Capetonians are spoiled for choice when it comes to deciding what to do with their time in Cape Town. Around every corner there is something new and exciting to experience from wine tasting in Constantia to Paragliding off Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.
The popularity of the city has skyrocketed among international travellers over the last couple of years. Restaurants and bars are bursting at the seams during the summer months. Tours and concerts across Cape Town are almost always sold out during the peak season. Cape Town can be quite an expensive place to spend a weekend, but you don’t always have to spend a lot of money to have a good time. We have come up with a list of activities in and around Cape Town that you can enjoy without having to break the bank. If you have any suggestions that might fit into this list then please feel free to leave a comment below. Enjoy!
1) Have a Meaty Township Lunch at Mzoli’s
First of all you have to keep an open mind when heading to Mzoli’s. The Gugulethu restaurant is by no means what you would call a traditional restaurant. There are no waiters, knives, forks or condiments on the table. If you want to have a drink you have to walk across the road to buy a bottle of wine or some beer at the bottle store. That said, Mzoli’s has a special vibe to it and a rustic flair that no other restaurant in Cape Town has. How it works is you walk into the butchery where there are various meats on offer. You pick the cuts that you would like to eat and the lady behind the counter weighs it to calculate the price that you have to pay. Remember to ask for a slice of their baked bread and the basting sauce that they make for the meat. After you’ve received your meat you head down to the braai area where they braai the meat for you while you wait outside. Your meaty lunch arrives moments later on a steel plate for you to tuck into with your bare hands. If there is a better way to eat braai meat then I haven’t heard of it!
The price of your lunch will depend on the weight of the meat that you select. On average you will be paying R89 per kilogram for mutton chops and R60 per kilogram for boerewors. A slice of bread costs R10 (don’t leave Mzoli’s without having a slice). Tel: 021-638-1355
2) Catch a Movie under the Stars at Galileo’s Open Air Cinemas
The old drive-in theatres have all but died out. The old days of watching a movie in your car next to your date with a hamburger and milkshake in hand is gone, but we now have the next best thing. The Galileo Open Air Cinemas take us back to the open air movies of old, where the family can sit together and enjoy a pick nick and a movie under the stars. The company screens both old and new movies which are rotated on a weekly basis. There are cinemas at Kirstenbosch, the V&A Waterfront, Hillcrest Quarry in Durbanville and on various Wine Estates in Stellenbosch and Somerset West. Local vendors sell delicious food before the screening starts and there are blankets and chairs for hire. The Cinemas are only open during the summer months so be sure to catch a movie before the clouds roll in and the stars disappear.
Tickets can be bought online at R70 for a standard ticket, R79 for a warm ticket (blanket included), R88 for a comfy ticket (chair included) and R95 for a warm & comfy ticket (chair and blanket included). If the screening isn’t sold out you can buy a standard ticket at the venue for R80. Tel: 071-471-8728
3) Have a Braai at Oudekraal or Maidens Cove
There isn’t anything better than lighting a fire on a hot summer day with your friends is there? The coastline around Cape Town is scattered with great braai spots with amazing views. At Oudekraal just outside of Camps Bay there are numerous built in braais with amazing views of the mountains above and the coastline below. At Maidens Cove just outside of Clifton there are also a number of built in braai areas, as well as a tidal pool and jungle gym for the kids to play on. There are many other braai spots around Cape Town to choose from like the Newlands Forest, Tokai Forest and the Silvermine Dam. During the summer months the braai areas along the coast are very popular. So get down to Maidens Cove or Oudekraal early if you want to secure a braai spot.
Entrance at Maidens Cove is free. Oudekraal Entrance fee – R30 for Adults, R15 for children and free entrance for WILD Card and TMNP Card holders. Wood – R20 a bag, R30 for a roll of Boerewors, R15 for 12 rolls and bob’s your uncle!
