Sir Francis Drake once described it as “the fairest Cape in all the circumference of the world”. And now, a few centuries later, it’s still difficult to argue with the intrepid seaman’s depiction. These days, Cape Town is appreciated not only for its natural beauty, but also for its rich heritage and cultural attractions. And the fact that it’s fast establishing itself as one of the world’s top culinary destinations only enhances its appeal.
With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of things to do in Cape Town that showcase different elements of the Mother City. Whether it’s exhilarating outdoor adventures, sophisticated dining experiences, or a wonderful theatre experience you’re after, these are the things you must do in Cape Town (especially if you’re a local).
Did we miss something? What are your favourite things to do in the Cape? Let us know in the comments below.
Find things to do in Cape Town by category
Things To Do Outdoors in Cape Town
1. Swim in a Secret Dam
There’s nothing more rewarding than a hike followed by a well-deserved dip in one of the Cape’s numerous rock pools, dams and rivers. Two of our favourites are Limietberg Nature Reserve in Paarl, and Jonkershoek Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch.
Both have beautiful hiking trails that take you past waterfalls and tranquil rock pools, and although the water may be icy, this will probably come as a relief after a long hike. Both reserves are under the jurisdiction of CapeNature, which requires visitors to purchase a day permit. These can be obtained at the reserve office or by contacting CapeNature.
Other great locations include Silvermine Reservoir, Palmiet River, Crystal Pools Waterfall and Klein River in Stanford.
Important note Dogs are not permitted in CapeNature reserves.
Opening times Daily, 8am – 6pm (LImietberg Nature Reserve office hours)
Daily, 7.30am – 4pm (Jonkershoek Nature Reserve office hours)
Cost R40 (adults); R20 (children)
Contact 021 808 5121 (Tweede Tol campsite at Limietberg Nature Reserve)
082 467 0405 (Jonkershoek Nature Reserve office)
021 483 0190 or firstname.lastname@example.org (for permits)
Where to find it Limietberg Nature Reserve, 267 Main Street, Esterville, Paarl
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Road, Stellenbosch
2. Picnic on a Wine Farm
Justifiably famous for spectacular scenery, fine restaurants and even better wine, the Winelands are one of the most relaxing ways to immerse yourself in the wonders of the Cape. And there’s hardly a better way to experience them than with a relaxing picnic amid tranquil meadows and vineyards.
With so many wine estates offering gourmet picnic experiences, there’s no shortage of attractive venues, but we recommend Boschendal as one that offers the complete package: spectacular surrounds, fine food and a host of attractions on the estate, such as horse-riding, mountain-biking and wine-tasting at the Manor House.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm
Cost R520 (Rhone basket, serves two); R105 (children’s basket)
Contact 021 870 4274, email@example.com
Where to find it Boschendal Wine Estate, Pniel Road, Franschhoek Valley
3. Hike Lion’s Head
Looming above Cape Town and the surrounding ocean like a sentinel, Lion’s Head is an iconic piece of the city’s wondrous topography. At 669 meters above sea level, its peak offers panoramic views of the city, Table Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, making it a wildly popular destination for hiking enthusiasts (and a top spot for Instagrammers).
A relatively short hike (around two to three hours), the Lion’s Head trail winds its way around the mountain, offering incredible views along the way (that still pale in comparison to what’s visible from the summit).
Please note Though Lion’s Head is a relatively short and easy hike, it’s not to be underestimated. There are parts of it that involve a bit of rock scrambling, and around halfway up the trail you have to scale some metal ladders and climbing chains (though this part can be skipped via a roundabout route). Mountain rescues are performed routinely throughout the year as a result of injuries, so tread carefully and don’t hike alone.
Contact 021 422 1601 (Kloofnek Office)
021 712 0527, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700 (TMNP emergency numbers)
Where to find it Lion’s Head Parking Lot, Lion’s Head / Signal Hill turn-off from Kloof Nek Road, Cape Town City Centre
4. Visit the Gardens at Babylonstoren
Dating back to 1692, Babylonstoren boasts one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape. Its magnificent garden, laid out over 3.5 hectares (eight acres), is divided into 15 sections that comprise fruit, vegetables, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, ducks, tortoises, chickens, and more. A secluded path runs along the stream where thousands of clivias flower in spring. The garden also boasts a plethora of trees of historical and botanical import. Every aspect of Babylonstoren – including the contemporary Farm Hotel & Spa, the Farm Shop and Bakery – is informed by the ever-changing tapestry and botanical diversity of the garden.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm (last entry is 4pm)
Cost R10 (adults, Monday – Friday); R20 (adults, Saturday, Sunday & public holidays); R10 (children under 12, daily) Free (RHS members only)
Contact 021 863 3852, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Babylonstoren, Klapmuts Simondium Road, Franschhoek
5. Visit a Night Market
Frequented by the likes of Masterchef SA judge Peter Goffe-Wood, and Cape Point Vineyards’ resident chef, Jonathan Gargan, this weekly community market is where south peninsula locals flock every Thursday evening for an array of inspired street food-style dishes, chilled vibes and stunning views.
