You Only Live Once! Time to take the Mother City by its horns.
Instead of making a bucket list (passé, depressing), we’ve created a list of unique, unusual and inspiring things to do in the Mother City.
We’re well aware that Cape Town is a highly sought-after holiday destination (voted Best City in the World by The Telegraph) and we didn’t want our list to read like a tourist brochure. So we left out things like “visit Robben Island” and “climb Table Mountain” (which you’ll find on any run-of-the-mill travellers’ site).
Instead, we handpicked some lesser-known activities in and around our magnificent city that have inspired us to seize the day. We hope our list will do the same for you.
1. Zip around Chapman’s Peak in a classic (open-top) sports car
What to do in Cape Town
A scenic drive along the coast in an open-top sports car is the stuff of Hollywood rom-coms. Not only will it get the endorphins flowing, it’ll make you feel like a million bucks. Plan your route (we suggest starting and ending at the Paarden Eiland pick-up point, and travelling along Victoria Road to Chapman’s Peak and back along De Waal Drive), pack a picnic, and hit the road! It’s the stuff that memories (and killer Instagram ops) are made of. Feel like splurging? Hire the car for a day or two and traverse one of these magnificent mountain passes.
Why we love it Nothing beats the feeling of the wind through your hair and the sun on your face as you cruise along the road in a stunning car with breaktaking views along the way.
Cost R2 900 (car hire includes 100 kms; R7/km thereafter)
R15 000 (refundable insurance deposit)
R500 – R750 (delivery or collection fee one way. If the car is collected from/delivered to Paarden Eiland, there is no fee)
Where Cape Cobra Hire, 10 Hermes Street, Paarden Eiland
2. Go clay-pigeon shooting
Clay-pigeon Shooting Cape Town
This is just another reason to visit Stellies. Once you’ve chosen your wine farm (there are two to choose from), a guide will take you through safety measures, demonstrate how to shoot with precision timing, and give you all the ins and outs, so that a barrel load of fun is guaranteed. There are several great packages to choose from depending on the size of your group and the occasion.
Why we love it It’s a great way to let off steam (and vent pent-up road rage). Simply aim, fire, and watch as the disc shatters mid-air.
Where Slaley Farm, Kromme Rhee Road, Stellenbosch and Wild Clover Farm, Stellenbosch
Cost R125 per person (5 shots per person)
R225 per person (10 shots per person)
R350 per person (Groups of 8 or more, includes 10 shots each, pizza and a glass of beer/wine)
R435 per person (Groups of 8 or more, includes 15 shots each, pizza and a glass of beer/wine)
R650 per person (Groups of 5 or more, includes 25 shots each, biltong platter and soft drinks)
R1 000 (Group of 8 or less, includes 5 shots per person)
R1 500 per person (Groups of 2 or more, includes 25 shots each, personal instruction and private location)
R1 850 per person (Groups of 2 or more, includes 50 shots each, personal instruction and private location)
3. Rent a houseboat in Kraalbaai
Houseboats Cape Town
Baby Blue Too is the perfect houseboat for daytrips and overnight stays in the dreamy lagoon of Kraalbaai on the West Coast. It sleeps up to four (with a squeeze) and accommodates up to 8 for daytrips. Chillax on the deck with a glass of vino and a bite to eat as you glide around the lagoon (you’ll need a skipper’s licence). Or else, remain anchored in one spot and enjoy dipping in the waist-deep clear blue water. In springtime, enjoy Postberg and the West Coast National Park’s amazing array of flowers.
Why we love it What beats lounging around the deck of a boat in the middle of the ocean, and being able to flop in and out of the clear blue water?
Where Indigo Blue Beach House, Basson Street, Langebaan
Cost R695 per person (day trip, includes lunch)
R500 per person (charter, includes skipper, no catering)
R2 500 (one night, self catering)
R3 250 (two-night, self catering)
R700 (delivery fee to Kraalbaai, if you do not have a skipper’s ticket)
R120 per night (mooring fee, collected by SanParks every morning for the overnight package)
R500 per weekend (SUP hire)
4. Sleep on Table Mountain
Cape Town Attractions
Image credit: Michelle Seixas
This overnight hike, which begins at Kirstenbosch, offers plenty of fresh mountain air and stunning panoramic views from different vantage points on the mountain. Make stops at the historic Waterworks Museum, the old reservoir, and a rock formation called “the diving board” that’s popular for impromptu photoshoots. Spend the night at the comfortable Overseers Cottage, and wake up feeling invigorated and ready to conquer the world.
Why we love it It’s the path less travelled, giving mountaineers and city-dwellers alike the chance to explore one of the world’s natural wonders.
Where Table Mountain National Park
Cost R 2 695 (per person for 4 people)
R 2 595 (per person for 5 people)
R 2 350 (per person for 6 or more people)
Includes accommodation, catering, luggage transport, entrance fees and guided tour. Excludes alcoholic beverages and cable car if that is chosen method of descent.
