4.5 star rating: Recommended 49 Reviews

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  • Hours: Open Daily - check site for ferry departure times.
  • Admission: R200 - reservations are strongly recommended

For nearly 300 years, Robben Island was a place of isolation, where political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, were imprisoned and cut off from the rest of the world. It also served as a voluntary sanctuary for lepers. Despite this unsavory past, Robben Island is an important piece of South Africa's history, as well as a reminder of the difficult road to South African Democracy and the victory over apartheid.

Robben Island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, and the Robben Island Museum is dedicated to preserving the memory and contributions of the freedom fighters held within its walls. The museum's exhibitions detail the life, times and struggles of its prisoners, particularly those of Robert Sobukwe and his commitment to Pan Africanism. A multimedia exhibit educates visitors on the history of South Africa's democracy.

Practical Info

In addition to its background as a political prison, Robben Island is also known for its conservation programs and wildlife. While its penguin population was nearly wiped out by the 19th century, the late 20th century saw the penguins return to prominence. Its name is Dutch for "seal island," and indeed, visitors can catch Cape fur seals in their natural environment, as well as spot southern right whales and dusky and heaviside dolphins. On land are small herds of springbok, bontebok and eland, and ostriches, lizards and three species of tortoise also roam the island's grounds.

A tip on getting there: since you take a ferry from the Nelson Mandela Gateway, space is limited and the attraction fills up fast. Do yourself a favor and get there at least 45 minutes early, or else you'll have to book a trip for the following day.

Tours & Tickets

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Cape Town Townships Tour including Robben Island

4.5 star rating: Recommended 43 Reviews

Experience a thought-provoking guided tour of Cape Town and Robben Island, where the late Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. Learn the sobering ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $61.75

Robben Island and Cape Town City Tour

A tour designed to maximize on your time in Cape Town, this tour includes all the ‘must-sees’ when in the Mother City – Robben Island, Table Mountain and the ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $149.37

Walk to Freedom Tour in Cape Town Including Robben Island

This tour offers a wealth of insight into South Africa’s history and past injustices, the legacy of the struggle and the promise of reconstruction and ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 9 hours (approx.)

From USD $158.76

Table Mountain Hike in Cape Town

Following the famous Smuts Track to the Table Top, walkers walk through flower-strewn fynbos and past waterfalls and frog-filled streams, enjoying ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 8 hours (approx.)

From USD $136.00

Chavonnes Battery Museum Tour in Cape Town

Opposite Robben Island ferry, perfect to visit before or after. Visitors are invited to don an 18th-century tricorn hat and step below sea-level for a ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 40 minutes (approx.)

From USD $7.22

8-Day Cape Town Budget Tour Including Robben Island, Cape Point and Table Mountain

Enjoy breathtaking scenic routes as you explore the beauty of the Western Cape. Learn the history of Robben Island, view the splendor of Cape Town from the top ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 8 days (approx.)

From USD $833.73

Table Mountain Bike Tour from Cape Town

4.5 star rating: Recommended 6 Reviews

Unleash your adventurous streak on this three-hour mountain biking tour on Cape Town's iconic landmark, Table Mountain. Enjoy a fun-filled dirt track riding ...  Read more

Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

From USD $91.37

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