The festivities take place in the restaurant and picnic area of Cape Point Vineyards, whose award-winning wines are available at great prices. There is ample parking and long stretches of open grass with a jungle gym for the little ones to blow off steam.
Please note No pets are allowed, and no food or beverages from outside can be brought into the market area.
Opening times Thursdays, 4.30pm – 8.30pm (November – May)
Contact 021 789 0900, email@example.com
Where to find it Silvermine Road, Noordhoek, Cape Town
6. Visit Kirstenbosch Gardens
The flowery meadows of Kirstenbosch are great for picnics and leisurely strolls all year round. It’s the perfect spot for kids to unleash their abundant energy – or sit and observe the birds and insects at work if they’re in a more contemplative mood. They’ll especially love the treetop canopy walkway, named The Boomslang (tree snake), which is so Jurassic, you almost expect a pack of Velociraptors to burst out of the bushes at any moment.
Good to know Every year, between November and March, Kirstenbosch hosts the ever-popular Summer Sunset Concerts; where a mixed lineup of international and local talent takes to the stage every Sunday to entertain the crowds amid the lush gardens of this majestic venue. Be sure to bring along a blanket and a picnic basket; it’s the place to be on lazy Sunday afternoons.
Opening times Daily, 8am – 7pm (September to March)
Daily, 8am – 6pm (April to August)
Daily, 9am – 5pm (conservatory)
Cost R70 (adults)
R20 (children, 6 – 17 years)
Free (children 0 – 6 years; pensioners on Tuesdays)
Where to find it Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
7. Visit a Historic Wine Farm
Founded in 1700, Vergelegen Estate has stood strong through the passing of three centuries, and has grown considerably since the days when its founder, Willem Adriaan van der Stel (son of the Cape’s first governor, Simon van der Stel) had to travel for three days by ox wagon to reach it. Ancient camphor trees grow on the estate, a testament to its rich heritage.
Aside from its historical significance, the estate boasts a host of attractions, including 18 award-winning gardens, a playground for children, an excellent restaurant (Camphors), a relaxed bistro (Stables), wine tasting, and picnics in the mystical Camphor Forest.
Opening times Daily, 9am – 5pm (last entry is at 4pm)
Contact 021 847 2100, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Vergelegen Avenue, Somerset West
8. Visit Kalk Bay’s Working Harbour
Kalk Bay was named coolest neighbourhood in the world by Forbes in 2018, and the harbour is just one of the many reasons to visit this bohemian seaside village. Its famous red-and-white-striped lighthouse – situated at the tip of the bustling pier – is the perfect spot for sunset photo ops or relaxed evening ambles; and in winter, large waves are known to come hurtling into the bat, crashing against the jetty with substantial impact and giving new meaning to the phrase “Cape of Storms”.
It’s one of only a few working harbours remaining in the Cape; and a seal-watching hotspot (the cute critters can often be seen frolicking on the pier). After you’re done here, head over to Kalky’s for some good ol’ fish and chips.
Where to find it Main Road, Kalk Bay
9. Explore Cape Point Nature Reserve
It may not be the point where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet (as is often mistakenly claimed), but there’s no shortage of reasons to visit Cape Point Nature Reserve. Its rugged cliffs, endlessly buffeted by the waves of the surrounding ocean, jut out over vast stretches of coastline inhabited by all manner of diverse sea and bird life.
Explore pristine beaches where the only sign of human habitation are old shipwrecks; and experience this region’s diverse environment via one of the many hiking trails (anything from two hours to two days. Overnight accommodation options at Cape Point include camps sites and secluded cottages).
Good to know SANParks’ My Green Card entitles you to 12 free entries into the pay points of the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) within a one-year period. If you are a frequent visitor to Cape Point, Boulders, Oudekraal, Silvermine, and the braai and picnic areas at Tokai, Newlands and Perdekloof, this card is worth purchasing.
Note The My Green Card may only be bought by South Africans with an ID number who have proof of a Cape Town address not older than 3 months.
Opening times 6am – 6pm (October – March); 7am – 5pm (April – September)
Cost R76 (adults); R39 (children, 2 – 11 years)
Rates valid until 31 October 2019
Contact 021 712 0527, TableM@sanparks.org (main office)
086 110 6417 or 021 480 7700 (emergency numbers)
Where to find it Table Mountain National Park (the entrance to Cape Point can be accessed via the coastal road from Chapman’s Peak Drive or Simon’s Town)
10. Boulders Penguin Colony
A 40-minute drive from Cape Town lies Boulders Beach, home to a serene penguin colony and one of the few places in the world where you can swim close to these wonderful water birds.
The colony falls under the protection of SANParks and requires a conservation fee to gain access. And, once there, you can watch the penguins frolic in the waves, and even approach them as they waddle about on land, though it’s best not to get closer than a metre or so.
The best place to view the penguins is nearby Foxy Beach, where wooden walkways surrounding the colony allow you to see them up close.
Important note They may seem like cuddly creatures, but do not feed or touch them. Aside from it being a violation of conservation efforts, the penguins have very sharp beaks and will defend themselves if they feel threatened.
