Cape Town Big 6 Attractions
Cape Town is not only beautiful and vibrant, but a city with unrivalled culture and diversity, boasting a mix of old and new. Nothing speaks to this more than Cape Town’s iconic Big Six attractions.
Each of these landmarks, attractions, natural wonders, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites represent the beautiful nature, rich history, diverse culture, and exceptional wine, cuisine, and Winelands landscapes that make Cape Town a top destination for travelers, tourists, adventurers, and avid globe trotters from around the world.
Here are the remarkable Big 6 Attractions in Cape Town – Each of which should be on your Cape Town bucket list.
#1 Table Mountain
Standing tall at a staggering 1,086 meters above sea level, Table Mountain is deemed the all-mighty giant of the Cape Town skyline. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is so much more than one of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks and sought-after attractions – It is the ultimate mecca for nature lovers, avid hikers, and adventure seekers!
Table Mountain National Park has two world-renowned landmarks within its boundaries: Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope. Declared by UNESCO as a Word Heritage Site, Table Mountain National Park encompasses the scenic Peninsula mountain chain that stretches from Signal Hill in the north all the way to the dramatic Cape Point in the south.
Recognized globally for its extraordinarily rich and diverse fauna and flora, this singular land formation, with rugged cliffs, steep slopes, and sandy flats, is a truly phenomenal natural, scenic, historical, cultural, and recreational asset both locally and internationally. Nowhere else in the world does an area of such unique beauty and rich biodiversity exist almost entirely within a metropolitan area – AKA Cape Town!
#Table Mountain National Park Fauna & Flora
Table Mountain National Park is home to the world’s smallest, yet most diverse, floral kingdom, known as the Cape Floristic Region – With the famous Cape Fynbos, an ancient indigenous vegetation that is entirely endemic to the tip of the African continent, being one of only six floral kingdoms in the world. It is also the only Floral Kingdom that occurs entirely in one country.
As Table Mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, it boasts a truly spectacular diversity of fauna and indigenous flora. The approximate 57-square-kilometre area comprising Table Mountain and the Back Table is said to be home to more than 1470 floral species, with many of them being endemic to the area. Undoubtedly making it any nature lover’s dream destination to explore.
In addition to its unique biodiversity and indigenous flora, Table Mountain is also home to some of the most incredible wildlife species. The most common mammal you’ll find on the mountain is the dassie or rock hyrax. You will also encounter a variety of porcupines, mongooses, snakes, lizards, and tortoises, as well as a rare endemic species of amphibian that is ONLY found right here – the Table Mountain ghost frog! That’s not all! Several raptor species, including the charismatic Verreaux’s eagle, jackal buzzard, booted eagle (in summer), African harrier-hawk, peregrine falcon, and rock kestrel can often be spotted amongst the mountain cliffs.
**Interesting fact: While leopards once roamed the slopes of Table Mountain in the 1920’s, now, the biggest cat you’re likely to spot when exploring the mountainside is the amazing rooikat (caracal). Which is a pretty spectacular sight!
#Table Mountain Summit | Aerial Cableway | Hiking Trails
The views from the top of Table Mountain are simply unbeatable. You can see for miles in every direction. On a clear day you can even see all the way to Robben Island. To reach the Table Mountain summit, you can either choose to take an exciting Aerial Cableway ride to the top or embark on a thrilling adventure-packed hike to the summit – Both of which are not-to-be-missed once-in-a-lifetime experiences in itself.
HOWEVER, if you’re super amped to take on the all-mighty Table Mountain via one of its amazing and down-right thrilling hiking trails, it promises to be an unforgettable bucket-list worthy adventure in every way!
Here are some of the top Table Mountain hiking trails in Cape Town, catering to different fitness and experience levels:
Click here for EVERYTHING you need to know about Table Mountain.
#2 Cape Point
Located approximately 60km south west of the city of Cape Town, at the very tip of the Cape Peninsula Cape Point Nature Reserve is one of Cape Town’s most magnificent natural wonders and sought-after attractions. Featuring beautiful green hills, a rocky coastline, rising peaks, plunging cliffs, and unparalleled panoramic views – It is simply unmatched!
