20 things to do on rainy days in Cape Town

Posted on 17 November 2021

There’s plenty to do on rainy days in Cape Town, so don’t let unruly weather get you down.

We found cool things to do in Cape Town – even when it’s raining. Photo by Kati Auld

1. Browse through books

Libraries are always good place to go to browse books, but some bookshops allow you to flip through the pages of a novel, recipe book or travel guide without making you buy the book first. Some even go as far as to have comfy seating to make the experience even more indulgent. For your rainy day book fix, visit Kalk Bay Books in Kalk Bay or The Book Lounge in Roeland Street, who also serve coffee and kids can enjoy storytelling and crafts every Saturday. Exclusive Books also encourages browsing and they have outlets throughout the city, some with a coffee shop conveniently attached.

2. Have a cup of tea

There can be nothing more civilised than a cup of tea in a beautiful teacup and a cucumber sandwich – with the crusts removed of course. Cape Town has quite a few options when it comes to High Tea with one of the most well-known ones being The Mount Nelson. The Cape Grace has ‘Cream Tea’, which is something a little lighter, The One & Only serves a fabulous selection and the Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa has ‘Tea by the Sea’ if it’s views you’re after. Another good option is the The President Hotel.

3. Go dancing

Dancing in the rain may be one thing, but there’s nothing like a little boogie to get you warmed up on a rainy winter’s evening. Que Pasa holds weekly salsa dance parties on Friday nights at 91 Loop Street.

If swing dancing is more your thing, then be sure to sign up for the Cape Town Swing newsletter or follow their Facebook page, to find out where the next Swing Social is going to be held. Previous swing venues include the V&A Waterfront, Shimmy Beach Club and Alliance Francaise.

4. Release your inner detective at HintHunt

If you consider yourself a strategic thinker and love solving puzzles, then HintHunt in Woodstock will give 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. There are four games to choose from, including crime scene investigations and submarine warfare.

5. Expand your mind

Learn something new about the world of science, technology, mathematics and engineering at the Cape Town Science Centre. With over 250 interactive exhibits, interactive displays, hands-on experiments and mind-boggling puzzles, it’s great educational fun for grown-ups as well as kids.

6. Warm up by a fireplace

A roaring fireplace is the perfect remedy for rainy day blues and there is no shortage of spots with fireplaces in the city. Kloof Street House is a vibrant restaurant in an old Victorian house, with a collection of interesting rooms and spaces. Some others include Harbour House Restaurant, Rick’s Café Americain, Café Paradiso, and Jonkershuis.

7. Support the locals at an indoor market

Cape Town has many indoor markets where you’ll find anything from locally grown vegetables to homemade cheese and cured meats, to hand-sewn cushion covers, vintage clothing and more. Plus some of the markets have local bands, creating a fun atmosphere. Our favourite under-cover markets include The Bay Harbour Market (which has a giant fireplace) in Hout Bay, The Bluebird Market in Muizenberg, Oranjezicht City Farm Market at V&A Waterfront, and Earthfair Food Market in Tokai.

8. Try a craft beer tour

Craft beer breweries are popping up everywhere and most of them offer tasting options along with beer on tap and a variety of food options to go with your pint. The Taproom at Devil’s Peak Brewing Company has a tasting tray, along with weekly specials and a menu designed to pair well with beer (they also serve wines and various hand-crafted liquors too). The Woodstock Brewery also has various weekly specials, beers on tap and tasting options and the Brewers Co-Op is nearby, serving reasonably-priced craft beers brewed by its members. In the city centre, a visit to the popular Beerhouse on Long is a must for beer-lovers with their massive selection of craft beers and delicious food options. They also have meet-the-brewer evenings, Free Beer Fridays and other events. Or join a Super Cool Beer Tour for a half-day tour of some of the best micro-breweries in the city.

9. Go wine tasting

If a Pinot Noir is more to your liking than a Pale Ale, there plenty of wine tasting options in the city too! Constantia Glen has lovely views over the valley and their cheese and charcuterie platters go very well with a bottle of wine. Beau Constantia also boasts incredible views right to the coastline, along with the award-winning Chefs Warehouse restaurant serving a set tapas menu. Other wine farms worth visiting along the Constania Wine Route include Eagle’s Nest, Steenberg and the oldest wine farm in South Africa, Groot Constantia. If you don’t fancy being the designated driver, then join The Constantia Wine Tour for a full day’s tour of the wine farms, including tastings, lunch and refreshments. A bit further afield, but well worth the drive, is the Durbanville Wine Route with no fewer than 12 wine farms to explore.

10. Have a spa treatment

A pampering session is always a wonderful treat, whether you choose to have a pedicure, an Indian head massage or hot stone therapy. Try O on Kloof Boutique Hotel & Spa with Africology balms to help you unwind; a deep tissue massage using a bamboo stick at the Cayenne Spa. For a spa with a view, you cannot beat the Heavenly Spa on the 19th floor of the Westin hotel – and they have some affordable special offers.

