Cape Town is one of the biggest and most economically developed cities in South Africa. For those who plan to travel to this part of Africa, there are plenty of points to enjoy as Cape Town flaunts its natural beauty being set between the sea and the mountains. Visitors have the opportunity to enjoy both the natural beauties of the region and some manmade landmarks, or even relax on the local beaches, which are considered the best in this region.
Cape Town is full of opportunities, whether you come here to admire nature, taste local meals, do some outdoor activities, or simply relax on the beach. This is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, with a mountain and ocean that you can admire from most points and at any time.
When To Travel to Cape Town
Those coming from the Northern Hemisphere should keep in mind that summer and winter swap places in South Africa and Cape Town, in particular. When you come to Cape Town from May to August, there are plenty of rainy days during this period. However, there are also some interesting things to do here that will be described later in this article.
Visitors coming to South Africa and Cape Town from December to February will enjoy sunny days with high daily temperatures and rainless weather. This is a great time to do a lot of things in Cape Town, including sightseeing, outdoor activities, sunbathing, etc. Below, you can find the top 10 things to do when you come to Cape Town at any time.
1. Take a Look at Cape Town from the Height of Table Mountain
Before strolling through the streets of Cape Town, one of the largest cities in South Africa, it is recommended that you climb Table Mountain, as you will have a breathtaking view of the city from there. One of the most important features of the mountain is that it is flat (this is where the name "Table Mountain" comes from), which allows you to walk around as if you were strolling through the streets of the city.
Table Mountain is home to Table Mountain National Park, which, in turn, was created to protect various flora species, as well as several fauna representatives. By climbing Table Mountain, Cape Town national park visitors will have an opportunity to enjoy more than 1,400 flowers and plants of various kinds.
The picturesque scenery of Table Mountain and its park is enhanced by a layer of clouds that sometimes covers the peak. It is called the "tablecloth" and allows visitors to admire one of the most beautiful natural phenomena as close as possible. When the sky is clear, Table Mountain offers a great view of Cape Town and the whole peninsula.
To reach the peak, you can climb Table Mountain on your own, or use a special cableway option, which is available to all tourists and can be considered the best option to admire the park from the height. The latter allows you to save time and effort as it covers more than one kilometer in seven minutes. You can use the cableway to reach the peak of Table Mountain of Cape Town every day, except those days with bad weather conditions. Tickets for the cableway can be booked in advance.
When reaching the Table Mountain peak, visitors can enjoy a small café with a terrace from which they can have a magnificent view of Cape Town, Table Mountain park and its surroundings. If you are going to conquer the highest point of Table Mountain on foot, you will have about 350 different routes to choose from. Depending on a starting point, the average hiking time may take from two to four hours. There is also a special guided 3-hour tour that includes the cableway. If you choose it, you will be provided with all the necessary items, including snacks, hot drinks, and a local English-speaking guide.
2. Discover Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens on the Eastern Slope of Table Mountain
To reach Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, visitors should go to the eastern slope of Table Mountain. The site was established in 1913, and later in the XXth century, it became part of the Cape Floristic Region, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. This part of Table Mountain is a "Mecca" for all flora lovers, as one can admire more than twenty thousand local plants. Those who decide to visit Table Mountain in the summer can enjoy a lot of open-air concerts there to combine listening to great music with admiring the unique plants in this park. Some trails there lead to Table Mountain's top point.
3. Enjoy the Best Beaches in Southern Africa and Cape Town
After you discover the wonders of Table Mountain, parks and its top point, you can go back to the city and enjoy two local beaches – Clifton and Camps Bay. They are located about six kilometers from the center of Cape Town. Apart from simply relaxing there, you can admire the local nature, which is combined with the richest real estate objects that are located there.
Clifton Beach is among the most popular places to enjoy beach volleyball. A lot of competitions take place there. Along with beach volleyball, it is worth visiting this part of Cape Town to enjoy surfing when the weather is appropriate.
Camps Bay is another beach that is worth visiting when you are in Cape Town. It is located between the Twelve Apostles and one of the Table Mountain top points, called "Lion’s Head." The beach offers shiny-white sand, which is washed by the calm waters of the ocean. Like Clifton Beach, Camps Bay offers a lot of outdoor activities for both adults and kids. Close to the beach, one can find a lot of chic restaurants and boutiques that look very attractive for those visiting this part of Cape Town.
4. Go Shopping at V&A Waterfront
When traveling to this part of South Africa, most tourists spend from a couple of hours to a whole day in one of the most popular shopping centers in Cape Town. The V&A Waterfront attracts tourists with lots of top goods and services, along with tasty meals that visitors can try when they are here.
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is located in one of the oldest working harbors in Cape Town and South Africa. It offers a broad range of shops to visit as well as restaurants and various attractions. By visiting this place, you will always find something interesting that will let you spend at least a couple of hours here.
Along with shopping, this district of Cape Town is worth traveling to for simply admiring some old buildings that were reconstructed and preserved for tourists to see how Cape Town was looking years and centuries ago. Those who decide to visit this part of Cape Town will also be able to enjoy the local theaters, museums, and cinemas that are located in a very picturesque area.
5. Cape of Good Hope or Cape Point
When traveling to Cape Town, it is a good idea to visit the Cape of Good Hope, which is also known as Cape Point. This is one of the greatest places for outdoor activity fans, as it provides a lot of impressions that will never fade from your memory. Cape Point offers a lot of hiking paths, deserted beaches that are located far from beaten tracks, picturesque views, and stunning scenery.
