Things you have to do at least once (or every once in a while) as a visitor and local

This is our essential checklist of 59 things to do in Cape Town, for locals and tourists, adults and kids.

THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO IN CAPE TOWN BEFORE YOU DIE

1. Take a helicopter ride with the city’s TripAdvisor-rated number-one operator, Cape Town Helicopters, and see the Mother City like never before (ranked in the top three must-do tours in Cape Town). Using state-of-the-art, quieter and more eco-friendly (not to mention wider 270-degree window view) Airbus craft, you easily get the most Instagrammable views in Cape Town on the Cape Point flight or sweep that special someone off their feet and into the air on the VIP Winelands flight. Forget the ferry and see the historic Robben Island from a perspective-smashing new vantage point. And, get the full experience for a lot less than you think: the Hopper flight keeps you within budget with an extraordinary helicopter adventure for around the cost of two dinners at a city restaurant.

2. Go wine tasting, with a difference. There are over 2000 vineyards and wine estates in the Western Cape, so where to start? Book a wine tour with Wine Flies, the boutique touring company invites you to explore the province through wine. You can visit up to five wine estates a day – and even more if you choose to go on a weekend away.

3. Visit the world’s largest collection of contemporary African art. Marvel at the architecture, get lost in the art or just explore the Silo District at the V&A Waterfront around the Zeitz MOCAA Museum.

4. Soak up Cape Cape Malay culture and history through the sensational food by taking a Malay cooking course.

5. Be a beach bum. We have gorgeous stretches of sea and sand at every turn. Or opt for a thrill of a different kind and take a dip in one of our natural rock pools, dotted around the city and surrounds.


6. Take a Hop On Hop Off City Sightseeing Bus – this service is a tried, tested and very fun way of seeing the city’s main attractions. Or take an urban tour with Kiff Kombie.

7. Langebaan is a popular weekend destination for relaxing and unwinding. Rather than the usual holiday home accommodation, why not spend the weekend (or longer) living on a house boat in the West Coast National Park.

8. Join the Mother City’s favourite weekday past-time, First Thursdays when, on the first thursday of every month, city sights, particularly art galleries, restaurants and shops, stay open late into the night for all to enjoy the urban vibe after dark.

9. Sundays are about long lazy brunches and driving along our 9km stretch of paradise, namely Chapman’s Peak – it’s a must-do with breathtaking views.

10. Wile away the day at a tshisanyama, there’s a spot in any one of our townships. It’s where locals go to eat good meat, listen to music and chill with friends.

11. Collect a few of your friends to visit some of the very interesting caves we have around the city.

12. Soak up the urban creativity on a street art tour in Woodstock. This trendy neighbourhood boasts a number of walls adorned with art in an array of colours and designs.

13. Spend a day at one of the best nature reserves in South Africa, Cape Point.

14. There is a little walk that winds its way between Muizenberg and St. James, which is perfect for a gentle stroll with family and friends. Interestingly, this coastal stretch used to be known as Cape Town’s Golden Mile.

15. Give the Mystery Ghost Bus a go. This ride takes you to the Mother City’s oldest, spookiest venues, including the Kimberley Hotel and the Castle of Good Hope.

16. See the Garden Route on the Blue Train. This classic form of travelling is the epitome of elegance and luxury.

17. Try a Gatsby – Cape Town’s signature super loaf, which is usually stuffed with slap chips and a range of other fillings like polony, steak, atchar, and much more. It’s delicious.

18. This is a no brainer: You have to go up Table Mountain – it’s one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

19. Take an ever-awesome hike up Lion’s Head.

20. Spend a day exploring Simon’s Town (and be sure to travel there by train). It is home to the South African Navy’s largest naval base, and an authentic wartime submarine can be seen there.

21. Check out the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – The stunning garden was named “International Garden of the Year” by the International Garden Tourism Awards Body in 2015. There’s also a great treetop canopy walkway called the “Boomslang” that was declared the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at the 2015 Design Indaba.

22. Make some exciting new discoveries at the V&A Waterfront – it’s more than a tourist spot, locals visit here every day. You’ll find that escape game specialists HintHunt have opened a new escape room experience inside the new kiddies indoor play area, Superpark. And you can grab artisanal street food, from real Durban curry to Vietnamese salmon and avo rice-paper rolls for R30 to 500g steamed West Coast mussels for R95 or even choose your own rump or fillet before it’s braaied for you at R30/100g, every day (or check out the free live music on weekends and public holidays) at the V&A Food Market.

23. Take advantage of the wonderful Signal Hill. You could paraglide off the famous mound with Parataxi, or soak in the views of the cool and calm Atlantic Ocean below, or just take a moment to watch the sunrise or sunset.

24. Check out the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock. This hotspot is home to the Neighbourgoods Market, the weekly Saturday market with artisanal food and drink, as well as a number of great clothing stands.

25. If you’re keen to check out “Cape Town’s most loved group activity”, challenge yourself and a group of your friends with Hint Hunt; the most exciting live escape game to hit the city.

26. Visit Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town. It is here where you will find a colony of penguins that settled there in 1982.

27. Take a trip to the historic Robben Island, home to the prison that housed many political prisoners under apartheid, the most famous being Nelson Mandela.

28. It is imperative that you check out Cape Town’s famous Long Street. The CBD roadway is known for its endless offering of clubs, pubs, bars, restaurants and more.

29. Head to the quaint seaside town of Kalk Bay for its beautiful views of the False Bay coastline, its charming little shops and the much more.  It is also a top spot for getting tasty fish and chips at the well-known fishery, Kalky’s.

30. Get inked. Tattoos are like potato chips; you can’t just have one. Consider the hand poke technique for your next piece. Palm Black Tattoo Co. is one of the only tattoo studios in the city that offer this interesting alternative to the conventional tattooing technique.

31. Make sure you visit Muizenberg beach. The popular sandy shoreline is a prime spot for surfing and features those well-known colourful changing booths that appear in many Cape Town tourist photos.

32. Check out Rhodes Memorial, which is located on the slopes of Devil’s Peak Mountain (at the University of Cape Town). This location offers great views of the city, and is also a chilled spot for selfies and relaxing with friends.

33. Go shark diving in Gansbaai. Just two hours away from Cape Town, this location is known as the Great White Shark capital of the world.

34. Take a personal pilgrimage through the the peninsula by walking the Cape Camino – the sacred walk of approximately 200km takes between seven and nine days on foot. It’s a wonderful opportunity for reflection as you explore beautiful Cape Town.

35. Check out the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay. This weekend shindig has over 80 trader stalls filled with delightful goods and also features live music and much more.

36. Marvel at the magic of our Milky Way at the Planetarium. This popular cultural institution hosts themed shows, the schedule of which is available on their website.

37. Watch the sunset from the back of an electric bicycle with GONOW. This is perfect if you want to culture-up your Instagram account, as the two-hour trip includes four to five photo opportunity stops at the Lionel Smit artwork in Sea Point.

38. Take a stroll through the Company’s Garden – you can picnic in the garden or read a book in the sun while the playful squirrels scurry around you. The delightful restaurant in the garden is worth visiting too when you get peckish.

39. Cycle through parts of the CBD with Moonlight Mass. The popular event takes place every full moon and invites both Capetonians and tourists to see Cape Town streets in a different, er, light.

40. Watch the Mother City wake up at a secret sunrise. We could say more, but it’s a secret.

41. Go seal snorkelling. It’s an ultimate Cape Town must-do. And you don’t need to be a pro. Plus your equipment is provided. All you do is follow the instructions (there are pro PADI master divers on hand) and chill in the water while Cape Fur Seals dance and dive in the water around you

42. View over 3000 creatures at the Two Oceans Aquarium. Perfect for kids and curious adults alike, this spot is home to thousands of aquatic species and even hosts children’s birthday parties.

43. Explore the Cape of Good Hope. This rocky headland is on the coast of the Cape Peninsula and is known as one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean.

44. Enjoy morning or afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel. This activity has been a firm favourite among Capetonians and travellers alike for years and is really worth a try (if you’re not already a regular). Tea at the 12 Apostles Hotel is as delightful. Here the view alone will keep you entranced for hours.

45. Take a walk on the Sea Point Promenade. This stretch of path on the Atlantic Seaboard is a great spot for casual cycling, a workout (there’s an outdoor gym) and is ideal for taking your pet out for a walk.

46. Visit the V&A Waterfront. Tourists and Capetonians alike love it for its restaurants, local and international shops, and endless variety of entertainment. The Silo District has become one of the most popular spots at the V&A. Wander there too.

47. Go for a swim at Long Street Baths. This facility has been a favourite spot for Capetonians to cool off for more than over 100 years. It features a large indoor pool and Turkish steam baths.

48. Go glamping. The company to use for your luxury lodgings is AfriCamps. The outdoor living experts, who brought the concept of glamping to South Africa, have five camps, placed at some of the most beautiful farms and estates in the Cape: in Oudtshoorn, Swellendam, Robertson, Stanford and Plettenberg Bay.

49. Check out St George’s Cathedral (which was designed by Sir Herbert Baker). It is the oldest cathedral in Southern Africa and is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town.

50. Visit the Iziko Slave Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. This museum has been renamed multiple times over the years, and now explores the history of slaves in South Africa.

51. Discover the Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha. Situated just 30kms from Cape Town, this attraction is built on the largest sand dune on the Cape Flats and boasts stunning views of the surrounding area.

52. Revel at South African art at the Irma Stern Museum. The former home of the famous South African Expressionist painter Irma Stern (1894 – 1966), the space features a permanent exhibition of the artist’s paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculptures, as well as her private collection of early European furniture, African and Oriental art.

53. Take a step back in history at the District Six Museum. Located in the former inner-city residential area of District Six, where more than 60 000 residents were forcibly removed under the controversial Group Areas Act in 1966.

54. Sip and swirl top-class wine in Constantia, where some of South Africa’s oldest wine producing estates can be found, including the popular Groot Constantia. But there’s more, in the CBD you can enjoy Open Wine in a wine bar.

55. Check out the World of Birds. This is Africa’s largest bird park with over 3 000 birds and 400 different species spread over four hectares of land.

56. While visiting the Mother City dare to try “the world’s strongest coffee” by Black Insomnia Coffee Company

57. Learn to kitesurf at a world-accredited kite school in Cape Town because there are few things more exhilarating. You don’t have to be an expert, book a private or group lesson at High Five, they have awesome options.

58. Rev up your day with a ride on a Harley Davidson, you’ll get to hug the corners and lean into the curves as you roar around some of the City’s most spectacular coastal roads. Satisfy your need for speed as you ride pillion with an experienced driver from Cape Bike Travel.

59. You haven’t been to Cape Town if you haven’t cruised the bay. And Tigger 2 have been in the luxury cruise business for 22 years. From sunset cruises to dinner and lunch on the powered cat or a wedding on the water. Or have your office party, team building events, private functions and others too onboard the Tigger 2 Royale.

Source credit: www.capetownmagazine.com

A week is a good amount of time to spend in Cape Town. It’s long enough to take in the big attractions, but also focus on your own particular interests and really get under the skin of the city. Cape Town has a lot going on, and it’s worth spending some time getting off the beaten track, making friends with locals, and getting to know the authentic Cape Town. There’s enough time to take it easy, explore the places you fall in love with, or get to know the locals.

 

Day 1: Broad strokes

The first day is great for taking in as much of the city as you can, to get the big picture. The best way to do this is to get aboard the hop-on-hop-off City Sightseeing bus. It’s well worth getting hold of an iVenture card, which gets you free entry into many of the city’s top attractions. Start the day by catching the bus from the V&A Waterfront and heading straight for the city’s centerpiece—Table Mountain. You can hop off here and take the Aerial Cableway to the top. From there, you’ll have panoramic views of the city and coast. It’s a great way to orientate yourself, and the views are magnificent. There’s a wifi lounge at the top, where you can grab breakfast and a coffee.

Next, you’ll head over the mountain to the Atlantic Seaboard. Here, especially in Camps Bay and Clifton, you’ll find some incredible beaches, bars and restaurants, making this a fantastic spot to spend the afternoon. Get some sun, have lunch, sip on cocktails, or walk the Sea Point Promenade. There’s loads to see here, so you can spend a few hours in the area. Just make sure you leave time to head back to the Waterfront and catch a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners served their time during the apartheid era.

At sunset, settle yourself at one of the picturesque bars at the Waterfront, to watch the sun go down and enjoy some cocktails, craft beers, or fine local wines. There are endless dining opportunities here too, so you might want to stay for dinner.

 

City sightseeing bus

 

Day 2: Wining and dining

On your second day, spend some time exploring the Cape Town wine routes. It’s worth picking one and setting aside the day for it. There are five main wine routes to choose from, each with their own character. Constantia is close to the city, and it is home to some of the country’s oldest and most prestigious wine farms. The Helderberg is famous for its white wines, particularly chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Stellenbosch has about 150 estates to choose from, making it a good option if you want to be spoilt for choice. Franschhoek is really pretty and it is home to the Franschhoek Wine Tram, which allows you to enjoy the day’s tasting without worrying about driving. They’ll even hang on to your wine for you and arrange shipping. The Durbanville Wine Route is also fairly close to the city, with fantastic views of Table Mountain and intense, fruit-driven wines. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to find beautiful scenery, award-winning wines, and some exquisite cuisine.

Stick around for lunch. Many estates have fine-dining restaurants on site, while others have pre-packed picnics or more casual eateries. No matter your taste or budget, there is sure to be something that appeals to you.

Come evening time, you’re likely to be ready for an early night, or you may consider booking a night in the Winelands and dining at one of the fine restaurants there.

 

Constantia wine route

 

Day 3: The South

On day three, we head south. Get an early start, and make your way to Kalk Bay. You might want to hire a car, take the train, or find a tour operator that can customise a tour for you. African Eagle Day Tours does customizable full day tours, and is an accredited tour provider. The trip to Kalk Bay is lovely and scenic, and once you’re there you’ll find some lovely spots to grab some breakfast. Olympia Café does great cooked breakfasts, and their baked goods are delicious. You can browse the quirky shops and explore the harbour while you’re there.

Next, carry on further to Simon’s Town. This is where you’ll find Boulders Beach, home to the colony of African Penguins. You can take a dip with these creatures, or admire them from the walkway. Once you’ve spent some time there, it’s time to venture further south to one of the most beautiful spots in town.

Cape Point is the star of the day three show. Here, you’ll find a spectacular sight with towering stone cliffs, endemic fynbos, breathtaking bays, beaches, and rolling green hills and valleys. The climb to the top is steep and requires some fitness, but you can opt for the Flying Dutchman Funicular to take you to the top. Spend a few hours here taking in the astounding natural beauty and endless ocean views. You can also visit the Two Oceans restaurant, which offers casual but delicious dining with truly phenomenal views.

As the day draws to a close, head back into town for the evening. Consider checking out one of the 50 restaurants that locals love, to find a restaurant close to where you’re staying. If you’re up for more activity, you could take in a show at one of Cape Town’s theatres.

 

 

Day 4: Road trip

Cape Town has plenty to offer, but it also makes a fantastic base for exploring the surrounding areas of the Western Cape. Day four is about halfway through your trip, and a great time to get to know the outlying areas. You could head off in any direction, depending on your interests and the time of year. If it’s between September and November, consider driving up the West Coast to see the fields of wildflowers in bloom. Between June and October, it’s whale season, and a trip to Hermanus would offer the chance to see these majestic creatures of the deep calving just off shore. The Karoo, to the north, offers vast scrubby landscapes, small quirky towns, and a taste of rural South Africa. You could also take a trip to Aquila Private Game Reserve, where you’ll have a chance to see the famous Big 5 up close on a safari. There are endless options, and each is as appealing as the next.

In the evening, save your energy for tomorrow. Consider a quiet night, get together with your new Cape Town friends for dinner, or enjoy a drink at one of Cape Town’s best sundowner spots.

 

Scenic drive Chapmans Peak Cape Town

 

Day 5: Do your own thing

Day five gives you a chance to slow down and focus on the things you’re really interested in.There are some fantastic museums and art galleries, and Cape Town has a rich history to explore. The beaches are also great on a good day. It’s up to you—this is your day, but we’ll give you a few ideas. You might consider a street art tour of Woodstock, or a cooking course that’ll teach you how to make real Cape Town cuisine. You could visit the city’s museums, or check out the amazing art galleries.  Whatever you choose to do, set aside a few hours to visit the Zeitz MOCAA, where you can explore nine floors worth of art from Africa and its diaspora.

 

Woodstock streetart building

 

Day 6: Live like a local

Day five is all about getting into the Cape Town spirit. You’ve ticked off most of the biggest attractions, and now it’s time to look a little closer. Explore the City Bowl’s many shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and markets. Spend some time in Greenmarket Square, finding some keepsakes to take home. Go for a city breakfast on Long, Bree, or Kloof Street, where you’ll find all sorts of establishments catering for any tastes.

For lunch, head to Gugulethu, one of Cape Town’s townships, for lunch at Mzoli’s Place. It’s a a popular gathering spot for Cape Town locals and a major tourist attraction. Numerous celebrities have visited, including Jamie Oliver, who was apparently very interested in the ingredients of the basting sauce, but they are a closely guarded secret. You’ll pick your meat cuts, find a seat at a communal table, and sip some local beer, while the cooks grill your food to perfection over open fires. On weekends it’s a lively, festive, and authentically South African vibe.

As evening approaches, make your way to Cape Town’s biggest party hub, Long Street. Here, you’ll find pubs, clubs, and live music venues galore. Whatever your taste in music and nightlife, Long Street is where you’ll find it. It’s time to eat, drink, and be merry with the locals.

 

The infamous Mzoli's Meat

Mzoli’s is a must

 

Day 7: Sunday Funday

Even if your last day isn’t a Sunday, it’s the perfect chance to slow down, admire the views, and be outdoors. Sleep in, if you like, and get a late start with one of Cape Town’s favourite brunch spots.

Once you’re well fed and ready for the day, you have some choices. Kirstenbosch Gardens is an amazing place to spend an afternoon. It was the first botanical garden in the world to be established (in 1913) to protect local flora. Its lawns are ideal for picnics and there are several walking trails. You can spend the rest of the afternoon here, exploring or lounging on the lawns. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, try out one of the hikes that Cape Town is famous for. There are loads of options, of varying degrees of difficulty. It’s a good ides to get started early if you’re hiking, before it gets too hot and sunny.

As the sun goes down, head for one of the best sundowner spots in the city to bid farewell to your new favourite place.

 

Source: capetown.travel