19 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Cape Town

Jul 22, 2021

This iconic city is a captivating introduction to South Africa. Here you'll discover why its name means "southern point," witness the great variety of the continent's landscapes, and sip on some of the world's finest wines and tastes the South African cuisine.

Cape Town is renowned for its unique fusion of architecture, colonial forts, tropical beaches, thrilling adventure activities, and laid-back hospitality. Cape Town is also renowned for its endless list of superb museums and galleries, and abundant wildlife reserves.

This vibrant metropolis has made a great addition to our top things to see in South Africa.

Discover the best places to visit in Cape Town, as well as the best things to do.

Table Mountain

Photo of Table Mountain
Table Mountain: en.wikipedia.org

A mountain in South Africa known simply as "The Mountain", Table Mountain (Tableberg) is located at the head of the Atlantic Ocean, just north of Cape Town and surrounded by towns like Chloorkop, Groot Constantia and Woodstock. Its unique geography, which makes the formation of a natural amphitheater of five concentric mountains, and the majestic mountain views from the top make it the only natural wonder of Cape Town, South Africa. On a clear day, Table Mountain can be seen from the city, and it is a well-known (and much loved) popular landmark. The mountain offers a number of outdoor activities, as well as great hiking and biking trails, making it a favorite for weekend escapes for city dwellers.

Cape Point

Photo of Cape Town
Cape Town: en.wikipedia.org

Cape Point is the southernmost tip of South Africa's Table Mountain National Park, and the Atlantic Ocean. From Cape Point one can see as far as Robben Island on the East Coast and the peaks of the Drakensberg mountain range on the West Coast. Cape Point's climate is more temperate than that of the rest of the Cape and is often characterized by mild winds and cloud cover. The views along the east coast are particularly beautiful and memorable.

Cape of Good Hope

Photo of Cape of Good Hope
Cape of Good Hope: en.wikipedia.org

South Africa's Cape of Good Hope is a spectacular mix of continents, geology, and culture. Formerly the tip of a giant landmass known as Gondwana, it is one of the world's most accessible South African tourist destinations. Its natural attractions include a wealth of beaches along the Atlantic Ocean, including the Boulders and Cleopatra Beach. South Africa's second largest city, Cape Town, is situated at the tip of this peninsula, a city built in and for the sea. Its museums are wonderful, and if you time your visit right you may see some of the massive seals that breed in the seas around the Cape. If you head inland, don't miss the vineyards of Stellenbosch, Hermanus, and Paarl, which offer some of the finest wines in South Africa.

Boulders Beach

Photo of Boulders Beach
Boulders Beach: en.wikipedia.org

Boulders Beach is located in the seaside town of Clifton on the Garden Route of South Africa. Along the beach is one of the most impressive clusters of huge, spherical boulders. Some of the boulders are as much as seven meters in diameter and have been carved into fantastic shapes with deeply eroded markings on their surface. A great place to visit when you have a car, the coastal town of Knysna is a ten-minute drive away and is also known for its camping and caravan parks.

Robben Island

Photo of Robben Island
Robben Island: en.wikipedia.org

The small tropical island of Robben, with the famed Cape of Good Hope, can be found off the South African coast. Home to some of the last remaining wild and unexplored vegetation, the island and Cape belong to Cape Nature, the local environment agency. It is one of the most visited places in South Africa, because of the historical battles that took place on the island, like the heroic resistance of the Dutch settlers from 1806 to 1807, known as the Robben Island Revolt. The island was named after a solitary orca named Fin, whom the settlers named after the Ancient Norse god of the sea. Apart from the jail cells and the gallows, visitors can take a little boat ride to the former settlement of Fort Napier, which is an open-air museum.

Cape Point Lighthouse

Photo of Cape Point
Cape Point: en.wikipedia.org

Sinking deep into a bay at the tip of Africa is the dramatic and untamed Cape Point. One of South Africa's most beloved natural landmarks, the lighthouse on the point of Cape Point is an impressive landmark that stands in contrast to the wilds of the rugged coastline around it. Cape Point also hosts the Great white Shark Cage Diving, which involves being plunged into the sea from a speedboat and hooked to a large cage, where a live shark can then be tracked. It's an awe-inspiring experience.

