Cape Town is an amazing city to visit as there are so many incredible things to do. Whether you are looking for some fantastic hiking trails, and stunning beaches, or to learn more about Apartheid, Cape Town is where you will find it. With so many things to do, there is something for everyone! This is the kind of place where you can never have too much time to explore. There is simply so much to do. Therefore, we have gathered 19 incredible things for you to do when visiting Cape Town. Read along for some Cape Town must-dos.
1. Hike Lion’s Head
Most people would say that you cannot visit Cape Town without hiking Lion’s Head. And we must say that they are quite right. One of the absolute best things to do in Cape Town is climbing to the top of Lion’s Head. However, this is not just a leisure walk – but it will all be worth it once you reach the top and are rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of the city, its mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean. To make it easier for you to tackle this popular hike, we have made a complete guide to hiking Lion’s Head right here.
2. Explore Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden
Another great thing to do while in Cape Town is explore Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden. This garden is nestled up against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and covers 528 hectares of land. Here you can learn more about the fynbos, as well as the natural forest and animals of the area. A visit to the botanical garden is never complete without a walk on the Tree Canopy Walkway. It is also known as the ‘Boomslang’ which means ‘tree snake’. This name comes from the construction, as it snakes its way through the forest. Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden is a perfect place to escape from the hustling and bustling city life.
3. Swim at some of the stunning beaches
A great thing to do while in Cape Town is to swim at some of the stunning beaches. However, the water tends to be freezing cold. But if you aren’t up for a cold swim the beaches in Cape Town are still worth a visit. From most of them, you will find amazing views – especially if you visit around sunset. To make it easier for you we have actually made a list of the 10 best beaches in Cape Town. That way you can easily pick and choose the beaches that suit you the best.
4. Visit the colorful streets of Bo-Kaap
The colorful houses in Bo-Kaap have become a very popular place to visit amongst tourists over the last few years. And it is definitely understandable why. These rainbow streets are very beautiful with their vibrant colors. But it is also one of Cape Town’s oldest and most fascinating multicultural areas. These colorful Dutch houses are not only Instagram-worthy but also have a complex history and a rich Muslim culture. Wandering the streets of Bo-Kaap is one of many things you simply must do when visiting Cape Town.
5. Drive along the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most beautiful drives in the world – and it is right outside of Cape Town. This amazing drive will take you through stunning scenery, coastal villages, and beautiful beaches. Driving the 9 kilometers, while the road hugs the edge of the cliff and winds its way through the impressive amount of 114 bends, is just amazing! During your trip, you will be rewarded with some breathtaking views. Driving along Chapman’s Peak Drive is a perfect day trip from Cape Town – and one of the things you cannot miss while in the Mother City.
6. Go hiking
Our absolute favorite thing to do in Cape Town is hiking. The city has a lot of incredible hiking trails. Whether you are a beginner or a more advanced hiker there is a hiking trail for everyone in Cape Town. With stunning scenery, beautiful views, and thrilling trails Cape Town is the perfect hiking destination. To help you find the best hiking trails we have made this ultimate list of hiking trails in Cape Town right here.
7. Swim with penguins at Boulder Beach
Boulders Beach is one of the most visited places in South Africa. There is one special reason for this – the penguins. And you might think it is weird with penguins in a warm country like South Africa. But the African penguins actually like the sun and would be in a warmer climate. This is why you can find a penguin colony right on Boulders Beach. With just an hour’s drive from Cape Town, swimming with the penguins at Boulders Beach is a great thing to do while in the city.
8. Learn about South African history at Robben Island
Even though South Africa is a beautiful country it has a rather dark history – which actually isn’t that old. We highly encourage other travelers to take the time and learn about the history of South Africa and Cape Town. And Robben Island is the ideal place for this. Most of us know the island as the place where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned during apartheid. But the island is quite old and has a rich and somewhat dark history. A visit to Robben Island is a great opportunity to learn more about the part of South African history that took place on the island, and how it affected the people involved.
9. Visit the many markets in Cape Town
A good way to experience the local culture while traveling is by visiting the local markets. In a city like Cape Town, there are many to choose from. Whether you are looking for fresh produce, arts and crafts, or souvenirs you will find it at the markets in Cape Town. Our absolute favorite markets were those with food – so if you are a foodie like us, the markets of Cape Town are definitely a great place to visit.
