Top things to do in Cape Town
Being so spoilt for choice with the many activities on offer can be very overwhelming. So, we’ve put together our top things to do in Cape Town.
Situated in a well-to-do area at the foot of the Twelve Apostles, Camps Bay Beach may be one of the most picturesque beaches you will ever see. White sandy beaches lined with tall palm trees with a turquoise Atlantic and mountainous backdrop are the flavours of the day here, so reserve a beach bed and lock in a few hours well spent. No visit to Cape Town can go without an outing to the glamorous Camps Bay strip. So after your day is up on the beach, stroll across the road where you’ll rub shoulders with the rich and famous at the many elegant bars and restaurants on offer.
Just around the corner from Camps Bay you’ll discover Cape Town’s favourite hidden gems – the Clifton Beaches. From the road you’ll find it hard to believe that there are four of Cape Town’s most popular beaches, Clifton Beaches, which are nestled among the giant boulders that jut out of the Atlantic. Clifton has reached international notoriety after Forbes Magazine ranked it in the top 10 topless beaches in the world. Clifton 4th Beach is undoubtedly the most popular, where you’ll see yachts bobble in the ocean while the rich and beautiful come to see and be seen. Just over the boulder wall lies Clifton 3rd Beach, a well-known hang out for the substantial Gay Cape Town community. Pop over to Clifton 2nd beach, where you’ll find beachgoers enjoying the sun in the nude. While, Clifton 1st Beach is popular among old folk for being the least crowded.
A long standing Capetonian favourite, Llandudno Beach, is located some 20 minutes drive from Cape Town’s CBD. Winding down a long spiraling road, you’ll find a long stretch of white sand, perfect for those seeking beach activities. Surfing, boulder jumping and beach ball activities are all on show here, so prepare for an action packed day, or just park off and get some much needed rays.
Located over an hour away in the sleepy fishing town of Simon’s Town, Boulders Beach, has long been a tourist must do when in Cape Town. Made famous for its large African Penguin colony, Boulder Beach is definitely worth the drive. If you want a truly relaxing experience, catch the train which hugs the coastline to Simon’s Town – perfect for those who want to really savour the scenery. On the way over, make sure to stop in and have a surf at Muizenberg Beach, a popular spot for local and foreign surfers alike, who have made this beach their own due to the warmer waters and longer waves.
When arriving from the airport, Cape Town immediately greets you with a mountainous backdrop that lures in the adventurous. Cape Town has a smorgasbord of hikes on offer, but few places will rival the sights you see once you reach the top. My personal favourite hike, Lion’s Head, is an absolute must do while in Cape Town, especially for those looking for that perfect Instagram photo. Not only do you get arguably the most stunning 360-degree view of Cape Town, you are able to get there with minimal fuss, being a relatively chilled hike. For the more adventurous, pack a bottle of red and hike up Lion’s Head during a full moon to enjoy the glistening stars above and the warm city lights below.
For those seeking a more challenging hike, the Platteklip Gorge hike up to Table Mountain is the must do choice. Starting from the bottom, there is only one way – up, up and up! You can reach the top after around two hours of huffing and puffing while marveling at Table Bay behind you. Once you have summited, enjoy the plentiful views on offer while sipping on a cup of coffee at the Table Mountain Cafe. If, like me, you are knackered from the hike up, take full advantage of the lazy cable car option for the way down.
If you love frolicking in parks, then Cape Town is your city where beautiful parks are plentiful. In the summer months on Sundays, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is the place to be, where thousands of people flock for the weekly Summer Sunset Concerts. Be sure to pack a picnic bag and enough wine to flow all afternoon, as the vibes here will make for an indulgent day on the grass. Take the Mrs. here on Wednesday nights to enjoy a movie under the stars, you’ll be sure to get some much needed browning points. Voted the best gardens in Africa and one of the most beautiful in the world, Kirstenbosch is not to be missed.
