With its superb mountain views, vibrant city life and beautiful beaches, Cape Town offers up something for every type of traveller.
There’s plenty to do in and around Cape Town and you may find yourself staying longer than you planned as you enjoy the beautiful surroundings.
Take your pick of my top seven experiences you must have in Cape Town for a holiday you won’t forget.
Hike up Table Mountain
Table Mountain is Cape Town’s premier attraction and you can spot it from almost anywhere in the city.
There’s two ways up the mountain – you can choose the sweaty way and hike up, or opt for the far less arduous route and take the cable car up. To experience the full Cape Town experience, I recommend the hike.
Hiking Table Mountain will take about two hours one-way. The most popular and recommended route is via Platteklip Gorge, which starts about a kilometre past the Lower Cable Car Station. Once you reach the summit, enjoy the spectacular bird’s eye views of the surrounding beaches and the city.
Watch the sunset
Did you know you can get some great sunset views from Cape Town’s peaks?
Table Mountain is not the only peak in Cape Town – and it’s in good company with the peaks of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill also worth a look.
To get to the summit of Lion’s Head, you’ll need to hike up. The hike takes about one hour but is not for the faint hearted. The trail gets narrow about halfway up with steep drop offs. Then you’ll need some agility to tackle the ladders and chains, and rock scramble the last 30 minutes to the summit.
You can get good views from various points on the way to the top if you don’t want to go the whole way.
Make sure you bring a headlamp with you if you do the hike for sunset as you’ll need it for the way down in the dark.
Signal Hill is also a good option, and you can drive all the way to the top.
Check out the waterfront food market
Cape Town’s popular waterfront food market is the perfect spot to pick up a hearty meal or sweet treat.
The Victoria & Albert Waterfront precinct offers up restaurants, a shopping centre and handicraft market.
The food market has a wide selection of offerings ranging from Turkish and African cuisine, fish and chips, sushi and meat pies. There’s also ice cream, brownies and pastries available for those with a sweet tooth.
Visit the penguins at Boulder’s Beach
Less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town is the beautiful Boulder’s Beach – a rocky beach that’s also home to a colony of African penguins.
There’s two access points to see the penguins. One takes you along a boardwalk, while the other takes you onto a penguin filled beach.
The entry cost is $8 AUD and enables you to access both penguin viewing points.
To get to Boulder’s Beach, you can hire a car or take a tour from Cape Town.
See the most south westerly point of Africa
The Cape of Good Hope is the most south-westerly tip of Africa and it also sits at the confluence of the Indian and Atlantic oceans.
A short drive from the Cape of Good Hope is Cape Point – a scenic point that has two lighthouses.
Take the 15-minute walk to the top lighthouse (or take the funicular) for stunning ocean views.
Many Cape Town tour agencies operate a tour out to the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point.
Go for a scenic drive
The Chapman’s Peak Drive offers beautiful views of the coastline near Cape Town.
Every few minutes, you’ll get a clear view of long stretches of white sand bordered by miles of turquoise ocean.
The drive includes views of the beaches of Hout Bay and Camps Bay.
You can do this drive in a hire car, or it is included in the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point tours.
Take a dip in one of Cape Town’s beaches
Cape Town is blessed with beautiful beaches only a short drive away.
One of the most popular is Camps Bay, which also offers an impressive view of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Llandudno Beach is another popular choice, located further down the coastline.
The catch is the water can be very cold on the southern side of Cape Town! Bring your swimmers in case you’re feeling brave, otherwise pack a picnic, a good book and a towel, and enjoy the views and a day by the beach.
You can get here easily by catching an Uber from the city centre.
Things You Should Know
- When out and about in Cape Town, keep your valuables close and take special care at night. There are many beggars on Cape Town’s streets, especially around Long Street. Take as little as possible with you and avoid walking solo.
- Uber is a cost effective and safe way to get around Cape Town. It is a particularly good way to reach the Lower Cable Car Station at Table Mountain, the trailhead for Lions Head and local beaches, as well as to get around at night.
- You can easily hire a car in Cape Town or take advantage of the many tour operators to see the sights located just outside of Cape Town. To access the Garden Route, hire a car or book a ticket on the Baz Bus.
- If hiking up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head, make sure you go up in a group and take the tourist routes. Plattenkip Gorge is the recommended option for Table Mountain and is frequented by both tourists and locals. It is particularly busy on weekends.