Home » 18 of The Best Things to Do in Cape Town, South Africa

18 of The Best Things to Do in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town, South Africa’s glorious ‘Mother City’ has been a destination I have wanted to visit for a long time now. Before I went last month, I had dreamed of gorgeous beaches and a lively and cosmopolitan city. Cape Town was exactly that, and so, so much more.

It’s funny to be told hundreds of times before arriving somewhere that you’re “just going to love it”, and for the expectations to be so high. It’s even where my boyfriend went to university for five years – he loved his time in Cape Town and that’s what I expected too.

But fortunately, my high expectations were met and exceeded. Cape Town has simply so much to offer. It’s definitely one of those cities that’s amazing to visit, and amazing to live in. And I could live in Cape Town without a doubt. The Capetonian lifestyle is so healthy and outdoorsy, but with all the cafes, bars and galleries that us Europeans tend to love so much.

My boyfriend finished his studies in Cape Town 10 years ago, and during our recent visit, he couldn’t believe how many areas had changed around the city, and how many new places had opened in this time. I really can’t wait to return in the future and see what’s new in Cape Town.

Cape Town has everything in one destination, that I think few other places in the world can offer. I would recommend a week, or longer, to really get to know Cape Town. Whether it’s romantic things to do, or family friendly activities, Cape Town has the lot! From vineyards, nature, wildlife, cafes, bars, hiking, history, culture and beaches – are you ready for my ultimate list of the best things to do in Cape Town?

1. Catch the sunset at Signal Hill

It’s not a groundbreaking decision to drop by this viewpoint for sunset – and the number of cars parked will testify. But it really is worth it. Tourists and locals alike gather on the paragliding take-off area with picnics and blankets to watch the sun set over beautiful Cape Town.

It’s also one of the most romantic things to do in Cape Town!

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

2. Blend in with the locals at Seapoint

This seafront promenade is packed in the early evening with locals exercising, walking their dogs and getting some fresh air after a day at work. You’ll feel like a real Capetonian if you take a walk along here, and actually there’ll be far few tourists.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

3. Robben Island

An absolute must see for any tourist visiting Cape Town. It would be an injustice to your South African experience to visit the country and not do the trip to Robben Island. Most interestingly, our guide noted that their are so few ex-prisoners still alive, that if you’d like an experience hearing their tales first-hand, you’d need to visit in the next couple of years. The Robben Island experience warrants a full and in-depth blog post, which I will write in due course but it absolutely has to go on the list of the top things to do in Cape Town.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

3. Wander the V&A Waterfront

This vast waterfront development feels a bit like the beating heart of Cape Town. It’s a car-free, completely pedestrianised area of shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and even a couple of beach clubs. A lot of the Cape Town’s city hotels are located near here so it’s likely most tourists would find themselves at the V&A Waterfront anyway. It’s vibrant, with lively local South African musicians playing every day and quite quaint with a drawbridge and old style buildings. A lot of chartered boat trips depart from here, including the ferry to Robben Island and you’re likely to see seals everywhere! An afternoon spent here is definitely one of the most fun activities to do in Cape Town.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

4. Silo Hotel

This new and ultra luxurious hotel is located in the Silo District, part of the Waterfront area. The Silo Hotel in Cape Town is topping every list around the world of ‘Best Luxury Hotels’ or similar, and I’d agree it’s worth visiting on a trip to South Africa. Whilst an overnight stay might be out of your budget (a starting rate of £900 a night, no less..), it’s worth making an advance reservation to have a drink or bite to eat in the Silo Rooftop. The 360 view is spectacular!

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

5. Table Mountain

Looming over the city is the iconic Table Mountain, another must see attraction in Cape Town. There’s the option to hike to its summit on various different routes, or to take the cable car up and/or down. There’s several viewing points and a small shop at the top. Table Mountain is one of the most iconic hikes in the world to do, and best of all, it’s right by the city centre! It is easily one of the best adventure activities to do in Cape Town.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

6. Chapman’s Peak Drive

This beautiful scenic drive winds along the Atlantic coastline from the picturesque fishing Hout Bay to Noordhoek in the Cape Peninsula. Considered one of the most beautiful drives in the world, this 19km route twists and turns and offers some spectacular views. Factor this into a Cape Peninsula day out and drive this stunning route at sunset back towards Cape Town. You will not be disappointed!

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

7. Go beach hopping

Cape Town is known for its fantastic beaches, and for good reason. There’s dozens to pick from, from gorgeous sandy alcoves to vast bays with gorgeous views. I’ll be writing a beach guide to Cape Town in due course, but days spent lapping up in the sun on a Western Cape beach is a day well spent and definitely one of the best things to do in Cape Town for kids too.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

8. Enjoy sundowners at Camps Bay

Camps Bay is definitely one of the stunning beaches in Cape Town. It is a gorgeous affluent neighbourhood, with a lively and cosmopolitan bar and cafe scene along its beachside road. The vibe in Camps Bay is similar to places such as St Kilda in Melbourne, so turn up early, grab a seat at one of the cool cafes and watch the sky turn red and purple in front of your eyes! The party scene in Camps Bay would easily be one of the best things to do at night in Cape Town too!