Hout Bay

Photo of Hout Bay
Hout Bay: en.wikipedia.org

Hout Bay is a charming seaside town in South Africa's Cape Peninsula. Narrow winding streets pass houses and cafes above a beautiful little bay, where the Atlantic breakers crash into white-sand beaches. The charming little town is a great place to while away the day, surrounded by beautiful surroundings and great beaches. You can indulge in a relaxing spa treatment at the end of the day or enjoy a romantic dinner in a local restaurant overlooking the ocean. Best Places to Eat in Hout Bay include Casa dos Passarinhos (meals from R120), Reef Bar & Grill (R150) and Bananas Grill (R200). Favourite places to stay include the Four Seasons Beach House (from R35,000), Caprice Hout Bay (from R30,000) and Headlands Plantation (R45,000).

Clifton

Photo of Clifton, Cape Town
Clifton, Cape Town: en.wikipedia.org

The Clifton of Cape Town is a narrow strip of land stretching between the Atlantic Ocean and the eastern part of the Table Mountain. The area is known for its posh boutiques, chic restaurants, and buzzing nightlife. Shops and galleries are lined up alongside the famous Adderley Street, named after Captain Henry W.F. Adderley, who opened the first chocolate factory in the area. The Clifton Underground Passport is a pass that allows you to use a combination of modes of public transport in the area. Get yours here,

Diepkloof

Photo of Diepkloof Rock Shelter
Diepkloof Rock Shelter: en.wikipedia.org

Built as a workers' housing estate and settlement in 1912, the Diepkloof Estate is Cape Town's first high-density urban development. It is a nice place to visit and is home to an area known as Dutch Corner, where a diverse mixture of people live and work. It's one of Cape Town's top neighborhoods, with a mix of businesses, shopping and entertainment venues that draw people from all over the city. The centerpiece is the V&A Waterfront, South Africa's largest and most popular attraction, a complex of malls and exhibition space built in phases during the early years of this century and now a city-regeneration success story. Other neighborhoods worth visiting include the vibrant Bo-Kaap and the hippyish Waterkant.

Knysna

Photo of Knysna
Knysna: en.wikipedia.org

A short road runs from the charming seaside town of Knysna along the beautiful Clifton Beach. The main attraction of the town is its flower and bird-filled environs. Almost 1,000 different species of birds call Knysna home, and the town is one of the best places in South Africa to spot these beautiful creatures. The flower gardens are a great place to see local varieties of blooms that are difficult to find elsewhere in the country, while the long, white-sand beaches at the end of Clifton's main street are perfect for relaxing and walking. The town's library, with good English books, is a helpful starting point to discover the area around Knysna.

City Bowl

Photo of City Bowl
City Bowl: en.wikipedia.org

The City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa is one of the world's most beautiful and intriguing urban settings. Located at the base of Table Mountain, the City Bowl is an enchanting district of residential homes and narrow streets leading up the mountain, with spectacular views of Table Mountain, Robben Island, Hout Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Despite its name, the City Bowl in Cape Town is one of the world's major business centers. The City Bowl provides inspiration and resources for all facets of business. With five-star hotels and restaurants as well as a wealth of retail space, it provides a dramatic backdrop to all facets of the business sector. The City Bowl is located at the base of Table Mountain.

Cape Town Zoo

Photo of Devil's Peak (Cape Town)
Devil's Peak (Cape Town): en.wikipedia.org

Cape Town Zoo is the oldest and most popular zoo in the country. Located within the grounds of the University of Cape Town in the western suburbs, it covers an area of over 10 hectares and includes more than 1,200 species and just under 800 animals and birds. It is divided into three sections; a reptile house, containing snakes, lizards and tortoises; a second section, with monkeys, antelopes, and other smaller mammals; and a large aviary. Highlights include the 5-meter-tall, bronze giraffe sculpture created by Joseph Pearce and the Encounter—an interactive aquarium that lets visitors get up close and see a range of sea creatures up close. If you are coming from Cape Town, the entrance is in Green Point, 7 kilometers north of the city.

