Cape Town is a world-renowned city with incredible natural beauty. It offers visitors a variety of unforgettable experiences and is home to the Cape Town Big 6. These attractions represent the Mother City’s dramatic scenery, interesting history and exhilarating activities that have come to define this beautiful part of South Africa.
Cape Point, Groot Constantia, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Robben Island Museum, Table Mountain Cableway and the V&A Waterfront all form part of this experience. A trip to the city will not be complete without a visit to each of the top 6 attractions, many of which are national monuments and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Rich biodiversity, sheer cliffs, breath-taking views, fascinating shipwrecks, magnificent sunrises, and an old lighthouse are just a handful of the sights that visitors can enjoy at the Cape Point nature reserve.
This stunning area is the most southwestern tip of Africa and forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. It boasts unspoilt fynbos vegetation – which is one of the smallest, but most diverse of the world’s six floral kingdoms. The reserve is also home to 250 bird species as well as the Cape Mountain Zebra and Eland – the world’s largest antelope.
Visitors can ride the Flying Dutchman Funicular from the parking lot up to the viewing point, just below the 162-year-old lighthouse. It will be difficult to resist taking heaps of photos of the lighthouse and of the panoramic views over the Atlantic Ocean.
Other ways to enjoy Cape Point are to hike one of the many day or overnight trails, swim, picnic, sea kayak, mountain bike or explore the wide variety of dive sites. Visitors can walk the shipwreck trail to view some of the 26 recorded shipwrecks around Cape Point. There is accommodation in the form of cottages in the Cape of Good Hope section of the park, which are ideal for family holidays.
Cape Point’s Two Oceans Restaurant is temporarily closed, but light take-away meals and refreshments can be bought from the Food Shop. Visitors can also buy souvenirs and gifts from the Cape Point Logo Store to serve as a reminder of their trip to this beautiful reserve.
Download the Cape Point Audio Tour before visiting to get loads of interesting information about this iconic site.
Groot Constantia wine farm is South Africa’s oldest wine-producing farm, established in 1685, and a certified national monument. The farm produces a wide range of world class, quality wines and plays an important role in preserving South Africa’s wine industry heritage.
The vineyards are nestled in the beautiful Constantia Valley, overlooking False Bay, and the huge estate can be explored via numerous walking paths. Joggers and dog walkers are also welcome to enjoy these scenic routes.
The estate has a self-guided, circular visitors route, which is the perfect way to discover everything that it has to offer. On this route, guests can visit the 17th century manor house with its impressive Cape Dutch architecture. The famous Cloete Cellar is the birthplace of the Grand Constance wine – a favourite of Napoleon. To truly appreciate the wines produced on the farm, visitors are encouraged to do wine tasting at Groot Constantia in one of two tasting rooms. The award-winning wines can also be bought here.
There is a wine museum and a cultural history museum on the property. Free audio tours can be downloaded for the vineyards, manor house and modern-day production cellar. In a guided cellar tour, visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the wine-making process on this fully operational farm.
Visitors can dine at one of Groot Constantia’s two restaurants or take along a picnic to enjoy on the grounds.
Robben Island is a World Heritage Site and national monument that bursts at the seams with the history of South Africa’s political past. The island is home to a maximum-security prison where inmates, including Nelson Mandela, were incarcerated for political offenses. The prison has since been converted into the Robben Island Museum.
A trip to Robben Island is well worth it. Tours to the island depart daily, weather and demand dependent, via a short ferry ride from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront. Visitors disembark at the island’s Murray Harbour before being transported by bus to historical sites around the island.
Visitors will be taken around by a knowledgeable Robben Island tour guide – some of whom are former inmates. The tour includes the graveyard of people who died from leprosy, a lime quarry where prisoners were expected to mine limestone, former prisoner Robert Sobukwe’s house, and army and navy bunkers.
The tour also goes through the maximum-security prison, which now houses several exhibitions, and ends with a viewing of Nelson Mandela’s cell.
The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is one of the greatest botanic gardens in the world and its status as a World Heritage Site is testament to this. It covers an impressive 528 hectares, only 36 hectares of which are cultivated. The tranquil garden is located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, just a stone’s throw away from Cape Town’s busy city centre.
The garden’s natural areas consist of unspoilt fynbos vegetation and beautiful Afromontane Forest which is found in the valleys and on the slopes of the mountain. Various indigenous birds, animals, reptiles, frogs and invertebrates can be spotted on the estate. Geology enthusiasts will enjoy the different rock types that can be seen in the gardens. Free guided tours leave from the visitor’s centre on weekday mornings.
Kirstenbosch can be explored via five walking and hiking trails of varying difficulties. These include the shorter Boekenhout and Stinkwood Trails. The Yellowwood and Silvertree trails are long hikes through fynbos and forest and up to a waterfall. Hikers can also climb Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch Gardens using the Nursery ravine or Skeleton Gorge trails. Meanwhile, Kirstenbosch’s Braille Trail gives visually impaired visitors the opportunity to enjoy natural forest and wetland, unassisted. The 450-metre-long trail is outlined by a guide rope.
The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway, informally called the Kirstenbosch Boomslang (tree snake) is a must-do. Inspired by the structure of a snake skeleton, this unique 130m walkway winds its way through and above the tree canopy of the gardens. The sculptural walkway rises 12m above ground in places, giving visitors spectacular, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains, gardens and the Cape Flats. There is no additional fee to walk along the boomslang.
Visitors can enjoy a picnic under one of the many big trees or dine at the sophisticated Moyo Kirstenbosch Restaurant. Kirstenbosch also hosts wildly popular summer sunset concerts and movie screenings.
Table Mountain is South Africa’s most iconic and most photographed landmark. It forms part of the 221 km² Table Mountain National Park and is a World Heritage Site as well as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
The three-kilometre plateau can be reached via a short, exhilarating ride on one of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway’s state of the art cable cars. With its rotating floor, visitors can start enjoying panoramic views of the city, sea and mountain before they’ve even reached the top. The cable car operates daily when the weather permits.
The sea and city views from the top of Table Mountain are breath-taking. On a clear day, visitors will be able to see Robben Island, Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles. There are three signposted walkways to explore; regular, free guided tours; as well as two free audio tours which can be downloaded.
Fit individuals can reach the top of Table Mountain by one of several hiking trails, exploring the mountain’s deep ravines, imposing cliff faces, and gorges along the way. Platteklip Gorge is the easiest hike, while some of the others, such as India Venster, the pipe track, and Dassie walk, vary in difficulty. Hikers often walk up the mountain and take the cable car back down again. Please remember that the cable car is closed in bad weather, so be prepared to walk back down the mountain if necessary.
Visitors can picnic among the mountain’s vast array of fauna and indigenous flora, enjoy the treats and refreshments that are on sale, or even shop for souvenirs and gifts.
Cape Town’s popular V&A Waterfront has a diverse offering of shopping, restaurants, bars, and entertainment coupled with spectacular views of Table Mountain. Set alongside a historical, working harbour, the vast V&A Waterfront caters to both local and international visitors.
When visitors aren’t shopping, they can dine at one of more than 80 V&A Waterfront restaurants. They cater for every need, whether you want a cup of coffee and quick snack, an after-work drink, or a multi-course fine-dining experience. You can also enjoy something to eat at the vibrant Food Market in the V&A’s Dry Dock District.
The Watershed is a beautiful space where traders sell unique, high-quality, local ceramics, textiles, furniture, fashion, jewellery, arts and crafts.
Next to The Watershed is the incredible Two Oceans Aquarium. Children and adults alike will find themselves in awe at the rays, sharks, sea turtles and indigenous fish that swim in massive tanks. One of the exhibits even boasts a 10-metre long, transparent tunnel, giving visitors a unique opportunity to get up close and personal with magnificent sea creatures.
The Two Oceans Aquarium also has a jelly fish gallery, kelp forest exhibit, and a penguin colony. Visitors can arrange to scuba dive in some of the exhibits.
At the extraordinary Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), in the Silo District, the over 100 galleries host the world’s largest collection of cutting-edge contemporary art from Africa and the diaspora. This district also offers restaurants and shops.
Other V&A Waterfront activities include sunset cruises, helicopter flights, luxury spas, The Cape Wheel Ferris wheel, water activities in the Canal District, and 2.5km and 5km jogging running routes.
Safety a priority for top attractions
Visitor safety is prioritised at Cape Town’s Big 6 attractions. All venues follow Covid-19 protocols and operate within government gazetted times and relevant lockdown level regulations. These attractions are committed to complying with best practices to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Please contact each attraction directly, or visit their social media pages, for the most up-to-date information about opening times and any Covid-19 related restrictions that may be in place.
Visit Cape Town’s top attractions.Cape Town Tourism