Cape Town is a vibrant city with a mix of cultures, beautiful landscapes, beaches, and plenty of activities. Here is our recommedations for 8 Fun Things To Do In Cape Town.
We spent two weeks in Cape Town, and we’ve compiled the best things to do. With these activities, you should be able to get a good feel for the Mother City and what it is all about.
Everyone goes to Table Mountain, as the views from the top are amazing. Visitors can reach the summit either by hiking up or taking the cableway. We did both.
We nearly reached the top on our first attempt, but we turned back because it was clouded in. There are several hiking routes up the mountain.
Some are longer, some more difficult, but all get you to the same spot. Weather can get dicey in the winter, so plan accordingly on your route, and know when to turn around if things get rough.
A week later we took the cableway up; we already hiked enough the first time. The top boasts a beautiful view of the ocean and the City Bowl District (CBD).
The ride up is unlike other gondola rides, as the entire cabin spins. It doesn’t matter where you stand inside; everyone gets the full 360 view.
There are plenty of small trails at the top of the cableway to explore that offer different vantage points.
The cableway closes on windy days, so be prepared to hike both ways. This closure can even happen mid-day, so plan accordingly.
Fun Fact: Table Mountain is over 260 million years old, which is older than the Andes, the Rockies, the Alps and the Himalayas.
It’s free to hike one of the many trails leading to the top. For the cable ride, the price varies depending on the time of day, citizenship, and the age of the person.
An adult riding both ways in the afternoon will cost about R300 (about $21 USD). The latest pricing information is on their website here.
- Make sure your car is parked in a well-traveled area, and leave absolutely nothing visible in the vehicle. Lock your doors, and physically check that they actually did lock. We learned this lesson the hard way.
- If you are a photographer and have something more than a point-and-shoot camera, you can take it, but be discrete and don’t leave it on your shoulder. If thieves see you have an expensive camera, you might make yourself a target. Do not take any valuables you do not have insured.
- Travel in a larger group if possible, especially if you aren’t familiar with the area.
- Bring as little as possible. If you don’t need it and don’t want to lose it, leave it at your locked accommodation or in a room safe.
- Check the weather before you go and plan accordingly; things can change very quickly.
- If possible, let someone know where you’re going and when to expect you back.
Boulders Beach is near Simon’s Town, one of South Africa’s oldest towns and a former naval base.
The beach itself is loaded with thousands of cute little penguins doing what penguins do: entertaining humans! The beach also has boulders that are 540 million years old.
While we were there, the area was crowded with people, so we suggest you go early to beat the tour buses. Seasonality does matter, although it was still busy during the off season of winter.
Seeing the large population of penguins in the colony was pretty amazing.
There’s a lesser-known alternative: Stony Point at Betty’s Bay. This is a bit less touristed, and it comes with a cheaper price tag. However, it’s a bit farther from Cape Town, so we didn’t have a chance to check it out.
Fun Fact: When African Penguins dive, they go down to 30m on average and as deep as 130m.
R35 for adults ($2.44) and R10 for children under 10 ($0.70)
Do not get too close to the penguins as they have razor-sharp beaks that could hurt you.
Cape Point was a lovely place to go see, as it is the most southwestern point on the continent. It is not, however, the southernmost point as some may claim (this is actually farther east).
It is home to some beautiful beaches, a lighthouse, and sea cliffs 200 meters above sea level (656ft). A funicular (steep-incline cablecar) can take you to the lighthouse at the summit, but we like hiking, so that was out of the question.
There are several trails. The Lighthouse Keepers Trail leads to a second, smaller lighthouse on the farthest point, and the Cape of Good Hope Trail unsurprisingly takes hikers to the Cape, proper. Either route boasts some stunning views.
We spent quite a bit of time here hiking around and getting blown away by the scenery (and almost getting literally blown away by wind and rain). The mix of clouds, sun, and the light sea breeze were magical.
We were certainly tired, as we didn’t follow the straightforward tourist route the whole time; we like the odd pathways.
Fun Fact: The air at Cape Point is among the cleanest in the world. Thus, it was an ideal location for an atmospheric research center.
The cost to get into the park is quite expensive for international visitors at R303 per person ($21). There are additional costs if you want to ride the funicular. See all of the latest pricing info [on their website].
Beware of the baboons that hang around the parking areas. They like to snatch human items, so don’t leave any windows open and be careful when opening doors.
They are cute to look at, but many likely deserve some prison time. These are mostly in the lower parking lot near the water but you might encounter them anywhere around the cape.
This waterfront area is home to many shops and restaurants. It is the gateway to many tourist activities as well. Boats leave here daily to Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was held), as well as helicopter tours and boat cruises.
It is a little slice of Europe on the South African coast, and we spent most of our time here shopping and having a nice meal. It was a good place to relax from all of the hiking and sightseeing.
