11 Things to see and do in Cape Town

The Mother City, aka Cape Town. South Africa is home to the adventure seekers from all over the world. Plan your trip with this roundup of the best Cape Town attractions.

Table Mountain

table mountain
One of the new seven wonders of the world

Table Mountain is magnificent and one of the most popular visitor destinations in Cape Town and over 900 000 people visit it each year- both tourists and locals. It is 1086m ( 3563feet ) above sea level and got its name because of its flat top.

Table mountain only looks flat from one side, but from the south-west, you will see the overlying mountains that are called the Twelve Apostles. Often the mountain is covered in clouds known as the ‘tablecloth’. There are over 2200 species of plants found on Table mountain and can’t be found anywhere else because of its endemic to the mountain. Animals known as the dassie can also be found on the mountain.

The cableway that transports visitors to the top was built in 1929 which takes about 4 to 5 minutes. 65 Passengers can fit in the cableway. Before the cableway was invented the only way getting to the top was by foot. So for the fit and agile hiking up is also an option with more than 350 different routes which takes about 1 to 3 hours. For the really brave ones, abseiling is also an extreme option. It is currently the worlds highest abseil at 112m high.

The famous Table Mountain is 240-million years old and was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the world in 2011.

Big Five

elephant
Have you ever seen or heard of the BIG FIVE?

At Aquila, a Private Game Reserve, 2 hours drive from Cape Town you can get to experience to meet elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffaloes. Considering them being difficult to hunt on foot they are known as the “Big Five” The big five are the most dangerous, yet the most popular animals for hunting and Game-Drives. Other endangered species can also be seen.

In 1990 South African Rand Notes got a different Big-Five animal on each note.

Aquila has been recognized as the “21 favorite things to do in Cape Town” and offers various of safaris. There are day trips safaris, horseback safaris, quad bike safari, overnight and fly-in safaris, 4 x 4 trails, fishing and weekend breakaways

So who would not want to hop straight off a beautiful sun-kissed beach onto a thrilling Big Five drive?

Cape Winelands

winelands
The Cape Winelands is a region of the Western Cape Province and is the largest wine producing region in South Africa with its increasing popularity worldwide. The Winelands are situated about 45kilometres (25 miles) east of Cape Town and have a lot to offer.

Cape Town is well known for its favorite destination of wine gatherings from around the world. As locals, we love nothing more than to escape to the Cape Winelands for a much needed relaxing weekend away with spectacular surroundings. It has the best and oldest wine farms in the region. You could spend about three days exploring around.

Wine tasting is an utterly incredible way to pass the weekend. With some of the most beautiful landscapes on earth, old architecture and inspiring food, it all becomes one of Cape Town’s most beloved activities for both visitors and locals.

1,000,000,000 liters of wine are produced annually. Groot Constantia is the oldest wine farm in the Western Cape and in 1659 the first wine was produced by Jan Van Riebeeck.

The Cape Winelands are filled with events and happenings.

Explore the most popular and breathtaking wine farms which are divided into six main regions, each offering its own unique wine route. They are known as Constantia, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Robertson, and Wellington. Make sure to view the beautiful surroundings, taste wine and pick strawberries.

“Wine tasting is a sensory journey. We drink to remember—not to forget.”

Kirstenbosch

kirstenboch
The most beautiful Botanical Garden in Africa and regarded as one of the greatest in the World.

By car, Kirstenbosch lies 13km from the city and was founded in 1913. Kirstenbosch is part of the eastern slopes of Table mountain. Before Kirstenbosch botanical garden existed, it was a piece of land, overrun by pigs. There are gardens with the garden over 7000 species of plants that could be seen. You could explore for several of days and still see new scenes at every corner. And there are loads of corners.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is peaceful and breathtaking for its views, stunning flowers and surroundings. You should definitely take your time exploring the garden. It will also be good to get a map of the grounds in case you get lost.

