Things to do in Cape Town for first timers…

Cape Town is an incredible place.  Hike up Table Mountain and feel on top of the world, get up close to penguins on Boulders Beach and visit a winery with an incredible backdrop in Stellenbosch.  There is a huge list of things to do in this beautiful part of the world.  If you are planning your first visit to Cape Town read on for some not to be missed activities and adventures.


Boulders Beach
Head to Simon’s Town, around one hours drive south of Cape Town to see a colony of African penguins on the shoreline at Boulders Beach.  Around 2,200 penguins live in this protected area.  Foxy Beach has viewing platforms and walkways to spot these wonderful endangered birds in their natural habitat.  It costs R75 (around £4.50/$6) to explore the boardwalk area.  The beach can be accessed further along and I believe you can explore amongst the giant boulders.  Be sure to check the tide times if exploring by yourself.  Also check the opening hours for the boardwalk area as they differ depending on the time of year.


Cape Point
Combine a visit to Boulders Beach with Cape Point.  Around two hours drive from Cape Town and 30 minutes from Simon’s Town this magnificent nature reserve has 40 kilometres of rugged coastline to discover.  Watch out for baboons, they can often be spotted on the drive towards Cape Point and on the shoreline at low tide.  You need a good amount of time to see all that the Cape of Good Hope has to offer.  Jump on the Flying Dutchman funicular up to the lighthouse, the three-minute ride stops at the base.  Once you have climbed the last few steps up, you will be rewarded with incredible views of the dramatic coastline.  This is the perfect spot during whale watching season to see southern right whales out in False Bay.  Their annual migration takes place from June to November.  If you have time, take a walk on the Shipwreck Trail along the beach.  Entry to the park is R147 per adult (£9/$12) and the Flying Dutchman costs R70 (£4/$6) for a return ticket.  Alternatively take the 15 minute hike up to the lighthouse.  Take layers on a trip to Cape Point, even on a warm day there can be a chilly wind up on the point.  Head to Cape Point for more information.
If you hire a taxi ask to use the toll road, it’s not very expensive and the views along this winding coastal route are amazing.  From the mighty and rugged outline of the Twelve Apostles to the majestic white sands and turquoise hues of Noordhoek Beach, it is one very scenic drive you don’t want to miss.


Table Mountain
Table Mountain can be seen from pretty much anywhere in Cape Town.  You can’t visit the city and not explore this famous landmark.  Hike up to the peak in around two hours or take a ride in the cable car.  The cable car rotates as it transports you to the top so you get a fantastic panoramic view.  An adult return ticket costs R293 (£17/$23) for a morning visit and R277 (£16/$22) for an afternoon visit.  Afternoons seem to be quieter than the mornings, plan to go up later in the day to avoid long queues.  Keep an eye on the weather forecast too, a clear day is good to experience the best views.  It’s worth noting that the cable car shuts in strong winds so be ready for the possibility of walking if this happens.  Once at the summit stop and admire the incredible scenery.  Lions Head, Signal Hill, Robben Island, Table Bay and Devil’s Peak can all be seen from this awesome vantage point.  I loved every minute of my stroll up in the sky; at Cape Point I felt like I was on the edge of the world and on Table Mountain I felt like I was on top of it!  There are free guided tours every hour from 9am to 3pm.  Stop at the café/restaurant to grab a bite to eat or have a glass of wine while taking in those breathtaking views.  Buy tickets at the cable station, online or on the city sightseeing tour bus.


Camps Bay
Camps Bay is a super stylish spot for lunch by the ocean.  Flanked by the spectacular twelve apostles mountain range this gorgeous area is well-known for its trendy bars and restaurants. Visit the Cod Father for the freshest seafood, The Bungalow for cocktails at sunset, Zenzero for Italian cuisine with a twist and Sunset Sessions for a laid back burger and beer.  The beaches here are hugely popular, white sands, crystal clear waters and a whole lot of sunshine.


Stellenbosch vineyards
You can’t go to South Africa and not sample the wine.  Stellenbosch is a picture perfect area around 45 minutes drive from Cape Town.  A lush, green landscape, dramatic mountains and a huge collection of vineyards dotted amongst this rural retreat make for a wonderful day out.  The university town has a lovely tree-lined street full of cafés, bars and art galleries and worth exploring if you get the chance.  There are hundreds of wineries and vineyards dotted around Stellenbosch making it hard to pick just one.  Hire a taxi for the day to really make the most of it.  Many of the vineyards offer wine tasting packages at really reasonable prices.  On a day trip here I visited Delaire Graff Estate and sampled three of their wines with the most amazing back drop.  Waterford Estate for a wine tasting paired with chocolate, literally the best thing ever and Dornier for a late lunch.  It was such a fun day, plus a great way to explore a beautiful area.


I’ve given steak its own heading here as if you eat meat then you need to sample South Africa’s steak.  Mouth watering and a lot cheaper on the menu than in the UK makes it a Cape Town must do.  There are so many gorgeous restaurants in this part of the world to choose from too.  If you find yourself in Sea Point near Bantry Bay NV-80 is the place to go for steak.  It is in a small shopping complex, so doesn’t look much from the outside; but trust, go in!  Two other places to get your steak fix are Belthazar on the V&A Waterfront and Hassar Grill in Camps Bay.


Getting around
Cape Town is so easy to get around, hire a car, use Uber or jump on one of the red city sightseeing buses.  The buses run all day and do a huge loop of the city, hop on and off where you like.  Stops on the city tour include Camps Bay, the V&A Waterfront and the Table Mountain Cable Station.  Other tours worth checking out are the wine tours and the full day tour to Boulders Beach and Cape Point.  It’s such a great option, really reasonable and you get to learn about Cape Town with a running commentary; plug-in your free headphones and relax.  For a more personal experience Dennis from Funtastique Shuttles and Tours is a brilliant driver and guide for a day out.


Cape Town is an incredible place and perfect for adventures, it completely blew me away.  From the landscape, to the food and the friendly people, South Africa is now firmly on my list of favourite countries.  I only had two days of exploring so I still have a huge list of things I need to see, do and restaurants I need to eat in!  I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below on more amazing things I need to do in this gorgeous part of the world…

1 Comment

  1. […] In March I went to Cape Town for the first time. I had an awesome time there and with only 48 hours I crammed in as much sightseeing as I could. On the first day I explored Cape Point and took in the dramatic views of the coastline from the lighthouse, followed by a trip to Boulders Beach to meet the penguins. I had read so much about Boulders Beach so it was amazing to finally visit it in person. There are around 2,200 African penguins living on the protected beach, it’s such a picturesque place and to see penguins on the beach felt like such a novelty. Lunch at Camps Bay, steak for dinner, a tour of the vineyards in Stellenbosch and taking the cable car to the top of Table Mountain made this one of my most favourite trips of the year and has put Cape Town at the top of my list of my most loved places. For more on Cape Town head here: Things to do in Cape Town for first timers… […]


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