Known as one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world, Cape Town has become the ultimate travel destination for adventure seekers and keen travellers from around the globe. Cape Town is without a doubt the kind of city that you can visit a hundred times over and always find something new and thrilling to do and see. While every trip to the Mother City promises to be a memorable one. Nothing compares to the first time you get to truly explore, experience and discover everything the vibrant city of Cape Town has to offer.
From world-renowned landmarks, glorious natural wonders, beautiful beaches and the picturesque Cape Winelands, Cape Town is jam-packed with beauty and adventure at every corner. To ensure you don’t miss out on the very best the Mother City has to offer – Here are the top 10 things to do on your first trip to Cape Town. Which will undoubtedly make it a bucket-list worthy experience you won’t soon forget!
#1 Table Mountain
You absolutely cannot come to Cape Town and not see the magnificent Table Mountain up-close-and-personal. Undoubtedly making it one of the top 10 things to do on your first trip to Cape Town. Standing tall at a staggering 1,086 meters above sea level, Table Mountain is known as the all-mighty giant of the Cape Town skyline. Named one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is not only one of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks and sought-after attractions. It is also the ultimate mecca for nature lovers, avid hikers and adventure seekers. Boasting a large variety of wildlife, birdlife and unique fauna and flora.
There are a few ways in which you can experience everything this top Cape Town landmark has to offer. Besides admiring it from below from the lower Table Mountain Cableway Station or one of the city’s many incredible vantage points. Nothing beats the view from the top of Table Mountain. We highly recommend you experience it for yourself. To reach the summit, you can choose to enjoy an exciting Aerial Cable-Way ride to the top. However, if you’re feeling extra daring and energised and you’re up for a bit of an adventure, hiking up Table Mountain is right up your alley.
Table Mountain has a variety of beautiful and exciting hiking trails to choose from. Catering to different fitness and experience levels. This gives everyone the opportunity to join in on the Table Mountain hiking fun. Some of Table Mountain’s top hiking trails include Platteklip Gorge, Skeleton Gorge, India Venster, Devil’s Peak, Kasteelpoort and Maclear’s Beacon. With Platteklip Gorge being the easier and more accessible option.
#2 African Penguins at Boulders Beach
Visiting the beloved Boulders Beach and its colony of African Penguins is without a doubt one of the top 10 things to do on your first trip to Cape Town. Located just past Simonstown, Boulders Beach is one of the only places in the world where you can actually get up close and personal with the charismatic African Penguins. Making it a bucket-list worthy experience in every way. By paying a small conservation entrance fee you can gain access to the popular African Penguin Viewing Site. Here you’ll be able to see these cute and playful ocean beings up close in their natural habitat.
Your conservation fee also grants you access to Boulders Beach. Boulders Beach is not only one of Cape Town’s most beautiful beaches, it’s large granite boulders and rockpools makes it a great spot to enjoy a beach day with the whole family. Plus, the fact that you get to spend the day on the beach with the cool African Penguins and even take a dip in the ocean with them by your side, makes the experience extra special! If you’re however looking to experience something a little more thrilling, kayaking with African Penguins in Simonstown is the perfect adventure for you.
Conservation entrance fee to Boulders Beach:
- South African Citizens and Residents (with ID): R40 p/adult per day | R20 p/child per day
- SADC Nationals (with passport): R80 p/adult per day | R40 p/child per day
- Standard Conservation Fee (Foreign Visitors): R160 p/adult per day | R80 p/child per day
#3 Sunset drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive
Crowned one of the most beautiful coastal drives in the world, a drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive should undoubtedly be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-list. Affectionately known as ‘Chappies’ by Cape Town locals, this captivating coastal road ribbons along the Atlantic coastline between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. Besides showcasing some of the most spectacular views over the Atlantic Ocean and beyond, Chapman’s Peak Drive is also a great place to spot some beloved members of Cape Town’s Marine Big 5. So, keep your eyes open for Southern Right Whales, Dolphins, African Penguins and Cape Fur Seal sightings.