Beyond its unapologetic natural beauty, Cape Point boasts a rich diversity of fauna and flora, stunning secret beaches, endless adventure experiences, beautiful nature walks, and some of the most thrilling hiking trails in the Western Cape. Undoubtedly making it the ultimate mecca for nature lovers, avid explorers, travelers, and adventure seekers.
Cape Point Nature Reserve is also home to an incredible variety of wildlife (including baboons, herds of ostriches, Cape foxes, an array of antelope, genets, polecats, mole rats, snakes, porcupines, mongooses, tortoises, and several other wildlife species wondering around Cape Point’s diverse landscapes and surroundings), birdlife, and marine life (be sure to keep an eye out for Cape Town’s Marine Big 5 – Dolphins, Southern Right Whales, Cape Fur Seals, Molo Mola Sunfish, and African Penguins).
With so much to do, see, and experience, visiting the renowned Cape Point should undoubtedly be on your Cape Town bucket list.
Here are a few of the top things to do at Cape Point:
#Go on a Cape Point Hiking Adventure
Cape Point boasts some of the most beautiful, captivating, and down-right exhilarating hiking trails in the entire Western Cape.
A few of Cape Point’s top hiking trails include:
- The Cape of Good Hope Trail
- Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail
- The Gifkommetjie Trail
- Antoniesgat Trail
- The Kanonkop Trail
- The Phyllisia Circuit trail
- Cape Point Shipwreck Trails: The Thomas T. Tucker Trail & The Sirkelsvlei trail
Check out our ‘Best Cape Point Hiking Trails’ blog to find out everything you need to know about all of Cape Point’s incredible hiking trails.
#Visit Cape Point’s Secret Beaches
Cape Point’s array of secret beaches has remained largely untouched and unspoilt by the masses, undoubtedly making it that much more spectacular to witness and explore.
Four of Cape Point’s stunning secret beaches include:
- Buffels Beach
- Diaz Beach
- Maclear Beach
- Olifantsbos Beach
Other Cape Point beaches include Bortjiesrif and Platboom Beach, and perhaps even a few more secret beach spots yet to be discovered.
#Take a ride on the Flying Dutchman Funicular
The Flying Dutchman Funicular, also known as the Cape Point Funicular, is a funicular railway located at Cape Point. It’s the only commercial funicular of its type in Africa and takes its name from the local legend of the Flying Dutchman ghost ship.
Apart from offering visitors an exciting and novel method of travel, taking a ride on the famous Flying Dutchman Funicular saves visitors the extra effort of an uphill climb from the car park to the iconic lookout point to see the renowned old Cape Point lighthouse; all while being surrounded by spectacular panoramic views of the glorious Cape Point and beyond.
#Enjoy Outdoor Adventures & Discover Cultural & Historical Spots
In addition to enjoying an incredible and exciting range of hikes along an assortment of scenic and overnight trails, leading you through natural fynbos and along sandy beaches, Cape Point is known for its amazing and exhilarating variety of activities and outdoor adventures.
Some of these thrilling experiences include:
- Sea kayaking
- Mountain biking
- Action-packed nature walks
- Beach hopping
- Coastal foraging
- Deep-sea fishing
- Exploring a wide variety of stunning dive sites on both sides of the Point
Cape Point has an outdoor activity and adventure experience for absolutely everyone.
#Explore Cape Point’s Vast & Diverse Fauna & Flora
Cape Point is located in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve within the beautiful Table Mountain National Park, a declared Natural World Heritage Site.
This wildly unapologetic, and glorious natural gem boasts a rich, remarkable, and vibrant biodiversity, featuring a spectacular display of wildflowers along with endless stretches of endemic Fynbos scattered about.
#Visit the renowned Cape Point Lighthouse
In 1859 the first lighthouse was built. Following that, the new lighthouse – the iconic old Cape Point Lighthouse – was built and completed in 1911, which, to this very day, stands loud and proud at 238 meters above sea-level on the highest section of the peak. The old Cape Point lighthouse remains one of the most powerful sentinels on the South African coast, with a range of 60 kilometers and a luminous intensity of 10 million candelas.
