Cape Town, South Africa is vibrant, adventure-filled city that will definitely satisfy your wanderlust. You can shift easily from enjoying the diverse shops and restaurants of the city to hiking Lion's Head mountain at night under the stars. Whether you are visiting the city for a week or a few months, here are the highlights of Cape Town you don't want to miss. 

Visit Table Mountain

Table Mountain is likely the most iconic landmark of Cape Town. Take the aerial cableway to easily view the panoramic views from the top. You can hike or abseil parts of the mountain if you are feeling adventurous. Keep in mind that the weather conditions can vary at the summit and may result in closure to visitors.

Table Mountain, in addition to the many other mountain groups in the Cape, is a classic site to appreciate from many corners of the Western Cape. You'll never feel far from nature in this one-of-a-kind city.

Many other epic sites are part of Table Mountain National Park, such as Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and the Cape of Good Hope.

Explore Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

This spectacular national botanical garden is nestled in the Table Mountain range and boasts over 7,000 species in the 538 hectre estate. It is a great place to appreciate South Africa's beautiful indigenous flora. The 'Boomslang' Treetop Canopy Walkway is amazing part of the garden that cannot be missed.

The garden hosts a concert series called Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts. From November through April, South Africans artists perform on Sunday evenings to crowds picnicking on a great lawn in the garden. Highly recommend coordinating your visit to the garden on a Sunday so you can end with enjoying one of the summer concerts.

Hike Lion's Head

Lion's Head is a mountain between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. The only way to truly appreciate it is by taking the adventurous hike up to its top. Throughout the hike, you can take in breathtaking views in every direction. The hike is a must-do activity, if you're able-bodied and up to the strenuous task. 

Definitely recommend planning your hike around making it to the summit for sunrise or sunset. The magnificent views are unparalleled. But keep in mind that these timings require that you either hike up or down in the dark! That is a fantastic experience, and entirely possible as long as you are prepared.

Visit The Company's Garden

Located in central Cape Town, the Company's Garden is a park and heritage site. It is a great spot for pictures and a visit to the Company's Garden restaurant. Study the traces of the rich history of Cape Town left in this garden. Walk through the greenery for a quieter break away from the city surrounding it.

Explore Old Biscuit Mill

In the Woodstock area of Cape Town, the Mill is a hub of markets, shops, and festivals and productions.

Be sure to make a reservation at The Pot Luck Club located at the top of the silo of the Mill. The trendy spot is well-known for its tapas-style dining that is divided to appeal to the five basic tastes: salty, sour, sweet, umami, and bitter. So bring a group of friends and let your tastebuds party.

The Neighbourgood's Market at Old Biscuit Mill is the best way to experience the height of excitement at the Mill. Started in 2006, the market, open 9am to 3pm on Saturdays, draws in sellers, artisans, and consumers alike. It quickly becomes bustling with visitors attracted to the numerous food vendors, fresh produce, and trendy shops. A small stage hosts local entertainers whose talents always capture the attention of a crowd.

The food market section hosts vendors who sell almost any cuisine imaginable at affordable prices. There are plenty of vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. Come ready to eat multiple plates so you can try as much of these fresh, flavorful food and drinks as possible.

Walk Around The V & A Waterfront

One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town, the V & A Waterfront, is home to the Alfred Mall and the scenic waterfront views of the harbor, marina, and Table Mountain, as well as almost infinite shops and restaurants. You can take in the views on the Waterfront's iconic ferris wheel. The area is vibrant on any day of the week at any time.

Never short on food options, the Waterfront hosts the V & A Food Market in addition to the many other restaurants. Inside this indoor market, you can try any type of food and grab a few souvenirs such as fresh biltong made ready for travel by being vacuum-sealed right in front of you. You can pick up an ice cream to-go as you explore the rest of the Waterfront.

The Watershed at the Waterfront is another fantastic market in Cape Town that houses some unique vendors in a more upscale setting.  It's a great spot for last-minute souvenirs without the stress of haggling like in the more informal markets.

Shop at Bay Harbour Market

Bay Harbour Market at Hout Bay is open from Friday through Sunday and offers numerous affordable shops and food vendors. This is a great spot for souvenirs as well. You can also enjoy the entertainment at the Sound Stage. Be sure to check out the bay area while you are there.

