Discover the breathtaking beauty of Cape Town with our comprehensive 10 things to do in Cape Town, South Africa vacation ideas guide. From the stunning Table Mountain to the pristine beaches and rich cultural heritage, explore the best attractions, activities, and hidden gems of this vibrant South African city.
Plan your Cape Town trip, honeymoon, bachelorette weekend, couples vacation or cross-off a bucket list item with our insider tips and make unforgettable memories in Cape Town.
Here are 10 things to do in Cape Town, South Africa:
1 – Visit Table Mountain: One of the most iconic landmarks in South Africa, Table Mountain offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding area. You can hike up the mountain or take the cable car to the top.
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city and a popular tourist destination. The mountain is approximately 1,085 meters (3,558 feet) tall and is made up of sandstone and granite. It is home to a variety of plant and animal species, including the endangered Table Mountain Ghost Frog. Table Mountain is also known for its cableway, which provides visitors with a scenic ride to the top of the mountain and offers panoramic views of the city, Atlantic Ocean, and surrounding mountains.
2 – Explore the V&A Waterfront: This bustling shopping and entertainment complex is a great place to wander around, shop for souvenirs, and enjoy live music and other entertainment.
The V&A Waterfront is a popular tourist destination located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is situated in the harbor area and covers a large stretch of land along the Atlantic Ocean, featuring a mix of historical and modern architecture.
Originally developed as a working harbor in the 19th century, the V&A Waterfront has been transformed into a bustling hub of retail, dining, entertainment, and cultural activities. It is home to over 450 retail outlets, including luxury fashion brands, art galleries, craft markets, and souvenir shops. The waterfront also boasts a variety of restaurants, cafes, and bars serving local and international cuisine.
In addition to shopping and dining, visitors can enjoy a range of entertainment options, including live music, theatrical performances, and movies. The V&A Waterfront is also home to several attractions, such as the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Cape Wheel, and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The harbor area also serves as a departure point for boat tours, charters, and water activities, such as sunset cruises, jet skiing, and paddleboarding.
Overall, the V&A Waterfront is a vibrant destination that offers a blend of history, culture, entertainment, and commerce, making it a must-visit attraction for tourists visiting Cape Town.
3 – Visit Robben Island: A trip to Cape Town is incomplete without visiting Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. You can take a ferry from the V&A Waterfront to visit this historic site.
Robben Island is a small island located off the coast of Cape Town, South Africa. The island is known for its rich and complex history, which includes being a place of exile, imprisonment, and isolation for political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, who was held there for 18 years.
The island was first used as a prison in the 17th century, but it was during the apartheid era in South Africa that it became infamous for its role in the oppression of black South Africans. The apartheid government used Robben Island to imprison political activists, including members of the African National Congress (ANC) and other anti-apartheid groups.
Since the end of apartheid, Robben Island has become a popular tourist destination and a symbol of South Africa’s struggle for freedom and democracy. Today, visitors can take guided tours of the island, including a visit to the prison where political prisoners were held, as well as a museum that documents the island’s history.
4- Take a wine tour: Cape Town is known for its excellent wines, and there are many vineyards in the surrounding area that offer wine tours and tastings.
There are many great wine tours available in Cape Town, each offering a unique experience. Here are some highly rated wine tours in Cape Town:
- Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl Wine Tasting Tour: This tour offers a full-day trip to three of the most famous wine regions near Cape Town – Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl. You’ll get to visit up to five wineries, sample a variety of wines, and learn about the history of the region.
- Constantia Wine Tasting Tour: This tour offers a half-day trip to the Constantia wine region, which is located just a short drive from Cape Town. You’ll get to visit some of the oldest and most renowned wine estates in the region and sample their award-winning wines.
- Wine and Chocolate Tasting Tour: This tour offers a unique experience that combines wine tasting with chocolate. You’ll get to visit three wineries in the Stellenbosch region, where you’ll taste a variety of wines and chocolates.
- Cape Point Vineyards Tour: This tour offers a scenic drive to Cape Point Vineyards, which is located in the stunning Noordhoek Valley. You’ll get to taste some of their award-winning wines while enjoying the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.
- Bike and Wine Tour: This tour offers a unique way to explore the Stellenbosch wine region. You’ll cycle through vineyards and orchards, stopping at three wineries to sample their wines and learn about the winemaking process.
These are just a few of the many great wine tours available in Cape Town. It’s best to research and compare different options to find the one that best suits your interests and budget.
5- Visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden: This beautiful garden is home to thousands of plant species and offers stunning views of Table Mountain. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy nature.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a botanical garden located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is considered one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world, known for its rich biodiversity, stunning scenery, and conservation efforts.
The garden was established in 1913 to preserve the unique flora of the Cape region and promote their conservation. It covers an area of about 528 hectares and is nestled at the foot of Table Mountain. It features a vast collection of indigenous plants, including the famous Protea, which is South Africa’s national flower.
Kirstenbosch is not only a popular tourist attraction, but it is also a research center and a hub for conservation and education programs. It offers various activities and events throughout the year, including guided tours, concerts, and exhibitions.
The garden is also home to a large variety of birds, including the Cape Sugarbird, Orange-breasted Sunbird, and the African Penguin. Visitors can enjoy bird-watching, hiking, and picnicking while admiring the beautiful landscapes and plant life.
6 – Go to the beach: Cape Town has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, including Camps Bay, Clifton, and Muizenberg. You can enjoy swimming, surfing, and sunbathing at these beaches.
Cape Town has many beautiful beaches, but some of the most popular and highly recommended ones are:
- Clifton Beach: This is a series of four beaches located on the Atlantic Ocean, known for their crystal-clear waters, white sand, and stunning views. It’s a great place for swimming, sunbathing, and beach sports.
- Camps Bay Beach: This is another popular beach on the Atlantic Ocean, known for its wide sandy beach, palm trees, and trendy restaurants and cafes nearby. It’s a great place for beach volleyball, sunbathing, and enjoying the sunset.
- Muizenberg Beach: This is a beach on the Indian Ocean side of Cape Town, known for its long stretch of sand, surf culture, and colorful beach huts. It’s a great place for surfing and other water sports, and it’s also a popular spot for families.
- Llandudno Beach: This is a secluded beach on the Atlantic Ocean, known for its rugged coastline, crystal-clear water, and pristine white sand. It’s a great place for swimming, surfing, and exploring the natural beauty of Cape Town.
Ultimately, the “best” beach near Cape Town depends on your personal preferences and what you’re looking for in a beach. All of these options offer their own unique experiences and attractions, so it’s worth checking out a few to find your favorite.
7 – Visit the Cape of Good Hope: This is the most southwestern point of Africa and a popular tourist attraction. You can hike to the lighthouse and enjoy the stunning views of the ocean.
The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky promontory located on the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa. It was first named the Cape of Storms by Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Dias in 1488, but was later renamed the Cape of Good Hope by King John II of Portugal in the early 16th century.
The Cape of Good Hope is widely regarded as one of the most significant landmarks in South Africa and is a popular tourist destination. It is also an important location for maritime navigation, as it marks the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The area surrounding the Cape of Good Hope is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including baboons, ostriches, and a variety of bird species.
In addition to its natural beauty, the Cape of Good Hope has a rich history, having served as a strategic point for trade and exploration during the age of colonialism. It remains an important cultural and historical symbol for South Africa and the world.
8 – Explore the Bo-Kaap: This colorful neighborhood is known for its brightly painted houses and rich cultural heritage. You can visit the Bo-Kaap Museum and learn more about the area’s history.
Bo-Kaap is a vibrant neighborhood located in the city of Cape Town, South Africa. It is known for its colorful, brightly painted houses and its rich cultural heritage. Originally known as the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is home to many descendants of Cape Malay slaves and political exiles who were brought to the Cape by the Dutch East India Company in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Bo-Kaap is famous for its cuisine, particularly its spicy curries and traditional dishes such as bobotie, which is a type of spiced minced meat dish with a custard topping. The neighborhood is also known for its mosques, including the Auwal Mosque, which is the oldest mosque in South Africa.
The colorful houses in Bo-Kaap were originally painted by the residents in protest against a law that required all houses to be painted white. Today, the neighborhood is a popular tourist destination, with visitors coming to explore the winding streets, visit the local markets and shops, and experience the unique culture and history of the area.
9 – Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium: This aquarium is home to a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, penguins, and turtles. It’s a great place to take kids and learn about the ocean.
The Two Oceans Aquarium is a public aquarium located at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. It is named after the two oceans that converge at the southern tip of Africa: the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean.
The aquarium opened its doors in November 1995 and has since become one of Cape Town’s top tourist attractions. It showcases the marine life found in the two oceans, including fish, sharks, turtles, and penguins. The exhibits are designed to educate visitors about the ocean and its inhabitants, as well as to inspire a love and respect for the sea.
One of the aquarium’s most popular exhibits is the I&J Ocean Exhibit, which features a 10-meter long tunnel that allows visitors to walk through the exhibit while surrounded by fish, rays, and turtles. Another highlight is the Predator Exhibit, which is home to ragged-tooth sharks, giant spider crabs, and other fierce predators of the ocean.
The Two Oceans Aquarium also plays an active role in conservation efforts, particularly around the issue of plastic pollution in the ocean. It runs educational programs and hosts events to raise awareness about the impact of plastic on marine life and encourages visitors to take action to reduce their own plastic use.
10 – Take a Township Tour: To learn more about the history and culture of South Africa, take a tour of one of the townships around Cape Town, such as Khayelitsha or Gugulethu. You can learn about the people who live there and the challenges they face.
There are several townships located near Cape Town, South Africa. Here are some of them:
- Khayelitsha: Khayelitsha is one of the largest townships in Cape Town, located about 30 km southeast of the city center. It has a population of over 400,000 people and is known for its vibrant culture and entrepreneurial spirit.
- Gugulethu: Gugulethu is another large township located about 15 km southeast of Cape Town. It was established during the apartheid era as a designated settlement for black South Africans, and has a rich history and cultural heritage.
- Langa: Langa is one of the oldest townships in Cape Town, established in the 1920s as a result of forced removals of black residents from the city center. It is located about 10 km southeast of Cape Town and is known for its vibrant arts and culture scene.
- Mitchells Plain: Mitchells Plain is a large township located about 20 km southeast of Cape Town. It was established in the 1970s as a designated settlement for colored (mixed-race) South Africans, and has a diverse community and cultural landscape.
- Nyanga: Nyanga is a township located about 15 km east of Cape Town, and is known for its strong community spirit and resilience in the face of poverty and crime.
These are just a few of the many townships located near Cape Town, each with their own unique history, culture, and community spirit.