Things to do in Cape Town and Cape Provinces South Africa

Things to do in Cape Town and Cape Provinces South Africa
This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information.
(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 AfricaFree 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.

 

V&A Waterfront Cape Town

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.

V&A WATERFRONT CAPE TOWN

 

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! 

PENGUINS AT BOULDERS BEACH

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. 

 

Cape Town wineries

 

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

 

Centenary walkway Kirstenbosch Gardens

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!

 

Robben Island

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!

 

Garden Route

 

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!

 

ostriches in south africa

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.

 

cage diving in south africa

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.

 

Cape Point sign in South Africa

Read  – NINE REASONS TO VISIT THANDA SAFARI KWAZULU-NATAL

 

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.

 

ADDO ELEPHANT PARK

 

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!

 

Namaqualand wild flowers

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!

 

Kimberley big hole

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! 

 

Tsitsikamma National Park

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!

 

Valley of desolation in South Africa

 

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. 

 

The Owl House

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

Where? In Cape Town there are many excellent museums including The District Six Museum, the Heart of Cape Town museum and the South African Jewish Museum.

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!

 

Bo Kaap South Africa

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • 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

20 THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN AND CAPE PROVINCES SOUTH AFRICA.jpg

20 things to do in Cape Town and surrounding Cape provinces

 

YOU MAY ENJOY THESE POSTS TOO!

 

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10 South African foods you have to try!

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10 fabulous reasons to visit South Africa

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Things to do in Cape Town South Africa - an insider guide

 

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Author: Tracy

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!

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97 Comments

  1. March 13, 2017 / 7:53 pm

    What a great list and so many more reasons for us to visit South Africa again. I am happy to say that we did most of these, but some are still on my list – I would love to travel in spring just to see those flowers in Namaqualand, and we never actually made it to Addo Elephant Park either.
    Looking forward to the part 2!

  2. Linda
    March 13, 2017 / 10:16 pm

    Brilliant Tracy!!!!! Really want to go now, so much to see. Looking forward to the next instalment ??

  3. March 15, 2017 / 9:56 am

    This is a great comprehensive list! I look forward to the next parts of it.

  4. March 15, 2017 / 5:40 pm

    Aw man, you’re making me want to visit South Africa! So why aren’t you moving back there instead of Australia!? 😉 I’d love the penguins and wine the most!

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:22 pm

      Its in the plans for a bit further in the future Alex! I want to housesit our way around – lots of slow travel!

  5. March 16, 2017 / 8:24 am

    We did lots of these andnwould love to return to do the rest! Cage diving would be a definitely no no for me though #farawayfiles

  6. March 16, 2017 / 12:07 pm

    Great list! South Africa is one place that I’d love to go, mostly for a safari tour. I’d love to see if I can see the big 5. #farawayfiles

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:16 pm

      I am sure you will love it! Seeing the big 5 is an amazing experience!

  7. March 16, 2017 / 12:50 pm

    Great list of ideas here including some I hadn’t heard of. I’d love to visit South Africa. Thanks for sharing this on #FarawayFiles

  8. March 16, 2017 / 3:01 pm

    I studied abroad in Cape Town and managed to do about half the things on the list…shamefully I did not make it to Robben Island, and the boat on our cage diving trip broke down so I didn’t see any great whites. I’d love to go back though, it’s such a beautiful country.

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:15 pm

      I love visiting CT – I could happily love there!

  9. March 16, 2017 / 3:33 pm

    South Africa is my favourite holiday I have ever been on and you included many of the wonderful things we did here. I haven’t been to Kimberley though. Love your photos thanks for reminding me of fantastic times I’m looking forward to taking my children one day.

    • March 16, 2017 / 8:14 pm

      Thanks Jo SA really is a fantastic destination!

  10. March 16, 2017 / 4:45 pm

    Wowee! I am going to pick my top three – Addo park (love elephants), Robben Island and the wineries. Cant wait to explore South Africa with these tips in hand. Thanks Tracy #FarawayFiles

  11. March 16, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    I’m going to love reading this series of posts! I haven’t been to South Africa yet so it’ll be a great taster, thank you! #FarawayFiles

  12. March 17, 2017 / 12:07 am

    So much to see and do… wow! I have travelled to South Afria a few times with my husband on business trips – he spent a few months a year there for many years and I really didn’t see as much as I would have liked. Thanks for such a comprehensive series. Annette #FarawayFiles

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:24 pm

      Thanks Annette – I would go back! Excuse to see more of the things you missed!

  13. March 17, 2017 / 1:33 am

    Whoaaaa! All those places look great! I am glad you chose the game reserves as number one (not that the list is on order) since that is where I would go first. I will like to visit the penguins and ostriches too. #FarawayFiles

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:22 pm

      Definitely highlights of any trip to SA! And the penguins are cute!

