Oh, Cape Town! Where do I even begin? I visited Cape Town for the first time a year ago and instantly fell in love. There’s just something about that city that captivates you. The scenery is truly the most beautiful scenery I’ve ever seen. The locals are so friendly and welcoming. Don’t even get me started on the food and coffee. When people ask us what our favorite city is, we always answer “Cape Town.” We actually packed our bags and moved to Cape Town for three months not too long ago. That’s how much I adore this city. If you’re heading to Cape Town soon, here are ten things you must absolutely do while you’re there.
This post contains affiliate links to the products that I use and trust. This means that I might receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase using any of my links below. See full disclosure here.
1. Visit the Penguins at Boulders Beach
I listed this first because of penguins. DUH. You can find these adorable crowd-pleasers at Boulders Beach near Simon’s Town. It’s about an hour drive from Cape Town. Boulders Beach is stunning! The sand is insanely white and soft and the water is the prettiest shade of blue. There are three boardwalks and a penguin viewing area. The boardwalk allows you to wander through the penguins’ nesting grounds without disturbing them. The penguins roam around freely, but please refrain from touching them. You have to pay an entrance fee that goes toward conservation efforts. Lastly, penguins are present at Boulders Beach all year round. We went in August of 2018 and July of 2019 and saw plenty.
2. Go to the Top of Table Mountain
Holy cow, you guys, I can’t even begin to tell you how breathtaking the views are from the top of Table Mountain. It stands at 1085 meters/3559 feet. Hiking is not my jam. In fact, I feel a little sick when I think about hiking. Just kidding…kinda. If you decide to hike this, just know that I’m cheering you on. If you’re like me and have an aversion towards hiking, you can use the cable car. I know most people hike up the mountain and take the cable car down. It runs all day long and the last one descends around sunset. The queues to purchase your tickets there can be insanely long so I recommend buying them online. You can check out all the details for the cable car here.
3. Explore the Cape Winelands
This is a bold statement, but I wholeheartedly believe that South Africa produces the best wine in the entire world. Mmmm…I can taste the Pinotage as I write this. Give yourself two to three days to venture in the Cape Winelands. The scenery is gorgeous with mountains and lush greenery everywhere. The main towns to check out are Stellenbosch, Franschoek and Paarl. I highly recommend spending the night at a wine estate. It’s a luxurious stay where you’ll feel so relaxed. We spent one night at Asara Wine Estate & Hotel and Jordan Wine Estate and loved both. We were there during their offseason so we snagged great deals on both. YASSS. During our two days in Stellenbosch, we had many wine tastings at several different wineries. My favorites were Jordan, Bellevue and Beyerskloof. The tastings are reasonably priced which is awesome. We only paid $1 USD for three tastings at Kleine Zalze which I still find crazy. Don’t forget to order a cheese platter. If you’re able to have lunch or dinner at a winery, definitely do it. The pairings are phenomenal and it feels like a fancy affair.
4. Catch a Sunset
I saw the most gorgeous sunset of my entire life in Cape Town. Cape Town has so many places where you can watch the sunset. The most popular spots are Lions Head, Signal Hill, Camps Bay, and a few more. Fortunately, we didn’t have to venture far to catch these epic sunsets. We were living in Sea Point about a two-minute walk away from the Sea Point Promenade. There’s seriously no better way to end your day in Cape Town than by watching the sunset.
5. Hang out at the V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront is a fun and exciting place in Cape Town. This area is on the edge of the harbor with a backdrop of Table Mountain. It’s a pedestrian-only area filled with delicious seafood restaurants, cafes, shops and pubs.
6. Go Whale Watching in Hermanus
If you’re in Cape Town between August and December, whale watching in Hermanus is a must. Hermanus is an adorable coastal town about a two and a half-hour drive away from Cape Town. Don’t forget to take the coastal route as the views are beautiful. We did our whale watching tour last year with Whale Watching Hermanus and saw tons of South right whales. It was a magical experience and one of my very favorite travel memories. I recommend doing an early morning tour so you have time for lunch once the tour is over. The best spot for lunch in Hermanus is Bientang’s Cave Restaurant & Wine Bar. It’s situated in a cave right above the ocean and is a prime location for watching whales in Walker Bay. The food is delicious and the views are magnificent. Their “Catch of the Day” does not disappoint. We’ve been there two times and loved the view and food both times.
