Cape Town is a paradise for nature-lovers and adrenaline junkies alike. Whether you’re looking for scenic hiking trails, picnic spots or something more adventurous, you’ll find them all in the Mother City.
Hiking in Cape Town
The Cape Peninsula, with Cape Point at one end and Table Mountain at the other, offers a network of crisscrossing hiking trails that will lead you through indigenous fynbos and forest. Cape Town’s unique floral kingdom boasts the richest concentration of plant species on the planet.
The Table Mountain National Park stretches approximately 60km from Signal Hill to Cape Point and includes a large portion of the mountain chain of the Peninsula, as well as 1 000 square km of coastline and sea.
Take your pick from these beautiful and well-trodden hiking trails in and around Cape Town:
The Pipe Track: A fairly level 6km trail on the slopes of Table Mountain. A great choice for beginners.
Platteklip Gorge: A popular trail leading to the summit of Table Mountain, with incredible views. This hike is just 2.5km long, but the route is steep and only recommended for fit hikers.
Lion’s Head: Enjoy a 5.5km return hike on the famous lion-shaped hill next to Table Mountain. It’s also become a tradition for local hikers to hike the Lion’s Head trail on summer evenings at the full moon.
Silvermine: There are plenty of hiking trails in the Silvermine Nature Reserve, including family-friendly trails for beginners and youngsters. You can also stop at the Silvermine Reservoir to picnic and swim.
Cecilia Waterfall trail: A moderately challenging hike through the Cecilia Forest, ending in a scenic waterfall.
Constantia Nek: This 14.6km scenic hiking trail will take you past a lake and three reservoirs.
Cape Point: You’ll find a wide variety of hiking trails to choose from when you visit Cape Point. Explore the coastline at the southern tip of Africa, and keep an eye out for famous shipwrecks.
Skeleton Gorge: This trail starts in the stunning Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and runs from one side of Table Mountain to the other. The trail includes indigenous forests and waterfalls. It’s only recommended for experienced hikers as it can be quite steep and strenuous.
Short Circular trail: A 3.4km beginner-friendly walk in the Newlands Forest. This shady trail includes a beautiful lake for swimming on hot days. Ideal for families with young children and dogs.
Myburgh’s Waterfall Ravine trail: Hike through the Table Mountain National Park from Hout Bay, alongside a stream and up to a magnificent waterfall. A steep hike for fit climbers.
Here are some of the most popular adrenaline-fuelled outdoor activities on offer in Cape Town:
Abseil down Table Mountain: Enjoy an exhilarating experience with the world’s highest commercial abseil, at 1 000m above sea level. Abseil down the side of Table Mountain and take in the spectacular views as you go.
Ziplining in Cape Town: A nature reserve in Elgin gives you the opportunity to zipline over fynbos forests, waterfalls and lush green valleys. This exciting canopy adventure includes 13 elevated platforms and a suspension bridge over a double waterfall.
Mountain biking in Cape Town: From forest trails to farmland rides, cyclists are spoiled for choice with the rich variety of mountain bike trails in and around Cape Town.
Family-Friendly Outdoor Activities in Cape Town
If extreme sports aren’t your thing, there are plenty of scenic spots to enjoy more relaxing outdoor activities for kids and parents visiting Cape Town.
Have a picnic on the grassy lawns of Kirstenbosch Gardens, spend the morning at one of the city’s much-loved farmer’s markets, or take a dip in one of the Cape’s beautiful tidal pools – natural swimming pools filled by the ocean tides.
National Parks in Cape Town
The City of Cape Town manages several nature reserves and natural areas, with beautiful mountain settings and lots of outdoor activities to experience. For provincial and national reserves in the Western Cape that offer a mountain experience, we recommend browsing the following websites:
Cape Nature: Manages 24 nature reserves and wilderness areas across the Western Cape. Most offer overnight accommodation, camping facilities, and a variety of activities.
Cape Town’s Weather and Climate
When is the best time of year to enjoy outdoor activities in Cape Town?
The region enjoys a Mediterranean climate with warm summers, rainy winters, and milder in-between seasons.
Summer (December to February) is usually hot and sunny with an average temperature of around 26°C. This is the most popular time to visit Cape Town and tourists and residents usually enjoy about 11 hours of sunshine every day.
In Autumn (March to May) temperatures range between 13°C and 20°C. Days start to become cooler, with occasional drizzle and a little wind.
Spring (September to November) is milder, with temperatures ranging between 9°C and 24°C. During this season you can enjoy lush, green vegetation, cooler nights, and pleasant weather.
Winter (June to August) is Cape Town’s rainy season, with an average of about 12 rainy days per month and an average rainfall of between 82 and 93mm. Temperatures during winter usually range between 7°C and 18°C.