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Things to do in Cape Town

Things to do in  Cape Town

Welcome to Cape Town

Locals affectionately refer to Cape Town as the Mother City, a name it earns as a longstanding, welcoming, and stunning metropolis. One of the oldest cities in South Africa, Cape Town is the country’s second-most populated city behind Johannesburg. This stylish urban center is surrounded on all sides by natural beauty—from the waves of the Atlantic Ocean crashing on beaches to the iconic wildflower-lined Table Mountain. Get your bearings on a sightseeing tour to absorb a little history, and browse the shops and restaurants in central Cape Town on the Victoria & Albert Waterfront. Ride a cable car up Table Mountain for the best views over the city. Visit points of interest beyond the city center easily with a day tour: Learn about South Africa’s tumultuous history at the UNESCO World Heritage–listed Robben Island, where you’ll see Nelson Mandela’s former prison cell. Explore the wildlife and dramatic cliffs of Cape Point, the Cape of Good Hope, and Hout Bay. Visit the penguin colony at Boulders Beach not far from Simon’s Town. Head inland to sip unique vintages produced in the Western Cape Winelands region in historic towns like Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. Get your adrenaline pumping with a shark cage diving tour off the coast near Hermanus; or tame things down, and admire the flowers along the Garden Route. Finally, go on a private safari tour at a nearby game reserve to look for Africa’s “Big Five,” including the grand African lion.

Top 15 attractions in Cape Town

Robben Island

Robben Island—where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years—was a place of isolation for nearly three centuries, housing many political prisoners and serving as both an asylum and leprosy colony. Today, the island remains a tangible symbol of political freedom and a reminder of the difficult road to South African democracy.More

Boulders Beach

With pristine white sands and calm turquoise waters hemmed in by gigantic granite boulders, Boulders Beach is one of the Cape Peninsula’s most magnificent beaches. Located just outside Simon’s Town, the beach is protected as part of the Table Mountain National Park and renowned for its African penguin colony.More

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve

With its huge sea cliffs, bays, and valleys, the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve—situated at the very tip of the Cape Peninsula—is one of the most scenic spots in South Africa. A trip to Cape Point and the reserve, part of Table Mountain National Park, is an easy must-do when visiting Cape Town and highlights include animal sightings, scenic drives, and deserted beaches.More


Lined with brightly colored houses and lively streets, Bo-Kaap is as vibrant as it is culturally rich. The historic neighborhood, set just outside central Cape Town on the flanks of Signal Hill, is a dynamic melting pot of Malaysian, India, Sri Lankan, and African culture. It was one of the first settlements of freed slaves and Muslim immigrants in South Africa.More

Cape Point

Panoramic ocean views, towering cliffs, and 100-year-old lighthouses define Cape Point, located at the tip of South Africa’s Cape Peninsula. Set within the Cape Floral Region (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Table Mountain National Park, the reserve is a haven for hiking, wildlife viewing, and photography.More

Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak is a mountain on the Cape Peninsula with a 5.5-mile (8.8 kilometers) road, said to be one of the world’s most scenic drives. The road winds from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, clinging to the side of the steep mountain almost the whole way. Traveling this road’s 114 turns is a must-do in Cape Town.More

Table Mountain and Cableway

Table Mountain is a must-see for all Cape Town visitors. The panoramic views from the top of its 3,563-foot (1,086-meter) peak are well worth the climb—though you won’t have to break a sweat thanks to the mountain’s two cableways, each with a revolving car ferrying passengers to the summit. Once at the top, a series of hiking trails show off Table Mountain National Park’s geographic features, while daredevils can test their mettle by rappelling from the upper cable station.More

Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain's distinctive plateau is the backdrop for iconic Cape Town views, but that's just the beginning of its namesake national park. Stretching the length of the Cape Peninsula, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to hiking trails, diverse flora and fauna, and—of course—South Africa’s most famous coastal and mountain vistas.More


Boasting four acclaimed white-sand beaches, Clifton attracts Cape Town’s elite residents and wealthiest visitors. From upscale homes perched above the shoreline to high-dollar yachts anchored in the bay, the Cape Town suburb has a reputation for being frequented by celebrities and wealthy entrepreneurs. That said, anyone can spend the day sunbathing and enjoying drinks and seafood served on the picturesque beaches.More

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront (V&A Waterfront)

Originally a jetty built in 1654 to provide fresh water and produce to the sailors of the Dutch East India Company, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is now one of the most-visited attractions in South Africa. The area is a development consisting of two harbors, retail shops and museums, seascapes and mountain views, and plenty of places to bed down, drink up, and eat away.More

Cape Town Stadium

The impressive Cape Town Stadium, built to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup and formerly known as the Green Point Stadium, is Cape Town’s architectural and entertainment centerpiece. With a capacity of 55,000 people, the venue hosts everything from rugby matches to big-name performers. Visitors can catch a game, show, or explore the stadium on a tour.More

