Things to do in Cape Town

Discover a melting pot of culture in this coastal city, along with daring adventure and fusion cuisine.

Our most recommended things to do in Cape Town

Cape Town: Robben Island Ferry Tour with 1-Way Hotel Pickup

1. Cape Town: Robben Island Ferry Tour with 1-Way Hotel Pickup

Take the ferry to Robben Island and tour the prison where Nelson Mandela was confined. Learn about South Africa's history of Apartheid and life in the prison from a former prisoner. Depart from Cape Town on a shared bus to the V&A Waterfront. Collect your ticket and make your way to the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. Sail out to the island on a 45-minute journey. On arrival, embark on a bus tour of the island before visiting the prison and the cell where Nelson Mandela was kept for 18 of his 27 prison years. Gain an insight into the history and conditions of the prison from a former prisoner. After the tour, return to Cape Town and be dropped off at the V&A Waterfront. Here you will be free to return to your accommodation independently or continue touring the beautiful city.

From Cape Town: Round-Trip to Aquila with Game Drive

2. From Cape Town: Round-Trip to Aquila with Game Drive

Discover animals like the lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, and Cape Buffalos on this day trip from Cape Town to the Aquila Private Game Reserve. Take a game tour in an open top, all-terrain vehicle. Stop for a delicious lunch at the reserve's lodge.  After a morning departure, you will head up the N1 Highway, through the spectacular Hex River Valley, and arrive at the Aquila Private Game Reserve. The bio-diverse habitat of the reserve ensures plenty of interest for the avid game viewer and bird watcher. Spot giraffes, blesbok, black and blue wildebeest, zebras, springbok, gemsbok, klipspringers, duikers, greybuck, steenbok, ostriches, baboons, caracals, foxes, jackals, and more. Spot up to 172 species of birds, including the majestic black eagle. Enjoy a game drive with a well-informed ranger followed by a delicious lunch at the lodge.

Cape Town: Coastal Catamaran Cruise

3. Cape Town: Coastal Catamaran Cruise

Enjoy a one-hour scenic coastal cruise aboard a luxury power catamaran. The vessel will take you from the historic V&A Waterfront area on an adventure out to sea. Throughout the cruise, you'll travel along the Atlantic coastline to the Green Point Lighthouse before then traveling back to the harbor. With spectacular mountain and city views, the cruise provides perfect ocean views over many of Cape Town’s splendors. Your one-hour cruise operates daily, with regular departures from Quay 5. With a cash bar on board for refreshments as well as great service, this is a trip not to be missed.

From Cape Town: 2-Day Safari at Garden Route Game Lodge

4. From Cape Town: 2-Day Safari at Garden Route Game Lodge

Get the chance to see lions, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and more on a 2-day safari tour from Cape Town. Enjoy 2 game drives and an overnight stay with included dinner and breakfast. On the first day, depart Cape Town and drive along the scenic coastal road to Cape Agulhas via Hermanus, the whale watching capital of the world. Make a stop at the southernmost tip of Africa to admire the beautiful lighthouse. Continue on to Garden Route Game Lodge. Here, embark on a sunset safari in an open-air vehicle. Observe a variety of native animals, including elephants, lions, rhinos, giraffes, hippos, and more. After the safari, settle in for a three-course dinner. Spend the night in one of the beautiful 4-star wooden chalets and admire the clear skies over the lodge. In the morning, head out for another game drive to see some of the animals you might have missed the evening before. After your drive, tuck into breakfast. Make your way back to Cape Town in the evening.

From Cape Town: Cape Point and Boulders Beach Full-Day Tour

5. From Cape Town: Cape Point and Boulders Beach Full-Day Tour

Discover Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope on this guided day trip from Cape Town. Marvel at the beauty of nature as you stop at Boulders Beach to spot whales, ostrich, and other animals it shelters. The full-day tour leaves Cape Town in the morning for the spectacular landscapes of the Cape Peninsula. Enjoy a scenic drive to Boulders Beach through Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. Stop to see the penguins at Boulders Beach before heading to Cape Point, in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Be on the lookout for antelope, ostrich and other game. Scan the ocean for whales during the Cape's whale season (July-November). Enjoy lunch (at your own expense) before joining the optional hike from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope headland (medium fitness required). Sit back and enjoy the coastal drive back to Cape Town, taking in spectacular views from the Ou Kaapse Weg mountain pass.

