Top 10 Things to Do in Cape Town and the Surrounding Areas

It’s no secret: Cape Town is one of the most bewitching cities on this blessed planet. Why wouldn't it be?

The Mother City is a fascinating fusion of African, European, and Malay influences; and with the surrounding areas, it is also a melting pot of diverse natural gems. Moreover, it is bounded by the glorious Table Mountain, which adds an extra touch of beauty to an already striking panorama. There’s all the incentive you need for a Cape Town tour!

Whether you’re still considering a trip to Cape Town or you’re all set with your tickets, you can discover the top ten things to do in and around Cape Town, here. With history, nature, culture, and art thrown in for good measure, this list includes everything from basking in heritage to sipping wine at the finest wine estates.

Visit Table Mountain and take a cable car ride to the top for panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area.

Are you outdoorsy? It would be well worth your time to take a trip up the iconic Table Mountain. The views from the table-top are mesmerising, whether you hike up there or indulge in a scenic cable car ride. You can also take a stroll on the circular walking path at the top. Watch out for the unpredictable cloud cover or the “tablecloth”, though, since it can obscure your vision entirely.

Explore the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a bustling harbour area with shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.

One of the most popular destinations in Africa is the V&A Waterfront. Tourists and locals alike go to this area for the upmarket shopping, diverse dining options, and an array of activities. From premium international brands to rich local products, and from boat excursions and sunset cruises as well as museum, aquarium, and gallery visits, you can indulge in some perfect entertainment and retail therapy while on your trip to Cape Town

Visit the District Six Museum, which commemorates the forced removal of over 60,000 people from this former multicultural neighbourhood during apartheid.

It is said that you simply cannot fully grasp South African history without reference to District Six. District Six was designated a “white” district in 1966. Over 60,000 people were driven to relocate to the ramshackle towns built in Cape Flats, while apartheid was in effect. Through displays that illustrate their experiences and educate visitors about social justice, the museum honours the displaced people. Many Cape Town tours involve a guided tour of the museum.

Visit Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years, and take a tour of the maximum security prison.

Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Robben Island was where Nelson Mandela and many other political detainees served their sentences. The Robben Island Prison Museum is a significant historical location, despite its tragic nature. Visitors are accepted on pre-arranged tours, which are about 7 kilometres from the shore of Cape Town. Former prisoners lead some of the tours, providing first-hand accounts of what it meant to fight apartheid.

Take a trip to the Cape of Good Hope, and visit the Cape Point Nature Reserve.

The Cape of Good Hope is a renowned part of every Cape Town tour,  providing breathtaking views of the ocean, flora, and fauna. This rocky peninsula, just north of the Cape of Good Hope, offers a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and is host to a wildlife reserve with the loveliest safari near Cape Town. The biodiversity is phenomenal, and the view is beautiful. Upwards of 250 species of deer, apes, birds, and zebras live here. Picnic areas abound in the region, ideal for observing nature.

Visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, home to over 7,000 plant species, many of which are endemic to the Cape region.

A botanical garden of around 1,300 acres slopes downhill from Table Mountain to Cape Town’s lush southern suburbs. The Tree Canopy Walkway is ideal for taking pictures and observing birds. The protea garden, which honours South Africa’s national flower, is also worth visiting. For a richer experience, check the events calendar before you plan a trip to Cape Town.

Take a boat tour to see seals, penguins, and other marine life in the waters around Cape Town.

Take a boat cruise to see the most iconic sunset, take in the cold ocean wind of Cape Town, and watch the sunset. From a distance, the city appears lovely at sunset, with Table Mountain in the background. Step aboard for an ocean cruise where you may encounter whales, dolphins, seals, penguins, and more as you go to Clifton, Sea Point, Camps Bay, or Oudekraal. It’s like a Cape Town safari of the ocean!

Visit the Castle of Good Hope, a 17th-century fort built by the Dutch East India Company.

The Castle of Good Hope is a vast 17th-century structure near the shores of Table Bay that draws enormous visitors. Daily tours highlight the fascinating history of the edifice, which was established in 1666 as a fort as well as replenishment station for ships by the Dutch East India Company. It is the country’s oldest colonial structure.

Go wine tasting in the nearby winelands region, home to some of South Africa's best wine estates.

Consider going wine tasting in the famous winelands of the region on one of your Cape Town trips:

  • The calm Constantia, a swath of forests and winding country roads, is a short drive from the central city and home to some of the oldest wineries. You may unwind in this historic Cape Dutch manor while enjoying exceptional vintages and nibbling on delicacies.
  • Visit the deep-green valleys of Stellenbosch, the centre of the Cape Winelands and home to more than 200 wine estates.
  • The lovely town of Franschhoek, dubbed the culinary epicentre of South Africa, is also accessible by travelling a little farther outside of the city.

Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium, where you can see a wide variety of marine life, including sharks, rays, and fish.

Does ocean life fascinate you? You have the opportunity to see the great diversity of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans at the Two Oceans Aquarium, which is directly across from the Watershed Market in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. It showcases nearly 8,000 creatures and over 300 species, and the calm Kelp Forest allows you to explore an underwater forest. To have a truly unique experience, schedule your trip to fall during the shark feeding times!

Before you travel, FAQs

When is the ideal time for Cape Town trips?

The warmer summer months, from late November to March, are considered the best time of year to explore Cape Town for outdoor pursuits and Cape Town tours.

Where is the airport in Cape Town?

Cape Town International Airport is located 20 kilometres from the city centre. It is close to the N2, a route that connects to Cape Town. It takes just under 20 minutes to drive into the city at non-peak hours.

Is there a handy tip before visiting the city or experiencing a safari South Africa, Cape Town?

Knowing some of the terminology and jargon may help you adjust to this multi-cultural metropolis. South Africans communicate mixing English with Afrikaans, Xhosa and English, and a variety of other languages.

Where can I find the nicest beaches?

Cape Town is blessed with two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian, both of which provide several beautiful beaches: Clifton, Camps Bay, Blouberg, Muizenberg, and more.