There is so much to see and do in and around Cape Town; explore the city on private tours focused on art, history, or community organizations, spend a day wine-tasting or explore the Cape Peninsula. Hike Table Mountain, take a helipoter ride over the city, dive with Sharks or explore Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. Although you could spend weeks in Cape Town taking advantage of all it has to offer, we can help you weed through all the possible activities and pick a few that are best for you and your trip. These are some of our favorites to get you started!
City Tours – Highlights and History
This morning your private guide will take you on a brief city tour of the city’s highlights before heading to the Cableway at Table Mountain for a spectacular view over the city and ocean. Those who are interested can also hike to the top. Descend and head to the V&A Waterfront then head to the Twelve Apostles for lunch and a chance to hike the 12 Apostles Mountains behind the hotel on one of the trails. Alternate historical walking tours are also available; journey back in time to glimpse what life during Cape Town’s centuries of history. Take in the scenic highlights of the historic Old City as your guide uses the bustling streets of Cape Town, old buildings and squares, people and places as props to develop a rich portrair of Dutch and British rule, slavery and apartheid, freedom and democracy. Alternately, delve into Mandela’s journey from conviction in 1964 at the Rivonia Trial, his time as a prisoner on Robben Island until his current status as a global icon of bravery and freedom.
Make the most of your stay by getting to know the highlights and local’s favorites. ©One&Only Cape Town
Township were dormitory-styled, racially divided suburbs for black South Africans during, and even before apartheid. Townships were usually built on the periphery of many towns and cities all around South Africa and were developed informally by the residents forcibly relocated. We can arrange privately guided or group day-trips to the city’s townships to gain an intimate look into life there today. To truly experience the warmth, friendliness and humanity of township residents, you have to walk its streets. Meander past local shebeens (pubs) and butcheries grilling meat on the street, sample some local delicacies and greet friendly locals as you cycle your way through formal and informal settlements, a community center and craft market and the Taxi rank. Hear the children at play, smell the sidewalk barbecues, taste locally brewed beer, learn to say “Molo” and experience what is meant by “Ubuntu.” Some options focus on history, others on African culture through street art, food, music and crafts with a local guide. Admire the colourful murals that tell powerful stories and provide a voice for the people. Or perhaps enjoy a performance from a famous Langa musician who now uses his music as a form of therapy for traumatized patients, or join in an interactive drumming session at the Guga S’Thebe Arts and Culture Centre.
Learn about the historical legacy of Apartheid through local arts. ©Kiff Kombi Tours
Uthando Community Projects Tour
Uthando South Africa is an umbrella organization for a wide range of highly effective community projects across the country. In order to showcase these and offer a glimpse into the work being done to uplift the disadvantaged in South Africa, they offer daily scheduled excursions visiting the sprawling townships around Cape Town funded through Uthando. The Uthando tours offer a unique and authentic introduction to the social problems confronting so many millions of South Africans, while also illustrating the innovative and inspirational ways in which they are being handled by these marginalized communities. This is a really interesting experience that feels very authentic, it is one of our favorite options. Psst…learn more about their work here!
Join in projects and learn about community involvement throughout the area. ©Uthando Community Projects
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Take a guided tour of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, arguably some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. Founded in 1913, Kirstenbosch lies on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and consists of landscaped gardens of indigenous plants and trees and natural forest that extend up to the lower slopes. Kirstenbosch covers 1,383 acres, 148 of which are cultivated; the remainder is a natural flora reserve. 9,000 of the estimated 20,000 species of indigenous South African flora can be found here.
Stroll the gardens to relax and learn about Cape Town’s flora. ©Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
African Cooking and Hosted Dinners
Start the day with a visit to the District 6 Museum in Cape Town. This is Cape Town’s apartheid museum. This museum represents the memories of a community on the outskirts of Cape Town where over 60,000 people were forcefully removed from the mid 1960’s to the mid 1980’s. Explore the museum and learn more about what led to apartheid and how it was implemented. Then travel to Langa township to cook at a small cookery school that provides the local residents with the skills needed to get jobs in the kitchens of the top hotels in Cape Town. Alternately, enjoy an authentic home cooked meal including many dishes typical to South Africa in a relaxed and comfortable environment, with fascinating conversation, and all prepared by your host family. Host families are located across the Cape Peninsula – from Bothasig in the north east, right across the Cape Flats and the townships, to the Southern Suburbs.
Baking fresh bread.
Cape Peninsula Tour
Take a coastal drive to the Cape of Good Hope stopping at Hout Bay and the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant, and continue to Boulders Beach. This beautiful spot on Cape Peninsula is framed by scenic white beaches that are protected by large granite boulders, and you’re likely to spot resident penguins here. You may opt to include sea-kakaying for a couple of hours of easy paddling in twin kayaks along the False Bay Coast. The safe, comfortable sit-on-top kayaks require almost no balance or skill. Or, cycle the Cape of Good Hope, traveling along the spectacular Atlantic seaboard, past Hout Bay Harbor and via the picturesque Chapman’s Peak Drive to the Noordhoek Farm Village. Then cycle along the winding road to the historical landmark of Cape Point, the most southwestern point of Africa and make your way to the Cape Point Lighthouse for incredible views. Want to add a helicopter tour? Spend one hour exploring the peninsula from the air, venturing from the waterfront to Hout Bay and Seal Island to Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay to the Cape Point Nature Reserve and Constantia before returning to Cape Town. Add a tour of Robben Island to learn about the island prison, now museum, where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years in prison.
Explore the beauty of the Cape Peninsula on full day outings. ©Tim Johnson
Explore the Winelands
Spend a full day exploring the Winelands region below the spectacular Boland Mountains, only an hour from the city. Discover the internationally acclaimed vineyards of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek on the Western Cape. A stop at the historic estate of Boschendal (pictured below) will introduce you to some of the most brilliantly preserved Cape Dutch buildings in the Cape and its collection of priceless period furniture. At Franschhoek, discover lovely antique shops and gardens, nestled in the “Valley of the Huguenots” where the French first settled in 1688. You will also explore the university town of Stellenbosch, the oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town, undoubtedly the most scenic and historically-preserved town in Southern Africa. Oak-lined streets next to water furrows compliment the many fine examples of elegant Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian architecture – all part of this unique “Town of Oaks”. All the wine estates you’ll visit in the region offer tastings and cellar tours and you’ll enjoy lunch at one of them. Return to Cape Town in the late afternoon. This trip will be done in a private vehicle but for those who are interested there are ways to explore the Winelands by bicycle or on horseback!
Indulge in the Winelands. ©Delaire Graff
Great White Shark Breaching or Cage Diving
Leave your hotel early in the morning and drive to False Bay (or Gansbai depending on season) to board your boat. After a 20-30 minute ride, spend the 1 – 1.5 hours watching natural shark predation activity and try to get the sharks to breach on the decoy seal. Breaching involves the Great White Shark launching its body clear out of the water to attack fleeing Cape Fur Seals! You will also have the opportunity to cage dive if you’re up for it! Return to the harbor in the afternoon.
Take a dip and face South Africa’s sharks head-on. ©Grootbos