Coming on holiday to Cape Town? As a local, here is my guide of the ‘Top 21 Things to do in Cape Town’, in no particular order.
1. Table Mountain
As one of the seven wonders of the world, Table Mountain boasts a 360 degree view of Cape Town from above. You can access the top by using the Table Mountain Cable Car, or alternatively you can take a scenic hike up &/or down using one of the many hiking routes to the top.
My Suggestion: Hike up & catch the car down. My favourite hike is Indian Vensters which zigzags below the cable car for most of the way, until it curves around the back of the mountain overlooking the other side of Cape Town before making its way to the top.
A scenic 45 minute drive out of the city is the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Within this reserve besides incredible mountains, fauna & flora, is Cape Canopy Tour Ziplining where you soar above the mountains and within the gorges overlooking rivers & other incredible scenery.
If you look to the skies above, you will often see colourful parachutes floating in the air around Signal Hill & Lion’s Head. With multiple different companies that operate a roughly 20 minute paragliding tour, it’s an opportunity to see Cape Town from a different perspective.
4. Lions Head Sunrise
It’s not exactly hot off the press that Cape Town has some of the most amazing sunrises & sunsets, so by waking up a little earlier than usual, ok, a lot earlier than usual, make your way up Lion’s Head on a relatively easy 45 minute hike to take in the sun rising over the city. Don’t forget your camera, there are some real Instabangers up there!
5. Signal Hill Sunset
Just as beautiful & a little bit more in tune with your sleeping schedule, head on a scenic drive to Signal Hill which passes the entrance to the Lion’s Head hike, pack a picnic & fermented grape juice’ to watch the sky light up. Try and go on an evening when the clouds are higher than the horizon in the sky, the sun bounces off of them making for an incredible light show!
6. Biscuit Mill
Situated in Woodstock, Cape Town trendy neighbourhood that is undergoing a large gentrification process, every Saturday morning the legendary Old Biscuit Mill market takes place where you can grab amazing coffee & even better food!
Heads Up: Although it’s one of Cape Town’s best markets, it is relatively pricey. I would also highly recommend booking a table at The Pot Luck Club for an evening, one of Cape Town’s finest (and yet again, expensive) tapas restaurants.
7. West Coast National Park
A personal favourite. This National Park is famous for it’s wild flowers that paint the landscapes bright colours for as far as the eye can see during Spring. It is home to a large amount of animals including snakes, antelope, jackal & ostrich to name a few, so keep your eyes peeled whilst driving through. Pack a picnic, your costume & bird book and spend the day cruising around the park. Definitely head for Kraal Baai for a swim in the warm turquoise water of the lagoon and a picnic on the white sand. Be careful, this is tidal & we have had many a time to float our cooler boxes out of there.
My Suggestion: In order to see carpets of colourful flowers, visit the park between August-September.
8. Cape Point
Cape Point lies at the most SouthWestern point of the African continent and bears the brunt of extremely harsh storms and weather. Cape Point is easily a full day’s adventure with numerous different and often empty spots to walk, fish, beach or explore and you can even start an overnight trail that leaves from Cape Point & finished on top of Table Mountain. I would once again suggest taking a picnic & finding an empty stretch of beach for the day as the restaurant at the top called Two Oceans restaurant is extremely overpriced!
Warning: Unfortunately due to humans feeding the baboons, the local troop are extremely wise to the snacks on our back or in our hands, and trust me, they don’t ask your permission for a nibble. They only really congregate around where all of the tour busses are so just be wary of them. Unfortunately its yet another consequence of humans interfering with animals.
9. Boulder’s Beach
Penguins. If you’re looking to see all of the penguins, Boulders Beach is the place to go. It has some of the most deceptively warm looking waters you will ever see, with its clear turquoise waters lapping up against the sand, large smoothed sun baked boulders often occupied by the cute little guys in tuxedo’s wobbling all over the place, however the water is chilly. One can either do the boardwalk which is free of charge or go onto the beach for a refreshing swim for only a small fee.