One word of advice, if you are planning on exploring the whole garden be sure to bring decent walking shoes and lots of water. Of course, all the walking is bound to work up an appetite with a number of options for satisfying your hunger.

Musical concerts are held on the lawns at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, on Sundays from the end of November until the beginning of April. It is definitely a stunning place to visit with your family.

Who would not want to end of their Sunday enjoying some of South African’s best live music with a bottle of wine and a picnic basket with your loved ones, watching the sun slip in behind the mountains?

Robben Island

robben island
There are a lot of islands in the world that are quite famous, but Robben Island is certainly one of the most famous islands in the world.

The name Robben Island comes from the Dutch word Robbeineiland which means Seal Island because of all the seals that were found around the island and is 6,9 kilometers west of the coast of Bloubergstrand, Cape Town.

Earlier, Robben Island was used as a prison and military during the second world war (1939-1945) but today it is a museum for it’s National Heritage Site. Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s first democratically elected president, spent 18 of his 27 years in prison on Robben Island. Over 132 bird species and African Penguins have made the island their home.

There are tours that depart from the waterfront four times a day that takes about 3.5 hours when taking a ferry from and to the island depending on the weather.

Many tourists both local and well as foreign visits the country annually. Robben Island is a must see when visiting the country. A trip to the island allows them to experience what life prisoners went through.

Bo-Kaap

bokapp
The Bo-Kaap, known as the Malay Quarter is a beautiful area of Cape Town.

The area is well known for its brightly and colorful houses with cobblestoned streets

Multiple of former township houses situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center was built in the 1760’s when people from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa known as the Cape Malay lived there to work in Cape Town.

It also has a museum which is one of the oldest residential houses in the area and is still in its original form from the 1760s which highlights the cultural contribution made by early Muslim settlers.

Brightly painted houses are not the only reasons why to visit the Bo-Kaap, but also it is the most photographed area in the Mother City. The Bo-Kaap is packed with full history and culture. There is just too much to see, taste and explore.

Cape Point

cape point
The Cape Peninsula is a rocky cliff that extends out into the Atlantic Ocean at the southern-western point of the African continent. The Southern end of the Cape Peninsula is Cape Point and The Cape of Good Hope. The northern end is Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town. From Mouille Point in the north to Cape Point in the South, the peninsula is 52km long. The colorful history of The Cape Point was discovered by a Portuguese explorer, Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 for a sea route to the East.

There are so many things to see when driving to the Cape Point. You can experience one of the highest cliffs and fresh air, 1200 species of indigenous plants, various small mammals, zebras and if you are lucky to even the South African’s largest bird – the ostrich.

The Cape of Good Hope has brilliant sceneries for hiking, biking, swimming, diving, surfing, fishing, animal watching all over the reserve. The road from the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve at Cape Point takes you past Smitswinkel Bay and Millers Point to Simons Town.

V & A Waterfront

va waterfront
Where your shopping meets the sea.

South Africa’s oldest harbor was named after Prince Alfred who visited the harbor in 1860, and his mother Queen Victoria. The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is situated in the heart of Cape Town and attracts more than 23 million visitors a year which has so much to offer.

The waterfront covers 123 hectares (Think: 180 rugby fields) which holds commercial and residential property, hotels, museums, fine dining restaurants, retail, down-to-earth food markets, adventure, entertainment facilities and more leisure activities than you can count on both your hands for both locals and tourists.

It has plenty of everything for everyone and is thought of as a shopping destination.
All the shopping is likely to work up an appetite with more than 70 restaurants to choose from with breathtaking views of the harbor. Before you end your night off, treat your kids to a ride on the Cape Wheel with a spectacular 360 degrees view of the city.

There is an Information Centre that provides maps and information on special events planned for that day.

Hike Up Lions Head

lions head
Lion’s Head known as “Leeuwen Kop” and Signal Hill is known as “Leeuwen Staart by the Dutch in the 17th century as the shape of the mountain looks like a crouching lion.

