Things You Must See & Do in Cape Town, South Africa

August 26, 2017

Since moving to Edmonton, we’ve been pretty luck to have been able to travel so much more. And even though we have yet to cover the entire world, we think Cape Town is still the most beautiful city in the world out of all the places we have visited thus far (obviously, besides our love […]

Since moving to Edmonton, we’ve been pretty luck to have been able to travel so much more. And even though we have yet to cover the entire world, we think Cape Town is still the most beautiful city in the world out of all the places we have visited thus far (obviously, besides our love affair with Paris). But we’re not the only ones that think this city is so great — it made Travel + Leisure’s List of Places to Travel to in 2017. And several others! Here’s a list of things I think every visitor should do and see:

[bctt tweet=”There are SO many incredible things to do in Cape Town! ” username=”@theglobediary”]

Read: Our Travel Diary from Our Summer Days in Cape Town

#1: Take In The View From Table Mountain

The iconic mountain towers over the entire city and cannot be ignored as a top tourist sight to see. Buy tickets ahead of time online and head to the mountain early-ish to avoid the crowds. The cable car has a rotating floor which means you get to enjoy the view going up and down too! Watch for the infamous blanket clouds that cover the mountain like a tablecloth — they can come out of nowhere and you’ll have to quickly catch a cable car down.

#2: Enjoy The Wine Regions By Day OR (Better Yet) Overnight

Back in South Africa, we call vineyards, ‘wine farms’ — and we have some beautiful ones at that. There are a few different wine regions in the Western Cape within an hour of the city. If you have enough time, I would definitely consider making it an overnight stay. That way, you can taste all the wine you want and retire nearby to a stunning hotel or guesthouse.


Franschhoek is my favourite, and also happens to be where my ancestors, the Huguenots, landed, and started so many of the wine farms we see there today. Sadly, we do not own any of the wine farms today, but it does explain my love for wine — it is clearly in my blood. Check out our blog post on what to do in this tiny French-inspired town — including a Wine Tram Tour, the Best Foodie Spots and my Favourite Wine Tastings.


Stellenbosch is another beautiful wine farm town as well as a very busy student town — home to the highly ranked, University of Stellenbosch. Then there is also Paarl, another wine farm area between the two wine regions above. And lastly, Constantia, which is a little closer to Cape Town City Bowl. In fact, it is considered one of Cape Town’s most affluent areas.

#3: Take In The Incredible Beaches:

My personal favourite for tanning and swimming is Clifton 4th. But bear in mind, the water is pretty cold! Camps Bay is just a few minutes from Clifton and is a very popular stretch packed full of vibey restaurants and cafes looking out onto the beach. Muizenberg beach, is a little more out of the way, but there you will find the well-known (and often-pictured) colourful huts on the beach that make a stunning photo op.

#4: Sunrise Hike Up Lions Head

It is so worth the early morning rise. In my opinion, it is a relatively easy hike, although near the end it almost feels like a direct incline and you do have to climb a few ‘ladder’ steps. That said, the view is incredible and it’s a great way to get out and be active while on holiday. If you really need anymore reasons to add this to your to-do list then check out Non Stop Destination’s Blog Post on her hike here.


#5: Explore The V & A Waterfront

The V & A Waterfront boasts restaurants on the harbour-front, incredible boutique and designer shops and even an aquarium that the kids will love! You can even grab a sunset cruise from here.

#6: Have A Spa Day

Craig and I used to visit a spa once a month when we lived in Cape Town. It was our little treat! And if you’re on holiday, you should #treatyoself too. Cape Town has some of the best spas we’ve been to in the world. Get ready to be pampered! Here’s a list of 10 spa experiences you should try. We love the 12 Apostles Spa. The hotel is located along the coast and the view is out of this world. You might have seen it on our blog post list of the best hotels in Cape Town.

#7: Enjoy The Amazing Outdoor Markets

Visiting Farmer’s Markets in each city I visit is one of my favourite things to do — and Cape Town does Markets well! In fact, my love for Markets started when I moved to this beautiful city and first visited the Old Biscuit Mill Neighbourhoods Market. I also love the Oranjezicht City Market and the Hout Bay Market. But if those don’t spark your fancy, try one of the 26 markets.

#8: Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens

Kirstenbosch is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens I have ever been to. It is a bit of a distance from the Waterfront area, but if you decide to take the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus, Kirstenbosch is conveniently one of the stops! A new-ish feature to the Gardens is an aerial, Tree Canopy Walkway — look at the beautiful photos here. If you happen to visit in the summer, you should go to one of the many outdoor concerts lined up! They’re mostly local bands but one or two of the acts are usually international. With the beautiful mountains as your backdrop, you probably will not find a more scenic concert venue. If none of that sparks your fancy, just layout a blanket, pack a Woolies picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery.


#9: History Geek? Go to Robben Island.

Take a boat ride to Robben Island from the Waterfront to see where Nelson Mandela was held in prison for nearly 20 years before becoming our first black, and democratically elected President. You can find all the tour info online here.

#10: Animal Lover? 

You can whale watch in Hermanus or Swim with Penguins at Boulders Beach or Take A Boat Ride out To Seal Island. If you’re visiting with kids, they would also love the Waterfront Aquarium (as mentioned above), or even a stroll through the Company Gardens to feed the squirrels.

#11: Notable Foodie Spots

The Test Kitchen has been ranked the best in South Africa, but it’s more causal sister restaurant, the Potluck Club is also amazing and has stunning views of the city! Kloof Street House is also a goodie. Here’s another list of restaurants I would highly recommend. But NOTE: You should definitely book a restaurant as soon as you know you’re visiting — some restaurants are booked months in advance!

#12: Cape Town’s Coffee Culture Is A MUST!

Seriously, though, it is! TRUTH Coffee was named the best coffee in the world. They have a vibey industrial-feel cafe in the middle of the CBD with a divine breakfast and lunch menu. But there are lots of other great coffee shops all over the city — check out some on this list. My personal favourites are TRUTH, Deluxe Coffeeworks and Origin. TRUTH even offers barista courses which I would highly recommend if you’re a coffee snob like me.


Let me know if you’re visiting Cape Town or have any other questions! I’d love to help you plan a once in a lifetime trip!

~ Leigh


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