Things to do in Cape Town

Like the rest of South Africa, Cape Town's attractions are either natural or historic with the former being the main drawcard. Bound by Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean, the City Bowl is the entertainment hub of Cape Town with cutting-edge arts alongside dining and clubbing options. Here, you'll find museums such as District Six Museum, Slave Lodge and the South African National Gallery as well as the city's oldest building, The Castle of Good Hope, built in the 17th century. Head to Bo-Kaap, southwest of the city, for the colourful buildings, mosques, great food and historic streets of the former Malay Quarter (a.k.a District Two).

To see the famous sun and sand, head to the Atlantic Ocean side of town to visit Clifton Beach, Camps Bay and Sea Point where the scene runs the gamut from gritty to glitzy, and the sunset views are spectacular. South from the spectacular Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens to Muizenberg, False Bay, Simon's Town and down to Cape Point is where you'll find charming seaside towns and the best swimming beaches and surf conditions. To the north, the windy conditions of the beaches at Table View and Blouberg Strand are ideal for kitesurfing, while just an hour's drive away are the Cape Winelands destinations of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl.

At the end of the City Bowl is the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, which is Cape Town's most visited attraction and a huge shopping and entertainment precinct on the harbour at the base of Table Mountain. For a marketplace experience, test your bargaining skills at Pan African Market and Greenmarket Square, both in the City Bowl. For must-have homewares, head to Africa Nova and Baraka.

For our pick of the best Cape Town attractions to see and do, here's our top 5.

Robben Island Museum

Variously a prison, defence station, leper colony and now a World Heritage site, Robben Island is best known as the site of part of Nelson Mandela's 27-year incarceration. Accessible only by guided tour, Robben Island Museum is a sobering journey into Cape Town's apartheid past.

Boulders Beach

Home to the cute and comically noisy inhabitants of Boulders Penguin Colony, this beach within the greater Cape Town area is also a top swimming site with pristine, white sandy coves and calm, warm waters protected by huge, ancient boulders.

Table Mountain

The iconic, flat-topped mountain towering above Cape Town offers the opportunity to hike, abseil and take a scenic cable car ride up the cliffs to check out the amazing views of the city, ocean and surrounds. Choose one of over 300 walking trails to get the heart pumping.

Two Oceans Aquarium

The underwater wonderland of Two Oceans Aquarium is a showcase of the weird, wonderful and downright scary inhabitants of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans of bi-coastal Cape Town. The watery zoo allows you to dive with sharks cage-free or simply admire the marine life in various exhibits.

Cape of Good Hope

The most southwesterly point of South Africa is part of Table Mountain National Park and offers historic and natural sights from shipwrecks and lighthouses to roaming zebras and fynbos forests. The view from Cape Point is said to resemble the end of the world.