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Cape Town Destination Guide

During your visit, you must definitely see Cape Town's top five attractions: Table Mountain, the V&A Waterfront, Robben Island, the Winelands and Cape Point. But don't stop there! There are so many quaint neighbourhoods with stunning vistas, awesome eats and plenty of activities.

When in Cape Town, the issue is not whether there is enough to occupy your time, but rather whether you have enough time to even scratch the surface of all that is on offer!

A recent New York Times article by Michael Wines suggests the best things to see and do with just 36 Hours in Cape Town. We like his suggestions and can assist in booking accommodations near the Cable Car, near Africa Café, the Winelands (Franschhoek Accommodation) and Camps Bay Hotels.

This Cape Town Destination Guide lists some of the main sights and attractions which you will probably want to spend some time at during your visit. For additional information about other things to see and do, and about South Africa generally, be sure to take a quick look at our South Africa Destination Guide and South Africa Country Guide.

Things to See & Do in Cape Town

While in Cape Town, you'll want to spend some time in the country tasting wines, cheeses and other delectable treats in the beautiful Cape Winelands. That could be the local Constantia winelands or further afield like Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. And rather than driving out along the Cape Peninsula to Cape Point and back into the city centre, take a couple days exploring all that the Cape Point Route has to offer and stay in one of the fabulous B&B's guest houses, villas and hotels along the way.

Do you want to get active with adventure sports; dive with great white sharks, bungee jump the highest commercial jump in the world or experience the thrill of paragliding over stunning landscapes? Don't forget to explore the outdoors, be it hiking, mountain biking, sailing, running, surfing or dolphin and whale watching. There are Cape Town tours and activities that allow you to do things you may never get the opportunity to do again - visit our tours' page, you won't regret it.

The unique topography of the region makes it easy to orientate oneself as long as you remember that with Table Mountain behind you and Robben Island before you, you are facing north, looking across Table Bay and up the west coast of Africa. To help you find your way around Cape Town, the area can be broken down into seven regions; the Atlantic Seaboard, Cape Flats, Cape Town Central, Northern Suburb, Southern Suburb and Cape Point Route.

Follow the links to the right or scroll further down the page for details on some of the many interesting tourist attractions in Cape Town:


Dos and Don'tsTop

Here are some quick tips to make your trip to Cape Town as enjoyable and hassle-free as possible.

Do:

 - Tip at least 10%

 - Ask before you take a photo of someone

 - Venture off the beaten track. Cape Town has a wealth of culture, make sure you see it before you   head home

 - Take the time to visit the Wine Country

 - Take your shoes off. Feel free to roam barefoot - the only people who will think you are strange are other tourists.

Don't

 - Wander through the streets at night by yourself

 - Let pick pocketers get the best of you. Like all cities they are out

 - Forget to put tags on your luggage.

 - Smoke inside public places unless you are in a designated smoking area.

Cape Town's Big 5Top

Table Mountain
Table Mountain is one of the most recognisable natural icons in the world.  Rising over 1000m above sea level, the seemingly flat mountain makes a picturesque backdrop for the City of Cape Town.  There are literally hundreds of hiking trails winding their way up to the top and for those preferring a more relaxed approach to sightseeing, there is a cable car that leaves every few minutes.  At the top, you will find a restaurant and souvenir shop so be sure to take some money.  Also, don't forget a jersey- even if it's warm in Cape Town the top of the mountain can be quite cold.  

V&A Waterfront
Based around a working harbour, the V&A waterfront has transformed from a dreary dock into vibrant tourist attraction. The vast shopping centre offers tourists all the souvenirs they could ever dream of, as well as a variety of restaurants, bars and boat tours. Keep an eye open for some of the amazing street performers, buskers and live music that you are likely to stumble upon at any time.

Robben Island
Having incarcerated Nelson Mandela for 19 of his 27 years in jail under apartheid, Robben Island has become a symbol of South Africa's remarkable transformation.  Apart from housing political prisoners, the island was also used as a lunatic asylum, leper colony and general dumping place for chronically ill patients.  Tours in and around the prison are guided by ex-inmates who are able to provide great insight into the day to day life of a Robben Island Prisoner.  Tours leave from the V&A Waterfront and it is essential that you book in advance as only a limited amount of visitors can be accommodated per day. Tours generally run every hour.

