Cape Town City Tours

Cape Town City Tours

Cape Town is unique in that its inner city is a fabulous place to visit. Unlike many other cities in the country, the central business district is thriving. It’s one of most popular tourist attractions in Cape Town and the heartbeat of our much-loved Mother City. This is a key attraction on some of our Cape Town City Tours.

Known as Cape Town City Bowl, the business and residential district is so named because it lies in a depression in a natural amphitheatre created by the towering Table Mountain and famous peaks on its flanks. This includes Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak.

Cape Town City Bowl is the financial hub of the Cape and home to the Houses of Parliament. It’s also the entertainment and cultural hub of Cape Town, offering visitors a vast selection of restaurants, delis, bars, theatres, art galleries, artisan markets and museums to visit. The main attraction is the Victoria & Albert Waterfront which lies in the heart of the historic Cape Town harbour.

You can explore Cape Town City Bowl in the luxury of an air-conditioned tour vehicle, an open-top Red Bus, on foot, on a bicycle or in a boat. There’s so much to do in Cape Town, you can base yourself there for a week and not experience everything the vibrant, cosmopolitan city has to offer.

What is the Cape Town City Bowl?

Cape Town City Bowl is the major business district in Cape Town’s metropolitan area. It’s the financial centre of the Western Cape and South Africa and the seat of government for six months of the year. The South African Houses of Parliament are located in Plein Street. The Western Cape provincial government is also based in the Cape Town City Bowl.

Residential suburbs located in the City Bowl include Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant, Devil’s Peak Estate, District Six, Zonnebloem, Gardens, Higgovale, Oranjezicht, Schotsche Kloof, Tamboerskloof, University Estate, Vredehoek, Walmer Estate and Woodstock.

Top 30 places to visit in Cape Town City Bowl

Bo-Kaap Iziko Museum • 71 Wale Street

The Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum is located in one of the oldest homes in the brightly-painted historic village. It dates back to the mid-18th century and is a national monument. The Museum was established in 1978 and depicts the lifestyle of a 19th-century Muslim family.

Formerly known as the Malay Quarters, Bo-Kaap was home to slaves imported from Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Africa by the Dutch East India Company to build the city of Cape Town. It’s famous for its brightly-coloured houses, steep cobbled streets and rich cultural heritage.

Cape Town City Hall • Darling Street, Grand Parade

Cape Town City Hall is an imposing landmark located on the Grand Parade, to the west of the Castle of Good Hope. The striking Edwardian building was built to function as the centre of city administration and housed the office of the City of Cape Town.

The grand building was built using honey-coloured limestone that was imported from Bath in England and took five years to build. The laying of the cornerstone took place in 1900. Today, the historic City Hall is used to host music concerts and important events. It was famously where Nelson Mandela stood on the balcony and gave his first public address after 27 years in prison. The Grand Parade is mainly used as a market place.

Cape Town Diamond Museum • Level 1, Clock Tower Building, V&A Waterfront

The Cape Town Diamond Museum is a one-of-its-kind museum that showcases magnificent replicas of the world’s most precious diamonds. This includes the Cullinan, Hope and Taylor-Burton diamonds. Displays capture the story of a diamonds 3.3 billion-year old journey from its creation to adorned jewelry.

Join a guided tour of the Cape Town Diamond Museum and learn more about the discovery of diamonds in South Africa and the Kimberley diamond rush.

Cape Town Science Centre • 370B Main Road, Observatory

The modern Cape Town Science Centre is a ‘not-for-profit’ science centre that was established to improve the quality of science understanding and science literacy in South Africa. It’s a fantastic facility for both young and old, bringing the world of science alive with over 250 interactive science exhibits and mind-boggling puzzles.

Cape Town Stadium • Fritz Sonnenberg Road, Green Point

The state-of-the-art Cape Town Stadium was built to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup Tournament and is an engineering masterpiece. Book a guided tour of the Cape Town Stadium Experience and learn more about this outstanding multi-purpose facility and meet the people behind-the-scenes who keep it running.

