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
It's a must-do, but wear comfortable shoes, bring bottles of water, and pack sunscreen. We finished climbing to the top in an hour and a half, thankful that they've made it easy for the non-experienced hikers with a rugged-rock staircase from...
Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735, South Africa
This famous botanical garden, created in 1913, was the first in the world dedicated to a country's own flora. The spectacular 90-acre plant haven forms part of a nature reserve that borders Table Mountain National Park. Besides numerous gardens...
Robben Island, Cape Town, 7400, South Africa
One of South Africa’s most famous sights is Robben Island, located seven kilometers (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 back to the 17th...
15 Brickfield Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa
A colorful old 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, thanks...
Touted as the continent's most important art gallery even before it opened in late 2017, the six-story MOCAA has a MOMA/Guggenheim feel to its design, built inside more than 40 old grain silos in the Cape Town harbor area. (On top of the structure...
Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
This is the view that you'll be treated to while climbing to the summit of Lion's Head in Cape Town, South Africa. The ever-stunning Table Mountain is just to the left of this perspective and as you head up the climb, you'll soon be facing Robben...
Kleintuin Rd, Simon's Town, Cape Town, 7995, South Africa
Africa's only 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,...
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. You can...
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
Mother Nature likes to show off her power in South Africa, and Cape Point is no exception. Watch the Indian and Atlantic oceans crash into each other several feet below the point as the wind rips through your hair. The drive to get there from Cape...
67 Fourth Beach Promenade, Clifton, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
Cape Town is blessed with numerous beaches at its doorstep. Probably the most famous 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 white building at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. I walked past this building several times myself before I noticed the small board outside the entrance which revealed the location's...
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). But recently, the area has also become known for its antique stores,...
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 Albertus St & Buitenkant Street, 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 it was declared a white area. By 1982,...
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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