Things You Have to do in Cape Town Before You Die

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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.


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.

kirstenbosch walkway

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. 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

10. 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.

11. Take a Hop On Hop Off City Sightseeing Bus – this service is a tried and tested form of seeing attractions in the 021.

city sighteeing

12. 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.

13. Have lunch at the Chef's Warehouse - winner of the 2014 Eat Out Mercedes-Benz Restaurant Awards for Best Everyday Eatery.

14. See the Garden Route and arrive in style via the Blue Train. This classic form of travelling is the epitome of elegance and luxury.

15. 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.

16. Visit Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town. It is here where you will find a colony of penguins that settled there in 1982.

boulder's beach

17. 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).

18. 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.

19. 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.

20. 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.

21. 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.

muizenberg beach

22. 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.

23. 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.

24. 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.

25. 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! 

26. 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.


27. 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

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. Visit the Pan African Market on Long Street. You'll find beautifully crafted artwork here.

31. 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.

two oceans aquarium

32. 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.

33. 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.

34. 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).

35. Go ice skating at the Grand West Casino.

36.  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.

bo kaap

37. Eat at any restaurant on Kloof Street. This area boasts eateries that range from fine dining style to more laid-back diner style restaurants.

38. 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.

39. Visit the V&A Waterfront. Popular amongst tourists and Capetonians alike, the Waterfront boasts restaurants, local and international shops as well as entertainment.

40. 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.

41. 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.

long street baths

42. 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.

43. 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.

44. 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.

45. 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.

46. 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.

cape town city hall

47. 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.

48. 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.

49. 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.

50. Do some shopping at Canal Walk. This is Africa’s third largest shopping centre.

51. And finally, as Cornelius Freman, a reader puts it, “Do Cape Town, period.”

52. 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!


Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of happenings in Cape Town. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and if you have a smartphone, add to your home screen for quick access on the go!

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Cape Town Events Calendar
August 2017
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Burger Cafe Caprice Cape Town Camps BayBelly Busting Burger Specials at Café Caprice

Camps Bay’s darling dishes up a duo of patties for the price of one every Tuesday

Winter Life - 3Winter Life Group Exhibition

Head out to Kommetjie for a touch of local artistry!

FOREX Pub Quiz 2016 2Trivia Night at The Forex Bar

Test your general knowledge at this Observatory-based haunt’s Tuesday pub quiz

King Kong - 4The Legendary SA Musical, King Kong, is Back!

Celebrate the comeback of this historic musical! Watch VIDEO footage of the original King Kong Musical

De GrendelWinter Lunch Special at De Grendel Restaurant

Warm up your tummy this winter with dishes by local chef Ian Bergh!

The Piano Bar Burger and Beer Special in Cape TownBurger and Beer Special at The Piano Bar

Visit this jazzy eatery and bar on any Tuesday for a burger (or pizza) and free beer

Most Meaningful Tea - 2Things to Do on Women's Day in Cape Town

Celebrate and commemorate all the fearless women in your life with our pick of fabulous things to do in the Mother City!

We Cannot Be Silent Exhibition launch 2017Exhibition: We Cannot Be Silent at the Castle of Good Hope

A dynamic multimedia exhibition seeks to challenge ideas around gender violence in Cape Town. We Cannot Be Silent – it’s time to take action.

Open Design Festival 2017 3Open Design Festival Cape Town

Discover how design can transform lives at this creative fiesta’s line-up of parties, talks, exhibitions, pop-up shops and more

MAReSOLMAReSOL’s Mouth-Watering Winter Menu

This authentically Portuguese restaurant brings the heat this winter

HintHunt Escape Game LogoCape Town’s Most Mysterious Tourist Attraction: HintHunt

Be sure to add this exhilarating live group escape game challenge to your Mother City bucket list

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Team Building Cape TownTeam Building with Battlefield Live SA

Corporates become commandos in this adrenaline-inducing, morale-boosting laser tag activity

AquilaConferences and Corporate Functions at Aquila Game Reserve

Bring your corporate family along to experience team building and business functions featuring the Big 5

parkhouseWinter Savings at The Parkhouse Hotel

Enjoy the best winter comforts at the fraction of the cost

The Village Idiot Restaurant & Bar in Cape TownTuesday Mates and Dates Restaurant Special at The Village Idiot in Cape Town

Bring a partner for a two-by-two weekly special at this popular inner city neighbourhood haunt

Boschendal Wine FarmPicnic Lunches at Boschendal Wine Farm

Delight in an alfresco feast at one of the most picturesque wineries in the Cape Winelands

table mountain chocolate 3Table Mountain Chocolate Bar Special

Buy five of the flat-topped bars and pay for four when you mention CapeTownMag

mischuFree Coffee Beans and Capsules at mischu Coffee Shop in Sea Point

Simply mention while placing an order of coffee beans or capsules today and score a freebie

Kaapse Stories at The Rockwell Theatre“Kaapse Stories” at The Rockwell Dinner Theatre

Supper and Stage make for a delectable evening’s entertainment

Dizzys Camps BayDizzys Tight Ass Tuesday Karaoke Nights

'Bray' the night away with some super specials to lubricate your lungs

Glowing Rooms 3Glowing Rooms SA offers a special opening price!

Pay a special rate for entrance into SA’s first 3D space-themed glow-in-the-dark mini-golf adventure

Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Newlands Live Music 2Happy Hour Special at the Live-Inn Room

Pop in to Park Inn Newslands Hotel for buy-one-get-one-free drinks any day of the week or weekend

WSDC Shark 5White Shark Diving Company’s Killer Cage Diving Special

Come face-to-face with the ocean’s most fearsome fish for a truly otherworldly bucket-list experience and pay less when booking with these sharky Gansbaai-based experts

Live Jazz Music at Asoka on TuesdayLive Jazz at Asoka Restaurant

Turn your Tuesday up a notch with this trendy hotspot’s vibey dinner and music offering

mavericksHave a Big Night Out at Mavericks Gentlemen’s Club

Score entry, a beer, a burger and a table dance for less than you’d expect at this Mother City revue bar

HQ Date performerTuesday Romantic Date Night at HQ Restaurant

Treat your loved one to an evening of succulent steaks, red wine and romantic ambiance at this Parisian-inspired Cape Town steakhouse’s #HQDateNight special

Manga Sushi 22-for-1 Sushi Special at Manga Restaurant

Save on sashimi, salmon roses and more every Tuesday at this contemporary Asian fusion hotspot in Mouille Point

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