Cape Town

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Cape Town - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Hoerikwaggo Trail

    Table Mountain National Park

    A great way to get acquainted with Table Mountain and all its moods is to hike part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail, which opened in 2006. The trail follows the spine of the mountains that run the length of the peninsula; there are four camps though only Slangkop and Smitswinkel are currently open and parts of the trail are closed due to fire damage and land disputes. Multiple-day, guided hikes can be arranged with an operator like Walks in Africa (

    Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R2945 per person
  • 2. Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum


    Most guided tours of the Malay quarter include a visit to this 18th-century home, which originally belonged to well-known Turkish scholar and prominent local Muslim leader, Abu Bakr Effendi. The museum showcases local Islamic heritage and culture, with highlights including “Who Built Cape Town?,” “Mapping Bo-Kaap: History, memories and spaces,” and the documentary “Viewing Bo-Kaap.”

    71 Wale St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R20, Closed Sun.
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  • 3. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden


    Spectacular in each season, this renowned botanical garden was established in 1913, and was the first in the world to conserve and showcase a country's indigenous flora. With its magnificent setting extending up the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and overlooking the city and distant Hottentots Holland Mountains, these gardens are truly a national treasure. In addition to thousands of out-of-town visitors, Capetonians flock here on weekends to laze on the grassy lawns, picnicking and reading newspapers while the kids run riot. Walking trails meander through the plantings, which are limited to species indigenous to Southern Africa. Naturally the fynbos biome—the hardy, thin-leaved plants that proliferate in the Cape—is heavily featured, and you will find plenty of proteas, ericas, and restios (reeds). Garden highlights include the Tree Canopy Walkway, a large cycad garden, the Bird Bath (a beautiful stone pool built around a crystal-clear spring), the fragrance garden (which is wheelchair-friendly and has a tapping rail), and the Sculpture Garden. Free 90-minute guided tours take place daily except Sunday. Those who have difficulty walking can enjoy a comprehensive tour lasting one hour (R70, hourly 9–3) in seven-person (excluding the driver) golf carts. Concerts featuring the best of South African entertainment—from classical music to township jazz to indie rock—are held on summer Sundays at 5 (be sure to arrive early to get a spot), and the Galileo Outdoor Cinema screens movies on Wednesdays an hour after sunset. A visitor center by the nursery houses a restaurant, bookstore, and coffee shop. There are also several trails taking you to the top of Table Mountain, from which point you can hike to the cable car station. Unfortunately, muggings have become increasingly more common in the gardens' isolated areas, and women are advised not to walk alone in the upper reaches of the park far from general activity.

    Rhodes Dr., Cape Town, Western Cape, 7735, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R75
  • 4. Norval Foundation


    A relatively new establishment, the Norval Foundation is a center for art and cultural expression, holding numerous prolific art exhibitions and events. Along with the gallery and museum are an incredible sculpture garden, a children's playground, a research library, and the Skotnes Restaurant, which is worth visiting for creative South African fine dining. The views of the mountain are spectacular and there is a large paid car park. 

    4 Steenberg Rd., Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R180, Closed Tues.
  • 5. Robben Island

    V&A Waterfront

    Made famous by its most illustrious inhabitant, Nelson Mandela, this island, whose name is Dutch for "seals," has a long and sad history. At various times a prison, leper colony, mental institution, and military base, it is finally filling a positive, enlightening, and empowering role in its latest incarnation as a museum. Declared a World Heritage site on December 1, 1997, Robben Island has become a symbol of the triumph of the human spirit. In 1997 around 90,000 made the pilgrimage; in 2006 more than 300,000 crossed the water to see where some of the most prominent struggle leaders in South Africa spent decades of their lives. A visit to the island is a sobering experience. The approximately four-hour tour begins at the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island, an impressive embarkation center that doubles as a conference center. Changing exhibits display historic photos of prisoners and prison life. Next make the 45-minute journey across the water, remembering to watch Table Mountain recede in the distance and imagine what it must have been like to have just received a 20-year jail sentence. Boats leave three or four times a day, depending on season and weather. Tours are organized by the Robben Island Museum (other operators that advertise Robben Island tours only take visitors on a boat trip around the island.) Many of the guides are former political prisoners, and during the two-hour tour, they will take you through the prison where you will see the cells where Mandela and other leaders were imprisoned. The tour also takes you to the lime quarry, Robert Sobukwe's place of confinement, and the leper church. Due to increased demand for tickets during peak season (December and January), make reservations at least three weeks in advance. Take sunglasses and a hat in summer.  You are advised to tip your guide only if you feel that the tour has been informative.

