Instead of making a bucket list, we’ve created a list of unique, unusual and inspiring things to do in the Mother City.
We’re well aware that Cape Town is a highly sought-after holiday destination (voted Best City in the World by The Telegraph) and we didn’t want our list to read like a tourist brochure. So we left out things like “visit Robben Island” and “climb Table Mountain” (which you’ll find on any other travellers’ site).
Instead, we handpicked some lesser-known activities in and around our magnificent city that have inspired us to seize the day. We hope our list will do the same for you.
Zip along the coast a classic (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. 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.
It’s the stuff that memories (and killer Instagram opportunities) are made of. Wrap up warm, and embrace the icy winter wind on your face as you cruise along the road in a cool car with breaktaking views along the way.
Feel like splurging? Hire the car for a day or two and traverse one of these magnificent mountain passes.
Cost R2 900 per day
R15 000 (refundable insurance deposit)
R500 – R750 (delivery or collection fee one way. If the car is collected from/delivered to Paarden Eiland, there is no fee)
Contact 083 321 9193, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Cape Cobra Hire, 10 Hermes Street, Paarden Eiland
In his characterful home in Observatory, Chef Lapo Magni creates flavourful dishes that draw on the Tuscan cooking traditions passed onto him by his mother. Here, though, it’s not just about the food, it’s about the authentic Italian dining experience.
Attendance is limited to small groups, who gather around a single long table in Lapo’s kitchen, enjoying wine and conversation while Lapo and his dedicated team prepare a five-course meal in full view of the guests (who get to watch as the risotto is stirred, and the meat roasted in the yard outside). You could just as well be participating in a traditional Italian family dinner (especially if you’re fortunate enough to be joined by Lapo’s mamma, Elena Mattei, who runs her own cooking school – Cucina con Vista – in Florence).
Lapo engages with his guests, providing entertaining introductions to each course, and expounding on his methods of sourcing and preparing ingredients, which in turn relates to his passionate belief in ethical and sustainable food practices.
Good to know Lapo’s Kitchen does not have a liquor license, so guests are encouraged to bring their own wine. Contact Lapo beforehand so he can recommend vintages to pair with the meal.
Cost R500 per person for a five-course meal
Contact 082 332 1366, email@example.com
Upcoming dates for Lapo’s Kitchen events are 21 June, 5 July, 13 July, 17 July and 18 July.
Location 18 Bellevliet Road, Observatory
Sleep on Table Mountain
This overnight hike that starts at Kirstenbosch offers invigorating lungfuls of fresh air and stunning panoramic views from different vantage points on the mountain. Make stops at the historic Waterworks Museum, the old reservoir, and a rock formation called The Diving Board that’s popular for impromptu photoshoots. Then, spend the night at the comfortable Overseers Cottage, and wake up feeling invigorated and ready to conquer the world.
It’s the path less travelled, giving mountaineers and city-dwellers alike the chance to explore one of the world’s natural wonders.
Cost R2 350 per person (minimum 6 people; maximum 12 people)
Includes accommodation, catering, luggage transport, entrance fees and guided tour. Excludes alcoholic beverages and cableway if that is chosen method of descent.
Please note The venue tends to get booked up very quickly on weekends (Saturdays can be up to a year in advance), so early planning is essential.
Contact 083 275 7521, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Table Mountain National Park
Ride a Steam Train to Robertson
On Saturday, 14 July, Ceres Rail is offering a trip to the Robertson Wine Valley on Red Devil 3450 – the first time this one-of-a-kind South African-built locomotive is hitting the tracks since 2004!
Completed in May 1912, The Ceres Railway track remained active until the 1990s, when Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) shut it down for financial reasons. It was reopened in 2012, and currently operates three steam trains: Jessica 3321 and Dominique 3322 (both of which date back to the 1940s) and Bailey 1412, as well as Red Devil.
The scenic ride to Robertson offers 3 packages; a return trip; a tour of Robertson that includes lunch and 2 wine tastings; or a combination of both. Passengers relax in the comfortable lounge cars, and purchase hot beverages and snacks in the Selati Dining Car (originally part of the blue train) and alcoholic drinks in the Bar Car, while enjoying views of the majestic Robertson Wine Valley.
