Escape To The Cape: 25 Things To Do In Cape Town
Cape Town, a wild beauty and a magical place situated at the southern tip of Africa. A place that offers cultural experience, delicious food and wine and the best coffee in the world! If you are a nature lover and seek beauty, fun and adventure all at the same time, then you cannot go wrong with Cape Town.
It’s love at first sight with the Mother City, which is surrounded by beautiful mountains that sweep down to the ocean. Green and blue, brown and white, all these colors come together like a beautiful painting, a masterpiece called Cape Town. Do not waste any time, have a look below at the top 25 things to do and escape to the Cape!
1. Waterfront Views
Situated in the heart of Cape Town, the V+A Waterfront is well known not only as a shopping mall, but also because of the dramatic views that surround it. It’s a beautiful marina where people can sit, relax and enjoy their time watching the sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Bay Harbor, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head while enjoying lunch, dinner or a coffee.
Spend a few hours looking around at the souvenir shops with South African art or take a boat ride to see whales, seals and Cape Town from the ocean side. An all time favorite touristic place where you can listen to local music and watch dancers showing off their African Dance skills. Jump in, dance and have fun!
2. Learn about the migrants of Bo-Kaap
A former township known as the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center and is the historical center of Cape Malay culture. A fascinating place with colorful houses, it will give you the sense of an Asian infusion, as it is the capital of spices. You can partake in cooking lessons, given by the Bo-Kaap ladies in their very own kitchen and find out how to cook secret recipes from the locals.
You will be amazed by it’s colorful history as many of the residents are descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and numerous African countries, who were brought to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch during the 16th and 17th century. Pop in to the Bo-Kaap Museum and travel back in time.
3. Old Biscuit Mill
Take a 10-minute drive from the city center of Cape Town and visit vibrant and rustic Woodstock. The famous Old Biscuit Mill is a little village where some of the most talented South African innovative designers, artists, photographers and connoisseurs of fine taste and décor come together every Saturday to make your day more enjoyable. You don’t want to miss this!
Every single kiosk offers a delicious variety of delicacies that will make your palate travel places. Don’t forget to choose one of the wines they offer, as all of them come from the famous vineyards of the Western Cape. From the markets to the festivals the Old Biscuit Mill is the place to be!
4. Long Street Night Out
The most vibrant and happening place in town is called Long Street. Full of restaurants and bars from the start to the end of it, it offers non-stop fun from day to night. A street where you can find boutiques with the latest African fashion of upcoming designers as well as souvenirs of typical South African and pan African jewellery and furniture.
The restaurants give you the opportunity to choose from worldwide cuisine and some of the best burgers in town! For an evening out, bar hopping is a must and you know what they say… after pop there’s no stop. Continue up to Bree and Loop Street for more. If you feel like dancing till dawn then Long Street is the party capital of the Mother City.
5. Paragliding & Skydiving
If you seek adventure, then you have to try Paragliding and Skydiving in Cape Town. It is the best way to admire the dramatic natural view this city has to offer. With the opportunity to paraglide from Lion’s Head you can fly like a bird as you soar past Table Mountain to the ocean!
Listen to the city’s vibrant sounds, the waves crashing while searching for dolphins, sunfish Mola mola or spotting the sun worshippers on Clifton or Camps Bay beach. For the not so faint-hearted skydiving is also offered a little bit outside the Mother City, something that will make your adrenaline pump!
6. Fly over Cape Town
The absolute experience that will give you a 360° view of this magical place is only a scenic helicopter flight away! Access to the helicopter trips is very easy and the Waterfront offers a couple of companies that can give you competitive packages. You can choose from 15 minutes up to an hour flight.
All you have to do is buckle up and enjoy the views. The helicopter tours include breath taking views of the Mother City, Waterfront, Mouille Point, Green Point, Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Clifton, the Twelve Apostles, Camps Bay, Hout Bay and all the way over to Noordhoek Beach. Don’t forget to keep your eyes on the water and search for whales and dolphins; Cape Town is one of their top spots to hang out, so don’t forget your camera!
7. Hout Bay Harbour Market
If you drive along the exquisite coastline, a short drive of 15 minutes will take you to Hout Bay. Once you reach the top of the bay, the stunning views will show you nature at its best. If you continue all the way down Victoria road, you will end up in the Hout Bay Market, a place where people come together to celebrate life, have fun and taste unique dishes from around the world.
The market is situated next to local fishing boats and restaurants that offer fresh fish cooked the traditional way. Taste a local African beer and enjoy jazz tunes that will take you to another era. This market is one of the must-see places and opens its doors only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
8. Robben Island Historic Tour
Robben Island, the unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice”. If you ever want to get your life into perspective, then Robben Island should be on your list. One of the most influential men in worldwide history spent 18 of the 27 years of his imprisoned life there. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, a leader and revolutionary fighter, fought for the freedom of his fellow South Africans and became a politician, philanthropist and president who became an icon of South Africa.