7. Indulge in the Food
Cape Town is a foodie’s heaven. I don’t even want to admit how many kilos I gained while I was there. You’ll find all kinds of food here – Indian, Japanese, American, Thai and more. You have to try Braai which is essentially South African barbecue. My absolute favorite thing to eat in Cape Town is steak. I’m probably going to receive some backlash for this, but the steak in South Africa makes the steak in Argentina look bad. Cape Town has several steakhouses, but Hussar Grill is the best. They have several locations in the Cape Town area, but we only ate at the location in Mouille Point as it was closest to us. The staff is warm and welcoming and the steak literally just melts in your mouth. Plus, they don’t have a corkage fee so you’re welcome to bring your own wine. Also, do yourself a favor and get the paprika and rosemary butter. It’s so good that I almost drank it straight up. Ugh, now I’m craving Hussar Grill.
8. Have Brunch in Camps Bay
How could I mention food and not bring up brunch? Brunch is so much fun in Cape Town, especially in Camps Bay. Camps Bay is an affluent suburb of Cape Town that draws people in for its beautiful beach. It’s only a fifteen-minute drive from Cape Town. It’s so relaxing to get brunch on a Saturday across from the ocean while sipping on your iced latte. There are tons of yummy and cool restaurants along the beach. After brunch, take a leisurely stroll along the beach and pet as many dogs as you can. Side note – I played with the cutest golden retriever here. Her name was Gina and she was the sweetest.
9. Drive Chapman’s Peak
Chapman’s Peak Drive is regarded as the most scenic drive in Cape Town and one of the best in the world. It’s between Hout Bay and Noordhoek in the Cape Peninsula. It’s a nine-kilometer route that hugs the ocean and cliffs. Each curve reveals an array of breathtaking views of the sandy and rocky shoreline below. There are many places along the route where you can pull over and soak in the views. We stopped at almost every stop to absorb the views. It was truly serene and marvelous. If you come between August and December, you might be fortunate enough to see some whales in the ocean.
10. Learn About the History of Cape Town and South Africa
In case you didn’t know, Cape Town has a rather dismal past. I urge you to learn about it. One of the best ways to learn about it is by visiting the museums. If you’re interested, visit Nelson Mandela’s prison cell on Robben Island. You can also visit the District Six Museum to learn about Apartheid in depth. It’s a heartbreaking thing to learn about, but I believe that every tourist visiting Cape Town should have an understanding of the history there.
Resources for Your Trip to Cape Town:
Accommodation: If you want to stay at a hotel, use Hotels.com. I use it all the time because it provides the cheapest rates for hotels. Don’t forget to join their rewards program. Every tenth night is free! If you’re looking for cheaper options, Hostelworld has the best options for hostels.
Travel Insurance: Cape Town has a reputation for being unsafe. We didn’t have any issues though. But, you never know when accidents can happen. Don’t forget to protect yourself against flight cancellations, unexpected illnesses, theft and more. RoamRight has great customer service and benefits.
Tours: I’m mostly a DIY (do it yourself) traveler, but I don’t hate on people who do tours. You can use Viator and there are tons of fun tours you can take in Cape Town.
Have you been to Cape Town? If so, what are some of the things you did when you were there? Let me know in the comments.
I hope you found this post useful for planning your trip to Cape Town. Don’t forget to pin it for later!
Disha is a travel and lifestyle blogger who has visited 85+ countries with South Africa and the Maldives being her favorites. She gets butterflies sharing her travel and life experiences through words. She loves freedom, sunflowers, and long walks on the beach with her husband. She’s obsessed with helping others live a life they don’t have to escape from. Lastly, she makes travel more accessible, inclusive and attainable one trip at a time.