Red Devil to Robertson (return trip): R950 per adult; R650 children 3 – 13 years; free children under 3
Red Devil to Robertson (day trip, including lunch and 2 wine tastings): R1 000 per adult; R800 children 3 – 13 years; free children under 3
Red Devil to Robertson (day trip + return trip): R1 950 per person; R1 450 children 3 – 13 years; free for toddlers under 3
Contact 079 077 5332, email@example.com
Location Royal Cape Yacht Club
Break plates at Mykonos Taverna
On the last Saturday of each month, this family-owned (and run) traditional Greek restaurant prepares a set menu, and invites patrons to enjoy an unforgettable evening of traditional Greek dancing and plate-smashing. While keeping things laidback and festive, the restaurant serves simple and delicious mezze, moussaka, and everything in between.
If you’ve ever thrown a plate, you’ll know how cathartic and fun it is. Just give it a smash, and you’ll be hooked.
Cost R280 per person (excludes drinks and 10% service charge)
Contact 021 439 2106, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location 343 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
Kayak with the whales in Hermanus
With whale season around the corner (July – November), don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a scenic paddle in Walker Bay, where you’ll be able to enjoy stunning mountain views, an abundance of marine life, and a few close encounters with gentle giants if you’re lucky.
With the company of an experienced guide and the comfort of a stable tandem kayak, the two-hour tour allows you to enjoy sightings of Cape fur seals, penguins, sea birds and other marine mammals. Whale sightings are not guaranteed on every paddle, but it is highly likely that you’ll see the majestic creatures in the months of September, October and November.
Please note As you’re paddling in a marine reserve, you are not permitted to come within 300 metres of the whales – the experience is however no less riveting. Excessive wind and swell conditions might result in cancellation of the kayak trip.
Cost R400 (off season)
R450 (July – November)
Contact 082 739 0159
Location Old Harbour, Hermanus
Wine tasting in a “cave” at Klein Roosboom Boutique Winery
Durbanville has to be one of the most underrated wine-tasting destinations in the Cape, often outshone by the more hyped-about regions of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. And while it boasts some big-name farms, Klein Roosboom is a boutique winery that only produces as much wine as its vineyards can handle. Because of its smaller yield, you’ll only find Klein Roosboom wines at its tasting centre. Hidden gem, or what?!
While it might be a drawback for some, we love that these superb wines aren’t readily available. It makes them so much more special. Take a scenic Sunday drive along the Tygerberg Valley Road to Klein Roosboom and opt to have your tasting in one of the “caves”. Apart from the fact that the wines really are magnificent, you’ll get to experience them in a truly unique way. Each cosy alcove is quirkily decorated, with pillows, trinkets, vintage furniture and bits and bobs. The perfect outing if the skies are grey.
Cost R40 per person (3 sauvignon blancs, 1 unwooded chardonnay, 1 rosé, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, shiraz)
Contact 060 877 2678, email@example.com
Location Tygerberg Valley Road, Durbanville, Cape Town
Do a Kiff Kombi Tour
As it says on their website kiff is South African slang for “super-cool” and a kombi is a vintage VW camper van – which offers a little insight into what these tours are all about. Passengers get to experience the very best of the Cape (at some of the best prices) in an extremely cool camper van, or rather, kiff kombi!
Since 2017 Kiff Kombi Tours have been whizzing locals and tourists around the Cape in a graffitied camper van on various tours including the Urban Safari (Bo Kaap, District Six, Woodstock and Chapman’s Peak), Gin Jol (a visit to three distilleries as well as an end-of-tour drink at Cape Town’s legendary Secret Gin Bar), and Street Art and Township Tour (a braai in Langa, a Xhosa music experience, and a beer tasting)! They even offer multi-day tours and bespoke tours for those thirsty for adventure.
Cost R750 – R800 per person (day tours)
R3 880 – R7 190 per person (multi-day tours)
Contact 072 213 3888, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Guests can arrange picked up within the city bowl area
On this unique musical tour, guests are invited into the home of a local jazz musician for an unforgettable evening of music, intimate conversation and a bord kos (plate of food), usually braaied snoek or pickled fish.
