Things To Do in Cape Town
Cape Town has something to offer for absolutely everyone – from beautiful scenic drives and leisurely guided tours to adrenaline-rush adventures. The city is a cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures and ethnicities, each with their own rich histories and ways of life. Join a guided tour, or strike out on your own.
The official Cape Town tourism website is an excellent source of information on the kinds of activities available in Cape Town and surroundings: http://www.capetown.travel/
The 2014 Visitors Guide to Cape Town can be downloaded here: Cape Town Visitors Guide 2014.
City Sightseeing Bus
The City Sightseeing Bus is fantastic for getting your bearings, and if you don’t feel like driving yourself. Your ticket is valid for the whole day, and you can hop on and off at your leisure. There are different routes around the Cape Peninsula, and you get discounted access to several attractions:
- The Wine Tour will take you to several wine estates in the Constantia valley;
- The leisurely Canal Cruise goes from the Two Oceans Aquarium to the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC);
- The summer-time Night Tour will give you spectacular views of the city centre from Signal Hill or Table Mountain Road;
- And the new LaGuGu Township Tour will give you a unique minibus-taxi experience of the townships of Langa and Gugulethu.
Cape Town Big Six
The Cape Town Big Six are 6 iconic must-see visitor attractions: Table Mountain; Cape Point; Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden; Robben Island; the V&A Waterfront; and Groot Constantia.
- No visit to Cape Town would be complete without a trip to the top of Table Mountain. The quickest and easiest way is to take the Table Mountain Cableway. You can pre-book your tickets online to beat the queues. Alternatively, if you are feeling energetic, you can hike up the very steep Platteklip Gorge (on the north-facing slope), the similarly steep Skeleton Gorge from Kirstenbosch (on the east-facing slope), or the gentler but far longer route from Constantia Nek to the south.
- Cape Point isn’t the southernmost point of South Africa – that honour falls to Cape Agulhas to the east, but it is the southernmost point of the Cape Peninsula – and a spectacular place to visit. There are many wonderful hiking routes in the Reserve.
- Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, established in 1913 on the east-facing slopes of Table Mountain, is simply spectacular at any time of year. You can easily spend a day strolling around these magnificent gardens. There is a guided tour at 10h00 and 14h00 from Monday to Saturday, which is free of charge with your entrance ticket, so inquire about this when you buy your ticket. There is an additional 11h00 tour on Tuesday, but no tours on Sundays. It is always beautiful, with different plants flowering throughout the year. In celebration of its centenary, the Garden created an elevated canopy-level walkway called the ‘Boomslang’ or ‘Tree Snake’ – with spectacular views.
- Take the ferry out to Robben Island and go on a tour presented by ex-political prisoners to learn about South Africa’s history.
- The V&A Waterfront is very popular among visitors. The views of Table Mountain are stunning, there is a vast range of indoor and outdoor shops and restaurants to choose from, and as a working harbour, there is always something interesting happening. There are often free concerts at the open air venue. Various sunset cruises depart from here.
- Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine producing estate, established by Simon van der Stel in 1685 and today a certified national monument.
Here are some more suggestions for activities:
- Walking Tours of the City Centre are offered daily – and are free.
- Or perhaps you fancy a ride by horse-drawn carriage from the historic Castle of Good Hope, with the Cape Town Carriage Company?
- If you’re interested in culture and history, then do a walking tour of the Bo-Kaap (the Malay Quarter). You can visit the Bo-Kaap Museum or try a walking tour with Shereen Habib of Tana Baru, a local who’s lived in the area for years, and who knows everything and everyone.
- For those with an interest in the military history of our city, the Chavonnes Battery Museum at the Waterfront is well worth a visit. If you time it well, you may even see them firing one of their historic old cannons, complete with thunderous blast and clouds of gunpowder!
- Most visitors limit themselves to exploring the familiar Winelands around Stellenbosch and Somerset West – but there are also wine routes in the lovely Constantia Valley, in Durbanville, Franschhoek, Paarl and Wellington, further afield in Robertson, Worcester and Hermanus, and even in the Swartland.
