South Africa’s most beautiful city, racking up awards every year, is often the start and end to many holiday trips for international visitors. Jenman tours also usually end and start off in Cape Town, and if you’re on the Northern or Southern Experience, you will get to spend 2 days at the start or end (depending on which route you chose) in Cape Town.
Cape Town tourism is up by more than 11% from last year with 760,000 more tourists arriving in May this year. The city is offering more and more fantastic things for travellers to do. We’ve selected 4 things that you can do if you’ve got a few free hours in the CBD (Central Business District) in central Cape Town, right in the shadow of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.
We picked 4 sightseeing spots located close to another (see map below) as a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in the Mother City.
Cape Town Aquarium
As I child I often visited the aquarium, situated at the V&A Waterfront, but hadn’t been back for years. Last week, Jonathan and I set off for the Cape Town aquarium and weren’t quite sure what to expect or if this was something adults could also enjoy. We met Jenni who immediately whisked us off for a coffee – and we entered what feels like an underwater world. As you move from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean the temperature in the rooms also change. At the entrance, a big, fat eel welcomes visitors. With a focus on education, the aquarium’s aim is to educate visitors about the miniature and hidden ocean life. Interesting exhibits line the walls and there are information sheets everywhere.
One of the best new exhibits is the “Jellies” display. Jenni told us that the “Jellyman”, as the man is affectionately known who is in charge of the jelly fish, came up with the concept to show the different life stages of jelly fish. You can view the tiny creatures through a view finder. From there, a large neon-blue room awaits filled with round jelly fish in tanks, their legs dancing, twirling to – what appears to be – silent trance music.
The new exhibit “The Tunnel” allows visitors to feel like they are completely surrounded by the sea (without getting wet). Fish and turtles swim over you as walk into the belly of the aquarium.
With so many exhibits, that are constantly changing, the aquarium is a fun place to visit – even as an adult – to learn more about our sea life and conservation. Behind-the-scenes tours and diving in the tanks are also on offer. The aquarium is fun for everyone – and you’ll think twice about using a plastic straw!
If you’re into old-school movie theatres then this is the place for you to go visit! It’s the only place in Cape Town where you can drink a beer while watching a movie. If foreign films – and arty flicks – are your vibe then a visit to The Labia is a must-do. Situated centrally in Cape Town, near the Hilton Hotel, it’s a great place to visit on a rainy afternoon in the city. It’s definitely the place to visit if you’re young and hip or just enjoy a vibe!
District Six Museum
For a touch of culture, for only R30 (about 2 Euro), the District Six museum is a great learning place. District Six is an area that was established as a mixed community in central Cape Town of immigrants, freed slaves and labourers – due to its proximity to the port and within the city. But due to apartheid, forced removals of about 60,000 began that was orchestrated by the white government. The museum remembers the memories of the people who lived there and teaches visitors about the political situation.
IZIKO Art Gallery
An art gallery in a garden… what more could the heart desire? Featuring a well-curated permanent collection, the gallery is home to over 8000 art works and always has new exciting exhibitions or video installations. It’ll give you an overview of South African art – both historical and modern – to show you what’s hot and what’s not in the world of creatives. Located in the Company’s Gardens, it’s also great for a stroll to see the palm trees, flowers and feed some squirrels.
And if you’d like to follow this mini-tour with a sunset watching spot, then have a read through our Top Sunset Spots. If a full- or half-day tour is more interesting, then have a look at our tours here.