Best Things to Do in Cape Town South Africa This Year
Cape Town, South Africa truly has it all. It speaks to the true #Winetraveler spirit. Home to idyllic white-sand beaches, unique flora and fauna, bucket list experiences (helicopter rides and shark diving anyone?), history, cuisine and culture, the Western Cape also happens to produce some of the best wine on the African continent.
You could easily spend forever exploring Cape Town and its surroundings, but if you only have time for a brief getaway, here are all the things you must see, do, eat and drink during your trip.
- How to Get to Cape Town
- Best Things to Do Visiting Cape Town South Africa
- Walk Through the Colorful Bo Kapp
- Sip Wine and Tour Stellenbosch & Franschhoek
- Cape Town Vineyard & Winery Hotels
- Cape Town Wine Bars & Restaurants
- Try Cape Malay Cuisine
- Enjoy the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
- Head to Table Mountain
- Admire a Sunset from Signal Hill
- Two Oceans Scenic Helicopter Flight from Cape Town
- Hit the Beach
- See the Penguins
- Immerse Yourself in Nature
- Spot the Big Five
- Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai
- Visit Robben Island
- See the Cape of Good Hope
- District Six Museum
- Greenmarket Square
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Things to Do in Cape Town
How to Get to Cape Town
Cape Town is well-connected to the rest of the world via Cape Town International Airport (CPT), the second largest airport in South Africa. Major airlines, such as British Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, KLM, and Lufthansa, operate regular direct and connecting flights from various locations globally.
From the United States, Delta is perhaps the best option currently for flying direct from the US out of either JFK or Washington Dulles. They also offer flights with one stop, typically in a European or Middle Eastern city.
From Europe, direct flights are available from major cities such as London, Amsterdam, and Frankfurt.
If you’re traveling from Asia, Middle Eastern carriers like Emirates and Qatar Airways offer one-stop flights via their respective hub cities. Once you arrive at Cape Town International Airport, the city center is just a short 20-minute drive away. Browse private transfer options here to any of these recommended Cape Town hotels.
Winetraveler Tip: If you’re planning a trip to Cape Town, be sure to browse flight deals and compare as they come up and take a look at some of the best luxury hotels to stay at (more on vineyard hotels in the area below).
Having a rental car can be beneficial if you’re planning to visit places outside of the city center, such as the Cape of Good Hope, the Cape Winelands, or the Garden Route, where public transport is less frequent and taxi or rideshare services can become expensive. A car offers the flexibility to explore at your own pace and venture off the beaten path.
However, if you’re planning to stay mainly within the city center, public transportation, taxis, and rideshares like Uber are plentiful and often more convenient. Traffic in Cape Town can be congested, particularly during peak hours, and parking in popular areas can be challenging.
Additionally, if you’re not comfortable driving on the left side of the road (as is customary in South Africa), you might prefer to use public transportation or hire a driver.
It’s also worth noting that many of Cape Town’s most popular tourist destinations, like Table Mountain, Robben Island, and the V&A Waterfront, are easily accessible without a car.
Best Things to Do Visiting Cape Town South Africa
Walk Through the Colorful Bo Kapp
One of Cape Town’s most colorful neighborhoods, Bo Kapp’s hilly streets are lined with brightly painted houses, shops and restaurants. Once a Muslim township, the area is now occupied by a mix of all different types of residents.
Bo Kapp is fighting over-tourism and gentrification (as many other neighborhoods around the world are) so, by all means, get your Instagram shot, but be respectful of the locals that live there while doing so and consider how your tourist footprint might be affecting the neighborhood.
Sip Wine and Tour Stellenbosch & Franschhoek
As mentioned earlier, Cape Town boasts some of the best wine regions in all of Africa — including both Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, famous for varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinotage, Merlot and Shiraz.
Driving to these beautiful wine regions is an easy and quick trip from Cape Town. If you’d rather not drive, consider this private wine tour that leaves from Cape Town through these regions instead.
