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In the simplest of words, I absolutely LOVED Cape Town, South Africa.
Cape Town is a truly amazing city that attracts tourists from all over the world due to its breathtaking scenery, diverse culture, controversial history and generous list of things to do.
It was the first city that I landed in to start my solo journey through Africa. And in my eyes, it was like the gateway to the rest of Southern & East Africa.
It was a good place to start because the mix of western and African culture made it less of a culture shock.
If you’re considering travelling solo in Cape Town, here are 13 cool things to do when exploring the city!
1. V & A Waterfront
Of all the places in Cape Town to visit, the V & A Waterfront was one of my favourite locations and attracts more than 24 million visitors every year.
There’s nothing more magical than walking along the V & A boardwalk, with its historical Victorian landmarks, glistening views of the harbour and the stunning scenery of Table Mountain and Lions Head dominating the backdrop.
I’d never seen anything like it before.
There’s also lot to do at the Waterfront, whether you’re a history buff or an avid shopper.
You can also opt to:
- do a self-guided walking historical tour, which starts at the Information Centre
- take the 90-minute guided tour that departs daily from the Chavonnes Battery Museum at 11am and 2pm.
- visit the markets, restaurants, retail outlets and coffee shops or
- even go on a cruise or two around the harbour.
Again, one of my favourite places.
If travelling solo in Cape Town, don’t miss visiting this local gem.
2. The Castle of Good Hope
The Castle of Good Hope was a pretty cool place to explore given it’s incredible views from the top and historical significance to Cape Town, South Africa.
The Castle of Good Hope is actually South Africa’s oldest surviving colonial building, national heritage site and premier tourist attraction.
At 10am, 11am, and 12pm you can witness the firing of the signal cannon.
Back in the day this canon was used to indicate that a ship had been sighted at sea and was an effective way to relay the message to those inside the fort.
You can read more about its history, tours and how to book tickets here.
3. Kirstenbosch National Park / Botanical Garden
If you’re interested in plants and gardens, the Kirstenbosch National Park can be a peaceful and rejuvenating place to explore.
It is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world with its diversity of flora and the stunning backdrop of Table Mountain in the distance.
You can also start your hike up Table Mountain from here too.
Keep in mind that there is a small entry fee to get into the park. You can read more about the park and all the info you need here.
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4. Table Mountain National Park & Cable way
This was probably one of the most challenging experiences I had throughout my whole travels, demanding both physical and mental grit.
The hike was surprisingly harder than I expected (practically vertical most of the time) and took a lot longer than I anticipated (approx 3-4 hours).
The time it takes does depend on which trail you choose though, as some are only 1-2 hours but TOUGH! By the end I was stuffed, sweaty and disgusting BUT goodness, the view made it 100% worth it.
You can see the entire Cape Town city from above, the Lions Head hiking trail and the vastness of the beach.
If you’re not a regular hiker, I suggest that you opt to take the Table Mountain Cableway up and down the mountain or choose to do the Lions Head hike instead.
However, if you’re relatively fit, a hiking guru or simply want to challenge yourself, you can’t beat the adventure and views of hiking up the mountain yourself.
One suggestion I’d make is don’t do it alone. Try to find a buddy or do it as part of a group tour.
It’s very easy for solo hikers to get lost on the mountain which can be disastrous and very scary when you don’t know where you are.
When my friend and I were hiking up the mountain, there was a lot of cloud cover. As we neared the top, there were times where we couldn’t even see more than a few meters ahead of ourselves.
So I can imagine how easily this would happen.
5. Lions Head Hiking Trail
Lions Head is an alternative hike you can do when travelling solo in Cape Town.
Given the limited time I had, I chose to do the Table Mountain hike over Lions head because I was told that:
- It had more exceptional views
- You could see “Lions Head” from the top anyway and
- The Table Mountain National Park was very diverse and beautiful
However, when I spoke to other travellers who had done the Lions Head hike, I did feel a touch jealous.
Some of them had just as beautiful photos as I did, but with much less physical pain & effort. And, they had Table Mountain in the backdrop which looked cool.
Lions Head is considered easier and less physically demanding than Table Mountain because it is more of a zig-zag hike than vertical incline.
Its estimated to take you approx. 90 minutes to get to the top too, so it doesn’t have to take up the majority of your day, unlike Table Mountain.
But the key downside of Lions Head is that there’s no cable way. Therefore, you must hike back down the mountain once you’ve reached the top, which can be a pain in the arse.
Table Mountain has the advantage of a cable railway, so if you’re exhausted, you can just catch it back down to Cape Town and get some nice relaxing views from there too.
