Top 10 things to do in Cape Town
Lock-down around the world has made us all eager to get out and about and return to familiar places. Local travel is now a reality and while it is unlikely that international travel will happen just yet, returning to our old stomping grounds is keenly anticipated. The new travel mantra that is being bandied about is 'Become a tourist in your own country', and we are embracing it vigorously.
Being creatures of habit we tend to return to our old haunts and take for granted sights that tourists rave about. Remember that the average resident of Paris has not been close up and personal with the Eiffel Tower while tourists queue for hours in rain and sunshine to visit this iconic edifice.
For your next trip to Cape Town I suggest you drop the shopping and entertainment at the Waterfront and the beaches of Clifton for a few hours of sheer pleasure rediscovering our heritage in this great city. From fun things to do, to activities to experience with kids, here are some suggested places to visit in Cape Town.
Just on the edge of the Mother City the Bo-Kaap is a splendidly restored quarter with houses painted in vibrant colours like a living kaleidoscope. The residents of these Cape Georgian houses are primarily Cape Malay and fiercely proud of their suburb. This is a photographers dream and the locals are friendly and welcoming. A walk around the Bo-Kaap is a great free activity to do in Cape Town.
A top Cape Town attraction! The cable car is the easy and sensible way to get to the top of this world famous mountain but you might consider taking one of the well signposted hiking trails which do not require any special equipment. Then have a late breakfast at the restaurant and take the ride down. You not only get great views of the city but a full workout too.
Signal Hill is much easier to each than our famous flat topped mountain but also has panoramic views of the city and the Atlantic Seaboard. Park the car and take one of the walking trails or better still take a tandem ride with a professional hang glider operator for a breathtaking swoop over the suburbs and land safely in Clifton. A loud boom at 12.00 noon is not a bomb but the traditional and accurate noon day gun.
The Company Gardens
First laid out in the 1650's the historic gardens are an oasis in the centre of the city. Walk up the main boulevard and you will pass by the imposing St Georges Cathedral, the Slave Lodge, the Holocaust Centre, Parliament, the SA National Gallery with its ever changing exhibits, a secluded rose and herb gardens and the imposing Delville Wood Memorial and a garden cafe. All of this is another great example of free activities in Cape Town, where you can spend time in any of these museums or just relax under this centuries old arbour of ancient trees and watch the birds and squirrels going about their daily tasks.
Built between 1666 and 1679 the Cape Castle is the oldest standing structure in the country. The sturdy structure was designed as a defense on the then coast - now moved further away by reclamation. Today the castle is a museum with an interesting photographic history.
The Zeitz Museum or MOCCA (Musem of Contemporary African Art) is a must-visit not just for the spectacular African art but also for the amazing venue which is an architectural masterpiece in a reconstituted grain silo on the docks. The views of the harbour and the city from the viewing deck are breathtaking.
The Old Biscuit Mill is a development set in the old Pyotts factory dating back to 1900. Today the mill is bristling with craft and food markets, galleries, boutiques and restaurants. The charm lies in the architecture of old Woodstock which has been lovingly restored.
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden sits on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. This important garden is home to superb landscapes and the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, nicknamed the Boomslang , gives you an almost bird's eye view of the gardens. Take a picnic and spread out in the shade of an ancient tree. There are special events throughout the year and the summer concerts are sold out in minutes so check their website in advance. Visiting Kirstenbosch is also great to do with kids!
This heritage wine estate dates back to 1685 and is the birthplace of the country's wine industry. Wines produced here have graced the tables of the wine aristocracy around the world - not least King Louis Philippe of France. Tour the meticulously preserved Cape Dutch buildings and wine cellars in the fertile Constantia Valley and then enjoy a traditional lunch with a delightful and cheeky glass of wine under the ancient oak trees.
Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression set in an impressive new building with Table Mountain National Park as a backdrop. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town it combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature. The voluminous galleries and sculpture garden blend into a superb wetland overlooked by a terrace cafe. The exhibitions are rotated frequently.
If you’re looking for more Cape Town attractions or things to do with kids in the Mother City, discover more about Cape Town and the fantastic holidays on offer.