Cape Town is undeniably one of the most beautiful and diverse destinations in the world. The city gazes out over the Atlantic Ocean and is backed by the iconic Table Mountain. Amazing accommodation options await visitors here - from awesome eco hotels to the top Airbnb vacation rentals in Cape Town city centre. The Atlantic and Indian Ocean coastline offers some of the best beaches, while the Cape Winelands offer a chance to experience the best wines. There is so much on offer here. How do you choose? To make your life easier, check out these 12 best things to do in Cape Town.
1. Cable car ride up Table Mountain
One of the best ways to view Cape Town is from the top of Table Mountain. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway boasts that more than 24 million people have enjoyed the ride to the summit of the mountain and it’s easy to see why. Riding in the cable car from the bottom of the mountain right up to the summit is one of the cool things to do in Cape Town. You can enjoy 360-degree views across the city, the surrounding peninsula and across the sea to Robben Island from the top. Take a stroll around the natural park on the plateau, then relax with a cooling drink or light meal at the Table Mountain Café. There is also a souvenir shop on site.
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Address: Table Mountain National Park, Tafelberg Rd, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001
Price: from 6 USD
Opening Hours: 8am - 7pm. Times vary depending on season.
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Website: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
2. Exploring the V&A Waterfront
Exploring Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is one of the top 10 things to do in Cape Town. To give you an idea, this is a harbour where you can see plenty of yachts and other boats and take an enjoyable cruise. It is also a place where you can dine on the catch of the day, enjoy a good steak or pizza or just have a few refreshing drinks. However, it is also a place where you can shop until you drop. There are more than 450 shops in the Victoria Wharf complex, offering a range of fashion, souvenirs, food and more. Make sure to visit the Two Oceans Aquarium while in the Waterfront, to meet the incredibly diverse sea life from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. You can also enjoy the African penguins during their regular feeding times. There are interesting museums and historic walking tours to enjoy in the Waterfront, too.
Address: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: around 3 hours required.
Website: V&A Waterfront
Two Oceans Aquarium
Address: Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
Price: from 8 USD
Opening Hours: 9:30am - 6pm
Duration: around 2 hours required.
Website: Two Oceans Aquarium
3. Sailing in Table Bay
Whether you fancy a luxury yacht trip out into Table Bay or a humble harbour tour, there are several options available from the V&A Waterfront. Dolphin watching and sunset cruises are always enjoyable. The “Spirit of Victoria” (pictured above) is a 58 ft (17.7 metre) Gaff Rigged Schooner which regularly heads out into the bay. You can also cruise on luxury catamarans and motor boats, enjoy eco-adventure cruises or head out to visit Robben Island.
Address: Shop 5, Quay 5, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Website: Waterfront Charters
Address: Shop 7 Quay 5 V&A Waterfront Cape Town Western Cape
Website: Waterfront Adventures
4. Robben Island Tour
If you’re wondering what to see in Cape Town, then take a cruise out to Robben Island to experience a World Heritage Site with a long history. Here is where Nelson Mandela, and many other freedom fighters, spent their incarceration in a maximum security prison. Tours on the island take you to the Lime and Bluestone Quarry where prison inmates worked, the army and navy bunkers, as well as the prison itself. Along the way you will hear stories from some of the prisoners themselves. The tour ends with a viewing of Nelson Mandela’s cell. While on the island you can experience magnificent views across Table Bay to Cape Town and Table Mountain.
Robben Island Tour
Address: Robben Island Gateway, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002
Price: from 26 USD
Website: Robben Island Tours
5. The best shopping areas of Cape Town
As mentioned, the V&A Waterfront is a great shopping experience, but the city also has plenty to offer. Greenmarket Square is located between Short and Longmarket Streets in the centre of Cape Town. This permanent market is ideal for browsing curios, local art, clothing, jewellery and more. Always colourful and bustling with people, the market also has very affordable prices but you can try your hand at bartering too. Long Street, with its original and attractive buildings, is the place to browse book stores and enjoy ethnic markets and restaurants. While in Long Street, visit the Pan African Market, with its spectacular array of African curios and clothing.
