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Things to do in Cape Town, South Africa

Top 10 things to do in Cape Town, South Africa.

There are SO many things to do in Cape Town, South Africa. Whether you're into your food and drink, want to look at amazing views or spend time with wildlife like the penguins and horse riding on the beach.

Here are some of the best things we did in Cape Town whilst visiting:

1. Go to the Top of Table Mountain

You can hike up to the top of Table Mountain in 1-3 hours (depending on how fit you are). I'm a fan of hiking, but Cape Town can get HOT! To avoid getting to the top looking like a sweaty mess and as we had a busy day we decided to go for the cable car option which is quick but also still gives you insane views.

The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway from top to bottom takes about 5 minutes and offers scenic views across Cape Town, I'm not one for heights (and it is slightly terrifying if you aren't), but it's worth it once you're at the top.

It costs about R340 / £16 for a return ticket and you can book your tickets in advance online. Once at the top, you can spend some time looking at the stunning views. I'd say we spent about 30 mins up there before coming down on the cable cart again.

2. See the Penguins at Boulders Beach

Located near Simon's Town (just outside of Cape Town), Boulders Beach is the best place to go and see the wild penguins. Seeing the penguins in South Africa is one of the most memorable things you can do, it's amazing! Get up close and personal with the penguins in their natural habitat.

I've written a full blog post on 'How to See the Penguins at Boulders Beach' (see below for more info).

3. Go Shopping & Eat at the V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront is essentially a shopping centre/mall on a busy harbour in Cape Town. There are about 450 retail outlets here as well as over 80 restaurants. The setting is pretty nice for a mall as everything sits on a harbour, meaning you can enjoy shopping then sit and watch the boats come in, see the wild seals and watch the sunset with a glass of wine.

We came early one evening to get some food and we also visited the V&A food market to check out some local produce (it's a great place to buy gifts). We then visited Watershed which is a market in an industrial setting, full of local vendors that sell their brands including clothes, accessories and gifts.

4. See Nature at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Park

This is said to be one of the greatest botanical gardens in the world. Set in the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, the park includes a medicinal garden, a fragrance garden and over 2,500 species of plants. They do free guided tours or you can just wonder by yourselves (like we did).

There's a canopy walk which takes you across the treetops of the park, which was our highlight of visiting here. From this height you can take in all the plants and trees around you that sit on a backdrop of mountains.

After you've finished exploring there are a few restaurants in the park you can go to. At certain times of the year they also have concerts here as well as an open air cinema.

5. Visit the Brightly Coloured Houses in Bo-Kaap

Go here briefly to check out the iconic coloured houses in Cape Town. Be careful though, we were told it isn't that safe around there, so we got an Uber taxi there and back.

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town
Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

6. Go to Camps Bay

Camps Bay draws in tourists from all over the world to experience its beach, restaurants and bars. We stayed in Camps Bay as it's quite a good place for a base as you are near to most of the things you will want to do whilst in Cape Town. A lot of the houses, hotels and accommodation are set on the cliff overlooking the bay, offering stunning views of Cape Town including the ocean and Table Mountain.

7. Go to the Market at The Old Biscuit Mill

Situated in Woodstock, The Old Biscuit Mill is home to artists, designers, restaurants and a market (including local food and designer boutique clothes) as well as office space. Apparently it's always busy and vibrant, which it was when we went there. I would recommend going here for a couple of hours and getting a taxi from Cape Town as there isn't much else around it and apparently it's not safe to walk there.

When we were there we managed to get a table at The Pot Luck Club restaurant. This 'sophisticated tapas' restaurant is on the 6th floor of The Old Biscuit Mill and whilst you eat you can take in the views of Table Mountain, the views are almost as good as the food. It's so hard to get a table here (because the food is AMAZING), but we went and asked on the off chance and they managed to fit us in. See my blog post on 'Where to Eat in Cape Town' where I give a full review of The Pot Luck Club.

8. Chill out on Clifton Beaches

These beautiful white sandy beaches have often been named some of the best in the world. Named 1-4 (with 4th being the most popular), they all offer rest and relaxation in Cape Town. Nearby there are loads of bars and restaurants on the cliff side to enjoy after.

Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town
Clifton 4th Beach, Cape Town

9. Go Horse Riding on Noordhoek Beach

A truly amazing experience, even if you aren't into horse riding... which I'm not! The best part about this experience is you get to enjoy an empty beach in South Africa and it's STUNNING. Noordhoek beach is 5 miles of white sand and bright blue sea, I can say it's one of the best beaches I've been to in the world (and I've been to a lot).

The horse riding session is for 1 hour and they take all levels, including beginners (which I was) and provide you with everything you need. You get given a horse each (they pair you with a horse depending on your height/weight/experience... or lack of) and you get taken out with someone from the stables. The horses are quite tame and just tend to walk and gallop along the sand. We went through The Dunes Stables and we just messaged them when we wanted to do it. I would recommend wearing long trousers, trainers and a sports bra (if you are female)!

10. Spend the Day (or more) at Kalk Bay

We stayed in Kalk Bay for 3 days during our time in South Africa but it's not too far from Cape Town so you could easily go for the day. Kalk Bay is a fishing village set on the coast and was named one of 'The 12 Coolest Neighbourhoods in the World'. It's quite different to the main areas of Cape Town like Camps Bay and it's part very chilled and also vibrant at the same time. The cobbled streets are lined with cute cafes, vintage bookstores and boutique shops. The restaurant scene here is also great and if you have time go swimming in the Dalebrook Tidal Pool (a natural swimming pool with beautiful views of the ocean and mountains)

I've done a full post on Kalk Bay, so check that out for more info like things to do and places to eat.

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