Cape Point
Often mistakenly regarded as the Southern most tip of Africa, Cape Point remains one of the Cape's most popular tourist attractions. The dazzling scenery, breathtaking sea views and beautiful beaches provide a million perfect picnic spots and the ideal family day out. The Two Oceans Restaurant which lies at the foot of the lighthouse is renowned for its fabulously fresh and tasty seafood.
View our Cape Point Tour

Cape Winelands
As the historical home of the South African wine industry, the Cape Winelands has been producing fine wine since the 17th century.  There are hundreds of top quality wine cellars hidden within the winelands, and as a guest to the Cape it is your duty to visit as many as you can in the quest to seek out your favourite.  If you want to get to know the winelands, we can help! We have a wealth of general information, accommodation options and tours available for you to choose from, so drop us a mail.

Attractions in & around Cape TownTop

The Boulders Beach Penguins- Boulders Beach is home to a land based colony of African or Jackass penguins (yes, that's their real name, they make a noise like a donkey)! Why not spend the afternoon in Simons Town and visit them in their natural habitat, your kids will love it. Or take a tour and see tham en route to Cape Point

The Artscape Theatre - The Artscape is Cape Town premier theatre house. The playhouse features the finest ballet, opera, philharmonic orchestra productions and dramatic creations seen in Cape Town. Keep an eye on our event page to see what's coming up or visit the Artscape home page.

Ratanga Junction- Cape Town's answer to Disney World, Ratanga Junction has over 30 attractions appealing to all members of the family. Of the 24 rides, the cobra, diamond devil and monkey falls are amongst those that cater for adrenalin junkies, while a variety of other rides such as bumper bugs and the crocodile gorge can accommodate the whole family. Ratanga Juction closes during the winter months so make sure its open before you tell the kids you're going! 

Food and Wine Festivals - Blessed with the Cape Winelands and a heritage packed with exciting foods and flavours, festivals celebrating the culinary arts were inevitable. Our event page will keep you posted on any upcoming food and wine festivals in and around Cape Town.

Townships - To get a true understanding of a destination, you need to look beyond the sparkle of tourist attractions and instead delve a little deeper into the everyday lives of local inhabitants. On our site you can actually book to stay in a township bed and breakfast. They are perfectly safe, clean and absolutely unforgettable.

Museums - There are a number of interesting museums showcasing everything from South Africa's turbulent historical past, to its finest art and heritage. The best known museums in and around Cape Town would probably include the District Six Museum, (which commemorates the people displaced out of district six during the apartheid) and the 'Iziko' Natural History and National Art Museums which are found in the company gardens in the heart of Cape Town.

Beaches - The Western Cape has dozens of spectacular beaches. Lined with restaurants and trendy cocktail bars, the most popular hangout for the bronzed and beautiful people of Cape Town includes Camps Bay Beach and Clifton 4th. A little further up the west coast you can often find yourself a deserted white sandy beach. Water sports in Cape Town have really taken off over the past few years, if you would like to try your hand at surfing or even kite surfing, make sure you have a look at our tours and activities page- we can help organise lessons that cater specifically to your level of skill.

Sporting attractions in & around Cape TownTop

Golf Courses - What could be more pleasurable than the sun on your back, the Cape's fresh air and a relaxing round of golf at one of Cape Towns most beautiful golf courses? Some of these lovely courses include The Atlantic Beach Golf Estate in Melkbosstrand, Clovelly Golf Club in the Silvermine Valley near Fish Hoek, The Erinvale Golf Estate in Somerset West, the Steenberg Golf Estate and Westlake Golf Course in the Silvermine Mountains. 

I want to stay near a one of these courses: Click here  

Fitness Centres - Need to keep fit while you are away from home? These fitness centres offer day, month and year subscriptions. The most commonly used being the Virgin Active brand Situated in Gardens, kenilworth, Sea Point and Table View. Zone Fitness in Milnerton,  Rondebosch, Parow and Brackenfell is a brand of smaller  fitness centres offering circuit training as well as yoga and pilaties classes.

Yacht and Boating Clubs - The Royal Cape Yacht Club is the oldest and most well known yacht club in Cape Town also offering a Ladies Association. A totally different alternative could be the Mujaji Dragon Boat Racing Club in the V&A Waterfront.

Tennis Courts - Tennis courts are quite abundant in Cape Town and are availble for use my members as well as non members, at a fee. Clovelly , as well as offering Golf, also offers tennis courts on the same premises. Kelvin Grove has 11 tennis courts as well as 4 floodlit courts and 1 practise court. Here on is spoilt for choice at this fantastic sports club in Newlands. One can also enjoy a game of tennis at the Swiss Social and Sports Club.

Extreme Sports - Cape Town offers every extreme sport one can think of from bungee jumping to abseiling to Shark cage Diving and many more. To see what adrenaline rushes are on offer see what's on in Cape Town.