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

9. Visit the local vineyards at Constantia, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek

South Africa is globally renowned for its excellent wines, and fortunately, some of the best wine growing regions are found right next to Cape Town. A day trip to a wine farm near Cape Town is the perfect day time activity for couples or for groups of friends.

For Constantia, it is about a 15 or 20 minute drive from the CBD. There are also plenty of tourist transport options to get from Cape Town CBD to Constantia Wine Valley such as the famous red bus company, City Sightseeing. The beautiful towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are both less than an hour driving from the CBD. There are so many wine farms to visit, and you can even do these via hop-on hop-off tours, for example in a tuk tuk or on the popular Franschhoek wine tram.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

10. Explore the City Bowl area

The heart of Cape Town is known as the City Bowl, because of its amphitheatre shape nestled in the shadow of Table Mountain. It encompasses a number of different neighbourhood and districts within the city, and is where most tourists base themselves for a stay in Cape Town. It’s so worth getting to know all the different little areas with the City Bowl – it’s a complete melting pot of different cultures and background, and is home to so many of the Cape Town sights. Exploring here really gives some insight into how diverse Cape Town really is, as well as the historical influences which have shaped the city we see today.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

11. Wander the hipster neighbourhood of Woodstock

Get to know the hipster hangout of Woodstock, which is also one of the oldest suburbs in Cape Town. Once an industrial and manufacturing zone, today it is lined with exciting street art, eclectic stalls and boutiques, cutting-edge restaurants and hip cafes and a lively social scene. An afternoon can easily be lost wandering its narrow streets and The Old Biscuit Mill, a converted warehouse full of workshops, shops, coffee shops and yoga spaces. A must see area in Cape Town!

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

12. Find the local penguin colonies

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town, you can find penguins in several locations including Robben Island and the popular Boulder’s Beach. At the latter, you pay a small entrance fee of R152 (£8.50) for tourists, or R39 (£2.20) for locals, but can visit the penguins at two sites within the National Park. You can even swim right up close with the penguins, a magical experience! Absolutely amazing and one of the best activities for kids, families and couples alike.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

13. Explore Bo Kaap

This enclave within the CBD is home to the city’s muslim population, and was once known as the Malay Quarter. This distinctive neighbourhood’s street are lined with colourful, old-style homes where you can wander. Many of the families living here have been here for generations and this area is important to Cape Town’s cultural heritage.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

14. Tuck into Cape Town’s local food

Cape Town is one of the best foodie destinations I have ever been to. I could have spent all day every day, cafe and bar hopping here and still not have made it to every spot. I’ve pulled this foodie guide here to all of the best cafes and restaurants you must visit in Cape Town.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

15. Visit a township

Whilst poverty tourism is something I’d never really encourage, visiting a township with a small walking tour in one of the South African cities was something at the top of my list. It is one of the more unusual activities to do in Cape Town, but essential to do to really understand the country.

South Africa is a nation of vast disparity, and I really noticed this in Cape Town. Whilst all of the must see attractions and activities on this list are fantastic, nothing can really give you insight and a feel for Cape Town and for South Africa than by visiting a township. Something you can’t really avoid noticing is the level of security in the city, particularly in residential areas and it was something that made me feel a bit uncomfortable. We visited Langa township with Siviwe Tours. We found it to be both surprising, interesting and hugely insightful. It gave us strong hope that the disparity within South Africa can slowly be diminished and things can become more balanced.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

16. Catch the sunrise at Lions Head

Lions Head, directly in front of Table Mountain, is another must-do hike and easily one of the best activities to do in Cape Town. The view from the summit is stunning and you can easily go up and down before 9am, if you start at sunrise. Whilst the very final stage of Lions Head is more challenging, you can enjoy the incredible 360 views the whole way up so no worries if you do not make it to the top. It offers, without a doubt, some of the best views in Cape Town, and maybe even the world.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

17. Walk through the gardens of Kirstenbosch

Nestled at the foot of Table Mountain is the stunning Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Worth an afternoon exploring, there a canopied walkways to view the diverse flora and fauna, as well as wildlife indigenous to the area. A wonderfully romantic activity to do in Cape Town too.

18. Explore the Cape Peninsula, including the cool Kalk Bay and historic Simon’s Town

This beautiful road trip is so worth including in your time in Cape Town and is one of the best road trips to do in South Africa.

Kalk Bay is cool and quirky, and Simon’s Town is historical and ever so quaint. The two towns are also next to Boulders Beach, home to Cape Town’s largest penguin colony. The Cape Peninsula also has the Cape Point Nature Reserve, located within the vast Table Mountain National Park. Africa’s most southernly point is often mistaken for being in here in this nature reserve – it isn’t, but the promontory here is still incredible beautiful and scenic.

The Best Things to Do in Cape Town

So there’s my guide to 18 of the best things to do in Cape Town, South Africa

This unbelievable city has just so much to offer and so much within reasonable distance of Cape Town’s CBD. In one day, you can visit the wine farms in Stellenbosch, hike Lions Head, hit up a gorgeous South African beach, and eat world-class food! I honestly don’t think there’s a city this good anywhere else in the world. Cape Town has so many romantic things to do, as well as activities for families and for those on a backpacker budget.