Besides being one of Cape Point’s most sought-after sights and attractions amongst locals and tourists alike, it is now used as the centralized monitoring point for all the lighthouses on the coast of South Africa. The view from the old lighthouse is nothing short of spectacular. Boasting absolutely breathtaking sights of the two oceans as well as the surrounding coastline, there’s nothing quite like it!
The truth is this is merely scratching the surface of what Cape Point has to offer. Click here to find out everything you need to know about Cape Point.
#3 Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens in the world. Regarded as one of the most magnificent natural gems in Cape Town, very few gardens can compare to the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch.
Nestled at the base of Table Mountain, the renowned Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, boasting one of the most spectacular displays of indigenous natural beauty. One of only six floral kingdoms, The Cape Floristic Region is the smallest, yet most diverse, floral kingdom in the world. It is also the only Floral Kingdom that occurs entirely in one country.
Kirstenbosch covers over 528 hectares and is home to a glorious diversity of fauna and flora entirely indigenous to Cape Town, including more than 7,000 plant species, 2,500 of which are from the Cape Peninsula.
Besides its vast natural beauty and globally acclaimed Botanical Garden status, Kirstenbosch offers visitors and nature lovers an endless assortment of things to do and see. Not to mention a variety of thrilling adventure experiences!
The gardens are also a haven for birdlife, and there are several hiking trails that wind through the property. In addition, Kirstenbosch hosts a number of events throughout the year, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. Whether you’re admiring the stunning flowers or taking a leisurely hike, Kirstenbosch is sure to delight and inspire.
Here is a sneak-peak of what you can expect on your visit to Kirstenbosch:
- Calling all wildlife and bird lovers! Kirstenbosch is home to over 125 bird species, making it any bird enthusiast’s dream come true. You will also encounter several reptiles, frogs, and invertebrates as well as amphibians such as the Chirping Frog, the Cape River Frog, and the critically endangered Table Mountain Ghost Frog.
- Avid hikers can enjoy a variety of hiking trails and walking routes. The Kirstenbosch estate can be explored via five trails of differing levels of difficulty. All are well-maintained, logged footpaths or gravel roads and are sign-posted. The Braille Trail and Boekenhout Trail are ideal forest walks for those pressed for time and the not so fit. The Stinkwood Trail is a relatively short exploration of the oldest part of the forest with some of the largest trees. The Yellowwood Trail and Silvertree Trail are long hikes that take you up to the waterfall and around the estate, through both forest and fynbos. It is also possible to climb Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch, up Nursery Ravine, or Skeleton Gorge.
- Kirstenbosch boasts a variety of beautiful garden areas, including the Botanical Society Conservatory, art at the Sculpture Garden, and the Protea Garden, to mention just a few.
- For avid adventurers and thrill seekers, there are tons of hidden gems, secret spots, caves, waterfalls and so much more to be discovered and explored – so get ready for an adventure!
- Beautiful, lush lawns and large shaded trees perfect for picnics and kiddies running around.
- The famous Centenary Treetop Canopy Walk, also known as the ‘Boomslang’, has fast become a fan-favorite Kirstenbosch attraction for both the young and young at heart. The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. The Walkway takes visitors from the forest floor into and through the trees and bursts out above the canopy, boasting spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and Garden.
- The cycad amphitheater which features life-size models of dinosaurs – this is a real winner with the kids!
- Kirstenbosch also has a variety of restaurants to and curio shops.
#4 Robben Island
Beyond being one of Cape Town’s top attractions, sights, and landmarks, Robben Island is an integral part of South African history.
Cape Town is at the heart of a country with one of the most prolific histories in the world, and right at the center of it all is Robben Island. Arguably home to one of the most recognizable and well-known prisons in the world, Robben Island was a place of banishment, exile, imprisonment, and isolation for nearly 400 years.
For centuries Robben Island was used as a penal colony, primarily for political prisoners. The most famous political prisoners that spent time on Robben Island include former and late South African president, activist, and world icon, Nelson Mandela, Tokyo Sexwale, Walter Sisulu, and Govan Mbeki. Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 18 years during the South African apartheid era.