You can read more about the differences between the Table Mountain hikes and Lions Head here.
6. Boulders Beach & Penguin Colony
Cape Town definitely has no shortage of pristine beaches, but if you love animals, then Boulders Beach is a must see.
It is apparently the only place in the world where you can get close to African Penguins, boasting a “small” population of 2,000-3,000 birds residing there.
So, definitely one to add to your list of things to do.
Just ensure to prepare for the elements before you go as it was very windy when I was there. And, you may even want to pack a nose peg…
Those birds STANK!!
You can read more about Boulders Beach, it’s feathery friends, what to bring and associated costs here.
7. Camps Bay & Clifton Beach (1st – 4th)
Cape Town, South Africa is known for its incredible white-sand beaches.
Camps Bay and Clifton Beaches are some of the more famous and tourist attractions for travellers to Cape Town.
The beaches sit next to each other, which makes it very convenient if you don’t have a lot of time and would like to visit both beaches in the same day.
That’s what I did anyway…
Also keep in mind that Clifton Beach is actually made up of 4 smaller beaches: 1, 2, 3 and 4.
They are all joined together but are considered their own sandy inlets, with #4 being the most popular and biggest beach of them all.
Both locations offer a beautiful place to unwind, relax and bask in the sun. Simply walk along the coast or main road until you find a beach that it less crowded or that tickles your fancy to lay your towel down.
If travelling solo in Cape Town, this is something you can do to relax. Just ensure that you keep and eye on your belongings!
Travelling Solo in Cape Town
8. Cape of Good Hope
If you’re after some cool scenery, and would like to see the meeting of 2 oceans (supposedly), the Cape of Good Hope can be a cool destination to add to your list.
It’s a rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula in South Africa.
The Cape of Good Hope is often misconceived as being the most southern tip of Africa dividing the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.
It’s located an hour away from Cape Town, so you’d likely need to do a tour or hire a care to get there.
To be honest, I felt that the Cape of Good Hope was a bit underwhelming. There were so many tourists and mass crowds when we arrived, which took away from the beauty of the scenery.
It was also incredibly windy, and given the time it took to get down there, there wasn’t too much to see but rocks, the ocean and crowds…lots of crowds.
If the Cape of Good Hope is on your bucket list, then 100% go for it.
But if you’re not fussed about getting a photo with the sign (as above) and would prefer to escape the crowd, some also recommend checking out Cape Point instead (which is further East).
9. Green Market Square
If you love local markets, souvenirs and an upbeat atmosphere, Greenmarket Square is the place to go when travelling solo in Cape Town.
It’s the second oldest public space in Cape Town with a great lively atmosphere and local food, buskers, jewellery, clothing, and nick-nacks.
You can easily spend over an hour weaving through the Green Market Square stalls, enjoying a bite to eat or viewing the local artwork.
You can even do a free day tour to learn about the fascinating story behind the historic cobbled square.
10. The Company’s Gardens & Squirrels
If you’re tight on money and love animals, exploring the Company’s Gardens and Government Avenue is another cool thing for solo travellers to do in Cape Town, South Africa.
It’s relaxing, rejuvenating and very easy to spend over an hour soaking in nature, exploring the tree canopied walkways and even meeting some resident squirrels as you pass through.
They’re quite friendly as you can see.
The Company’s Gardens are great if you’re needing a break from the hustle and bustle, or even just a walkway through to your next destination.
AND A BONUS TIP:
11. Eastern Food Bazaar (Cheap & delicious take away food)
If you’re after good quality, cheap middle-eastern food, this is your place.
It was one of the greatest finds I had whilst travelling solo in Cape Town, and was pointed out to me by another traveller.
There’s just so much diversity in cuisine and it can save you a lot of money. You can also get a whole range of restaurant-quality food without the need to eat out at a restaurant.
They also give you very generous portions as you can see below.
A little money saving hack:
- I found the meals to be big enough that I could eat only half for dinner, and then eat the rest of it for lunch the following day.
So, there you have it:
13 Cool Things to Do When Travelling Solo in Cape Town
As always, here’s a quick summary so you can copy and paste them into your travel itinerary as desired.
- V & A Waterfront
- Castle of Good Hope
- Kirstenbosch National Park / Botanical Gardens
- Table Mountain Hiking Trail & Cableway
- Lions Head
- Boulders Beach & Penguin Colony
- Camps Bay & Clifton Beach
- Cape of Good Hope
- Green Market Square
- The Company’s Gardens & Squirrels
- BONUS: Eastern Food Bazaar
If you’d like to read more about Cape Town or South Africa, click here.