Cape Town is a city unlike any other on the planet. You could visit numerous times and fill your entire itinerary with completely different things to do each time you come.
While it offers something for everyone, though, it can be tough to know where to get started once you arrive.
That’s why we’ve made a list of nine fun things to do in Cape Town, South Africa. Each destination and event is unique, so you should have no problem finding a few that you’ll definitely want to do while you’re here.
We encourage you to keep an open mind, because Cape Town’s charms can take you by surprise. Something you never thought you’d enjoy may be the first thing you talk about when you return home.
1. Visit the famous penguins at Boulders Beach
It’s pretty safe to say that just about everyone loves penguins. From their unique bodies to the way they waddle around, it’s almost impossible not to smile when you see one.
If you think your only chance of seeing these funny little birds in the wild would mean you have to put on 100 layers of Gore-Tex and travel to the Arctic, it’s time you learn about the penguins at Boulders Beach.
People come from all over the world to see them, specifically because they don’t have to worry about frostbite.
You have two options for Penguin visitation near Cape Town:
Both locations feature large populations. You can even get in the water and take a swim with the little guys, too.
2. Take in the View from Table Mountain
With so many fun things to do in Cape Town, it might actually be easy to forget one of the most iconic landmarks in all of South Africa: Table Mountain.
Of course, it’s also impossible to miss. The mountain stands 1,086 meters (3,563 ft) above sea level. No matter where you are in Cape Town, you’ll be able to see it.
While walking to the top of Table Mountain is definitely a lot of fun, there’s also the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Just make sure you book online. The wait can easily take as long as an hour, as it’s a very popular tourist attraction. But it’s worth the queue!
With a rotating floor, the ride will give you plenty of opportunities to take in the panoramic view and snap lots of gorgeous pictures to show friends back home.
3. Enjoy the wine of Constantia Valley
If the thought of taking a cable car thousands of feet off the ground made your palms sweat, the next spot on our list of fun things to do in Cape Town will help settle your nerves.
Constantia is one of Cape Town’s most upscale areas. While it boasts plenty of shopping and dining hotspots, it’s also gaining a reputation around the world for the wine it produces.
Make time to try the following South African wines the country has become known for:
- Chenin Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinotage (exclusive to South Africa)
South Africa’s unique terroir – the soil, topography, climate, and so on – gives these wines distinct flavors you won’t find anywhere else. For example, the South African version of Chenin Blanc is quite dry, which makes it easier to taste the yellow apple notes and the jasmine scent.
The Shiraz carries the big, bold blackberry and blueberry flavors you’d expect, but there’s also an earthiness to it that carries a taste of the Old World.
Some of the most popular vineyards here include:
These vineyards are centuries old, so even if you’re not a huge fan of wine, the area is worth visiting simply for the history lessons.
As we mentioned, if you like fine dining, you’ll love Constantia. Not only can you savor the local wines at the restaurants here, but there is also the unique Cape Dutch and Baroque architecture on display. You’ll definitely want to take lots of pictures to help illustrate the stories you tell long after your vacation is over.
4. Take in a Sunset at Camps Bay
Camps Bay is located on the western edge of Table Mountain. It offers a magnificent view of the 12 Apostles mountain range, so named for its 12 distinct peaks.
The area is also fantastic for enjoying cocktails, people watching, and taking in some sun. Many of the nearby restaurants have some very impressive menus, too. If you want a fun way to cap off a busy day, Camps Bay has everything you need.
5. Visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens: one of the best in the world
On the other side of Table Mountain, you’ll find Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.
It makes our list of fun things to do in Cape Town because many believe it is one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the entire world… and certainly in Africa.
Like most of the destinations in this area of South Africa, the entire experience of visiting Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is enhanced by the fact that Table Mountain looms in the background.
Still, you’ll spend most of the visit looking at the grounds around you. It’s home to more than 7,000 species of plants. This includes specimens from the arid region that must be grown in their custom-built greenhouse.
The 36-hectare botanical garden offers plenty of walking paths that are incredibly well-maintained and populated by a number beautiful statues. It will might take you two hours to get through all the trails, but it’s worth it.