Opening times Daily, 8am – 5pm (April to September); 7am – 7.30pm (December to January); 8am – 6.30pm (February to March); 8am – 6.30pm (October to November)
Cost Daily Conservation Fee: 1 November 2018 – 31 October 2019: R38 (adults); R19 (children)
Contact Table Mountain National Park: 021 712 0527, TableM@sanparks.org
Where to find it Simon’s Town, via the M4 (Main Road) from Muizenberg
11. Do a Sunset Yoga Class on Clifton Beach
Breathe in unadulterated fresh air in awe-inspiring surrounds, while increasing your flexibility, improving your posture and building core strength at The Om Revolution’s outdoor yoga classes on Clifton 3rd Beach (voted the second best beach in the world in 2015).
The 60-minute Vinyasa Classes take place every Sunday at 6.15pm (from November until the end of the summer season). Find out about their Saturday morning yoga classes in the Company’s Garden.)
Times Sunday, 6.15pm (from 5 November 2018)
Cost R70 or R50 when bought as a block of 4 classes (on the day)
Contact email@example.com, 081 077 3183
Where to find it Clifton 3rd Beach, Victoria Road
Food + Wine in Cape Town
1. Visit a Farmer’s Market
Despite its name, the Oranjezicht City Farm Market is actually located in the Granger Bay section of the V&A Waterfront, under tents and trees. Boasting stunning sea views and one of the biggest and most varied selection of fresh produce and delicious healthful meals, the market celebrates local food, culture and community in support of the educational mission of the nonprofit OZCF.
Opening times Saturday, 8.30am – 2pm; Sunday, 9am – 3pm (rain or shine)
Contact 083 628 3426, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Granger Bay, V&A Waterfront
2. Tea at Mount Nelson
Leisurely, luscious and decidedly luxurious, high tea at The Mount Nelson Hotel is perhaps one of the most wonderful ways to while away an afternoon. The sophisticated yet leisurely experience can be taken in the lounge, on the terrace or in the exquisite gardens around the fountain. Service is warm and professional, and the price includes bottomless coffee and hot chocolate, as well as a variety of teas that are served in delightful see-through pots.
Opening times Morning Tea: 9.30am – 11.30am
Afternoon Tea: 1pm – 3pm & 3.30pm – 5.30pm
Evening Tea: 6pm – 8.30pm
Cost Morning Tea: R305 (adults); R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Afternoon Tea: R395 (adults); R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Evening Tea: R395 (adults); R215 (children, 4 – 11 years)
Contact 021 483 1000, email@example.com
Where to find it Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town
3. Visit Spice Route Destination
A mere 45-minute drive from the city, Spice Route’s delightful village set-up in Paarl is the perfect day-trip destination for the whole family. Aside from fabulous restaurants, there’s a smorgasbord of tempting things to do, see and taste.
Reasons to visit this charming wine village include Bertus Basson’s bistro (appropriately named Bertus Basson at Spice Route), where you can enjoy traditional dishes such as springbok tamatie bredie pie and Tannie Hetta’s apple pie; La Grapperia for wood-fired pizzas and flammkuchen (German-style pizzas); Cape Brewing Company for craft beer; DV Cottage Café for cakes and homemade ice cream; and the Spice Route Tasting Room for wine-tasting.
Opening times Daily, 9am – 5pm
Open on public holidays (except Christmas and New Year’s Day)
Contact 021 863 5200, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Suid-Agter-Paarl Road, Paarl
4. Old Biscuit Mill
We love The Old Biscuit Mill for its vibe and the variety of things to do, see, eat and covet! But the thing that makes it extra-special is that it’s all housed in one convenient nook, which means you can hop from a good espresso to a spot of designer shopping to a top-notch meal, and more, without the schlep of getting into your car (or calling an Uber).
Its many attractions include the Neighbourgoods Market (open every Saturday, rain or shine); Luke-Dale Roberts’ acclaimed restaurant The Test Kitchen (and its more casual sister, The Pot Luck Club); cool shops selling hand-crafted fashion, art, decor and accessories; Hendre Louw Private Gallery for photography enthusiasts; and Clementina Ceramics for pottery fans.
Opening times Retail hours: Monday – Friday, 10am – 4pm; Saturday, 9am – 2pm
Neighbourgood’s Market: Saturday, 9am – 2pm
Contact 021 447 8194, email@example.com
Where to find it 375 Albert Road, Woodstock
5. Tuk Tuk Franschhoek
If, like us, you love the odd awayday to Franschhoek, you’ll be as delighted as we were to discover this easy, convenient (and affordable) way to get around the valley. Because, let’s be frank, nobody wants to get behind a wheel when there are wine farms to visit, nectars to sample, gourmet restaurants to eat at, and picnics to be devoured. We say: let the experts at Tuk Tuk Franschhoek be your personal chauffeur for the day.
Operating times Daily, 9am – 10am (October – April); 10am – 6pm (May – September)
Half Day Tour
Includes three wine estates or three hours (whichever comes first)
Full Day Tour
Includes five wine estates or five hours (whichever comes first)
Where to find it 32 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek
6. Wine-Tasting in Constantia
The boutique wine farm that hosts Liam Tomlin and Ivor Jones’ acclaimed Chefs Warehouse Restaurant also offers wine-tasting experiences, where you can sample some of the fine vintages produced on the estate. Here, on the slopes of Constantia Nek, you’ll have awe-inspiring views of the Helderberg Mountains and the surrounding valley.