Some of the people who used to be imprisoned there themselves, are now the tour guides and can tell you all about the living conditions from first hand experience. If you like history and want to learn more about the life of an icon, then you should go on the tour that lasts only 3,5 hours and is available 3 times a day.
9. Come closer to nature at Kirstenbosch Gardens
Acclaimed to be the most beautiful garden in Africa and one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world, Kirstenbosch is one of the most colorful and unique places to visit in Cape Town. Situated against the slopes of Table Mountain, it is a gigantic garden full of indigenous African trees and flowers.
Enjoy a day walk in the gardens and admire vivid flowers such as proteas, fynbos and cycads. During the summer season the garden in co-operation with the Galileo open-air cinema, gives you the opportunity to enjoy some of the classic films of all times accompanied by good food and great wine. Grab you blanket and watch your favorite film under the stars!
10. Proudly South African Wine Tour
South African wine is some of the most popular and tastiest wines in the world. This is something you will not only hear from South Africans, who are extremely proud of their wine, but also from sommeliers, who have worldwide experience. The city of Cape Town offers plenty of wine tours in a variety of areas, as the city and its suburbs are surrounded by beautiful and luscious winelands.
Some of the top places to go for wine tours are Constantia, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. Constantia is situated in the Mother City and Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are a 50 minutes drive away. Franschhoek also offers an old school type of tram ride that stops at a number of farms and saves you the hassle of drinking and driving.
11. Hike up Lion’s Head
Nature lovers I have marvelous news for you! Cape Town is the ultimate spot for hiking, trail running and walking. So hurry up, put on your sporting gear, lace up your shoes and run into nature that so badly wants to show off its beauty. Don’t forget your human or 4-legged friends, as it is always best to hike with company.
Lion’s Head is one of the top places to hike and if you travel to Cape Town during a full moon period then you have the unique possibility to hike up after sunset with your head torches on and stop and stare at the full moon view that lights up Cape Town in a magical but natural way!
12. Table Mountain Panorama
Named one of the world’s new seven wonders of nature, Table Mountain is a beautiful place to visit, either by hiking up or taking the cable car. There are some myths and legends surrounding the mountain. Some people call it Adamastor, the Angry Giant Greek God and other people say that when it is covered by clouds that “A smoking contest between the devil and a Dutch pirate is responsible for the ‘tablecloth’ on Table Mountain”. Whatever the case might be you should take time to go to the top, walk around the mountain and enjoy a cup of coffee with the Mother City at your feet.
13. Hop on, hop off Cape Town edition
It might sound cliché, but the Red Bus Tour in Cape Town is one of the most beautiful red bus tours you will ever take! With 4 different lines to choose from and numerous stops around the city and the suburbs, you can quickly see most of what Cape Town has to offer in a day.
I am not saying that one day is enough, but it is a great way to spend a beautiful sunny day in the city. Even locals do it and are happy to play tourist, so what are you waiting for, hop on!
14. Township Tours
South Africa has a lot of history and some of it is written in the colors, the smells, the sounds and the traditions you find in the townships. Cape Town offers Township Tours, in which you are guided by community members who live there. You can choose between Khayelitsa or visit one of the townships on the other side of the city such as Mandela Park, which can be part of the Red Bus Tour.
You can hop off and join in a Township walk tour. It is a great way to learn about the history of Hout Bay’s informal settlement, its residents and how some of the women of the community can create beautiful curios by using tea bags or beads. Keep one of your Sundays free to enjoy a day at Mzoli’s. Situated in the Gugulethu Township, this is the ultimate place to have a braai, unwind, meet new people from different backgrounds and dance to the African rhythms. A great Cape Town Township experience!
15. Learn how to surf from the best
If you love surfing the ocean, then don’t forget to pack your surfboard, but even if you don’t own one don’t worry as you can hire one from the numerous shops and ride the waves the way you know best. On the other hand if you have never surfed before then Muizenberg and Big Bay are great places to learn from the best.
You will fall in love with the scenery as it is surrounded by luscious green mountains that drop down to the ocean. After working up an appetite don’t forget to go for a walk and explore the tiny little shops in Kalk Bay that are filled with arts and crafts and stop for a bite or two for some fresh fish, yum!
16. Llandudno Paradiso
If you are looking for a heavenly beach, look no further than Llandudno! The place is a paradise that offers the best ocean views. You feel you want to pause time forever. Bring your food and wine, lay down a towel and unwind to the beauty of the crashing waves and the breeze that will refresh your body and soul! The surfers offer an exhilarating surfing show and don’t forget to say “cheers” to the alluring sunset!
