You Only Live Once! Time to take the Mother City by its horns.
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.
Drive a Cobra to Groot Constantia for a picnic
Life’s too short to miss out on this classic experience – zipping around Cape Town in a vintage open-top sports car. The eight-hour tour, along the peninsula’s most beautiful roads, makes a pitstop at South Africa’s oldest wine-producing estate where you’ll enjoy a picturesque picnic for two, followed by a coffee break at Constantia Nek. Then, it’s back into the driver’s seat so the Grace Kelly-esque tour can continue.
Good to know The first 120 kilometres are free.
Please note Vegetarian and halaal picnics are available.
Times Pick up is from 9am.
Cost R5 000 for two adults
Where to find it 48 Rose Street, Schotsche Kloof, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
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 076 199 9189, firstname.lastname@example.org
Book through DinePlan
Location Josephine Mill Museum, 13 Boundary Road, Newlands, Cape Town
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, email@example.com
Location Table Mountain National Park
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
Go Whale-Spotting in Hermanus
One of the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) 12 Best Whale-Watching Destinations in the World, Hermanus is a breeding ground for southern right whales. So why not book an awesome whale-watching tour that will get you up close and personal (without disturbing the beautiful creatures)? You could even plan your trip to coincide with the annual Hermanus Whale Festival.
Departure times Daily, 9am, 12pm and 3pm (June – December)
Cost R900 (adults)
R800 (students and seniors)
R450 (children under 14)
Free (children under 5)
Contact 082 353 0550, email@example.com
Location Southern Right Charters: The Whale Shack, New 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, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 mini-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 From R900 per person
Contact 072 213 3888, email@example.com
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, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Guests meet at arranged starting point for tour
Stay in an Eco-Cabin
Set in an ancient forest, Platbos is privately owned by conservationists intent on preserving its rich diversity of flora and fauna, which includes thousand-year-old milkwood trees, bushbucks, baboons and even some leopards. The cosy Old Olive Cabin (one of several unique accommodation options available at this reserve) makes for an immersive forest retreat. Situated close to an 800-year-old Wild Olive tree, it includes a fully equipped kitchen, open-air shower, fireplaces (indoor and out) and braai facilities. The entire site is effectively off-the-grid, utilising solar-powered lighting and old-school donkey boilers to heat the water. Other ecofriendly facilities include composting and waterless toilets. All this, in addition to the various conservation and reforestation projects undertaken by the reserve.
Cost R850 (two adults)
R950 (three adults)
R1 150 (four adults)
Check Availability + Book Direct
Location Gansbaai (via N2, R43)
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 an 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 allow 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)
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 Thursday – 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 R225 per person
Contact 021 812 8888
Location Pepperclub Hotel & Spa, Corner Pepper and Loop Street, Cape Town
Camp on the Beach in Kogel Bay
If you love camping, beaching and breathtaking scenery, then Kogel Bay Resort, with its camping facilities on the edge of the beautiful and expansive Kogel Bay Beach is the answer. It is perfectly situated, a mere hour away from Cape Town, and also falls under the jurisdiction of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (an area dense in Cape Floral Kingdom plant species), offers ample wildlife and lies along The Whale Coast.
Why you’ll love it It’s the ultimate camping experience, involving an epic road trip via Clarence Drive, one of South Africa’s (and, dare we say it, the world’s) most spectacular drives, numerous affordable camping/ablution facilities, hiking, beach walks, surfing, star-gazing and braaiing.
Please note The sea streams can be very dangerous. Swimming is only allowed when lifeguards are on duty.
Cost R132 – R202 per night (depending on season)
6 people allowed per site
2 vehicles allowed per site
Fishing & surfing permit: R253 per car (no picnics allowed on this permit)
Contact 021 856 9622 or 021 856 9623
Location Kogel Bay Resort, Clarence Drive, R44
Enjoy Sundowners on a Yacht in Clifton
A milestone birthday, end-of-year function, new-years kick-off party, or just about any special occasion is the only excuse needed to splash out on a luxury yacht cruise. Hop aboard this impressive yacht at the Waterfront, and sail along the coast to Clifton’s shores, keeping an eye out for pods of dolphins along the way. Make sure you have a requisite glass of champers to hand!
Why you’ll love it It’s a relaxing, fun, luxurious (and unforgettable) way to celebrate any special occasion.
Cost R8 000 (minimum of two hours, includes soft drinks, water, bubbly and dry snacks)
R12 000 (two-hour sunset cruise, includes soft drinks, water, bubbly and dry snacks)
Contact 021 418 0782, email@example.com
Location Cape Charters, Shop 6, Quay 5, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Do a Tuk-Tuk Wine Tour in Stellenbosch
Tuk-Tuk Stellies offers fun wine tours of several notable wine estates in the famous Stellenbosch winelands in, you guessed it, a snazzy tuk-tuk! These chauffeured trips run Monday – Saturday, and you can choose between the half-day tours (to Muratie Wine Estate, Simonsig Estate, and L’Avenir Estate) or the full-day tour (to Die Bergkelder, Muratie Wine Estate, Simonsig Estate, and L’Avenir Estate)
Why you’ll love it It’s a fun, fresh (and hassle-free) way to experience some great Stellenbosch estates.
