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The 7 Biggest Attractions in Cape Town

South Africa isn’t only famous for The Big Five. In Cape Town we have our very own Big Seven! The Table Mountain Cableway, City Walk, V&A Waterfront, Robben Island Museum, Kirstenbosch, Groot Constantia and of course Cape Point are the iconic destinations at the heart of any true Cape Town experience. They capture the picturesque beauty, fascinating history and elating activities that have come to define this beautiful part of South Africa. No trip to the city will not be complete without a visit to each of the Big Seven.

Cable car on Table Mountain in Cape Town
Table Mountain Cable Way

Table Mountain Cableway

The amazing 360° views from the top of this 3563 ft mountain plateau, spanning the city, ocean, Robben Island and national park, is undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest wonders and now also holds the title as one of the ‘New7Wonders of Nature’. One of the world’s most popular attractions offers a cable car which will take you to the top in just 5 minutes or you can spend several hours taking one of the scenic hiking trails.

Things to do:

  • Take a leisurely walk along one of three signposted pathways to take in views from around the city, including the Atlantic Seaboard, the Cape Town City Bowl, Robben Island, the V&A Waterfront and the impressive Cape Town Stadium.
  • Look out for the vast array of fauna and flora at the top – from the thousands of indigenous plant species to snakes, mongooses, lizards, numerous birds, and the ever-popular rock hyrax, or dassie.
  • Download the free audio tour and explore the mountain at your own pace with running commentary.
  • Take the energetic approach – hike to the top via Platteklip Gorge, and sail down in style via the cable car.
  • Enjoy a light meal or snack from the Table Mountain Café.
Arial Shot of Robben Island on a beautiful day
Arial Shot of Robben Island on a beautiful day

Robben Island

Just over 5 miles offshore from Cape Town the island was declared a World Heritage Site in 1999, and over the centuries has been used as a prison, a hospital, a mental institution, and a military base. It is most famous for being a political prison during apartheid. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years of the 27 years he was imprisoned on Robben Island. Tours depart daily from the V&A Waterfront.

Things to do:

  • Explore South Africa’s political past in various Robben Island exhibition displays.
  • Visit Nelson Mandela’s prison cell, and tour the maximum-security prison with an ex-Robben Island prisoner.
  • Tour the Robben Island surrounds in a guided bus tour.
  • Keep an eye out for African Penguins.
  • Pick up Robben Island and Cape Town memorabilia at the store in the Nelson Mandela Gateway.
  • Venture out to explore the surrounding V&A Waterfront, where you can dine and shop with views of the iconic island.
The V&A Waterfront on a busy day with Table Mountain as a backdrop
The V&A Waterfront on a busy day with Table Mountain as a backdrop

V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront is one of Africa’s most visited destinations with more than 24 million visitors annually. Situated in the oldest working harbour in South Africa, with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop, makes the V&A Waterfront is a favourite for local and international visitors.

Things to do:

  • More than 80 eateries bring a fusion of both international and local cuisine, from rustic al fresco to fine dining.
  • You are spoiled for choice with :
  • 12 hotels, over 500 retail stores, five museums and live entertainment 365 days a year showcasing the best local music.
  • Immerse in a wide variety of attractions and activities like sunset cruises, helicopter flights, free audio tours, or visit the award-winning Two Oceans Aquarium and much more.
  • Along with 22 heritage sites and tourism landmarks, the V&A Waterfront is also home to Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) – the historic Grain Silo which is home to the world’s largest collection of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.

The Canal District links the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town Convention Centre (CTICC), with water taxis providing an easy transport option between both points. It also reintroduces the old connection between the city, its waterways and the sea along pedestrian landscaped walkways and bridges. The canal introduces a leisure element with kayaking and stand-up paddling events. Battery Park at the Canal District includes a piazza with paved walkways, benches, a grassed area and indigenous gardens to relax in. Other elements include a skate park, basketball court, eateries and coffee shops.

The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

South Africa’s world-famous national botanical garden, set against the backdrop of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak, and home to more than 22,000 indigenous plants – part of the Cape Floral Kingdom. 36 hectares of landscaped gardens on the slopes of Table Mountain, and they blend in effortlessly with the natural vegetation, all of this a mere stone’s throw from the buzzing city of Cape Town.

Things to do:

  • Walk among the treetops on the Boomslang Tree Canopy Walkway.
  • Take a gentle walk along the various trails, paths and routes through the garden.
  • Use Kirstenbosch as a starting point for a hike up Table Mountain – there is access to Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine.
  • Keep on the lookout for the vast number of birds, including breeding owls, guinea fowl and sugarbirds.
  • Pack a picnic basket and spend the afternoon with family and friends.
  • Take in a famous Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concert on a Sunday evening.
  • Take a guided tour with a Kirstenbosch volunteer to learn amazing facts about South Africa’s famous flora.
  • Pick up great souvenirs and Kirstenbosch memorabilia at the on-site stores.
A Wine Farm in Groot Constantia
A Wine Farm in Groot Constantia

Groot Constantia

Savour award-winning wine in the Cape’s grandest Estate. South Africa’s oldest wine-producing estate, established by Simon van der Stel in 1685, and a certified national monument. Groot Constantia offers delectable dining, a museum, art gallery and an award-winning selection of wines, all available for tasting.

Things to do:

  • Visit one of two tasting rooms to sample and purchase a selection of Groot Constantia’s award-winning wines.
  • Explore the vast estate on foot – there are numerous walking paths, and joggers and dog walkers are also welcome to enjoy the surroundings.
  • Take a journey back in time and explore the grand Manor House museum, which houses displays portraying early years on the estate.
  • Take one of the daily guided cellar tours and tastings and get a behind-the-scenes look at the wine-making process.
  • Combine a visit to Groot Constantia with a tour on the hop-on, hop-off City Sightseeing buses.
Bo Kaap Colourful houses in the street
Bo Kaap Colourful houses in the street

The City Walk

The vibrant Cape Town city centre is alive with fascinating stories of past and present, captivating public art, beautiful spaces, dramatic architecture, and a dynamic food and retail culture.
There’s simply no better way to explore this all than on foot, and walking the streets will bring the city to life before your eyes. The City Walk seamlessly connects you to Cape Town CBD’s top sights and attractions through a collaborative community place marking approach. You’ll leave with a newfound love and appreciation for the Mother City, and a strong desire to return.

Things to do:

  • Take a walking tour of the City Walk. There are daily walking tours departing from the front of the Taj hotel.
  • City Walk Saturdays: Every third Saturday of the month. Be entertained by buskers, dancers, drummers, street art, gamers and more … all along the route. #walkcapetown First Thursdays: On the first Thursday of every month restaurants, museums and art galleries in the CBD are open until late in the evening.
  • Earth Fair Food Market: Every Thursday 12pm-6pm. Meet top quality traders selling a range of locally produced and artisanal food products. (Upper St George’s Mall, off Wale Street, opposite the cathedral).
  • Enjoy public art: From statues to street art, the City Walk has a rich layer of public art. Pick up a map of the City Walk and explore the diversity of public art along the route. Maps available at Cape Town Tourism, Cape Town Partnership and from retailers along the route.
Arial Short of Cape Point
Arial Short of Cape Point

Cape Point

Covered in endemic fynbos, it boasts a wealth of picturesque bays, beaches, rolling green hills and valleys. It’s within the Cape Floral Region, a World Heritage Site, and as well as offering a fascinating profusion of vegetation there are huge numbers of pelagic birds as well as zebra, eland, and the many species of reptiles and small mammals.

Things to do:

  • Game, bird and whale watching (in season).
  • Take the Flying Dutchman Funicular to the old lighthouse.
  • Find and visit the new lighthouse further down the point.
  • Take a bush or nature walk through the reserve.
  • Swim in the tidal pools at Bordjiesrif and Buffels Bay.
  • Spot the slew of shipwrecks surrounding the coastline.
  • Go fishing, surfing, and diving, in the surrounding waters.
  • Follow one of the clearly marked hiking trails.

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