by Conor Walsh & Sofeeyah Lloyd
If you’re traveling to Cape Town for an event or conference, and looking for fun activities, we have good news and bad news. The good news is: Cape Town is one of the most unique cities in the world – cosmopolitan, vibrant, with an incredible food scene, exciting nightlife, spectacular natural beauty, and so much more to keep you busy. The bad news is: you’ll never have time to do everything.
So, we used our many years organizing events in Cape Town to create a quick list of the must-do evening activities and day trips in The Mother City. Use this list as your personal tour guide, and you’ll get a little taste of everything the city has to offer.
Quick Guide: 8 Must-Do Activities in Cape Town
If you’re visiting Cape Town for the first time, add these to your event itinerary.
- Explore the V&A Waterfront: Indulge in fantastic shopping, dining, and entertainment at this bustling harbor-side complex with stunning views of Table Mountain.
- Robben Island tour: Learn about South Africa’s anti-Apartheid history at Nelson Mandela’s former prison.
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: Wander through these beautiful gardens showcasing Cape Town’s unique flora and offering spectacular city views.
- Boulders Beach penguin encounter: Witness the enchanting African penguin colony at this picturesque beach near Simon’s Town.
- District Six Museum: Learn about the impact of apartheid at this moving museum commemorating the forced removal of Black residents from District Six.
- Bo-Kaap walking tour: Cape Town’s Muslim quarter offers a unique insight into the city’s history of slavery alongside the vibrant, colorful houses.
- Savor Cape Malay cuisine: Delight your taste buds with the rich flavors and unique blend of spices in Cape Malay dishes, a culinary tradition deeply rooted in Cape Town’s history and culture.
- Sunset at Signal Hill: Catch a breathtaking sunset and panoramic views of Cape Town from this easily accessible lookout point.
Cape Town’s restaurant scene is world-class, attracting foodies from across the globe with its diverse mix of African, European, and Asian cuisines (often all fused together in a single dish!).
Whether you’re looking for a local joint to chow down on some braai (South African BBQ) or you want to sample the city’s delectable haute cuisine, you’ll never be disappointed.
These are our favorite spots in town for first-time visitors:
- Willoughby & Co, V&A Waterfront – Experience an extensive seafood menu, including top-notch sushi and sashimi.
- Mama Africa – Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of this iconic restaurant, offering traditional African cuisine and live marimba music.
- La Colombe – A breathtaking vineyard serving contemporary French-Asian cuisine at this highly acclaimed restaurant.
- Gold Restaurant – Discover the diverse flavors of African cuisine, accompanied by vibrant live performances.
- The Brass Bell, Kalk Bay – 30 minutes south of the CBD, this lively assortment of restaurants is one of the best places to sample Cape Town’s best seafood.
- Biesmiellah – Savor authentic Cape Malay dishes like bobotie and koeksisters in the historic Bo-Kaap neighborhood.
- Aubergine – Sophisticated European cuisine with an Asian twist, served in a stylish, relaxed setting in a landmark Cape Town building.
- Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room – Grab a mouthwatering burger, all-day breakfast, or classic comfort food at this hip, casual eatery in the CBD.
- El Burro – Satisfy your cravings for Mexican cuisine with a visit to this lively, colorful restaurant known for its tacos and margaritas.
- The Company’s Garden Restaurant – Relax in a serene, park-like setting while enjoying a menu of South African classics and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
Throughout the Spring and Summer (roughly September to April), Cape Town comes alive with outdoor markets hosting small stall owners selling local produce and attracting huge crowds. You’ll still find a few happening during Winter, but less often.
The following markets offer the best experiences if you’re visiting for a short time.
- Oranjezicht City Farm Market – Hosted every weekend on the V&A Waterfront (also Wednesdays during the summer). Plenty of stalls selling local, often organic and sustainably produced, food and drinks in a relaxing atmosphere.
- Old Biscuit Mill Market – A trendy indoor/outdoor market in the city center with a lively mix of food, music, and boutique stores attracting tourists and locals.
- First Thursdays on Bree St. – Held the first Thursday of every month, a celebration of Cape Town’s thriving art scene, with open gallery viewings, live music, food, stores, and all-round nice vibes.
Live Music and Nightlife
Note: Most of the bars, clubs, and venues listed below are open from Tuesday–Sunday until at least midnight. However, their hours vary depending on the venue and the night of the week. Check online in advance to avoid any and all disappointment.
