With such an extensive list of activities to choose from, compiling a list of the best things to see and do in Cape Town can seem impossible. We’ve compiled a list to ensure that however short on time you might be, you hit the best spots to experience the Mother City. One item that is highly recommended is the URCard, a prepaid debit card that also offers great discounts on many tours.
One for the tourists in particular, climbing the idyllic mountain ranges that the Cape Peninsular has to offer is a must. With a range of trails that crisscross every which way over the mountains, there are secret sights and secluded spots waiting over every peak. There are a range of shorter walks and even cable car lifts for those who prefer not to work up a sweat in order to enjoy a good view. In particular amongst the stunning skyline climbs to enjoy are those that take you up the iconic Table Mountain or to the tip of the all-seeing Lion’s Head.
Bathing at the Beach
The breath taking coastline of the Cape cannot be ignored by locals, well-seasoned visitors or first timers. The various beaches all come equipped with perfectly honed seaside towns that offer the best of nightlife, eateries, markets and more. Whole weeks, let alone days, can be spent lounging around the stunning bays, cocktail in hand and the children happily splashing about in rock pools nearby. For those who prefer to keep active, there are a wide range of things to do other than sunbathe, including: fishing, kayaking, swimming, surfing and horse riding. With more than 1,000 miles of coastline, you’ll always feel spoilt for choice when it comes to finding the right beach. A more specific guide can be found here.
Wine Tasting Tours
A hugely popular destination for wine enthusiasts everywhere, Cape Town’s vineyards have gained international recognition and so many awards that counting them would be nigh impossible. If you would like a real taste of Cape Town, a tour is highly recommended but don’t feel limited to just one during your stay, Wine Flies is a vineyard touring company that will take you to all the best spots in one go. Many of the vineyards private tours include added perks such as cellar tours, tastings, food pairing and more. In particular, the more adventurous wine taster is urged to keep an eye out for tours which can be done on horseback. A helpful guide to vineyards can be found here.
Many who have never visited South Africa before often make the assumption that it is little more than a grassy plain covered in zebra, lions and giraffes. Whilst this is most certainly not the case, the wildlife on the Cape is, nevertheless, spectacular. For disappointed tourists who expected to ride from the airport on an elephant, sigh no more for there are game reserves and safari parks that offer exciting wildlife for the nature enthusiast. Aquila Private Game Reserve, for example, offers its guests the opportunity to get up close and personal with its game park inhabitant on one their thrilling night tours. The majority of reserves also include in-park accommodation and guided tours, ensuring that no one will be left disappointed by Cape Town’s wild side.
It’s not only the spectacular ocean views that will have you scanning the water from on high; whale spotting is among the most popular activities for visitors to the coast. With many boat-based whale watching tours, look out points and advertised watching spot guides, it is almost certain that you will catch a sight of something extraordinary in the seas of the Cape. Walker Bay is a particularly good spot to go to for Southern Right Whale viewing as you can be taken out by Ivanhoe Sea Safaris, a boating company who specialise in this particular kind of wildlife adventure.
Diving is a huge part of tourism in Southern Africa, as the unique clash of the Atlantic and Indian oceans provides a wealth of interesting and diverse marine wildlife. This, coupled with the Cape’s extensive history in shipping and naval expertise, makes for some spectacular diving experiences. A standard scuba dive is by far the most popular choice with first timers whereas thrill seekers are recommended to take a dip with one of Cape Town’s famous shark diving companies. For those who want a picture perfect outing with a splash of history, why not dive for treasure with Pisces Divers and explore the shipwrecks around the Cape of Storms.
If tours of the city excite you more than tours of the ocean, never fear for Cape Town is full to the brim of different tour companies, each of whom offer a unique take on the Mother City. For a fantastic sightseeing tour without the hassle of a long walk, grab your camera and get on board the Hop On Hop Off Bus and experience everything the Mother City has to offer, at your own pace. For those with an interest in South Africa’s intense cultural history, there are an infinite number historical tours and museums such as the tourRobben Island, where Nelson Mandela was held prisoner. Other interesting urban tours include the Coffeebeans Routes which showcases the best of the city’s historical culinary, musical and cultural heritage.
Of course, there are plenty of opportunities to spend, spend, spend. Whether you are looking for presents to take back to your friends, fine foods or just that little something different for your distinguished wardrobe, there is a place for it in this thriving city of creativity. If you are hunting for a bargain lookout for Access Park, the factory shop central of Cape Town. Alternatively, if you want a taste of luxury, the V&A Waterfront shopping centre plays host to all the biggest designer labels. For those in search of something a little more creative and individual, there are a vast number of markets in Cape Town to satisfy even the most alternative needs. A guide to Cape Town’s best markets can be found here.
If you’re tired of hearing the kids complain about not doing anything ‘fun’, Ratanga Junction is Cape Town’s premier theme park and the perfect place to spend a family day out. With a world of birds live show and other fascinating animal attractions, this is more than just a theme park; it’s a thrill seekers heaven! Those who aren’t keen to be spun, swung and generally battered by the theme parks many rides, can relax by the water in ‘Maggie’s Picnic Area’ with food from one of the many on site eateries. For only the most daring, the site’s signature ride the Nashua Cape Cobra Thrill Ride aka the cobra, is highly recommended.
Opening hours: 10am – 5pm
Century Blvd, Century City, Cape Town, South Africa +27 21 550 8504
Ratanga Junction,Century Blvd, Century City, Cape Town 7441, South Africa +27 21 550 8504
Have a braai
Whether at restaurant, with friends or at your hostel/hotel, experiencing a traditional South African braai (BBQ) should be top of your list because braais are what South Africans do best. Perfect for any setting, Cape Town’s love of braai-ing has meant that several areas of natural beauty have become open to the public specifically to facilitate these social gatherings. For example, Little Bay beach is open for braais all year round and is free to use. Another picturesque setting would be Silvermine, a nature reserve with the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain and a quiet calm in which to relax and enjoy your evening.