  14. March 17, 2017 / 3:47 am

    I’d love to travel to south Africa! My parents just came back from there and they had a great time! # Farawayfiles

  15. March 17, 2017 / 6:36 am

    I’ve read a couple of your blogs about South Africa and I love your passion for the country. It sounds so beautiful and I would love to visit one day and see everything you’ve talked about with my own eyes!

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:21 pm

      Thanks Annalise – I hope you do as sure you will love it!

  16. March 18, 2017 / 9:30 am

    I haven’t done all of these, but I have done quite a few. We are going back to Sth Africa later this year so I might tick off a few more.

  17. March 18, 2017 / 12:52 pm

    Wow, so many great ideas. This will be really helpful when I make it to South Africa. I want to see as many animals as possible and also do some hiking, but wow there is so much more. Looking forward to the rest of the series! Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:19 pm

      loads to do there and this is just the tip of the iceberg!

  18. March 18, 2017 / 2:04 pm

    Great list, Tracy. You’ve got some of my favourite things to do in South Africa here, including some not-so-well-known places. And thank you for featuring my photo of the Big Hole in Kimberley.

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:18 pm

      its a pleasure sara thanks for letting me use it 🙂

  19. March 18, 2017 / 3:20 pm

    What a comprehensive first part, plenty of advice and ideas here. Thanks for sharing. #feetdotravel

  20. March 18, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    The vineyards look very appealing to me right now! This is an excellent comprehensive list. I’ve just been nosing at your ‘about’ page and see you’re also in the UK (for now!) but I’m so impressed with your travel history. What an adventurous life you lead. Fantastic x

    • March 18, 2017 / 10:17 pm

      Thanks Caroline! I have been in the UK for 20 years so its a big step going on the move again but exciting!

  21. March 18, 2017 / 10:33 pm

    Such a great list! I definitely have to save this to when I go to South Africa. It is so much to do there.
    I would love to check out the Boulder’s beach penguins 😀 Thank you for sharing this awesome list 😀

  22. March 18, 2017 / 10:39 pm

    Thank you for providing such a useful resource for travelers. This post will come in very handy if I make it to South Africa which I truly hope to do!

  23. March 19, 2017 / 7:18 am

    Neat resource for when I do eventually get out to South Africa (I once said on a whim I would go there for my honeymoon, if I do one day get married; so, now, I’m sticking with it!). I would absolutely love to check out the game drives and the cage diving with sharks. Wowzers. What a comprehensive list. Plus, such a cute photo of the penguin. Thanks for sharing!

    • March 19, 2017 / 1:53 pm

      Thanks and SA would be a fab honeymoon destination!

  24. March 19, 2017 / 9:24 am

    Such an inspiring article, I really want to start planning a return trip! Thanks for linking up, see you next weekend! #wkendtravelinspiration

  25. March 19, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    Wow, you certainly have a lot of love for South Africa and it’s easy to see why – it’s such a beautiful country with so much to do – natural beauty, wildlife, long history, the list goes on! Fascinating and I look forward to reading the next part!

    • March 19, 2017 / 8:43 pm

      I did live there for 8 years and 2 in Botswana so it is close to my heart 🙂

  26. March 19, 2017 / 5:27 pm

    Three of my favorite things in ZA – Cape Town, elephants, and wine. I’m definitely saving this because there are a few things here I missed. Love that area so much and can’t wait to go back!

  27. March 19, 2017 / 10:32 pm

    Awesome list! I wish I’d gotten to go to the top of Table Mountain when I was in Cape Town but the weather wasn’t cooperating (rain, wind, fog). I loved Addo Elephant park and seeing the penguins though!

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:32 pm

      I have made it up Table Mountain twice but on the third visit didn’t and I was gutted – next time for both of us!

  28. March 20, 2017 / 3:25 am

    How fabulous! I have always wanted to go to South Africa and this has inspired me. I love the idea of doing a safari and heading up Table Mountain 🙂 The wineries are also a big draw for me! Looking forward to the next 3 chapters in your series 😉

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks Janine! I hope you go – it is a wonderful destination!

  29. March 20, 2017 / 2:19 pm

    I spent 3 weeks in SA so managed to tick off most of your choices 🙂 Unfortunately I was ill when I was due to walk up Table Mountain so didn’t get a chance to do it so this is on my list for when I return. This is a great list (which I can say whole-heartedly having spent some time in this amazing part of the world). Nothing beats a safari in my opinion but you know me, I love safari on land and in the ocean 🙂 #feetdotravel

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:31 pm

      Thanks Angie!It is a wonderful place and somewhere I can happily return to again and again!