Cape Town CentralTop

If you are looking for non- stop action, you will find it in the heart of the city.  Apart from the heavy hitting attractions, there are hundreds of small and quirky restaurants, shops and theatres that are begging to be explored.

The centre of Cape Town has grown fantastically over the last few years and its mix of European and African cultures means it is a-buzz, day or night, with a heady mix of culture, nature and history and an eclectic mix of people. This is the business centre but it’s also a chance to experience South Africa’s past - the South African Museum, the Castle of Good Hope, Company Gardens, Government Avenue and other museums and galleries lining the centre of town.

Long Street is a quirky, bohemian mix of African curios, antique shops, book shops and a bevy of coffee shops, restaurants and bistros. During peak season, market stalls line some of the avenues near Greenmarket Square and art exhibitions, some of them free of charge like the Michaelis Collection, mean you can spend hours here.

The Cape Town TownshipsTop

To get a better understanding of the Cape, a visit to the Cape Flats is a must!  Take a tour into the heart of Cape Town's vibrant townships, or better yet, book yourself into one of our township accommodations. Safe, clean and friendly they offer the best way to experience the "true" Cape Town.

A visit through the townships of Langa, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Khayelitsha, Mitchell’s Plain, Manenberg and Bonteheuwel is one of the most revealing and enriching things you can do whilst in Cape Town – for better or worse this area is considered the birthplace of Cape Town’s soul and art, crafts, music and entrepreneurship abound in a collective show of making the best of a bad situation. Add to this the pervasive ‘Cape sense of humour’ – the ability of people who live on the Flats to see the funny side of life – despite the odds, and you will have a better understanding of how the people of South Africa actually live. Yet, despite its association with flat sandy plains, the Cape Flats is also an extensive wetland and home to unique strandveld vegetation that has come under extreme urbanisation pressure.

Atlantic SeaboardTop

The Atlantic Seaboard is known for its trendy restaurants, sandy white beaches and breath-taking sunsets. It refers to the area extending south from the city along the coastline on the western side of Table Mountain.

Along the Atlantic Seaboard you can visit:

Green Point-  The trendy restaurants, bars and clubs are bursting with flamboyant style.  Green Point is regarded as the epicentre of the Cape Town gay community. Green Point is also home of Cape Town Stadium which hosted many games of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.

Sea Point- This cosmopolitan district is jumping with energy and can offer a fantastic night life.  The Sea Point promenade is Cape Town's answer to California as droves of joggers, rollerbladers and walkers power their way along the paved sea front.

Camps Bay - Camps Bay Beach has been voted as one of the world's top ten beaches by the UK Sunday Times.  If you're looking for local or international superstars, this beach with its cocktails bars and chic restaurants is where you are most likely to find them. 

Clifton - The 4 beaches of Clifton are what epitomises Cape Town in the summer. These 4 beaches which are tucked below the western face of Table Mountain, are totally protected from the summer wind. Locals love to hang out here and the sunsets are truly spectacular. Parking is normally a challenge, but worth the walk!

Llandudno - Llandudno is an elite seaside village that glows every night thanks to beautiful ocean sunsets.  Llandudno is also home to the infamous Sandy Beach, which is secluded and popular with nudists.

Hout Bay - About 10 kilometres from the city centre, Hout Bay is a fishing village with which is located on a natural bay and hemmed in by mountains. It has a great beach and a number of great restaurants bars and nightlife spots. It is also the access point to one of the worlds most scenic drives along Chapmans Peak.

Southern SuburbsTop

The southern suburbs refer to those suburbs of Cape Town that are: South of the city centre, but fall on the eastern side or the False Bay side of Table Mountain. Confusing until you have seen a map or of course the mountain. The southern suburbs officially end around Fish Hoek and then we refer to the suburbs from there down to Cape Point as the Cape Point route. Don't tell the locals though, as they won't know what the heck you are talking about!

The southern suburbs are leafy well established areas and the older suburbs of Cape Town. Amongst other things, the southern suburbs are where you will find some of the oldest and grandest homes in all of Cape Town.  It is a region of extremes.  Not only are there luxury accommodations, wine farms and spas, but thanks to the University of Cape Town there is also a healthy mix of vibrant ‘cheap and cheerful' hotspots that are certain to keep you partying until the early hours of the morning. There are also many local shopping areas and businesses and great recreational offerings like the beaches, the mountain and forest.

