10 best things to do on a first visit to Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the most attractive and exciting cities in the world to visit. Stunning scenery, friendly locals and amazing restaurants and fun bars to hang out in. It is definitely a favourite that, once you have been, you just want to keep coming back to.

There is so much to do in and around this city, and even after multiple visits I am still finding more and more things to do. Here are the 10 things I recommend to people going on a first visit must do that are all within the city. In a future posting I will recommend things to do that are outside the main city. Here are my “must do” things for any first time visitor

Table Mountain

table mountain and cable car

This is what the city is associated with, and the iconic image of the place. There is a cable car that has the 2nd largest cabin in the world (the largest is in Palm Springs). You can also walk/ climb up it, but you need to take care as has a reputation for people being robbed on the journey up or down.

The cable car is often closed due to high winds – so do not save this trip to the end of your stay. Get up as soon as you can. Their website or following them on Twitter keeps you posted on if open.

Robben Island

Visiting Robben Island in Cape TownThis is where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held during the Apartheid Era, some for 25 years. It is a key part and symbol of the Apartheid Era, and essential to visit to understand and get a feel for the history. One emotional element is that most of the tours are hosted by people who had been held here.

In peak periods of the year it gets very busy, so again book a time as soon as you get to Cape Town. The boats leave from the V&A Waterfront. It will take a whole morning or afternoon to get there, do the tour and get back.

District Six Museum

Museums in Cape TownAgain this is a key place to visit to understand the recent past of South Africa. Many hundreds of thousands of non-whites were forcibly removed from District Six out of the city into the Cape Flats in the 1960s when this area was declared only for Whites.

This memorial and exhibition is in one of the remaining buildings, as most were flattened during the removal, in an old church. It is vibrant and fascinating.


Places to go in Cape TownThis is about 30 minutes drive round the bay to the other side of the bay which gives you stunning view of Table Mountain.

It is the classic view of the city you see on postcards and pictures. It is a tourist centre with a lot going on.

Chapman Peak Drive

Chapman Peaks DriveThis winding and dramatic road, at times cut into the mountain side, runs along the coast out of the city and to Hout Bay. It was closed for a number of years due to rock falls, and was eventually re-opened by a company that runs a toll road.

It is stunning and you bet amazing view. In the whale season people also travel along and whale watch as they enter Hout Bay itself. Hire a car or take a bus tour – but this is a beautiful and remarkable trip.

Signal Hill

Signal Hill Cape townUnlike Table Mountain, you can drive or get a bus up this hill. From the top you get stunning views across the city and then towards the more residential areas that cling to the coast.

A trip at night time is especially worth while. There is no charge and is popular for picnics in the day or night.

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Parks and Gardens in Cape TownI was never one into botanical gardens, but this is really worth a trip. It is huge, with a stunning backdrop of the back of the mountains.

During summer there are concerts and other events.

Clifton Beaches

Beaches in Cape Town - CliftonThe most famous and popular beaches in the city. There are a series of 4 beaches connected to one another and divided by rocky outcrops. This is where the beautiful people hang out to be seen, but also popular with families.

The sea of course is very cold, as is the Atlantic, but quite a few brave people do get in.

Kloof Street

Kloof Street in Cape TownLess well known and explored by tourists, this is a popular and buzzy street for the locals of Cape Town.

There are many restaurants and bars, and at night especially a great atmosphere.

Long Street

nightlife in cape town long streetThis is where the young crowd hang out and party. The street gets it’s name I assume from the fact that it is actually very long! T

owards the bottom end is where the fun bars are, and the action is at night. The street is appealing as the buildings are all the old colonial ones, and revamped and refreshed.

You can read more about these places and tips on visiting Cape Town on my blog:

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