  30. March 20, 2017 / 8:55 pm

    I spent six months in southern Africa – this post brings it all back to me! The Waterfront is a fab, relaxed place. I waitressed there fo a couple of months. I did a lot of the things on your list, and you’ve captured them spot-on. I wasn’t brave enough to meet the sharks, though!

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:29 pm

      Thanks for reading and commenting Nell! It is a lovely place and I love the Waterfront!

  31. March 20, 2017 / 10:01 pm

    Wow, what an array of great things to do. One of my long life dreams is to go on a safari in Africa. You gave me so many reasons to visit South Africa, Tracy. Thanks for joining #TheWeeklyPostcard this weekend.

  32. March 21, 2017 / 8:18 am

    What an amazing country! It’s been my life-long dream to go to a safari in Africa, but so far it didn’t happen. I’ve heard the country is a very civilized and safe country (despite the general political instability). Your picture caught the very essence of this exotic place. #TheWeeklyPostcard

  33. So much wildlife to see in South Africa – and so many ways to see it! I will pass on the shark diving, but would love to see the baby whales. And of course a safari! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • March 21, 2017 / 6:28 pm

      I would too Erin! (Skip the shark diving!)

  34. March 22, 2017 / 1:01 am

    Wow. We want to do all of these, especially hang out with penguins and drink delicious wines! We have tried some really interesting wines from South Africa, we can’t wait to visit one day to try more.

    • March 22, 2017 / 5:36 pm

      The penguins are cool and the wine is delicious! Perfect holiday!

  35. March 22, 2017 / 9:39 am

    It’s so common just to think about seeing the wildlife when you think of Africa. Thanks for sharing what a diverse area of the world this is, both in landscape and activities. Thanks for sharing on #theweeklypostcard

  36. March 22, 2017 / 3:18 pm

    What a wonderful article on many things to do in South Africa. Great links and information and so much that I am having a hard time deciding which places I would like to visit. I think a visit to the Game Reserves & Cape town is a must. Stunning photos. I will pin this for my later use. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 #feetdotravel

  37. March 22, 2017 / 9:45 pm

    This is so cool and I love the pictures. Africa has always been on my bucket list and your post has definitely made me want to go even more.

  38. March 24, 2017 / 5:34 am

    What a great list, Tracy. I am saving South Africa for when I have more holidays because there is so much to see. I would love to see the penguins and the whales – I mean, I want to see everything ☺️. Thank you for this posts, I am looking forward to reading the next ones.

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:59 pm

      Thanks Oana – make sure to plan to go for a month at least as there is so much to do!

  39. March 24, 2017 / 10:24 am

    YES! such a good list! I’d especially love to see the view from tabletop mountain!

  40. March 26, 2017 / 7:50 am

    Oh wow! We spent a month in South Africa and just loved it! We can’t wait to go back!!! #flyawayfriday 🙂

  41. March 26, 2017 / 8:09 am

    Such a comprehensive list! Bookmarked. We had a similar experience with monkeys. They are quite aggressive. They stole my father’s glasses.

    • March 26, 2017 / 7:52 pm

      Yes they are terrible aren’t they – really quite scary. I was bitten as a child too by a monkey so am very wary of them.

  42. March 26, 2017 / 8:00 pm

    Haha me neither for cage diving – I won’t even swim with fish!!!

  43. April 4, 2017 / 12:22 am

    Oh my goodness Tracy, you are the ultimate writer of travel guides! I LOVE this post! It makes me want to visit South Africa! Can’t wait for all the other posts! Thanks for joining Fly Away Friday – hope to see you again this weekend! xo

  44. April 4, 2017 / 2:21 pm

    I love this post! I want to go to SA so bad and absolutely love the picture of the penguin haha (they’re my favorite animal and I’m obsessed with them!!) I’ll defiitely have to book mark this one for whenever we make it to SA!

  45. April 25, 2017 / 5:33 pm

    Great post. I’ve been to Lesotho, jo’burg, pilansberg but I’d love to go to capetown and the garden route one day!
    #citytripping

  46. April 26, 2017 / 6:40 pm

    Oh my goodness! I love how comprehensive this list is! South Africa is up at the top of my travel wishlist!

    • April 26, 2017 / 6:58 pm

      Thank-you! There are another 20 coming soon!

  47. April 27, 2017 / 9:41 pm

    Great list! You’ve definitely made me want to visit again. I’m afraid I’ve only done the Safari part on your list at Kruger. It was amazing. Will have to get ticking the others off…the Penguins definitely appeal! Thanks for linking #citytripping

    • April 28, 2017 / 11:47 am

      Great! I really want to keep highlighting what a fantastic destination SA is! The penguins are also cute!