Capetonians hate staying at home. Every night of the week – even in the depths of Winter – you’ll find bars, venues, and clubs packed with locals and international visitors alike. If you want something lowkey, Cape Town is full of quiet little bars to wind down after a busy day of events and networking.
And if you want to party til the sun comes up… well, keep reading.
Our favorite bars in Cape Town:
- The Gin Bar – A secretive hidden gem in Cape Town CBD. Specializes in gin-based cocktails and boasts a cozy interior with a laid-back vibe.
- Tjing Tjing House – Don’t be fooled by the exterior. This hidden gem in Cape Town CBD has a lovely rooftop bar serving delicious Japanese food.
- The Athletic Club and Social – A laid-back restaurant, bar, and dance club serving good food and an easygoing atmosphere.
- Harringtons Bar, SurfaRosa, and District – Three very different venues – a bar, cocktail lounge, and live music venue – in one building. Located in Cape Town’s historic District Six.
- Openwine – A fantastic wine menu paired with sumptuous food. Come on Sundays for live music, or book a wine tasting any day of the week except Monday.
- The Piano Bar – A cozy little tapas bar with live jazz, exquisite cocktails, and an intimate atmosphere that makes for a very special (quiet) night out.
- Cafe Roux – Hosts regular live music in a beautiful garden with wholesome food and great beers on a peaceful farm 30 minutes from the CBD.
- Mojo Market – An exuberant boutique market hosting daily live music, numerous food and drink stalls, salsa socials, and much more.
- The Waiting Room – Attracts diverse crowds for its eclectic mix of rap, pop, hip hop, live bands, and house DJs. Especially popular for its Strictly 2000s night.
- Safehouse – From the outside, it looks like a treehouse, but at 8 pm, it turns into a full-on nightclub, with lots of hidden corridors and quirky touches (like a disco toilet).
- The Moveable Feast – A nostalgia-fueled club that combines nineties music classics with homages to legendary writers and Victorian chic.
- Saint Champagne Bar & Lounge – Sophisticated, exclusive, expensive – everything the name suggests, with the hottest amapiano and afrobeats on rotation.
- Drama Bar Lounge – A transplant from Johannesburg, it’s a popular spot with students and young Captonians looking for the latest amapiano.
- Modular – (in)Famous underground techno club that starts late and finishes early (in the morning)
- Rands – Cape Town’s most legendary township party, hosted in Khayelitsha. Sundays are the best days to make the trip.
Because… is there a better way to make friends with your fellow event attendees than blasting out a rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody together at 1 am?
- Bokeh Creative Studio – a delightfully kitschy joint in Seapoint.
If late nights crawling Cape Town’s best bars and nightclubs isn’t your scene, check out these fantastic theaters and live performance venues:
- Stardust Theatrical Dining – The wait staff double up as dance performers, serving delicious food, excellent wines, and unforgettable performances.
- The Labia Theatre – A delightful little old time-y cinema screening a mix of indie movies, modern blockbusters, and all-time classics.
- Baxter Theatre Centre – A popular performing arts center hosting music, drama, comedy, and dance shows. Includes a buffet-style restaurant.
- Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema – Year-round open-air cinema celebrating the glamor of the silver screen under the night sky.
- Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts (October to March) – Open-air concerts at the foothills of Table Mountain.
- Artscape Theatre Centre – A huge performing arts center hosting opera, ballet, and large live music events.
Day Trips from Cape Town
Cape Town is surrounded by incredible natural scenery and picturesque towns that make fantastic day trips before or after a big event. Give yourself a couple of extra days to leave the city and explore the nearby wine regions, hiking trails, beaches, and national parks.
Take a Wine Tour
Cape Town’s nearby wine lands offer rolling vineyards, historic estates, and incredible views of the surrounding mountains. You can sip world-renowned wines in spectacular settings, learn about the winemaking process on a cellar tour, or indulge in total relaxation at a spa (yes, some estates have their own spas).
The best wine lands include Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, and Constantia – all of which you can visit on a one-day tour or overnight stay.
Hike Table Mountain
Hiking Table Mountain is an unforgettable experience. Ascend through diverse flora and fauna while taking in the breathtaking views of the city and coastline. Plenty of trails cater to different fitness levels, with the popular Platteklip Gorge offering a moderate challenge.
