Cape Town is really a city that looks to capture your heart from the minute you arrive. Stunningly set under Table Mountain, it is home to rich cultural experiences, outdoor adventures and unique animal experiences. Here we guide you through some of our favourite family-friendly experiences in Cape Town both within the city and beyond into Cape Peninsula.
This popular tourist spot in Cape Town is bustling with activity day and night. Packed with amazing restaurants, shopping opportunities, street performances, the Cape Wheel, museums, a giant aquarium, a boat themed playground and clocktower – you’re sure to find yourself heading here at least a couple of times throughout your stay.
Many of the attractions and performances here are free – though tips may be expected. There’s a charge to ride the Cape Wheel but the views from the top are pretty awesome, and don’t forget to take an obligatory photo of your little ones in the Table Mountain photo frame!
Two Oceans Aquarium
A visit is the Two Oceans Aquarium is highly recommended and is a great option for a rainy day Cape Town activity. A visit to this Cape Town aquarium includes interactive sessions with penguins, a touching pool and over 3000 species on display. The Predator Exhibit is a recent upgrade that’s sure to please little shark lovers (or terrify the pants off them!). Check on the Two Oceans website for feeding times.
Ferry to Robben Island
The ferry to Robben island leaves from the V&A waterfront, weather permitting, several times a day. The boat ride itself will likely be enough to entertain kids but the tour may not capture younger children’s attention terribly long. It is an incredibly poignant place so judge by your children’s ages if it’s an appropriate day trip – allow 4 hours.
Ferry trips can be pre-booked or combine a tour to Robben Island with visiting one of Cape Town’s unique Townships for a more immersive cultural experience with a safe tour guide.
Table Mountain Ariel Cableway
Visiting the top of the iconic Table Mountain is on the top of most visitors lists. There are a few ways to get to the top but the most popular for families is the cable car – the Table Mountain Ariel Cableway. The cableway cars zoom up the hill in just 5 minutes, then you can explore the mountaintop. As well as a cafe with one of the most spectacular views, there are 3 walking trails that aren’t over strenuous for little legs.
Tickets are sold in morning and afternoon slots, though morning tends to be busiest. Hours are extended in the summer from 8am to 9.30pm. We strongly recommend you book in advance as daily tickets are limited and do sell out, especially in the summer months.
Important Note: The Cable car cannot operate during high winds or inclement weather which is unfortunately quite often (click here to read more about the high winds in our Best Time to Visit Cape Town article).
If you still want spectacular city views without climbing the mountain, get yourself over to Signal Hill. Signal Hill is not as high as Table Mountain but still has some great city & oceans vistas. You will the find the brave (crazy) paragliding off the hilltop here if you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie!
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
Whilst the stunning Table Mountain is undoubtedly the centrepiece of Cape Town, don’t forget to drive to the far side and visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. This is the perfect relaxing break, though be prepared for a little hefty hill walking!
One of the highlights kids will love is the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – also known as the Boomslang (tree snake). They run an Art in the Garden instalment which currently includes a dinosaur display. Kids will find a small playground as well if they still have some energy left in their legs after climbing the hill!
Swim with penguins at Boulders Beach
One of the most popular and iconic views of Cape Town are these adorable African Penguins (also called Jackass penguins – you’ll learn why when you hear them!) But can you believe you can actually go swimming with them? Head south from Cape Town to Simon’s Town on False Bay and in the warm Indian Ocean waters you will find this colony of penguins.
Most of the penguins live on Foxy Beach, where visitors can observe the penguins from a raised boardwalk. If you walk slightly further to Boulders Beach, you can hop in the water and swim alongside them! For obvious reasons rules are strictly enforced. There is a small parks entry fee to pay at both beaches (or walk along the boardwalk between the two beaches and you’ll get plenty of sightings for free).
Take to the beach
There’s a huge choice of beaches in Cape Town, depending on whether you’re looking for surf or calmer waters. Generally speaking, the False Bay beaches on the Indian Ocean side are much calmer and warmer than the Atlantic Ocean. We love Muizenberg and St James Beaches, which are home to those totally instagrammable rainbow coloured beach huts.
On the west coast, facing the Atlantic seaboard, you will find the ever popular Camps Bay Beach and Clifton. There are other more hidden choices, with sandy white shores in hidden coves to explore too, such as Beta Beach and Glen Beach. Many beaches come with adjacent play parks too, so set your side a good day or two and do as the locals do!
Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome
A Grand Old Museum with thousands of fossils, the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome is one of the best rainy day things to do in Cape Town with kids. In the main museum, kids will love the dinosaurs and the giant blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. The attached planetarium reopened in 2017 following a massive revamp, and now houses one of the most advanced digital displays you’ll find in Africa. There are two daily shows plus interactive programs to enjoy.
The Planetarium is right next door to The Company’s Garden, a great place for little legs to explore. As well as having much historic significance, there are many monuments to find and little critters to be spotted!
City Sightseeing Bus
Want to see all the best parts of Cape Town from atop a red bus? City Sightseeing offer ten tours around Cape Town, where you can hop on and off at your leisure while checking out some of Cape Town’s most iconic sights, like Camps Bay and the V&A Waterfront. A one-day hop-on-hop-off ticket is R170 per person and in peak times runs about every 20 minutes.
Visit Cape Point and the Cape Peninsula
A visit to Cape Point is one of those day trips where the drive itself is equally as spectacular as the destination. Once you’ve tackled the Chapmans Peak Drive and spotted seals in Hout Bay, head on to Cape Point where you can take a funicular to the headland. Not to be missed of course is taking your photo at the Cape of Good Hope, where you see the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet at the most South-Westerly point of Africa.
Save Money on Cape Town attractions
A great money saver, if you will be in Cape town for a few days, is the City Pass iVenture Card for Cape Town.
Included in a 3 or 5 day City Pass is:
- Your hop on and off bus ticket with City Sightseeing
- Entry to Table Mountain and the Ariel Cableway
- Cape Wheel
- Two Oceans Aquarium
- V&A Waterfront Seal and Harbour Cruise
- Cape Point and Penguin Full Day Live Guided Tour
- And over 6O more attractions!
This great value-for-money card covers nearly all the paid activities we listed above! You only need one ticket, which is stored conveniently on your phone.
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