Fun Fact: The clock tower in V&A Waterfront was built in 1882.
Only what you choose to spend at the shops!
This area is very safe compared to many areas of Cape Town. It is one of the most protected areas of town with security everywhere. Still, visitors aren’t immune to theft, so keep your belongings safe and know your surroundings well.
This was one of our favorite places to visit in Cape Town. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are well maintained and very beautiful.
There are so many exotic plants to see in this garden, and you get a wonderful view of Table Mountain in the background. In addition to lofty hills, there is a bridge that acts as a viewing platform to get a top-down look at some of the gardens.
With so many paths to explore, it isn’t difficult to spend an entire day here. We finished the day at the restaurant inside the garden grounds, a wonderful conclusion to a beautiful day.
Fun Fact: It is the first garden in the world to be included in a natural world heritage site.
R25 for South African residents ($1.75) and R40 for non-residents ($2.79)
This place is fee-based and full mostly of tourists. We were there with our expensive cameras out the whole time, and it felt pretty safe. When hiking to Table Mountain from here, be extra cautious as it is a less populated route.
Bo-Kaap was built largely for artisans of Cape Town, but it was subsequently occupied by people of Muslim faith. Bo-Kaap is known mostly for its colorful buildings.
Most people go here for the photographs, but there is also a museum to learn some of the history of the area and its influences. Definitely get the photos there, and go early to avoid the crowds.
This place doesn’t require a lot of time, so you can keep exploring the city for the rest of the day.
Close to Bo-Kaap is a unique coffeeshop, Truth Coffee Roasters. They have an excellent menu for breakfast and the coffee is superb. The best part: the shop is steampunk-themed!
All staff members are decked out in steampunk clothing (awesome), and the decor of the shop matches with gears, pipes, and airships. It’s a great way to start your day before a visit to the colorful neighborhood.
Fun Fact: The houses in Bo-Kaap were originally painted white. The houses were painted different colors as a symbol of freedom by former slaves.
It’s free to visit the street and wander outside. The museum costs R20 for Adults ($1.40).
Inside Truth Coffee and around Bo-Kaap, exercise normal safety precautions. We never felt unsafe at either place.
South Africa is known for their wine, so if you’re fond of the fermented grapes, a visit to Stellenbosch is a must! Situated just outside of Cape Town, it can be overwhelming with so many vineyards to choose from.
We went to Jordan Wine Estate, and that was a great choice. It has a view of the countryside and it was a perfect day to relax and sip wine. We ordered a flight of wines so we could sample a variety, and we ended up with the best chardonnay we’d ever tasted (and we don’t typically like dry wines).
his area has an excellent climate for wine and for visiting year-round.
Fun Fact: Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa; Cape Town was the first.
Just the wine, which is remarkably inexpensive in South Africa. Flights of three tastings (and our server was generous with an extra pour) cost us R60 each ($4.27).
This area felt incredibly safe. Obviously, don’t drink too much and drive. Other than that, you should be fine in the vineyards. Enjoy yourself!
Castle of Good Hope
The Dutch settled the area near the Cape of Good Hope to use as a stopping point for ships traveling from Asia to Europe. The castle was put in place to help defend the port in case of an attack from the British (spoiler: the castle was never attacked).
Today there are two museums in the castle that take you through the history, and you can also walk most of the grounds of the castle and tour the inside as well. We spent a lot more time here than we expected, but it was worth it.
If you time it right, they also fire off canons a couple times per day. We unfortunately didn’t get to see this.
The castle grounds were fun to explore. The roof of the building is accessible to the public so it was easy to get a feel for the place. The place wasn’t overcrowded with tourists either, so it was easy to navigate.
Fun Fact: They painted the castle yellow to survive the African sun.
R50 for adults ($3.49) and R25 for seniors and children ($1.74)
Inside the castle grounds, you should be fine. Outside of the grounds, exercise the same precautions you would at Table Mountain as it is near the central station where petty crimes happen often.
Map of Activities
We’ve created a map that you can use to plan your trip to Cape Town. It shows all of the places we listed above.
Additional Ideas (AKA: Things We Want to do Next Time)
Township Tour – Langa or Khayelitsha (go with a guide)
Drive the Garden Route and Chapman’s Peak
Hike Lion’s Head
Robben Island Tour
Where have you been in Cape Town? Let us know some other places to see when you visit.
BIG tiny World Travel
BIG tiny World Travel are a couple who have quit their jobs, sold their stuff, and dropped their kitties off with family.. all to explore the world for a year! They’re on a mission to squash the fear of travel and inspire others to seek out foreign lands. See how they’ve become full-time travelers, and join them in all their travels by visiting www.bigtinyworld.com and following them on social media (@bigtinyworld or @bigtinyworldtravel). This big world really is smaller than you think!