickr

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art

Zeitz Museum offers the largest collection of contemporary African art on the continent features works from all over the diaspora. You can check out the Afro-futurist goggles by Cyrus Kabiru, anti-patriarchal needlework by Ghada Amer, oil portrait by Kehinde Wiley, and cowhide sculptures by Nandipha Mntambo.

The museum located at the V&A Waterfront opened on September 22, 2017.

Responsible Tourism is a unique approach to the management of tourism, which aims to maximize the benefits of the destination for both tourists and locals.

Want to learn more about South Africa? Check our other posts.
Main photo credit: Pe_Wu / Wikipedia

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