19 January 2022
There’s no shortage of things to do in Cape Town. Here’s our Cape Town bucket list experiences ranging from activities in nature, fine food and wine experiences, thrilling adventures, and interesting history, arts and culture.
It’s hard to avoid nature while in Cape Town. There are several ways to make sure that the phenomenal natural surroundings form part of your bucket list while in Cape Town.
Take the aerial cableway to the summit of Table Mountain and marvel at the panoramic views over the city and ocean. Fit individuals can reach the top of Table Mountain by one of several hiking trails.
Hiking is one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Cape Town and hiking trails are in abundance in and around the city. Arguably one of the most special hikes one can do is the Cape Camino Trail – a long distance pilgrimage which combines nature with history. Walk, cycle or jog along the popular Seapoint Promenade with locals and tourists at any time of day. The sea will be right next to you, with a refreshing breeze to cool you down.
There are several hikes leading to the Silvermine reservoir – a favourite swimming spot among locals and visitors. Cape Town also boasts several other swimming spots at beaches, tidal pools, and river rock pools.
Simon’s Town is known for its colony of African Penguins. A fantastic way to experience these cute birds is by kayaking among them. If you’re lucky you’ll see other sea life too.
At the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, you can appreciate the natural fauna and flora through leisurely walks, more strenuous hikes, or by picnicking under one of the many big trees. Be sure to walk along the 130m Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, informally called the Kirstenbosch Boomslang (tree snake) – as it winds its way through and above the tree canopy.
Cape Town offers many excellent and diverse wine and food experiences. To kickstart your day with brunch, visit Starlings Café for healthy, home-made, fresh food. For fine-dining brunch, the Potluck Club on Sundays for a set menu served tapas-style.
A braai (barbeque) is a favourite pastime among South Africans, not only for the food, but also the socialising that comes with it. Oudekraal has wonderful, secluded braai areas with ocean views. To try a township-style braai, enjoy some shisanyama (meaning to ‘burn meat’ in Zulu) at Rands in Khayelitsha or Mzoli’s Place in Gugulethu.
Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay and The Salty Sea Dog in Simon’s Town are both renowned for their fresh fish and chips. Biesmiellah Restaurant and Bo-Kaap Kombuis, both in Bo-Kaap, serve delicious, traditional, Cape Malay meals. For posh British high tea, get dressed up and go to the Mount Nelson Hotel.
Cape Town forms part of the Cape Winelands and is world-renowned for its wine tasting experiences. The Wine Tram will take you to some of the country’s most notable wine estates, where you can enjoy the views, the food and taste incredible local wines. Alternatively, visit the Cape Point Vineyards. Picnic on the terraced lawns while sipping your wine.
The city’s craft beers and gins are also worth trying out. Tour the country’s oldest commercial brewery, Newlands Brewery. The tour ends with beer tasting in the brewery’s historic pub. For craft beers, try out Jack Black’s Brewing Company or Darling Brewery. There are many gin bars and distilleries for you to discover, such as Hope on Hopkins, in Salt River, with their delicious Bloedlemoen gin.
Go tandem paragliding to have a bird’s eye view of the city. You’ll see buildings, the ocean, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain as you float down over the Atlantic Sea Board. Abseiling around 100 metres down Table Mountain is another way to get your blood pumping and to enjoy the city from up high.
Horse riding along the seemingly endless Noordhoek Beach, with its white sand, is a fun way to experience nature. Companies like Sleepy Hollow Horse Riding offer guided trails for riders of varying levels of experience.
Roller Derby – a fast-paced, skating sport for women – has taken Cape Town by storm. Why not work up a sweat on one of the Roller Derby tracks?
For those who enjoy water activities, you can snorkel through Cape Town’s incredible kelp forests. You can also learn to surf at Big Bay, near Bloubergstrand, or in Muizenberg. Alternatively, go kloofing (canyoning) at Crystal Pools near Gordon’s Bay. You will be jumping into rock pools and abseiling down a waterfall.
Cape Town has no shortage of tourist attractions for history enthusiasts. Its many museums tell the story of the country and city. They include the South African Museum, the Slave Lodge, the District Six Museum, the Castle of Good Hope, the South African Naval Museum, and Robben Island.
For something a little different, grab your torch and join a tour of the massive network of canals and rivers under the city. Some of them date back to 1652.
Arts and culture forms part of the experiences that Cape Town has on offer. The Langa Quarter is a vibrant spot with jazz venues, art galleries and restaurants. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) boasts over 100 galleries with the world’s largest collection of contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora. You can also check out the street art, murals and galleries in Woodstock as a local artist takes you on a walking tour.