Although Cape Town has amazing gardens throughout the city, you absolutely cannot miss this one.
6. Take in Cape Town’s aquatic views at Two Oceans Aquarium
Now that you’ve seen what nature has to offer above the surface in Cape Town, take a trip to Two Oceans Aquarium.
Located right on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, you won’t be too far away from the real thing, but this enormous aquarium collects all of the most amazing animals from the ocean and lets you get right up close and personal.
While Two Oceans Aquarium would make any list of fun things to do in Cape Town for children, there’s no reason adults can’t go alone. After all, it was entered into the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Hall of Fame back in 2015.
This is also another place you can see penguins. Other species you’ll get a good look at include:
- Blue stingray
- Evileye pufferfish
- Geometric moray eel
- Loggerhead turtle
- Common octopus
That’s not even close to a comprehensive list of all the amazing creatures you’ll see at Two Oceans Aquarium. Make sure you have your camera ready!
7. Go shopping at the Greenmarket Square
Just a short walk from the aquarium is Greenmarket Square, which is one of the oldest public squares in the entire country.
Originally, it functioned as a space to buy and sell slaves. Today, though, this cobblestone plaza is now filled with local vendors. You can purchase everything from hand-crafted figurines to painted fabrics to local homemade food.
If you want some souvenirs to go with your stories of Cape Town, do not pass up Greenmarket Square.
Even if you didn’t have a single dime to spend, we’d still include the market on our list of fun things to do in Cape Town because of the local performers. Throughout the day, people dance and play music and entertain the market’s many visitors.
Like most flea markets, you’ll stand a better chance of scoring a deal at Greenmarket Square if you enjoy haggling a bit. While most vendors here are very friendly, they also know tourists will pay top dollar, so don’t be afraid to bargain with them.
8. Feel the history around you in the Castle of Good Hope
If you weren’t already convinced of how incredibly unique this city is, our list of fun things to do in Cape Town even includes an actual castle.
The Castle of Good Hope was built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company and remains the oldest colonial building still standing in the country.
As a historic landmark, the pentagonal castle maintains a centuries-old feel to it. Cannons still even dot the premises.
For a true sense of what the castle would have been like when it was still in operation, take in a historical recreation. Every single day, you can watch the traditional unlocking of the van der Stel entrance by the castle’s ceremonial guards and the firing of its signal cannon, which is done by the South African National Defense Force.
Four statues have also been added. The Kings of the Castle of Good Hope commemorate four South African kings who fought back against colonial rule.
Oh, and if you’re still hesitant about putting the Castle of Good Hope on your itinerary, consider this: it’s supposed to be haunted.
9. Act like a local on Long Street
You can learn a lot about a new city by simply hanging out with the locals. While all of the above attractions on our list of fun things to do in Cape Town are completely worth it, we also recommend taking a leisurely stroll down historic Long Street to get a feel for daily life here.
You’ll find everything from laidback bars to cafes to bookstores to brunch spots and more. It’s a great sampling of what Cape Town has to offer travellers aside from all the famous tourist attractions.
It’s also a fantastic place to go to see a cross-section of Cape Town’s architecture from across the centuries. There is the Victorian styling of Carnival Court, for example. Take a seat on one of its wrought-iron balconies and enjoy some first-rate people-watching.
When the sun finally retires, Long Street really comes alive. The cocktails are famous along this stretch, especially because of the theatrical ways they’re often made. You’ll have no problem finding a place to eat, drink, dance, or party during an evening on Long Street.
It’s time to visit Cape Town
You’d have a hard time visiting Cape Town and not enjoying yourself. This city is bursting with a unique blend of history, wildlife, and social venues.
Still, if you want to make sure you bring plenty of stories home, make time for each of the sites on the above list of fun things to do in Cape Town.
Make it even easier to have a good time by booking self-catering accommodation in Cape Town so you’ll have a private, comfortable place to return each day after visiting these incredible sites.
Also, download our free Luxury Traveler’s Guide to Cape Town for more help planning your stay.