Cape Town: Tandem Paragliding Adventure

6. Cape Town: Tandem Paragliding Adventure

Enjoy an adrenaline-fuelled paragliding adventure in Cape Town and marvel at the incredible views of the Atlantic Coastline, Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Camp's Bay, Clifton Beaches, and more. Fly high into the sky with your experienced instructor and create unforgettable memories of a lifetime. Meet your pilot and other daredevils at Signal Hill to begin your adventure. First, get a short induction from your pilot before you take off from a mountain slope under a canopy that resembles a parachute.  Get ready for liftoff; take a few steps or a short run to take off from the gentle slope, the wind will catch the canopy, and you will be airborne. Ride side-by-side with your instructor and feel the exhilaration, head rush, and incredible sensation of free-fall flying. End your day on a high as you experience a once-in-a-lifetime paragliding ride that you won't forget. Get hooked on the adrenaline high and see views of Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Camp's Bay, Clifton Beaches, Waterfront, and Robben Island, that you won't forget.

Cape Town: Atlantis Dunes Quadbike Adventure

7. Cape Town: Atlantis Dunes Quadbike Adventure

Traverse soft sand dunes on the back of a quad bike, also known as an ATV, on this outdoor adventure in the Atlantis Dunes just north of Cape Town. Take a short drive up the beautiful West Coast of Africa and you'll find the Witzands Aquifer Nature Reserve. An important conservation area protecting the Atlantis Aquifer and native wildlife, the reserve is also home to some of the best spots for quad biking with dunes up to 50 meters high. Check-in at the Parks office once you arrive and meet your instructor and guide, who will assist you with obtaining your parks permit. Once the paperwork has been handled, your instructor will take you through an introduction to quad biking and a thorough safety briefing. Now that you're comfortable with the quad bike, follow your guide out into the dunes to enjoy an hour-long, adrenaline-pumping ride in the soft sands. Explore the dunes and marvel at the surrounding landscape, including views of Table Mountain as you complete your ATV adventure.

Cape Town: Coastal Cruise & 2-Course Lunch Combo

8. Cape Town: Coastal Cruise & 2-Course Lunch Combo

Embark on a relaxed scenic 1-hour coastal cruise or a Bay sail followed by a delicious 2-course meal ashore - the ideal way to spend your lunchtime in Cape Town. Board a sturdy but luxurious twin decked trawler based vessel or an iconic sailing vessel which will take you from the historic V &A Waterfront area out to sea to cruise along the Atlantic coastline or depending on wind direction into Table Bay for spectacular views of Table Mountain from a Mariners perspective. For all the vessels, when the seas are running too high or the wind is unpleasantly strong, instead of heading into Table Bay the destination is the Cape Town Harbour for a Harbour Day Cruise. After the cruise, enjoy the freedom to choose between 3 restaurants: the Meloncino Restaurant for Italian, the City Grill for local flavor, and the Greek Fisherman.

Cape Town: Sunset Champagne Cruise and 3-Course Dinner

9. Cape Town: Sunset Champagne Cruise and 3-Course Dinner

Join a 90-minute sunset cruise from Cape Town and watch the Atlantic Ocean stretching away from the Table Mountain range as the sun goes down. Watch the sea while sipping on local sparkling wine. After the cruise, enjoy a 3-course meal at a sea-facing restaurant. The sailboats Esperance and Serenity One follow the wind for this cruise, and therefore the destination is dependent on the weather at the time of the cruise. Your captain will let you know before departure your expected direction, but typical Cape Town summer wind blows from the southeast. First, leave the harbor and sail across Table Bay towards Milnerton Lighthouse, returning to the protection of Granger Bay in the lee of Table Mountain to watch the sunset, and then motor back to the waterfront. After building an appetite at sea, you then have a short stroll through the waterfront to the restaurant where you can enjoy your meal (each restaurant has a different menu). Enjoy local fare at the City Grill or dine in the opulent setting of Sevruga, featuring exquisite panoramic views of the harbor and newly renovated interior with intimate seating. Both options will offer a perfect post-cruise culinary treat. Possible Weather Variations:  During inclement weather, when the seas are running too high, or the wind is too strong, the tour destination will be Cape Town Harbour instead of Table Bay. You will be able to enjoy a Harbour Lights Cruise. This cruise offers a perfect alternative offering magical views of Table Mountain and the lights of Cape Town and the harbor in the evening. In extreme conditions, the skipper will take every aspect into account, and may cancel the tour to ensure the safety of the passengers.