Cost R780 (half-day tour: Monday – Saturday, 12pm – 4pm)
R1 100 (full-day tour: Monday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm, includes lunch and wine tastings)
Location Meet at 47 Church Street, Stellenbosch or arrange for a B&B pick-up in the area
There can’t be more than a handful of places in the world where people wake up ridiculously early, go to a beach, and dance to music that no-one else can hear… Cape Town is one of them. The sight may seem unusual to anyone who happens to stumble upon these secret events but hey, it’s not about what anyone else thinks…
Secret Sunrise events take place on set dates at randomly selected venues, which have included the likes of St James Beach, Noordhoek and Lourensford Wine Estate. Upon arrival, attendees receive a pair of wireless headphones, and are free to dance before the light of the rising sun, or simply relax and enjoy the view.
Why you’ll love it You get to join in a ritualistic celebration of life, at a time of day when most people are still asleep – there’s something very sacred about that.
Good to know For those who prefer sleeping in, the organisers also host Secret Sunset events – same concept, different time of day.
Cost R90 (early bird)
R100 (regular ticket)
R75 (children under 12)
R120 (Share the Joy ticket to donate a portion to charity)
Contact 072 550 8028, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Confirmed shortly before each event. See their facebook page for more info.
Yoga on a Tidal Pool with SUPYoga
When you live in a city as strikingly beautiful as Cape Town, exercising outdoors is non-negotiable. Obviously when it’s cold and rainy, we do our yoga in a studio, but when the sky is clear, there’s nothing like doing your stretches on the beach, in a forest, or even on the mountain.
Our current favourite is SUPYoga – yoga.on the water! These unique group sessions take place weekly from December to March at the waterwise practices, but times are flexible, and subject to change, depending on the weather.
Why you’ll love it The outdoor setting, gently lapping water, and endless ocean views enhance the overall experience. Plus, you get to go for a refreshing swim while you’re at it (several, in fact, depending on how often you lose balance).
Good to know Private sessions can also be arranged by contacting Bianca.
Cost R280 per person (group lessons; includes class equipment)
R600 (private class; includes class equipment)
R500 (private lesson, bring your own board but receive other class equipment)
Contact 072 245 1209, email@example.com
Location Camps Bay Tidal Pool, Cape Town
Go on a Camping Adventure with Hey Pioneer
We like to call it the Uber of Camping, because Hey Pioneer will set up a camping site for you at a location of your choice. That’s right, they’ll supply the tent, deliver it, and kit it out with all the bells and whistles you need. Talking about bells, their elegant bell tents – perfect for outdoor weddings and parties, families and small groups – come in various shapes and sizes, and there are also smaller tents available for children or singles accommodation. Additional equipment, including braai grids, utensils, cooler boxes, clay ovens, tables and chairs are also available for rent.
Why you’ll love it Because it allows you to sleep under the stars and embrace the outdoors, without any of the schelp factor. If you’re looking for a unique way to celebrate a special occasion, let Hey Pioneer handle it from start to finish – they’ll even clean up at the end of your glamping getaway.
Cost Rates vary according to group size and location.
Rentals are subject to availability, and advance booking is required
Contact 082 494 8452, firstname.lastname@example.org
Go Clay-Pigeon Shooting
This is just another reason to visit Stellies. A guide will take you through safety measures, give you all the ins and outs, and demonstrate how to shoot with precision timing, so that barrel loads of fun are guaranteed. There are several great packages to choose from depending on the size of your group and the occasion.
Why you’ll love it It’s a great way to let off steam (and vent pent-up road rage). Simply aim, fire, and watch as the disc shatters mid-air.
Cost R125 per person (5 shots per person)
R225 per person (10 shots per person)
R350 per person (Groups of 8 or more, includes 10 shots each, pizza and a glass of beer/wine)
R435 per person (Groups of 8 or more, includes 15 shots each, pizza and a glass of beer/wine)
R650 per person (Groups of 5 or more, includes 25 shots each, biltong platter and soft drinks)
R1 000 (Group of 8 or less, includes 5 shots per person)
R1 500 per person (Groups of 2 or more, includes 25 shots each, personal instruction and private location)
R1 850 per person (Groups of 2 or more, includes 50 shots each, personal instruction and private location)
Contact 076 349 2866, email@example.com
Location Wild Clover Farm, R304, Stellenbosch
Rent a Houseboat in Kraalbaai
Baby Blue Too is the perfect houseboat for daytrips or overnight stays in the dreamy Kraalbaai Lagoon on the West Coast. It sleeps up to four (with a squeeze) and accommodates up to eight people for daytrips. Chillax on the deck with a glass of vino and a bite to eat as you glide around the lagoon (one of your crew will need a skipper’s licence). Or else, remain anchored in one spot and enjoy dipping in the waist-deep clear blue water. In springtime, enjoy Postberg and the West Coast National Park’s amazing array of flowers.
Why you’ll love it What beats lounging around the deck of a boat in the middle of the ocean, and being able to flop in and out of the clear blue water?
Cost R695 per person (day trip, includes lunch)
R500 per person (charter, includes skipper, no catering)
R2 500 (one night, self catering)
R3 250 (two days, one night, self catering)
R700 (delivery fee to Kraalbaai, if you do not have a skipper’s ticket)
R120 per night (mooring fee, collected by SanParks every morning for the overnight package)
R500 per weekend (SUP hire)
Contact 021 683 3698, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location Indigo Blue Beach House, Basson Street, Langebaan
Research by Matthew Flax, Alicia Chamaillé, Kent Cloete, Georgina Visser and Michelle de Bruin
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