Another exciting highlight of Chapman’s Peak Drive is the variety of hidden gems found along the route. Two of which include the beautiful waterfall walk (found just before you reach the toll gate on your way towards Noordhoek), as well as the incredible Look-out Cave. The Chapman’s Peak Look-out Cave is also known as one of Cape Town’s most beautiful secret sunset spots. If you’re looking to experience something truly special, a sunset drive along Chapman’s Peak Drive is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Cape Town. Besides being an incredible experience, it’s bound to steal your sunset-loving heart in a matter of seconds.
#4 Explore the Cape Winelands
It’s time to taste your way through some of the most incredible Western Cape Wine Estates. There is absolutely no denying the fact that Cape Town is any wine lover’s dream come true. This makes exploring the beautiful Cape Winelands one of the top things to do on your first trip to Cape Town. Home to the largest wine producing region in Africa, the Western Cape is the ultimate wine mecca. Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a die-hard wine enthusiast at heart, you’ll undoubtedly fall head-over-heels in love with the beautiful Cape Winelands and its exceptional selection of wine too.
Besides its award-winning wine, the Cape Winelands is known for its beautiful wine routes. As well as its exciting food and wine pairing experiences, wine tasting adventures and world-renowned culinary pursuits. Providing you with everything you need to enjoy an incredible day out exploring the magical Cape Winelands. Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Helderburg, Durbanville and the Constantia Wine Route are merely 5 of the Western Cape’s famous wine routes. All of which should be on your Cape Town wine bucket-list. Here are 10 of the best wine tasting experiences in Cape Town for your wine tasting pleasure!
#5 Visit the captivating Cape Point
Known as one of the Mother City’s most beautiful natural wonders, a visit to Cape Point should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-list. Located approximately 60km south west of the city centre at the very tip of the Cape Peninsula. Cape Point has established itself as one of the Western Cape’s most sought-after attractions for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. Boasting jagged mountain peaks rising from the deep blue, plunging cliffs, an abundance of wildlife and a spectacular display of wildflowers and endemic Fynbos, it is a true nature lover’s paradise. Besides its unapologetic natural beauty, one of the top reasons to visit Cape Point is the incredible variety of sites, adventures and experiences it has to offer.
From exciting nature walks and thrilling hiking trails, showcasing some of the most spectacular views of the entire False Bay coastline, glorious Mother City and beyond. To the old Cape Point lighthouse, the famous Flying Dutchman Funicular and beautiful variety of tidal pools and picturesque secret beaches, Cape Point has something for everyone to experience and enjoy.
Some of Cape Point’s most beautiful secret beaches include Diaz Beach, Buffels Bay, Olifantsbos Beach and Maclear’s Beach. All of which are pure beach bliss in every way!
As Cape Point forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, there is a daily conservation fee to gain access to this Western Cape wonder. However, it promises to be worth every single cent spent. Although it might take some extra time to get there, there’s nothing like an exciting road trip up the Cape coastline to add some adventure to your trip!
#6 Explore the vibrant Bo-Kaap
Cape Town’s most colourful and culturally diverse neighbourhood, a visit to Bo-Kaap is one of the top things to do on your first trip to Cape Town. Known for its brightly coloured houses that line the steep cobblestoned streets, traditional Cape Malay cuisine (which is entirely authentic to Cape Town), vibrant cultural heritage, and warm and welcoming locals, strolling the streets of Bo-Kaap promises to be filled with both beauty and adventure. Plus, the fact that it’s known as one of the most ‘Instagrammable’ spots in the city, means you can get some amazing photos of the vibrant surroundings.
Formerly known as the Malay Quarter of Cape Town, Bo-Kaap was recently declared a National Heritage Site of South Africa. This colourful and charismatic Cape Town neighbourhood is filled with rich history and culture. Bo-Kaap is also one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Cape Town. Besides exploring the lively streets of Bo-Kaap and interacting with the friendly locals, trying a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of its restaurants or street-side eateries is an absolute must!