Today it is regarded as a symbol of hope and testament to the triumph of the human spirit over adversity – A place that has played a pivotal role in South Africa’s journey to democracy. In 1997 Robben Island was turned into a museum – The Robben Island Museum – and in 1999 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Now locals and tourists alike can visit this South African landmark and historical site, tour the Robben Island Prison where Nelson Mandela was held, as well as the island’s museum and lighthouse.
Robben Island Tours are typically led by ex-inmates with first-hand knowledge and experience of what life was truly like during those pivotal years / times – The exact times that would ultimately change the entire course of South African history.
Visiting Robben Island on your future trip to Cape Town is a great way to immerse yourself in a vital piece of South Africa’s history and journey to democracy – It is without a doubt an experience that should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-list!
#5 Groot Constantia
Situated along the beautiful Constantia Wine Route, Groot Constantia produces some of the finest wines in the country and is widely regarded as one of the Western Cape’s top wine tasting destinations / Wine Estates for local and international wine lovers. It is also the oldest wine estate in South Africa, forming an integral part of the Western Cape’s thriving local wine culture.
The estate covers more than 300 hectares of land and includes a working vineyard, a cellars complex, a museum, a restaurant, and a beautiful garden. Visitors to Groot Constantia can learn about the history of wine production in South Africa, tour the cellars and taste the estate’s award-winning wines.
One of the best things about this beloved Cape wine estate is that it welcomes wine lovers from all walks of life by offering an array of exceptional award-winning wines to please every pallet. From a fresh and cheerful Blanc de Noir, a beautifully complex Chardonnay, or a bold Shiraz to their seductive Grand Constance – There is something for every wine enthusiast to sip, savor and enjoy at Groot Constantia. Plus, with three sensational wine tasting venues on the estate, Groot Constantia has the perfect wine tasting setting and experience for absolutely everyone!
This top-tier Constantia Wine Estate also has two highly prestigious restaurants on the estate, namely the Jonkershuis Restaurant and the Simons Restaurant. Both of which offer spectacular culinary experiences and world-class cuisine paired with exceptional Groot Constantia wine of course.
#6 The V&A Waterfront
The Victoria & Albert Waterfront is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa. In fact, the famous V&A Waterfront is one of Cape Town’s most vibrant and highly sought-after attractions come rain, shine, or wind.
Located in the heart of Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront is known as the ultimate hub of art, entertainment, culture, history, adventure, food, shopping, and everything in between.
Besides being the leading retail destination in the city, the V&A Waterfront is home to some of the most incredible restaurants, bars, hangout spots, eateries, and food markets in Cape Town. All of which can be thoroughly enjoyed at any time, during any season, right throughout the year.
If you’re looking to add an extra dose of thrill and adventure to your Waterfront experience, here are some of the most exciting, exhilarating, fun, and bucket-list worthy things to see, do, and experience at the V&A Waterfront:
- Take a ride on the famous Cape Wheel – Its tons of fun for the whole family!
- Enjoy a boat tour
- Have some fun at the Scratch Patch
- Visit the Clock Tower – One of the V&A Waterfront’s most iconic historic landmarks
- Enjoy a game of Cave Golf
- Visit the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum
- Explore the Silo District & Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
- Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium
- Let the kids take a ride on the Hamleys Express
- Visit the Chavonnes Battery Museum – Dating back to 1725 it is the harbor’s oldest heritage site
- Enjoy a self-guided walking historical tour, which starts at the Information Centre, or embark on a 90-minute guided tour that departs daily from the Chavonnes Battery Museum at 11am and 2pm
- Check out the Robinson Dry Dock – One of the oldest operating dry docks in the world
- Brush up on your marine history at the Iziko Maritime Centre
- Visit Nobel Square, which boasts bronze sculptures of South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize winners
- Visit the V&A Food Market and the Watershed at the V&A
- Enjoy amazing up-close Cape Fur Seal sightings – These beloved members of the Marine Big 5 can be spotted while simply strolling along the V&A Waterfront harbor. You can also find them at the Clock Tower Precinct and on old tires lining the quayside.
- Enjoy incredible live performances – Talented local musicians and bands, street side buskers, and performing art groups regularly perform at various locations and stages throughout the Waterfront.