Cape Point RouteTop

Cape Point Route has always appealed to travellers.  But why just scratch the surface- this stretch of the Cape Peninsular can accommodate your wildest desires.  Why not do something you may never get the chance to do again, whether it involves penguins, belly dancing, moonlit hikes or sitting in a drum circle is entirely up to you.

Along the Cape Point Route you can visit:

Hout Bay - Hout Bay is one of the best known and widely visited sea side spots in Cape Town.  Anchored around a picturesque working harbour, Hout Bay is a small but lovable town.  The Mariners Wharf has arguably the best fish and chips available and why not enjoy a bite to eat while you watch the kids playing on the beach.   Make sure you include a drive along Chapmans Peak, and be sure to pull off and appreciate the view, you'll struggle to find a better one. Hout Bay accommodation

Noordhoek - Noordhoek is the peaceful town that many surfers and fishermen flock to.  If you would like to get in some horse riding while in Cape Town, the beach in Noordhoek is the perfect place to do it; it is almost 8km long after all.  There are some really interesting arts and craft shops at the local farm and trading stores.  If you are looking for some unique gifts to take home to your friends and family then they are definitely worth a visit. Noordhoek accommodation

Kommetjie - Like its neighbour Noordhoek, Kommetjie attracts droves of fishermen and surfers.  Visitors to Kommetjie must take up trip to the lighthouse, while you're there, keep a keen eye out for whales, in season they like to frolic in the local waters.

Scarborough- If you are looking for undisturbed peace and quiet, you will find it in Scarborough. The small town is very popular with surfers, hikers and nature lovers.  If you want a special treat look out for the rare Cape Clawless Otter, as this is one of the few places you have a chance of spotting one.

Simon's Town - If South Africa's naval history interests you, Simon's Town is a must on your Cape Town itinerary.  Home to the local naval base, there are museums and memorial statues that honour Cape Towns naval past, and let's not forget Just Nuisance the Great Dane that became such an icon within the navy that there is a bronzed statue of him in Jubilee square.  If the navy isn't likely to keep your kids interested for long, why not take them to Boulders Beach to the penguin colony.

Kalk Bay- Kalk Bay is a lively fishing village. You will lose yourself in the array of little antique shops, art galleries and second hand book stores. Kalk Bay accommodation

Muizenberg - Muizenberg lies along a sandy beach that goes on forever.  With the warm currents and moderate swell the Indian Ocean appeals to swimmers and novice surfers alike.

Northern SuburbsTop

Table Mountain
Table Mountain is one of the most recognisable natural icons in the world.  Rising over 1000m above sea level, the seemingly flat mountain makes a picturesque backdrop for the City of Cape Town.  There are literally hundreds of hiking trails winding their way up to the top and for those preferring a more relaxed approach to sightseeing, there is a cable car that leaves every few minutes.  At the top, you will find a restaurant and souvenir shop so be sure to take some money.  Also, don't forget a jersey- even if it's warm in Cape Town the top of the mountain can be quite cold.  

V&A Waterfront
Based around a working harbour, the V&A waterfront has transformed from a dreary dock into vibrant tourist attraction. The vast shopping centre offers tourists all the souvenirs they could ever dream of, as well as a variety of restaurants, bars and boat tours. Keep an eye open for some of the amazing street performers, buskers and live music that you are likely to stumble upon at any time.

Robben Island
Having incarcerated Nelson Mandela for 19 of his 27 years in jail under apartheid, Robben Island has become a symbol of South Africa's remarkable transformation.  Apart from housing political prisoners, the island was also used as a lunatic asylum, leper colony and general dumping place for chronically ill patients.  Tours in and around the prison are guided by ex-inmates who are able to provide great insight into the day to day life of a Robben Island Prisoner.  Tours leave from the V&A Waterfront and it is essential that you book in advance as only a limited amount of visitors can be accommodated per day. Tours generally run every hour.

Cape Point
Often mistakenly regarded as the Southern most tip of Africa, Cape Point remains one of the Cape's most popular tourist attractions. The dazzling scenery, breathtaking sea views and beautiful beaches provide a million perfect picnic spots and the ideal family day out. The Two Oceans Restaurant which lies at the foot of the lighthouse is renowned for its fabulously fresh and tasty seafood.
View our Cape Point Tour

Cape Winelands
As the historical home of the South African wine industry, the Cape Winelands has been producing fine wine since the 17th century.  There are hundreds of top quality wine cellars hidden within the winelands, and as a guest to the Cape it is your duty to visit as many as you can in the quest to seek out your favourite.  If you want to get to know the winelands, we can help! We have a wealth of general information, accommodation options and tours available for you to choose from, so drop us a mail.