30 awesome things to do in Cape Town for first-timers

by | May 19, 2024 | Africa, City Getaways, South Africa | 0 comments

The 30 best things to do in Cape Town
30 epic things to do in Cape Town

If there’s one place I always want to go back to, it’s Cape Town. Since my first visit in 2019, the city has been one of my favourite destinations. I’ve been there every year since then and have fallen in love with this unique city even more with every trip.

Cape Town is the perfect blend of cool neighbourhoods with quirky bars, lively markets, great restaurants, stunning beaches, rugged landscapes, and fantastic hiking trails.

The city offers endless possibilities to explore and enjoy. From cruising along some of the world’s most scenic roads to discovering the latest local art and fashion, hiking to the top of the iconic Table Mountain, or indulging in wine tasting at award-winning vineyards, Cape Town truly has it all. 

You could spend weeks in the city without running out of things to do. To prove it here is a list of 30 epic things to do in Cape Town!

Summit the iconic Table Mountain

The iconic Table Mountain is a prominent feature of Cape Town’s skyline and no visit to the city is complete without a trip to the top of this flat-topped mountain.

The best way to reach the summit of Table Mountain is on foot. 

There are several trails starting from near the Cable Car Station or Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden. You can find all the details about the different routes on Cape Town Travel. The feeling of accomplishment you get from reaching the top of a mountain is unparalleled.

Hiking Table Mountain is one of the best things to do in Cape Town. But If you’re not into hiking a smooth cable car ride takes you to the top in only 5 minutes. The gondola has a rotating floor, ensuring that you get a 360-degree view of the breathtaking scenery.

Cost & opening hours | The cable car runs seven days a week from 8.30 AM to 5 PM, but it sometimes has to be shut down because of the wind. Get your ticket here and make sure to check whether the cable car is still running before you head to the station.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Enjoy some of Cape Town’s best views from Lions Head

Hiking Lions Head is a must on your Cape Town itinerary. The 669-meter-high peak boasts one of the best views of the City Bowl, Table Mountain, and the stunning coastline. The Lions Head hike is a 5 km round hike. The way up should take around 60 to 90 minutes, whereas getting back down shouldn’t take more than 45 to 60 minutes.

The trail meanders around Lion’s Head and requires moderate effort. Towards the top, some sections are secured by ropes or involve ladders and steps. The best time to hike Lions Head is sunrise or sunset. Evenings are especially popular, and I recommend sunrise to avoid the crowds.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Enjoy a different perspective from Chapman’s Peak

Cape Town boasts many incredible hiking trails, and my favourite is Chapman’s Peak. The hike begins at the Chapmans Peak Car Park outside of Hout Bay. From there, the trail winds its way up the fynbos-covered mountain slopes all the way to the top of Champans Peak. 

At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of Chapman’s Peak Drive, Hout Bay, Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles, and the Cape Peninsula with its beautiful sandy beaches and charming villages. 

Cape Town has some of the most mind boggling views I’ve ever seen, but it honestly doesn’t get much better than from the top of Chapman’s Peak. 

Toll Road | To access Chapmans Peak Car Park, you’ll have to pass the Chapmans’ Peak Drive toll gate. At the toll gate, ask for a Chappies Day Pass that will give you free access, and make sure to keep it for the drive back.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Hike Kloof Corner for sunrise or Sunset

The Kloof Corner hiking trail is a quicker and easier alternative to Lions Head. The trail starts at Tafelberg Road and leads you up the Kloof Corner steps to an incredible vantage point with amazing views of the City Bowl, Lions Head, the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay. The trail is doable in less than an hour and it is another awesome hike for sunrise or sunset!

Browse Cape Town’s vibrant Markets

One of the best things to do in Cape Town is for sure visiting the vibrant markets, offering a variety of native crafts, flea market finds, artisanal food, local designs, and fresh flowers. From weekly pop-ups to full-time operations like the Watershed, there’s always a market to explore in the Mother City.