From Cape Town: Cape Point & Boulders Beach Full-Day Tour

10. From Cape Town: Cape Point & Boulders Beach Full-Day Tour

Discover the stunning beauty of the Cape of Good Hope on a full-day tour in an airconditioned vehicle from Cape Town. Visit Maidens Cove and Cape Point Lighthouse for breathtaking views. Stop to see the cute critters at the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony.  Be picked up from your hotel in Cape Town and relax on the comfortable drive to the first stop at Maidens Cove. Soak up views of Camps Bay Beach, the 12 Apostles Mountain Range, and Lion's Head.  Continue along Victoria Road, passing exclusive residential areas on the way to Chapman's Peak Drive for 2 photo stops. Upon arrival at the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, your guide will provide an overview of the park. Purchase a ticket for the funicular to the Cape Point Lighthouse or take a 15-minute walk up that passes a spectacular viewpoint. Head to the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony to see and learn about sea birds.  Make a lunch stop at Simon's Town harbor where you can buy some tasty local food and admire the 18th-century buildings. On the drive back to the meeting point, stop to see shark spotters, who help prevent sharks attacks at Muizenberg Beach. 

Frequently asked questions about Cape Town

What top attractions are a must-see in Cape Town?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Cape Town?

The best day trips and excursions from Cape Town are:

Stellenbosch

What are the best inexpensive tours in Cape Town?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Cape Town

After travelling through South Africa for quite some time, blogger Check Out Sam stayed in Cape Town for a few months longer and explored the Mother City in depth. Curious about the best things to do, see and experience? Keep reading!

What should I do on my first trip to Cape Town?

Get to know the diversity of this city by exploring several of the lively neighborhoods (Bo-Kaap and V&A Waterfront are my favorites!), hiking some of the best hikes of the country (Lion's Head!), soaking up some sun at the stunning beaches (Boulders Beach & Clifton Beach can't be missed) and organizing (day) trips to other areas around Cape Town. There is SO much to do in and around this city!!

What are some hidden gems to see in Cape Town?

I booked an excursion through GetYourGuide to go swimming with seals in Cape Town. To this day, it is one of the tours that I enjoyed most! There are only a few other places in the world where you can do this, so this truly is a unique and wonderful experience that you shouldn't miss out on.

How much time should I spend in Cape Town?

Cape Town is huge and is surrounded by other lovely regions that deserve some of your time too. Therefore you should be here for at least one full week. And even then, your itinerary will probably be jam packed! Keep in mind that some tours (e.g. cage diving with sharks, swimming with seals, visiting Robben Island) take up half or even a full day too.

What food is Cape Town known for?

The food you find in Cape Town is as diverse as its citizens, history and culture. If you're a meat lover, you will love game meat. My favorite was kudu. Ostrich is also worth trying out! There are quite some restaurants at V&A Waterfront who serve these delicacies. Another typical South African dish I would recommend, is bobotie. This oven dish still makes my mouth water when I think about it!

What is the best way to get around Cape Town? 

Public transportation for tourists is a no-go in South Africa. If you do use it, there is a chance you will get mugged. Therefore I would recommend to make use of Uber. It is cheap, safe and easy to use all around the city. Since it is so big, you just have to make use of it. Walking around Cape Town is fine, as long as you don't do it after dark, don't show off your wealth too much and stay away from dangerous areas. You shouldn't be there anyway, because most highlights are quite centrally located in the city. Are you doing a day trip or road trip from Cape Town away? Rental cars are cheap and found across the city.

What are the best months to visit Cape Town?

Since Cape Town is located in the southern hemisphere, you have to know that seasons are reverse to the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Therefore, January and February are great months to visit since the temperatures are at it's best and the days are longest. During these months, there also are a lot of activities and festivals going on around the city. The only disadvantage is that there often are bigger crowds. If you don't like that, March and April are a bit chillier but way less crowded.