4) Wine Tasting at Cape Town’s finest Estates
Well I guess not much motivation will be needed for this one? South Africa produces some of the best wines in the world and we certainly have the most beautiful winelands in the world (might be a little bias here). The Constantia Wine route has some world class wine farms to do tastings at like Groot and Klein Constantia, Eagles Nest and Steenberg. In the Franschhoek wine route you have a choice of over 50 farms to do tastings at, with even more farms situated on the Stellenbosch Wine Route. If you like something different then at Fairview in Paarl you can do a cheese and wine tasting, while at Waterford in Stellenbosch you can do a chocolate and wine tasting. Whether you do it for the wine or the views, we can assure you that a day spent in the Cape Winelands is a day well spent.
Wine tasting prices vary from farm to farm. There are many farms that offer tastings for free, but you can expect to pay anything between R20 to R80 per person for a tasting. Stellenbosch Wine Route Tel: 021-886-4310
5) Have a Beer at Perseverance Tavern
Perseverance Tavern is popularly believed to be the oldest surviving pub in the land, with the first beer being poured back in 1808 when the pub was built. The pub became popular among travellers who arrived at the harbour in the 1800’s looking for a cheap place to stay. The tavern operated as an unofficial pub for 28 years before finally receiving its liquor licence in 1826. South Africa’s most famous colonial figure, Cecil John Rhodes, was a local at the pub which was built 67 years before construction started on South Africa’s Houses of Parliament. For over 206 years Perseverance Tavern has been serving locals and travellers at their ancient wine cast tables. Experience a small part of Cape Town’s history at Perseverance Tavern. The beer is cold and the burgers are hot, what else do you need?
Get a Beer for around R20 and the popular Bacon & Cheese Burger for R49. Tel: 021-461-2440
6) Take a Big Cat Tour at Vredenheim
The Vredenheim Wildlife and Winery Estate has a Big Cat park which is home to the world’s largest cats. They have lion, leopard, tiger, cheetah and caracal at the park. The cats live in large open enclosures and have all been bought from approved dealers, the park is also fully approved by Cape Nature. The owners have a passion for big cats and they decided to share their passion with the public by opening the Big Cat Park. The park aims to educate the public about the animals and their behaviours. Since opening up in 2011 the park has been a huge success. Vredenheim is the only place in the Cape Winelands where you can do a wine-tasting and a big cat tour on the same farm, it’s a truly unique experience.
Tickets to the Big Cat Park cost R50 for Adults and R30 for Children and Pensioners. Wine tastings cost R25 per person. Tel: 021-881-3878
7) Go on a Submarine Tour in Simon’s Town
Here is another activity that is unique to Cape Town, submarine tours. At South Africa’s Naval Headquarters in Simon’s Town a private company called HGTS Tours do submarine tours on a retired South African Naval Submarine. The SAS Assegaai was decommissioned in 2003. The French built submarine’s interior was restored by retired and in-service naval staff who convinced the Navy to turn the sub into a museum. The museum gives the public the opportunity to experience life inside a submarine even if just for a short while. Tours are done by experienced guides who explain how an average day on the submarine would have run and how the equipment works. The submarine tour is a great educational activity for the whole family to enjoy.
The hour long tour costs R40 for adults and R20 for children under 12. The price includes entrance into the museum and a bus ride from Jubilee Square to the Submarine. Tel: 021-786-5243
8) Take in the View from the Boomslang Walkway in Kirstenbosch
Kirstenbosch Gardens has long been one of Cape Town’s most popular tourist destinations. The beautiful scenery, rare and beautiful plants and flowers, colonial baths and waterways, rolling lawns and hiking trails attract thousands of visitors every year. Last year the park built a new attraction which is now the main draw card of the gardens. The Boomslang Walkway opened to the public on the 17th of May 2014. The walkway sneaks through the treetop canopy like a snake would, hence the name “Boomslang”. The 130m walkway, which at its highest point is 12m above the ground, offers an unrestricted view over the gardens, mountains and the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town. The great thing is that you don’t have to pay extra to walk on the Boomslang Walkway. Visitors only have to pay the standard entrance fee for the gardens which will give them access to the walkway.
Kirstenbosch Gardens entrance fees are R50 for Adults, R25 for SA Students and R10 for Children aged 6 – 17, while kids under 6 enter for free. There is no additional charge for the Boomslang Walkway. Tel: 021-799-8783
9) Soak in some History at the District 6 Museum
South Africa’s history books are filled with tales of forced removals, discrimination, conflict and violence. The story of District 6 is one of the saddest and most infamous stories of them all. District 6 was an inner city residential area in Cape Town which at its peak had over 60 000 residents. The area was relatively cosmopolitan but the majority of the people living in District 6 were Cape Malays. The Apartheid government declared District 6 a white only area under the Group Areas Act in 1966. Evacuations started in 1968 and more than 60 000 people were forcibly moved to the Cape Flats by 1982. The apartheid government proceeded to demolish the entire District 6. Every single building was broken down except the places of worship. The museum was opened in 1994 with an aim to educate future generations on the inhumane events that played out at District 6. We can all learn from the wise words of Winston Churchill; “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
Tickets cost R30 per Adult for an unguided tour, R45 per Adult for a guided tour (tours are done by ex-residents), R5 per South African Scholar and R15 for International Scholars. Tel: 021-466-7200
10) Have a cup of Coffee on Signal Hill
The view over Table Bay from the top of Signal hill is without a doubt one of the most beautiful views in the whole of South Africa. Yes, Table Mountain has a much higher vantage point and Lion’s Head has the best panoramic view over Cape Town, Table Bay and Camps Bay, but Signal Hill is more accessible and you don’t have to pay or hike for a couple of hours to get to the top. If you have had a tough day or if you feel that the city is swallowing you in, then there is no better medicine than a quick trip up Signal Hill. The view over the Atlantic and the city below will provide you with a quick escape from the fast paced life you live below.
R12 for a cup of Filter Coffee from the coffee vendor at the top of Signal Hill.
11) Visit the Springbok Experience Rugby Museum at the V&A Waterfront
The Springbok Experience opened just under 2 years ago and to date it has been a roaring success. The interactive exhibit brings to life the history of Springbok rugby through audio and visual recordings. The museum holds the biggest collection of Springbok memorabilia in the world. The history of rugby in South Africa which stretches back for more than 120 years is on display at the museum. The Springbok jacket of Paul Roos, the first ever Springbok Captain, and the jersey that Springbok Captain John Smit whore in the 2007 World Cup Final are among the priceless memorabilia on display.
R50 Entrance fee for Adults, R30 for Pensioners and R30 for Scholars. Pre-school children can enter the museum for free. Tel: 021 418 4741
12) Have Lunch at the Rhodes Memorial
In the shadow of the memorial built for one of the world’s most powerful and wealthiest men of his time, Cecil John Rhodes, there is a quaint little restaurant with a hell of a view. The memorial was built on Rhodes’s favourite spot in Cape Town, on the slopes of Devil’s Peak where he owned huge areas of land. It is the spot where he sat and dreamed of the Cape to Cairo railway which he championed until the end of his days. After his death he donated the land to the people of South Africa which saved it from being developed. The restaurant at the memorial is perhaps the only restaurant that has a view over both Table Bay and False Bay. The restaurant serves all day breakfast, baguettes, salads and Cape Speciality dishes. The family restaurant has swings, slides, a jungle gym and a sand pit available to keep the kids busy. If you just want to have a drink and perhaps something sweet, then head to the tea garden where tea and cake is served all day long.
R50 for a Gypsy Ham and Mozzarella Toasted Sandwich with Fries and Salad. R17 for a regular Filter Coffee. Tel: 021-687-0000
13) Watch a Summer Concert at Kirstenbosch Gardens
Anyone who has watched a summer concert at Kirstenbosch will tell you that there is something special about the venue. There is nothing quite like it anywhere else in South Africa. The mountains, the rolling lawn, the view over Rondebosch, Newlands and False Bay and the tunes of South Africa’s favourite local artists playing in the background all adds up to the idyllic scene that plays out every summer Sunday at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Goldfish, Johnny Clegg, Beatenberg, Jeremy Loops and Mi Casa are among the local talents who will be performing at Kirstenbosch this year. Remember to get there early if you want to get a site close to the stage because the lawn fills up quickly.
