Best things to do in Cape Town with kids

Scenic helicopter view of Cape Town coastline and Table Mountain
Captivating Cape Town

My expectations of Cape Town were unfairly sky high, sprinkled with a tinge of doubt, could it live up to the hype? Unburdened by such a lofty reputation, the Mother City simply delivered a sunny winters day with perfect temperatures, clear blue skies and one majestic Table Mountain, the sight of which had me an immediate convert. Discovering the rich history, welcoming locals, diverse activities, a captivating coastline and surprisingly safe surroundings, kept me in its graces and here I praise the best things to do in Cape Town with kids.

In collaboration with Marco Polo Travel Guides and as a guest of South African Tourism, here’s my Cape Town with Kids City Guide.

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The best Cape Town family activities

We’ve combed Cape Town to compile this list of the best family adventures in Cape Town, one of the most beautiful cities in the world:

Head up Table Mountain

Address: Tafelberg Rd, Gardens, Cape Town. Table Mountain costs: Cable car prices here.

Top of Table Mountain with Robben Island
Glorious Table Mountain views

Soaring 1058 metres, the summit is achieved with little effort, ascending by a cable car that zips up Table Mountain in few short minutes and reason why 722,000 people took the ride last year. One of the the top places in Cape Town to visit, conveniences are not far away with a small café with small price tags and restrooms available

Like standing on top of the World, visitors are rewarded with a panoramic view of Lion’s head, a post card perfect V&A Waterfront and the endless deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean which briefly encircles nearby Robben Island before continuing on to the horizon.

To the West over the Twelve Apostle Ranges lies the Peninsula home of Camps Bay and to my surprise, glorious powder white sandy coves. To the East is Devils Peak, where on a clear day there are glimpses of the Hottentots Holland Range where the splendor of the Wine Lands begin.

Marco Polo tip

Pull-Out Map

On the back of the Cape Town Marco Polo Guide is a pull out map, great to get the lay of the land when at the top of Table Mountain.

Marco Polo Cape Town Guide Book at the top of Table Mountain
Marco Polo Cape Town Guide Book at the top of Table Mountain

Along the cliff edge, Dassies the resident chunky bodied rat-like-beavers, bask on rocks and admire the views below. From the top you can make out a hallow that forms City Bowl. Here’s where you’ll find pockets of arty neighbourhoods, laneways of Victorian guest houses, hip restaurants and cafes alongside museums, galleries and historic buildings that have seen the rise and fall of apartheid.

Dassies admiring the view in Cape Town
Dassies or Hyraxes admire the view in Cape Town – their closest relatives are elephants and the sea cow.

Spend some time circling the New Seven Wonders of the World, where walkways provide various vantage points over Cape Town, offering spectacular photo opportunities where no filter is required. It’s easy to understand why Table Mountain is one of the best things to do in South Africa, Cape Town.





Tips for Table Mountain

  • Pre-purchase Table Mountain tickets online or tickets can be purchased at the base of the Cableway lift where credit cards are accepted.
  • Keep tickets safe and on hand as it is required to scan on the upward and return journey.
  • Cape Town has temperamental weather, if it’s a sunny day it’s best to head up, as it may not be ideal conditions the next day.
  • There’s a small queue up and down the mountain.
  • Crowds are usually higher if Table Mountain was closed due to bad weather.
  • Be sure to bring camera and gear to snap away at the views.
  • Take water, hats and sunscreen.
  • For best photo opportunities from within the Cable Car, nab a spot by the edge and not in the centre to take advantage of the rotating window.
  • Hold kids hands and keep them away from the cliff edge.
  • Make it up for the Sunset Special where you follow the sun as it dips over the horizon.
Table Mountain abseilers view over Camp Bay
Abseilers get ready for some adventure in Cape Town #nofilter

 

Table Mountain Hikes in Cape Town with kids

For those seeking more adventure in Cape Town, an alternative to the Table Mountain cable car is to take a hike to the top. There are a variety of hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty.

