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Sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian Ocean and Table Mountain, Cape Town attracts more visitors than any other place in Africa, with its natural setting, cosmopolitan culture and Mediterranean climate providing the appeal. Scaling Table Mountain — by foot or cable car — rewards you with panoramic views over the mountains, city and both oceans. You can also explore Cape Town’s turbulent history with a historical tour and a visit to Robben Island. Leisurely afternoons might involve browsing the shops and restaurants at Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, or relaxing on Camps Bay’s beach.

I always remember Cape Town as being a vibrant city with big skies and genuine smiles. It has incredible scenery and a climate that provides a bounty of great food and wine.

South Africa specialist Toby

Things to see and do in Cape Town

Soak up the history and culture

Cape Town’s multi-culturality is reflected in its food, architecture and historical sites. On the Footsteps to Freedom tour you learn about Dutch rule, see where slaves were once traded and explore the apartheid years with a visit to parliament. A boat ride across Table Bay to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela spent much of his imprisonment, provides further insight; former inmates conduct the tours. If you’re interested in discovering the cultural differences in Cape Town’s food, the Cape Town Eats tour takes you through backstreets to taste a variety of delicacies from African soul food to bunny chow (a hollowed out loaf of bread filled with curry).

Table Mountain

Once the ‘table cloth’ cloud has cleared, it’s well worth admiring Cape Town from the summit of Table Mountain. You can reach the top by taking the modern cable car, which completes a 360º rotation on its way, allowing you to appreciate the incredible views from all angles. More adventurously, you can also hike up the mountain with the help of a guide or independently, navigating steep, rocky trails and short vertical faces. Once at the top, you can explore the various pathways and viewpoints and enjoy refreshments in the restaurant. You may also spot the resident rock hyraxes, which resemble large hamsters.

Explore the scenic Cape Peninsula

Cape PointWhether self-driving or exploring as part of a private tour, you’ll feel immersed in the wild landscape of the Cape Peninsula, despite the region’s popularity with visitors. The Cape is an area of profound natural beauty and huge ecological significance and, after passing through the classy suburbs of Camps Bay and Clifton and through numerous coastal towns and villages, you’ll reach the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. This makes up a significant part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest but most diverse of the world’s seven floral kingdoms. Fynbos — low-lying shrubs and colorful heathers — are the main vegetation, while the habitat supports animals such as antelope, ostriches, baboons and a variety of birdlife.

Whale watching and shark cage diving

The Cape Town coastline is visited by numerous whale and dolphin species, including southern right whales and humpback whales, which migrate each year from the icy waters of Antarctica to have their young. Gansbaai, a two hour drive from Cape Town, is the main launch pad for whale watching cruises, as well as shark cage dives, as high numbers of great white sharks patrol the waters between Dyer Island and Geyser Rock. This is an exhilarating way to acquaint yourself with these ominous but graceful creatures in their natural environment, whether you remain on the boat and watch them feeding on the surface or opt to be lowered into the water inside a galvanized steel cage for a closer view.

The Winelands

Franschhoek, South AfricaThe rolling countryside and lure of trying South Africa’s finest wines makes taking a one to two hour drive out to the Winelands well worthwhile. On a private full-day tour you can sit back and admire the landscape as you wind through dramatic mountain ranges and expansive vineyards. Stop at Stellenbosch, South Africa’s second oldest town, to admire its canals, Cape Dutch architecture and wine, before heading over the Helshoogte Pass to Franschhoek, renowned for its cuisine and idyllic valley setting, where a patchwork of vineyards meets towering mountains. Here, you can visit a wine estate to taste more of the region’s produce, before moving on to the town of Paarl, set at the foot of a huge granite rock, for a final wine tasting.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Nestled on the eastern slope of Table Mountain, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are home to a large collection of indigenous plants, from fynbos heather to bright strelitzias and proteas (South Africa’s national flower). There’s also a conservatory housing flora that grows in more extreme conditions, from mountain peaks to arid deserts. In addition, the gardens regularly host stone sculpture exhibitions and outdoor concerts. There are shady, secluded spots to sit in, or explore the pathways that meander through the woods and bushes in the upper areas of the gardens, which run unfenced into the slopes of the mountain.

