Swallow any fear of heights and ascend to the peaks of Table Mountain, it is here that the greatest views of Cape Town can be taken in, and the impressive setting of this city can truly be absorbed and appreciated. The Aerial Cableway has sailed some 27-million visitors to the top of Table Mountain since opening in 1929, and is one of the most popular things to do in Cape Town. Traveling at a speed of less than 10-metres per second, you will be free to take in the surrounding National Park - declared a World Heritage Site - before reaching the Upper Cable Station resting 1067-metres above sea level.
See a colony of African penguins at Boulders Beach
The beaches of South Africa are best known for their unforgiving shark collection, overshadowing more friendly creatures like the African penguin. Found flapping about on the idyllic coastline of Boulders Beach, this black and white birds seem to enjoy the granite rock formations and clear waters found by Simon’s Town. Best admired in the Summer months from the boardwalks of Foxy Beach, this is a unique chance to see the only penguin native to the continent of Africa.
Visit Mandela's former cell
Though Nelson Mandela spent time in Cape Town’s maximum security Pollsmoor Prison, as well as the former Victor Verster Prison in Western Cape, it was the prison on Robben Island, less than 7-kilometres from Cape Town’s coastline, where he spent the bulk of his 27-years behind bars. Visitors can tour his former cell on a 3.5 hour tour from the mainland, inclusive of a ferry ride to and from the island. Nelson Mandela is not the only former inmate of Pollsmoor Prison to go on to become the president of the country - both Kgalema Motlanthe and Jacob Zuma spent time locked up here - making this an endlessly interesting Cape Town museum.
Drink in the Long Street vibe
To unearth the alternative culture of Cape Town a stint in Long Street is in order, the area regarded as the city’s bohemian heart. The Victorian buildings are home to bookstores, bars, hostels, and numerous restaurants, all reflecting the progressive and multicultural spirit of the neighbourhood. From old favorites like Mr. Pickwick’s and Long Street Café, to Indian restaurants and even a Korean BBQ, you can waste many meals and lively evenings meandering this hip hub.
Swim with sharks
Though some may argue that any swim in a South African beach is a ‘swim with sharks,’ those keen for a boosted adrenaline rush can take a more intimate approach. Guided tours take thrill-seekers off the coastline and into the open water playground of the Great White Shark, allowing guests to jump inside a metal cage to swim within centimetres of their sharp pointed fangs, staring straight in the eye of these hungry beasts. Many of the boats depart from Gansbaai, which has been declared the Great White capital of the world.
Toast the Cape Winelands
Ascend into the mountain regions fringing the city of Cape Town and you will arrive amidst the country’s most popular vineyard collection. Venture through the main towns of Paarl, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Tulbagh and Robertson where you can stop at wine estates, drink in historical buildings influenced by Dutch and French colonisation, and sample some of the finest food on offer in the country. The fertile farmlands of the Western Cape also produce roses, making for an idyllic setting that will treat your traveling senses.
Things to do in Cape Town
Berg River Winter Carnival
The community festival of Berg River Winter Carnival marks the conclusion of a 4-day paddle through the unforgiving waters of Berg River, completed every year by canoers from across the country. The celebrations are held in the town of Velddrif, and give an insight into the local way of life.
Cape Town International Jazz Festival
Held for two days in March at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the International Jazz Festival draws a crowd of toe-tapping jazz fans. The line-up features some of the greatest jazz musicians from the country, as well as a careful selection from abroad.
Up the Creek
Since 1990, Up the Creek has been descending upon the Breede River for 4-days each year. Showing many of the country’s best indie acts to an intimate audience of revellers - many of which watch from the comfort of a floating toy adrift in the river - this is a festival not to miss.
Vortex Open Source
Hair feathers and hoola hoops will not be out of place and Vortex Open Source, a gathering of radical free-thinkers in the name of trance music and social progression. Held for 5-days in December at Jongenskloof Country Retreat in the Overberg Mountains, this South African festival will tickle your inner hippie.
