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The ultimate Cape Town bucket list
The 51 things you need to do, see and experience in Cape Town
Last Updated: 1 December 2020
Magic gardens, hidden play parks, waterfalls and a castle. Celebrate South African art and heritage museums, including one dedicated to southern Africa's oldest inhabitants. Plus find once-in-a-lifetime adventures and things to do across the Western Cape. Local or visitor, you must add one (if not all) of these experiences to your bucket list.
WAKE UP WITH THE SUNRISE
Start your day off on a high note by joining in a silent guided dance and meditation experience with Secret Sunrise.
EAT ONE OF CAPE TOWN’S MOST ICONIC DISHES
It’s such an important part of the Cape’s food culture that we asked our readers to recommend the best restaurants and cafes. Here’s your pick of the best gatsby in Cape Town, according to locals.
VISIT THE BOTANICAL GARDEN OF THE CAPE SOUTH COAST
Waterfalls, colourful fynbos and a lush indigenous forest are waiting to be discovered at the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens, a protected reserve near Betty’s Bay.
GO SHARK CAGE DIVING
Just two hours from Cape Town, Gansbaai is known as the Great White Shark capital of the world. If you’re brave enough, shark diving in Gansbaai is a must.
SWIM WITH THE CROCS
Shark cage diving doesn’t thrill you? We dare you to swim with the crocodiles instead at Le Bonheur in Paarl.
VENTURE OFF THE BEATEN PATH NEAR SIMON’S TOWN
Just past Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town, you’ll stumble upon Windmill Beach where you can frolic in the natural pool and soak up views of the False Bay coastline.
CAMP AMONGST THE FLOWER
For the ultimate glamping experience, visit Namaqualand’s annual spring flower display in August and September and spend the night surrounded by a plethora of colourful blooms in the luxury Namaqua Flower Camps.
THE GREEN JEWEL OF THE NORTHERN SUBURBS
Magik Forest is a green space bordered by Durbanville, Bellville and Welgemoed. The series of connected paths is the perfect way to enjoy a peaceful stroll.
DISCOVER A HIDDEN WATERFALL
Walk for 30 minutes through the south-eastern part of the Silvermine reserve and you’ll stumble upon the hidden gem that is the Silvermine Waterfall.
VISIT THE WORLD'S LARGEST COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN ART
Marvel at the architecture, get lost in the art or just explore the Silo District at the V&A Waterfront around the Zeitz MOCAA Museum.
TAKE THE TRAIN TO MATJIESFONTEIN
Go on a two-day rail adventure to this historic town. With just one hotel and bar, a post office and a restaurant. Get transported back to a simpler time when you take the forgotten route to Matjiesfontein.
TAKE A HARBOUR TOUR
Get up close with Cape fur seals, take in history and get epic pictures on a gentle cruise around the V&A harbour with Cape Town City Tours.
TAKE A TRIP ON THE BLUE TRAIN
The perfect mix of luxury and old-world charm, the Blue Train will take you on a slow meander along the Garden Route from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
VISIT THE WINE CAPITAL OF THE “DEEP SOUTH”
If you love the ocean and good wine, enjoy both at Noordhoek’s winery by the sea. After your tasting, book a picnic on the lawn and delight in the breath-taking views Cape Point Vineyards is famous for.
GO WINE TASTING ON AN E-BIKE
Go on a guided tour of Banhoek, Franschhoek or Stellenbosch through safe, scenic routes, tasting each farm’s delicious wines with Vinebikes, who guide wine tasting adventures on an e-bike.
GO WINE TASTING ON HORSEBACK
Horse trails, quad trails or wagon trails – take your pick at Rhebokskloof Wine Estate in Paarl. Plus, there’s wine tastings on offer too at Wine Valley Adventures guided tours.
TAKE TO THE WATER WITH KASKAZI KAYAKS
Explore Cape Town on a kayak? Meet some of the city’s most loved residents, from penguins and Cape fur seals to dolphins with Kaskazi Kayaks.
SPEND THE WEEKEND ON A HOUSEBOAT
Escape to Langebaan and spend a leisurely weekend in the West Coast National Park onboard a luxury house boat.
TAKE A TRIP TO THE SEASIDE
Beautiful views, quaint shops dotted along cobbled streets and the best fish and chips, there are a host of fun things to do in the charming seaside town of Kalk Bay.
PICNIC IN THE COMPANY’S GARDEN
Home to the South African museum, the Cape Town Holocaust Centre and the South African National Gallery, get lost in the beauty and history at the Company’s Garden.
EXPLORE SIMON’S TOWN
Stop off at the South African Navy’s largest naval base and enjoy a meal at one of the many charming eateries in the historic Simon’s Town.
VISIT THE PENGUINS
While you’re in Simon’s Town, be sure to visit the colony of penguins who settled at Boulder’s Beach in 1982.
TAKE ON A TUNNEL TOUR
Venture below ground to discover Cape Town’s early history and its close connection to water with a truly unique tunnel tour.
It’s not just about the meat, it’s a lifestyle. A place to party, see the hottest local artist or just chill with friends a tshisanyama.
RIDE TABLE MOUNTAIN CABLEWAY
The cableway has been taking visitors up and down Table Mountain for 90 years. It's one of Cape Town's most popular attractions. It's very popular, especially in summer, so book early and book online.
