Usually I write my top 10 things to do in a place – but Cape Town is more than double your average city.
These 25 activities are taken from my complete guide to Cape Town which you can head over to if you also want to learn about places to sleep and eat, how to get about, suggested itineraries and a break down of the neighbourhoods.
1. Hike Lion’s Head
Climbing this beauty for sunrise or sunset will definitely take your breath away – in more ways than one. I actually did the climb for both sunrise AND sunset and preferred sunrise (despite having a few dramatic injuries).
2. Go wine tasting in Stellenbosch
A must when in Cape Town! There are lots of companies, like Wine Flies, that take you on organised day tours if, unlike me, you don’t have your friend’s mum prepared to be a designated driver and ferry you around! We had a great day pairing white chocolate with white wine (passionfruit and cardamon choc with a Sauvignon Blanc – yes please!) and dark cherry chocolate with red white. The scenery in the vineyards is also just beautiful.
Disclaimer: you may fall asleep in the car home (apologies to my friend and her mum) and come down with a late afternoon hangover – but it’s worth every second!
3. Table Mountain
Ok, this is an obvious one and probably Cape Town’s most famous attraction. You can hike up or take the cable car for R255 (£13) return or R135 (£7.50) one way but whichever way you arrive you’ll be treated to the same jaw-dropping views when you get to the top. Give yourself a good hour or two as there’s a giant viewing area to explore. Possibly the most amazing view I’ve ever set my eyes on!
4. Boulders Beach penguin colony
I loved this day out! Boulders is a 45-minute drive from the city centre but well worth it to spy these cuties. I visited in March which is apparently peak breeding season meaning we saw mother penguins sat on their eggs and plenty of downy-feathered chicks. I like to think these three look like a choir singing/chirping their hearts out!
5. Bo Kaap
The Malay area was once reserved for slaves but is now one of the most interesting and pretty areas of Cape Town – just look at all these bright and beautiful houses! You can wander the region by yourself or take a tour with Cape Town Free Walking Tours.
READ NEXT: My trip to Bo Kaap, Cape Town
6. Robben Island
It wouldn’t be a trip to Cape Town without learning about the history at Robben Island. This is the place that many political figures including Nelson Mandela were held captive during South Africa’s gritty journey toward racial equality. Visiting Mandela’s cell was very humbling, as was being led around by an ex-political prisoner. A must-do.
7. Paragliding from Lion’s Head
Argh! I still can’t get over the crazy photos I took from my time in the sky. I’d definitely recommend paragliding as a fun activity whilst in Cape Town – it’s a great way to see the city from a different perspective. Priced at R1,200 (£65pp), it’s expensive for a ride that can be as short as five minutes if the wind’s not strong (on these days you’ll fly from Signal Hill rather than Lion’s Head) but it was still so, so worth it. I’d do it everyday if I could!
8. Treat your taste buds
I get carried away talking about the insanely delicious food in Cape Town so best to head over to the blog I wrote all about it!
9. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
You’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different – and really beautiful – universe here. You’ll find wildflower gardens for days, flora and fauna from all around the world and some spectacular views. I’d love to spend a whole summer’s day sunbathing and wandering here. Don’t forget to pack a picnic!
The cliff formation in this photo is meant to look like a teddy bear – can you see it?
10. The Slave Museum
Like Robben Island, the Slave Museum is tough to see but important in understanding the heartbreaking history that’s made Cape Town the city it is today. The building is the actual old lodge where non-whites were kept captive. As well as slavery, there’s plenty to be learnt about South Africa’s civil rights in general. Spend at least a few hours here to take it all in.
11. Company’s Gardens
Right in the heart of the city, you can escape the crush if it gets a bit much and hang out in the Company’s Gardens. As well as lots of green space, you’ll find sculptures, tea rooms and lots of friendly squirrels and ducks who will eat out of your hand if you let them.
12. Hang out in Hout Bay
In Hout Bay you’ll spy seals, sample some of the city’s best fish and chips and admire the hundreds of boats in the waterfront. Head to Mariner’s Wharf for all of the above! Also, don’t miss the Bay Harbour Market on weekends where you’ll find every delicious food under the sun – my friend and I gorged ourselves on croissants and sushi.
