Cape Town is packed full of amazing walks. These range from a casual scenic or historical stroll, through to dramatic hikes and extensive treks. Here are six of the best.
Whether you’re an amateur wanderer or a serious hiker, you’ll find something that ticks all the boxes in Cape Town. Here are 6 amazing short walks in and around Cape Town:
Table Mountain Cableway to Maclear’s Beacon
If you travel to the top of Table Mountain via the Table Mountain Cableway, you’ll be forgiven for thinking that you’ve arrived on the highest point on the mountain. You’ll definitely feel on top of the world, but you’re not quite at the very top. For this, you’ll have to take short but thoroughly spectacular walk to Maclear’s Beacon.
Sir Thomas Maclear built a large cairn on the highest point of the mountain back in 1865. He did so not to celebrate the highest point of the mountain, but actually to assist eager scientists to measure the earth’s curvature.
The walk will take you 45 minutes, and it leaves from the Upper Cable Station. Follow the signs, and if it’s a clear day, make sure you walk part of the way on the pathways above the front face of the mountain. The ever-changing views of the city, Devil’s Peak, V&A Waterfront, and Lion’s Head, are well worth the small amount of energy you’ll exert along the way. And, of course, a visit to Maclear’s Beacon will mean you’ve been to the highest point on Table Mountain – an impressive feat in itself.
Lighthouse Keeper’s Trail at Cape Point
While the old lighthouse still gets most of the glory, thanks to its dramatic position atop the Cape Point peninsula, it’s the new lighthouse that actually does all the work. The good news is, the new lighthouse is at the end of a beautiful and easily accessible trail that will give you a whole new perspective on this south western corner of Africa.
If hills aren’t your thing, take the funicular to the upper station. Keep an eye out for the signs behind the station, and follow the marked trail for as long as you like.
At some point in the walk you’ll turn back, and be startled by the spectacle of Cape Point rising up above you. And then you’ll peer over the cliff to your left, and at some points to your right as well, and you’ll reach for the hand rail to steady yourself on this dramatic pathway.
It’s a beautiful walk that is suitable for average fitness levels, and it’ll leave you with a totally new perspective of Cape Point.
Company’s Gardens to Greenmarket Square
The Company’s Garden, on Queen Victoria Street, began as a garden to help sustain sailors rounding the Cape of Good Hope back in the mid-1600s. Today, it is still the green heart of the city, and it’s the perfect starting point for a range of walks around the Cape Town city centre.
You can start things off with a morning in one of the engaging museums located throughout the Garden, or a coffee at the Company’s Garden restaurant, and then follow the slope of the hill down through the trees and manicured lawns towards Wale Street. You’ll encounter inquisitive squirrels, entertaining buskers, beautiful views of Table Mountain, and a raft of fascinating history.
Join up with St George’s Mall, a pedestrianised walkway, and you’ll immerse yourself in the energy of one of the most architecturally beautiful stretches of the city. Don’t forget to look up at the buildings around you, and venture into one of the coffee shops or restaurants that line the street.
Eventually you’ll come across Short Market Street, at which point you can take a left to arrive in the vibrant Greenmarket Square, packed full of vendors selling interesting items from across the continent.
If you would like more insight into the history and significance of the walk, visit the City Walk page for more information and consider going on a guided walk with a recommended operator.
Historical Walking Tour at the V&A Waterfront
The V&A Waterfront is more than a shopping and entertainment hub – it is packed full of history. After all, it was here that Jan van Riebeeck built the first jetty in the Cape back in 1654. Since then, the humble jetty has evolved to become a mixed use destination with a wide variety of activities for everyone to enjoy. But just because the Waterfront has continued to evolve, it doesn’t mean you’ll miss out on tales from its early days.
The free self-guided historical walking tour is the perfect way to explore the history of the V&A Waterfront and learn about the 22 historical landmarks on site. To start your journey, visit the Information Centre to collect your map.
If you’d prefer a guided tour then visit the Chavonnes Battery Museum. Tours leave daily, but booking is essential. Contact the V&A Waterfront on 021 416 6230 for more information and to book a place on the historical walking tour.
Groot Constantia Vineyards
You may think of Groot Constantia as the ultimate location to sample and purchase some of the Cape’s best wines, or to have a meal at one of two celebrated restaurants. And you would be right on all counts. But there are also several short walks you can take around the estate that will offer beautiful views over the Southern Suburbs.
Once you’ve explored the restaurants, cellars, and tasting room, keep walking up the hill towards the mountain, and you will find a selection of paths, roads, and trails.
Depending on your fitness levels, you could simply kick back on the lush green lawns for a while, or continue up towards the very top of the estate. There, you will be greeted by incredible panoramic views of the neighbouring estates and lush Southern Suburbs. Time it well, and you’ll catch the last rays of sunlight slipping below Table Mountain behind you.
Boomslang Walkway at Kirstenbosch Gardens
As at most Big 7 destinations, there are several walks you can take at Kirstenbosch, each of which offers something unique. But one of the most rewarding in terms of views, and physical exertion, is a brisk walk up to the popular tree-top canopy walkway.
Follow the signs from either the top or bottom entrance at Kirstenbosch, and you will wander through the pristine botanical gardens for only a few minutes until you reach the walkway.
Hidden amongst the trees, this snake-like platform is not only about the sweeping panoramic views of Table Mountain, the Southern Suburbs, and the Gardens, but it’s an experience in itself. The snake like walkway sways as you cross it, and you’ll instantly see how apt its name really is.
The best thing about a short walk in Kirstenbosch is that it’s difficult to get lost for very long, but incredibly rewarding when you simply wander off the path amongst the incredible indigenous plants.
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One Destination, 7 Unbelievable Experiences
There is no one way to explore all of the Cape Town Big 7, and much of what makes each of them so special is the variety of things to see and do at each. So if possible, take your time to explore each of the city’s most visited tourist attractions in as much depth as possible – as any local will tell you, you can spend a lifetime at each of the Big 7 and still not tire of them. Find the 3 and 4 day itineraries and tips here.