While traveling to Cape Point is more about admiring nature, this is not the only reason tourists come there. Visitors can hike and picnic there, as well as surf on the best deserted beaches. Another reason for travelling there is to admire penguins, those cutest small birds occupying the region for thousands of years. A special 8-hour tour on a well-equipped minibus with a local guide will provide you with insight into this location and local natural parks.
6. Visit the Famous Island-Prison
Apartheid, which was fought by local anti-apartheid leaders and even the UN, is one of the darkest chapters in South African history. Robben Island is one of those "monuments" that describe the history of this period and the lives of political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela.
Robben Island nowadays is a living reminder of what happened there years ago with some prisoners acting as guides. They will walk you through all the most important places on the island and the prison, telling you a lot of stories about how they lived there.
Apart from the prison itself, you will visit a special quarry where prisoners were forced to work in hard conditions. As it was mentioned above, all the guides there are former prisoners, and they are the best witnesses to what was happening on Robben Island during the apartheid era. By visiting the island, you will learn more about South Africa’s past and present.
7. Visit Slave Lodge
For those fans of South Africa’s history, there is another place to visit. Slave Lodge is located close to St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town. This is a museum, which provides you with another insight into the history of South Africa and slavery.
This time, you will see a building that was constructed in the 18th century and was used to keep slaves there. At that time, more than nine thousand slaves were kept inside the building. Later on, the construction was transformed into government offices and housed the Supreme Court of South Africa in Cape Town.
Nowadays, special displays on this building in Cape Town show visitors the conditions slaves were kept in as well as provide tourists with information about their lives and fates.
8. Enjoy Chapman’s Peak Drive
Famous Chappie is one of the visit cards of Cape Town. Chapman’s Peak Drive is located not far from the center of the city and is one of the best places to see in Cape Town. There are plenty of curves along the road that you will enjoy, along with a spectacular view of the sea that is sometimes 500 meters below the road.
The place is beautiful at any time of the day, but it is especially charming at sunset. If you rent a car to get to this spot, simply stop the car to admire the sun going down to have breathtaking impressions. Sometimes, you will be able to see whales and dolphins playing in the water, so you can make another stop or drive slowly while looking at them.
Chappie is one of the best and most popular places in Cape Town to visit. It is often used by TV makers, but it is also a place where the Two Oceans Marathon takes place. When you reach the final destination point at Hout Bay, you can taste some food made in a local restaurant.
9. A Wine Tour at Cape Town
Winery is one of those occupations that are very popular in this region of South Africa for ages. Therefore, when you visit Cape Town, you should definitely leave the buzzy and busy streets of the city and go outside to see those magnificent winelands that are spread in the surroundings of Cape Town.
The best way to get there is to buy a ticket to a special 9-hour tour that starts in Cape Town with a professional guide who will lead you to those wineries and will help you meet their good hosts, which are considered the best wine producers in the region of Cape Town.
The first point to visit is DeMorgenzon, where guests will be able to taste delicious wine. This winery is famous for making the best Chardonnay in Cape Town and in Africa. From there, tourists will go further to Stellenbosch for sightseeing, and the next vineyard will be close to this place at Marianne Wine Estate, which is also famous for the best wines in the region.
Another wine testing facility is located in Paarl and some other towns close to Cape Town. In some places, visitors will have the opportunity to do shopping and buy the best souvenirs to take with them.
10. Visit Cape Town Museums and Art Areas
The first museum to visit in Cape Town is known as the Heart of Cape Town Museum. It was launched in 2007 and was commemorated by the first heart transplantation operation that took place 40 years ago. During the tour of this place, you will meet a lot of docents who will take you to various operating facilities and the exact room where surgery took place.
The visitors of this Cape Town Museum will also find out more about the histories of both donor and recipient. The museum of the heart in Cape Town attracts a lot of visitors every year, regardless of their interest in medicine.
One of the best places to visit when you are in Cape Town is Iziko Museums. It comprises 11 separate museums that are managed by the Minister of Culture and Art of South Africa. The best museum to visit there is Bo-Kaap, which is located in the eponymous district of Cape Town. The museum represents a house, which is occupied by the descendants of slaves who have been living there for a couple of centuries.
Visitors will have an opportunity to admire the Old Town House in Cape Town. The building was constructed by the Dutch in 1755 and was used as Cape Town City Hall for several hundred years.
If you are still hungry for the history of Cape Town and want to see even more old buildings, then you should visit the Koopmans-de-Wet House. If you can guess it from its name, it is another Dutch building that was finished in 1701. The house still preserves its original interior, which makes it a good solution for tourists to come inside. You will see the lifestyle of the Cape inhabitants living there in the 18th century.
Cape Town is one of those places in South Africa where contemporary art is very popular. Therefore, when traveling to this country, you will be able to enjoy a lot of forms of street art as well as visit the local Zeits MOCAA Museum of Cape Town, where there are plenty of artworks created by modern painters and other artists. The art museum of Cape Town competes with the largest art areas in the world including MoMa of New York or Tate of London.
The collections that one can find at MOCAA of Cape Town include photographs, installations, and paintings by local and foreign masters of all times. This is the best place for art lovers to taste various forms of culture that were born in Cape Town and other regions of Africa.
Now you know a lot about the best things to do in Cape Town. With this information, you can plan your future visit to one of the largest cities in South Africa. As you can see, there are plenty of activities to enjoy in Cape Town, from simply relaxing on local beaches to hiking or visiting local museums. Those who travel to Cape Town have a lot of things to share with others and the best experiences that they have ever had, meaning that the region is rich in sites to admire and locations to explore.