Things to do in

Cape Town

Discover a melting pot of culture in this coastal city, along with daring adventure and fusion cuisine.

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10 things to do in Cape Town

While exploring the "Mother City," you'll uncover the layers of its history that span from the colonial period to the emergence of the Rainbow Nation. With a vibrant scene in a cityscape of sea and mountains, it's easy to fall for South Africa's oldest city.

  • Table Mountain

    1. Table Mountain

    The ride to the top of the iconic Table Mountain is one you'll never forget. You'll relish the views of the cobalt blue ocean and urban landscape from this lofty perch.

  • Lion's Head

    2. Lion's Head

    Reap the rewards of an encompassing panorama after an hour's hike to the Lion's Head. A night with a full moon makes it a popular place to view the sparkling city lights below.

  • Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

    3. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

    The eastern slopes of Table Mountain rise above the swathes of the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. The flora, locally known as fynbos, is at its best between August and November.

  • Cape of Good Hope

    4. Cape of Good Hope

    Dubbed the Cape of Storms by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, the lighthouse, which illuminates the Cape of Good Hope, is the strongest on the continent.

  • Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

    5. Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

    For shopping, entertainment and a slew of restaurants, you won't go wrong at the V&A. It's convenient to reach the aquarium and stadium nearby, and it's the place for a bay cruise.

  • Two Oceans Aquarium

    6. Two Oceans Aquarium

    The Two Oceans Aquarium name reflects the meeting of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and it features the marine life in these waters. Don't miss the shark feeding on Sundays at 3:00 pm.

  • Cape Town Stadium

    7. Cape Town Stadium

    Learn about this venue from the 2010 FIFA World Cup by taking a tour that includes facts about its architectural design, a walk on the Cape Town Stadium field, and a look inside the locker rooms.

  • Robben Island

    8. Robben Island

    Located in Table Bay, Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his life imprisoned here in Robben Island during apartheid. It's a humbling moment when you step into his former cell and reflect on his life.

  • District Six

    9. District Six

    The District Six museum recounts the history of the forced expulsion and relocation of black residents during apartheid, and the ultimate demise of this former, mulit-cultural district.

  • Boulders Beach

    10. Boulders Beach

    A raised boardwalk lets you take a walk on the wild side among the rowdy 2000 African Penguins that live here at Boulders Beach. It's also a great place to spend the day on the beaches of False Bay.

Frequently asked questions about Cape Town

What top attractions are a must-see in Cape Town?

Planning Your Visit

  • A visit to Table Mountain

    You can buy a ticket online for either a morning or afternoon trip to the top by cable car. However, an excursion to the 3,500-foot summit always depends on the weather, so check it before you go. It's wise to bring a sweater or jacket with you, and wear sunblock and proper footware. If you plan to hike to the peak or along one of the three trails at the summit, be safe and bring water, snacks and a friend.

  • How safe is it?

    As in any other city you visit, it's always best to keep your wits about you. It is recommended to take a taxi in Cape Town at night, rather than walking, and be on your guard when withdrawing cash at an ATM. If you're curious about visiting a township, then go with a group led by an experienced guide.

  • When to go

    Cape Town has a temperate climate. October to April offer warm and dry weather, but the notorious south-easter winds occur from December through January. February to mid-April has great beach weather, and hiking enthusiasts will enjoy crisp, clear days from late April to early June.

  • How many days should you spend in Cape Town?

    Four to five full days allow you to experience the sites and sounds of the Mother City at a leisurely pace. Stay longer if you'd like and use the city as a base to explore the beautiful, surrounding areas in the Western Cape, such as the wine region of Stellenbosch.

Good to know

  • Language
    Afrikaans and English
  • Currency
    South African Rand (ZAR)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (+02:00)
  • Country Code
    +27
  • Best time to visit
    For a great sightseeing trip with some beach time, plan to come between January and April, when the temperatures are warm, the winds are dying down and the tourist rush is ending.

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Cape Town

After travelling through South Africa for quite some time, blogger Check Out Sam stayed in Cape Town for a few months longer and explored the Mother City in depth. Curious about the best things to do, see and experience? Keep reading!

What should I do on my first trip to Cape Town?

Get to know the diversity of this city by exploring several of the lively neighborhoods (Bo-Kaap and V&A Waterfront are my favorites!), hiking some of the best hikes of the country (Lion's Head!), soaking up some sun at the stunning beaches (Boulders Beach & Clifton Beach can't be missed) and organizing (day) trips to other areas around Cape Town. There is SO much to do in and around this city!!

What are some hidden gems to see in Cape Town?

I booked an excursion through GetYourGuide to go swimming with seals in Cape Town. To this day, it is one of the tours that I enjoyed most! There are only a few other places in the world where you can do this, so this truly is a unique and wonderful experience that you shouldn't miss out on.

How much time should I spend in Cape Town?