Table Mountain hiking map

Download the latest Table mountain hiking map here.

Camps Bay Peninsula from Table Mountain
Camps Bay Peninsula from Table Mountain

Lions Head walk

A popular and easy route for families is the summit to Lions Head, which starts at Signal Hill Drive and slowly spirals to the base of Lion’s Head, 669 metres up. This is a very popular walk, expect crowds during peak times, allow 1.5-2 hours to hike with kids.

Table Mountain Hiking Tips:

  • Hiking up Table Mountain is not for the faint hearted and trails can be steep and weather can be extremely hot, windy or rainy.
  • Stick to the more popular routes including: Plattekip or The Pipe Trace Walk.
  • Be prepared with the right gear and pack plenty of water.
  • Some trails up can take 3-4 hours to climb.
  • There is risk of muggings and assault. Stay safe and take a guide or hike in groups of four or more.
  • Hide valuables away from sight.

Bask in beautiful Camps Bay

Address: Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town, Google Map here

When a tourism insider remarks off the cuff that Camps Bay is her “most favourite place in Cape Town” you take note and make a beeline for the trendy seaside suburb, a short ten-minute taxi ride from the city of Cape Town.

Camps Bay Beach
Beautiful Camps Bay Beach, Cape Town. Image by David Stanley CC.

Camps Bay Beach Cape Town

Camps Bay Beach at the foot of the impressive Twelve Apostles mountain range shows off a curve of soft white sandy beach and clear turquoise waters. One of eleven South African beaches that have Blue Flag status, an international accreditation where beaches must pass a stringent set of criteria, which includes safety and the highest standard of water and sand quality.

Camps Bay Restaurant Strip, Cape Town, Western Cape Province. Image courtesy South African Tourism.
Camps Bay Restaurant Strip, Cape Town, Western Cape Province. Image: South African Tourism.

There are some drawbacks to this stunning beach, being on the Atlantic Seaboard the frigid water does not get higher than 13 degrees in the summer and there’s a strong current. However, the beach is patrolled and safe for the kids to splash along the foreshore.

 

Just over the palm trees that line the esplanade are a variety of modern restaurants, glam cafes and trendy bars all offering decks and terraces to take advantage of the elevated ocean views. Linger longer for a sundowner and enjoy the show stopping sunset or better still, stay nearby in one of the many hip guesthouses and boutique hotels that retreat up the mountain.

Beach front strip, Camps Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape Province
Bay Hotel, Camps Bay across from the beach. Image: South African Tourism.

Marco Polo Tip

Azure at Twelve Apostles Hotel

The terrace at Azure, part of the Twelve Apostles Hotel offers uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean and a perfect spot for sunset. Whilst dinner may lean towards romantic, the famous buffet breakfast and Sunday brunches will please any junior foodie and welcomes family diners.

The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa restaurant, Western Cape
The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa restaurant is great for sundowners. Image: South African Tourism.

Visit a township in Cape Town

South Africa’s heart and soul lies in the various townships surrounding Cape Town, these are sprawling informal shanty communities where often the poorest live, some without the basics including running water or electricity. Townships are a direct result of apartheid, prone to overcrowding and lacking in resources, they where the dumping grounds for the Black and Coloured people whom were forcibly removed from designated white areas.

Langa Township, Cape Town
Shanty communities in Langa Township, Cape Town. Image: Mickey Bo, CC.

As confronting as a visit is, a Township offers a authentic Cape Town experience that encourages a better understanding of the history, inequality and aftermath of apartheid. A visit to the township also sees the emerging middle-class and the progress being made. Township tours when carried out ethically provides a respectful immersion into the local culture and residents and an opportunity for visitors to contribute directly to local businesses.

Some of the popular townships include Gugulethu, Kayelitsh and Langa.

Langa Township
Markets at Langa Township. Image: Graeme Churchard CC

Is visiting a township in Cape Town safe?

