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Things You Have to do in Cape Town Before You Die
Things you have to do every once in a while or at least once – as a visitor and local
Last Update: 21 July 2017
The Mother City, as Cape Town is affectionately known, boasts an endless list of exciting things to do. From climbing the one of theNew7Wonders of Nature (Table Mountain) to shopping at one of South Africa’s most popular shopping centre’s (V&A Waterfront), this city has it all.
Which is why it comes as no surprise that there are a few mandatory to-dos that kind of prove that you’ve been here and that you’ve done every single thing that every person that talks about Kaapstad says you ‘absolutely have to do’.
So it goes without saying that this list is a must for Capetonians and tourists alike, to make sure that they get some of the best things that this sea side metropolis has to offer, and that leaves no guesses as to why this city topped the New York Times’ list of 52 Places to go in 2014.
THINGS YOU HAVE TO DO IN CAPE TOWN BEFORE YOU DIE
1. Try a Gatsby – Cape Town’s signature super loaf, which is usually stuffed with slap chips and a range of other fillings like polony, steak, atchar, and much more!
2. This is a no brainer: YOU HAVE TO GO UP TABLE MOUNTAIN – which is now officially one of New7Wonders of Nature.
3. Another no brainer, you guessed it: hike up Lion’s head
4. Go to Simon’s Town (by train) – It is home to a Royal Navy base that now belongs to the South African government, and an authentic wartime submarine can be found there.
5. Check out the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens – The stunning garden has been named 2015’s ‘International Garden of the Year’ (by the International Garden Tourism Awards Body). There’s also a great treetop canopy walkway called the ‘Boomslang” that has recently been declared the Most Beautiful Object in South Africa at the 2015 Design Indaba.
6. Watch the sunset from the back of an electric bicycle with GONOW. This is perfect if you want to culture-up your Instagram account, as the two-hour trip includes four to five photo opportunity stops at the Lionel Smit artwork in Sea Point, and of the picturesque sunset over the Atlantic Seaboard.
7. Take a stroll through the Company’s Garden – you can picnic in the garden, read a book in the sun while the playful squirrels scurry around you or visit the delightful restaurant there
8. While you’re on that side of the world (point 6), take a selfie outside Parliament, which is right near the Company’s Garden.
9. Getting a haircut might seem too vanilla to appear on a bucket list but when you know that Swordfern occasionally does blindfolded haircuts your inner thrill-seeker might get (very) excited! This edgy, environmentally-conscious health and beauty salon also has a weekly ‘bring a bro’ special and offers gender neutral cuts so ladies and lads pay the same price for a wash or chop.
10. Check out the South African Brewery in Newlands. It is here that you can enjoy an insightful beer tour that delves deep into the history of the almost 200 –year- old establishment
11. Take advantage of the wonderful Signal Hill. You could paraglide off the famous mound with Parataxi, or soak in the views of the cool and calm Atlantic Ocean below, or just take a moment to watch the sunrise or sunset.
12. Take a Hop On Hop Off City Sightseeing Bus – this service is a tried and tested form of seeing attractions in the 021.
13. Go for a swim at Clifton 4th beach. This gorgeous stretch of sand and sea has been awarded Blue Flag Beach status, which means the water, safety and marine quality is of high standard.
14. Have lunch at the Chef's Warehouse - winner of the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards for Best Everyday Eatery.
15. See the Garden Route and arrive in style via the Blue Train. This classic form of travelling is the epitome of elegance and luxury.
16. Check out the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock.This hotspot (which is ‘the place to be’ amongst locals and tourists alike), is home to the Neighbourgoods market.The weekly Saturday market boats mouthwatering artisanal food and drink, as well as a number of great clothing stands. If you’re keen to check out ‘Cape Town’s most loved group activity,’ challenge yourself and a group of your friends with Hint Hunt; the most exciting live escape game to hit the city.
17. Visit Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town. It is here where you will find a colony of penguins that settled there in 1982.
18. Take a trip to the historic Robben Island. The island’s function has changed over the past few years, but is most commonly known as its past use of being a political prison during South Africa’s apartheid. (One of the most famous prisoners being former president Nelson Mandela).
19. Go to Café Caprice in Camps Bay. The trendy hangout spot is known for attracting Hollywood A-Listers and is also an ideally situated location for sundowners, good food and a great vibe.
20. And while we’re on the subject of great vibes, it is of course imperative that you check out Cape Town’s famous Long Street. The CBD roadway is known for its endless offering of clubs, pubs, bars and everything in between.
21. Head on over to Kalk Bay. This quaint seaside town is known for its beautiful views of the False Bay coastline and is also a top spot for getting tasty fish and chips at well-known fishery Kalky’s.
22. While you’re in the South Peninsula, make sure you visit Muizenberg beach. The popular sandy shoreline is a prime spot for surfing and features those well-known colourful changing booths that appear in many Cape Town -related tourism photos.
23. Check out Rhodes Memorial, which is stationed on the slopes of Devil’s Peak Mountain (at the University of Cape Town). This location lends itself to great views of the city, and is also a chilled spot for selfies and relaxing with friends.
24. Do something thrilling and go shark diving in Gansbaai. Just two hours away from Cape Town, this location is known as the Great White Shark capital of the world. So what better way to explore the waters than by a one-on-one encounter with the terrifying yet beautiful beasts of the sea.
25. Go on a helicopter ride. This is one of the best ways to see the beautiful Atlantic, as well as majestic landmarks like Table Mountain, Robben Island, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill as well as the budding vines of the cape Winelands.
26. Check out the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay. This weekend shindig has over 80 trader stalls filled with delightful goods and also features live music and more!
27. Discover Mzoli’s in Gugulethu. Mzoli’s is a popular chisa nyama (braai spot) that boasts tasty flame grilled meat, great sounds, and a buzzing energy.
28. Delight in the stars of our Milky Way galaxy at the Planetarium. This much-loved installation hosts themed shows, the schedule of which is available online at http://www.iziko.org.za/museums/planetarium.
29. Go to Ratanga Junction and enjoy some of Cape Town’s most thrilling rides. ‘The Cobra’ (which goes at a fast speed of 100km/h) seems to be a firm favourite amongst our readers.
30. Cycle through parts of the CBD with Moonlight Mass. The popular event takes part every full moon and allows Capetonians and tourists alike to see Cape Town streets in a different, er, light.
31. Visit the Pan African Market on Long Street. You'll find beautifully crafted artwork here.
32. View over 3000 creatures at the Two Oceans Aquarium . Perfect for kiddies and curious adults alike, this gem is home to thousands of aquatic species and even offers unique services like hosting children's birthday parties.
33. Explore the Cape of Good Hope. This rocky headland is on the coast of the Cape Peninsula and is known as one of the great capes of the South Atlantic Ocean.
34. Check out the Castle of Good Hope. Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, this building is oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa.
35. Have morning or afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel. This activity has been a firm favourite amongst Capetonians and travellers alike for years and is really worth the try (if you haven't already).
36. Go ice skating at the Grand West Casino.
37. Visit the Bo Kaap. This area, which was formerly known as the Malay Quarter, is a brightly coloured historical area of the Cape Malay culture. It is now a modern residential area.
38. Eat at any restaurant on Kloof Street. This area boasts eateries that range from fine dining style to more laid-back diner style restaurants.
39. Take a walk on the Sea Point Promenade. This Atlantic Seaboard based area is a great spot for casual cycling, a workout (there's an outdoor gym) and is even good for taking your pet out for a walk.
40. Visit the V&A Waterfront. Popular amongst tourists and Capetonians alike, the Waterfront boasts restaurants, local and international shops as well as entertainment.
41. Go on the Cape Wheel at the V&A Waterfront. This roundabout feature gives phenomenal 360 degree panoramic views of the Mother City. It even has a swanky VIP booth.
42. Go for a swim at Long Street Baths. This facility has been available for over 100 years and features a large indoor pool and Turkish steam baths.
43. Check out St George’s Cathedral (which was designed by Sir Herbert Baker). It is the oldest Cathedral in Southern Africa and is the mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town.
44. Visit the Iziko Slave Lodge (it is one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town). This museum has been renamed multiple times over the years, and now explores the history of slaves in South Africa.
45. Discover the Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha. Situated just 40kms outside of Cape Town, this attraction’s is built on the largest sand dune in the Cape Flats and boasts stunning views of the surrounding area.
46. Revel at South African art at the Irma Stern Museum. The former home in Cape Town of the famous South African Expressionist painter Irma Stern (1894 - 1966) with a permanent exhibition of the artist's paintings, drawings, ceramics and sculpture as well as her private collection of early European furniture, African and Oriental art.
47. Visit the Cape Town City Hall. This monumental location is best known as the spot where revolutionary icon and former president Nelson Mandela gave his first public speech after being released from a 27 –year- long prison sentence.
48. Take a step back to history at the District Six Museum. Located in the former inner-city residential area of District Six in Cape Town, where over 60 000 inhabitants were forcibly removed.
49. Sip and swirl some top class wine in Constantia. This Southern suburbs location is home to South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate – Groot Constantia.
50. Check out the World of Birds. This is Africa’s largest bird park with over 3 000 birds of 400 different species spread over 4 hectares of land.
51. Do some shopping at Canal Walk. This is Africa’s third largest shopping centre.
52. And finally, as Cornelius Freman, a CapeTownMagazine.com reader puts it, “Do Cape Town, period.”
53. Whilst visiting the Mother City dare to try ‘the world’s strongest coffee’, Black Insomnia Coffee Company. Available online and at a number of coffee shops in Cape Town including Shift Espresso Bar and Hard Pressed Café, to name but a few hotspots, the local java brand has just over 6% more caffeine than its closest competitor’s product in the USA. Take your Mother City bucket-list to new record-breaking caffeine heights!
Looking for out of the ordinary and lesser known things to do in our city? Then have a look at 47 awesome to-do’s that should be on your bucket list!
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