These markets are usually complete with a few bars, live music, and food stalls selling some of the best street food in town. Here are a few markets to add to your Cape Town itinerary:

Hit some of Cape Town’s best beaches in Clifton

For some of Cape Town’s best beaches, head to Clifton, a posh suburb nestled on the slopes of Lions Head. The Clifton beaches are a cluster of four white sandy coves divided by large boulders and rocks.

You can swim at all four Clifton beaches (the water is pretty cold though), and the first beach is also very popular for surfers. On balmy summer evenings, the vibe is almost festive, with locals and tourists spreading out picnic blankets and settling in to enjoy after-work swims, beach picnics and the sunset.

Swim and watch the surfers in Llandudno

Llandudno is another one of Cape Town’s picturesque seaside neighbourhoods that deserves a spot on your Cape Town itinerary. Llandudno’s main attraction is its beautiful beach, a long stretch of soft white sand, framed by large granite boulders and a stunning backdrop of Little Lions Head.

The large granite boulders are the perfect spot for a morning picnic, sundowners by the beach and to watch the surfers catch waves!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Find the best sunset spot on Signal Hill

The most accessible of Cape Town’s Peak, Signal Hill is another prime sunset spot in Cape Town. Better yet, you’ll get to enjoy views of both Table Mountain and Lions Head, and the sun setting over the ocean.

Signal Hill is pretty busy during sunset, but the crowds usually stick to the viewing platform next to the parking. Following the trail leading towards Lions Head, you can find many great spots to enjoy the sunset away from the bustle. Don’t forget to pack some snacks and drinks!

Tipp | Don’t make dinner reservations right after sunset. When the car park at the top is full, people just park along Signal Hill Road, and it usually takes a little while for the traffic to dissolve after sunset. If you don’t have a car, you can grab an Uber or catch the Hop-on Hop-off bus to Signal Hill.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Soak up the relaxed vibe in Camps Bay

Camps Bay is one of Cape Town’s trendiest suburbs, nestled on the slopes of Lions Head and Table Mountain. It is known for its stunning beach, palm-lined promenade, and relaxed vibe.

The promenade is home to numerous cool bars and excellent restaurants, including Mantra Cafe, one of my favorite restaurants in Cape Town. Camps Bay is a great addition to your Cape Town itinerary for an afternoon on the beach, sundowners with a view, or as your home base while staying in the city.

Find more epic things to do in Cape Town on GetYourGuide!

STroll around the colorful Bo Kaap

Bo Kaap at the foot of Signal Hill is the oldest and most historic areas in Cape Town. Its origins can be traced back to the 1760s when Dutch colonialists built small houses to provide accommodation for the city’s Cape Malay slaves. Today, Bo Kaap is famous for its brightly coloured one- and two-story houses and cobbled streets, making it one of the most photogenic places in the city.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Brave the cold at Camps Bay Tidal Pool

Over 20 tidal pools are scattered along Cape Town’s coastline. One of the main advantages of tidal pools is that the water is generally calmer than the open sea, and sometimes even a little warmer. 

Camps Bay tidal pool at the southern end of Camps Bay Beach is an epic swimming spot in Camps Bay.

The water is always pretty cold in Cape Town, but you can warm up in the sun on the small stretch of white sand and the surrounding boulders, or grab a hot cup of coffee from the nearby Firefly Cafe after braving the cold dip.

Swim with a view at Maidens Cove Tidal Pool

If you’re looking for a swim with a view, Maidens Cove tidal pools should definitely be on your Cape Town itinerary. Nestled between large rocks along Victoria Road, these two tidal pools offer the perfect view of Camps Bay and the Twelve Apostles. Besides swimming, they’re also one of the best spots to watch the sun dip into the ocean.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Drive the picturesque M6

The M6 leads from Cape Town city centre past Clifton, Camps Bay, and Llandudno to Hout Bay, with one stunning view after another. Driving the M6 is one of the most scenic things to do in Cape Town.

