Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Western Cape
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Delaire Graff Wine Estate, near Stellenbosch, is a beautiful winery destination in the Cape Winelands region
Laurence Graff, a diamond dealer of many years, bought the Delaire Estate in the early 2000s. The estate was re-opened as Delaire Graff in 2009, and now features not only the winery but also world-class dining, luxury lodges, a spa, an excellent art collection, a diamond boutique, and picturesque botanic gardens.
Delaire Graff Estate is a luxury destination where you're tempted to stay for a few days, but you can also visit for a day to sample the estate's wines. Sip Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, rose and sparkling wines, and both white and red blends.
More Things to Do in Western Cape
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.
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.
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.
Plenty of Cape Town visitors head for the Cape of Good Hope thinking it's the southernmost point of South Africa, but that distinction belongs to Cape Agulhas. It isn't quite as dramatic as the Cape of Good Hope, nor as picturesque, with more of a gently curving coastline rather than a point, but there is a small rocky beach, and a geographical marker in Agulhas National Park indicating its status as South Africa's southern tip.
A shipwreck is still visible on Cape Agulhas, but many ships were lost in the difficult seas off the coast. The lighthouse in the national park was built in 1848 to help cut down on the number of wrecks. In addition to being the country's southern point, it's also off Cape Agulhas that the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet.
The Camps Bay suburb of Cape Town is all about beaches and nightlife, whether you're a Cape Town resident in search of a weekend getaway or you're a visitor.
The wide, white sand beaches of Camps Bay sit beneath the imposing Twelve Apostles peaks and Talbe Mountain itself. Vacationers play beach volleyball, go surfing, and simply relax in the sand. By night, Victoria Road hums with activity – it's the place to see and be seen, lined with trendy nightclubs and restaurants.
Camps Bay Beach has been listed as a Blue Flag Beach since 2008, meeting strict environmental standards.
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.
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.
On the grounds of the Anthonij Rupert Wyne Estate, L’Ormarins, the Franschhoek Motor Museum is a tribute to founder Anthonij Rupert’s passion for cars. Home to well over 200 heritage vehicles, from a 19th-century motor tricycle to a 2003 Ferrari supercar and a 1950 Norton motorbike, it’s a must for any car lover visiting the Western Cape.
As the most accessible of Cape Town’s three peaks, Signal Hill is a prime spot for catching sunset over the city. In addition to its spectacular scenery, Signal Hill also harbors the Noon Guns, two Dutch naval guns, and the last remaining Peninsula Shale Renosterveld vegetation.
One of the world’s first botanical gardens, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden hosts more than 7,000 plant species from throughout Southern Africa. Visit to explore the 1,300-acre (528-hectare) gardens spread across the slopes of Table Mountain, including extensive hiking trails, a stone sculpture garden, and sunset summer concerts.
There are some places so exceptionally welcoming, hospitable, comfortable, and friendly, that you feel like family from the moment you arrive and wish you never had to leave. Delheim Estate is one of those places, and this family owned farm outside of Stellenbosch has been growing grapes and making wine since the middle of the 1950s. The legendary patriarch, “Spatz” Sperling, helped formulate South Africa’s very first wine route back in 1971, at which time only three other wineries were part of the Stellenbosch wine route, though that number today has swollen to include over 600 different farms. Despite their success and pioneering spirit, Delheim has made sustainability a focal point of the vineyard, and believe that we are but stewards of this land who are placed here to care for it, show it respect, and it, in turn, will care for us. You can feel that spirit in the cellar door and famous Garden Restaurant, where the view stretches out to Table Mountain across rolling, vineyard-lined valleys.
In addition to tastings, picnics, and tours, Delheim is also known for their quirky pairing of wine with cupcakes, and the vineyard is often a favorite stop on Cape Winelands day tours.
The farm at Boschendal Wine Estate was established in the 1680s, and it's one of the oldest wineries in South Africa. It is set between the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands region. The main house was built in 1812 in the Cape Dutch style, and it's been converted into a museum showcasing how the family lived on the estate in the 18th and early 19th centuries. There is an assortment of cottages for overnight guests.
The estate grows grapes for wine, the most prevalent being Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. Visitors can enjoy walking and biking trails, dining in the restaurants on the property, and visiting the various historic buildings.
Tiny Duiker Island—also known as “Seal Island” for its large population of Cape fur seals—sits just off the South African coast at Hout Bay, near Cape Town. It measures just 253 feet by 312 feet (77 meters by 95 meters) and is a seabird sanctuary in addition to sheltering thousands of Cape fur seals.
Step into Cape Town’s dynamic history by visiting the oldest remaining colonial-era building in the country. Built by Dutch colonists at the end of the 1600s, the Castle of Good Hope once served as a maritime resupply point and military hub. Its historic architecture and displays make it a popular attraction on tours of the city.
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