Cape Town offers an ideal destination for all ages, but those who are young and up for some adventure may get far more out of it. The mix of physical activities, epic views, a seemingly endless selection of bars, cafés, and restaurants, vibrant markets, and a wide selection of things to do when searching for a way to fill some down time make it a great place for young adults to be.
Long Street is Cape Town’s original party destination. It runs for several hundred metres through the heart of the CBD, and there’s a party waiting to be had for all persuasions. Kick a night on the town off with a craft brew from Beerhouse and then move down and stop in at any bar or club that looks intriguing.
For a more tranquil start to the evening, head to Clifton Beach to engage in the South African tradition of sundowners—an alcoholic beverage drunk before a setting sun. Just be cautious because drinking in public, including most beaches, is illegal. For a vibrant atmosphere, head to Clifton 4th; those looking for something more relaxed, Clifton 1st or 2nd is perfect.
This is a Cape Town rite of passage. Head to the start of Lion’s Head at least 60 minutes before first light to take in the best sunrise of your life from the summit.
Skip the cable car and get to the top of the mountain. There are dozens of incredible routes for all skill levels—but for the most-rewarding views, consider tackling the daunting but doable India Venster trail.
Spend some time in the Mother City giving back. There are dozens of remarkable non-profit organisations that can benefit from assistance be it for a week or a few months. Depending on interests and expertise, volunteers can help plant trees, rehabilitate penguins, or even teach children to read.
For twentysomethings looking for an adult beverage, Cape Town’s bars provide impressive cocktail selections. Try out some of the original creations at Orphanage, Outrage of Modesty, 12 Apostles Hotel, House of Machines, Tjing Tjing, or Asoka.
For those who prefer beer, skip the mass-produced brews and sample some local micro offerings. Cape Town has an impressive number of craft breweries, and these beers can now be purchased at bars or brewery taprooms, across the city. Ask a bartender or waiter—most are primed to up-sell something unique.
In some parts of the country, the Flat White is just another name for an expensive cappuccino. Cape Town’s best baristas are ready to school coffee fans on the difference. The crews at Truth, Rosetta, Tribe, and Origin may know their coffees, but Deluxe Coffee Works still makes one of the best—and cheapest—in the city.
Get a blast of fresh air on the famous Sea Point Promenade. With ocean views and a vast, pedestrian walkway, there are few better places to get that heart rate up. Head for the Green Point Lighthouse and either take a walk to the Sea Point pools or pick up a bike from Up Cycles and drop it off at one of their numerous locations.
Enjoy the ultimate sunset aboard one of several yachts that leave from Cape Town Harbour. They take guests out to sea and back, usually with the option of some relaxing tunes and a cocktail or two. Or take a harbour cruise with CitySightseeing for a fraction of the price.
The only thing that’s better than watching a great cult-classic movie is watching one under the stars. During summer months, Galileo Open Air Cinema screen dozens of movies from across the years in truly unique locations—botanical gardens, old quarries, rooftops, wine farms, and even an old castle.
Kirstenbosch Concerts are another incredible summer-time activity. They take place in a natural amphitheatre in the botanical gardens, and they feature some of the best local (and a handful of international) acts. Pack a picnic with a bottle of wine and prepare for an idyllic evening of live performances.
The Old Biscuit Mill on a Saturday morning looks more like a casualty ward than an organic-food market. It’s the perfect place to sample some of the city’s best market and street food, do some people watching, and get the weekend started on the right food.
Muizenberg’s uniform, gentle waves make it the perfect place to learn how to surf. Book a surf lesson at Gary’s Surf School, which has been in operation since 1989. Catch the train to the famous surf town and then learn how to hang 10. If all else fails, there’s a wide selection of restaurants, cafés, and coffee shops lining the strip.
Skip the funicular and explore some of the incredible trails and isolated beaches at Cape Point. The Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail offers spectacular views that most visitors overlook. The beaches, located on the western region of the park, are some of the longest and most unspoilt in all of the Cape.
Let’s be honest—most people start off a trip to First Thursdays with good intentions. Almost all just end up enjoying the atmosphere on the city’s streets. On the First Thursday of every month, galleries, shops, restaurants, and bars stay open late and a whole new atmosphere descends on the Cape Town CBD.
Head to a vineyard and taste some of the Cape’s finest wines. Most wine estates provide tastings for a marginal and offer generous pours. It’s the best way to get acquainted with some of the region’s more exclusive—and often unattainable—vintages.
Provide some context with insight into South Africa’s political past. Robben Island, Bo-Kaap, District 6, and the Slave Lodge Museums all offer important perspectives on the city and country.
Take to Cape Town’s waters in a kayak for a whole new view of the Mother City. Go on a guided tour from either Mouille Point or False Bay, both of which offer the chance to get close to some of the city’s marine life.
During summer, Silvermine becomes a hive of activity. The dam is perfect for cooling off, and visitors can braai (barbecue during winter only), picnic, relax on the banks, or take a hike through the nearby fynbos for dramatic views. There are also rock-climbing routes in the vicinity for the more daring.