- For an unforgettable aerial view of the Cape, Aquila Microlights offers microlight flights – and motorbike tours around the Cape Peninsula, for those who would prefer a gentler adrenaline rush.
- Abseil Africa offers the world’s original highest commercial abseil, at 1,000 metres above sea level on Table Mountain.
- Cape Town Tandem Paraglide ‘launch’ mainly from Lions Head and Signal Hill, depending on the prevailing wind conditions.
- Cape Canopy Tour offer a zipline adventure in the Hottentots Holland mountain reserve, only an hour outside Cape Town, where you slide along steel cables from platform to platform, past waterfalls and through valleys.
- If you like water sports, why not visit Blue Rock outside The Strand? Here you can go cable waterskiing or wakeboarding in Blue Rock Lake, which is the only clear water lake in the Western Cape, with water temperatures reaching up to 26 degrees.
- The Two Oceans Aquarium at the Waterfront is fantastic if you’re into marine life. You can also go scuba-diving with the sharks in one of the tanks or in the underwater kelp forest – although you need scuba diving qualifications for those activities.
- Get close and personal to the largest predators in the ocean with an accredited shark cage diving company – have a look here.
- Or go snorkeling with Cape Fur Seals off the coast of Hout Bay – this involves a boat trip out to Duiker Island, which is home to over 7,000 Cape Fur seals and their pups.
- For a more leisurely activity, visit the African Penguin Colony at secluded Boulders Beach – they are very entertaining to watch.
Where to Stay in Cape Town
You can contact the following establishments for accommodation:
|Banksia Boutique Hotel & Spa||No. 14 Banksia Road, Rosebank||http://www.banksiaboutique.co.za/||1300 ZAR|
|Bishopsfield Guest House||No. 33 Riverton Road, Rondebosch||http://www.bishopsfield.co.za/||720 ZAR|
|Protea Hotel Breakwater Lodge||Portswood Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town||http://www.breakwaterlodge.co.za/||1160 ZAR|
|Brooklands House||No. 3 Surbiton Rd, Rosebank||http://www.brooklands-guesthouse.co.za/||690-925 ZAR|
|City Lodge Hotel||No. 44 Mowbray Golf Park, Off Raapenberg Road, Pinelands||https://clhg.com/hotels/155/Pinelands-Hotel||960 ZAR|
|Devonshire House||No. 6 Lovers Walk, Rondebosch||http://www.devonshirehouse.co.za/||400-700 ZAR|
|Hame Cottages||No. 41 Klipper Road, Newlands||http://www.capestay.co.za/hamecottages/||425-500 ZAR|
|Inn on the Square||No. 10 Greenmarket Square, Cape Town||http://www.threecities.co.za/hotel/innonthesquare/||1000 ZAR|
|Little Scotia Guest House||No. 5 Rustenburg Avenue, Rondebosch||http://www.scotia.co.za/||750 ZAR|
|Medindi Manor||No. 4 Thicket Road, Rosebank||http://www.medindimanor.com/||765-1235 ZAR|
|Southern Sun Hotel||No. 7 Main Road, Newlands||http://www.tsogosunhotels.com/hotels/newlands/Pages/overview.aspx||1450 ZAR|
|Villa Garda||No. 5 Osborne Road, Mowbray||http://www.villagarda.co.za/||670 ZAR|
|Vineyard Hotel||Colinton Road, off Protea Road, Newlands||http://www.vineyard.co.za/||2550-3350 ZAR|
Contact the organisers: 2015.marisar [at] gmail.com
Or admin assistant: judy.mackintosh [at] gmail.com
For further information about the MariSAR 2015 Conference, click on the following links:
2. Themes covered by the conference
3. Programme of presentations
4. Abstracts of presentations
6. Activities and Accommodation in Cape Town
7. Photographs taken during the Conference