    Nelson Mandela Gateway, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8002, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R600
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  • 6. Table Mountain

    Table Mountain National Park

    Table Mountain truly is one of Southern Africa's most beautiful and impressive natural wonders. The views from its summit are awe-inspiring. The mountain rises more than 3,500 feet above the city, and its distinctive flat top is visible to sailors 65 km (40 miles) out to sea. Climbing up the step-like Plattekloof Gorge—the most popular route up—will take two to three hours, depending on your fitness level. There is no water along the route; you must take at least 2 liters (½ gallon) of water per person. Table Mountain can be dangerous if you're not familiar with the terrain. Many paths that look like good routes down the mountain end in treacherous cliffs.  Do not underestimate this mountain: every year local and foreign visitors to the mountain get lost, some falling off ledges, with fatal consequences. It may be in the middle of a city, but it is not a genteel town park. Because of occasional muggings near the Rhodes Memorial east of the mountain, it's unwise to walk alone on that side. It's recommended that you travel in a group or, better yet, with a guide. If you want to do the climb on your own, wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots; always take warm clothes, including a windbreaker or fleece; travel with a mobile phone; and let someone know of your plans. Consult the staff at a Cape Town Tourism office for more guidelines. Another (much easier) way to reach the summit is to take the cable car, which affords fantastic views. Cable cars (R135 one way) depart from the Lower Cable Station, which lies on the slope of Table Mountain near its western end; the station is a long way from the city on foot, so save your hiking energy for the mountain, and take a taxi or the MyCiti bus to get here.

    Tafelberg Rd., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa
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  • 7. Two Oceans Aquarium

    V&A Waterfront

    This aquarium is widely considered one of the finest in the world. Stunning displays reveal the regional marine life of the warmer Indian Ocean and the icy Atlantic. It's a hands-on place, with a touch pool for children, opportunities to interact with penguins, and (for certified divers only) to dive in the vast, five-story ocean exhibit with shoals of fish, huge turtles, and stingrays, or the shark exhibit, where you might share the water with large ragged-tooth sharks (Carcharias taurus) and enjoy a legal adrenaline rush (for an additional fee, of course). If you don't fancy getting wet, you can still watch daily feedings in either the ocean, penguin, or shark exhibits. But there's more to the aquarium than just snapping jaws. Look for the fascinating jellyfish display, the endangered Knysna seahorses, and the alien-like spider crabs.

    Dock Rd., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8002, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R210
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  • 8. Adderley Street

    Cape Town Central

    Originally named Heerengracht after a canal that once ran the length of the avenue, this street has always been Cape Town's principal thoroughfare. Although there are a couple of historical buildings dating to the early 1900s, and the beautiful Adderley Street Flower Market—one of the city's oldest markets, located in Trafalgar Place between Strand and Darling streets—has hung on, Adderley Street in recent years has become mostly a commercial hub for office buildings and franchise stores. The sidewalks are packed with street vendors selling everything from fruits and vegetables to cell phone covers and tea towels, serving people going to and from work. This is the place to experience the busy hustle and bustle of everyday Cape Town. 

    Adderley St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8000, South Africa
  • 9. Angsana Spa

    Newlands | Spa–Sight

    Spas are obviously big business these days, with most top hotels outsourcing this service, and the wellness element at the elegant Vineyard Hotel in the Southern Suburbs is part of the well-regarded international Banyan group. The Eastern influences begin when you walk in the door: ginger tea is offered, and before beginning treatments, therapists rub your feet with hot towels. Many of the therapists hail from Thailand, and Thai, Balinese, Indian, and Hawaiian techniques are incorporated in the excellent massages (the Angsana pressure-point massage is highly recommended). The Eastern green-and-gold color scheme, views of the mountains from many of the rooms, and lovely outdoor spaces add to the serenity. Clients undress, bathe, and relax in private treatment rooms, and a half hour "calm time," with tea and fruit, is included in every session.

