Cape Town, or the ‘Mother City’, which it is affectionately called, is known for its beauty. It has many feathers in its cap and recently, another was added when CNN referred to the city as one of the most beautiful in the world. We agree fully. We offer safaris through southern and East Africa, but we're based in Cape Town and we include this beautiful city that we call home in many of our trips.
The city offers both locals and visitors a smorgasbord. Mountains, beaches, nature reserves, wine and food, adrenaline-fueling activities, culture … we could go on and on. Instead, we thought we’d put together a list of our favourite things to do in and around Cape Town in a three-part series:
- In the Mother City
- Enjoying nature in and around Cape Town
- Heading out of the Mother City (right here, right now)
This’ll mean that you can plan your days in and around the city to get as much as possible out of your stay (and we've given options for keeping your budget in check).
If you’re not keen on getting yourself around, book our Cape Town City & Peninsula Tour Package and we’ll do all the hard work. You can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights. Here are our favourite places to enjoy a little further out of the Mother City.
A beautiful drive, whichever route you choose, Cape Point forms part of the Table Mountain National Park to the south-west. The sea surrounding Cape Point was the bane of the early explorers and the origin of the name ‘Cape of Storms’. These days, radar has lessened the woes of sailors that float around these rugged rocks and cliffs.
If you need to expend some energy, how about visiting Cape Point on a bike? Writer, Landia Davies joined Daytrippers and did just that. You can read her account Stunning Cape Point Cycling Tour with Daytrippers here.
The old lighthouse remains and now acts as the central monitoring point for all South African lighthouses. Take the funicular up and marvel at the views over the wild Atlantic (it’s a myth that this is where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean, but it’s a nice one!) littered with shipwrecks.
At the Two Oceans Restaurant you can sit on the broad outside deck which offers spectacular views across False Bay while you feast on seafood.
Watching the budget? Pack a picnic and enjoy it at one of the beautiful seaside picnic spots within the Cape Point reserve.
There are a number of walks through the reserve, where you can get up close and personal with the beautiful fynbos while looking out for various antelope, zebra and smaller creatures that call the area home.
After a hot walk, we’d recommend cooling off in one of the tidal pools: Bordjiesrif and Buffels Bay.
If you’d prefer for everything to be done for you, join one of our tours that include Cape Point, like the Cape Town Adventure & City Stay Package. If you’re an energetic bike rider, join our Guided Cape Town Mountain Bike Tour or Guided Cape Town Road Cycling Tour which include cycling through the winelands, Hermanus and Cape Point.
Shark Cage Diving
For this section, we advise you not to play the Jaws soundtrack in your head. Now that we’ve given you an ear worm, let’s talk about sharks. They’re one of the most beautiful and most misunderstood marine creatures and there’s no better way to find this out than to observe them in their natural habitat. At Gansbaai, you can do just that.
Feeling a little nervous of coming face-to-face with Jaws’ first cousin-once removed? Fret not. One of our writer’s, Landia Davies checked it out and came back smiling. Read her detailed account on our blog Eye-to-Eye with a Great White - Shark Cage Diving in Gansbaai. If you’re still not convinced, see Is Shark Cage Diving Safe?
If you don’t have sea legs (or your budget can’t take a full sea trip), visit the penguins at the Dyer Island Conservation Trust. Entry is free but do leave a donation, as they do incredible work saving the highly endangered penguins. There’s also a little shop where you can buy all things penguin to take home.
Feeling peckish after all the sea air? There are a number of places to eat in Gansbaai. Thyme at Rosemary’s Restaurant offers home-cooked goodness in a pretty setting and at the Blue Goose you can experience unexpected gourmet delights in this little coastal village. Watching your wallet? Head to The Fish Lady and get the freshest fish and chips takeaway in town.
If you’re wanting to sit back and relax while somebody else does all the organising, join our 1-day Great White Shark Cage Diving Day Tour, 2-day Great White Shark Dive Tour to Gansbaai or go full-on adventure with our Garden Route Adventure Tour from Cape Town, which includes bungee jumping at Bloukrans, diving with great white sharks in Gansbaai, and skydiving or sandboarding in Mossel Bay, to name a few activities.
What’s a visit to The Mother City without a trip (or two) into the Cape Winelands? Known for their spectacular beauty and incredible wines, many of the wine farms now offer even more to delight the taste buds – cheeses, olives, charcuterie and more.
Are you a fan of goats? Or cheese? Or wine? If the answer is yes to any of these three questions and especially if it’s a yes to all of them, then Fairview, near Paarl, is the place for you.