Music & Dance
Earthdance is an international event running in various corners of the globe for over 2-decades. Join a global meditation aligned with the United Nations’ International Day of Peace, along with a synchronised prayer for peace set to 3-days of music and dance.
Top 5 Festivals in Cape Town
Toe-tapping jazz music, ferocious canoe rides and trance music are just some of the features of Cape Town’s eclectic calendar of festivals. Indie music lovers should craft their trip around Up the Creek, a boutique festival enjoyed from the comfort of blow up toys floating in Breede River.
Iziko South African Museum
Found in Cape Town’s Company's Garden, Iziko was the first museum opened in South Africa, standing as witness to various times and trials in the country’s history. From important indigenous artefacts to fossils with 250 million years of history, Iziko is a must visit when visiting Cape Town.
District Six Museum
Take a journey back to the 1970’s during the height of South Africa’s apartheid by visiting the District Six Museum. Honouring an area of the city that was all but destroyed, with some 60,000 inhabitants forced to relocate, this museum is an emotional but essential visit when in the city.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
The world’s largest collection of contemporary African art can be found here in Cape Town at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. Opened in 2017, it is already recorded as attracting some 24-million visitors per year to admire the colored and varied artworks sprawled over 9 floors and 6,000sqm of exhibition space.
Bright pastel homes set to an impossible mountainous backdrop make the neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap a living, breathing museum. Stumble around the cobblestone streets and find the Bo-Kaap museum, the oldest house in the area, which has been transformed to pay homage to the original artisan settlers of the district.
South African Jewish Museum
Known for its impressive spiral staircase and regal interior with gold chandeliers, the South African Jewish Museum is equal parts emotional and inspiring, with exhibitions ranging from Japanese art to historic anti-semitism. Part of the city’s Old Synagogue, built in 1863, it is one of the best museums in Cape Town.
Top 5 Museums and Galleries in Cape Town
From 250 million year old fossils to the brightly colored streets of Bo-Kapp, the museums found in Cape Town offer a banquet of culture and history for travelers to tap into. Spend time reflecting upon the darkness of the apartheid at District Six Museum and admire Japanese art at the South African Jewish Museum...this list of museums will inspire your days Cape Town travel to no end.
The spice vegetable relish of chakalaka is a favorite in South Africa, and a must try when visiting Cape Town. Usually consisting of beans, tomato, onion, garlic, and some curry paste, it can be sampled with meats at the traditional butchery of Mzoli's.
Best eaten at Mzoli's, Ny 115, Guguletu
Cooking meats on an open fire is referred to as ‘shisa nyama’ in South Africa. Much like a barbecue in other parts of the world, this tradition brings together families and friends, and is something of a ceremonious occasion. Shisa nyama is dished up authentically at The Duncan Shisanyama.
Best eaten at The Duncan Shisanyama, 39 Parklands Main Rd, Parklands
Thanks to South Africa’s large Indian population, dishes like bunny chow have become a feature in the country’s most beloved dishes. A hollowed out loaf of bread filled to the rim with fragrant curry, bunny chow will become a favorite on your trip to Cape Town.
Best eaten at Eastern Food Bazaar, 96 Long Market Street, Cape Town City Centre
Picture spaghetti mince topped with a creamy omelette and your part way to understanding the deliciousness of bobotie. Throw in a few pine nuts, raisins and a rainbow of herbs and spices and you’re even closer. Sample this heartwarming dish at Cape Town’s Wharf Centre for the added bonus of harbour views.
Best eaten at The Wharf Centre, Victoria Wharf, Cape Town
Food in Cape Town
South African cuisine may not have acquired much attention on the international stage, but a few days of Cape Town food will prove this culinary offering is an undiscovered pot of deliciousness. Imagine loaves of bread stuffed with Indian curry and meats cooked on an open fire, remembering to enjoy a few meals of ‘chakalaka’ and ‘bobotie’ to top it all off.