Chapman’s Peak Drive, the spectacular coastal road between Hout Bay and Noordhoek is also part of the M6. You can perfectly combine the two, and start or end your day on the Cape Peninsula with the beautiful drive on the M6 between Hout Bay and the city centre.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Cruise the Scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the world’s most scenic coastal roads. The 9 km long toll road winds its way between steep rock faces and the Atlantic from Noordhoek to Hout Bay. Be sure to allow enough time for the drive, as you will undoubtedly want to stop at each viewpoint to take in all the incredible sights.

Stop at Dune Cafe or Fish On The Rocks for sundowners and dinner with a view of Chapman’s Peak!

Costs | Chapman’s Peak Drive is a toll road with a small fee of ZAR 50 for a normal car. Make sure you have enough cash on you if you don’t have a South African bank card because foreign cards are not accepted.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Chill with penguins at Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is located in Simons Town on the Cape Peninsula, just under an hour’s drive from Cape Town. Although Cape Town boasts of several amazing beaches, Boulders Beach is unique as it is the only place where you can get up close with African penguins!

There are two locations in Simon’s Town where you can observe penguins. At Boulders Beach, you can actually access the beach and swim while having penguins around. Nearby, at Foxy Bay, you can observe them from different viewpoints along a boardwalk.

Visiting the penguins at Boulder’s Beach is one of the most epic things to do in Cape Town!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Spot the colorful beach huts in Muizenberg

Muizenberg is a relaxed seaside resort in False Bay about 30 minutes from Cape Town. It is particularly known for the colorful wooden “Edwardian Beach Houses” that populate the beach.

The water in False Bay is a warm 5 degrees higher than on the Atlantic side, making Muizenberg the perfect seaside resort. There are also several surf schools in Muizenberg, as the conditions are ideal for beginners. 

Explore Africa’s Southwesternmost point

The Cape Peninsula is renowned for its charming seaside villages, unspoiled beaches, and stunning coastal vistas. Cape Point, located at the southernmost tip of the peninsula, is an absolute must-visit when exploring Cape Town. 

You can climb up to the old lighthouse at Cape Point, towering 238m above the Atlantic. Additionally, explore some of the lonely beaches and scenic tidal pools, visit nearby Cape of Good Hope and hit one of the various hiking trails

I’d recommend combining Cape Point with Muizenberg, Boulder’s Beach and Chapman’s Peak Drive for an epic day out on the Cape Peninsula.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Visit Africa’s smallest pub in Hout Bay

Hout Bay is another coastal suburb of Cape Town that deserves a spot on your Cape Town itinerary. The former fishing village is located about 25 minutes from Cape Town’s city centre, nestled between nature reserves, wine estates and the mountain ranges typical of Cape Town.

I like Hout Bay best in the evenings when the mountains along Chapman Peak Drive are lit up red by the setting sun. Dunes right on the beach is the perfect place for sundowners or dinner. And after dinner, make sure to pop into The Workshop, said to be the smallest pub in Africa.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Have sundowners at Saunders Rock Beach

Saunders Rock Beach is a small beach located at the Bantry Bay end of the promenade in Seapoint. It’s not a place that makes it on most people’s Cape Town itinerary, but luckily one of my Capetonian friends introduced me to this gem a few years ago. 

This beach is popular during summer, particularly at sunset. The convenient location of Saunders Rock Beach means that many locals come here on warm evenings for sundowners, picnics, and post-work swims in the small tidal pool.

Shop until you drop at The Watershed

If you visit the V&A Waterfront at the edge of Cape Town’s bustling harbour, make sure to pop into the Watershed. The market features numerous stalls and shops, offering a variety of souvenirs, unique fashion pieces, beautiful art, jewellery, and homeware. 

It’s the perfect spot to pick up some delightful mementos of your trip to Cape Town.
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Drive the Whale Route

The whale route is a stunning coastal road, starting outside of Cape Town. It follows the R44 through places like Betty’s Bay, the Kogel Bay Nature Reserve, and South Africa’s whale-watching capital Hermanus. During the whale season, the whale route offers some of the best land-based whale watching.