Cape Town is huge and is surrounded by other lovely regions that deserve some of your time too. Therefore you should be here for at least one full week. And even then, your itinerary will probably be jam packed! Keep in mind that some tours (e.g. cage diving with sharks, swimming with seals, visiting Robben Island) take up half or even a full day too.

What food is Cape Town known for?

The food you find in Cape Town is as diverse as its citizens, history and culture. If you're a meat lover, you will love game meat. My favorite was kudu. Ostrich is also worth trying out! There are quite some restaurants at V&A Waterfront who serve these delicacies. Another typical South African dish I would recommend, is bobotie. This oven dish still makes my mouth water when I think about it!

What is the best way to get around Cape Town? 

Public transportation for tourists is a no-go in South Africa. If you do use it, there is a chance you will get mugged. Therefore I would recommend to make use of Uber. It is cheap, safe and easy to use all around the city. Since it is so big, you just have to make use of it. Walking around Cape Town is fine, as long as you don't do it after dark, don't show off your wealth too much and stay away from dangerous areas. You shouldn't be there anyway, because most highlights are quite centrally located in the city. Are you doing a day trip or road trip from Cape Town away? Rental cars are cheap and found across the city.

What are the best months to visit Cape Town?

Since Cape Town is located in the southern hemisphere, you have to know that seasons are reverse to the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Therefore, January and February are great months to visit since the temperatures are at it's best and the days are longest. During these months, there also are a lot of activities and festivals going on around the city. The only disadvantage is that there often are bigger crowds. If you don't like that, March and April are a bit chillier but way less crowded.

What is neighborhood V&A Waterfront known for?

V&A Waterfront is considered the safest area of Cape Town and perhaps also the liveliest if you're a tourist. There are lots of things to do and here you'll also find the best restaurants. The nearby Waterkant also has great food and bars, but once it gets dark you shouldn't walk here anymore. Bo-Kaap is a very popular neighborhood with tourists because of its colorful houses. It's safe to walk here during the day (like most areas in the city center), but again I wouldnt come visit this area once it gets dark.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

You have to be in the city center if you're a food lover. V&A Waterfront and Waterkant had some of the best restaurants I've encountered in all of South Africa. There are a lot of places who offer local cuisine, but also burgers, Italian food, etc. Make sure to try out some other African restaurants as well!

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Cape Town?

If you want to be in the city center, I recommend to find accommodation in V&A Waterfront, Waterkant or Greenpoint. You'll be staying very centrally, but also in quite safe areas. As I said earlier: walking around after dark is not a great idea, but during the day you should never worry about a thing. The area around Simon's Town, Camp's Bay and Hout Bay are wonderful if you want to be closer to the beaches and don't like the busy city.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Cape Town?

Go out and meet some of the cute locals! I already mentioned Boulders Beach with its quirky penguins or Hout Bay with it resident seals, but of course you can also organize a safari (day) trip to one of the parks just outside Cape Town. There you might get the chance to spot the Big Five!

What is the best thing to do in Cape Town for couples?

Head out the city for some days and venture to the South African wine country: Stellenbosch! This chique area is located very close to Cape Town and has several fantastic wineries to try out. Sit down, relax, take a sip of your wine and enjoy a romantic sunset at one of these domains. Afterwards, go have dinner in one of the many fantastic restaurants you'll find in this area.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Cape Town?

There are several hikes you can do in the city itself (don't mis Lion's Head!), but if you really want to explore the diversity of South Africa I suggest you drive along the Garden Route or discover the quite unknown Cederberg region (about three hours from Cape Town). Along the Garden Route you'll see lots of rough coastline, but also stunning national parks and some wildlife. Cederberg is a rocky desert wilderness great for hiking, road trips or exploring the history of this region.

What are the best beaches around Cape Town?

My personal favourite is by far Boulders Beach. On this tropical white beach, you don't only find (impressive!) boulders, but also one of the penguin colonies of South Africa. Swimming ánd tanning together with these quirky birds is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Since you have to buy an entrance ticket to get in, it is also considered a very safe beach and thus you don't have to worry too much of leaving your bag when you're going for a swim.

Other Sightseeing Options in Cape Town

Want to discover all there is to do in Cape Town? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Cape Town

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 11,478 reviews

Beautiful experience. Would recommend this team to anyone looking for a good time and friendly service on the water. Max the barman turned photographer made sure to keep our glasses full and feet steady. Appreciate the awesome ride.

We had a great time with Edward on this tasting tour. We visited two excellent wineries and samples 10 different wines. Pick up was on time and Edward provided great information and insights. Highly recommended.

Excellent adventure! The bar is fully stocked, the hosts are attentive, and the music was a nice touch. It also wasn’t overly crowded. I would definitely recommend.

Fantastic experience. Earl was a brilliant pilot and easy to chat to. Will definitely be doing it again and recommending!

Great service and friendly, safe atmosphere! Would have wished for some more information on seal life and behaviour.