10. Enjoy the view from Table Mountain
Towering over the city, Table Mountain has become an iconic sight in Cape Town. With its massive size and distinctive flat top, it is the first thing you see when you arrive in the city. A visit to the top of Table Mountain is undeniably one of the incredible things you must do in Cape Town. You can either embark on the cableway or tackle the Platteklip Gorge hike. Either way, you will be rewarded with a stunning 360-degree view of the Cape Peninsula once you reach the top.
11. Explore Cape Point Nature Reserve
Cape Point Nature Reserve is home to the southwestern tip of Africa. And it can be visited on a day trip from Cape Town. This amazing nature reserve will spoil you with magnificent views overlooking the wild ocean and stunning nature. It is simply one of our favorite places to visit! With beautiful beaches, dramatic cliffs, stunning views, and wildlife there are so many things to do in this area. Spending a day exploring Cape Point Nature Reserve is therefore ideal if you want to see it all.
12. Swim in the tidal pools of Cape Town
Cape Town is home to a lot of tidal pools. But as with the beaches they tend to be freezing cold. However, they are still worth a visit. And during the summer months, the cold water is very nice on hot days. Another great thing about the tidal pools in Cape Town is the stunning views they offer, as well as the marine life you might be able to spot.
13. Visit the colorful houses at Muizenberg Beach
On the coast of the Cape Peninsula, you will find the small town of Muizenberg. This is the birthplace of South African surfing, and it has become very popular among tourists. However, it is not because of the surfing but the colorful houses that stand on the beach. These Victorian beach huts are now an iconic part of Cape Town. A visit to the Mother City is therefore never complete without swinging by the colorful houses at Muizenberg Beach.
14. Go wine tasting in the Winelands
Less than an hour from Cape Town can the rolling hills of the beautiful Winelands be found. And a trip to South Africa is never complete without a wine tasting. In the colonial town of Franschhoek, you will find one of the best wine-tasting experiences in South Africa; the Franschhoek Wine Tram. A trip with the wine tram is the perfect way to visit some of the stunning wine estates in the area and taste their delicious wines. We loved our day on the tram and have written the ultimate guide to the Franschhoek Wine Tram right here.
15. Visit the quirky fishing village of Kalk Bay
The quirky fishing village of Kalk Bay is a fun place to stop by during your time in Cape Town. Here you will find various shops, lovely cafés, beautiful street art, stunning views, and even two tidal pools. With its eclectic mix of historic buildings, charming harbor, and cobbled streets Kalk Bay is definitely worth a visit. The harbor is especially worth a stroll as you might spot sea lions. And if you are visiting between May and November, you should keep your eyes open for whales. Kalk Bay is actually a great whale-watching spot.
16. Learn about Apartheid’s influence at the District Six Museum
As we have said earlier, Apartheid had a big influence on South Africa. But do you know how it affected Cape Town? We didn’t either – until we visited District Six Museum. Back in the 1970s 60.000 Cape Town residents were forcibly evicted from their homes. The museum is a memorial for these residents and pays respect to the former mixed-race community of District Six. In the museum, you can read the stories of the former residents and learn much more about how Apartheid affected the ‘colored’ people of Cape Town. The District Six Museum is one of the places in Cape Town you simply must visit.
17. Admire the sunset from Signal Hill
Right next to Lion’s Head, you will find Signal Hill. This is one of the greatest sunsets spots in Cape Town – especially if you aren’t looking to get your sweat on. From here you will have some stunning views and with the light from the sun setting it is absolutely magical. We highly recommend you bring some food and drinks to have a sunset picnic at Signal Hill. There is no better way to end a day exploring Cape Town.
18. Go shopping on V&A Waterfront
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a cool place to spend an afternoon. Here you will find various shops, art in the street, as well as a harbor. The Watershed market is definitely worth a visit as well. Here you are able to find some cool souvenirs from local vendors. Wandering around the waterfront is a great thing to do in Cape Town.
19. Watch a rugby match at Cape Town Stadium
Cape Town has a big stadium, which was built for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. If you are a sports fan this is a great place for you to visit. Another bonus is that the tickets for the matches aren’t as expensive as you might encounter in other places in the world. Even though we aren’t the biggest sports fans we really enjoyed our day with a rugby match at Cape Town Stadium. It is the perfect way to get a very local experience – even if you don’t know the rules of rugby.