Stellenbosch in particular has over 200 wineries, many of which have unique wine experiences that both visitors and locals alike can enjoy. After all, who can say no to picnics and Pinotage, safaris and Shiraz or cupcakes and Cabernet Sauvignon?
Wine Tram in Franschhoek
Step aboard the Franschhoek Wine Tram, your enchanting passport to the heart of South Africa’s ‘French Corner.’ This unique tram journey allows you to leisurely explore the rolling vineyards and world-class wineries of Franschhoek Valley without the concerns of navigating or driving. As you trundle through the breathtaking landscape, hopping on and off at your leisure, you’ll have the opportunity to taste an array of superb wines, discover the art of winemaking, and indulge in delicious local cuisine. The Franschhoek Wine Tram isn’t just a mode of transport, but a delightful experience that harmoniously blends the region’s rich history, vibrant flavors, and stunning vistas into an unforgettable adventure.
Take a Cape Winelands Balloon Flight
Embrace the thrill of ascent as you embark on a hot air balloon flight over the captivating landscape of the Cape Winelands. As the sun paints the sky with hues of gold and crimson, you’ll gently lift off the ground, floating above a patchwork of vineyards, historic estates, and undulating mountains. From your serene vantage point, you’ll witness the Winelands awaken, with pockets of mist unfurling over emerald vines and golden sunlight illuminating the dramatic peaks. This journey in the sky isn’t merely a flight; it’s a mesmerizing ballet of nature and an unforgettable perspective of the Winelands’ grandeur. When you finally descend, celebrate the experience with a traditional champagne toast, grounding the ethereal journey in a moment of shared delight.
Stellenbosch Half Day E-Bike & Wine Tour
Embrace the beauty of the Winelands on our unique, guided half-day electric bike tour through the stunning Banhoek Valley in Stellenbosch. Covering 5-6 kilometers, this adventure presents the most spectacular views of the valley, enjoyed from the vantage point of your bike. The journey includes stops at two award-winning, family-owned boutique wineries where you’ll taste the fruits of their vineyards. Along the way, a specialist wine guide will illuminate the rich history of the region, the seasonal changes of the vines, and the distinct features of the magnificent valley you’re exploring. This isn’t just a bike ride; it’s an epic adventure through one of Stellenbosch’s most celebrated wine valleys.
Cape Town Vineyard & Winery Hotels
Ellerman House Wine Gallery
Immerse yourself in the world of South African wines at the Ellerman House Wine Gallery. Situated within the luxurious confines of the boutique Ellerman House Hotel, this distinctive wine gallery is far more than a cellar; it’s a captivating journey into the country’s rich winemaking heritage. With an impressive collection of over 7,500 bottles of premium South African wines, the gallery provides an opportunity to explore the diverse wine regions of the country without leaving Cape Town.
Guided by knowledgeable sommeliers, Winetravelers can enjoy tailored tasting experiences, deepening their understanding of South African varietals and vintages. The gallery’s dramatic architecture, which includes a terroir wall showcasing different soil types, and sculptural displays make it a truly unique sensory experience. The Ellerman House Wine Gallery isn’t just a place to taste wine, but a celebration of South African wine culture in a stunningly curated space.
Delaire Graff Estate
Experience the epitome of luxury at the Delaire Graff Estate, nestled amidst the verdant vineyards of Stellenbosch. This resplendent retreat isn’t merely a hotel and vineyard, but a sanctuary of elegance and tranquility. The estate boasts some of the most spectacular views in the region, overlooking a panorama of vineyards and mountains. Each stay becomes an immersion into the world of fine art, with an exceptional collection adorning the estate, reflecting the owner’s passion for contemporary South African art. Wine connoisseurs will be delighted by the estate’s high-end wines, meticulously crafted and offering a true taste of the regional terroir.