Lion's Head

Rising more than 2,000 feet (600 meters) above the Atlantic Ocean, Lion’s Head peak presides over Cape Town and can be spotted from nearly everywhere in the city, but the real treasure is the view from the peak. Hike the steep trail the top to be rewarded with views of the coastline, cityscape, and neighboring Table Mountain.More

Camps Bay

The rugged buttresses of the Twelve Apostles mountains back the white-sand sweep of Camps Bay Beach, making Camps Bay one of Cape Town’s fanciest suburbs—and a popular weekend getaway. Sun, sea, sand, food, and drink are the main attractions here, but you can also cycle the beachfront or hike up to Table Mountain or Lion’s Head.More

Hout Bay

A quaint fishing village on the Cape Peninsula’s Atlantic Seaboard, Hout Bay is an idyllic vacation spot with a historic downtown, a bustling harbor front, wineries, and marine life. While only about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Cape Town, the community has a remote feel, giving visitors a chance to slow down and savor the seaside vibes.More

Twelve Apostles

Twelve Apostles Mountain Range—with its rock buttresses and deep ravines—stretches majestically south from Cape Town along the rugged Atlantic Coast. You can explore the mountains up close on numerous hiking trails, or you can view the scenic formations from the coastal road that runs between the base of the bluffs and ocean.More
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Trip ideas

Wildlife Safari Tours from Cape Town

Wildlife Safari Tours from Cape Town

Cape Winelands Tours from Cape Town

Cape Winelands Tours from Cape Town

Top activities in Cape Town

Table Mountain, Penguins & Cape Point Small Group Tour from Cape Town
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Table Mountain, Penguins & Cape Point Small Group Tour from Cape Town

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Aquila Game Reserve Wildlife Safari from Cape Town
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Shark Cage Diving and Viewing from Cape Town
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Cape of Good Hope and Penguins Full-Day Tour From Cape Town
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2 Day Safari Experience from Cape Town
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Tandem Paragliding in Cape Town

Tandem Paragliding in Cape Town

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All about Cape Town

When to visit

Summer in Cape Town (December through February) is warm and dry, but the city can get very busy. A better time to visit is during fall (from March to May), when the weather is still warm, but there are fewer crowds, and still lots of fun things going on—especially for foodies and music fans. Look out for Cape Town Carnival, Cape Town International Jazz Festival, the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, and the SA Cheese Festival.

Getting around

Cape Town’s MyCiTi bus service is considered safe, convenient, and has good connections to key landmarks. A hop-on hop-off bus is also a fun way to explore the city and listen to audio commentary at the same time. If you fancy cycling, there are several places that offer bike rental—especially at Sea Point and the V&A Waterfront. The most efficient way to explore the city is by car—there are plenty of car rental companies, or alternatively Uber is an option.

Traveler tips

Cape Town’s most famous sandwich is The Gatsby—a foot-long sub with chips, sauce, salad, cheese, fried eggs, and meat/fish. The original Gatsby sandwich was invented by Super Fisheries in Athlone, where you can still try their signature version. For a foodie hotspot that also showcases arts and crafts—check out The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock on Saturday mornings. Feast your way around the stalls—which include tapas, truffles, burgers, cheese, and all sorts of super-fresh farm-to-table cuisine.

People Also Ask

What is Cape Town famous for?

Cape Town is famous for its beaches, mountain ranges, and scenery—including Table Mountain, Cape Point, Boulders Beach, and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. It’s also known for its cosmopolitan food scene, nearby winelands, and Robben Island—the former prison island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years.

What are Cape Town's main tourist attractions?

Travelers flock to see the natural wonder of Table Mountain—you can get a cable car ride to the top, too. Other highlights include Robben Island, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront—an area packed with restaurants, food stalls, shops, galleries, and live entertainment.

Is 3 days in Cape Town enough?

No. Three days is not enough time to thoroughly explore Cape Town’s highlights—ideally, devote at least five days—but you can still see some key sights in three days. Go on a Cape Peninsula tour, see the penguins at Boulders Beach, visit Robben Island, ride up Table Mountain, and discover the colorful Bo-Kaap district.

What's so special about Cape Town?

Cape Town's history and spectacular natural beauty make it special. The oldest city in South Africa, it’s nicknamed the Mother City. It’s also frequently named as one of the world’s most beautiful places, thanks to its Cape Floral Region and enviable position between the mountains and the sea.

What is there to do in Cape Town with teenagers?

Active teenagers can find an abundance of outdoor activities—including hiking Table Mountain, biking tours, horseback riding, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and seasonal whale watching. Other fun activities include visiting the beaches (including Clifton and Camps Bay), trying an escape room, or going on a safari at game reserves.

Is Cape Town dangerous for tourists?

Yes. Cape Town can be dangerous especially if you visit areas that aren’t safe for tourists—such as Nyanga township or Cape Flats. However, the main tourist areas are safer. As a general rule, it’s best to be vigilant, not walk alone at night, and get an Uber or drive.


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