What to Do in Cape Town: 6 Can’t Miss Activities
Cape Town is one of the greatest cities in the entire world. Bold statement, but absolutely true. I have never met someone who didn’t like it and the hype it gets it truly deserves.
My expectations were high, and surprisingly I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, Cape Town blew me out of the water and the bar has been set very high. My only disappointment was that we only stayed there 5 days. I could have stayed for weeks!
Cape Town has everything your imagined ideal city would have: natural beauty of the mountains and beaches, vibrant city life, some of the best wines in the world, reasonable prices, and endless high quality food.
Cape Town quickly became one of my top 3 favorite cities in the world, along with Rome and Istanbul.
So what to do in Cape Town? I could write a book about it, but here are my top pics:
What to do in Cape Town
1. Take a Hike
Cape Town is for fitness and nature lovers. Hike both Table Mountain or Lion’s Head in a matter of hours with a spectacular view along every step of the way
We hiked Lion’s Head during golden hour and it was spectacular. You could see the entire city, Table Mountain, and Camp’s Bay in the distance.
We didn’t have time to do the Table Mountain hike unfortunately, so we took the cable car instead. The panoramic views over the coastline and city are spectacular.
2. Grab a Bite to Eat
Hold crap! I wasn’t expecting Cape Town to have such great food! I can honestly say in terms of quality, Cape Town had the most consistently good food out of any country I had ever been!
There are 2 open air markets that you can’t miss on your trip to Cape Town: Hout Bay and Old Biscuit Mill.
The Hout Bay Market (officially called Bay Harbor Market) runs Friday through Sunday and is the place to be on the weekends for good food and live music. Food and specialty shops line the cozy inside market and one could spend hours there. Make sure to go on an empty stomach because there is so much to try!! (There were also many gluten free options for those with allergies like me).
Tip: try the Springbok meat, it’s just like beef but a little sweeter. The springbok is the national bird of South Africa so a nice way to taste the local flavors.
Another favorite is the Old Biscuit Mill that’s only on Saturday mornings. This is another open air market with endless vendors offering a variety of foods. This was probably my favorite food experience in Cape Town, most likely because I found a number of gluten free tables offering delicate treats to satiate my cravings. It’s also another cool hangout spot!
Bombay Bicycle-order the Choco chili steak (signature dish that’s not on the menu). This was seriously one of the best meals of my life, if not the best. It sounds like a weird combo, but the flavors perfectly complemented the melt-in-your-mouth juicy steak. It was the most tender steak I’d ever tasted and I could have died a happy girl after my last bite. It’s that good. The restaurant also had a great ambiance and intimate setting.
Tip: you must make a reservation in advance as it’s a very popular place!
Bacini’s for pizza-right across from Bombay bicycle is Bacini’s. It’s nothing fancy inside, this is more of a local spot. The pizza was outstanding and they even had gluten free crusts! Avocado on pizza is a thing in Cape Town and it was friggin’ amazing! I’m hooked and now I’m always going to expect avo on my pizza wherever I go.
→An added bonus: we ran into Davos from Game of Thrones here! For extreme fanatics of the show, this made our whole trip!
Tiger’s Milk-another great restaurant downtown with that had the best gluten free leg of lamb pizza with a dallop of hummus and feta. Omg was it good.
V&A Market on the Wharf –this was the 3rd market we went to in Cape Town and it didn’t disappoint! It was great for fruit juices, shakes, pastries, and also lactose free froyo!
3. Take a Road Trip Down the Coast
The plunging coastlines around Cape Town are nothing short of spectacular. You can’t leave without getting to explore the area on a road trip! Drive down the Cape Peninsula all the way down to Penguin Beach. If you have time, stop in Muizenberg Beach to photograph the row of colorful beach shacks.
If you have even more time, make sure to head down to Hermanus, a quint little seaside town a 2-hr drive from Cape Town, known for whale watching and shark tank diving in its neighbor city Gansbaii.
On the way back to Cape Town, drive along False bay, which I thought was prettier than the actual Cape Peninsula honestly.
Tip: on your drive back from Hermanus, stop at Betty’s Bay, the less-touristy version of Penguin Beach. There was hardly anyone there when we went and we got up close and personal with the little guys! The cost is 10 rand for a parking permit but no one was there to enforce it.
4. View Cape Town from Above
One of my favorite things to do in a new city is get an epic aerial view. No view can get more epic than from a helicopter! We had 360 degrees of unobstructed views of the beautiful city, coast lines, beaches, peaks, and mountains. It was absolutely breathtaking.
We decided to go with NAC Helicopters for our flight over Cape Town, mainly due their almost perfect reviews as well as their impeccable safety record (100% accident-fee). The perfect safety record alone is a deciding factor when it comes to putting my life into someone else’s hands in the air.
NAC Helicopters also offers tailored destination flights, so if you really want to ball out and show up somewhere in style, this would be a fun thing to splurge on!
The staff was super professional and kind, and I felt safe from the minute I walked into the door greeted by their warm smiles.
Tip: make sure to schedule the helicopter tour early in the trip in case of cancellations due to weather. We actually had our first flight cancelled so ended up re-scheduling it on our last day luckily.
5. Hop On Hop off Bus (seriously)
I never in a million years thought I would recommend a “touristy” Hop on Hop off Bus, but this is definitely an exception! The public transportation in Cape Town and vicinity is not that great so this is actually a great way to see all that Cape Town has to offer! You can buy a one-day pass for around $12 and a 2-day pass for around $20.
The Hop on Hop Off bus has 3 different color-coded routes and I recommend all 3 if you have time! It’s no surprise my favorite was the purple route since this was the wine route!
If you’re short on time like we were, we only had a day to do the bus tour. Our favorite can’t miss stops included:
- Kirstenbosch Gardens
- Camp’s bay
- Purple wine route (the entire thing)
- Table Mountain
- Hout Bay
6. Drink World Class Wine
South Africa is known for its Pinotage red blend, distinctive to this area of the globe. Make sure you try a glass (or 5) of this delicious red wine, as this blend is not grown anywhere else in the world!
There are SO many vineyards within an hour or so drive from Cape Town and I recommend spending an entire day in Stellenbosch, and if you have time Franchoek as well.
Our favorite winery was Vergelegen Estate. The property grounds were impeccably gorgeous and the staff was extremely interactive and fun. Oh, and apparently you can have a picnic in the camphor forest, which sounds amazing! Unfortunately it was closed when we went, but if you end up going, please let me know how it is!
If you’re planning what to do in Cape Town, hopefully these 6 recommendations are at the top of your list! There is so much more to discover in this unique city and we only just cracked the tip of the iceberg.
I cannot wait to get back to Cape Town and stay longer next time to enjoy more of the local life. Until then, I’ll keep dreaming about it. ♥
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Disclaimer: I was a guest of NAC Helicopters. However, my opinions are my own and I am in no way obligated to leave positive feedback. I thought the helicopter tour was awesome and the best way to see the city!