Top 10: Free things to do in Cape Town

Whale-watching in Walker Bay, Hermanus. Whale-watching on the Hermanus coast.

1 Climb Table Mountain

Hikers can choose one of many routes to climb Table Mountain, one of the most famous mountains in the world. Many of the hikes are quite steep and a fair degree of fitness is required, although much depends on the pace at which you want to scale the mountain. The view from the top is worth it! more

2 V&A Waterfront

Cape Town’s beautiful Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a landmark attraction in the Mother City. Stroll along past the shops and restaurants, listen to the talented street musicians and admire the amateur artists who have made this former harbour area their personal stage. Don’t forget to scan the water for frolicking Cape fur seals as you soak up the vibe. more

3 Hit the beach

There is nothing quite like a summer day on the beaches of Cape Town. The wind-sheltered sandy expanses of Clifton, Llandudno and Camps Bay are very popular with sun worshipers. Kite-surfers make their way to Dolphin Beach in Table View and windsurfers prefer Sunset Beach. Muizenburg and Simon’s Town, with their slightly warmer waters, are popular with families. more

4 Visit a market

Cape Town has a long tradition of food and craft markets. The original Neighbourgoods Market is at The Old Biscuit Mill in the lively suburb of Woodstock. Every Saturday the building is a hive of delicious activity with speciality food and drinks for sale. Other local markets include the Willowbridge Slow Food Market and the Earth Fair Food Market. more

5 Historic homes

Built around 1778, Rust en Vreugd, one of the oldest houses in South Africa, is now a musuem, while Bertram House is the best preserved example of a Georgian-style red brick house in Cape Town. These are but two of many historic homes in Cape Town. more

6 Newlands Forest

A favourite with hikers, runners, mountain bikers, dog walkers and nature lovers, Newlands Forest is a conveniently located plantation in the Southern suburbs of the Mother City. Visit on a weekday if you want some quiet time or join in the fun on the weekend. more

7 Watch penguins, seals and whales

Cape Town is one of the best cities in the world to view marine animals. There's an African penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town and Cape Fur seals can be seen in Hout Bay and at the V&A Waterfront. Southern Right Whales are often seen from the shore – try your luck from mid-August to mid-October on Boyes Drive between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. more

8 Art galleries

Many of the best South African commercial art galleries are represented in the Mother City and entrance to most of them is free. Check out the Everard Read, Barnard, Goodman and Cape galleries. Along with these stalwarts, there are many smaller art exhibitions to explore. A wander around Woodstock or the City Centre will turn up some gems. more

9 The Company's Garden

In the heart of Cape Town, not far from Church Square and the bustle of Long Street, the Company's Garden dates from the 1650s and is home to over 8 000 species of plants. Explore the rose gardens, Japanese garden, fish pond and aviary. The Garden is also home to the South African National Art Gallery. more

10 Bo-Kaap

Situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, where the city starts to rise toward Table Mountain, the suburb of Bo-Kaap is known for its houses painted in bright colours and its cobble stoned pavements. The area is regarded as the spiritual home of the Muslim community in the Cape and provides unique insight into the diversity of cultures that have helped to shape the city. more

Got a question?

Contact an SA expert in your region: