Cape Town is a must-visit destination for any traveler. Take it from our staffer Sarah: “Cape Town should be on everyone’s list! It’s a beautiful, modern city with something for everyone: Robben Island for the history buff, wine-tasting for the foodie, Table Mountain for the photographers, Cape of Good Hope for the nature enthusiast...”
Do you want to visit Cape Town? Get the best tips for things to do in Cape Town, all from our team of travel experts around the globe.
Currency: South African rand
Best way to get around: Taxis and Ubers are great options for exploring Cape Town during your free time.
Phrase to know: Lekker (pronounced luck-er)—that’s how you say something is great. Expect to say it a lot on tour!
THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CAPE TOWN
We can’t say enough good things about traveling in the off-season! March–May and September–November are the best times to visit Cape Town for the pleasant weather and fewer crowds.
If you’re visiting Cape Town and want to go on a safari in Africa, you’ll want to pick the dry season between May–September. That’s when animals are easier to view and gather together in larger groups near watering holes.
WHAT TO PACK FOR CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is known for its high winds, so having a light jacket or windbreaker is a good idea.
Always pack layers so you can stay comfy if the temperature changes throughout the day.
Walking shoes are a must, and if you’re interested in hiking or other outdoor activities in Cape Town, you might want a pair of hiking boots and athletic clothes, too.
THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN
As our staffer Kevin put it, “Everywhere you look, there are mountains or the ocean, or both.” But it’s more than just a pretty place—it’s a creative hub, too. “The diversity of languages, food, music, and cultures makes every street and neighborhood fascinating,” he says. Here are some of the best places to visit in Cape Town:
Table Mountain, which towers over 3,000 feet above the city. “Seeing the bright green mountains run into the vast ocean truly took my breath away,” says staffer Marissa.
Bo-Kaap, the neighborhood famous for its colorful houses, a tradition that turned into a celebration of freedom from apartheid.
Robben Island, the prison Nelson Mandela was held. Visiting is a moving experience, and a reminder of how people around the world continue to struggle for freedom.
The Cape of Good Hope, which is at the very tip of the Southern Peninsula. It’s a dramatic seascape—and the spot where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet!
Boulders Point Penguin Colony. Over 3,000 penguins (yep—penguins!) call Boulder Point home. Paying them a visit was just one of our staffer Megan’s five reasons to visit Cape Town.
WHAT TO EAT & DRINK IN CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is a cultural melting pot, which means that local cuisine is by definition diverse. Check out some of our favorite places to eat when you’re visiting Cape Town:
The General Store is where to go for amazing, fresh salads (plus sweet treats to reward yourself for eating a salad).
Miriam’s Kitchen is where you can get a Gatsby, the classic Capetonian sandwich. It’s an overstuffed, foot-long sub, which makes it great for sharing! While the fillings can change, one thing is usually the same: It’s stuffed with French fries. Yum.
Browse Neighbourgoods Market to mingle with locals at the market on a Saturday morning, and try everything from game meat burgers to ice cream.
Asian, Indian, and Middle Eastern immigrants influenced Cape Town’s cuisine immensely, and you’ll find lots of popular options around the city. Make a reservation at a tiny spot called Bao Down to get delicious bao, or try Eastern Food Bazaar for Chinese, Indian, and Turkish street food specialties.
The Cape Winelands of South Africa are one of the world’s most renowned spots—especially for great white wines. Hit up Cape Town Wine Co. just on the edge of the city to sip some delicious wines and get great views of Table Mountain, too.
WHAT TO DO IN CAPE TOWN DURING FREE TIME
Here are the best free-time tips for making the most of your time in Cape Town on tour:
Hit the sand at one of the Clifton Beaches. There are four to choose from, but you can’t go wrong with any—they’re some of the best beaches in South Africa.
“If you have free time, visit a local market,” says staffer Molly. Capetonians gather to shop, eat, and socialize at markets across the city—her pick is the Bay Harbour Market, which is right on the waterfront.
Explore Zeitz MOCAA and admire the museum’s sprawling collection of contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora.
Go on a wine tasting in the Cape Winelands. Nearby Paarl, Franschoek, and Stellenbosch wine routes are all accessible on a day trip—and are worth it for the incredible scenery alone.
SOUVENIRS TO BUY IN CAPE TOWN
These souvenirs are the perfect things to remember your amazing trip to Cape Town:
Grab a pick-me-up with locally harvested coffee or Rooibos tea, which comes from a plant that only grows in South Africa.
Biltong—or jerky. Pick some up from the stalls of Neighbourgoods while you’re there!
Local handicrafts. In Cape Town’s markets and shops, you’ll find everything from bead art to wood carvings and decorated ostrich eggs.