Cape Town, the Mother city, is one of the most sensational cities on earth. It has this unique combination of different cultures, beautiful landscapes, and countless cuisines. Its lively city bowl contains everything from delicious restaurants and tasty coffee shops in Kloof Street, to the amazing party scene of Long street.
Cape Town’s city bowl is enclosed by the impressive Table Mountain, with Devil’s peak on the one and Lion’s head on the other side. These mountains offer tons of great hikes and mountain bike routes which take you through gorgeous nature and lead to stunning views.
The mother city literally has everything you wish for. No matter if you just started planning your trip to Cape Town or you are already in South Africa; this list shows you the most exciting activities to do in Cape Town and surrounding areas. It is a mix of sporty activities and cultural breaks.
Besides the common highlights, this list contains some activities that will take you off the grid and definitely add something special to your stay in Cape Town. Whether you are looking for fun, unusual, romantic, free or cheap things to do at night or during the days or even the weekends, we’ve got you cover. Here we go:
Cape Town Activities and Costs
#1. Watch the sunset and moonrise on top of Lion’s head
Experience one of your most stunning moments in Cape Town by hiking up Lion’s head in the late afternoon. Take a blanket, a warm sweater and some snacks for when you reach the top. The hike will take you about one hour and can be quite challenging, but it is exciting and definitely worth it!. Once you reached the summit you should find a nice place, make yourself comfortable, and wait for the sun to set. The sky will turn to the most beautiful color combinations and the view over Cape Town on the one hand and the ocean, on the other hand, will just take away your breath. Try planning this hike on a full moon night so you can see the moon rise while the sun goes down. The feeling you get while you are watching will be magical.
#2. Neighborhoods market in Woodstock, Cape Town
Make sure to visit this vibrant food and cultural market located in the Old biscuit Mill. The neighborhood market, also known as the Old biscuit mill, is one of the trendiest markets in Cape Town. A few years ago it was one of Cape Town’s hidden gems, but since a while, this market appears on every must-see list. But that’s okay because it is definitely worth a visit. Just be prepared that it is going to be crowded. The neighborhood market is open only on Saturdays between 9 am and 2 pm. Go there early for delicious breakfast, enjoy the life music, stroll around the little shops, get some lunch, drink a beer and enjoy your Saturday.
Costs: free entrance
#3. Go snorkeling with the seals
Seal snorkeling in Cape Town was really surprising. I expected an overly touristy, hyped activity but it turned out to be one of my best things to do in Cape Town and therefore seal snorkeling ended up on the list of best things to do in Cape Town. It was, of course, touristy, but once you are in the water it’s only you and the seals. The guides tell you not to touch the seals because they are wild animals, but they come so close that you could hug them if you wanted to.
So dive in the water and swim with the seals which will surround you and swim with you. Play in the waves and be amazed by the big seal eyes which are curiously watching you.
#4. Cape Town free walking tour
Take your time to walk around in Town and learn about this wonderful city. Freetour.com organizes four different guided tours through the city. Whether you prefer to learn about Cape Town’s history, discover the Bo-keep, dive into the past of district-6 or just walk through the city center. If you like to walk around this is a very nice and informative way to discover the city. And above all, it’s free 😉
#5. Hike up Table mountain and enjoy the view
Table mountain, the icon of Cape Town, offers many great hikes and incredible landscapes. If you are moderately fit you should take a nice and not too windy day to hike up Table mountain. Leave early in the morning before the day gets too hot. The climb can be challenging but it is definitely worth it. One of the most beautiful routes is when you start near the Kirstenbosch botanical gardens and hike up the mountain from that side. You can choose between either the famous skeleton gorge or the less known nursery ravine. Both routes are stunningly beautiful. Once you are up, go past the dam (yeah there is a big lake on top of the mountain) and cross the top towards the direction of the cable cart. On this side of the mountain, you have a great view over Cape Town and the Ocean. You can make your way down either through hiking down Plattenklip, or take the cable cart.
#6. Eastern Food Bazaar
Visit the eastern food bazaar with its collection of amazing Indian restaurants. The bazaar is located in the city center between Loop street and Darling street. The choice of dishes is incredible and it is all freshly made on the spot. The bazaar has a cozy charm, it feels like you eat at home with your very big family. Very nice food, and above that, cheap!
Costs: 30-60R for a dish
#7. First Thursday
Every first Thursday of the month Cape Town opens her art galleries and cultural attractions for the public, completely free! This cultural experience starts in the evening at 5 pm and the galleries stay open until 9 pm, or longer. First Thursday attracts many people and is famous for its chilled vibe. Go visit the exhibitions, have to drink and enjoy the art with mind-like people.
#8. Township tour
Cape Town has a dark history of racism. Not long ago South Africa was known for the Apartheid and this has left its traces. It is shocking to see that the country is divided and many black people still live a poor life in Townships whereas the white citizens mainly live in the rich neighborhoods in their gated houses or communities. I won’t go into politics here, but I do believe it is a must for everyone visiting this country to get an impression of life in a Township. Despite the history of these districts, the vibe in the Townships is amazing. Go and experience the friendliness, have a drink with the locals and join a street braai (barbecue) with the whole neighborhood. I do recommend doing a tour or going with someone who lives where who you know and trust. Although the vibe in the Townships is great, it can be dangerous to go there on your own. So be safe and dive into history, culture, and humanity.
#9. Get Wet (kitesurfing, surfing, SUP)
Cape Town is a true paradise for watersport fanatics. Especially the beaches of Blouberg are well known for its great wave’s strong wind. On a windless day, you will see the water full of surfers, Stand Up Paddleboarders (SUP), and bodyboarders trying to catch waves. As soon as the wind picks up they will make way for the wind- and kitesurfers. You will count a hundred kites on the water at kite beach and you can watch them flying high above the horizon!
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to experience one of these adrenalitis activities in Cape Town. Take kite lessons and enjoy the feeling of gliding over the water and jump high in the air, only to float down smoothly. If you prefer staying closer to the ground, take a surf course and learn how to ride a wave. You are in Cape Town, watersport paradise: no excuses get wet!
Costs: Kitesurf basic course (4 hours) 1500R / Surf course (1 hour) 300R
#10. Mountain biking
Cape Town and its surroundings offer the most exciting mountain bike trails. With beautiful mountains, forests, and hills the landscape contains countless trails. From Table Mountain and Tokai forest until Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek and Paarl you can find the best trails according to your skill level. It is not only the adrenaline which rushes through your body as you race down but also the breathtaking views you get on your tough climb to the top.
Costs: MTB rental for one day 250-500R
Cape Town is one of the most exciting towns in the world. With tons of activities, it never gets boring. You will fall in love with the vibrant city center with its delicious food markets, local restaurants, and impressive culture. A number of activities Cape Town and its surrounding has to offer is amazing. Take as many chances as possible and go explore the opportunities this city has to offer. You will love Cape Town!
About the Author: This article was written by Dorothy Goodman, savvy travel blogger at asabbatical.com, a personal travel blog of Adrian Sameli. To connect with Dorothy, follow her on Facebook.