Townships have both safer areas and dangerous parts, some pockets in the Cape Flats are strictly no-go zones, notorious for gang related violence and high crime. It’s important for families to take a Township tour with a trusted local trusted tour operator to show you the fun, vibrant and tourist friendly Township areas.

Laundry in Langa
Laundry in Langa. Image: Miville Tremblay CC.

Intrepid Township tours Cape Town

Intrepid runs an Urban Adventure day tour called Faces of Cape Town, a walking tour lead by a resident guide to the township of Imizano Yetho (Mandela Park) to explore the local neighbourhood, peruse local arts and crafts, have tea and adventurous snacks in a local shebeen and tour the brightly painted muslim quarter of Bo-Kaap nearby.

Groups are no larger than 12 people, the tour including to and from the Township is 7 hours in duration. Tickets cost $165 per person (check site for details), kids under 6 are not permitted. More about Intrepid Cape Town Urban Adventure Tour here.

Alternatively private tours from accredited operators can be arranged with a guide from R2050 ($200 AUD) for 1-4 people. Consult the hotel concierge, a reputable tourist operator or a tourist information centre for a recommendation.

Langa Township, Cape Town
Preparing Smilies a Township snack of grilled lambs head. Image: ser_is_snarkish, CC

Marco Polo Tip

Townships in Cape Town

Head to Mzoli’s in Gugulethu on a Saturday afternoon for a Cape Town bbq and brew or try some of the more interesting local eats like smilies. Broiled and grilled lambs head.

Inside the Marco Polo guide books are recommended travel operators and contacts.

Wander the V&A Waterfront

Address: V&A Waterfront Cape, Town

 

One of Cape Towns most visited attractions, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront may seem a touch touristy with the obligatory observation wheel, shiny shopping malls, sprawling resorts and relatively overpriced shops and restaurants.  However, the laid back vibes of the working harbour, serene views of Table Bay Harbour and a number of good alfresco dining options makes it absolutely charming, further amplified by the backdrop of Table Mountain.

Marco Polo Guide V&A Waterfront. Old Customs House.
Marco Polo Guide and the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

On a sunny day, it doesn’t get any better than soaking up the sunshine and sipping a Savannah Dry cider whilst watching the world amble by. A mix of young and old all convene to enjoy the atmosphere plenty of family friendly restaurants along the pier offering kid friendly and affordable meal options.

V&A Waterfront family friendly highlights

One of the must-see Cape Town tourist spots, the V&A Waterfront is set up for families offering a variety of activities and attractions without it feeling too manufactured and cheesy, here are the highlights:

Harbour with Table Mountain in the background
V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background. Image: South African Tourism

Two Oceans Aquarium

Currently undergoing renovations to extend the Predator Exhibit, families will miss the sharks however the Two Oceans Aquarium is still worth and one of the top Cape Town family activities.

The medium-sized aquarium features several large tanks of marine life including tanks of neon lit jelly fish, an Ocean Exhibit where kids can view rays, tuna, guitar fish and sea turtles as well as a tank where kids can surround themselves with Nemo’s!

In the Penguin Exhibit, kids can watch African, Rockhopper’s and Black Oystercatchers get a feed of fish, take a nap on the sandy shore or paddle by the rocky shore. Finish up at the Touch Pool where little fingers can touch and feel coral, seaweed, shells and sponges.

Ticket Prices: Two Oceans Aquarium Cape Town

Tickets cost R150 ($15 AUD) for adults, R115 ($11.50 AUD) and kids 4 and under are free.

If you book online there is a 15% discount.

Cape Wheel

Take a spin on the Cape Wheel, a short 15-minute ride which turns four times offering views over the rooftops of the V&A Waterfront buildings, across the harbour and a closer look at Table Mountain.