Whether whale season is on or not, the amazing coastal views along the Whale Route are definitely worth a visit!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Visit the Stony Point Penguin Colony

You might have heard of Boulders Beach before, but did you know that there are two penguin colonies near Cape Town? The Stony Point Penguin Colony in Betty’s Bay is smaller, less known, and usually less crowded than the one at Boulder’s Beach. There’s a short wooden walkway from which you can observe the penguins up close. It’s incredibly cute to watch them go about their daily lives!

Enjoy a Picnic at Boschendal

Boschendal is one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa, located between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, which is about a 45-minute drive from Cape Town.

The sprawling lawns of Boschendal are perfect for a picnic. You can pre-order a picnic basket and spend your afternoon relishing freshly baked bread, salads straight from Boschendal Gardens, charcuterie cuts, and delicious desserts.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Get creative at The Pottery Cafe

The Pottery Cafe in Camps Bay offers one of the most unique things to do in Cape Town. The cafe has a vast collection of ceramic items such as side plates, dinner plates, mugs, bowls, platters, and trinket dishes to choose from. You’ll also receive a box of vibrant paints, brushes, stencils, and pencils to create your unique ceramic masterpiece, all while enjoying a refreshing drink and a tasty snack.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Swim and hike at Silvermine Nature Reserve

Silvermine Nature Reserve is a stunning nature reserve located in the Table Mountain National Park. There are several hiking trails in the reserve, all of them boasting spectacular views in true Cape Town fashion.

One of the main attractions in Silvermine Nature Reserve is the Silvermine Dam, where you can swim after a hot hike. There are several picnic spots around the dam, making it an ideal place to visit even if you don’t feel like hiking.

Enjoy the epic view from Bloubergstrand

Cape Town boasts various magnificent views, but one of the most spectacular is the panorama at Bloubergstrand north of the city centre. The expansive white sandy beach offers the best panoramic view of the iconic Table Mountain.

Bloubergstrand is at its most beautiful around sunset. It is also quite popular with surfers and kitesurfers but is much less crowded than the beaches closer to the city centre. If you’re lucky, you might spot dolphins or seals here and even southern right whales and orcas during the whale season.

2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Start your day with a Brunch

Brunch suggestions are a constant in my blog posts. I believe that having a sumptuous brunch is the perfect way to start the day. Fortunately, Cape Town is brunch-heaven. Here are some of my favourites that you should definitely include in your Cape Town itinerary:

Explore Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch is Cape Town’s beautiful botanical garden situated on the slopes of Table Mountain in Cape Town. It features more than 7,000 species of plants and an awesome canopy walkway that offers stunning views of the mountains and the lush greenery below.

During summer, Kirstenbosch hosts concerts every Sunday. Everyone brings drinks, snacks and picnic blankets. If you’re planning a visit to the city between December and March, make sure to add a concert at Kirstenbosch to your itinerary.

The Kirstenbosch Summer Concerts are one of the absolute best things to do in Cape Town!
2-week Namibia itinerary
2-week Namibia itinerary

Sample some South African Wine in Stellenbosch

If you love wine, you have to add a trip to the Cape Winelands to your Cape Town itinerary. The wine-growing region northeast of Cape Town is renowned for its picturesque valleys and award-winning wineries, many of them less than an hour away from the city centre.

Stellenbosch is famously known as the capital of the Cape Winelands, with around 200 wine estates in the immediate vicinity. Many wineries offer daily wine tours and tastings, restaurants with sweeping vineyard views, or picnic baskets to be enjoyed on their lawns.

Catch the Wine Tram in Franschhoek

Franschhoek is perhaps the most beautiful town in the Cape Winelands. The small town, which consists of only one main road, is surrounded vineyards, orchards and rugged mountain peaks. Franschhoek offers one of the most unique wine tasting experiences in the Cape Winelands: a hop-on hop-off Wine Tram, with 5 different routes in the Franschhoek Wine Valley. 

Don’t forget to pin this post on Pinterest to remember these awesome things to do in Cape Town!
2-week Namibia itinerary
30 awesome things to do in Cape Town

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Welcome to my world!

Hi, I’m Sara, a twenty-something Swiss on a mission to become a full-time travel writer and digital nomad.