Explore the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village for a boutique shopping experience in the historic De Waterkant district of Cape Town. Here you can browse a range of art, fashion, jewellery, antiques, collectibles and original gifts to take home and enjoy the restaurants on site.
Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village
Address: 27 Somerset Road, Green Point, Cape Town, South Africa
Website: Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village
6. Township Tours
To experience the “other” side of Cape Town, take a township tour to learn about both the history of this area, as well as the colourful way of life of some of the Cape’s inhabitants. Visit the District Six museum to learn the sad stories of the Apartheid Era and then explore the Cape Flats, Langa and Khayelitsha Townships. Here you can sample local delicacies, enjoy traditional dancing and visit the shebeens where you can taste the local beer. All in all, you will get a taste of what real life is like for so many Cape Town residents, outside of the posher areas.
Cape Town Township Tours
Price: from 47 USD
Opening Hours: MORNING : between 8am and 9am AFTERNOON : between 1pm and 2pm
Duration**: around 3 hours required.
Website: Cape Town Township Tours
7. Cape Winelands tours
The Western Cape is a major wine producing area, famous for its many vineyards. Take a tour of some of the famous vineyards in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek or Paarl for a day of adventure, good food and, of course, great wines. Here you will learn about wine production, get to taste some of the wines produced by each vineyard, and generally enjoy the lush and gorgeous scenery surrounding you. You might want to stay overnight at one of the gorgeous bed & breakfasts or hotels in the area.
For a quicker wine tour, try the Cape Town Purple Wine Tour, where you can travel on the big red City Tour bus with three different wine stops, Beau Constantia, Groot Constantia and Eagles’ Nest. Enjoy wine tastings, eat a delicious lunch and then hop back on the bus to head home.
Cape Town Purple Wine Tour
Address: PO Box 379, Paarden Eiland, Cape Town 7420
Website: Cape Town Purple Wine Tour
Set against the spectacular backdrop of the famous Table Mountain of Cape Town is Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It is a great place to visit for all nature lovers. The garden offers a chance to see various kinds of indigenous flora all in one place. Walk through the rose garden, see the oldest cultivated tree in South Africa, admire features like Colonel Bird’s Bath and generally have a great time amidst nature.
Cape Town: Spectacular Botanical Gardens with Guided Tour
Duration: 4 hour
Sheltered from the rough Indian Ocean by huge granite rocks, Boulders Beach is one of the top attractions in Cape Town. It is famous for the cute African Jackass Penguins that live here in large numbers. Visitors can view them from afar or go for a swim in the ocean with them. You can also spend some time lazing around on the beach or observe the stunning natural beauty all around.
Cape Town: Penguin Watching at Boulders Beach Half Day Tour
Duration: 5 hour
If diving with sharks is on your bucket list, then you can check that off by embarking on a shark cage-diving trip off the coast of Cape Town. The waters on Cape Town’s coast attract a number of shark species, including Great White, Blue, Mako and Seven Gilled Cow sharks. Book a private charter to take you cage-diving, where you can see these fascinating creatures from up close. An experienced captain and crew will be on board to assist you and share their knowledge about shark behaviour.
African Shark Eco-Charters Shark Cage Diving Cape Town
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
Explore the mesmerizing Atlantis Sand Dunes in Cape Town by going on a quad bike tour. The park is spread across a vast area and offers a large number of big and small sand dunes that are perfect for riding a 4x4 quad-wheeler. Zip around thrilling corners or go on a fast drive straight between the dunes. Pump up the adrenaline and enjoy a quad bike tour less than an hour away from the center of Cape Town.
Quad Bike Tour in Cape Town
Duration: 1 hour
Learn about the horrors of apartheid by visiting District Six Museum in Cape Town. Through various exhibits explore the history of apartheid and learn about the people of District Six, which was one of the worst affected neighborhoods of Cape Town. A tour of the museum is sure to get you emotional and give you a better understanding of South Africa’s past.
Skip the Line: District Six Museum Admission Ticket
Duration: 30 to 90 minutes
All this and more in Cape Town
There are many great things to see and do in Mother City. From shopping trips to cable car rides, many amazing activities in Cape Town await you. So pack your bags and visit Cape Town!
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