Good to know If you do your wine-tasting on a Sunday, pop around the bend to La Parada, which heaves on Sunday evenings, when DJ René hits the decks and the open-air dancefloor overflows.
Opening times Tuesday – Sunday, 11am – 6pm (last tasting from 5pm – 6pm)
Closed on Christmas Eve & Day, Boxing day, New Years Day and Good Friday
Maximum 12 guests per wine tasting reservation
Contact 021 794 8632, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it 1043 Constantia Main Rd, Glen Alpine, Constantia
7. Enjoy an Alfresco Coffee Experience
If you want to take your morning-coffee ritual to the next level, these outdoor coffee safari experiences are a surefire way to do so. Travel designer Ozzy Yerlikaya will take you to some of the most beautiful outdoor locations in the Cape, where your brain will be stimulated not only by the fresh air, but also by the selection of specially brewed coffees from his mobile coffee bar, that he pairs with delicious dark chocolate.
Operating times Daily, 7am
Where to find it The destination of each experience is kept a secret (although you can put in requests). Transport to and from the location is not provided, but Ozzy will contact participants the day before to discuss arrangements.
8. Learn How to Make Artisanal Gin
So, while handcrafted gin continues to steal the limelight, it might be worth learning how to brew your own. This three-hour course, presented by master distiller Nic Janeke at New Harbour Distillery in Woodstock, will broaden your knowledge of the history and different types of gin, from Old Tom to London Dry. And the most exciting part is that you’ll also get to make your own version of the quintessential British tipple – from scratch – using single-botanical distillation blends.
Opening times 11am – 3pm on scheduled dates
Where to find it New Harbour Distillery, 64 Victoria Road, Woodstock
9. Have Drinks at a Rooftop Bar
No hotel is complete without a good bar – but we don’t mean those stuffy places where sleazy suits gather for drinks before going to bed; we’re talking about a red-hot venue where some of the best parties in town go down! RED Roof Bar – atop the Radisson RED Hotel in the buzzed-about Silo District – is more than just a bar; this rooftop sun terrace and pool deck boasts killer views (of the sea and Table Mountain), making it the perfect place for sunset cocktails.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 10.30am – 10pm
Saturday & Sunday, 10.30am – 12am
Contact 087 086 1578, email@example.com
Where to find it South Arm Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
10. Learn to cook a local dish
Cape Town’s culinary appeal lies not only in the quality of its restaurants, but the diversity of its cuisine. A variety of cultural influences, including Cape Malay, African and Indian yields tasting experiences aplenty, with many immersive foodie tours and cooking courses that will give you the opportunity to sample them.
The Bo-Kaap is a must-visit destination for those wanting a glimpse into Cape Town’s rich culinary and cultural heritage. Try one of Zainie Misbach’s cooking tours, which she hosts in her home in the Bo-Kaap, and which culminate in a delicious lunch.
There’s also Denise Levy’s fun-filled interactive cooking classes at Ginger & Lime, hosted in the kitchen of her own Sea Point home. Top chefs such as Liam Tomlin and Ash Heeger guest star at these events, joining Denise in the kitchen for courses that cover a wide range of cuisines – from Asian to Mediterranean and, of course, local SA fare.
Opening times Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour: Tuesday – Thursday, 10.30am – 2pm
Ginger & Lime: 6.30pm – 9.30 / 10pm (weekday evenings); 9.30am (Saturday mornings, end time may vary but courses usually run for 3.5 hours)
Cost Bo Kaap Cooking Tour: R825
Ginger & Lime: R695 – R950 (cost varies according to course and guest chef; recipes and drinks included)
Where to find it Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour: Rose Corner Café, opposite The Bo-Kaap Museum, 71 Wale Street
Ginger & Lime: 2b Ave Disandt, Fresnaye, Cape Town
11. Dine at Table Seven
Private chef Luke Wonnacott and his wife Katie (also a chef) welcome diners into their intimate venue in Salt River for a seven-course feast of flavours. It differs from a regular restaurant experience in that it’s more intimate: you and 19 friends get to sit around a refectory table in the heart of Luke’s kitchen, while he cooks up a storm.
Contact 079 286 1811, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it The Salt Orchard, Unit C5, Corner of Briar and Yew Streets, Salt River
Adventure Activities in Cape Town
1. Zip Along the Coast in an (Open-Top) Sports Car
A scenic drive along the coast in an open-top sports car is the stuff of Hollywood rom-coms. Not only will it get the endorphins flowing, it’ll make you feel like a million bucks – it’s the stuff that memories (and killer Instagram opportunities) are made of. Plan your route (Chapman’s Peak is currently closed, but there’s no shortage of other scenic options), pack a picnic, and hit the road! If you’d prefer your car to be delivered to you, that can also be arranged.
If it’s windy (this is Cape Town, after all), wrap up warm, and embrace the breeze on your face, as you cruise along the coastal road.