    Vineyard Hotel & Spa, Colinton Rd., off Protea Rd., Cape Town, Western Cape, 7700, South Africa
  • 10. Buitenverwachting


    Once part of Dutch governor Simon van der Stel's original Constantia farm, Buitenverwachting (meaning "beyond expectation" and roughly pronounced "Bait-in-fur-VAGH-ting") boasts one of the most gorgeous bucolic settings imaginable. An oak-lined avenue leads past fields of horses and over a small stream until passing the Cape Dutch homestead and eventually arriving at the small modern cellar. Acres of vines spread up hillsides flanked by more towering oaks and the rocky crags of Constantiaberg Mountain. Buitenverwachting's wine is just as good as the view. The biggest seller is the flagship red, "Christine," a Bordeaux-style blend of mostly Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The winery's eponymous restaurant is also excellent and enjoys fabulous views of the vineyards.

    Cape Town, Western Cape, 7848, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R50, Closed Sun.
  • 11. Camelot Spa at Mandela Rhodes Place

    Cape Town Central | Spa–Sight

    In the center of Cape Town's downtown business district, above the commerce of St. George's Mall, Camelot Spa sparkles with crystal light fixtures, an urban oasis in taupe and champagne, complete with wallpaper on the ceilings. The upscale experience begins at check-in, when you get a Body Composition Analysis. There are couples rooms, a flotation pool, and a relaxation area, not to mention a wide range of body therapies and massages on offer.

    Mandela Rhodes Place, Wale St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa
  • 12. Cape Town Holocaust Centre


    The center is both a memorial to the 6 million Jews and other victims who were killed during the Holocaust and an education center whose aim is to create a caring and just society in which human rights and diversity are valued. The permanent exhibit is excellent and very moving. A multimedia display, comprising photo panels, text, film footage, and music, creates a chilling reminder of the dangers of prejudice, racism, and discrimination. The center is next to the South African Jewish Museum.

    88 Hatfield St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sat. and Jewish holidays
  • 13. Castle of Good Hope

    Cape Town Central

    Despite its name, the castle isn't the fairy-tale fantasy type but rather a squat fortress that hunkers down as if to avoid shellfire. Built between 1665 and 1676 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC) to replace an earthen fort constructed in 1652 by Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch commander who settled Cape Town, it's the oldest building in the country. Its pentagonal plan, with a diamond-shaped bastion at each corner, is typical of the Old Netherlands defense system adopted in the early 17th century. The design was intended to allow covering fire for every portion of the castle. As an added protection, the whole fortification was surrounded by a moat, and back in the day, the sea nearly washed up against its walls. The castle served as both the VOC headquarters and the official governor's residence and still houses the regional headquarters of the National Defence Force. Despite the bellicose origins of the castle, no shot has ever been fired from its ramparts, except ceremonially. You can wander around on your own or join one of the highly informative guided tours at no extra cost. 

    1 Buitenkant St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8000, South Africa

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    Rate Includes: R50
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  • 14. Chavonnes Battery Museum

    V&A Waterfront

    An archaeological sight housing the remains of Cape Town's oldest cannon battery, this museum, which opened in 2008, reconstructs the outer battlements and underground rooms that formed one of the major defense outposts on the Cape. Detailed miniature replicas of the cannons and the different types of projectiles are fascinating, as are interpretative materials about the Cape's natural heritage at the time that the battery was in use. In addition, the museum always has an international photo exhibit on, including the Underwater Photographer of the Year. History buffs will also enjoy the surprisingly good walking tour of the Waterfront given by guides dressed in period costumes, which departs from the museum twice daily; reservations are recommended.