Cape Town Victoria and Alfred Waterfront Cape Wheel.
Tale a spin on the Cape Wheel, V&A Waterfront

Ticket Prices: Cape Wheel Cape Town

There’s no need to pre-book tickets and kids under 4 years ride free. Adults 16+ cost R100 (aprox $10 AUD) and Child aged 4-16 years R50 (aprox $5 AUD).

V&A Waterfront Children's Playground
There is a small playground by the Clock Tower for kids to exert some energy. In November 2016 the larger Ships Ahoy playground will be opened and newly refurbished to suit kids of all ages, it is strategically placed by the food court where you’ll find conveniences like McDonalds and KFC.
Spot Seals on the V&A Waterfront Jetty
From the Swing Bridge catch a few resident Cape Fur Seals taking a splash in the water. If you miss them here they can be seen taking a nap on old tyres that line the jetty or on the deck by the Clock Tower, just follow your nose.
Scratch Patch

If the weather turns or even if it doesn’t the Mineral World Scratch Patch is a fun place to take the kids. Tucked away near the aquarium, the unassuming shop offer a room lined with precious gems where kids can scratch around on the floor and fill a bag full of tumble-polished gemstones. From pretty pink rose quartz, shiny crystals to tiger eyes there are a variety of cool stones to collect.

Scratch Patch Mineral World, Cape Town. This photo of Scratch Patch is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Scratch Patch Mineral World, Cape Town. This photo of Scratch Patch is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Cost of Cape Town Scratch Patch

It wouldn’t be surprising that a similar concept in Australia would cost $1 or more per gemstone, but here kids kids can fill a small bag with whatever stone they find for R17 (AUD $1.70). A large container costs R95 (AUD $9.50), doable as Qantas gives each person a whopping 30kg weight limit.

Shopping at the V&A Waterfront
People come for the shopping at the V&A Waterfront and there are eleven precincts of fashion, food, home ware, gifts, art and craft to browse through.
Victoria Wharf Mall

Families can pick up supplies at the large and sophisticated Victoria Wharf Mall, there’s also a pharmacy and on the bottom floor a large Pick n Pay supermarket with its own sushi bar.

Cape Town Victoria Wharf
Cape Town Victoria Wharf , V&A Waterfront. Image: ixmatex wu, CC.

Shops are mainly international brands including Zara, Diesel, Mimco, Guess Kids, Cotton on Kids, Nike and a flagship Hamleys Toy Store where you can pick up tickets for a ride on the Hamleys Express. There are also high-end South African labels and souvenir stores such children’s label Naartjie, fashion label Made in SA and Joubet & Monty, purveyors of biltong.

Hamleys Express

Kids can take a ride aboard Hamleys Express, a miniature trackless train ride that runs along the waterfront.

Pick up is from the station by the Cape Wheel and the 15-minute ride ends by the Watershed. Tickets cost R20 per person ($2 AUD) and available at the Hamleys Toy Store in Victoria Wharf or at the station by the Cape Wheel.

Marco Polo Guide and the Hamley's Express. V&A Waterfront.
Marco Polo Guide and the Hamley’s Express.

Hamleys Express Timetable at the V&A Waterfront

Rides operate daily as follows:

  • Weekdays: 10:30am to 7pm
  • Saturdays: 9am to 7pm
  • Sundays: 9:30am to 7pm
V&A Food Market

The V&A Food Market is located next to Nobel Square where four statues stand proud honouring F.W de Klerk, Albert Luthuli, Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

The V&A Waterfront was one of the first on the continent to become electrified with the help of the historical pump house, it’s now home to 150 food vendors showcasing the best of South African food and produce. A foodie haven, it’s worth a look even with kidlets in tow. There’s authentic South African cuisine, single origin Cape Town coffee, gourmet cheese, artisan pastries, microbrews, dried fruit, biltong and quality rooibos tea.

Pop in for tasty goodness on the Waterfront mage: V&A Food Market. Cape Town with kids.
Pop in for tasty goodness on the Waterfront mage: Visit website for more details.