5. Break plates at Mykonos Taverna
Cape Town Things to do
Image credit: mikaelapace
On the last Saturday of each month, this family-owned (and run) traditional Greek restaurant prepares a set menu and invites patrons to enjoy an unforgettable evening of traditional Greek dancing and plate smashing. While keeping things laidback and festive, the restaurant serves simple and delicious mezze, moussaka, and everything in between.
Why we love it If you’ve ever thrown a plate, you’ll know how cathartic and fun it is. Just give it a smash, and you’ll be hooked.
Where 343 Main Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
Cost R220 per person (excluding drinks and 10% service charge)
6. Enjoy sundowners on a yacht in Clifton
Yacht Ride Cape Town
Image credit: Michaella Robertson
A milestone birthday, end-of-year function, new-year kick-off party or just about any special occasion is the only excuse needed to splash out on a luxury yacht cruise. Hop aboard this fantastic yacht at the Waterfront and sail along the coast to Clifton’s shores. If you’re lucky, you could spot a pod of dolphins hopping along with your boat, while you balance a tall glass of champers and try to snap some incredible panoramic photographs.
Why we love it It’s a relaxing, fun, luxurious (and unforgettable) way to celebrate any special occasion.
Where Cape Charters, Shop 6, Quay 5, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
Cost R8 000 (minimum of 2 hours includes soft drinks, water, bubbly and dry snacks)
R12 000 (2 hour sunset cruise includes soft drinks, water, bubbly and dry snacks)
7. Take a steam train to the Cape Winelands
Activities in Cape Town
Image credit: Neil Betteley
Travel through the winelands – and back in time – on a vintage steam train dating back to the 1920s. The young members of the family will get to experience the vessels that were once the lifeblood of the British Empire, while the older passengers get to relive fond memories from their childhoods. The steam train trip to Spier includes a stopover in Stellenbosch, wine tasting, lunch at the farm and a visit to the wildlife sanctuary at Eagle Encounters.
Why we love it The nostalgia of wooden-bodied coaches, and the sense of Victorian grandeur, is rather special. But while the train itself may be the star of the show, the spectacular vineyards and mountain scenery of the Cape Winelands certainly enhance the experience.
Where African Train Lodge, Monument Station, Old Marine Drive, Foreshore
Cost R550 (adults)
R450 (children between 3 and 12)
Free (children 0 to 2 years)
Good to know Ceres Rail Company also offers steam train rides. Their route runs through the beautiful Ceres Valley. At R800 for a return ticket (plus an additional R150 for a buffet-style lunch), it is on the pricey side.
8. Do a Tuk-Tuk Wine Tour in Stellenbosch
Wine Tour Stellenbosch
Tuk-Tuk Stellies offer fun wine tours of several notable wine estates in the famous Stellenbosch winelands in, yes, you guessed it: a snazzy tuk-tuk! These chauffeured trips run daily, and you can choose between the half-day tours, with visits to Lanzerac, Morgenhof and Simonsig – or the full day tour, which visits Waterford (for chocolate and wine pairing), Lanzerac, Neil Ellis (for lunch), Morgenhof and Simonsig for some delicious wine tastings, and the odd cellar tour too!
Why we love it It’s a fun, fresh (and hassle-free) way to experience some great Stellenbosch wine estates.
Where Meet at the Stellenbosch Information Centre or arrange for a B&B pick-up in the area.
Cost R500 (half-day tour (10am – 1pm or 2pm – 5pm)
R1 000 (full-day tour, 10am – 4pm, includes lunch and wine tastings)
9. Hot-air balloon over the Cape Winelands
Hot air balloon Cape Town
Image credit: Anton Petrus
Trains, trams and automobiles… there are many ways to experience the Cape winelands, but few that allow you to soar over them like a bird. Travelling like the Brothers Montgolfier will certainly give you something to write home about.
Why we love it You’ll get to watch as the crew assembles your heat-powered flying machine, the very first technology that allowed humanity to take to the skies. Following liftoff, you’ll have the best possible view of the rolling vineyards and lush meadows that the winelands are so famous for.
Please note Hot-air balloon trips can be cancelled on short notice if conditions are deemed unsuitable.
Winelands Ballooning operates between 20 November and 2 May each year.
Only one flight is scheduled per day, with four people permitted per flight.
Insider tip The tour operators recommend March as the best time of year to balloon, as weather conditions are generally more stable during that period.