Ticket prices vary from show to show but you can expect to pay between R75 and R135 for a ticket. To keep it on or under R100, get tickets for the Beatenberg & Gangs of Ballet concert which costs between R75 and R100. Concert tickets are available at – www.webtickets.co.za
14) Take a Guided Historical Walking Tour of Cape Town
In global terms Cape Town is not such a big city, which is why it is the perfect city to do a walking tour in. The highlights of the inner-city/historical walking tours include the Company Gardens, City Hall, Grand Parade, Parliament, Greenmarket Square, the Slave Lodge and St Georges Cathedral. The Bo-Kaap walking tour takes one through the colourful Bo-kaap community where the smell of delicious Cape Malay food fills the air. The Bo-Kaap tour takes you to Auwal Masjeed, the oldest Mosque in Cape Town, the Atlas Spice Trading Centre, Chiappini Street (the Bo-Kaap’s most colourful street), Bree Street (home of Cape Town cool) and Green Market Square. Alternatively if you want to do a self-guided tour then pick up a city guide from the Cape Town Tourism Information office or download the Walking Tour of Central Cape Town app and explore the city on your own time.
Guided walking tours cost R70 for Adults and R35 for Kids aged 5-17 through the City Sightseeing Company and Nielsen Tours (same company that does the night tour and hop on op off bus tours). Tel: 021-511-6000
15) Visit the Franschhoek Motor Museum
The Franschhoek Motor Museum is one of the best kept secrets of the Cape Winelands. When it was first opened on the L’Ormarins Wine Estate only a handful of people knew about it. But over the last year or 2 its popularity has grown and the museum has experienced a steady increase in visitors. At any given time there are around 80 cars on display at the museum, with hundreds more stored elsewhere on the farm. The cars are rotated on a monthly basis. This means that you can see a collection of Alfa Romeos in one of the four display rooms if you visit say in March, and in April they will have been swapped out and replaced by their Mercedes Benz collection. One simply cannot put a value to such a collection. If you don’t like cars I promise you that after looking at the McLaren F1, the Ferrari Enzo, the Jaguar E Type Series 1, the Ferrari 250 GT Lusso or the Aston Martin DBS3 you will almost certainly have changed your mind.
R60 Entrance fee for Adults, R50 for Pensioners, R50 for Motor Club Members and R30 for Kids between 2 and 12 years old. Tel: 021-874-9000
16) Grab a bite to eat at Cape Town’s Trendy Markets
Ground zero of Cape Town’s food scene is the food markets that seem to be popping up around every corner in Cape Town. Many restaurants and chefs try out new dishes and combinations at these markets. The food on offer at markets like Biscuit Mill, City Bowl Market and V&A Market on the Warf is as good as the dishes being served at many of Cape Town’s top restaurants. The Bo-Kaap Market which takes place on every last Saturday of the month at the Haas Collective gallery is also well worth a visit. If you are into the alternative scene then the market at the Hout Bay Harbour is worth a visit. The Hout Bay Market, which is set inside an old fish factory, sells good food and cold beer while township guitarists play groovy tunes in the background.
The markets in Cape Town have a wide variety of food available for under R100. There is a stall on the second level at the V&A Market on the Warf which sells a great pulled port sandwich for around R50.
17) Do a Night Tour of Cape Town
The Cape Town night tour departs daily from the V&A Waterfront’s Two Oceans Aquarium at 18h00 during the summer months (September to March) and at 17h30 in the winter months (April to August). The tour heads past all of Cape Town’s most popular sites like the Camps Bay strip, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, Adderley Street, the Company Gardens and the colourful Bo-Kaap community. The tour is not a hop on hop off bus service but it does stop off at the top of Signal Hill. Here you can get off and have a pick nick on the slopes of the hill while watching the sun set over the Atlantic. Audio recordings provide you with historical information of the area that you are passing through. The tour takes around 3 hours to complete, which means that you will be back at the Waterfront at around 21h00 if the tour started at 18h00, just in time for dinner.
