Cape Town: 'the essentials' - things to do while visiting

If you are coming to Cape Town, in South Africa, for the first time, here is the checklist for your trip. From spending a day at the waterfront, to amazing wine tasting in the vineyards, or the penguins sightseeing, there is something to do for the whole family.

Spend an afternoon at the V&A Waterfront

In the mood for a walk? V&A Waterfront is probably one of the best places to go to in Cape Town as it has everything – from chic boutique arts & crafts places, to farm market, fancy seafood restaurants on the water, shopping mall and so many other more. Located in the oldest working harbour in the Southern Hemisphere, the V&A Waterfront was designed aster the Sydney Harbour, an iconic mixed-use destionation where people can meet and relax.

VA Waterfront sunset in Cape Town, South Africa. Harbour sunset
V&A Waterfront at dawn || photo credits

Children will definitely enjoy the Two Oceans Aquarium, where they can see over 8.000 sea animals. And the Cape Wheel ride from which you can see the whole town from above.

If you stroll around the boutiques at The Watershed you will find locally made, handcrafted art and décor, as well as clothes signed by en-vogue African Designers (tips: try the summer dresses of Hugo Flear). And of course, the unique jewellery pieces, such as Tiffany Marx, or A Bird Named Frank

V&A waterfront Cape Town South Africa panoramic view
V&A Waterfront panoramic view || photo credits:

After all this, you will definitely need a snack – so you can hit up the V&A Food Market, which offers from amazing sea food to Italian or Mexican dishes. And in the end, have a drink at one of amazing cafes next to the water.

Enjoy the modern vibes at Zeitz MOCAA

Located in the former grain silo at the V&A Waterfront, Zeitz MOCAA is the African ‘Centre Pompidou’, as it is the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. The building, signed by the British architect Thomas Heatherwick, houses over 6.000 sqm of exhibition displaying amazing painting and art pieces.

Besides the permanent collections, the museum hosts many interesting exhibitions. So be sure to check their website about the latest news before you plan your visit.

Zeitz MOCAA museum modern art Cape Town South Africa
Zeitz MOCAA museum || photo credits:

After the visit, make your way up to the rooftop terrace where you can delight yourself with a glass of local wine while admiring the astonish view.

Watch the penguins at Boulders Beach

Probably one of the most visited places around Cape Town is the Boulders Beach, where adults and children alike can see the African Penguins. Only 40-minute drive from Cape Town, the beach is home of these very cute funny water birds. The colony falls under the protection of SANParks, thus a fee is asked to gain access. The money is used for their conservation.

If you are in the area viewing the penguins, you can have lunch in Simon’s Town, which is very close. Located in the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula, few know that the town was once a naval base, as nowadays it is well-known as the ‘home of the penguins’. Try out The Lighthouse Café, Seaforth Restaurant or Saveur Restaurant. If you want something a bit more upscale, you can try the restaurants at the Willets Hotel. All of them serve amazing food, and if you like seafood than you will not be disappointed in the town.

Have a rendez-vous at Cape Point

The Cape Point Nature Reserve has so much to offer, being a great destination for a day trip. Whether you like hiking, strolling around the area and admiring the view, or maybe you enjoy kite surfing, or simply spend time on the beach, this is for sure a place to visit with the whole family.

If you go up to the Light house (you can either walk or take the funicular), the view will impress you as you can see the two oceans together – all this endless horizon of water is simply breathtaking. Coming back you can have snack at the café at the base.

After, you can go down to the Cape of Good Hope, which is commonly known ‘the south-western point of the African continent’ (in reality Cape Angulhas is the most south-western point). Initially the Cape was discovered by the Portuguese explorer Bartolomeu Diaz, in his attempt on finding a way to the Far East and named it the Cape of Storms. It was only later on that it was the Cape of Good hope, in order not to discourage sailors.

If you go there, don’t miss the Ostrich Farm nearby, where beside seeing the great birds you can enjoy a delicious lunch.

Taste the amazing African Wine

A must-do while visit South Africa! Take the day off and simply enjoy the wines. Stellenbosch and Franschhoek wine regions are two of the best places for wine tastings, cheese and chocolate pairings, lunch and vineyard tours.

You can take a wine tasting tour, a hop-on hop-off tour, a bike tour, or simply go to one of the vineyards directly. Just as a piece of advice, book before you go - during summer places get quite packed.

If you want to read more about wine tasting tours, click here.

See the sunset on Table Mountain

A world UNESCO Heritage, Table Mountain is a beautiful sightsee. You can either climb up the top or take the cable car. Whatever you choose you will not regret it - the view from the top is absolutely breathtaking.

Probably the best time is if you catch the sunset, as the dim light falls on the city below you, while the water reflects it.

You can always have a snack at the restaurant above. Or a glass of champagne.