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Best Outdoor Activities in Cape Town: A Local’s Guide

Havana Dauncey
Best Outdoor Activities in Cape Town: A Local’s Guide

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Are you looking to explore Cape Town’s great outdoors? Well with so many incredible options to choose from, it’s a tough decision to choose what to do first!

Cape Town on a sunny day can take your breath away, especially on a rare summer’s day when the cold south-easterly wind, known as the Cape Doctor, takes a day off, or when the clouds decide to part on warm winter’s day. Particularly at this time of year during autumn when you can’t help but seize the day the moment the rain stops. Well, if you want to get into the great outdoors, Cape Town is your oyster!

From chilling with penguins to reaching the summit of one of the 7 natural wonders in the world, you’re guaranteed to find the perfect outdoor activity!

15 Cape Town outdoor activities for a sunny day

No one knows the ins and outs of Cape Town like the locals. With this local’s guide to outdoor activities to do in Cape Town, you know you’re going to be getting the best of the best, plus some of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets! Here are 15 Cape Town outdoor activities you have to try at least once if you want the full Cape Town experience.

Hiking

Cape Town has no shortage of mountains to hike. So if you’re wanting to get your legs moving and your hearts pumping, you’re definitely spoilt for choice. Here’s a list of Cape Town’s most famous hikes, plus a few for a new view of the mother city.

  • Table Mountain

Hiking Table Mountain

In the heart of the city, this natural wonder of the world is definitely the most popular hiking trail in Cape Town, and for good reason. Plus, you have many trails that will get you to the top, including Skeleton’s Gorge through the forest up the back of Table Mountain, Platteklip Gorge right up the front (be careful on a hot day, as you’re directly in the sun), and the infamous India Venster known as the most difficult trail. Additionally, if you’re just looking for a view, you can take the cable car right to the top. And don’t forget to bring your swimming costumes for a dip in one of the dams on top.

  • Lion’s Head

Lion's Head Cape Town

Located just next to Table Mountain, Lion’s Head is another very popular hike, especially at sunrise or sunset. While it is a bit of a climb with a steep incline, the top view is worth it where you get a full 360 of the city and the ocean. Just be aware that there are two routes to the top, with one requiring you to climb using metal holds in a rock face. Always take a jacket, the wind can be nippy!

  • Elephant’s Eye (30 min from CBD)

Starting at Silvermine Dam, this hike is a lovely, moderate hike on Constantiaberg mountain that leads you past the elephant’s knee and into the elephant’s eye — a massive cave that makes you feel like you’ve travelled back to prehistoric times., and is the perfect place to picnic with a full view of the southern suburbs all the way to the Drakensberg mountains.

  • Cecilia’s Waterfall (20 min from CBD)

Set in the jungle-like backdrop of Cecilia’s Forest, this is a trail beloved by locals. While there might be a lot of stairs, and your calves might feel it the next morning, the rushing waterfall you reach at the end makes it so worth it, especially after some recent rainfall.

  • Cape Point (1 hour from CBD)

Cape Point Hike

This easy-breezy hike is more like a walk through the serene Cape Point Nature Reserve. The best thing about this trail is the ancient shipwreck washed up on the beach, serving as a reminder of Cape Town’s old nickname of the Cape of Storms.

Kayak In The Bays

Explore Cape Town’s gorgeous bays up close and personal with a kayaking adventure, often meeting friends along the way such as seals, dolphins, and penguins.

Here are the details:

  • Where: Hout Bay, Simon’s Town or Three Anchors Bays in Sea Point
  • How Much: R450-R550 per person
  • Duration: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Here are some kayaking companies to help you get out there and explore the Atlantic Ocean from the water - Atlantic Outlook, Kayak Adventures, Seal Kayaking, and Gravity Micro Adventures.

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Snorkel in the Great African Sea Forest

Once you’ve explored the deep from above, why not check it out from below? Snorkelling is a popular activity among both locals and tourists. Especially when you have access to the Great African Sea Forest which is over 1 000 km along the coast from Cape Town to Namibia! With such a diversity of marine life bustling under the waves, there’s no limit to what you might find. Some snorkelling hotspots in Cape Town include:

  • Windmill Beach
  • Miller’s Point
  • Sandy Cove
  • Partridge Point
  • Cape Point
  • Pyramid Rock
  • Shark Bay Gansbaai
  • Harbour Bay Hermanus
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Explore The Best Beaches And Tidal Pools

Best Cape Town BeachesCape Town’s beaches have been voted some of the best in the world with their majestic shorelines and fine white sand. And with a coastline on either side of Cape Town and the endless number of stunning beaches, it’s almost impossible to choose which one you should choose (we say try them all). Here’s a list of the best beaches in Cape Town:

  • Camps Bay: Lined with palm trees and the Camp’s Bay strip, this popular beach is perfect for hopping from the beach to lunch at a trendy restaurant across the road.
  • Clifton 1st to 5th: The 5 beaches of Clifton are some of Cape Town’s most famous. Hugging Cape Town’s cliffside and down a few flights of stairs, you’ll find a setting right out of a movie.
  • Llandudno: While it tends to be a bit quieter than Clifton and Camps Bay, it may even be more beautiful. It is definitely one of the more elite and world-class beaches in Cape Town.
  • Bakoven and Cozy Bay: Found fairly close to each other, these two beaches are just as picturesque as the others, but a lot smaller and a lot more private, which is why they tend to be favourites for the locals.
  • Fish Hoek: One of the favourites in False Bay, Fish Hoek is perfect for a family beach day with a restaurant right on the beach, a playground, a shark net and a delightful catwalk to explore the coastline.
  • Boulder’s Beach: Visit the only beach in Cape Town where you get to meet African penguins.
  • Longbeach: As the name suggests, this is a very long beach stretching from Noordhoek all the way to Kommetjie and is famous for sunset missions as well as horse riding on the beach.
  • Muizenberg: This is the surfing hub, especially for beginners. There are many places to hire surfboards and wetsuits found next to popular restaurants to grab a bite at after a tiring surf.
  • Strand: Quite a bit out of Cape Town, this beach is a perfect spot if you’re taking a trip to the Winelands. It’s also popular for its kitesurfing.
  • Scarborough and Misty Cliffs: These maybe aren’t the best beaches to catch tan but their crystal turquoise waters are worth checking out.

We can’t forget about Cape Town’s famous tidal pools. These are buzzing every morning at sunrise for the Capetonian ritual of a morning swim followed by a coffee and croissant. Here are the best tidal pools in Cape Town:

  • Dalebrook
  • St James
  • Glencairn
  • Maiden’s Cove
  • Saunders’ Rock

Cape Town Tidal Pools

Enjoy a Day of Wine Tasting

Wine Valley Cape Town

Cape Town and the Winelands are known for their vines, especially in suburbs like Constantia, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. With wine farms sprinkled all over, their magnificent grounds are best enjoyed on a beautiful day and with a glass of wine in hand.

The best wine farms to visit in Cape Town include:

  • Groot Constantia
  • Constantia Uitsig
  • Spier
  • Boschendal
  • Lourensford (which also has a great food market!)

Franschhoek is famous for its Hop On and Off Wine Tram which is a tram that connects dozens of wine farms that you can visit all in one day. There are 10 different tram lines to choose from which will take you on an excursion of around 8 different wine farms, giving you time to have a tasting at each and allowing the flexibility to stay longer at one if you want. It’s R280 per adult and about an hour's drive out of Cape Town.

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Spot Some Whales

Hermanus Whale WatchingDon't miss the Dassies either when you're in Hermanus!

You better get out your binoculars! It’s time for some whale watching!

Among many of the marine life found in Cape Town, whales are one of the most popular, especially during the peak season of July to December when whale watching becomes a favourite pastime of Cape Townians.

If you’re willing to make the trip 2 hours out of Cape Town, Hermanus is known as the ultimate town for whale watching. However, if you’re looking for some good spots closer to town, False Bay is notorious for its whale watching. This includes areas like Simon’s Town, Fish Hoek, Muizenberg and Strand. Further past Hermanus, you also have famous whale-watching towns like Cape Agulhas, Gansbaai and Witsand.

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Stroll Through a Cape Town Market

Cape Town Markets

Vibrant and lively markets are found across Cape Town and its surrounding areas, adding to the hustle and bustle of the city. Whether it’s a night market, food market, farmer’s market or product market, you’ll find whatever vibe you’re looking for! Here’s a list of the top markets in Cape Town:

  • Oranjezicht City Farm Market: Open Saturdays from 08:15 - 14:00 and Sundays from 09:00 - 14:00 in Oranjezicht, the heart of the city.
  • Neighbourgoods Market: Open every Saturday and Sunday from 09:00 found at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock (one of Cape Town’s trendiest suburbs).
  • Cape Point Community Vineyards Market: Taking place every Thursday from 16:30 - 20:30 at Cape Vineyards wine farm in Noordhoek.
  • Boschendal Friday Night Market: Every Friday from 5:00 - 9:00 p.m., Boschendal transforms into a stunning night market with live music.
  • Dorp Street Market: Dorp Street in Stellenbosch transforms into a market every Sunday from 09:00 - 15:00 where you can find all sorts of things such as second-hand clothes, jewellery, and handmade items.
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Speed Across The Sea Point Promenade

Explore the scenic Sea Point Promenade in style on either an electric scooter or a bicycle. All you have to do is rent a bicycle from Up Cycles or an electric scooter from Elektrek, choose how long you want to ride for — usually between an hour and the full day — and then whizz away!

This can cost between R90 and R400, depending on how long you plan on riding. Bare in that the Sea Point Promenade is quite long with lots of different parks, jungle gyms and art installations to explore. There’s even a game of putt-putt along the way!

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Take a Boat Ride to Explore The Coastline

Cape Town Boat Cruise

There’s no better way to explore Cape Town’s shoreline than getting whisked away and seeing the city from a whole new perspective. With Cape Town’s endless shoreline, there’s lots to explore. The main harbours to set off on your adventure are the V&A Waterfront, Simon’s Town and Hout Bay. You also get different types of boat rides which vary in price from R130 - 600 per person, including:

  • Wildlife Cruises
  • Lunchtime Cruises
  • Sunset and Dinner Cruises
  • Coastal Catamarans
  • Seal Island Tours

The Waterfront is where you’ll find the more up-market boat rides, as well as boats like the Jolly Roger, a pirate-theme ship, and tours to Robben Island. Hout Bay is the perfect location from which to visit seal island. And Simon’s Town’s rich marine diversity makes it the ultimate spot for wildlife discoveries.

Picnic In One of the Famous Gardens

If you’re looking for a day immersed in nature, Cape Town’s various gardens have the perfect setting for you!

  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch Gardens

Acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world, Kirstenbosch’s expansive grounds are really awe-inspiring. Picnic on one of the large lawns, get a view from the tops of the trees on the Boomslang bridge or explore South Africa’s unique flora and fauna. You might even be able to catch a summertime concert in the auditorium!

  • Company Gardens

Company's Gardens Cape Town

Located in the city centre, these gardens are a breath of fresh air amid the concrete jungle. It’s the perfect spot to take a break while exploring the bustling city, have lunch, or even feed some squirrels. The gardens are also attached to the Iziko South African Museum among other museums.

  • Babylonstoren

While these gardens are located in Franschhoek, quite a drive out of Cape Town, what you witness will immediately take your break away! They have turned one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms into a natural work of art — you really feel like you’ve entered a whole new fantastical world. You can spend hours wandering the mesmerising gardens.

Paraglide Over Cape Town

This is definitely one for the bucket list! Experience Cape Town from a whole new perspective — from the sky! Tandem paragliding is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where you get to glide across Cape Town’s vast landscapes, setting off usually from Signal Hill or Lion’s Head. Prices range from R1 400 - R1 800 and the flight lasts usually between 5 - 20 minutes. As this is very dependent on the weather, you’re going to want to wait for the perfect day!






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Catch The Sunrise and Sunset

Outdoor Activities Cape Town

One of the many beauties of Cape Town is with an ocean on each side, you can watch the sunrise in the morning over the ocean and watch it set over the ocean later that day. These are frequent rituals for Cape Town locals, often pairing the sunrise with a coffee and breakfast and the sunrise with a picnic. Here are the best spots in Cape Town for sunrise and sunset.

Sunrise:

  • Dalebrook Tidal Pool
  • Fish Hoek Beach
  • St James Beach
  • Muizenberg Beach
  • Boy’s Drive
  • Glencairn Tidal Pool

Sunset:

  • Chapman’s Peak
  • Llandudno Beach
  • Camps Bay (usually at a cocktail restaurant)
  • Signal Hill
  • Noordhoek Beach

Watch a Movie At The Outdoor Cinema

Outdoor Activities Cape Town

The Galileo Open Air Cinema is a staple for locals. Enjoy an exquisite evening under the stars enjoying one of their favourite movies with a delicious meal and snacks. They play multiple movies each week at a range of venues across Cape Town and Stellenbosch to ensure there’s always one near you. Some of their venues include:

  • Kirstenbosch Gardens
  • Backsberg Family Wines
  • Blaauwklippen Wine Estate
  • Central Park
  • Glenelly Estate

And loads more! Plus, they offer a range of yummy food from pizza and burgers to shawarmas and movie snacks. It’s the way to spend a summer’s night!

Ride The Waves On Your Board

Wanna catch some waves? Hang ten? Cape Town has all the spots for you. Whether you’re wanting to try it out for the first time or surfing is second nature, you can find the perfect surf to match your level. Here are the go-to surf spots in Cape Town:

  • Muizenberg Beach: Perfect for beginners — surfboards and wetsuits are readily available to rent and you can even get surf lessons.
  • Longbeach (Kommetjie to Noordhoek): This one is more for intermediate to experienced surfers. Not only is the water much colder but the waves can get a lot bigger.
  • Big Bay: Found in Bloubergstrand, this beach welcomes all surfers no matter the skill level, depending on the waves of the day. It also comes with the ultimate view of Table Mountain.

Outdoor Activities Cape Town

  • Scarborough Beach: This is the ideal beach for an intermediate to advanced surfer who wants to avoid the crowds, as it is a bit further away from the city.
  • Llandudno Beach: As one of the most beautiful beaches in Cape Town, this is another popular surf spot with a view, though recommended only for intermediate to advanced surfers.

If you’re looking for another thing to do with a board, why not try Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP) at the V&A Waterfront? Rentals cost between R200 - R550 for 30 - 90 minutes. You get to explore the canals that snake through the Waterfront and parts of the city.

Go Rock Climbing or Abseiling

While Cape Town does have an array of indoor climbing gyms, it also has the perfect setting to put your climbing and bouldering to the test!

Closer to Cape Town, you can find the perfect settings on Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Paarl Rocks and Silvermine. Additionally, if you’re looking for more of a multi-day excursion, popular rock climbing spots are the Cederberg Mountains, Rocklands, Montagu and Oudtshoorn.

Plus, if you want to take it up a notch, you can also abseil down Table Mountain — an experience you’ll never forget!






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Conclusion

Now you know how to explore Cape Town’s great outdoors like a local! So now when the next sunny day hits, you’ll have plenty to do! The question is — which one do you do first?

Well, maybe you’ll just have to move to Cape Town to do it all! And when you do move, you’ll have the best movers to help you — Wise Move! Whether it’s down the road or across the country, Wise Move is ready to help you take the next step and move to Cape Town — one of the best cities in the world!

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