Visit Muizenberg Beach, Clifton Beach, and Camp's Bay Beach

The beaches along the Cape are filled with beauty, adventure, and excitement. Some of the top beaches to visit are Muizenberg Beach, Clifton Beach, and Camp's Bay Beach. Pick your favorite once you visit them all! Your beach experience can vary from lounging at the shoreline to keeping busy with a water activity. 

Explore Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is a stand-alone beach experience because it is home to numbers of African penguins. Though there is a small entrance free, you will have an unbelievable opportunity to visit these penguins from a boardwalk and directly on the beach next to them. Climb through the boulders scattered on the beach to get to areas with more penguins. As you're visitors in their home, remember to respect the penguins in their natural habitat.

Go Shark-Cage Diving

South Africa is one of few spots in the world where you can have the opportunity to cage-dive with great white sharks. Thrill-seekers seize this chance and travel a bit away from Cape Town to wait for sharks in the ocean. Though not guaranteed to see sharks every time you make an attempt with a diving company, all with some time, patience, and hope can try their luck.

Check Out Cheetah Outreach

Cheetah Outreach is an education- and community-based program to bring awareness to preserving cheetah wildlife in South Africa. 

Anatolian sheepdogs are bred and given to farmers to protect livestock from cheetahs so that the farmers don’t need to kill the endangered wildcats. This was the successful solution discovered to help mediate the conflict between the farmers' livestock and wild cheetahs. 

You can have an encounter with cheetahs while here. These cheetahs are not wild and serve as "ambassadors," serving to educate visitors on the importance of the survival of cheetahs.

Go on a Safari

When in Africa, you are likely excited to check a safari experience off your bucket list. Though some of the best full safari experiences are in other African countries, South Africa does offer some great safari opportunities. Kruger National Park is home to the top South African safaris, but that requires a separate trip away from Cape Town. Definitely a great option if time is not an issue.

Near Cape Town, there are a number of private reserves that offer safari tours and lodging. Pick one that appeals to you and you will be surprised how much even a small safari experience offers.

Experience First Thursdays

On the first Thursdays of every month, the art galleries in Cape Town are open for free to the public. Explore the fine, displayed works of artists without pressure to purchase. You can easily visit the markets of Greenmarket Square, a great place for simple souvenirs, in the same area.

Visit Bo-Kaap

The Bo-Kaap area is a spot known for photo opportunities and rich cultural history. Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, it is a melting pot of the cultures of slaves brought from Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, and other parts of Africa. The area is marked by streets with colorful houses and cobbled streets. Be sure to try some Cape Malay food, a cuisine originating from this area of Cape Town, while you are here.

Tour Robben Island

While visiting South Africa, you must learn about its history and its residual effects on what is South Africa today. There are great museums within the city that are worth a visit: District Museum, Iziko South African Museum, and Slave Lodge.

Robben Island, located just off the coast of Cape Town, is a must-see UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tourists are brought to and from the island by ferry and given a tour of the major parts of this island known for being a political prison during South Africa's apartheid era. You also can make arrangements for a private tour, overnight stay, and tour by an ex-prisoner. 

Learning the history of apartheid and the happenings on this island gives great insight into the gravity of apartheid. Though the island is marked by its deeply troubled past, the Robben Island Museum serves to educate about apartheid and advocate for the hope that such atrocities will not happen again.

Check Out Vineyards

Vineyards are a popular tourist attraction of Cape Town, but are riddled with controversy. How vineyards are run has not changed post-apartheid, meaning that many vineyards workers are left underpaid and treated unfairly. Be a conscientious tourist and try to take your consumerism to ethically-run wineries. Do your research and enjoy wine vineyards guilt-free! Spier Wine Farm is one of the few known ethical and sustainable farms. 

Chapman's Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak Drive is a scenic drive along the Cape Peninsula coastline. Simply a sight to see.

Visit Cape of Good Hope

The Cape of Good Hope is the most southwestern point on the African continent. Known for being more beautiful and amazing to behold than the true southmost point on the African continent, many come to appreciate this area. Be ready for a bit of a hike if you want to truly explore this area. You can climb up to the lighthouse at Cape Point for a higher lookout and climb down to Dias Beach for a blissfully quiet beach with soft white sands.