13. Sunbathe on the Clifton beaches
There are four Clifton beaches which have been given the very original names First, Second, Third and Fourth. They’re all beautiful and have slightly varying personalities (Fourth is best for families, Second is popular with the young and glamorous etc) but you’ll have a good day at whichever one you go to. The sun, sea and sand were exactly what I needed after a busy month of backpacking!
14. Visit Muizenberg
This town on the outskirts of Cape Town is all about the surfing – though if you’re awful at watersports like me, hang out at these Instagrammable beach houses. There are two sets: one on Muizenberg beachfront (pictured) and one on St. James Beach.
15. Cruise down Chapman’s Peak Drive
Oh my gosh – most beautiful drive in the world? I think so! I didn’t drive it myself (partly because I can’t but let’s not start on my driving woes) but I did sit in the back seat which actually was better in terms of photo taking opportunities. As you can see, Chapman’s Peak is a road built into the cliff face which was luckily en route back to Cape Town from our day trip to Cape Point. Don’t miss this!
16. Visit the V&A Waterfront
This is Cape Town’s most opulent spot so visit if you fancy fine dining and lots of glitzy shops and bars. Even if that’s not your bag, it’s worth a wander and spin on the big wheel. More affordable goodies can be found at the V&A Food Market which is your go-to for all types of tasty eats. We picked ourselves up a great picnic for our…
17. Sunset picnic on Signal Hill
If you haven’t got your own set of wheels, the City Sightseeing bus departs from the Waterfront (in peak season only, click here for details) in time for sunset at the top of Signal Hill. My friend Marie and I were spoiled with amazing views, wine and our picnic dinner.
18. Discover Woodstock’s street art
There’s a gritty vibe to Woodstock but the street art is well worth a visit. I’d recommend Anima Tours for their free walking tour which takes you all around the area with an informative guide and just asks for a small donation. If you visit on a Saturday you can pair your trip with lunch at the Neighbourgoods Market, the hands-down best food market I’ve ever been to!
19. Take a boat trip to Seal Island
Depart from Hout Bay for a short but sweet 40-minute boat trip to Seal Island and back. As the name suggests, the main attraction is seals… and there are A LOT of them! Every single rock on the island was swarming and you could really hear (and smell) them on approach. Despite this, I thought they were so cute!
20. Cape of Good Hope/Cape Point
Waaay down at the bottom of the Cape Peninsula is the most south-westerly point of Africa. You’ll pay R135 (£8) to enter Table Mountain National Park and from there you can visit the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point. There’s a signpost to signify your geographic location at the Cape of Good Hope, while Cape Point is up on higher ground meaning you’ll get fantastic views out over the ocean.
21. Green Point Common
Green Point is a pretty, seafront area of Cape Town with lots of good eating spots and an especially gorgeous park. Chill by the lilypad pond, enjoy a coffee in the outdoor cafe or go for a run (which is what lots of the city’s sporty residents seem to be up to whenever I’ve been here).
22. Visit Kalk Bay
This adorable town is en route to Boulders Beach from Cape Town and will take you about 30 minutes to drive from the city. There are plenty of quirky cafes, ice cream parlours and trinket shops to pick up your souvenirs. It also looks like you’ve stepped back in time 100 years to the days of old when it was a trading point for sailors!
23. Lounge on Llandudno beach
Beautiful Llandudno beach is a hidden cove away from cars and shops – just sea, sand and – a large proportion of the year – beautiful weather. No one seems to know why it has a Welsh name – they’re probably too busy enjoying the view!
24. South African National Gallery
Despite the fact I know very little about art, I really enjoyed my rainy afternoon here. It’s about more than pretty paintings: lots of the art carries important messages about race and the life of women in South African society. One controversial exhibit entitled F*** White People had EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters; a South African radical political party) demonstrators storming the gallery to tear it down. So clearly, it divides the masses and is undoubtedly emotive – but isn’t that what art’s all about?!
25. Learn to cook Cape Malay food
Combine Dutch invaders, the arrival of Indian, Malaysia and Indonesian slaves, and native African food and you’ve got a unique cuisine in South Africa with many dishes you can’t find elsewhere. I took a cooking course with Cooking with Love – a must for foodies!
READ NEXT: Cooking with Love in Bo Kaap, Cape Town
I hope this blog has given you some inspo to get planning your trip! Cape Town is probably my favourite city on earth – so enjoy! x