HIKE UP TO KNIFE’S EDGE ON DEVIL’S PEAK
Challenge yourself to a hike up Knife’s Edge – the views of the city will be worth it.
VISIT THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is known for its pretty picnic spots, but don’t miss out on a meander along the ‘Boomslang’, their treetop canopy walkway.
VISIT ROBBEN ISLAND FOR THE DAY
Home to the prison that housed many political prisoners under apartheid, the most famous being Nelson Mandela, experience history with a tour of Robben Island.
EXPLORE THE BEST OF THE V&A WATERFRONT
From the kiddies indoor play area to artisanal street food at the soon-to-be-launched Makers Landing, there’s something for everyone at the V&A Waterfront.
GO SIGHTSEEING ON THE BIG RED BUS
Spend the day on an open-top bus. With 30 stops, you’ll get to experience all the city’s main attractions with the Hop on Hop off City Sightseeing tour.
SHOP THE HOUT BAY MARKET SCENE
With over 60 trader stalls filled with quirky goods and live music, you’ll enjoy hours of entertainment at the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay.
SUPPORT LOCAL AT A CITY MARKET
Spend your Saturday feasting on artisanal fare and shopping locally-made goods at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock’s vibrant Neighbourgoods Market.
A SLICE OF ANCIENT GERMANY IN HOUT BAY
In the heart of Hout Bay and owned by a secretive Russian billionaire, lives a castle – an exact replica of the German Lichtenstein Castle.
LEARN ABOUT HISTORY AT THE IZIKO SLAVE LODGE
Explore the history of slaves in South Africa in one of the oldest buildings in Cape Town at the Iziko Slave Lodge.
SPEND THE DAY IN DISTRICT SIX
Learn about the 60 000 residents who were forcibly removed from their homes in District Six during apartheid at the District Six museum.
STAND ON THE LARGEST SAND DUNE ON THE CAPE FLATS
Situated just 30kms from Cape Town and built on the largest sand dune on the Cape Flats with stunning views of the surrounding areas is a hidden gem, Lookout Hill in Khayelitsha.
GO BIRD WATCHING
With over 3 000 birds and 400 different species spread over four hectares, nature lover’s must make a turn at Africa’s largest bird park, the World of Birds.
VISIT THE OLDEST CATHEDRAL IN SOUTHERN AFRICA
The mother church of the Anglican Diocese of Cape Town and designed by Sir Herbert Baker in 1847, St George’s Cathedral is a must-see for history buffs.
EXPLORE THE MAJESTIC COASTLINE ON A MOTORBIKE
Forget a limo – enjoy a unique chauffeur experience on the back of a Harley Davidson and take in the views along the city’s spectacular coastal roads with Cape Bike Travel.
EXPLORE A HIDDEN PLAYPARK
A hidden gem in the heart of suburbia, this park is magical. Wood-carved planes and cars, a towering tree house and a stream to frolic in ensure Paradise Park lives up to its name.
MINIATURE 7DE LAAN
Take a trip to 7de Laan – the miniature version that is! After 15 years’ hard work, a super fan couple from De Kelder transformed their backyard into a mini 7de Laan.
TAKE A DRIVE OVER CHAPMAN’S PEAK
Wind your way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on what some say is one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. You gotta do Chappies.
SAMPLE THE BEST FISH AND CHIPS IN TOWN
Housed in a former fish market built in 1925, Salty Sea Dog in Simon’s Town is the best spot to enjoy fish ‘n chips with a view.
ENJOY LUNCH IN A SECRET GARDEN
Its quaint furniture dotted in a pretty garden coupled with its homestyle food are some of the reasons suburban foodies flock to Starling’s Café.
GO GLAMPING IN THE WINELANDS
Explore some of South Africa's most beautiful farms, estates and reserves while staying in absolute comfort at one of 11 Africamps boutique glamping camps.
LEARN ABOUT GANG CULTURE AT THE 18 GANGSTER MUSEUM
Learn about Cape Town’s gang culture with an educational and interactive tour at the 18 Gangster Museum in Khayelitsha.
VISIT THE HERITAGE MUSEUM DEDICATED TO THE SAN
Explore the first education centre dedicated to the culture and history of southern Africa's oldest inhabitants at the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre.
TRY A LOCAL DELICACY
Bokkoms aka fish biltong (salted, dried pieces of mullet fish) is a well-known Cape delicacy. Try it at Die Vishuis in the town of Velddrif.
HIKE TO THE TOP OF ANOTHER LANDMARK NAMED AFTER A CAT (NOT LION'S HEAD)
For just R13 per person, you can enjoy 13km of self-guided hiking trails boasting magnificent views overlooking the northern and southern suburbs at Tygerberg Hills.
VISIT THE REDWOOD FOREST AT GROOTVADERSBOSCH
Tucked away in the mountains between Swellendam and Heidelberg is the Grootvadersbosch Conservancy, a reserve which is home to the tallest species of tree in the world.
Your ultimate small town bucket list of hidden gems in the Western Cape.
We also have bucket loads in things to do with kids.
From secret hideaways and birthday freebies, there’s a treasure trove of free things to do.
And more specifically free and cheap things to do with kids.
For adults here’s our list of wine tastings with a difference.
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