Cost R3 900 – R4 300 (adult, depending on season)
R2 800 – R3 200 (children 8 –12 years, depending on season)
Includes tea and coffee on arrival, one-hour hot-air balloon flight, ground crew recovery and a full breakfast at the Grande Roche Hotel in Paarl
10. Sip Tea Under The Trees
What to do in Cape Town Today
Image credit: Carina
Situated on a working farm in Paarl, that could have come straight out of Alice in Wonderland, Tea Under The Trees is a wonderfully civilised experience. Their menu offers delicious, farm-fresh eats; there’s also a lovely bric-a-brac shop, as well as a child- and pet-friendly (provided they are leashed) space.
All food is made onsite, using fresh, top-quality ingredients, and the charming venue is also available to hire for special events, such as weddings, kitchen teas and baby showers. And don’t fret too much about bad weather; there are sheltered areas, as well as a veranda and indoor venue.
Why we love it It affords one a truly lovely, relaxed tea experience in pretty (but often overlooked) Paarl.
Where St Pieter’s Roche, Main Road, Paarl
Open Monday – Friday; Saturdays by special arrangement.
Cost Menu items vary: R11 – R60
11. The Franschhoek Wine Tram
Franschhoek Wine Tram
Image credit: John & Amber
The Franschhoek Valley offers some world-class wine-tasting experiences, and a glimpse into the Cape’s precious heritage. With so much to do and see in this region, the hop-on-hop-off tram tour provides the perfect means of transport, allowing you to hop off at a destination of your choice, and back on again when the next tram arrives. There’s a choice of four routes; the Blue Line, Red Line, Yellow Line and Green Line; each one allowing you to explore a different part of the valley.
Why we love it The tour provides some insight into 300 years’ worth of rich history, while giving you plenty of time to take in the views (and the vino, naturally!)
Where Franschhoek Wine Tram Ticket Office, 32 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek
Discounts for groups of 20+ people
12. Picnic movie nights at Spier Wine Farm
Picnic Movie Nights Spier
Each year during summer, Spier selects a handful of well-loved movies to screen on their lush Eight Lawns. And, let’s face it, what’s a movie without accompanying treats? Either purchase a gourmet picnic basket for two (R550, includes a bottle of Spier’s signature wine), which you can book with your ticket and collect from the deli (between 6 – 7pm on the night). Or buy drinks and snacks from the Eight to Go Deli.
Please note You cannot bring your own food and drinks; picnic baskets exclude the movie-ticket cost; movies start at 8.30pm, and gates open at 6pm.
Why we love it An outdoor picnic and good movie under the stars on a beautiful Stellenbosch wine farm… what’s not to love?
Where Eight Lawns, Spier Wine Farm, R310 Baden Powell Road, Stellenbosch
Cost R100 (adult movie ticket)
R70 (child movie ticket)
R550 (gourmet picnic basket for two, excludes cost of movie tickets)
13. Kayak with the penguins in Simon’s Town
Kayak tours in Cape Town
The penguin colony at Boulder’s Beach is always worth a visit, but why watch from afar when you can see these wacky water birds up close? The Simon’s Town kayak tours will let you meet them on their home turf, and you can even join them in the water if the tide is right. No previous rowing experience is needed, though bear in mind, kayaking does require some physical stamina.
Why we love it You can avoid the crowds, and enjoy the freedom of the open ocean. Plus, you get a good workout in the process.
Where Wharf Street, Simon’s Town
Please note Dependent on weather
Cost R300 per person (drinking water and equipment included)
14. Camp on the beach in Kogel Bay
Camping Kogel Bay
Image credit: Thomas Hill
If you love camping, beaching and breathtaking scenery, then Kogel Bay Resort, with its camping facilities on the edge of the beautiful and expansive Kogel Bay Beach is the answer. It is perfectly situated, a mere hour away from Cape Town, and also falls under the jurisdiction of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (an area dense in Cape Floral Kingdom plant species), offers ample wildlife and lies along The Whale Coast.
Why we love it It’s the ultimate camping experience, involving an epic road trip via Clarence Drive, one of South Africa’s (and, dare we say it, the world’s) most spectacular drives, numerous affordable camping/ablution facilities, hiking, beach walks, swimming, star-gazing and braaiing.
Where Kogel Bay Resort, Clarence Drive, R44
Cost R124 – R190, depending on the season
Contact 021 856 9622 or 021 856 9623
15. Navigate the city’s underground tunnels
Cape Town Activities
Image credit: fo8.co.za
Every city has secrets, and Cape Town is no exception. Beneath its streets lies a network of underground tunnels, built between 1652 and 1895 for the purpose of transporting mountain water into the ocean. Now they lie abandoned, but with the aid of a tour guide, you can navigate these dark dungeons and emerge to tell the tale. However, only a true hero will defeat the Minotaur that dwells… oh okay, there’s no Minotaur.
Why we love it You get to play Indiana Jones, as you make your way through dark tunnels, torch in hand. (Minus the tarantulas and deadly traps, though).
Where Castle of Good Hope, Darling Street & Buitenkant Street, Foreshore
Cost R250 – R350 per person