Here the goats enjoy their tower and provide milk for the delicious cheese made on the farm. They are also the inspiration behind Fairview’s delicious Goats do Roam range of wines. You can taste both the wines and the cheeses on the farm, or stock up on everything fresh at the deli (think picnic basket perfection). If you visit in September you’ll be treated to the new kids that arrive in spring. There is little to beat the cuteness of a frolicking kid.
Down the road (and around a corner or two) toward Stellenbosch you’ll come to Villiera. Here, you will find their gorgeous terrace and old oak trees under which you can taste their wines and, our favourite, do a bubbly and nougat tasting.
Yip, you read right ... A nougat and bubbly tasting. Who could ask for more? Please note that you need to pre-book the bubbly and nougat tasting.
Dating back to 1685, Muratie is a gorgeous, old wine farm in the beautiful Knorhoek Valley, north of Stellenbosch. Revel in the history, taste their wines and eat a meal in the farm kitchen, all in a spectacular setting with views across to Table Mountain shaded by trees that can tell you stories from centuries ago.
Various mountain biking trails pass through the Muratie estate. Check out Dirtopia for routes, events and bike hire. In fact, Stellenbosch and surrounds has many great mountain biking routes and a number of places that offer guided trails and wine tours by bike. Check out Ride In for all things bike, or if an electric bike suits your desires more, Vine Bikes.
Middelvlei Wine Estate is a true family-run farm. Brothers, Tinnie and Ben, took over the running of the farm from their father, Stiljan, in the 90s. He, in turn, inherited the farm from his father.
Middelvei offers a daily ‘Boerebraai’ (booking essential) – a true South African tradition – which includes braaibroedjies (cheese toasties done over the fire) and pampoenkoekies (pumpkin fritters). Pair this feast with their wines and you’re A for away.
It’s impossible to write about all the farms, there are so many great ones, but for more on the wine farms, we listed just some of our favorites and in our blog Fifteen Fabulous Cape Wine Farms.
Want us to organise everything for you and, more importantly, be the designated driver? Join our Cape Town Cultural & Winelands Package and we’ll do it all – you can sit back, sip on wine and admire the scenery.
If you want to do it by bike, we can help you with that too. Check out our Guided Cape Town Mountain Bike Tour or Guided Cape Town Road Cycling Tour which include cycling through the incredible scenery of the Winelands, Hermanus and Cape Point.
Dating back to 1679, Stellenbosch is a beautiful town and well worth spending some time in. Wander it’s oak-lined streets admiring the architecture, pop into Stellenbosch institution De Akker for a drink to see the university students in their natural habitat and visit one of the many museums, like the fascinating Toy Museum in Market Street.
There are plenty of spots to eat scattered throughout Stellenbosch and there’s something to suit every budget. If you’re looking for fine dining, Jardine Restaurant is the place. Fresh food and seating on the pavement to watch Dorp Street go by? Oppie Dorp.
Searching for the perfect steak? The Fat Butcher. Watching the budget carefully? There are loads of little hole in the wall places that run specials, Stellenbosch is not only a tourist destination but it’s a university town, so caters well for those on a budget.
If you’re lucky enough to be in Stellenbosch on a Friday night, do yourself a favour and head to Kayamandi where Amazink put on an incredible three-course South African meal and a show filled with the vibrant rhythms of Africa.
Big Five Safari
While we’re huge fans of the parks further north, like Kruger – you can read why in our blog Are there Big Five Safaris in Cape Town? – we realize that time and/or budget constraints can mean that traveling North isn’t possible. We’re happy to tell you that you can get to see many of Africa’s favorite wild animals within two to three hours of Cape Town.
Just two-and-a-half hours northeast of Cape Town, in the beautiful Klein Karoo, lies Inverdoon. Here the Big Five roam freely and you can visit on a day visit or stay overnight in a range of different accommodation options.
Aquila Private Game Reserve
A little way south of Inverdoon, and two hours by road from Cape Town is Aquila. Here, too, you can see the Big Five and enjoy a day Safari or stay over. You can even do a horseback safari to really be one with nature.
Garden Route Game Lodge
Heading in the other direction, towards the beautiful emerald garden route, is the Garden Route Game Lodge.
A pretty three-and-a-half hour drive from Cape Town, it too is home to the Big Five. There is also a reptile centre where you can get up close and personal with all sorts of snakes, tortoises and crocodiles.
For more detailed info, we’ve summarized the game parks near Cape Town in our blog Big Five Safaris Near Cape Town.
Whether your budget is big or small, Cape Town and it surrounds offer visitors pretty much anything their heart desires. Contact one of our friendly ABS travel consultants now and book your dream trip to South Africa.