10. Seal Snorkeling
In the kelp forests underneath the ocean, you can get really up close & personal with some of the oceans most inquisitive fella’s as they duck & dive around you. I haven’t personally done this as surfing with seals are enough for my adrenaline, but Seal Snorkelling is one of the company that I have heard several great feedback about.
11. Pelagic Shark Diving – Cage free
Not being a fan of the chumming processes and morality behind shark cage diving (this post sums it up pretty well HERE), free diving with sharks is a much better & natural option. It is a long boat ride out to sea, however once you reach the diving destination in deep, open crystal clear water, it is easy to understand why this is a better option. The sharks that you are almost guaranteed to see are Blue & Mako sharks, and to put your mind at rest, seeing a Great White or any other ‘man-eating’ shark this far out to sea is not common so no need to panic.
Ben & I did it for to celebrate his 100,000 subscriber son YouTube a few years ago with Shark Explorers whom I would highly recommend. Despite my intense fear of sharks, Ben had an awesome time 🙂 Check out his video below:
The Waterfront is a good place to do any of your shopping, grab great food & experience a culmination of Cape Town’s locals. Many of the boat trips around Cape Town leave from here & you can experience the ‘Cape Town Wheel’, not as impressive as the London Eye but we tried, as well as catch a live performance.
My Suggestions: The best sushi in the world…it’s here. Willoughby’s is probably the greatest & freshest sushi that I have ever tasted, and I don’t really eat sushi all that much. Another suggestion is going to Market on the Wharf and catching a taste of South African humour and going to the Cape Town Comedy Club.
13. Chapman’s Peak Drive
For a small toll fee, you can truly see the beauty of the Cape from this road which runs from Hout Bay to Noordhoek and visa versa. The scenery is incredible with sheer cliff faces that drop off into the blue ocean below.
14. Constantia Wine Farms
South Africa boasts some of the tastiest wines in the world, and why not experience it first hand by visiting the Cape Town Wine Route. My personal favourite is Constantia Glen (largely because of their cheese board.) There are other amazing wine estates outside of Cape Town located in areas such as Stellenbosch & Franschhoek.
15. First Thursdays
Every First Thursday of the month, art galleries & other cultural attractions open until late. If you are early enough, you might be able to snag a free glass of wine!
16. Learn To Surf
Don’t let the thought of oversized fish with oversized teeth put you off! Cape Town boasts some of the most diverse waves on the planet from reefs to beach to A-Frames to point breaks. If you are a beginner, there is no better place to learn than the bustling beach of Muizenberg, a beginner’s paradise.
17. Moonlight Mass
On every full moon, a fun community of adventurers climb on their bikes, skateboards, roller skates or whatever else floats your boat and ride through the streets while the full moon above lights the way. It’s more of a social gathering than a work-out but is a great outing to end off the day. If you are brave enough, you can join the moonlight mass hikers who climb Lion’s Head during this time. Be sure to bring a spotlight!
If you’re looking for a lazy day, Kirstenbosch is your perfect companion. Nestled directly below Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is a botanical garden that is perfect for those Sunday picnics, an excuse to lounge around & read your book or take a walk around the immaculately kept gardens. Be sure to keep an eye out for it’s Summer Concerts!
19. Long Street
Looking for a night out? Long Street is a trendy street in Cape Town’s city centre with a recent surge of really amazing restaurants, good pubs & a vibrant nightlife.
Nicole’s Suggestions: Beer House is great in the afternoon for a craft beer & pizza experience otherwise you can come back later for a fun night out, before heading to Fiction across the road. First be sure to line your stomach with delicious food from the Royale Eatery, Tiger’s Milk, Mama Africa or Fork. Make sure to go hungry!
20. Helicopter Flip
Wanting to end your trip with a boom? I would highly recommend seeing Cape Town from above with NAC helicopter company. It is a great way to end your trip & trace your Cape Town travels from above. Make sure your camera batteries are charged, the view is unreal!
Check out my video here: