Things to do in Cape Town: Outdoor Adventures

You don't have to go far to take in the natural and dramatic beauty of the city, with its enviable environment of ocean and mountains.

It's easy to appreciate Cape Town's natural beauty with a hike or cable car up to Table Mountain, and see a raft of indigenous plant species at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. You also can get close to wildlife. Boulders Beach is famed for its African penguins; Seal Island has a noisy colony of fur seals; and you can dive with sharks further afield in Gansbaai. Hikers can get their boots on, or whizz on a mountain bike, to Cape Point, and head to the top of Lion's Head.

And if you're feeling lazy? Well, you can always hop onto the Cape Wheel, where a slow rotation will give you an eyeful of all these great panoramas and more.

Lion’s Head

This peak forms part of the Table Mountain range—a one-hour walk to the top rewards you with stunning views of the city, Table Bay and the Atlantic. It's also possible to do this with the light of a full moon.

Castle of Good Hope

Today the castle, built 1679, is home to three museums. The William Fehr Collection is a fine display of furnishings reflecting the Cape’s history, with landscapes, 17th-century Japanese porcelain and 18th-century Indonesian furniture. Upstairs is a huge dining table which seats 104, in a room still used for state dinners.

Company’s Gardens

Running alongside Government Avenue are the peaceful Company’s Garden, situated on the site of Jan van Riebeeck’s original vegetable garden, created in 1652 to grow produce for settlers and ships bound for the East. It’s a popular spot with office workers at lunchtime.

Table Mountain National Park

This is what defines Cape Town. Rising 1073m above the coastal plain, it dominates city views, its sharp slopes and level top making it one of the world’s best-known city backdrops. The mountain’s wilderness, in the middle of a bustling conurbation, makes the biggest impression.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Thirteen km south of the city centre is South Africa’s oldest and largest botanical garden, part of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stretching up the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, they were proclaimed a National Botanical Garden in 1913.

Boulders Beach

A rare opportunity to get up close to a colony of penguins on this small sandy beach, which is also good for swimming. It forms part of Table Mountain National Park, with a small entrance fee.

Gansbaai

A day trip from Cape Town, this is a rare chance to enjoy (‘endure’?) some shark cage diving: This small fishing village this is the great white shark capital of the world. Take a boat trip to see these gorgeous beasts and the high population of seals.

Cape Point

This is the most southwesterly tip of Africa, around 60km from Cape Town. Home to almost 20% of Africa's flora, this is one of the world's most rich areas for plants. The lighthouse is at the stop of a steep flight of steps.

Seal Island

This rocky little island is home to thousands of noisy, brown Cape fur seals. It's located just 6km from Hout Bay, with plenty of boats doing the journey. You can't actually disembark onto the island, but you might actually see a shark attempting to get one of the seals for dinner.

Cape Wheel

Located in the open plaza-like area, lined with restaurants and pubs with alfresco tables, this observation wheel is a mini-replica of the London Eye. It has 30 air-conditioned cars, two of which can accommodate wheelchairs, and the ride takes approx 15 minutes to an optimum height of 40m.