Unmissable Attractions in Cape Town, South Africa

Table Mountain is a beautiful, natural landmark in Cape Town
Table Mountain is a beautiful, natural landmark in Cape Town | © ITPhoto / Alamy Stock Photo
Lee-Shay Collison

Cape Town is a cosmopolitan city with many breathtaking sights, diverse cultures and history. Here’s Culture Trip’s guide to the top 19 unmissable attractions in one of South Africa’s most visited cities.

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

Named after England’s Queen Victoria and her son, Prince Alfred, the V&A Waterfront is centred around the country’s oldest working harbour. This vibrant precinct is home to a shopping centre, a food and craft market, an aquarium, hotels and many other attractions.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain is one of Cape Town’s most famous landmarks and forms part of a national park of the same name. It has many popular hiking trails and a cableway that will take you to the summit.

Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head and Signal Hill provide a dramatic backdrop to the city, along with Table Mountain. Every year, thousands of residents and tourists climb this unusually shaped peak.

Zeitz MOCAA

The Zeitz MOCAA is the world’s largest museum of African contemporary art. Found inside a revamped grain silo on the V&A Waterfront, it opened its doors in September 2017. After visiting, you can enjoy some food at the on-site restaurant, followed by a sundowner or two at one of the three restaurant-bars in the luxurious Silo Hotel.

Robben Island

This small island in the middle of Table Bay has a long and torturous past but is best known as the place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of his 27-year prison sentence during apartheid.

Cape Point Nature Reserve

Cape Point Nature Reserve lies at the extreme southwestern tip of Africa, within the Table Mountain National Park. Be swept away by dramatic cliffs, awe-inspiring views and hectares of land rich in indigenous flora and fauna.

Sea Point Promenade

This scenic seaside promenade meanders along the beachfront on the Atlantic Seaboard. It’s a wonderful place to get in some exercise, people-watch or simply enjoy the sea views.

Beaches

From Clifton to Muizenberg, Cape Town has many pristine beaches that are perfect for sunbathing and participating in water sports.

Cape Winelands

Take a day trip to the lush Cape Winelands, where award-winning wines and cuisine complement country life.

Neighbourgoods Market

This lively Saturday market, held at the Old Biscuit Mill, is the go-to place for fresh produce, artisanal food and live music. You can also shop for local fashion, jewellery and designer goods.

Camps Bay

Camps Bay is famed for its beachfront restaurant strip, picturesque beach and incredible sunsets. If you want to unwind with a cocktail in hand while watching the world go by, then this Cape Town suburb is the place to go.

Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is a historic fort built by Dutch settlers in the 17th century. Today, the star-shaped structure houses an array of military artefacts spanning from the 1600s to the 1800s, as well as colonial art, furniture and ceramics.

The Company’s Garden

The Company’s Garden is a beautiful oasis in the centre of Cape Town, with lots of interesting features and attractions, such as the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa. It dates back to the 1600s when European settlers grew vegetables to feed the colony and replenish passing ships. The garden also has an on-site restaurant serving traditional South African dishes.

Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium

The South African Museum, founded in 1825, is the oldest such institution in the country. Here, you’ll find dinosaur fossils, dioramas and temporary exhibitions. In 2017, the Iziko Planetarium was upgraded with cutting-edge technology to virtually transport viewers to outer space.

African penguin colony

Visit Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town to see adorable African penguins. Boardwalks lead to Foxy Beach – where the penguins love to hang out – while beachgoers prefer to swim in the section sheltered by huge boulders.

Rhodes Memorial

Rhodes Memorial was built in 1912 in honour of Cecil John Rhodes, who was prime minister of the Cape of Good Hope in the late-19th century. The Greek-style monument stands on the slopes of Devil’s Peak and offers sweeping views of the city.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, founded in 1913 to preserve the Cape’s unique flora, lies on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. It’s a lovely place for a leisurely walk, a picnic in the gardens or lunch at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room.

St George’s Cathedral

St George’s Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in southern Africa, founded in 1901 but replacing an older church built in 1834. It’s known as the People’s Church for its stance against the apartheid regime.

Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive is among the world’s most scenic coastal drives. The winding mountain road lies on the western side of the Cape Peninsula and has many vantage points and picnic spots offering magnificent views of Hout Bay. It’s also a much-loved cycling route and forms part of the famous Cape Town Cycle Tour.

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