The second part of the evening involves a visit to the home of a second musician for a nightcap, or (if there is something special happening) to a jazz venue for the late set. The musicians you encounter represent the sound of Cape Town, and all are accomplished composers and performers.
Cost R1 500 per person
Contact 021 813 9829, email@example.com
Location Guests meet at arranged starting point for tour
Stay in an eco-cabin
Situated in what is widely considered one of the most beautiful of CapeNature’s protected areas, the Oudebosch Eco Cabins were caringly designed by architect Justin Cooke. The modern, glass-fronted cabins (which in no way cut back on amenities or aesthetics) maximise the awe-inspiring views of the hidden valley that lies between the Hottentots Holland mountain range.
There are five cabins that each have two bedrooms, one bathroom, a spacious kitchen, lounge and dining area – plus a beautiful deck, braai area and an indoor fireplace to keep you warm in winter.
Please note There is a conservation fee of R40 (adults), R20 (children), and R60 (group activities).
Cost R1 170 – R2 300 (depending on season)
Contact 021 483 0190, firstname.lastname@example.org
Reserve office hours: 7:30am – 4pm
Location Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Overberg
Enjoy a Poetry night at a Touch of Madness
Every Thursday night, this vibrant Obs institution – housed in a converted Victorian home – hosts Off The Wall Poetry, where anyone with an interest in the written word is welcome to attend, and perhaps even recite some verses of their own. Combined with the warm fireplace and lively Irish folk music, Thursdays at Touch of Madness are great for cold winter nights.
Cost Entrance is free
Contact 021 447 4650, email@example.com
Location 12 Nuttall Road, Observatory
You may have heard of kloofing – an activity where adventurers don wetsuits and make their way down a ravine, swimming and cliff-jumping along the way. Well, coasteering is the same concept – but applied to protected coastal areas.
Pioneered in Wales and Scotland (those crazy Celts!), the rugged watersport involves making your way along a section of coastline, swimming and rock-scrambling where necessary. There’s the opportunity for exhilarating cliff jumps into the sea (though you don’t have to do those if you prefer not to), as well as snorkelling amid the diverse marine life.
Cost R550 (1 to 2 hours on water, plus an extra hour for briefing and debriefing with larger groups)
R95 (picnic-style lunch in Simon’s Town)
R150 (transport from Cape Town – up to 8 participants only)
Minimum group size of 4 (smaller groups by arrangement)
Contact 021 638 3698, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Tours start at Windmill Beach, Simon’s Town
Transport can be arranged at additional cost.
Go on a wild Goose chase
An energetic and unique way of exploring the city, Gallivanting Goose offers scavenger hunts that allows the use of smartphones to help with clue-solving. The games can be customised to suit your needs (be it team-building or purely fun), but they generally involve dividing contestants into teams, and presenting them with a series of entertaining and educational challenges to complete.
Cost Starts at R450 per person
Minimum of 15 people for a game to go ahead
Contact 082 468 3052, email@example.com
Location Potential venues include the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town City Walk, Hout Bay, Two Oceans Aquarium and Stellenbosch
Go White-River Rafting
The Kogelberg Nature Reserve receives plenty of rainfall in winter, which turns the otherwise serene Palmiet River into a series of white-water rapids. Gravity Adventures offers guided white-water rafting in two-person inflatable vessels (“crocodiles”) – and in one-person inflatable tubes (“gekos”) when water levels are lower.
Whichever option you choose, the lush and mountainous valley makes for an enchanting backdrop to your river-soaked adventure.
Cost Rafting: R550
R100 (wetsuit hire for the day)
R95 (packed lunch)
R195 (braai or cold buffet lunch)
Please note Tours require a minimum of 10 people and a maximum of 24 people.
Minimum age is 8 years for tubing and 12 years for rafting.
Children under 12 receive a 15% discount for tubing.
Contact 021 683 3698, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Kogelberg Nature Reserve
Gravity Adventures can link you with a transport provider if required.
Go Foraging at Cape Point
Fynbos experts, Roushanna and Gael Gray, have been taking small groups of hopeful foragers to search for edible indigenous flora in the beautiful Cape Point area. This unique outdoor experience aims to teach foragers how to sustain and harvest different types of fynbos, how to use it in the kitchen, and about their bountiful medicinal properties.
