South Africa’s “Mother City”, Cape Town, is a melting pot of culture, cuisine, and breathtaking sites brimming with activities, and this article highlights the 10 top things to do there.
The city offers more than its popular V&A Waterfront, white-sand beaches, and spectacular Table Mountain, with hidden experiences from urban parks to a dramatic peninsula begging to be discovered.
From hiking to kayaking, paragliding to wine tasting and cooking classes, Cape Town offers visitors more than just natural beauty and historical intrigue. All five senses are engaged when participating in any of the top experiences there.
With a vibrant culture and a cosmopolitan twist, Cape Town is the perfect city in which to explore cultural diversity in historical neighborhoods, from the Bo-Kaap to Franschhoek.
Visit museums and monuments to gain insight into the history and healing that formed the city as it is today. Learn the customs and traditions of the Cape Malay people and take a tour through rural settlements on the city’s outskirts, grabbing a drink at a shebeen, or bar. These are particularly informative and insightful things to do in Cape Town on tours of South Africa for seniors.
With many international residents scattered throughout the city, restaurants and nightlife bring European touches to their fare and entertainment, though the African culture is always present.
Best Places to Explore Cultural Diversity: District Six Museum • Robben Island • Bo-Kaap Quarters • Franschhoek and the Huguenot Monument • Taal Monument • Khayelitsha
From sneaky encounters with a furry rock hyrax, or dassie, to viewing penguins lazing on the beach, one of the top things to do in Cape Town and its surroundings is to take the opportunity to witness wildlife in various shapes and sizes.
Explore the Cape Peninsula and see ostriches and oryx, bontebok and baboons, as you travel around the beautiful tip of Africa. For those more adventurous, shark diving is an option, while dolphin and whale watching are available for those looking for something a little tamer. You can also enjoy day trips to nearby safari reserves to see lions, Cape buffalo, and more of South Africa’s top animals to spot on vacation.
Discover birdlife and marvel at wallowing seals. Watching camels resting in the sun offers something different, while a horse ride on crisp, white sand is the perfect way to end the day.
Best Places to Enjoy Animal Encounters: Boulders Beach • Cape Point Nature Reserve • Table Mountain • World of Birds • Seal Island • Imhoff Farm • Noordhoek Beach • Hermanus
With some of South Africa’s most breathtaking scenery, hiking the mountains and coastline of the Cape Peninsula should not be missed.
With options of a day hike within the city limits, starting at the base of a mountain and ending, perhaps, in a tropical garden, or longer treks that require overnight stays, the range of quality hikes in Cape Town offers something for everyone.
Take a walk along the coast, with quaint villages and towns on one side, the glistening Atlantic Ocean on the other. Whether taking a walk through city parks or a stroll along a long, white beach, experiencing Cape Town and its surroundings on foot is a highlight.
Best Places to Take a Hike: Table Mountain • Platteklip Gorge • Newland’s Forest • Lion’s Head • Constantia Nek • Helderberg Mountains • Blouberg Beach
Producing some of the world’s most delicious wines, the vineyards in Cape Town and the outlying winelands make it easy to understand why wine tasting is a top activity when visiting Cape Town.
Locations on the city limits hold vines rich in history, set in rich soil, while towns named after explorers and those with a foreign touch lie just outside the Mother City, offering cellar tours and tastings with captivating views.
Visitors can jump on a wine tram or cycle through wine farms, many of which offer vibrant gardens and award-winning restaurants in and around the Cape Winelands, one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Best Places to Go Wine Tasting: Constantia • Franschhoek • Stellenbosch • Paarl • Durbanville Hills • Hemel en Aarde Valley
Learn more: Wine Tours in South Africa
Cape Town merges dramatic landscapes with green, urban spaces and picturesque botanical gardens in a truly artistic way.
City parks comprise trails and picnic spots dotted with flora and fauna, offering tranquil settings in which to unwind. Those set along a promenade offer workout equipment and benches, giving visitors the choice to get active or relax.
Cape Town’s botanical gardens stretch for miles, with the option to walk the uniquely designed suspension bridge or take in a concert at its amphitheater, a popular pastime for local and international visitors.
Best Places to Wander Breathtaking Gardens and Parks: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens • Green Point Park • Sea Point Promenade • De Waal Park • Company Gardens
Cooking classes are some of the best things to do in Cape Town to enjoy the new experience in distinct locations, from local family kitchens to private tables in five-star hotels, creating a local dish in any of Cape Town’s culinary hotspots.
The Cape Malay cuisine is bold and bursting with flavor, spices adding vibrant color and heat to every dish. Aromas carry through the streets of the Bo-Kaap and restaurants embrace local dishes on their menus.
Step into a cafe on the beach or a cooking school set deep in the winelands to create and savor, keeping recipes that will bring your Cape Town adventure to mind each time you cook.
Best Places to Embrace your Culinary Talents: Bo-Kaap • V&A Waterfront • Hout Bay • Constantia • Camp’s Bay
With soft, white-sand beaches, it is not hard to believe Cape Town has at least 10 Blue Flag beaches, all honored for their cleanliness and bathing-friendly conditions.
While the Atlantic Ocean can be described as fresh and invigorating, lying on the city’s top beaches during the best time to visit South Africa for beach vacations is the ideal way to unwind between other adventures and explorations. Some beaches are small, others spacious, all breathtaking.
Experience the diverse selection of coastal locations, some only accessible by steep steps, the white sand set among rocks and hidden from the road, while others seem to spill onto the main road, offering a scenic calm to diners in cafes across the way.
Best Places to Bathe on a Blue Flag Beach: Clifton 4th Beach • Llandudno • Camps Bay • Melkbostrand • Fish Hoek • Muizenberg • Bikini Beach
Activities in Cape Town can be as active or as relaxing as you wish, but when the sun sets over the Atlantic, it creates a picture-perfect scene giving you several ways to capture the region’s breathtaking sunsets.
Standing tall on top of a mountain, the sun slowly dipping to meet the horizon, gives a sense of humility, the surrounding grandness bordering on overwhelming, but at the same time comforting. Walking along the promenade or sipping your favorite cocktail at a waterfront cafe, you will be stopped in your tracks as you snap the sun’s last moments of the day.
From catamarans and yachts to charter boats, kayaks, or surfboards, viewing a sunset from the water is a highlight of any visit to Cape Town, especially on luxury South Africa tours. The sun glistening on the water around you makes this any photographer’s dream setting.
Best Places to Capture Breathtaking Sunsets: Camps Bay • V&A Waterfront • Lion’s Head • Signal Hill • Chapman’s Peak • Bloubergstrand • Sunset Cruises from V&A Waterfront
Part of relishing the splendors of the Cape is exploring neighborhoods and small villages dotted along the coastline and deep inland, a charming thing to do on South Africa tours for couples to Cape Town.
From seaside towns with an integral history to escapes boasting boutiques and cafes, there are many quaint destinations not to be missed on a day out from Cape Town.
Enjoying traditional fish and chips accompanied by local musicians or taking a walk through cobbled roads or one-street wonders, there is a destination for everyone looking to explore more than the metropolis of Cape Town.
Best Places to Explore Quaint Villages: Kalk Bay • Fish Hoek • Simon’s Town • St James • Melkbosstrand • Paternoster • Hermanus • Riebeek Kasteel • Betty’s Bay • Franschhoek
There are many adventurous and adrenaline-pumping activities to be enjoyed in Cape Town, from those in mountain and beach locations to everywhere in between.
Rappelling down a sheer mountainside, hang gliding from a scenic point, or kite surfing with views of Cape Town in the distance, the options are endless. Fly across the water in a jet boat or slow the pace with an early-morning kayak outing.
Sand-dune rides in a 4x4, taking to the open road in a sidecar, or enjoying a helicopter flip, there is something for every thrill-seeker to enjoy and families revel in active adventures on family tours in South Africa to Cape Town.
Best Places to Feel an Adrenaline Rush: Table Mountain • Signal Hill • Camps Bay • V&A Waterfront • Bloubergstrand • Muizenberg
Cape Town is alive with activities and experiences, and what to do in the city lets you find your ultimate adventure. Slow-paced or high-speed, the options to explore the Cape and its surroundings in unique, fun, and exciting ways are many on Cape Town vacations.
Your Zicasso travel specialist can curate your time in Cape Town to suit the interests and experiences you are looking for, and you can find more inspiration for your travels in our South Africa travel guide or South Africa tours.