Steeped in history and culture, Cape Town is an explorer’s paradise, and there is so much to do and see here that it would literally take years to enjoy it all. Situated at the tip of Africa, it has become an outdoor adventurer’s paradise with mountains, forests, two oceans and incredible beaches. Here is a list of great things to do in Cape Town and around it.
Top 10 Things to Do in Cape Town
The central icon in Cape Town would have to be Table Mountain!
It’s a sight to see, and a more natural way to do it is taking the cableway up to the top.
The cable car leaves from the bottom every 20 minutes, and if you book your tickets online, you can even avoid the queues.
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If you’re up for a challenge, pack your hiking camera, GPS watch and brave the wilderness trails. The best way to explore the mountain is via one of the several routes you can climb to reach the top in between 2 and 3 hours.
Several hiking routes vary from a dense forest with waterfalls (Skeleton Gorge) and more exposed rock faces (Platteklip Gorge) with views that are incredible.
There are a great coffee shop and kiosk at the top where you can enjoy a meal before exploring the sights. You could spend hours there, the views are incredible from the top, and you won’t be disappointed.
2Drive the West Coast Road
Leaving the city bowl past the harbor is the west coast road which will take you along the Atlantic coast into a different world. The west coast is an environment marked by the cold Atlantic water and the cold air moving over the land from the ocean.
It’s quite a harsh environment, and the vegetation here is clearly adapted to this. The west coast is renowned for its magical show of wildflowers during their season, transforming a fairly bland landscape into a psychedelic wonderland for a month or two during blooms. It’s worth making a road trip here to see this marvelous spectacle.
3Museums & History
The Cape’s history is fascinating, and there is no better way to understand it than by seeing it first-hand. Hence, one of the best things to do in Cape Town is to visit its museums.
The city has numerous museums and historic houses still preserved from the first European settlers. Seeing and smelling the original furnishings in these places gives you a real sense of life here in centuries gone by.
Most of the museums charge a minimal entry fee to enter and enjoy the remarkable past of Cape Town. This is something that should definitely be on your list.
4Wine, Chocolate & Cheese
The Cape Winelands has so much to offer from a foodie’s point of view. These include excellent wines, excellent artisan chocolates, and the most delicious handcrafted cheese.
Fairview Farm is renowned for its perfect goat’s cheese that has been made on the farm for many years. The Saanen milk goats at Fairview have their very own tower to clamber around on. They also have a range of other cheeses here to enjoy the impressive wine collection.
The Spice Route complex is just around the corner from Fairview, a mini village of craft and artisan producers, including a chocolate factory where you can watch chocolate being made through the windows of the tasting area. It’s a great way to get into the countryside and experience life on the outskirts of the city.
Back in the heart of the city lays the Dutch East India Company’s original fresh produce garden. Now, of course, it is a heritage site and park that is enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.
A relaxed green strip in the city center, which is home to the first planted exotic trees in South Africa, as well as a whole bunch of over-friendly squirrels.
There are a lovely restaurant and coffee shop in the gardens that serve world-class meals in the open air under the trees. And the squirrels will happily share a few nuts with you at the table.
Boulders beach in Simonstown is a beautiful stretch of beach which is home to a world-renowned penguin colony, therefore it should definitely be on your list of things to do in Cape Town.
The penguins are endangered and, at the Boulders Beach colony, the National Parks authorities have built an enclosed boardwalk so that visitors can get close to the penguins without interfering with their habitat.
If you decide to swim at the neighboring Boulders Beach, you may even be joined by a few penguins in the water!
Visiting the colony and paying the nominal entrance fee goes a long way to protecting these fantastic birds, so go to Simonstown and waddle with a few of South Africa’s oddest looking creatures.
7V & A Waterfront
For Shopaholics, the V&A Waterfront is a wonderland of food, shopping, and culture!
Situated on the harbor marina in Cape Town, the Waterfront is continually buzzing with activity, seagulls, seals, tantalizing foods and visual treats.
There is a fantastic mall where you can shop till you drop. Alongside that, there is also an indoor market which boasts hundreds of traders selling their products and a substantial food market with scrumptious culinary delights.
You could even take a relaxed boat cruise around Cape Town’s harbor and soak in the sights, sounds, and smells of the marina.
8Two Oceans Aquarium
If you have an interest in marine life, then put Two Oceans Aquarium is definitely worth a visit.
The exhibits of South African marine life are top class, and they showcase the diverse ecosystems found along our beautiful coastline.
From the Kelp forests of the west coast to the tropical waters of our northeastern coastline, there is something of everything. Another fantastic set of exhibits also shows mystical creatures like jellyfish and seahorses.
9Old Biscuit Mill
Each Saturday the Old Biscuit Mill transforms into a bustling market of fun and youthful exuberance. Young and old mix together here for a day of food, drink, shopping and hanging out with friends.
An extensive variety of freshly made food is available at the indoor food market, and a fantastic selection of handmade crafts and goods are on exhibit in the craft section.
If you feel like submerging yourself into the Capetonian vibe, then visit the Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning!
10Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch is the oldest botanical garden in South Africa with the most extensive collection of indigenous vegetation and exotic plants. It is a definite bucket list item for Cape Town.
It’s situated at the foot of the Eastern slope of Table Mountain, just below the extensive Afro-Montane forest. It has been exquisitely maintained and cultivated for over a century, and the pride and love of its curators can be seen everywhere in the gardens.
There are two lovely restaurants in the gardens and in summer months, they have open-air music concerts and picnics to end off the day. Anyone with love for horticulture and green spaces needs to visit Kirstenbosch.