#7 Explore Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Are you ready to explore the beauty of one of the Great Botanic Gardens of the World? If you’re a head-over-heels nature lover, this one is especially dedicated to you! The magnificent Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. It has also won the highly esteemed ‘International Garden of the Year’ award. To be honest, very few gardens can compare to the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch. Making the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens one of the Mother City’s most magnificent natural wonders. As well as one of the top things to do and see on your first trip to Cape Town.
Located right at the base of the glorious Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is one of the most beautiful displays of indigenous natural beauty you’ll find in the city. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens also forms part of the Cape Floristic Region, also named the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you’ll find a glorious variety of fauna and flora entirely indigenous to Cape Town.
Besides its natural beauty, Kirstenbosch offers visitors a variety of exciting things to do, see and experience. Boasting over 125 species of birds, incredible walking trials, thrilling hiking routes, waterfalls, restaurants, lush lawns and a variety of hidden gems. It is also home to the famous Centenary Treetop Canopy Walk, known as the ‘Boomslang’, which has fast become one of its favourite attractions for both the young and young at heart. If that’s not enough, Kirstenbosch is also known as one of the best picnic spots in the city.
#8 Enjoy Cape Town’s beautiful beaches
There is no better place to be sun-kissed, salty-haired, sandy-toed and beached out than on one of Cape Town’s stunning beaches. There is no denying the fact that the Mother City is pure beach bliss! Besides Cape Town’s incredible variety of beaches. It is also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Some of which have claimed top spots on the global beach charts.
The new ranking from Flight Network, a leading online travel agency, gave the highly sought-after Camps Bay the title of 32nd most beautiful beach in the world on their World’s 100 Beach list. In addition to Camps Bay’s number 32 ranking, Boulders Beach, home of the African Penguin Colony, was also crowned the 62nd most beautiful beach in the world on the top 100 list. But it doesn’t end there! The cool and captivating Clifton Beach also ranked 2nd on NatGeo’s best beach list. Undoubtedly making going on the ultimate beach hopping adventure one of the top things to do on your first trip to Cape Town. And the fact that Cape Town boasts a year-round mild Mediterranean climate means every day is beach day in the Mother City.
Here are a few more beaches that deserve to be on your Cape Town beach bucket-list. Muizenberg Beach, Beta Beach, Bakoven Beach, Llandudno Beach, Bloubergstrand, Water’s Edge, Noordhoek, Kommetjie and Cape Points endless variety of secret beaches.
#9 Visit Robben Island
Visit the world-renowned Robben Island & immerse yourself in a vital piece of South Africa’s history. Cape Town is at the heart of a country with one of the most prolific histories in the world. Boasting a vast amount of heritage sites, historical landmarks and museums dedicated to telling the story of how both South Africa and Cape Town came to be what they are today. Right at the centre of it all is the famous Robben Island. Arguably one of the most recognisable prisons in the world today, Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela, former president of South Africa, activist and world icon, was imprisoned during the South African apartheid years.
This world-renowned historical site has undoubtedly become one of the Mother City’s top attractions for anyone travelling to Cape Town. Especially if you’re looking to immerse yourself in a vital piece of South Africa’s history and journey to democracy. There are several tours that depart daily from the V&A Waterfront. Which is located right in the heart of the city centre. Your Robben Island Tour will include a boat cruise to and from the island, with some potential marine life sightings on the way. As well as an up-close view of the exact cell where Madiba spent 18 years of his 27-year prison sentence during his long walk to freedom.
#10 Woodstock street art
It’s time to take a walk on the Cape Town graffiti wild side and explore everything the Woodstock street art scene has to offer! Cape Town has fast become one of the coolest creative hubs for graffiti artists from all around the world. With the trendy neighbourhood of Woodstock loudly and proudly positioning itself right at the forefront of the Mother City’s street art scene. Boasting a creative display of street art that is every bit as vibrant and diverse as the artists that created them. A visit to the cool neighbourhood of Woodstock should definitely be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-list.
It’s no surprise that exploring Woodstock’s colourful street art scene has fast become one of the most sought-after experiences for locals and travellers alike. With everyone looking to catch a glimpse of Woodstock’s artistic expressions in action. The best thing is, you don’t need to be a die-hard art lover to appreciate Woodstock’s cool and captivating street art either.