As you experience the Good Hope Gardens Nursery, which has existed at Cape Point for the past 30 years, you’ll also get to enjoy wild-food snacks and drinks, and to prepare and sample a three-course lunch, using the gathered ingredients.
Cost R650 (adults)
R350 (children 2 – 17 years)
Free (children 0 – 2 years)
Contact 072 234 4804, email@example.com
Location Good Hope Gardens Nursery, Plateau Road, Cape Point (via M65)
Hop aboard the Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek Valley is known the world over for its superb cuisine, award-winning wine estates, and marvellous mountain-valley setting. With so much to do and see, the hop-on-hop-off tram tour provides the perfect means to do it all. Passengers can choose to ride the double-decker railway tram, or the open-air bus tram – both of which offer leisurely tours of the picturesque valley.
There’s a choice of six routes: the Orange Line, Purple Line, Blue Line, Green Line, Red Line and Yellow Line – each of which connects to eight wine estates and showcases a separate part of the Franschhoek Valley.
You’ll get a glimpse into 300 years’ worth of rich history, while you sip in the views (and vino, naturally!)
Cost R220 (adults)
R90 (children aged 3-17)
Contact 021 300 0338 or 021 876 4943, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Franschhoek Wine Tram Ticket Office, 32 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek
PechaKucha, which means “chitchat” in Japanese, is a platform that allows anyone to exchange ideas in a casual environment. Developed in Tokyo in 2003, the 20×20 presentation format is one of the things that makes the concept so special – each presenter takes the audience through 20 slides, spending 20 seconds on each one. The fast pace keeps things interesting, and the audience interested. Prepare to be inspired, educated and challenged as speakers share their passions, achievements and dreams using a visually driven presentation.
When Tuesday 3 July 2018, 7.30pm – 9pm
Cost R45 (early bird), R55 (at the door)
Location District, 61 Harrington Street
Kayak with the penguins in Simon’s Town
The penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach is always worth a visit, but why watch from afar when you can see these wonderful water birds up close? The Simon’s Town kayak tours allows you to meet them on their home turf – you can even join them in the water if the tide is right. No previous rowing experience is needed, though it’s always good to remember that kayaking does require some physical stamina.
You can avoid the crowds, and enjoy the freedom of the open ocean. Plus, you’ll get a good workout in the process.
Please note These tours are weather-dependent.
Cost R350 per person (drinking water and equipment included)
Contact 082 501 8930, email@example.com, www.kayakcapetown.co.za
Location Wharf Street, Simon’s Town
Visit an Animal Sanctuary
The image of the idyllic farm setting, inhabited by cheerful farm animals, is sadly not the reality in many cases. In truth, horrific factory farms, where cruelty prevails, haunts our food industry.
Farm Sanctuary SA has taken it upon itself to rescue animals from the brutality of these factory farms, and place them in a safe sanctuary that resembles the Utopian farm settings we read about in children’s novels. Happy inhabitants include Pigcasso, the world’s only painting pig; and Baloo, a male cow rescued from an informal settlement on Route 62.
When Saturday & Sunday, 11am – 3pm
Meet Pigcasso: Sunday, 12pm
Cost admission is free
Donate to Farm Sanctuary SA
Purchase Pigcasso’s paintings
Contact 084 735 3303
Location Dirkie Uys Street, Franschhoek
Retro movie and dinner nights at Pepperclub Hotel
This five-star slice of urban luxe has once again upped the ante when it comes to cool dining experiences in the Mother City – with these fun and fabulously old-school dinner-and-movie nights that take place throughout winter on Friday and Saturday evenings.
After a bit in the hotel’s in-house restaurant, guests make their way to the Odeon Cinema – a 29-seater ’60s-style theatre that’s as rad as it is retro. Here, you get to settle into one of the cosy armchairs and tuck into buckets of popcorn while watching a classic or popular new release (see the schedule for upcoming Pepperclub Movie Nights).
Cost R195 per person
Contact 021 812 8888
Booking is essential
Location Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, Corner Pepper and Loop Street, Cape Town
Research by Matthew Flax, Alicia Chamaillé, Kent Cloete, Georgina Visser and Michelle de Bruin
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