Immerse yourself in an oasis of luxury at Leeu Estates, a premium vineyard hotel nestled in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley. The estate offers a harmonious blend of lush vineyard landscapes, refined accommodations, and indulgent amenities. The on-site Wine Studio showcases the estate’s award-winning wines, inviting guests to taste and learn about the nuances of each vintage. For those seeking relaxation, the Leeu Spa offers a range of bespoke treatments aimed at rejuvenation, drawing on the serene beauty of the surrounding landscape. Culinary enthusiasts can revel in the innovative cuisine at the estate’s fine dining restaurant, where dishes are crafted with local, seasonal ingredients and paired beautifully with the estate’s wines. The accommodations are a testament to understated elegance, offering panoramic views of the vineyards and mountains.
Cape Town Wine Bars & Restaurants
The Test Kitchen
The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa
Delight your palate at The Test Kitchen, one of Cape Town’s most acclaimed dining establishments. Nestled in the heart of the vibrant Woodstock neighborhood, this award-winning restaurant is the brainchild of Chef Luke Dale-Roberts. His innovative and highly creative tasting menu is a culinary journey that explores new frontiers of flavor, texture, and presentation. Each dish is an exquisite work of art, crafted from the finest locally-sourced ingredients and paired with exceptional South African wines. The restaurant’s industrial-chic décor, featuring an open kitchen, heightens the sense of theater and engagement with the culinary process.
Dining at The Test Kitchen isn’t just a meal, but an unforgettable gastronomic adventure that pushes the boundaries of traditional cuisine. It’s a must-visit for any food connoisseur visiting Cape Town.
Publik Wine Bar
11d Kloof Nek Rd, Tamboerskloof, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Savor the diversity of South African wines at Publik Wine Bar, a much-loved local haunt nestled in Cape Town’s bustling city center. This trendy spot is renowned for its dedication to showcasing lesser-known and sustainable wines, offering a curated selection that champions small producers and unusual varietals. The knowledgeable staff are on hand to guide you through the extensive wine list, making it an ideal place for both novices and seasoned wine lovers. With its warm and convivial atmosphere, rustic-chic decor, and variety of delectable charcuterie and cheese boards, Publik Wine Bar is more than just a wine bar — it’s a celebration of South Africa’s vibrant and evolving wine culture. Whether you’re seeking an intimate evening or a lively night out, this is a must-visit for any wine enthusiast in Cape Town.
Bascule Whisky, Wine & Cocktail Bar
W Quay Rd, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Nestled on the edge of the V&A Waterfront, with the yacht marina as its picturesque backdrop, is Bascule Whisky, Wine & Cocktail Bar. This sophisticated yet cozy spot offers an unparalleled selection of wines, an impressive assortment of over 500 whiskies from around the world, and a creative cocktail menu. The wine list features a curated selection of South African vintages, offering an opportunity to sample the region’s rich and diverse winemaking heritage. Bascule’s enviable location allows patrons to enjoy their beverages while overlooking the tranquil waters of the marina, making it an ideal spot for a romantic evening or a relaxing sundowner. The bar’s knowledgeable staff enhances the experience, guiding guests through their choices. Whether you’re a wine connoisseur, a whisky enthusiast, or a cocktail lover, Bascule provides a delightful, high-quality experience in an idyllic setting.
The Pot Luck Club
The Silo, The Old Biscuit Mill, 373-375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa
Elevate your dining experience at The Pot Luck Club, a trendy restaurant perched atop the historical Silo of the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, Cape Town. Revered Chef Luke Dale-Roberts presents a menu inspired by global culinary traditions, reimagined in delectable tapas-style dishes that encourage sharing and discovery. Each plate is a symphony of flavors, textures, and colors, crafted with the finest local ingredients. The restaurant’s innovative ‘flavour-focused’ menu is divided into five taste sections: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami, offering a unique and interactive dining experience. While the food takes center stage, the panoramic views of the city and Table Mountain are a close second, setting a breathtaking backdrop to your meal. The Pot Luck Club’s chic, industrial-style décor and buzzing atmosphere make it a must-visit for foodies and trendsetters alike.