Castle of Good Hope • Corner of Castle and Darling streets

The Castle of Good Hope is a significant historic landmark in Cape Town that was declared a national monument in 1936. Today, the Castle is a provincial heritage site. The Dutch name for the building is Kasteel de Goede Hoop.

The Castle was originally located on the coastline of Table Bay and served as a bastion fort. After extensive land reclamation, the Castle now stands a short distance inland of the Port of Cape Town. A guided tour of this historic landmark showcases what is one of the best-preserved examples of a 17th-century architectural structure in the entire world.

Chavonnes Battery Museum • Clock Tower Precinct, V&A Waterfront

The Chavonnes Battery was a coastal fortification building that was built between 1714 and 1725 by the Dutch East India Company to protect the city of Cape Town. Much of the Chavonnes Battery was demolished in 1860 to help build the Alfred Basin but the remains (including a well) have been carefully excavated. Today, what remains serves as a museum and function venue.

The Chavonnes Battery was built in a U-shape with a stone wall built on a rocky outcrop on the western flank at the water’s edge. It had 16 mounted guns with an arc of fire of nearly 180 degrees. The battery also served as a prison, a quarantine unit and a convalescent wing of the old Somerset Hospital.

Company’s Gardens • 15 Queen Victoria Street

The Company’s Garden is the oldest garden in South Africa and a national heritage site. It was established in the 1650s by the Dutch East India Company to provide fresh produce to replenish stocks on VOC ships rounding the Cape. The first seeds were planted by the Master Gardener in 1652 and the vegetables and fruit grown in the garden were watered from the Molteno Dam which is filled by the springs on the lower slopes of Table Mountain.

Today, the Company’s Gardens is a wonderful public park enjoyed by people working in the city. It includes a rose garden, Japanese garden, fish pond and aviary. The restaurant at the Company’s Garden serves teatime favourites and delicious light meals.

District Six Museum • 25A Buitenkant Street, Zonnebloem

Most Cape Town township tours start with a visit to the District Six Museum, located a short 2-kilometre drive from Cape Town’s CBD. It’s an incredible facility that captures the history of the area during the turbulent years of apartheid and stories of the families who were forcibly removed from their homes under the Group Areas Act, 1950.

The Group Areas Act was one of the most infamous of the apartheid era. It prevented non-Whites from living in areas classified as White areas. Specific urban areas were assigned to different ethnic groups and people were forcibly removed from their homes in Whites-only zones and relocated to settlements that were anything but desirable.

In its formative years, District Six was an impoverished inner city settlement that was mostly inhabited by Coloured (mixed race) people. It may have been a poor area but it was renowned for its vibrant spirit and eclectic community. The family homes were demolished after the district was evacuated and only places of worship were left untouched. Today, District Six is largely abandoned and undeveloped.

Green Point Lighthouse • Beach Road, Green Point

The Green Point Lighthouse is a prominent candy-striped red and white landmark located close to the Sea Point Promenade. It was first lit in April 1824 and is the oldest working lighthouse in South Africa. It was also the first solid lighthouse structure built in the country.

The Green Point Lighthouse is a national heritage site and is open to the public for a nominal fee.

Greenmarket Square • Corner of Burg and Longmarket streets

Greenmarket Square is a historical square located in the heart of the oldest part of the city. It was built in 1696 around a burgher watch house. Over the years, Greenmarket Square has served as a slave market, vegetable market and parking lot. Today, the famous square is one of the trendiest hubs in Cape Town.

Greenmarket Square has a popular flea market trading mainly African curios and crafts, and a wide choice of eateries positioned around the lively square.

Houses of Parliament • Parliament Street

The Houses of Parliament are situated adjacent to the Company’s Gardens and are a sight to behold on a tour of Cape Town city. Complete with Corinthian porticos and a huge dome, the building complex consists of three main sections and serves as South Africa’s legislative capital.

