The Best Things to Do in Cape Town
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
Near the southern tip of Africa, Cape Town can feel like it sits on the edge of the world. If you make the epic journey to get there, you'll be rewarded with some of the continent's most memorable experiences. You can watch penguins in their seaside habitat, soar to the peak of Table Mountain in a cable car, and sample wines from the region's legendary vineyards. From natural wonders to fascinating historic sites, here are Cape Town's top attractions.
Tafelberg Rd, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park, which hugs the perimeter of the city, is so popular that the line for the cable car to the top can be longer than a queue for a Disneyland ride. But why stand in line when you can put your feet to...
Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735, South Africa
Founded in 1913, this famous botanical garden was the first in the world dedicated to its country’s own flora. The spectacular, 90-acre plant haven forms part of a nature reserve that borders Table Mountain National Park. Besides numerous...
Robben Island, Cape Town, 7400, South Africa
One of South Africa’s most famous sights, Robben Island is located four miles to the west of Cape Town. Its history as a prison is almost as old as the first Dutch settlement on the cape, dating all the way back to the 17th century. Today,...
15 Brickfield Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa
A colorful working-class neighborhood near downtown that had fallen on hard times, Woodstock has been revitalized with a mix of galleries, artists’ studios, boutiques, and restaurants. Much of the area’s original vibe remains, however,...
Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
The hike up Lion’s Head affords incredible views. Since the trail winds around the mountain, you’ll have the unique opportunity to see every side of Cape Town from above. When you start, the ever-stunning Table Mountain will be just to...
Kleintuin Rd, Simon's Town, Cape Town, 7995, South Africa
Cape Town's penguins come to Simon's Town to breed. In the early 1980s, an enterprising pair mated for the first time on Boulders Beach, and their tuxedoed descendants now number several thousand. To see the penguins in their natural habitat, make...
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Probably the most visited attraction in the city, the V&A combines many elements of the greatest commercial waterfront projects around the world. There are plenty of draws for tourists (the Cape Wheel, helicopter rides, boat trips to Robben...
71 Wale St, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
The Bo-Kaap was one of the few Cape Town neighborhoods to escape apartheid's bulldozers—the cluster of bright buildings, once known as the Malay Quarter, housed many of the slaves who worked for the 17th-century Dutch colonialists. In this...
222 Main Rd, Claremont, 7708, South Africa
Masiphumelele, Cape Town, 7975, South Africa
In the 1950's, Apartheid laws forced non-white residents of Cape Town into government-built townships or informal settlements in the Cape Flats region. While it's still not advisable for tourists to self-drive around the townships, there are a...
Dalebrook Rd, St James, Cape Town, 7945, South Africa
Like a smaller scale Bondi Icebergs, there are a handful of whitewashed cement enclosures along the False Bay waterfront that are used as public swimming pools. Even in winter, locals plunge into the icy Atlantic water to start their day. The...
Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Cape Town, South Africa
While Cape Point is not, in fact, the southernmost tip of Africa—as is often claimed—it is generally accepted that the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet somewhere between here and the real tip, Cape Agulhas. Still, Cape Point is about as dramatic as...
67 Fourth Beach Promenade, Clifton, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
Cape Town is blessed with numerous beaches at its doorstep. The most famous ones are in the suburbs of Camps Bay and Clifton, both on the Atlantic side of the city. Camps Bay feels like a compact Copacabana in summer (the water is pretty cold,...
Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront Shop No. 153, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002, South Africa
To the untrained eye, Jetty 1 is just another nondescript building on the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Look more closely, however, and you’ll see a small board next to the entrance, explaining that the building served as a passageway for...
Sea Point Promenade, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
Almost any time of day, the Sea Point Promenade is filled with walkers and joggers, many of them residents from the apartments nearby. Though named after Sea Point, the best known of the areas the walkway fronts, the three-mile promenade begins in...
Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7990, South Africa
One of Cape Town’s most picturesque corners, this small fishing harbor sees boats sail in daily with their catches (often trailed by hungry seals waiting for tidbits). Recently, however, the area has also become known for its antique...
Darling St & Buitenkant St, Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Fearing a British takeover of its ill-gotten trading post, the Dutch East India Company built this star-shaped castle (known as Kasteel de Goede Hoop) between 1666 and 1679 to defend its territory. Now the oldest building in South Africa, the...
25A Buitenkant St, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
District Six was originally a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers, and immigrants. Marginalization and forced removal of the residents began early in the last century and, in 1966, the neighborhood was declared a white...
Corner Caledon & Lower Buitenkant Street, District Six, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Started by Athol Fugard, South Africa's greatest living playwright, in a historic District Six building, this vibrant 320-seat cultural hub showcases plays, musicals, movies, and book festivals. You can while away time before a show at the...
Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
Hout Bay is basically Eden. This ecological utopia has everything a nature lover could want, from imposing mountains and miraculous views (check out the Twelve Apostles range) to World of Birds, the largest bird park in Africa, home to 3,000 birds...
Government Ave, Company's Garden, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
South Africa's premier art museum houses South African, African, British, French, Dutch, and Flemish works. Selections from the permanent collection change regularly to let the museum showcase different pieces, such as those by local luminaries...
19 Queen Victoria St, CBD, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
The Company's Garden, in the heart of the city, dates back to the 17th century, when the Dutch used springwater running down from the mountain to establish a garden to grow fruit and vegetables for ships en route to the East. On Government Avenue,...
1 Fritz Sonnenberg Rd, Green Point, Cape Town, 8051, South Africa
The Green Point Park and Biodiversity Garden is tucked behind Green Point Stadium near the Atlantic seaboard. Because Cape Town (and South Africa) is a biodiversity hotspot, the creation of this park was an essential part of the 2010 World Cup...
Corner Adderley Street and, Wale St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
History buffs and those who are curious about the slave trade and its impact on South African development (specifically the Western Cape colony) will find a visit to the Slave Lodge very insightful. The theme of the museum is "from human wrongs to...
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