What is neighborhood V&A Waterfront known for?

V&A Waterfront is considered the safest area of Cape Town and perhaps also the liveliest if you're a tourist. There are lots of things to do and here you'll also find the best restaurants. The nearby Waterkant also has great food and bars, but once it gets dark you shouldn't walk here anymore. Bo-Kaap is a very popular neighborhood with tourists because of its colorful houses. It's safe to walk here during the day (like most areas in the city center), but again I wouldnt come visit this area once it gets dark.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

You have to be in the city center if you're a food lover. V&A Waterfront and Waterkant had some of the best restaurants I've encountered in all of South Africa. There are a lot of places who offer local cuisine, but also burgers, Italian food, etc. Make sure to try out some other African restaurants as well!

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Cape Town?

If you want to be in the city center, I recommend to find accommodation in V&A Waterfront, Waterkant or Greenpoint. You'll be staying very centrally, but also in quite safe areas. As I said earlier: walking around after dark is not a great idea, but during the day you should never worry about a thing. The area around Simon's Town, Camp's Bay and Hout Bay are wonderful if you want to be closer to the beaches and don't like the busy city.

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in Cape Town?

Go out and meet some of the cute locals! I already mentioned Boulders Beach with its quirky penguins or Hout Bay with it resident seals, but of course you can also organize a safari (day) trip to one of the parks just outside Cape Town. There you might get the chance to spot the Big Five!

What is the best thing to do in Cape Town for couples?

Head out the city for some days and venture to the South African wine country: Stellenbosch! This chique area is located very close to Cape Town and has several fantastic wineries to try out. Sit down, relax, take a sip of your wine and enjoy a romantic sunset at one of these domains. Afterwards, go have dinner in one of the many fantastic restaurants you'll find in this area.

What are the best areas for outdoor activities around Cape Town?

There are several hikes you can do in the city itself (don't mis Lion's Head!), but if you really want to explore the diversity of South Africa I suggest you drive along the Garden Route or discover the quite unknown Cederberg region (about three hours from Cape Town). Along the Garden Route you'll see lots of rough coastline, but also stunning national parks and some wildlife. Cederberg is a rocky desert wilderness great for hiking, road trips or exploring the history of this region.

What are the best beaches around Cape Town?

My personal favourite is by far Boulders Beach. On this tropical white beach, you don't only find (impressive!) boulders, but also one of the penguin colonies of South Africa. Swimming ánd tanning together with these quirky birds is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Since you have to buy an entrance ticket to get in, it is also considered a very safe beach and thus you don't have to worry too much of leaving your bag when you're going for a swim.

Other Sightseeing Options in Cape Town

Want to discover all there is to do in Cape Town? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Cape Town

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 13,493 reviews

This tour was overall even better than expected. There were a few admin niggles but generally it all worked well and the company helped us change our flights too, so that we could spend longer in CT, which was great. If there was one thing that we didn’t enjoy so much it was the safari as we got the impression the animals were not particularly well looked after at the reserve that we went to. We had been to Pilanesberg national park prior to this tour where the animals seemed so much healthier and had so much more green space so we were perhaps too judgemental of the southern safari but anyway that was our only slight disappointment in the whole tour . The two guides we had did a great job. Overall I have rated our experience excellent!

This was a fantastic tour and we would highly recommend it! Ruben is so knowledgeable about absolutely everything and his communication .. and also driving were superb! We had a lovely group of people on our small tour. We saw much more than we hoped for- the coloured houses of Capetown on our way out then he took us to amazing beaches, including the surf beach Muizenberg, Chapmans Peak , Penguins at Boulders which was incredible, ,a trip to Seal Island, an amazing lunch in Simons town - then on to the Cape of good Hope which was fantastic - we saw baboons , Ostriches roaming wild - he also showed us the best places for photos! Thanks for a great experience Reubin!

We had a wonderful experience. Our tour guide Kevin was amazing. He was very knowledgeable and kind. Our tour vehicle was a Mercedes Benz C-class, clean and with plenty of room for all of us. Would definitely recommend taking the tour.

was great, you gdt a chance to see the beauty of the city, breath taking beaches, great architectural buildings, really enjoyed the experience

I had a fantastic time exploring Cape Town thanks to the CitySightSeeing bus services.