The original building was designed by Charles Freeman and completed in 1884. The two additions were constructed in the 1920s and 1980s. Sir Herbert Baker designed the House of Assembly and it was built between 1875 and 1884.

Iziko South African Museum • 25 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens

The Iziko South African Museum is a national museum located in the historic Company’s Gardens. It houses an impressive collection of important African zoology, paleontology and archaeology specimens. It’s estimated that the museum has more than one and a half million specimens of scientific importance.

The South African Museum was founded by Lord Charles Somerset in 1825 and is the oldest museum in South Africa. It moved to its current location in 1897 and today, comprises four levels with a wide variety of exhibitions. The museum curators have been storing and adding specimens of scientific importance for nearly 200 years.

Iziko South African National Gallery • Government Avenue, Gardens

The Iziko South African National Gallery is the national art gallery located in the cultural hub of Cape Town City Bowl. It forms part of the Iziko collection of museums and showcases a collection that consists largely of Dutch, French and British works of art from the 17th to 19th century as well as more modern-day African and South African art.

The national gallery began with a presentation of some 45 paintings by Thomas Butterworth Bayley in 1871 and since then, has grown to one of international stature with wonderful examples of South African, African and Western European art. Pieces on display includes lithographs, etchings and some early 20th-century British paintings. The national gallery also houses an authoritative collection of sculpture and beadwork.

Long Street and Bree Street

Long Street is a major artery that runs all the way from Cape Town Convention Centre on the Foreshore, cuts through the middle of Cape Town’s central business district and ends at Kloof Street. By day, it’s a vibey place to visit and eat out, with a healthy dose of bohemian culture and a wide choice of eclectic restaurants, street cafés, book stores, bric-a-brac shops and art galleries. By night, Long Street is the party place with packed nightclubs and bars.

Bree Street is another cool place to visit, particularly if you’re a foodie because it’s the ‘culinary capital’ of the city. It’s two streets up from Long Street and has taken over as the hippest street in the CBD. While Long Street has a more bohemian vibe and attracts the travelling youth, Bree Street offers a more upmarket atmosphere with classy eateries, design stores and high-end boutiques.

Nobel Square • Watershed, 17 Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Nobel Square is a public square in the V&A Waterfront. It opened in December 2005 and includes sculptures of the country’s four Nobel Peace Prize winners: Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu, FW de Klerk, and the great Nelson Mandela.

The larger-than-life bronze sculptures of the four Laureates were created by internationally-acclaimed artist Claudette Schreuders.

Old Town House • 149 Longmarket Street, Greenmarket Square

The Old Town House is a grand 1755 Cape Rococo-style heritage building that house a collection of Dutch Golden Age works. The Old Town House is the former City Hall and has played an important role in the city’s political and cultural history. Today, the heritage building is used for chamber-music concerts and lectures on cultural topics.

The art collection was donated to the museum by Sir Max Michaelis in 1914. It consists of a world-renowned selection of Netherlandish art from the 17th-century Golden Age. There are also works by Frans Hals, Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruisdael, Anthony van Dyck and numerous other famous South African artists.

Oranjezicht City Farm Market

This popular farm market draws huge crowds every Saturday, with everything from artisan bread, vegetables, fruit, organic dairy, free-range eggs, honey and muesli on sale. You can also buy edible plants and seedlings, compost, gardening supplies and gardening equipment from the stallholders.

The Oranjezicht City Farm Market is held at the historic Granger Bay site at the V&A Waterfront. Entrance is free and dogs kept on leashes are welcome. Pedestrian entrances are open directly from Beach Road.

Planetarium & Digital Dome • 25 Queen Victoria Street

The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome is the most advanced digital planetarium on the African continent. The world-class, multi-functional facility not only provides an immersive multi-sensory edutainment platform for artistic production, it’s also used for cutting-edge scientific research to optimise South Africa’s eResearch and data visualisation capacity.

The Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome makes virtual voyages of the universe possible, providing an unparalleled experience of animation and 360◦ cinema. Explore the inner workings of the human body or the intricacies of an atomic structure.