I really hope you found this useful! Let me know in the comment section below if you have any questions on things to do in Cape Town.

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The Best Things to Do in Cape Town
Beautiful Cape Town at night

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25 Comments

  1. January 24, 2019 / 12:16 pm

    Oh wow! Capetown – or South Africa in general, really – has never been on my travel list, but you just changed that. It’s so beautiful there!

  2. January 24, 2019 / 1:41 pm

    Cape Town was the first big vacation my husband and I ever took together when we were still dating. Your post is taking me right back to those memories as we did pretty much all of the same things! Our hotel was in Seapoint and we loved the area! Like you said, very few tourists! We walked from there all the way to the Waterfront a few times and the hotel staff couldn’t believe it, haha. I wish we had been able to visit Robben Island and a township though. If we ever go back, those will be the first things we do.

  3. Anita
    January 24, 2019 / 2:16 pm

    Wow, Capetown looks absolutely amazing. You have listed some amazing places that i totally agree look amazing places to visit. I so want to go and visit now.

  4. Angela
    January 24, 2019 / 8:31 pm

    A friend of mine has been to cape town and she said me a lot about her travels! Would love to visit it one day!

  5. January 24, 2019 / 8:33 pm

    Wow! Capetown is surely a nice place to visit with all these sunset and sunrise pictures, I really want to visit. I also read there a lot of beaches around. Your boyfriend must is lucky to spend 10 years in this beautiful city.

  6. January 24, 2019 / 9:19 pm

    Wow! Cape Town seems like a wonderful place to visit! I should add this on my bucket list!

  7. January 24, 2019 / 11:43 pm

    wow I’m saving this post for later, I NEED THAT SMOOTHIE BOWL IN MY LIFE. Also, wouldn’t mind staying at that hotel either!

  8. January 25, 2019 / 4:41 am

    I have always wanted to go here! This looks amazing!

  9. Kimberley
    January 25, 2019 / 5:36 am

    These sound like some pretty amazing activities. Cape Town is now on my bucketlist

  10. January 25, 2019 / 6:25 pm

    I have heard there is a lot to do in Cape Town. Your photos are wonderful! It sounds like you had an amazing trip and it looks like there was no shortage of things to do.

  11. January 25, 2019 / 9:50 pm

    What a great place to visit! That pool looks so refreshing and the nightlife looks so awesome, as well. Thank you for sharing these great pics!

  12. January 25, 2019 / 11:09 pm

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about Cape Town South Africa and about how rich the culture and the community is there. I would love to catch the sunset and visit the Vineyard and go to a coffee shop LOL.

  13. January 26, 2019 / 12:08 am

    This looks like a beautiful and perfect place.

  14. January 26, 2019 / 2:11 am

    I have heard there is a lot to do in Cape Town and it’s an amazing place to vacation. I love the idea of catching the sunset at Singnal Hill.

  15. January 26, 2019 / 7:13 am

    Kudos for this very informative post about Cape Town. The list will be very helpful to those who want to visit it. Their beaches is magnificent.

  16. January 26, 2019 / 1:23 pm

    What a gorgeous post! I’m so sad I didn’t make it to Cape Town when I was in South Africa. The penguin colonies looks incredible and I’m adding this to the list the next time I return.

  17. January 26, 2019 / 8:13 pm

    So jealous! Cape Town South Africa is definitely at the top of my travel list. Your photos make we want to book a trip there now!

  18. January 26, 2019 / 10:14 pm

    wow, this is awesome! thanks for all the suggestions for Cape Town

  19. January 26, 2019 / 11:15 pm

    I always love it when people come out and gather just to watch the sunset 🙂 Hopefully, someday I’ll be able to visit Cape Town with a local guide, too! It seems like the most interesting/informative way of getting to know the city.

  20. January 27, 2019 / 7:55 pm

    Looks like so much fun in Cape Town! I’ve always wanted to visit there, one day I will! xo, Suzanne

  21. Courtney
    January 28, 2019 / 12:16 pm

    Omg awesome suggestions!!! Cape Town looks like one fabulous place to visit! I hope my travels take me there one day!

  22. January 30, 2019 / 8:07 pm

    You just make me want so much to visit Cape Town! I have never really considered this destination, but reading your post is so fascinating!

  23. February 20, 2019 / 2:36 am

    I would like to add an activity to your list: I did a free walking tour in Cape Town and it was awesome. I learned so much about the city and its history.
    You pay what you think the tour was worth which is great for anyone from backpacker to rich married couple.

    • claire_stokes@msn.com
      Author
      February 20, 2019 / 11:53 am

      Hey Lena,

      Awesome, thank you for the suggestion! When I return next, I’ll make sure to do it too! 🙂 x

  24. March 14, 2019 / 5:40 pm

    Great post and a lot to think about ahead of our SA trip we only have five days so I suspect itll all be Cape Town focused and food, of course!

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