For a more leisurely option, the cable car provides stunning panoramas with minimal effort.
And for something truly special, you can join a full moon nighttime hike to Lion’s Head right next to Table Mountain.
Spend the Day at a Beach
Cape Town is blessed with some beautiful beaches. Top picks include Camps Bay, for its vibrant atmosphere and stunning mountain backdrop, and Clifton’s four secluded beaches, perfect for a serene retreat. For surf enthusiasts, Muizenberg’s gentle waves make it a great choice.
Aquila Game Reserve
Just two hours’ drive from Cape Town, Aquila Game Reserve is a private reserve hosting all of the famous Big Five – elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos – in their natural habitat. Embark on a guided safari in an open vehicle or on horseback, and learn about the animals and the reserve’s conservation efforts.
Aquila Game Reserve provides an unforgettable wildlife experience, and a convenient taste of South Africa’s incredible wildlife (in case you’re thinking of coming back).
Train to the Elgin Valley
A day trip to the serene Elgin Valley, easily accessible by train from Cape Town, is an ideal getaway if you’re looking for a refreshing change of scenery. The journey itself offers picturesque views of the surrounding landscape. Once in Elgin, explore lush apple and pear orchards, indulge in wine tastings at boutique wineries, or sample local cuisine at farm-to-table restaurants. For adventure seekers, the area offers mountain biking and hiking trails through nearby forests.
Famous for its whale watching (June–November), Hermanus is a small, picturesque seaside town two hours south of Cape Town. It’s also part of the Cape Whale Coast Wine Route, where you can taste exceptional wines from local vineyards.
For the more daring, shark cage diving in nearby Gansbaai offers an adrenaline-pumping encounter with the ocean’s apex predators. Or enjoy leisurely strolls on the cliff path and the charming town center.
Riebeek Kasteel is a charming village nestled in the Riebeek Valley, just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town and famed for its olive groves.
A true hidden gem, olive groves, vineyards, and majestic mountains –all of which you visit easily surround the village.
You can also wander the village, exploring its unique art galleries, boutique shops, and local eateries offering delicious farm-to-table fare.
With its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque setting, Riebeek Kasteel promises a relaxing escape after a busy event or conference.
Getting Around Cape Town at Night
You’ve probably heard that crime is a huge issue in Cape Town.
During the day, the city is mostly very safe, as long as you always know where you’re going and wonder about waving your phone and jewelry in the air for everyone to see.
Evenings and nighttime are different, and walking is not advised – full stop. But as long as you use your common sense and follow some local “rules,” you shouldn’t have any negative experiences during your stay.
Here are our top tips for exploring Cape Town safely:
- Use Uber to get around – it’s the safest, most convenient, and most inexpensive option. During the day, Ubers are plentiful. At night, you may have to wait 10-15 minutes to get one. Always wait indoors.
- Don’t walk at night – even in crowded areas, if you don’t know your way around, you could get into trouble.
- Don’t walk alone – make friends with fellow event attendees and travel in a pack. It’ll be more fun, and you’ll benefit from safety in numbers.
- Book accommodation close to the event – so you’re not traveling back and forth too much at night.
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended – take them with you to the bathroom or leave them with a friend
- Keep your phone in your pocket – and consider leaving the expensive jewelry at home.
- Don’t worry! These are the same precautions you’d take in any major city. And the vast majority of visitors to Cape Town leave with nothing but positive experiences.
- If you’re self-catering, Pick n Pay, Checkers, and Woolworths (also known as ‘Woolies’) are the best groceries. You’ll find branches in most neighborhoods.
- If you’re in a group, make a dinner reservation beforehand. Cape Town’s best restaurants book out often.
- Webtickets is an excellent place to get an idea of what’s happening in the city when you’re visiting.
- The Inside Guide is full of year-round guides for things to do in Cape Town.
- Cape Town is a “four seasons in a day” city. Make sure you pack for both sun and rain, no matter what.
If you’re visiting Cape Town for the first time, you’ll be spoiled with opportunities to explore this buzzing metropolis.
Just remember, you have an event to wake up for in the morning.
Planning to host an international event in South Africa? Get in touch! Our local destination experts are dedicated to making your event planning enjoyable and stress-free. We’re passionate about the cities we work with, and our in-person teams across Africa can help you easily navigate your city of choice.