Tickets for the night tour costs R90 per Adult when you book online and R100 when you book at the ticketing office. Kids aged 5-17 will pay R50 and kids under 5 can get on the bus for free. Tel: 021-874-9000
18) Go Star Gazing at the Planetarium
Inside the Planetarium the night sky is recreated into an audio and visual experience that captivates the minds of visitors both young and old. The celestial theatre is situated in the South African Museum building on the border of the Company Gardens. The Planetarium screens different shows among the most popular of which is the ‘Astronomy of the Great Pyramid.’ The film takes a look at how the designs and positions of the pyramids in Egypt might have been decided and built in accordance with the positioning of the stars. For a Cape winter’s afternoon you cannot go wrong by visiting the planetarium, it’s one of Cape Town’s hidden gems.
Tickets cost R40 for Adults (19 years and older) and R20 for Children, Pensioners and South African Students. Tel: 021-481-3900
19) Catch a Comedy Show at Jou Ma se Comedy Club
The popular Jou Ma se Comedy Club has been a big success since it moved to its current location at the Pump House in the V&A Waterfront. The club is the only dedicated comedy venue in Cape Town that is open 7 days a week. Top South African comedians like Nik Rabinowitz, Alyn Adams and Dave Levinsohn are regular performers at the club. There is a different performer on stage every week but the quality of the shows remain top class week in and week out. The Bay Harbour Comedy Club at the Hout Bay Market also has top class comedians performing over weekends. Popular comedians Deep Fried Man and Chris Forrest have performed at the club.
Tickets to weekday shows at Jou Ma se Comedy Club Costs R95 while weekend tickets costs R120 (Get there during the week to keep it under R100). Tel: 021-418-8880
20) Watch a Currie Cup March at Newlands
Cape Town has a number of locations that are steeped in history, it’s to be expected being South Africa’s Mother City and all. Newlands rugby stadium is one of these locations that is deeply embedded in the cultural history of South Africa. Sport is such a huge part of the lives of South Africans that it has become part of our culture. Newlands is South Africa’s oldest rugby stadium and the 2nd oldest in the world. Western Province (WP) did us proud once again by winning the Currie Cup at Newlands last year for a record 33rd time. If you aren’t a WP fan then you should at least go to Newlands for the Boerewors Rolls, beers and more importantly the history.
Tickets to a Currie Cup pool match will cost anything between R50 and R100. Tel: 021-657-2050
21) Visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is the new jewel in Cape Town’s already full crown. Africa’s largest museum is made up of 6,000 square meters which is spread out over nine floors and 100 gallery spaces. The museum is dedicated to collecting, researching and exhibiting Contemporary African art, the first museum in the world to do so. The old grain silo at the V&A Waterfront, which houses the museum, in an important historical landmark. Dating back to 1921, the silos were the industrial heart of the harbour for the better part of a century. Today the museum is set to become the artistic hub of Africa.
On the first Friday of every month tickets are sold at half price (R90) from 16h00 to 21h00. General admission for adults is R180, children under the age of 18 get free access to the museum. Tel: 087-350-4777
22) Catch a movie at South Africa’s oldest cinema, The Labia Theater
Opened by Princess Labia of Italy in 1949 as a theatre for live performances, the Labia Theatre has for the past 4 decades been operating as an independent cinema. In 1989 Ludi Kraus bought the cinema and that is when it started to become Cape Town’s home of classic, cult and art movies. Much of the old building’s original features like the ticket booth, sweets counter and the seats have been maintained. The Labia recently converted to digital projection, which has drastically improved it’s sound and picture quality, while keeping the old world charm of the theatre. Today the Labia runs a mix of art/cult and blockbuster movies, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The Labia sells tickets to all their shows at R50 a pop. Tickets can be bought on Webtickets. Tel: 021-424-5927