11. Watch a movie in the oldest cinema in town

Originally a ballroom, The Labia Theatre was opened in 1949 for live performances. Nowadays, you can enjoy art-house movies in the oldest independent art cinema in the country. Step into the past with the old-fashioned ticket stubs, popcorn in a brown paper packet and a Coca-Cola in a glass bottle. You can buy dinner-and-a-movie tickets for two, or pop in to the coffee bar for a hot chocolate or a glass of wine with the arty crowd.

12. Visit a museum

A visit to the South African Museum is a fun day out for the whole family. See 700-million year old fossils, stone tools made 120000 years ago and learn more about how people lived hundreds of years ago. Next door, the Planetarium will transport you through the wonders of the universe while you sit comfortably in your seat – the ultimate in armchair travel!

The District Six Museum tells the stories of the 60000 people forcibly removed from the District Six area in 1901 with photographs, memories, signage and more, while the South African Jewish Museum will take you on a journey through the cultural history of Jewish life and Judaism in general.

The world of medicine (and how far we’ve come) is a fascinating one, with the Cape Medical Museum being the place to view the path of medical history, while the Heart Transplant Museum plays homage to the incredible people behind the first heart transplant in the world that took place right here in Cape Town!

Rugby fans will enjoy the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum with it’s interesting interactive displays, photos and memorabilia. Plus you can test your kicking, passing, fitness and reaction skills in the interactive ‘Springbok Trials’ games zone.

13. Get away with murder

If you believe you got what it takes to apprehend a cold-hearted killer, solve a mystery or even get away with murder, then book a night with the Murder Mystery crew for an evening filled with danger, secrets and scandal while meeting new people and treating your taste-buds. If you don’t feel like going out, they can also organise a murder-mystery event at your home.

14. Play golf in a cave

Most of the putt-putt options in Cape Town are outside, and subject to the whims of the weather – but not this one. Cave Golf at the V&A Waterfront is an 18-hole putt putt course inside a man-made cave, complete with tricky angles, uneven surfaces and some interesting obstacles. It’s also right next door to the Scratch Patch, where kids will love scratching through over 100 different semi-precious stones for brightly coloured treasure.

15. Take in some art

If you’re an art buff, the South African National Art Gallery houses collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art, along with temporary exhibitions of paintings, photography, sculpture and more. For local arts and crafts, the Montebello Design Centre in Newlands is home to a broad spectrum of designers and artists, from jewellers to painters and potters, along with an enchanting nursery housed in one of the oldest greenhouses in South Africa.

16. Warm up with a curry

Nothing warms you up quite like a spicy dish, so head out for a curry (or order in) at one of the many Indian or Malay restaurants in The Mother City. We have a few we can recommend, with the most notable ones being Thali (tapas-style), Vintage India, Bukhara (try their affordable lunch specials) and Café Soul.

17. Get up close with a shark or meet an octopus

Explore, experience and engage at The Two Oceans Aquarium, home to one of only two kelp forest displays in the world and home to over 3000 living sea creatures, including sharks, fish, turtles and penguins. There’s plenty to explore here on a rainy day and make sure you don’t miss the spectacular display of jellies. Interesting fact: jellyfish are not called jellyfish anymore as they are not fish.

18. Discover the world of diamonds

Apart from drooling over diamonds that are worth as much as an entire small country, the fascinating tour at the Cape Town Diamond Museum will take you through the history of the world’s oldest and most desirable treasure. Find out how the engagement ring came to be, watch diamond cutters creating masterpieces and see replicas of famous diamonds such as The Cullinan, The Hope and The Taylor Burton. The best part? A diamond ring may empty your bank account, but the tour is free!

19. Enjoy a cup of coffee

Cold, rainy days and a hot steaming cup of coffee in a cosy coffee shop go hand in hand! Bean lovers should head to Deluxe Coffeeworks, Tribe Coffee Roasting Company, The Haas Collective and Origin Coffee Roasting to name a few. Notably, Truth Coffee was voted as the best coffee shop in the world by The Telegraph in 2016 and their outlet in Buitenkant street will find favour amongst steampunk fans (meanwhile, their Prestwich Memorial branch is housed in what was the city’s morgue making for a more macabre spot for cuppa!) If you are visiting Khayelitsha, then don’t miss having an affordable coffee at the trendy Department of Coffee, situated right next to the train station – it’s a local community success story that has Capetonians very proud.

20. Visit the V&A Waterfront

As a rule, shopping centres are not much fun at all, but the V&A Waterfront has much more than just shopping to offer. Yes, there are plenty of designer shops and local stores to browse through if you fancy spending a rainy day looking for a warm woollen scarf or pair of leather boots, but there are other things to do too. You could go to the movies, have high tea, tuck into a meal (the V&A Waterfront has plenty of winter specials at their restaurants), go on tours, look at art, enjoy a pint at a pub and much more. Plus, if it’s raining, then most people stay at home, so you could have the whole place to yourself!

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