17. Visit Simon’s Town Penguin Colony
Penguins are some of the most beautiful and funniest creatures in the world and of course the best swimmers. The Capetonian penguins who like warmth, love to hop on and off the rocks, squeeze between each other and push their fellow penguins into the sea.
You will have such a good laugh and fun visiting Simon’s Town. Go to Boulders beach to find them, but don’t try to pet them as they could bite your finger off. After seeing this world famous “Jackass” Penguin colony head to the secluded Boulders Beach and have a swim in the comparatively warm water of False Bay.
18. Marvel the 2 oceans from Cape Point
One of the places you cannot miss is Cape Point. Located in a nature reserve, it is one of the most beautiful places on the Cape Peninsula. There you will find the Cape of Good Hope where Bartholomeu Dias and then Vasco da Gama arrived during their exploratory trips around the world. It’s one of the world’s most beautiful heritage sites and offers views of spectacular valleys, bays, beaches, a beautiful mix of fauna and flora and the magical beauty of the Cape Peninsula coastline. A place where Atlantic Ocean currents meet Indian Ocean ones and a beautiful mixture of waves crash from one side to the other.
19. Green Market Square
There are a few places in Cape Town where you can find fine African arts and crafts, but the best place is in Green Market Square. You will really enjoy the way all the African cultures, traditions and vibes mix together in this vibrant square in the Mother City. Find mamas selling their beautiful clothes or jewelry designs, art that comes from different tribes in South Africa or other African Countries, listen to live music and relax in one of the bars with a nice cold beer or a glass of South African wine watching the busy life around you. Throughout the year Green Market Square offers events and festivals that you don’t want to miss!
20. Shark cage diving
If you want to feel a rush of blood to the head then book an exhilarating False Bay Shark Cage Diving. This is going to be the only experience that will bring you extremely close to sharks and it will give you an idea of how they move around their environment. This is a real adventure that will make your heart beat faster. It is an easy and safe experience, as you don’t need to have any diving qualifications. The crew provides all the equipment; you just climb in the cage and gaze at sharks. Are you ready for this?
21. Old school movies at the Labia
If your feet are tired and you feel like watching a movie with a glass of wine, then the Labia is always a good idea. The movie theatre is the oldest independent art cinema in South Africa and is named after Princess Labia. What makes it special is the old school feel of the theatre – you will feel like you have traveled back in time. Most of the original authentic features of the old building have been maintained and once you enter it will make you feel like you are in a ballroom back in the 50’s. Its old-world charm ambience will amaze you.
22. Get Artsy on First Thursdays
If you are in Cape Town on the first Thursday of the month, then you are in for a fun night out! All the bars and galleries around town are open till late and some of them offer free wine. It’s a wine gallery affair that you don’t want to miss. Explore the art exhibitions and all the cultural attractions the Mother City has to offer. Pick up a map and set off on foot. Join up with a group of friends and let this beautiful art night take its own course!
23. Blue Lagoon
If you have seen most of Cape Town, then a great idea is a day trip up the West Coast. Because the Atlantic Ocean is so cold, the Langebaan lagoon, which is only 125 kilometers north of Cape Town, is a place that will amaze you with its warm waters! Go for a swim on a sunny day and your heart will fill with happiness. When you start feeling hungry then the place to go to is Die Strandloper on the beach at Langebaan! Order your favorite seafood dish, fresh and grilled on the spot, sit in the open-air restaurant and enjoy the blue skies above the beautiful lagoon. Enjoy the magnificent views Langenbaan has to offer while eating one of the best meals in South Africa! You are welcome…
24. Truth coffee
I only tell the truth and nothing but the truth! TRUTH Coffee South Africa was voted the best and coolest in the world! I am sure all you coffee lovers must be getting excited right now and cannot wait to taste it. It is really THE best coffee ever, but what is exciting is also the experience that the TRUTH coffee shop in Buitenkant street has to offer. With it’s fun and rustic vibe you will feel like you are stepping into a coffee experience. It’s a steam-punk inspired artisan coffee shop and each employee is dressed eclectically! Pop in and taste the joy of the extraordinary!
25. Horseback riding Noordhoek beach
Have you ever ridden horseback on the beach? Not yet? Then time to change that! It’s the ultimate experience that will make you feel free whilst enjoying the views of one of Cape Town’s longest beaches. Noordhoek Beach is a magical place and the beach stretches as far as the eye can see. The Dunes stables offers horse rides in a magical setting and if you are lucky enough you can also see whales and dolphins playing around in the water. You will fall in love with this experience as Noordhoek is said to be the whitest and most spectacular beach in the whole of Cape Town, if not the world!