Opening times Daily (bookings start from 9.15am)
Please note Vehicle hires should be returned by 8.30am on the return date
Cost R2 900 per day (120 kilometres free, R7 per extra kilometre)
R8 000 (refundable insurance deposit)
Delivery or collection service arranged at a fee (If the car is collected from/delivered to Paarden Eiland, there is no fee)
Where to find it Cape Cobra Hire, 10 Hermes Street, Paarden Eiland
2. Hike Table Mountain (with a Guide)
You wouldn’t exactly call Cape Town’s made-for-postcards mountain a “hidden gem”, since it’s kind of hard to miss. But while many are familiar with its iconic image, those who choose to explore the mountain’s reserve by foot, rather than joining legions of tourists aboard the cable car, will discover its true majesty.
No doubt the views from its summit are spectacular, but the old adage “the journey is the destination” certainly applies here. The multitude of trails that wind their way around the mountain (not all actually go to the top) include day and overnight hikes, and range from gentle, forested trails to endurance-testing rock-scrambling adventures.
Hiking with a guide is a safer way to summit, plus you’ll have expert advice on tap as to which trail is best suited to your requirements – whether it’s a moderate short hike like Platteklip Gorge; the longer Skeleton Gorge trail; or the more intense Kasteelport and India Venster trails (India Venster is a testing hike and should not be attempted without a guide). Adventure guides also have a wealth of knowledge on the mountain’s diverse array of flora and fauna.
Please note The tour operates year-round, but by-arrangement only. A minimum of four people is required.
Cost R600 (includes transport, the services of an experienced guide, and a packed lunch)
Where to find it Meet in the City Centre for transport to Table Mountain National Park
3. Ride a Steam Train to Elgin
Inspired by Victorian-era railway stations, Billionaire Roger Orphen converted an old apple warehouse into a steampunk-themed market, complete with elaborate metal archways, overhanging bridges and lanterns. All that was missing was an actual steam train! Thanks to a partnership with Ceres Rail Company, the final piece of the puzzle was provided, and now visitors can experience the grandeur of the Victorian era, by hopping aboard this old beauty as it chugs through rolling hills and apple orchards before pulling up alongside the bustling station platform in Elgin.
Passengers then have three-and-a-half hours to enjoy live music and wide selection of food, beverage, clothing and art stalls, before heading back to Cape Town at the end of the day.
Opening times Check all the upcoming dates for the steam train ride to Elgin
Cost R750 (adults); R500 (children)
Where to find it Royal Cape Yacht Club, Duncan Road, Table Bay Harbour, Cape Town
4. Abseil Down the Side of Table Mountain
The views from the summit of Cape Town’s iconic landmark are spectacular enough; now imagine the views you’ll have as you rope your way down the side of the mountain. At 1000 meters above sea level, this is the world’s highest commercial abseil, and it makes for an exhilarating experience as you are lowered into the vortex; the vast blue ocean stretching out before as you, and Camps Bay, Lion’s Head and The Twelve Apostles forming a panorama of splendor.
Good to know Abseil Africa offer the option for a hike + abseiling combo, for adventurers who wish to test their endurance. Ascend Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge, but then, instead of joining the landlubbers in the cable car, strap yourself into a harness and take the route reserved for true action heroes.
Table Mountain Abseiling
Operating times Daily, 9.30am – 3.30pm (weather dependent)
Where to find it Meet at the top of Table Mountain, next to the big wheel with cables.
Table Mountain Hike + Abseil Combo
Operating times Daily, 9.30am – 3.30pm (weather dependent)
Where to find it Meet in front of the Visitor Centre at Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road
5. Sail into the Sunset
It’s a sailor’s life for me! As you’d expect in a city surrounded by ocean, there’s no shortage of boat tours that will allow you to see Cape Town the way old-world explorers did. They also provide the opportunity to see the Cape’s diverse array of marine life up close.
Following a scenic coastal drive, guests board the boat at the old Gordon’s Bay harbor. Enjoy the fresh sea air as you sail along False Bay, perhaps even being lucky enough to spot some seals, whales and dolphins along the way.
Operating times Daily, 10.30am & 4pm (2-hour private boat cruise); Daily, 7am (3-hour private boat cruise); Daily, 8am (full-day private boat cruise)
All year-round (weather permitting)
Cost R6 500 (2-hour private boat cruise); R8 500 (3-hour private boat cruise); R15 000 (full-day private boat cruise)
Snacks and non-alcoholic beverages are provided.
Where to find it Pick-up is available in the Helderberg & Stellenbosch region. Guests are transported via Clarence Drive to Gordon’s Bay harbor.
6. Go Kloofing
Recommended for hardy and experienced hikers only, the Suicide Gorge trail takes you high up into the mountains… and then downhill through the gorge that gives it its name. You’ll be getting wet on this journey, so bring the appropriate gear, including lightweight hiking shoes, a swimsuit, and a change of clothing – a wetsuit is also highly recommended. Much of the 17-kilometre hike involves slip-sliding your way along this natural waterslide, and at certain points you’ll be required to leap off cliffs – some as high as 15 metres – into pools below.