Silvermist Wine Estate, Main Road, Constantia Nek, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa
Experience culinary excellence at La Colombe, one of South Africa’s most iconic fine dining establishments. Situated amidst the verdant vineyards of the Constantia wine region, this celebrated restaurant presents a gastronomic journey that fuses French techniques with Asian influences and local ingredients. Under the guidance of acclaimed Chef James Gaag, each dish is a work of art, both in terms of presentation and taste, evoking a sense of place and season. The menu, a carefully curated selection of tasting options, is complemented by an exceptional wine list featuring local and international vintages. The restaurant’s tranquil setting, with its picturesque views of the vineyards and mountains, enhances the overall dining experience. La Colombe’s blend of innovative cuisine, elegant ambiance, and warm hospitality make it a must-visit destination for any gastronome visiting Cape Town.
Try Cape Malay Cuisine
Although South African wine pairs better with biltong, a type of South African dried beef, make sure to sample Cape Malay cuisine. This Cape Town gastronomic specialty is a mix of Malaysian and South African dishes.
One of the most famous is bobotie, which is curried ground beef with Asian spices baked with egg or mixed with chutney. Find some of the best bobotie at no-frills joint Biesmiellah in Bo Kapp (2 Wale St & Pentz St Bo-Kaap, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa).
For an even more authentic experience, arrange a Cape Malay cooking class with our friends over at Traveling Spoon.
Enjoy the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
The 300-acre V&A Waterfront located on the Atlantic seafront, one of Cape Town’s most beloved tourist attractions. The complex features over 450 shops, as well as museums and restaurants. Don’t forget to make a stop at the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, located in what was once a former grain silo.
Although you can enjoy beautiful views of Table Mountain from the waterfront itself, one of the highlights is taking a ride on the Cape Wheel. It’s a 40-meter-high Ferris wheel featuring 30 closed cabins offering epic views of the Western Cape and beyond.
Head to Table Mountain
One of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks –Table Mountain– is a flat-top mountain easily reachable by a number of different hikes or by cable car. If you choose to take the cable car, get there early, because lines can be extremely long on a sunny day. Ideally, schedule these cable car tickets in advance of your visit, which also include a hop-on-hop-off bus tour.
Once you reach the top, you can walk around, admire the gorgeous 360° views of Cape Town and see some of South Africa’s typical plants. Keep an eye out for the native dassies (small herbivorous mammals with short tails) that run around on top of the mountain.
Admire a Sunset from Signal Hill
Also know as Lion’s Rump, Signal Hill is located next to Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Hike for about an hour-and-a-half and your reward will be a glowing sunset over the endless ocean waters. Or, you can drive up if trekking isn’t your thing.
Two Oceans Scenic Helicopter Flight from Cape Town
Embark on an exhilarating private helicopter journey from Cape Town, taking in the spectacle of two oceans meeting in a single 25-minute flight. Begin by swooping around the iconic Table Mountain, revealing the Atlantic Ocean lapping at one side of the Cape Peninsula. Continue your flight towards the other side, where the Indian Ocean’s azure waters await. Witness the transformative landscape below you, transitioning from sandy beaches and verdant rolling hills to rugged cliffs. Encircle Table Mountain, recognized as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, while your pilot provides insightful commentary over the Cape Peninsula. Glide past imposing mountain ranges like Signal Hill and the Twelve Apostles, and keep an eye out for the shadowy figures of great white sharks patrolling the waters off Muizenberg Beach.
Hit the Beach
Although you have a number of beaches to choose from on the Western Cape, Camps Bay is one of the most famous. This beach is known for its white sands and crashing waves.
The nearby four different Clifton Beaches each have their own vibe — trendy, local, gay or family-friendly, so pick the one that’s right for you. Muizenberg is where you’ll find those colorful beach huts/bathing boxes, perfect for taking memorable photos on the beach.
See the Penguins
Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town is famous for its colony of over 3,000 African penguins. The beach has special outdoor viewing decks (accessible with a small fee) so you can observe the penguins in their natural habitat, frolicking around the sand and sea.
Just make sure not to touch, feed or disrupt them. Besides the fact that you simply shouldn’t mess with this protected species, the birds won’t hesitate in at nipping you.