Port of Cape Town

The Port of Cape Town is the oldest working harbour in South Africa. It’s situated in Table Bay along one of the world’s busiest trade routes. Due to its position, it’s one of the busiest ports in South Africa; handling the largest amount of fresh fruit cargo and is second only to Durban as a container port.

Cape Town’s famous harbour has two major docks and a total of 34 berths. Ben Schoeman Dock is the larger outer dock and houses the container terminal. Duncan Dock is the inner dock. Apart from the multipurpose and fruit terminals, Cape Town harbour contains a dry dock, repair quay and tanker basin.

The best way to explore the Port of Cape Town is on a hop-on/hop-off harbour cruise operated by City Sightseeing.

Robben Island Museum • Nelson Mandela Gateway, V&A Waterfront

To visit Robben Island Museum, you catch a ferry that takes you across to the famous island which is located in Table Bay, about 7 kilometres north of Cape Town harbour. Daily tours are about 4-hours long which includes the two half-hour ferry trips.

Robben Island is a South African National Heritage Site and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It famously was where the great Nelson Mandela spent the first 18 years of his 27 years of imprisonment for crimes against the state. Mandela was incarcerated on Robben Island along with over 3 000 political prisoners.

The living museum serves as a reminder of the brutality, hostility, prejudice and injustices of the apartheid system that existed in South Africa in the 20th century, from 1948 until the early 1990s. A tour of Robben Island helps visitors gain a deeper understanding of South Africa and its struggle for freedom and equality. The tour guides are ex-prisoners and they bring an incredibly emotive angle to the humbling experience.

Signal Hill & Noon Gun

Signal Hill is a striking landmark that is as recognisable as Table Mountain itself. If you’re looking up at Table Mountain from V&A Waterfront, it’s the round-topped hill that rises up above Bo-Kaap to the right of the mountain.

The famous mountain peak is rich in history and played an important role in the city’s shipping and naval past. In the 17th and 18th centuries, Dutch settlers placed watchmen on the top of the hill who used signal flags to communicate weather warnings and instructions to ships arriving in Table Bay.

A historic feature of Signal Hill is the Noon Gun. It has been fired at 12h00 Cape Mean Time every day since 1806. The firing of the Noon Gun enabled ships in Table Bay to check their chronometers which are crucial for navigating rough seas. The much-loved tradition has stood the test of time; through World Wars, Dutch and British occupation and changes in government.

Silo District • South Arm Road, V&A Waterfront

The Silo District is the newest tourism hub in Cape Town and has so much to offer visitors to the Mother City. This includes gourmet food eateries, boutique stores and edgy art galleries. It’s also home to the luxury Silo Hotel.

The heart of the Silo District is the re-imagining of the historic Grain Silo into the internationally anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) which is the largest art museum in Africa. The art museum showcases the incredible art of Africa and its diaspora and is a truly world-class institution.

South African Jewish Museum • 88 Hatfield Street, Gardens

The South African Jewish Museum serves as a moving tribute and provides a detailed account of one of the great Jewish communities of the diaspora. It’s situated in the midst of arguably the most interesting and historic urban square miles in the country, on a campus that includes South Africa’s first, oldest and grandest synagogue.

At the same time, the South African Jewish Museum is a marvel of modern architecture and a fusion of the old and new world. Its sleek, gleaming interiors house a range of interactive displays, audio-visual presentations and rare and fascinating artefacts, taking visitors on a journey back to South African Jewry’s early roots, and painting a portrait of a community who were extraordinarily influential in the building of South Africa as we know it, and who continue to thrive and impact society at every level.

St George’s Cathedral • 5 Wale Street

St George’s Cathedral is the Anglican cathedral in Cape Town. It’s the seat of the Archbishop of Cape Town, serving both the metro-political church of the Anglican Church of southern Africa and a congregation in the Diocese of Cape Town.

