Travellers with a love for culture and an appreciation for history can visit some of the most renowned museums and cultural attractions in Cape Town. Crowned by the impressive Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town is a melting pot of culture, cuisine, and landscapes. Often referred to as the Mother City, Cape Town is a singular city, unlike any other destination in Africa, and offers something for every discerning traveller. But, as they say, looks aren’t everything, and Cape Town offers so much more than just the juxtaposition of a glittering city against one of the world’s most fascinating natural wonders.
Cape Town offers a hodgepodge of cultures that contribute to its vibrance and attraction. From the eclectic music you’ll hear on the streets to the delectable smells of local cuisine and the festive scenes tucked into every corner, those visiting will enjoy a plethora of cultural attractions in Cape Town. However, it’s not all sunshine and roses when it comes to visiting the Mother City. Hit by decades of racial and economic oppression during apartheid, Cape Town has a sombre undertone to the otherwise dazzling metropolis.
TABLE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
#1 Cultural Attractions in Cape Town
Ascend in a cable car to the top of Table Mountain National Park and admire the breathtaking views of the dazzling city of Cape Town. The mountain attracts thousands of local and international visitors every year, and from its most prominent feature, its flat plateau, visitors can snap photos, meet diverse wildlife, and enjoy a bite to eat. The National Park also offers numerous mountain trails which provide incredible insights into the natural beauty of this UNESCO Cape Floral Region World Heritage Site. Table Mountain National Park is one of the best cultural attractions in Cape Town, so be sure to add it to your bucket list.
#2 Cultural Attractions in Cape Town
There is no doubt that Robben Island makes it on the list of must-see cultural attractions in Cape Town. Few places in South Africa represent a powerful symbol of the triumph of the human spirit. Robben Island, with its 500-year-old history, is layered by adversity, suffering, and injustice and offers a fascinating insight into the resilience of South Africa. Not only is Robben Island home to a rich history, but it features a complex ecosystem protected by South African Law as a nature conservation area. From birdlife to natural vegetation, as well as marine and wildlife, this island in Table Bay is a must-visit for so many reasons.
Looking for a unique tour of Robben Island and the life of Nelson Mandela?
KIRSTENBOSCH NATIONAL BOTANICAL GARDENS
#3 Cultural Attractions in Cape Town
Acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens of the world, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden offers an unrivalled natural environment set against the backdrop of Cape Town’s Table Mountain. The estate spans 528 hectares, most of which is protected and supports natural forest, fynbos, and a variety of wildlife and birdlife. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden offers fantastic walks and trails, which provide amazing insights into the natural area. Furthermore, the Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts take place every Sunday between November and April and have been a popular attraction in Cape Town for many years.
DISTRICT SIX MUSEUM
#4 Cultural Attractions in Cape Town
When choosing from the many cultural attractions in Cape Town, District Six Museum is highly recommended. The museum celebrates the once vibrant multiracial area destroyed in the 1960s during apartheid. Some 60,000 residents were forcibly removed and displaced, and the museum recreates the homes in the area. It showcases photographs and features recordings and testimonials, all of which evoke the incredible emotion of a community that was shattered but not entirely broken. Displays include a map of District Six, where former residents have labelled the location of their demolished homes, and many of the staff, all displaced residents themselves, have heartbreaking stories to tell.
#5 Cultural Attractions in Cape Town
One of the city’s most distinct neighbourhoods, the Bo-Kaap offers much to see, taste, and explore—which is why it is one of the best cultural attractions in Cape Town. Nestled at the foot of Signal Hill, the Bo-Kaap was formerly known as the Malay Quarter and dates back to the 1760s. When the houses were built, they were leased to slaves known as the Cape Malays, who were brought over from Malaysia, Indonesia, and other parts of Africa to work in the city. Today, the houses feature a blend of Georgian and Cape Dutch architecture and are known for their vibrant colours and steep cobbled roads. Many of the families in the Bo-Kaap have been living there for generations, and this incredible community is a significant part of South Africa’s cultural heritage.
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
#6 Cultural Attractions in Cape Town
A rocky headland on the Atlantic coast of the Cape Peninsula, the Cape of Good Hope forms an important part of the cultural attractions in Cape Town. First sighted by Portuguese navigator Bartolomeu Dias in 1488 and then later misconceived as the dividing point between the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the Cape of Good Hope is home to the legendary Flying Dutchman and offers spectacular scenery.