My husband and I spent five short days in Cape Town while we were working in the Garden Route doing Workaway. I say short because, although we filled our days, it wasn't long enough to see everything.
Cape Town is like the beautiful lovechild of Melbourne (Australia) and Wellington (New Zealand). If you've been to those cities and loved them, I guarantee you'll love Cape Town. It's stunning, picturesque and just the perfect balance between a city and town feel.
There aren't too many big cities I rave about, but I was so blown away with this place and I had to share it. I really hope that this post gives you the inspiration you need to put Cape Town on your travel list.
Here are 13 incredible things to do when you go...
1. Go to the top of Table Mountain
The wind was insane during our whole trip (the locals say it was far windier than usual) and because of this we weren’t able to get to the top of Table Mountain (either by cable car or hiking). However, the views are said to be some of the best in the country. There’s a good reason it’s the most visited attraction in South Africa!
You have the option of going up and down with the cable car, for a cost between 240 – 350 ZAR, depending on the season, or you can do a combo of climbing one way and cable car the other. Keep in mind that the walk is said to be hard, by everyone we’ve spoken to about it. So if you want to do it I’d suggest reading up about it first to be sure you know what you're in for.
Please be careful if it’s super windy, you could blow off and die (yes, that’s what they said to us), and if you want to go by cable car, just check the website on the day to make sure it’s running. See on their website here.
2. Walk up Lion’s Head
I hear this is
3. Have lunch at Kalk Bay
Kalk Bay attracts loads of travellers so it won’t be the hidden gem experience you may be after. Though, this super cute area on the waterfront is restaurant and café galore, with tasty options all around. After lunch, you can immerse yourself in the boutique shops and listen to buskers playing music on the street. Park the car, walk around and soak it all in.
The Twelve Apostles Mountain Range
4. Drive Chapman’s Peak
After you’ve been to Kalk Bay you’re in the perfect spot to begin the scenic coastal drive around Hout Bay. There are plenty of places to stop and take pictures along this road, so by having the bay on your left, you’ll easily be able to pull into these spots for some great snaps. For a full map of the suggested route, go here.
There is a toll of 40 ZAR per car, which needs to be paid in cash.
Boulders Beach. You can't see the penguins in this pic...
5. Visit the African penguin colony at Boulders Beach
These little cuties are adorable to
Nelson Mandela's prison cell
6. Take a tour of Robben Island
Robben Island is where former President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he served (this was Mandela’s tiny cell). The tour includes the ferry to and from the island, a bus tour of the village and a visit to the limestone quarry where the prisoners were forced to work in exhausting and inhumane conditions.
The most interesting, and most difficult, part is when we got taken through the cells by another former political prisoner who explains the horrific treatment and abuse they received. Though it's difficult to hear and see, I highly recommend this tour because it's so informative and such an important part of South African history.
Bookings are essential and the ferry only goes depending on weather conditions. If you’ve missed out on a ticket go to the Waterfront where the ferry departs and see if anyone is selling tickets off. We were lucky to get ours this way!
Cost – 300 ZAR pp
Duration – Approx. 3 1/2 hours including ferry both ways
7. Go to the District Six Museum
Another very informative museum where you can read about the shocking events during the time of apartheid. Laws were put into place to not only keep racial groups apart but to also give whites extra benefits and privileges. On the 11th February 1966, District Six was declared a white residential area and all non-whites were told to leave their homes. Two years later forced removals began. Most of the inhabitants were moved to the Cape Flats which serve as a home to over 700,000 people to this day.
It's not a very big museum but it's packed full of information. You'll learn a lot here as well.
Cost – 30 ZAR/pp
13 Incredible Things To Do in Cape Town
8. Take a free walking tour
These Cape Town free Walking Tours taught me more about South African history than anything I could have read about alone. The guides are extremely knowledgeable, engaging and informative.
The tours cover various areas including a Woodstock Street Art Tour, Historic Tour, Bo-Kaap Tour, Bicycle Tour, District Six Tour and Taste of Cape Town Tour. If you can, try to do to as many of these as possible. They’re well worth immersing yourself into and aren’t too strenuous so you can do a few in a day.
The tours are technically free but a donation is appreciated as it’s their form of income. There is absolutely no reference to what the ‘right’ amount to tip is, but most people gave from 50 to 100 ZAR/pp.
9. Try authentic African food
Mama Africa and Africa Café have the best traditional African food in the city, so leave some space in your belly to dine here during your stay. If you take the Bo-Kaap Tour you’ll also get a hot tip on where to eat at a local lady’s place, who will prepare traditional Cape Malay cuisine for you in her home!
10. Take a craft beer tour
…or simply go bar hopping trying different craft beers. Cape Town alone has over 100 boutique breweries so you’re absolutely spoilt for choice in this city (I can’t remember the exact number but it was more than 100!).
If you want a more relaxed approach, head over to The Beerhouse on Long Street which has 99 different types of beer to choose from, all from local breweries. Sit down, order a tasting tray and try some of their delicious food.
On Fridays, you can get one free pint of beer from whichever brewery they’re testing at the time. As if you needed another excuse to go 😉
11. Feed the squirrels at Company’s Gardens
These fluffy balls of joy are so used to being around people that they’ll run up to you if you hold some food to them. But don’t tease too much or they’ll
These perfectly maintained gardens are also beautiful to walk around in so take a stroll through and even pack a picnic and a book.
12. Drink coffee roasted by the oldest roasting machine in the world
The roasting machine at Truth Coffee is said to be one of the two oldest IN THE WORLD!
With the only other one in Belguim, which isn’t even in use, Truth Coffee attracts coffee lovers from around the world wanting to try the ‘original roaster’.
The café is in a three storey Victorian warehouse which has a funky industrial charm and a laid-back vibe. I can’t say I enjoyed the taste of the actual coffee (I tried their cold brew and a standard americano/long black), but the history in the machine and the design of the café makes it worthy enough to pay a visit.
13. Walk around The Old Biscuit Mill markets
This vibrant little village in the heart of Woodstock is filled with stalls and shops by local designers showing off a variety of their handmade items. As with everywhere in Cape Town, you’ll be able to unwind and enjoy some delicious food here so come with an empty stomach.
I would recommend not going on a Saturday as it’s FULL of people, which makes it hard to stroll around and find treasures. Open six days – closed Sundays.
As you can see, Cape Town is full of incredible attractions. This list only touches the surface of them if you include the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, due to our time restriction, we weren’t able to do the others. Luckily, that just means we’ll have to make another trip back!
Have you been to Cape Town? What was your favourite thing to do?