In the middle of the city, The Company Gardens offers a peaceful sanctuary for those in need. Sit under the oldest Pear tree in South Africa, which was planted in 1652, while watching squirrels forage around you. If you’re after a good afternoon laugh, head down to De Waal Park in Oranjezicht, to view Cape Town dogs of all shapes and sizes come together to make for some entertaining voice over scenarios. Look out for the big French poodle, who clearly thinks he is Cape Town’s top dog. For the best sundowners, head to Signal Hill with a 6 pack of beers to watch that sherbet African sunset dip into the Atlantic.
Eat & Drink
Cape Town has a smorgasboard of restaurants and bars on offer, so here are a few of our favourites listed:
- Yours Truly on Kloof St: for awesome local and tourist vibes, go upstairs for great outside rooftop drinks.
- La Tete on Bree St: One of the best restaurants in Cape Town, a is French nose-to-tail eatery. Amazing food and very affordable for a top rated restaurant (Top 20 new restaurants in the world by CNN).
- Charango on Bree St: Peruvian style restaurant is always a winner – also one of my favourite restaurants.
- Thali on Park Rd: best Indian restaurant in town with a modern tapas experience.
- Bombay Bicycle Club on Kloof St: bohemian restaurant experience. Sit at the table that has swings attached to the roof as seats. Fun, young atmosphere with good food, but average drinks.
- Hanks on Bree St: underground bar feel, with great funky music and decent craft beers on tap
- Royale Eatery: yummy and relatively healthy burgers.
- Dog’s Bollocks: one of the best places in Cape Town to eat burgers – very cool vibes!
- Kloof St House: You can’t go wrong going here – amazing Moroccan flavoured food and probably the best cocktails in Cape Town.
- House of Machines: awesome live and intimate music bar.
- First Thursday’s: If you’re lucky enough to be here for the first Thursday of any month, then make sure you head onto Bree St to party like a local on the streets.
- Bitch’s Tits on Roodehek St: this is our local café. Great hole in the wall local vibe – is what Dog’s Bollocks (see above) is called in the morning.
- Tamboers Winkel: amazing homely feel with beautiful staff, great coffee and even better chicken rotisserie – one of my favourite places in Cape Town.
- Truth Coffee: It’s easy to see why New York Times rated this café as the best in the world. Very cool steampunk vibes and has range of tasty coffee beans to try.
- Loading Bay: Organic and sustainable café, with a great menu.
Cape Town offers an organic food extravaganza through the establishment of their many markets. The city is fast making a name for itself as the World’s capital for gourmet markets. Think Cape Malay curries, braai’d (coal fired barbequed) meats, gastronomic burgers, pastry treats, biltong (dried game meats), gluten free, vegan, and many other African, European and Asian infused cuisine. From Thursday night until Sunday, Cape Town has markets running that you cannot miss:
- Thursday Nights: Cape Point Vineyards Markets, Noordhoek & City Bowl Night Market, Gardens
- Friday Nights, Saturdays and Sundays: Bay Harbour Markets – Hout Bay
- Saturdays: Neighbourgoods Market – Old Biscuit Mill
- Saturdays: Oranjezicht City Farm Market
If coming to Cape Town, heading to the Winelands area is an absolute must. Paarl, Stellenbosch and our favourite, Franschhoek, have many wineries you can visit for a tasting and/or lunch. Head to Franschhoek (Dutch for ‘French Corner’) for a night or two and ensure you hop on the incredible Wine Tram tour, where you can taste the many different wines on offer in this little pocket of Europe in Africa. Franschhoek is historically the French Huguenot retreat, where they arrived in exile as a result of prejudice from French Catholics. Walking through the streets of Franschhoek you could be fooled into thinking you were somewhere in the French countryside, where quaint cafes and restaurants line the streets that are in the foreground of vineyards and mountain ridges.
Cape Town is historically known for its production of wine, however in recent years it has made a name for itself in the brewing of craft beer. Stellenbrau, Jack Black and our pick, Devil’s Peak Brewery (check our itinerary for more details) has your all favourites in pale ales, IPAs, stouts and Weiss beers. Head to Devil’s Peak Brewery Tap Room, where they do a salivating craft beer and food pairing, not to mention a half price food and drink menu on Mondays.