There are a lot of things to do in Cape Town: you can explore the beautiful beaches, diverse restaurants, craft beer breweries, wine farms, and Table Mountain for starters.
But there are also a few things that are less known and take a bit more digging to discover. Here are 14 suggestions for different things to do that you might not find splashed across tourism brochures.
1. First Thursdays
Explore the Mother City after hours on foot, visiting art galleries, restaurants and food trucks from any time after 5pm. This is not a tour, but rather enjoying what the city has to offer in the evening, choosing where you want to go from a map showing participating venues. Many art galleries that usually charge an entrance fee are free then. First Thursdays is spread throughout the central city, but most of the galleries and cultural events are found along Bree Street and Church Street. It can get very crowded, so get there early to grab a spot and find parking.
2. Oranjezicht City Market
Cape Town is full of lovely little markets, but this one is special. Since beginning as a small non-profit project at the original Oranjezicht City Farm, it’s grown to new premises in Granger Bay, where small-scale local farmers sell fresh vegetables and artisanal food products. Pick from the season’s first peaches, or get some almond milk, crusty bread and great coffee at Market Day on Saturdays from 9am to 2pm. There are also handcrafted items, amazing ready-made food and drinks galore. Entry is free.
3. Street art tour
If you’re an art fan, hit the tar in Cape Town for some mind-blowing street art. Baz Art hosts walking and cycling tours that let you discover the murals created in previous International Public Arts Festivals, hear more about public artworks and their history in the various part of Salt River to the Centre and learn about the artists who created them.
Cost: From R450 per person
With SecretEATS, the build-up to the event is as important as building up your appetite for the multi-course dinner. To be in on the secret you need to sign up for invitations to the dinner events. Sign-up is free and you are under no obligation to accept the invitations when they arrive in your inbox. If you do accept an invite, you pay for your ticket and sit back and wait for further instructions. On the morning of your dinner date, you’ll receive communication disclosing the address for dinner. Then all that remains is to be at the right place at the right time and with the correct password to get through the door. What follows is a multi-course extravaganza paired with the country’s top wines in a beautiful venue and in good company.
5. Underground tunnel tour
If you are not claustrophobic and love adventure mixed with history, then take a tunnel tour and explore the labyrinth of tunnels under the city. These underground canals and rivers date back to 1652 when they supplied fresh water to the Company’s Garden, as well as to passing ships. As the years passed and the city expanded, the tunnels were created as a convenient way to divert mountain water to the ocean. Armed with gumboots, a hard hat and a torch, you can now discover these underground canals with a qualified guide. Tours can range from one to three hours and you need to be reasonably fit.
Cost: From R395 per person
6. Free city walking tours
Cape Town’s free walking tours will open your eyes to a fascinating world right under your nose that includes history, architecture and culture. The tours are free (tip-based) and all you have to do is pitch up. Tours are every day (rain or shine) leaving from Fideli’s, Piazza on Church Square at 11am and 2pm. There are different tours, so check out their website to choose the one you want to join. As each guide has their own stories to tell with many of them from personal experience, you could join these tours many times over and probably learn something new every time!
Do you like playing games? Enjoy solving puzzles? Consider yourself a strategic thinker? HintHunt gives you the perfect opportunity to embrace all of that when you get locked in a room for 60 minutes with a small team of people and have to work through a series of puzzles and mysteries in order to find your way out. It’s a fun way to spend an hour with friends (assuming they will still be your friends afterwards), or for a corporate team-building exercise (nothing like finding out that the person who sits opposite you can work out puzzles). There are also different games, like outdoor challenges, online escape rooms and an ‘amazing race’.
Cost: From R590 for two adults (minimum group number)
8. Take the train
Most locals know that the Southern Line from Cape Town to Simon’s Town is one of the most scenic journeys in the Cape and yet it is often overlooked. The journey takes you from the inner city, through the leafy southern suburbs and then right next to the sea as you chug along from St James to Simon’s Town. Worthwhile stops are St James for the beach, Kalk Bay for the quirky shops and right-on-the-sea pubs and restaurants, Muizenberg for the surf culture and Simon’s Town, home to the South African Navy and the penguins of Boulders Beach.
Cost from Cape Town to Simon’s Town: R27 return
9. Cycle the Sea Point Promenade
Rent a bike from Up Cycles and enjoy a gentle ride along Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard. You can pedal along to the V&A Waterfront, make a turn through Green Point Park, or go further and explore the city. Just arrive at any of their stations to grab your bike and go! Up Cycles can be found at The Pavilion on the Sea Point Promenade, the Clock Tower Square at the V&A Waterfront or at the Breakaway Café on Waterkant Street.
Cost: From R90 per person
10. Intaka Island and Ferry at Century City
There is more to Century City than a vast array of shops and giant office buildings. There’s also a 16-hectare wetland and bird sanctuary, with 8km of navigable canals where you can take a 35-minute ferry boat trip and go on self-guided or guided walks. Intaka Island is home to over 120 species of birds and 212 indigenous plants, with two designated hides for bird-lovers and photographers to enjoy. The ferry boat ride takes you along the canals and through Century City, while a guide points out interesting architecture and shares informative facts about the birdlife you encounter along the way.
Cost: R80 per adult, R70 per child
11. Galileo Cinema
Romantic dramas, timeless classics, documentaries and action movies are all shown at various beautiful outdoor venues across Cape Town, including Hillcrest Quarry, V&A Waterfront, Kirstenbosch and the Winelands. You can hire a chair and blankets, or bring your own blanket if you prefer. There are various food options available (from pizza to burgers and nachos), along with coffee, wine and craft beers; but if you are on a budget you can take your own picnic (alcoholic beverages are permitted, except at wine farm venues). It’s a novel way of watching a movie and the closest you are going to get to re-living the days of going to a drive-in.
Cost: From R125 per person
Rollerblading is not dead yet. It’s made a full comeback, and some say it’s the new ice skating. Take to the rollercade rink at the V&A Waterfront’s Battery Park for a day of splendid fun and showing off your mad skills. Perfect for any occasion from a date to a birthday party!
Cost: R150 per person, including skates
13. Rock climbing
Indoor rock climbing is fast becoming a very hot trend in South Africa. Traditional gyms are out, climbing gyms are in and way more fun. You don’t have to be an expert either, you can take courses or just play around and build your strength. In Cape Town, many climbers also take their love of the sport outdoors, where there are some rad spots to climb in places like the Cederberg.
Cost: R140 per person day pass
14. Fruit of the Vine tastings
Let your weekend begin with a complimentary wine tasting at Divine Wine Boutique every Friday in town. With a focus on small, family-owned vineyards, the aim is to alert customers to the interesting offerings on the boutique wine store’s shelves. The details are always posted on social media. It’s not necessary to book, and entry is on a first-come, first-served basis, but space fills up fast and you can reserve a table if you plan to linger longer and place food (quality cheese and charcuterie boards, tapas, oysters etc) and drink order after the tasting.
Also read: Things to do in Cape Town
- 50 Best Things to do in Cape Town
- Activities in Cape Town
- Fun things to do in Cape Town
- Top things not to do in Cape Town
- See events and things to do at night in Cape Town
- 50 Things to do in Cape Town With Kids