Top 10 best things to see & do in Cape Town (South Africa)
Cape Town – a modern metropolis surrounded by spectacular nature – is my favorite city in the world. Centered around Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of the world, South Africa’s Mother City is known for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking scenery, stunning biodiversity, award-winning food and wine, gay friendly ambiance, thriving art scene, chic hotels, and sheer variety of experiences on offer. As the oldest European settlement in Africa, Cape Town has a rich and, at times, turbulent (and disturbing) past. Its strategic geographic position at the tip of the African continent has seen foreign visitors stopping off at the Cape since the 1400s, each influencing the fabric of modern-day Cape Town, a quintessential melting pot of cultures. Explore the best things to see & do in Cape Town with my list of the city’s top tourist attractions.
There is more info below my YouTube video. Think I missed one? Share your favorite Cape Town adventure in the comments section.
10. DIVE WITH GREAT WHITE SHARKS (IN A CAGE)
For a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience, jump into the shark-infested waters around Cape Town and prepare yourself for a potentially heart-stopping encounter with the ultimate super-predator: the great white shark! Gansbaai, a small fishing village 163 km (101 mi) to the east of Cape Town, has become the hub for tour operators that specialize in diving with great white sharks, all from the safety of a cage of course. The cages are shark-proof, so there is nothing to fear, and the trilling experience will inspire you for a lifetime. You’ll definitely emerge with a greater respect for these often misunderstood, ocean predators.
9. ENTERTAIN YOUR TASTE BUDS IN THE CAPE WINELANDS
Be sure to add at least one day of wine-tasting to your itinerary when visiting the greater Cape Town area. South Africa’s wines are well-known all over the globe, and the heart of its wine industry is located a 45 minutes drive from Cape Town in the Cape Winelands, centered around the ancient university town of Stellenbosch and the lesser known villages of Franschoek and Paarl. Here, you can discover and explore more than 150 wine farms and estates where both connoisseurs and novice wine-drinkers can enjoy the fruit of the vine. One of my favorite wine estates is the Delaire Graff Estate, which also houses a restaurant with a spectacular view that matches the food.
8. GO HIKING IN THE CEDERBERG WILDERNESS AREA
The Cederberg Wilderness Area lies some 200km (214 mi) north of Cape Town, stretching from Citrusdal to Clanwilliam and encompassing some 71,000 hectares of rugged, mountainous terrain. The Cederberg is renowned for its spectacular landscapes and rock formations, as well as its namesake, the rare Clanwilliam Cedar. It was proclaimed a wilderness area in 1973 and has grown into a popular destination for hardy hikers and mountaineers. The solitude and breathtaking natural beauty of the area, which is best explored on foot, is captivating. Here you will find Bushmans Kloof Wilderness Reserve & Wellness Retreat, one of south Africa’s best wilderness lodges.
7. GET UP CLOSE WITH PINGUINS AT BOULDERS BEACH
Boulders Beach, close to the coastal village of Simon’s Town on False Bay, is a sheltered bay made up of sandy inlets between massive granite boulders, from which the name originated. Yet, it’s not for the beautiful beach or crystal clear waters that people come here, but for its world-famous breeding colony of over 2000 endangered African Penguins. You can observe the penguins from the board walks that you will share with many others, but don’t be put off: it’s great fun to watch the penguin’s behavior, from waddling along the sandy shores and nest guarding, to sunbathing and diving in the cold water.
6. SIP ON A SUNDOWNER AT BLAUBERGSTRAND
There’s no denying that Cape Town enjoys some of the most stunning sunsets in the world. As warm summer weather descends on the city, tourists and locals flock to the Atlantic shores for sipping on their favorite drink while watching the sun slowly dipping below the glistening ocean. There are many places in the city to have a coctail while soaking in those perfects sunsets, but a standout is the Bloubergstrand shoreline, with its picture perfect views of the Table Mountain silhouette across Table Bay, Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned), the endless ocean and the occasional passing dolphin or whale.
5. OBSERVE WHALES IN HERMANUS
Hermanus, a small city 127 km (79 mi) to the east of Cape Town is one of the world’s best whale watching destinations. The best time to enjoy whale watching in Hermanus is between July and November either from land, by boat or from the air via a scenic flight. Hermanus, particularly Walker Bay, is the mating and breeding grounds of the Southern Right Whale during the winter and spring months (from June to November). Southern Right Whales migrate from the Antarctic around June to calve and mate. Calving takes place in August and September and the males arrive for mating in October when the whale population peaks.
4. RELAX ON THE WORLD’S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITY BEACHES
Cape Town is one of the world’s greatest beach destinations, with amazing beaches just minutes from the city center. From the family beaches on False Bay to the gorgeous beaches for the rich and famous on the Atlantic Seaboard – you’re sure to find a stretch of sand that suits your fancy. My personal favorite beaches are located on the Cape Peninsula’s western side: Clifton, Llandudno, and – of course – Camps Bay, one of Cape Town’s most elegant suburbs. Set against the majestic backdrop of the 12 Apostles Mountain Range and boasting blinding white sands, Camps Bay’s water is a bit cold, due to the currents in the Atlantic Ocean, but that will not distract you from the amazing surrounding scenery.
3. VISIT CAPE POINT & THE CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
At the tip of the Cape Peninsula, 60 km (37 mi) south-west of Cape Town, lies Cape Point, a rocky promontory with a lighthouse on top of it, towering more than 200 m (650 ft) above the sea and providing spectacular 360 degree ocean views. Cape Point is separated from another rocky headland, the famous Cape of Good Hope, by a breathtakingly beautiful beach (called Dias Beach). Although these two rocky and beautiful capes are very well-known, neither cape is actually the southernmost point in Africa or the point where the cold Atlantic Ocean and warm Indian Ocean meet; that is Cape Agulhas, approximately 150 kms (93 mi) to the east.
2. DRIVE THE MARINE ROAD AROUND CHAPMAN’S PEAK
Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most spectacular drives in the world, winds it way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast of the Cape Peninsula. The 9 km or 5,6 mi route, with its 114 curves, skirts the rocky coastline of Chapman’s Peak (593m or 1768 feet tall), with sheer drops to the sea below and towering mountains rising above you. The drive is affectionately known as “Chappies” and there are many areas along the route where you can stop and take in the exquisite scenery. Drive the route from south (Noordhoek) to north (Hout Bay) for the best views and easy access to the viewpoints (all on the ocean side of the road).
1. TAKE A HIKE UP OR DOWN TABLE MOUNTAIN
Flat-topped Table Mountain is the most iconic landmark of Cape Town, and it’s also Africa’s most photographed attraction. Its famous cable car took more than 24 million visitors (so far!) to its top, from where you can enjoy tremendous 360-degree views of the city, Table Bay, the Atlantic seaboard, the nearby mountain peaks and the rest of the Table Mountain National Park. The more adventurous travelers may choose to hike one of the 300 trails up and down the mountain, with my favorite being Skeleton George starting in the Kirstenbosch Gardens. Table Mountain, a World Heritage Site, is the single richest floristic area in the world.