(This post about things to do in Cape Town and Cape Provinces was updated in April 2019)
There are a total of 9 provinces in South Africa – Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape, North West Cape, Eastern Cape and Western Cape.If you are planning your itinerary for South Africa I would suggest considering what each province has to offer. Once you have identified which places or experiences you want to include you can create your itinerary.
This post focuses on some of the best things to do in Cape Town and Cape Provinces.
1. STAND AT THE TOP OF TABLE MOUNTAIN
Where – Cape Town
Why? Because the views are fantastic! And who doesn’t want to stand on top of that beautiful mountain. If you are planning to travel overland to Cape Town from Kruger Park check out this great 2 week itinerary for planning the drive!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Check the weather as the tablecloth (cloud) can appear, cover the mountain and ruin any views.
2. TAKE A STROLL ALONG THE V&A WATERFRONT
Where? Cape Town
Why? For great shopping, great restaurants and great views of Table Mountain.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Stay near the V&A Waterfront and enjoy the many restaurants (with great views) in the area.
3. VISIT THE PENGUINS AT BOULDER’S BEACH
Where – Simon’s Town near Cape Town
Why? Because who doesn’t love penguins!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Go early to get parking!
4. TRY SOME GREAT SOUTH AFRICAN WINES
Where – There are some outstanding vineyards to visit in the Cape – head out from Cape Town t0 Franschhoek and Stellenbosch the most well known of the wine growing areas in SA and home to many fabulous vineyards!
Why? If you like wine then some of the best in the world comes from the Cape. And its cheap.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP– Book a stay at a vineyard. There are also some excellent tours available too.
To find out more about wines around the world including in the Cape check out the wine travel guides on Carpe Travel.
5. VISIT KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS
Where – Kirstenbosch a beautiful botanical garden is found against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.
Why? It is probably set on the most beautiful setting of any botanical garden in the world!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Take a stroll on the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway.
6. VISIT ROBBEN ISLAND
Where – Robben Island is a small island in Table Bay about 12 km off the coast from Cape Town.
Why? One name – Nelson Mandela. He was held on the island for 18 of the 27 years he was imprisoned. The island is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Book your tickets in advance – I have missed out twice through not booking ahead of our arrival in Cape Town!
7. DRIVE THE GARDEN ROUTE
Where – A 200 km drive from Mossel Bay in the west to Plettenberg Bay and the Tstisikamma Forest in the east.
Why – One of the world’s most beautiful drives with beautiful coastlines and scenery. Pass through towns such as George, Wilderness and Knysna on your way. Why not explore the Garden Route in a motor home– what a fantastic way to experience this beautiful drive!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Plan at least 5 days to drive the route and add lots of activities into your itinerary as there is a lot to do on the way! Book hotels/B&B’s along the route click here for suggestions!
8. SEE LOTS OF OSTRICHES AT OUTSHOORN
Where? – Outshoorn which is on Route 62 an alternative drive deviating from the Garden Route which takes you through the Klein Karoo. (It runs from Cape Town to Outshoorn and is another great driving option)
Why? – it is the ostrich capital of the world!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Don’t just visit the ostrich farms also head for Cango Caves an underground wonderland of limestone formations in all sorts of beautiful colours – be sure to book in advance as they are a popular attraction. If caves are natural wonders you enjoy visiting on holiday this guide to caves in South Africa and the world is an essential read!
9. GO CAGE DIVING AND COME FACE TO FACE WITH A GREAT WHITE SHARK
Where? Off Cape Town
Why? Because you probably are fearless.. or this is on your bucket list!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – there are lots of companies who offer the chance to go cage diving with Great White Sharks. I would research options thoroughly before committing.
10. Stand at the most south-western tip of the continent of Africa!
Where? – Cape Point is at the tip of the Cape Peninsula which is 60 kms south of Cape Town and part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Cape Floral Region.
Why? Bragging rights! What a great photograph too! (If you want a photograph at the most southern point of the African Continent head to Port Agulhas!)
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Be extremely careful of the baboons – they will take food from you and can be very aggressive.
11. GO WHALE WATCHING IN HERMANUS
Where? – Hermanus is situated on South Coast of the Western Cape. (90mins from Cape Town) and is famous for its incredible
Why? – For viewings of Southern Right Whales this is the place to be from late Sept to early October when the whales arrive to give birth. The whale season runs from June to late November.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – check to ensure whales are around when you plan to visit as the season can vary slightly.
