10 Top Walking Tours to Take in Cape Town

Cape Town City Centre
Cape Town City Centre | © Cape Town Tourism

Freelance Writer - instagram.com/andrewthompsonsa

Cape Town is a haven for eager walkers. Epic mountain meanders aside, the city and its coastal suburbs are perfect for exploration on foot, and several companies have sprung up to help guide first-time visitors through the best routes and itineraries.

1. Taste of Cape Town Tour

Hiking Trail

Downtown Cape Town
© Darren Glanville / Flickr

There’s no denying that Cape Town is the culinary capital of South Africa, and with a range of the city’s trendiest eateries all within walking distance of each other, it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed. The Taste of Cape Town walking tour will help to fill in the gaps and expose you to some of the city’s, and the country’s, most popular foods.

2. Table Mountain Walking or Audio Tour

Hiking Trail

Top of Table Mountain at sunset
© Cape Town Tourism

The top of Table Mountain is a sight to behold, and it’s easy to stumble to the edge of the peak and gawk at the city before returning to the cableway. But there’s much more to the top than immediately meets the eye, and there are two walking tour options that will help to highlight them. Table Mountain Cableway conducts hourly free walking tours on the top of the mountain between 9am and 3pm, and there are also two free VoiceMap tours for both the top and bottom of the mountain.

3. Groot Constantia Audio Tour

Hiking Trail

Vineyards close to Stellembosch, Wester Cape in South Africa.
© Magdalena Paluchowska / Alamy Stock Photo

As one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa, there’s plenty to see on a walking tour of Groot Constantia. Rather than traipse through the peaceful grounds of the estate with dozens of other tourists, you can now plug in to an informative and well laid-out audio tour. There are several walking tour options available on the estate which walk you through both history and present day, and all are free to download from VoiceMap.

4. Historic City Tour

Hiking Trail

City Sightseeing bus in Long Street
© Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, and if you know where to look, you’ll find fascinating hints of this in surprising places. It’s easy to be blinkered by the garish and haphazard collection of contemporary buildings and at times overwhelming city streets, but a free guided historical walking tour such as those by Nielson Tours and City Sightseeing, will show you the hidden gems and historical relics that remain. Both will take you to Greenmarket Square, City Hall and the Company’s Garden, among other attractions.

5. Apartheid to Freedom Tour

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In today’s young, vibrant democracy it’s easy to forget that, historically speaking, apartheid was remarkably recent. There are museums and landmarks throughout the city that pay homage to those who fought against the oppressive regime, and you can visit these on your own steam. But if you want to tie them all together with an interesting walking tour through the Cape Town CBD, Company’s Gardens and District Six, join up for one of the two daily free walking tours offered by Nielson Tours that leave from the heart of the city.

6. Jewellery and Diamond History Tour

Hiking Trail

Though Cape Town’s mining history is less impressive than the rest of the country’s, the free Jewellery and Diamond History tour offers fascinating insight into how mineral wealth helped to shape the country. This guided tour will walk you through South Africa’s past and present, including a stop at a diamond shop, where walkers will learn more about the diamond cutting and fitting processes.

7. Bo-Kaap Tour

Hiking Trail

The colourful streets of the Bo-Kaap
© South African Tourism
Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap is a popular attraction, thanks largely to its array of colourful houses. But many superficial visits to the suburb fail to acknowledge the stories of the people who live behind the doors of these iconic homes. There are two guided walking tours, from City Sightseeing and Nielson, as well as a self-guided audio tour from Voice Map, should you wish to go it alone.

8. Tunnel Tour

Hiking Trail, Building, Museum, Historical Landmark

Castle of Good Hope
© Victor Bergmann / Flickr

Few people realise that there’s a vast network of tunnels beneath the surface of Cape Town’s city streets. This is because the first Dutch settlers built canals to funnel water towards farms and other settlements. The canals have since been paved over and deemed off-limits to all but those who embark on a certified, guided tour. Good Hope Adventures will guide you through the history of these remarkable tunnels, starting at the historic Castle of Good Hope.

9. The Elfin Trail Audio Tour

Hiking Trail

Forest
© Damien du Toit / Flickr

If you’re looking for something a bit more fantastical, the Elfin Trail audio tour offers an immersive, fantasy-themed tour through one of Cape Town’s most beautiful forests, Cecelia Forest. The GPS-triggered walking tour will take you on a gentle two-hour stroll, and features original music and carefully selected sound effects for a thrilling experience.

10. Mouille Point Promenade Audio Tour

Hiking Trail

Rhino Artwork on the Sea Point Promenade
© Cape Town Tourism

Veteran South African travel writer Justin Fox is passionate about the city’s fascinating maritime history. The beautiful coastal suburb of Mouille Point is the perfect place to examine the city’s fascinating relationship with the sea, and this gentle self-guided meander along the promenade is authentic and truly fascinating, whether it’s your first or 50th time visiting the promenade.

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