Immerse Yourself in Nature
You don’t have to go far from the city to surround yourself with native African trees and plants. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are just a short drive from Cape Town’s city center, home to thousands of special plant, flower, herb and tree species.
The gardens also feature a special elevated Canopy Walk, a sculpture garden and incredible views of Table Mountain.
Spot the Big Five
Although you definitely won’t spot any lions in the city center of Cape Town, you don’t have to go all the way to Kruger National Park to find wild game. You can see animals like rhinos, lions, elephants, buffalos and leopards around nearby game reserves like Aquila and Sanbona, which are just a few hours drive from Cape Town. You can hire private transport to these reserves, some of which include overnight stay options.
Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai
For those seeking a shot of adrenaline, look no further than shark cage diving in Gansbaai. Known as the “Great White Shark Capital of the World,” Gansbaai offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to come face-to-face with one of nature’s most formidable predators. After a safety briefing and an overview of the sharks’ behavior, you’ll board a boat and head to Shark Alley. Here, within the safety of a specially-designed cage, you’ll plunge into the ocean and observe these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat. The thrill of watching a great white shark glide past, its dark eyes and rows of teeth clearly visible, is an experience that stays with you long after you’ve returned to dry land. Shark cage diving isn’t just an activity for the brave, it’s an eye-opening encounter that deepens your respect for these misunderstood creatures.
Visit Robben Island
A voyage to Robben Island is a poignant journey into South Africa’s turbulent past. This former prison, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and museum, was once the place of incarceration for the country’s most famous freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela, who was held here for 18 of his 27 years in prison.
Today, visitors can explore the prison complex and the bleak limestone quarries where prisoners toiled. The island, located just off the coast of Cape Town, also provides a unique perspective of the city and Table Mountain. What sets the Robben Island tour apart is that many of the guides are former prisoners, offering first-hand accounts of the harsh conditions and the struggle for dignity and justice. The visit is not only a stark reminder of the country’s apartheid past but also a symbol of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity.
We highly recommend arranging ferry tickets in advance, which also include hotel pickup.
See the Cape of Good Hope
Journey to the edge of the continent and immerse yourself in the wild beauty of the Cape of Good Hope. This rugged nature reserve, steeped in seafaring lore, marks the most south-western point of Africa. It’s a place of breathtaking vistas, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet under the watchful gaze of towering cliffs.
As you navigate its windswept trails, keep an eye out for diverse wildlife, from frolicking baboons to elegant antelopes. Don’t miss the chance to snap a photo at the iconic signpost, a memento of your visit to this extraordinary meeting point of land and sea. It’s a place that feels not just like the end of a continent, but the edge of the world. Highly-rated private tours are bookable and leave from Cape Town.
District Six Museum
Delve into a poignant chapter of Cape Town’s past at the District Six Museum. This powerful institution stands as a testament to the vibrant multi-racial neighborhood that was erased during apartheid when residents were forcibly removed and their homes demolished.
Today, the museum brings to life the spirit and resilience of the District Six community through a fascinating array of photographs, personal accounts, and artifacts. As you wander through the exhibits, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of South Africa’s struggle for freedom and equality, a story that continues to resonate today. The District Six Museum is not just a journey into the past, but a profound exploration of memory, injustice, and the enduring power of community.
Find vibrant energy in Cape Town at Greenmarket Square, a historic market square located in the heart of the city. This bustling bazaar is brimming with a diverse array of stalls where local vendors sell everything from vibrant African fabrics and beaded jewelery to handcrafted sculptures and traditional artwork.
It’s an ideal spot to hunt for unique souvenirs or gifts, with each item telling a story of the city’s rich cultural tapestry. The square is not just a marketplace but a hub of activity where musicians, artists, and street performers add to the lively atmosphere. Take a moment to enjoy a local street food delicacy or a cup of South African rooibos tea at one of the nearby cafes while you soak in the scene. Visiting Greenmarket Square offers a colorful slice of local life and a chance to support local artisans and traders.
Frequently Asked Questions about the Best Things to Do in Cape Town
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