    Clock Tower Precinct, Cape Town, Western Cape, 8002, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: R35
  • 15. Church Square

    Cape Town Central

    Church Square bore witness to much of Cape Town's dark history. An inconspicuous concrete plaque along Spin Street's median is all that's left of the Slave Tree, an enormous Canadian pine under which slaves were reportedly auctioned off. A section of the tree is on display at the District Six Museum.

    Spin St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8001, South Africa
  • 16. Church Street Galleries & Arcade

    Cape Town Central

    The center of Cape Town's art and antiques business, this pleasant block of Church Street is a pedestrian mall filled with art galleries, antiques dealers, small cafés, and a few excellent boutiques. Among the art galleries worth visiting are AVA (35 Church St.), World Art (54 Church St.), and The Cape Gallery (60 Church St.). A daily antiques and flea market is also held here. Note that Church Street is (somewhat confusingly) not located directly off of Church Square and Groote Kerk (the church for which the street is named), but across Adderley Street.

    Church St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8000, South Africa
  • 17. City Bowl Market


    Experience real Cape Town local life every Thursday from 5 to 8 in this rented church hall space. With fresh produce, a wide variety of really good food, craft beers and wines, and even clothes and jewelry on sale, this is a vibey City Bowl social gathering.

    14 Hope St., Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Fri.–Wed.
  • 18. City Hall

    Cape Town Central

    From a balcony in this building overlooking Darling Street, Nelson Mandela gave the historic speech upon his release from prison in 1990. This Edwardian building constructed in 1905 is gradually being spruced up and is still a commanding presence overlooking the Grand Parade. What was the seat of local administration is now home to the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (the acoustics in the main hall are phenomenal) and a traffic department. Some of the building's stone was imported from Bath, England, and the clock is a scaled-down replica of Big Ben.

    Darling St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8000, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free
  • 19. Company's Garden

    Cape Town Central

    One of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets is also a great place to seek relief from a sweltering summer day if the beach is packed. These lush, landscaped gardens are all that remain of a 43-acre tract laid out by Jan van Riebeeck in April 1652 to supply fresh vegetables to ships on their way to the Dutch East Indies. By 1700 free burghers (Dutch-speaking colonists no longer indebted to the Dutch East India Company) were cultivating plenty of crops on their own land, and in time the VOC vegetable patch was transformed into a botanic garden. It remains a delightful haven in the city center, graced by fountains, exotic trees, rose gardens, and a pleasant outdoor café. At the bottom of the gardens, close to Government Avenue, look for an old well that used to provide water for the town's residents and the garden. The old water pump, engraved with the maker's name and the date 1842, has been overtaken by an oak tree and now juts out of the tree's trunk some 6 feet above the ground. A huge statue of the colonist Cecil Rhodes, and Cape's prime minister in the late 19th century, looms over the path that runs through the center of the gardens. He points to the north, and an inscription reads, "your hinterland is there," a reference to Rhodes's dream of extending the British Empire from the Cape to Cairo. A self-guided walking brochure (R20) with detailed historical information about the gardens and nearby sights is sold at the shop next door to the small but informative visitors center, which are both by the restaurant.

    Between Government Ave. and Queen Victoria St., Cape Town, Western Cape, 8000, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Visitors center closed weekends
  • 20. Delaire Graff Estate

    This has to be one of the most spectacular settings of any winery in the country. Sit on the terrace of the tasting room or restaurant and look past a screen of pin oaks to the valley below and the majestic crags of the Groot Drakenstein and Simonsberg Mountains. It's an ideal place to stop for lunch, and you'll need at least three hours to do your meal and the wines justice.The flagship Delaire Graff Restaurant champions local ingredients, while ultra-high-end Indochine celebrates South Africa's historical links to Southeast Asia through Cape Malay dishes and pan-Asian specialties. Although the Botmaskop Red Blend is the farm's flagship wine, do try the Cabernet Franc Rosé, a lovely take on a varietal that usually gets added to the Bordeaux Blend. The Coastal Cuvée Sauvignon Blanc is exceptional and has won numerous awards. 

    Helshoogte Pass Rd., between Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Western Cape, 7602, South Africa

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tastings R125

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