Afternoon tea at the Mount Nelson

The delicious food and elegant surroundings of the renowned Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel makes for a truly memorable experience. You’ll tuck in to classic sandwiches, fresh cakes and mouth-watering pastries, as well as a wide selection of teas and coffees. The food is presented in the colonial-style grand sitting room, to the soft accompaniment of a pianist. If the weather is fine, you may opt to sit out in the property’s lush gardens, surrounded by shady trees and the sound of birdsong.

Best time to visit Cape Town

With warm, dry summers and a temperate winter climate, Cape Town makes an excellent year-round destination. Summer months (December to March) average a maximum temperature of 26°C and minimum of 16°C, while winter months (June to August) average a maximum of 18°C and minimum of 8.5°C. The hot Berg (‘mountain’) wind arrives in February or March, while in late spring there may be a strong southeasterly wind.

Temperature
Rainfall
Daylight

Festivals, events and seasonal reasons to visit

  • Between June and November is the best time for whale watching off the coast, with southern right whales and humpback whales migrating from Antarctica to calve and rear their young.
  • Springtime in the Cape sees the dry, dusty landscape transformed by a carpet of vibrant wildflowers, which spreads across South Africa’s west coast.

Speak to someone
who's been there

Audley Travel specialist Tom

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Cape Town by contacting one of our South Africa specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Cape Town

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Cape Town, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Cape Town

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Cape Town

    Our expert guides to exploring Cape Town

    Written by our specialists from their own experiences of visiting Cape Town, these guides will help you make the most of your time there. We share both our practical recommendations and the best ways to appreciate Cape Town at its best.

    • What to do in Cape Town
      Cape Town, South Africa

      What to do in Cape Town

      What to do in Cape Town

      Cape Town is a fantastic, cosmopolitan city with a superb location under Table Mountain. Any trip to South Africa is likely to include a few days here and our specialists can advise you on the many things you can see and do in this iconic city.

      3 min read

      Read this guide

    Accommodation choices for Cape Town

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Cape Town. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    Ideas for experiencing Cape Town

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Cape Town, and which use the best local guides.

    • A journey aboard The Blue Train
      The Blue Train with Table Mountain in the distance

      A journey aboard The Blue Train

      A journey aboard The Blue Train

      Following a historic route between Pretoria and Cape Town, The Blue Train is one of South Africa’s finest rail journeys. On board, you can experience fine dining, relax in your own private suite and take in mountain views from the Observation Car.

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    • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
      Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Town, South Africa

      Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

      Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

      Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens occupy a large swathe of beautiful land on the lower slopes of Table Mountain. They house a huge collection of indigenous flora, such as heathery fynbos, flowering proteas and dramatically colored strelitzias.

      View details
    • Museums of Cape Town
      South African Flag, Apartheid Museum

      Museums of Cape Town

      Museums of Cape Town

      As with any major city there are a number of very good museums in Cape Town and you might like to visit some whilst you are here. Some of the ones that we personally recommend are District Six Museum, Gold of Africa Museum, and the Iziko Museums of Cape Town.

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    • Rovos Rail
      Club lounge, Rovos Rail

      Rovos Rail

      Rovos Rail

      The beautifully restored carriages of Rovos Rail combine luxury travel with the chance to experience living history.

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    • Peninsula Tour
      Chapman's Peak Drive, Cape Town

      Peninsula Tour

      Peninsula Tour

      The Cape Peninsula is an area of dramatic natural beauty and huge ecological significance, which manages to retain a wild feel despite its huge popularity with visitors. As you drive south from Cape Town, you pass through the exclusive suburbs of Camps Bay and Clifton before continuing onto Hout Bay and through Constantia, where the road meanders behind Table Mountain and down onto the coast.

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    • Wine Tour
      Franschhoek, South Africa

      Wine Tour

      Wine Tour

      In the company of Pietman Retief, who is recognized as one of the leading wine experts in the country, you can experience the Winelands and the history of the area through his passion.

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    • Cape Town City Tour
      Cape Town

      Cape Town City Tour

      Cape Town City Tour

      No visit to Cape Town is complete without a tour of the "Mother City". Your tour will include visits to the Castle of Good Hope, the Parliament Buildings and Bo-Kaap, plus of course the iconic Table Mountain.

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    • Table Mountain Tour
      View from Table Mountain, Cape Town

      Table Mountain Tour

      Table Mountain Tour

      Guests are taken to the lower terminal for the cable-car up Table Mountain. The cable-car is a very modern affair, and completes a 360º rotation during the ascent, affording you fantastic views over the city.

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