Good to know If you’d prefer a less intense adventure, the nearby Riviersonderend Route offers a similar challenge, but with fewer drops – the highest being a more manageable seven metres.
Opening times Daily, 8am – 7pm (November – April)
Closed from May to October
Cost R80 (adults, includes permit)
Where to find it Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, near Grabouw
7. Helicopter over the Peninsula
Seeing a city from way up high is eye-opening, but when it’s a city as unique as Cape Town, the experience is elevated to a whole new level. A bird’s eye view of our mountain-strewn peninsula, surrounded by ocean, will give you a new appreciation for its diverse topography.
Tour providers NAC Helicopters offer a range of options, including helicopter tours of the Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Point and Robben Island.
Operating times Daily, 8am – 6pm
Please note Walk-ins are accepted depending on availability, but it is recommended to book in advance.
Cost From R1 170 per person (rates vary greatly depending on whether the flight is private or sharing, as well as the number of people)
Where to find it E Pier Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
8. Kayak on the Open Ocean
There’s nothing like paddling on the open ocean to invoke a spirit of freedom and adventure; and in a city surrounded by ocean, there are loads of options available, each one with its own unique appeal.
If you plan to head out in the morning, we recommend kayaking on the False Bay side, where tours set out daily from Simon’s Town Waterfront. You can visit the resident penguin colony, and you might even get to see some of these wonderful water birds swimming alongside you.
For afternoon kayaking trips, the Atlantic coastline may be the better option. Kaskazi Kayaks and Adventures offers two-hour guided kayaking tours that depart from Three Anchor Bay beach under the Sea Point Promenade. You’ll get to see what Lion’s Head looks like from way out in the ocean.
Operating times Kayaking in Simon’s Town Penguin Trips: Daily, 8.30am (summer); 9am
Full Moon Trips: Daily, 6pm – 8pm (April to October only)
Kayaking in Sea Point: Daily, 6.30am; 9am; 5.30pm
Cost Kayaking in Simon’s Town: R300 (penguin trip); R400 (full moon trip)
Kayaking in Sea Point: R400
Kayaking with penguins in Simon’s Town
Full moon kayaking in Simon’s Town
Kayaking in Sea Point
Where to find it Kayaking in Simon’s Town: Simon’s Town Waterfront, Wharf Street
Kayaking in Sea Point: 179 Beach Road, Mouille Point
9. Ride in a Vintage World War II Sidecar
Seeing the sights from a bus or car is all well and good, but there’s nothing like feeling the cool wind in your hair, as you ride the open roads. You haven’t truly immersed yourself in the Cape’s majesty until you’ve explored the peninsula in a convertible. And if you want to ride one with panache, you should make like the motorcyclists of yore, and take a ride in one of these super-cool vintage sidecars.
Cape Sidecar Adventures have brought sidecars back in a big way, with their fleet of 30 vintage World War II sidecars, available for tours, team-building events and special celebrations. Participants have the option of chauffeur-driven or self-drive guided tours, and tour packages range from two-hour experiences to multi-day trips.
Please note Tours are available daily, but must be booked in advance
Cost R1 050 per person sharing (two-hour tour); R1 925 per person sharing (four-hour tour); R2 125 per person sharing (eight-hour tour); Rates for multi-day tours are available on request.
Where to find it Prearranged meeting point (depending on package)
10. Snorkel with Seals
At Duiker Island near Hout Bay, you’ll find herds of these playful creatures suntanning on the rocks and frolicking in the waves. Snorkelling provides an opportunity to get up close and personal with them, without the rigorous training required by scuba-diving. On Captain Jack’s tours, wetsuits and snorkelling equipment are provided, along with a brief training session that will have you swimming among these puppies in no time.
Good to know For those who want to see the seals but would prefer to avoid the underwater adventure, come along for the boat ride and skip the snorkelling part, at supplementary cost.
Opening times Daily, 9am – 11am (weather-permitting)
Cost R850 ; R1 150 (GoPro rental included); R500 (viewing only, no dive)
Where to find it Captain Jack’s Info Office, Hout Bay Harbour, Hout Bay
11. Zipline Across a Valley
Soar over fynbos forests, majestic valleys and thundering waterfalls in this zipline adventure, named by Lonely Planet as one of the best attractions in the world. There’s little to compare to the exhilaration of looking down into a gaping canyon as you slide along a steel cable (some of which run up to 320m long). Based in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, about an hour outside of Cape Town, the tour kicks off with a 4×4 ride high into the mountains, where guests are supervised by professional guides as they attach themselves to cables that run from platform to platform. Once the high-flying adventures are concluded, guests are transported back to base camp where they can enjoy a meal.
Insider tip Brought to you by Canopy Tours SA and CapeNature, Cape Canopy Tour has started including free tour videos for clients.
Opening times Tours depart on the hour from 8am to 2pm, and each tour lasts approximately four hours.
Cost R895 (adults, includes a fully guided trip, light lunch, and rain gear for wet weather)
R855 (adults with a Wild Card)
Where to find it Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, R321, Elgin
12. Ride a Hot Air Balloon in the Winelands
Trains, trams and automobiles… there are many ways to experience the Cape winelands, but few that allow you to soar over them like a bird. Travelling like the Brothers Montgolfier will certainly give you something to write home about.