Built in 1834 and made a cathedral in 1847, it’s the oldest Anglican cathedral in southern Africa. It was erected to provide a place of worship for English settlers during the era of British Rule. The Gothic Church is a classic cruciform building with a courtyard garden which includes a labyrinth. The original St George’s Church had been built in the style of St Pancras Church in London.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain is an iconic natural landmark in the heart of the Mother City. It forms part of Table Mountain National Park and falls within the Cape Floral Region which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The towering mountain has stood sentry over Cape Town City Bowl and the Atlantic Seaboard for some 600 million years.

You can explore Table Mountain on a strenuous but exhilarating hike but we recommend taking the more leisurely route up to the summit in a rotating cable car operated by Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Often the giant mountain is shrouded in white mist, nicknamed the Table Cloth. Most days, visitors enjoy a panoramic view of the beautiful Mother City.

The Cape Wheel • Dock Road, V&A Waterfront

The Cape Wheel is a giant observation wheel that offers visitors to Cape Town a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of the city and suburbs surrounding the V&A Waterfront. From the top of the Cape Wheel, you have a spectacular view of Table Bay, Robben Island, Table Mountain, Signal Hill, Green Point and the Cape Town Stadium as well as Bloubergstrand and the Boland mountains in the far distance.

The Cape Wheel has 30 fully-enclosed, air-conditioned aerial cabins. You’re taken 40 metres above the ground in safety and comfort on a 12 to 15-minute, four-revolution ride. The Cape Wheel also has two wheelchair-friendly cabins.

Two Oceans Aquarium • Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

The Two Oceans Aquarium is a state-of-the art marine facility located in the heart of the V&A Waterfront. It provides visitors with a fascinating and close-up glimpse below the surface of the two oceans that surround the South African coastline, namely the Atlantic Ocean and Indian Ocean.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting world of the Two Oceans Aquarium where the oceans come alive in magnificent colours and a variety of shapes and sizes. Visitors, both young and old, are introduced to the incredible range of fish and other amazing creatures that call these waters their home.

Coincide your visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium, visit the predator exhibit, the astonishing kelp forest and the penguin exhibit. The enormous tanks house everything from sharks to jelly fish, eels, the Knysna seahorse, crabs and a dazzling array of Indian Ocean fish.

Watch the incredible displays from long underwater tunnels and through enormous viewing windows. You can view tiny sea life under a microscope and visit the Touch Pool to get a feel of the creatures and plants from the deep blue oceans.

V&A Waterfront • 19 Dock Road

The V&A Waterfront is one of the most popular places to visit in Cape Town and attracts more than 23 million visitors a year. Located in the heart of South Africa’s oldest working harbour, the entertainment hub offers visitors a world of fun with fantastic restaurants, pubs, a fast-food court and a wide array of retail stores in a massive shopping mall.

V&A Waterfront is also home to some very impressive residential homes and commercial real estate as well as a collection of luxury hotels. You can book a boat tour of the harbour, catch a ferry to Robben island and set off for a gorgeous sunset cruise on a luxury chartered boat from V&A Waterfront.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the top highlights of Cape Town city tours?

Cape Town city tours typically include visits to top attractions such as Table Mountain, the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, the Castle of Good Hope, and the V&A Waterfront. Depending on the tour, it may also include a stop at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a tour of the Robben Island Museum, or a visit to a local township.


How long does a typical Cape Town city tour last?

The duration of a Cape Town city tour can vary depending on the tour operator or package selected, but most tours typically last between four and eight hours. Some tours may be shorter or longer depending on the attractions included and the time of day. It’s important to check with your tour operator beforehand to ensure that you have enough time to see all the sights on your itinerary.


Can I customize my Cape Town city tour itinerary?

Yes, it may be possible to customize your Cape Town city tour itinerary depending on the tour operator or package selected. Some tours offer flexibility to choose the attractions you want to visit or allow you to add on additional activities, such as a visit to the Cape Winelands or a scenic drive along Chapman’s Peak. It’s important to communicate with your tour operator beforehand to discuss any customization options.