Lion’s head is a mountain in Cape Town 669metres above sea level between Table Mountain and Signal Hill.

If you do not have the energy to hike up Table Mountain, hiking up Lion’s Head is a must. Lion’s Head is well known for its spectacular sunset and sunrise hike views over Cape Town which takes around 2 hours to hike up and down.

It might feel like a struggle getting to the top but when you do, it’s worth the breathtaking views in all directions: the Twelve Apostles, the ocean, the city bowl, as well as towards Table Mountain. You can pack a picnic basket and even pop a champagne bottle when getting to the top, reminiscing about life with your friends or just celebrating that you made it to the top. Just make sure to wear comfortable shoes, bring a torch, enough water for your hike up and down. Trust me, you will need it.

Muizenberg

muizenberg.jpg
Muizenberg is a small suburb just outside Cape Town known as the ‘Surfers Corner” and is also famous for its Historical sites and museums.

It is a perfect little getaway place to spend a sunny afternoon. Many people will take the train from just about anywhere to go for a surf session at Muizenberg which is 27.2km (30minutes) from the city center. Though Muizenberg is well known for its active surfing and colorful houses there are plenty of antique shops, hippie boutiques, bookshops, restaurants and coffee shops along the main beach.

For beginner surfers, there are heaps of surf schools in the area and for the more experienced surfers the full range of waves. Whether you want extreme adrenaline, to explore Muizenberg a bit more or try something completely new, it is really one of those beautiful places that caters for everyone.

It is more than just a summer destination where you can learn to surf, spend time with your family and simply build a sandcastle or eat an ice cream. Not just is it all about the ocean views, you can walk down the streets and embrace all the artwork against the walls.

If you can drag the kids out the ocean, some well-established pursuits await – mini golf on the seafront, fun water slides, a playground for the kids and a real Cape Town summer day is waiting for you.

Boulders Beach

Boulders beach
Meet the penguins

Who wouldn’t want to visit a beach with crystal clear waters, white sand, and granite rocks and even meet penguins?

Meet the penguins about a 45-minute drive from Cape Town.

Boulders beach is a touristy beach and spoils you with a colony of African Penguins located in the Cape Peninsula near Simon’s town. It is the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins but not too close because their beaks are razor sharp.

In 1982 a colony of African Penguins settled at Boulders Beach from Dyer Island near Gansbaai. From two breeding pairs in 1982, the penguin colony grew around 3000 and dropped to 2122 since 2005.

The African Penguins are only found on the coastline of South Africa and is on the verge of extinction. Boulders beach and its surrounding is part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area, therefore the beaches are safe and clean and the penguins are protected.

These penguins are monogamous which means they have the same partner for their whole life.

When visiting the Penguins you get to visit them in their own habitat that no zoo experience can compare to and experience how entertaining they are in real life than you probably imagined them in the first place. You could look at them waddle all day and even consider taking one home because of their cuteness.
This post was kindly written by a lovely Wandering Darling- Chandre from Both Paths. I’m sure you loved what you’ve read as much as I have so check out her and her partners blog and social media channels with the links below for more great information and inspiration

Author Biography

I met Maria while she was traveling in South Africa. We fell in love through traveling and now run our own blog both-paths.com together. Both-Paths is a blog that we want to prove that traveling is for everyone. Right now we are exploring Maria’s home country, Norway. It is the fifth country we have traveled together since we met six months ago and that is only the beginning.

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Cape Town is an indeed awesome travel destination which I need to cross off my bucket list. Such an inspiring post. When’s the best time of the year to go there?

    Like

  2. Phil Taylor says:

    As does everywhere you feature on your blog, Cape Town sounds amazing. Since reading you, my bucket list just gets longer and longer!

    Like

  3. thebeasley says:

    Cape Town is on my bucket list, so I’ll remember this post when/if I go. Also, penguins!

    Like

  4. Man I love visiting your blog for all my virtual travel needs! Really really really want to head to Cape Town.

    Like

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