Cape Agulhas, Fish River Canyon

Photo of Cape Fold Belt
Cape Fold Belt: en.wikipedia.org

Africa's most southerly point and southernmost populated place is Cape Agulhas, which lies on the shore of Table Bay. The Cape's highest point is 150 m above sea level. Fish River Canyon lies just north of this point and is worth seeing. The canyon is best known as the origin point for the world's famous South African wine route, the Cape Winelands, which stretches from Cape Point to Stellenbosch. Other major sites include Robben Island, the prison of Nelson Mandela; the Astronomical Observatory, where the Flag of South Africa was made; and the Castle of Good Hope, which has housed the Governor-General's residence since 1806.

Simon's Town

Photo of Simon's Town
Simon's Town: en.wikipedia.org

Located in the Garden Route National Park, Simon's Town is set on a granite promontory, bordered by glorious beaches that are ideal for swimming and surfing. At the end of the day, unwind in one of the quaint guesthouses or B&Bs, and walk along the sandy Strand. There are a number of ways to get to and around Simon's Town. The best option is via the scenic Transvaal N1 route, which passes the town and takes you on a drive that takes in some of South Africa's most beautiful landscapes. If you want to visit the adjacent winelands, head to the Klein Karoo region, about an hour's drive from Simon's Town. After leaving the Garden Route National Park, the journey leads to the beautiful town of Worcester, where there is plenty to do.

False Bay

Photo of False Bay
False Bay: en.wikipedia.org

False Bay, often simply called False Bay, is one of the three major peninsulas that make up Cape Town, the capital of South Africa and Africa's most southwestern city. Situated just south of the city is Hout Bay and Table Mountain, which dominates the coast. False Bay is bordered by Ndumo to the north and Simon's Town to the south. Sights in the bay include the Twelve Apostles (at the northern end), the Bay of the Angels and the sands of Boulders Beach. It also boasts a very long and scenic beach at the mouth of the Simon's River, where the West Coast Promenade starts. There are regular shuttle buses running between the city center and the various beaches.

Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

Photo of Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Table Mountain Aerial Cableway: en.wikipedia.org

Africa's most famous landmark is Table Mountain, South Africa's "Mount Everest," which stands at the western end of the city. The cableway provides an aerial view of the granite cliff face and the surrounding valleys and lush forests of Table Bay. The cableway takes just over 10 minutes and costs approximately 10 rands (US$1) for a single trip. It departs from near the base of the cableway in Kirstenbosch and takes in views of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and surrounding scenery. Table Mountain Aerial Cableway stands at the foot of the granite table on which South Africa is based. The mountain itself, actually a shield volcano, erupts regularly, sending clouds of ash and pumice into the air, and often creating temporary closures.

Chapman's Peak Drive

Photo of Chapman's Peak
Chapman's Peak: en.wikipedia.org

On Cape Town's serene southern tip, Chapman's Peak Drive was originally a country farm route to and from the Cape. Now the sole method of crossing the Cape Peninsula from north to south, it runs along the edge of the Atlantic for some 32 kilometers, taking in some of the area's most beautiful scenery. In addition to its unspoilt vistas, it offers some of South Africa's most spectacular hiking experiences, including a 5-hour hike to the 2,203-meter summit of Table Mountain and a gentle hike to Signal Hill, offering spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Photo of Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: en.wikipedia.org

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is one of the Cape Town's most popular tourist attractions. The V&A dates from 1901 and houses Cape Town's premier museums, the South African Museum and the Western Cape History Museum. Also worth visiting are the landmark buildings like the Cape Town Station, which were designed by the city's leading architects and which house shops, cafes and restaurants. There are also restaurants with outstanding views of Table Mountain.

Oudtshoorn

Photo of Oudtshoorn
Oudtshoorn: en.wikipedia.org

Oudtshoorn is the nature lover's paradise of South Africa, with an abundance of unique and exquisite wildlife, and abundant hikes, boating, biking and adventures. Visit the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve for sightings of the local fauna including lions, elephants, leopards, jackals, giraffes, rhino, elands, impalas, kudus, zebras, wildebeest, topis and more. To get out of town, visit the stunning nature reserves of Hluhluwe or Matobo or explore one of the many farmhouses and guesthouses in the area.