Cape Town is an amazing city boasting golden beaches, breathtaking landscapes, an incredible food scene and a mix of cultures which makes this one of the most exciting cities to visit! Set in one of the world’s most picturesque landscapes with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop and the most stunning coastlines, it makes for an unforgettable vacation and offers beautiful places to explore nearby as well. Here are my top 10 picks of things to do in and around Cape Town!
Enjoy Cape Town’s stunning beaches!
Cape Town’s beaches are just picture-perfect with each one attracting its own crowd. The four beaches at Clifton are fantastic and the gorgeous restaurant & lounge at The Bungalow at Clifton, is the perfect place to sip on a glass of white wine while enjoying stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. Not to miss is the chic and trendy Camps Bay Beach, with the breathtaking backdrop of the Twelve Apostles, located in the affluent neighbourhood of Camps Bay, it is a fantastic place to relax. The vast stretch of soft sand is lined with bars and restaurants, most of them offering great ocean views. This is also the location of the beautiful boutique hotel POD which is conveniently located within short walking distance to the waterfront.
Have a stroll around the V&A Waterfront
The V&A waterfront is a popular spot, buzzing with people that make the most of the many shops, restaurants, bars and regular live performances. Named after Queen Victoria and her son Albert, this historic working harbour is a fantastic place to go for a stroll, taking in the unique atmosphere and old world charm.
Take a cable car up Table Mountain or hike up Lion’s Head
Reaching the summit of Table Mountain is on top of most visitors list to Cape Town – for a good reason. The flat-topped mountain is Cape Town’s most prominent landmark which offers stunning birds eye views of the beautiful city below (weather permitting). The easiest and fastest way to reach the top is by cable car, hiking is possible but a bit of a challenge. A great alternative is to hike up Lion’s Head instead (image below) – from there you won’t only get incredible views of Cape Town but of Table Mountain as well. The relatively easy hike (unless you climb up to the very top) takes about an hour on a well-maintained pathway which is very popular with locals who enjoy walking up Lion’s Head before or after work.
Enjoy Cape Town’s incredible Food scene!
Cape Town has an exciting food scene with some of the world’s best gastronomy – some even refer to it as the ‘world’s tastiest city’. During our time in South Africa we did not have a single bad meal. The quality of the ingredients, the freshness, and creativity of chefs is just striking! Most of the well-known restaurants in Cape Town like The Test Kitchen you need to book months in advance to get a chance to get in. Unfortunately, due to renovations, we were not able to eat there, however, we ate in some fantastic places like The Roundhouse, and an absolute favourite of mine during our time in Cape town was La Colombe , ranked as one of the world’s best restaurant.
Visit the Cape Winelands
The scenery around the Winelands is absolutely stunning and with charming little towns like Franschoek and Stellenbosch which are just about an hours drive from Cape Town, it makes for a lovely overnight stay, especially if you are planning on touring the gorgeous vineyards. We sampled some excellent wines at Tokara, Warwick Wine Estate and Kanonkop. The Winelands are also a fantastic place for foodies with restaurants like The Tasting Room, the restaurant at Tokara, The Big Easy and Helena’s Restaurant to only mention a few. If you don’t want to drive yourself let someone else take the wheel – there are plenty of organised wine tours available that can be booked from Cape Town as well.
See the penguins at Boulders Beach
Boulders beach in Simon’s Town is just an hours drive from Cape Town and if you like wildlife, this is a great place to see a colony of African penguins that settled here in 1982. A boardwalk runs from the visitor centre down to the beach where tourists have the chance to watch the waddling penguins going about their day. In case you get hungry – a cute little place to have lunch in Simon’s Town is The Lighthouse Cafe!
Take a spin along Chapman’s Peak Drive
The landscape around Cape Town is breathtakingly beautiful and I highly recommend to hire a car while you are there which enables you to make the most of its surroundings! Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most scenic coastal roads offering the most stunning views over the sandy bays below along its 9km length and incredible 114 curves.
A day out at the Botanical Gardens Kirstenbosch
Located on the picturesque Eastern slopes of Table Mountain, the 89 acres large Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, was named the ‘International Garden of the Year’ by the International Garden Tourism Awards Body in 2015. It is home to more than 7,000 of indigenous species and a lovely treetop canopy walkway.
Hermanus is one of the best sites for on-shore whale watching and just about an hours drive south from Cape Town. Whales can be spotted between June to December when southern right whales come in large numbers from their Antarctic feeding grounds to calve in Walker Bay. When we visited Hermanus no whales had been spotted for a few weeks so we drove to the shore opposite of Hermanus and managed to see two adult whales, one with a calf swimming through the bay which was very exciting. Other ways to watch whales around Hermanus is either by boat or from the air via a scenic flight.
Enjoy the natural beauty around the Cape of Good Hope
Visiting the Cape of Good Hope is an experience you don’t want to miss, located within Table Mountain National Park, at the southern end of the Cape Peninsular. It offers miles of tranquil walking trails, beautiful scenery and breathtaking views. It is about a 90-minute drive from Cape Town and best to be combined with a drive down Chapman’s Peak Drive and a stop at Boulder’s Beach (both already mentioned above)
Another thing that I would have liked to include in my top 10 things to do in Cape Town is to visit Robben Island especially after reading Nelson Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’. Unfortunately, it was sold out the time we visited and I would therefore strongly advise booking tickets weeks in advance!
Cape Town is an exciting destination with so much on offer and I very much hope that this list gave you a little taster of what the ‘Mother City’ has to offer.