You’ll get to watch as the crew assembles your heat-powered flying machine, the very first technology that allowed humanity to take to the skies. Lift-off is at sunrise, but the early start is definitely worth it for the views you’ll be treated to as you float over the rolling vineyards and lush meadows that the winelands are so famous for.
Good to know The experience lasts three to four hours, and includes tea and coffee before the flight, sparkling wine to celebrate your landing, and breakfast at a nearby bistro.
Please note Rides can be cancelled as a result of poor weather. You will be given the option of an alternative date or a refund.
Operating times Daily, sunrise
Cost From R3 300 per person
Maximum 8 people per trip
Where to find it Klein Joostenberg Farm, R304, Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch
13. Cycle in the City
The views to be found in the Cape Town cityscape are the envy of the world, with Table Mountain to one side and the vast ocean on the other. As such, cycling through Cape Town offers views you won’t ever encounter anywhere else on the planet. And, in addition to the spectacular scenery, these cycling tours (which are accompanied by expert guides) will immerse you in the energy of city life, and take you past some iconic landmarks.
Good to know Private tours are also available, which can be customised to suit your requirements.
Operating times Daily, 9am – 1pm
Cost R500 (includes bike rental, helmet, water bottle and tour escort)
Please note E-bikes are available at an additional charge of R200.
Where to find it Tour starts at the Green Point Track Car Park, Fritz Sonnenberg Road, Green Point
14. Learn to Surf
Surfing enthusiasts will tell you there’s no greater way to destress than to be out in the ocean, riding the waves. To which the uninitiated will respond: “Sounds great, but I’ll probably just end up rolling under the waves”. Well, that’s where Stoked School of Surf comes in. Their qualified coaches provide lessons at the Cape’s best surfing spots (since the school is mobile, they can pick whichever spot will have the best conditions on the day).
They provide the board and wetsuit, and will even transport participants to the chosen location (or you can choose to drive there yourself, in which case they’ll notify you of the location the day before). Lessons are limited to small groups to ensure everyone receives the necessary attention, and there’s also the option of private lessons.
Good to know Know how to surf, but not where to surf? Stoked provides surfing guide services as well, to help intermediate and advanced surfers find the location most suited to your skill level.
Opening times Daily
Pick-up from the city between 8am and 9am for morning lessons; 1pm and 2pm for afternoon lessons
Cost R490 per person (self-drive option)
R720 per person (transported option)
Private lessons: from R1 500
15. Mountain-bike in Apple Country
Mountain-biking may well be the new golf, and the Cape has no shortage of ideal locations for it. Elgin is home to one of the most celebrated mountain-biking trails, taking you past lush terrain and apple orchards. The fact that this beautiful valley has a cooler climate than the rest of the Cape makes it a year-round destination.
Good to know If you’re looking for sustenance after your ride, The Pool Room at Oak Valley is a relaxed restaurant overlooking a swimming pool and garden that serves divine food.
Please note The trail is closed during scheduled events and stormy weather (and for 1 day after to protect the long-term integrity of the trails)
Opening times Daily, during daylight hours
Cost Daily rate: R50 (adults); R30 (children)
Annual rate: R500 (adults)
Contact 021 859 2510, email@example.com
Where to find it Oak Valley Estate, 127 Oak Avenue, Grabouw
Culture + Entertainment in Cape Town
1. Zeitz Mocaa
Touted as Cape Town’s very own Tate Modern, Zeitz MOCAA boasts one of the largest collections of contemporary African art, and was named as one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Destinations of 2018 (a feather in Cape Town’s cap, to be sure).
Located in a former grain silo, the massive nine-storey space has undergone a state-of-the-art overhaul, courtesy of esteemed British architect Thomas Heatherwick, and houses 6 000 square metres of exhibition space within 100 galleries, as well as a restaurant area and a charming Sculpture Garden.
Opening times Wednesday – Monday, 10am – 6pm
First Friday of the Month, 10am – 9pm
Cost Free (year-round for under-18s); R190; R270 (annual membership); free (African citizens, Wednesday, 10am – 1pm); R85 (first Friday of the month, 4pm– 9pm)
Where to find it Silo District, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
2. Watch an outdoor concert at Kirstenbosch
Every year, between November and March, Kirstenbosch hosts the ever-popular Summer Sunset Concerts, where a stellar lineup of international and local talent takes to the stage every Sunday to entertain the crowds amid the lush gardens of this majestic venue. Be sure to bring along a blanket and a picnic basket; it’s the place to be on lazy Sunday afternoons.
Opening times Sundays, concerts start between 5pm and 5.30pm (November – March)
Cost R150 – R220
Where to find it Kirstenbosch Gardens, Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
3. Enjoy a Cabaret Dinner Experience at Gate69
Also known as the “Purple Palace” (have you seen the outside walls?), Gate69 on Bree Street is the first theatre of its kind in the Mother City, and nothing quite like it exists elsewhere in the country.
