Some of the best Cape Town tours involve penguins. These comical birds aren’t something you expect to encounter in Africa, but there are several thriving colonies right here on the Cape Peninsula.
The most popular area to see them is Boulders Beach where they waddle along the sand and take dips in the turquoise ocean.
Often combined with a road trip down to the Cape of Good Hope, penguin viewing is a must for nature lovers. Other stops on this popular excursion from Cape Town include Robben Island, Table Mountain and Hout Bay for the ultimate day out.
If you only do one thing in Cape Town, make sure it’s Table Mountain. This majestic rocky plateau has kept watch over the city for centuries and boasts some of the most jaw-dropping viewpoints in South Africa.
The famous peak is a popular feature on many Cape Town tours, and there are several ways to experience it.
Most people ride the Table Mountain revolving cable car up to the top, for panoramic vistas and a leg stretch along the trails. Feeling more energetic? Then hiking excursions, zip lining and even paragliding are all on the cards.
Cape Town is an enchanting city to explore on foot, but it’s even better when experienced from the water. Boat cruises, sailing charters and sunset catamaran rides all give you a different perspective of the rugged coastline.
Start at the V&A Waterfront for a spin around the harbor, where you’ll enjoy views of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Devil’s Peak.
Further down the peninsula, you can sail past Chapman’s Peak and Hout Bay – keep that camera poised for photos! For something extra romantic, head out in the evening for Champagne and sunsets, Cape Town style.
Many Cape Town tours take in Robben Island, which sits just off the city’s coastline. It’s here where Nelson Mandela was famously incarcerated in the political prison for 18 years.
This tiny island has subsequently become an important destination for those who want to learn about the Apartheid regime and the history of South Africa.
You’ll take the ferry across to Robben Island, where a guided tour of the prison awaits. It’s a moving experience, especially as it’s often conducted by a former inmate.
Keep an eye out for the cell where Mandela was held for all those years.
Pull on your boots and hit one of Cape Town’s most iconic trails on a scenic hiking tour up Lion’s Head.
Getting to the top requires a bit of effort, but you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views over the city and surrounding beaches. There’s an easier path to take if you don’t fancy the epic “staples and chains” route.
The best time to go is at sunrise or sunset when the golden glow adds a little extra magic. The trail is circular, so every step offers a new experience and a different vista. You’ll be accompanied by a local guide, so you’ll be in safe hands.
Seals are often spotted around Cape Town’s coast, and intrepid explorers can enjoy close encounters with these friendly creatures on a snorkeling trip. No experience is needed for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
The calm waters of Hout Bay offer the perfect environment for sea snorkeling and interacting with the seals.
If you’re looking for a bit more of an adrenaline rush, shark diving tours are all the rage. You’ll come face-to-face with great whites while scuba diving from the safety of a submerged cage.
Meanwhile, kayaking excursions are a little more serene, with dolphins, whales and seals often sighted.
For a change of pace, head to the Cape Winelands and get stuck into some serious tasting. Here, you’ll soak up the countryside scenery while enjoying glasses of local wine.
Wine tours and tastings from Cape Town take in the region’s top wineries, stopping in places like Paarl and Stellenbosch. Meanwhile, in Franschhoek, you can hop on the Wine Tram and trundle around the estates in style.
Over on the other side of town, at the foot of Table Mountain, Groot Constantia is a particular hit. It’s the oldest wine estate in South Africa! These Cape Town tours are sometimes coupled with a visit to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
Just offshore from Cape Town is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. The best way to see this unusual merging of the waters is on a scenic helicopter tour.
Flights usually start at the V&A Waterfront, putting you right in the heart of the action from the start.
Sky-going explorers will be treated to a bird’s-eye view of Cape Town’s natural landmarks. Table Mountain, Camps Bay and Clifton Beach will seem much smaller from up here!
Finally, you’ll soar past the peaks of the Twelve Apostles, which stand like sentinels keeping guard over the peninsula.
Townships are informal and often impoverished settlements that have sprung up around cities across South Africa. They first appeared during the Apartheid era and are still very much in existence today.
Guided Cape Town tours around the townships will show you a different side of the city while supporting local communities and businesses.
Langa Township is the oldest in the city, and a visit here reveals the reality of life for many South Africans. Meanwhile, over at the District Six Museum, you’ll learn how this area played a pivotal role in township segregation.
No trip to South Africa is complete without some wildlife action. Luckily, there are multi-day trips from Cape Town that visit local reserves so animal antics are within easy reach.
The most popular destination is Addo Elephant National Park. It’s the perfect place for first-time safari goers to experience a slice of the wild – with lots of elephants posing for the camera.
To get there, you’ll pass through the Garden Route National Park, where ancient forests and rugged coastlines await.
Want to tick off the “Big Five”? Then Aquila Reserve is just two hours from Cape Town and comes with everything from lions to leopards.
Cape Town sits on South Africa’s southwest coast, with Table Mountain on one side, and the ocean on the other. This vibrant city is the jumping-off point for many adventures, from wild safari action to a gentle drive along the Garden Route.
There’s a deep and often dark history running through the city’s veins, with townships and the echoes of Apartheid still in evidence. It’s important to learn a little about Cape Town’s past to understand its present.
Today, this is a welcoming and accessible city with world-class hotels, restaurants and bars that impress all who visit.
First-time visitors love staying in the upmarket V&A Waterfront area. It’s centrally located, with major landmarks and eateries on the doorstep. If you want to visit the beach every day, then Camps Bay makes a good base.
Taking guided Cape Town tours is the best way to explore, from both safety and informational perspectives. If you’re around for a few days, buying a City Pass can save money on transport and attractions. Hop-on hop-off bus trips are also highly recommended.
The weather can change rapidly in Cape Town. Table Mountain is often enshrouded in clouds, so visit on your first good weather day to avoid disappointment.
Table Mountain and Robben Island should be at the top of your tick list, followed closely by a scenic boat cruise along the Cape Peninsula. Then it’s time to delve deeper into the city’s culture with walking tours and cooking classes in the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood.
Looking for free things to do in Cape Town? Take a stroll around the V&A Waterfront, listen to live music at the Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay or walk barefoot on the beaches. Free walking tours in Cape Town are also available – you just tip the guide at the end.