12. Visit Addo Park
Where? The third largest game park in South Africa Addo is situated 72km from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.
Why? If you want to see elephants!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – There are also lots of outdoor activities available such as hiking and horse riding in the Addo area.
13. SEE THE WILD FLOWERS IN NAMAQUALAND
Where? head to the Northern Cape (see Springbok on the map) for the Namaqualand flower route during the months of August and September
Why? To see stunning spring flower displays.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Stop off at the tourist informations on the way as they will know where the best displays of wild flowers are!
14. PEER INTO THE BIG HOLE IN KIMBERLEY
Where? Kimberley (the diamond city) is the capital of the Northern Cape province.
Why? Because it is a seriously massive hole! It was the centre of diamond mining during the diamond rush in South Africa in the 1870’s.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – It gets very hot in this region in the summer (December/January) so try to visit at other times. To get around use the trams which are the only city in SA with a tram system!
15. VISIT TSITSIKAMMA NATIONAL PARK
Where? The Tsitsikamma National Park incorporates 80km of coastline and is on the Garden Route Trail between George and Port Elizabeth.
Why? If you are a fan of outdoor activites then spending time at Tsitsikamma National Park is a must. There are a multitude of activities including hiking trails, bungee jumping, swimming and also the famous Storms River Suspension Bridge which spans 77 metres across the Storms River mouth and is a very popular attraction in the park.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – There are lots of great activities to do in the area so make sure you are kitted out before setting off!
16. VISIT THE VALLEY OF DESOLATION IN GRAAFF-REINET
Where? In the Camdeboo National Park near the oldest town in the Karoo Graaff-Reinet the site is a 14 km drive from the town.
Why? One of the greatest natural wonders in the world – see the unique landscape, ecosystem and scenic beauty of the Great Karoo.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – Make sure you fill up with fuel and supplies in Graaf Reinet before you go!
17. VISIT THE OWL HOUSE
Where? In the small village of Nieu Bethesda just past the Karoo town of Graaff-Reinet. (see number 15!)
Why? The Owl House is a museum of the work that was created by Helen Martins between 1945 and 1976. It is a work of outsider art – read what that is HERE! She created hundreds of sculptures using concrete, crushed glass, mirrors and wire amongst other materials.
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – For some background before you visit! Athol Fugard wrote a play about Helen Martin’s life called The Road to Mecca. It was made into a film of the same name.
18. CRUISE THE CRAGS
Where? On the Garden Route beside Plettenberg Bay.
Why? There are loads of activities to do! This includes Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani, Lawnwood Snake Sanctuary, Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre, The Elephant Sanctuary, Hog Hollow Horse Trails, Plettenberg Bay Game Reserve to name a few!
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – give yourself time as there are lots of things to see and do!
19.VISIT SOME OF THE MANY MUSEUMS IN CAPE TOWN
Why? Learn more about the history and peoples of Cape Town
TRACY’S TRAVEL TIP – If museums are not your thing or you have kids then a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium may suit you better!
20. STOP OFF AT RONNIE’S SEX SHOP
Where? Where Route 62, outside Barrydale
Why? No it isn’t actually a sec shop! Ronnie’s friends played a prank on him years ago and added the “sex” part! Stop off for an ice cold beer or bite to eat! Ronnie’s is legendary on Route 62 and a must-visit!
PETRO’S TRAVEL TIP – Check out the impressive collection of bras and undies hanging over the bar that have been signed and donated by many of Ronnie’s female visitors over the years! You can also add to the collection.
FURTHER INFORMATION FOR VISITING SOUTH AFRICA
I have a number of posts about South Africa which you may find interesting and which will help with planning your trip. I lived in South Africa for a number of years and it is a country I highly recommend visiting.
- An insider guide to Cape Town
- Essential tips for your South African safari
- What to expect from a safari in Botswana
- Top travel bloggers choose their favourite African destinations in the post from Cape Town to Cairo
PIN FOR LATER! THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN AND CAPE PROVINCES
YOU MAY ENJOY THESE POSTS TOO!
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Tracy has lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to over 50 more. A qualified school teacher with an interest in history, reading, photography, nature and wildlife she is always planning her next trip (preferably by train)
With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, she is also able to share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help you travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!