The Burlesque-meets-The Birdcage theatre features dinner tables that are fabulously dressed in gold and purple, with a dusting of glitter, while the waitresses sport outfits that match the theme of the evening’s performance. If you’re lucky, you might be served by the famous Trolley Dollies, who at nine-feet in heels and wigs will ensure your drinks come out faster than a Boeing at take-off!
The theatre only caters for up to 100 people, which means the audience never feels excluded from what’s happening on stage. It’s certainly an experience you won’t forget in a hurry!
The show starts at 8.15pm, and dinner is served at 7pm, but arrival at 6.30pm guarantees a hug and a kiss on the red carpet.
Opening times Wednesday – Saturday, 6.30pm
Cost R520 (Economy Class, includes dinner)
R560 (Business Class, includes dinner)
R599 (First Class, includes dinner)
Contact 021 035 1627, 071 589 2915, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Gate69 Theatre, 87 Bree Street, Cape Town City Centre
4. Watch a Movie Under a Starry Sky
If the idea of watching your favourite flick under a starlit sky sounds wonderful, listen up. From October to April every year, Galileo Open Air Cinema screens a series of silver-screen classics (as well as some millennium favourites) at various scenic locations around the Cape, including the V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and rotating venues in the Cape Winelands. Blankets and backrests can be hired, and delicious picnic baskets can be ordered when you book your tickets (and collected on arrival). If you don’t want to preorder a picnic, food and drink stalls are available at the venue. Get there before the movie starts, so you can enjoy the live music and festive atmosphere (it also helps to reserve your spot on the lawn).
Opening times October 2018 – April 2019: Wednesday – Friday, 6pm; Saturday, 5pm
Select Sundays, 4pm
Cost R89 (standard); R110 (includes backrest and blanket); R175 (VIP, includes reserved area, 2 blankets, 2 pillows, chocolates)
Where to find it V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch Gardens and rotating venues in the Cape Winelands
5. Norval Foundation
Located in the serene Steenberg wetlands, with sweeping views of the vineyards and Table Mountain National Park beyond, the modern glass-and-metal museum was founded by the Norval family and designed by DHK Architects.
In addition to world-class, purpose-built galleries, there’s also a sculpture garden, outdoor amphitheatre, research library, restaurant and bar, shop, and children’s playground, too.
Dedicated to showcasing art with global appeal in an environment that fosters an appreciation for nature, Norval Foundation is a welcome addition to the homely ’burbs, and is another well-deserved feather in Cape Town’s ever-expanding culture cap.
Opening times Wednesday – Monday, 10am (8am on Wednesday) – 5.15pm (7.15pm on Saturday)
Cost R160 (adults); Free (children under 18); R200 (annual membership)
Contact 087 654 5900, email@example.com
Where to find it 4 Steenberg Road (Opposite US Embassy) Tokai
6. Explore the City at Night During First Thursday
Cape Town’s innercity is abuzz with activity on the First Thursday of every month when Capetonians (and visitors) wander through the various galleries and stores, enjoying the city’s rich cultural landscape, which has in recent years promulgated in the area between Wale and Strand streets.
To start off your evening, grab a map of the city at your first stop, which is any one of the participating galleries, and plot your route. Some of our favourite participating shops and galleries include the Book Lounge on Roeland Street, 99 on Loop, Michaelis Galleries at UCT’s Hiddingh Campus on Orange Street, Chandler House and Ground Art Caffé.
Looking for some thirst quenchers and pick-me-ups along the way? We recommend Riverine Rabbit, Marrow, The Poké Co, Cafe du Cap, La Parada and Bocca.
Opening times First Thursday of the month, 5pm – 9pm
Where to find it Wale, Bree, Long, Loop, Shortmarket, Longmarket, Church, Buitensingel and Strand Streets, and the East City
7. Watch Live Music
Cafe Roux’s buzzy Cape Town venue (the original branch is in Noordhoek) offers a tasty slice of the city’s vibrant nightlife. The venue hosts local musicians throughout the week, and comedians once a month – all of which can be enjoyed with a delicious pizza and a full range of drinks. Hospitable manager Vanessa Bisschop-Louw, and her friendly staff will make sure you’re well-taken-care-of.
Good to know When you’re done here, grab an after dinner drink at one of the great spots within walking distance. We recommend the Botanical Bar for local fynbos-infused cocktails, La Parada (on Bree Street) for a buzzing on-the-street vibe, and Aces ‘n’ Spades if you’re looking to dance the night away on old schools tunes.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6.30pm – late (kitchen closes at 9pm)
Cost R50 – R150 (for live events)
Where to find it 74 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre
8. District Six Museum
This museum, appropriately established in 1994 (when SA became a free, democratic nation), showcases the memories and experiences of local residents to commemorate a once-vibrant community’s painful forced removal during the apartheid era.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 9am – 4pm
On Saturday, please call 021 466 7100
Cost R45 (adults, self-guided); R60 (adults, with an ex-resident/guide); R5 (SA and African learners, 7 – 17 years); R15 (international learners, 7 – 17 years); free (former residents of District Six and other forced-removal areas and SA pensioners)
Where to find it 25A Buitenkant Street, Cape Town
Research by Matthew Flax, Michelle de Bruin, Nikki Benatar, Annabel Short, and Alicia Chamaillé
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