The best things to see and do in Cape Town
It’s easy to spend time in Cape Town. A whole lot of time, if you are so inclined – for there is virtually no end to what you can see, visit and wonder at here. Cape Town offers an unbelievable amount of variety. Its charm comes from being a dynamic modern metropolis and is situated where two oceans meet. It has mountains and an abundant nature close by.
What are the absolute must sees
1. Take an ultra-modern cable car to the top of Table Mountain. We always recommend our guests take a chilled bottle of local wine, enjoy the city, sea views and the sunset.
2. A hike up to the top of Lions head is best done at sunrise, sunset or even at full moon! It’s cooler than during the heat of the day and is way more attractive. From the top there are stunning 360 degree views of Cape Town. National Geographic recently named this as one of the Top Twenty walks in the world!
3. In central Cape Town, the V&A waterfront and Two Oceans Aquarium offer top class shopping and entertainment opportunities, classic views of Table Mountain, and an insight into the underwater world of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. One can even dive with the sharks! After the waterfront, meander through the city’s hip Woodstock neighbourhood, admire the pastel- coloured buildings and cobblestones in the Bo-Kaap (formerly known as the Malay Quarter) and stroll up Kloof Street with its many restaurants, cafes, and shops.
4. Drive from the city centre along Green Point and onto Camps Bay which is a very vibrant and bustling beach town with lots of fabulous restaurants, bars and an intimate theatre with bistro. Continue onto the exclusive and spectacular Llandudno beach. The sea is chilly and bracing but the beach here is stunning with beautiful granite boulders.
5. Hout Bay has a wide range of eateries from fresh fish and chips in the harbour to top quality seafood restaurants. A recommended daytime stop is to ‘Original T Bag Designs’ where recycled tea bags are created into works of art. This provides employment for disadvantaged people and empowers them with skills. The gifts created really need to be seen to be believed! On Friday evenings and weekends the Bay Harbour Market comes alive with musicians, cocktail bars, street food and exquisite local crafts – all creating a great atmosphere and vibe.
6. Chapmans Peak Drive is a MUST! The toll road stretches between Hout Bay and Noordhoek along the Atlantic coastline and is one of the most dramatic marine drives in the world. From Noordhoek you can cross to the False Bay coastline and visit Kalk Bay (a fascinating little fishing village) or continue driving around the Cape Peninsula. (A top lunch spot in Kalk Bay is the Harbour House Restaurant situated right on the rocks in the harbour.)
7. Cape Point is the southern most point of the Cape Peninsula in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (part of the Table Mountain National Park). There is a lighthouse, a funicular, a good restaurant and spectacular views. The area is generally wild and unspoilt with many bird varieties, zebra and antelope to be spotted. Try some of the beach walks and shipwreck trails!
8. Simon’s Town is home to the South African naval base. There is a harbour and quaint museum to visit but most people go there to visit its rocky coast inhabited by a colony of endangered African penguins. For a different adventure, take a 2-hour guided tour in a double kayak and view them from the sea, possibly with many inquisitive seals swimming alongside!
9. Whilst driving along the False Bay/Indian Ocean coastline, do stop by at Muizenberg. This beach is well known for its colourful beach huts and surfing waves. There are several outlets which hire out surfing kit and give lessons and also plenty of cafes and restaurants.
(I would not describe this as “one of the Cape Town area’s nicest beaches”. Depending on when one goes it can be decidedly grubby with questionable public loos.)
10. The Constantia Valley, just 15 minutes from Cape Town, boasts over 10 wine farms including the historical Groot Constantia Wine Estate which is one of the oldest wine-producing farms in South Africa. You can explore the original Cape Dutch manor house dated 1685 and enjoy some wine tasting whilst you are there. I also highly recommend Eagles Nest Vineyard. Book a personalised tour where you are driven around the estate and enjoy a glass or two of chilled wine on a hot sunny day. All wine farms on the Constantia Valley Wine Route can be visited independently and all have restaurants. Alternatively, and to avoid driving and tasting, book a guided tour or even a bicycle tour of the vineyards!
11. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is internationally recognised as the 7th best botanical garden in the world and is well worth a visit. The gardens focus on plants from the Cape Floristic Region, the smallest of the six floral kingdoms of the world, and together with Kirstenbosch are accredited as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are spectacular displays of proteas and a fantastic treetop canopy walk. Summer Sunset live music concerts are scheduled every Sunday afternoon from November to March so take a picnic and relax with Table Mountain as the backdrop!
12. There is an abundance of restaurants in and around Cape Town. Many are world renowned. There are delicious local wines to sample and superb service and hospitality. I recommend heading to The Old Biscuit Mill at the heart of Cape Town’s hip Woodstock neighbourhood: this lovingly restored site – which was, in fact, originally a biscuit mill – is now home to restaurants (including the highly rated Test Kitchen and Pot Luck Café), trendy cafes, designer shops, offices, antique dealers and lots more. One of The Old Biscuit Mill’s highlights is the ‘Neighbourhood Goods Market’, which opens its gates every Saturday morning.
Finally, there are other wonderful destinations just 1-3 hours’ drive from Cape Town. All these towns also have their own wine routes with many award winning wine farms in addition to top class restaurants and accommodation! :
- Stellenbosch is the second oldest European settlement in South Africa (after Cape Town) and is a university town characterised by classic Cape Dutch architecture, cafes, boutiques, art galleries and oak trees!
- Paarl is the third oldest settlement and is well known for its ‘Pearl Mountain’ or ‘Paarl Rock’ a huge, smooth ‘mountain’ that overlooks the town and is well worth climbing to the summit.
- Franschhoek’s beautiful, fertile valley was inhabited in 1688 by French Huguenot refugees who brought agricultural experience with them. The French influence is evident today although the town is now well renowned for its speciality shops and widely acclaimed restaurants.
Cape Town is a fantastic holiday destination as there is so much to see and do. Weather predictions in the UK over January/February are for a bitterly cold winter. Cape Town is the perfect escape place at this time of year with virtually guaranteed sunny weather.
For more information (and other destinations in the Western Cape) please contact Susie Freeman Travel.