Just for kids there’s gourmet gelato, fresh sushi, handmade fudge, bubble tea and Belgian waffles drenched with nutella. TThe V&A Food Market also ocassionally offersfree activities such as  a petting zoo or biscuit decorating during Christmas.

The stalls at V&A Waterfront Food Market. Image: VA Food Market
The stalls at V&A Waterfront Food Market. Image: Visit website for more details

V&A Waterfront Open Hours

V&A Waterfront Market is open 7 days a week, except Christmas and News Years day.

November – April open hours: 10am – 7pm daily.

May – October open hours: 10am – 6pm daily.

Visit V&A Food Market website for more details.

Open 7 days a week, except CHRISTMAS DAY and NEW YEARS DAY (November to April 10h00 – 19h00; May to October 10h00 – 18h00). Visit the website

Take the long walk on Robben Island

Location: Visit website for more details.  More information: Visit website for more details.

Despite the difficult subject matter and the potential for boredom for young kids, Robben Island remains an important history lesson for the next generation. Walk through the prison blocks and get a sense of the oppression enforced on those wanting equality.

The prison cell blocks at Robben Island, Cape Town.
The prison cell blocks at Robben Island, Cape Town.

Witness the cold narrow cell where Nelson Mandela slept in isolation for 18 of his 27 years in prison and see the quarry where Mandela and other prisoners arduously broke limestone into rocks, a place intended to break the inmates spirits but where ultimately spirits soared with the conception of Robben Island University.

It was only 1991 when the last of the political prisoners were released from Robben Island and apartheid officially came to an end in 1994. Former political prisoners of Robben Island lead the guided tours and as they grow with age it is obvious what an unmissable opportunity and privilege it is to receive this knowledge first-hand.

Former political prisoner, now Robben Island guide Jama Mbatyoti
Former political prisoner, now Robben Island guide Jama Mbatyoti

A visit to Robben Island involves a 30-minute ferry ride, which can be rough and windy, a 3-hour group tour that includes a guided walk around the former prison and bus tour around the island. Though it is fairly paced the tour is in a large group of thirty people, for kids it involves lots of patience and good manners, which can be easier said than done.

There are small breaks or free time throughout the tour and to break up the intensity there’s a rest stop at a small shop, the location offers impossible views of Cape Town and even a group of penguins on show.

By the terminal before the return ferry toilets and a gift shop selling snacks, souvenirs and a well-deserved treat for the kids.

Ticket Costs: Robben Island

Tickets costs R320 ($32 AUD) for adults and R180 ($18 AUD) for children under 18 years.

Freedom Cannot Be Manculed mural greets visitors to Robben Island.
Freedom Cannot Be Manculed mural greets visitors to Robben Island.

Robben Island tour departures

There are three tours that depart from the V&A Waterfront daily at 9am, 11am and 1pm. Be prepared for the occasional rough seas on Table Bay.

How far do you have to pre-book Robben Island tickets?

There are many who want to follow in Mandela’s footstep and the tours for Robben Island are extremely popular. It’s advised to book Robben Island tickets well in. Tickets particularly in large family groups fill quickly often a month or two in advance.

Pre-booking required for a ferry trip to Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa.
Pre-booking required for a ferry trip to Robben Island.

At a minimum, purchase tickets 10 days before the day of departure but the earlier the better to secure your passage to Robben Island.

Tickets can be purchased online, at the terminal or by the ticket office near the Clock Tower.

Marco Polo Tip

Robben Island pre-reading

Marco Polo Tip – Robben Island pre-reading

Even if you have read Nelson Mandela’s Long Walk to Freedom autobiography, it’s worthwhile brushing up on the history written by the great man himself.

Nelson Mandela's DSection Solitary Cells on Robben Island
D Section Solitary Cells where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated, Robben Island

Cruise Cape Town at sunset

Cape Town does not take a bad photo and some of the best can be captured from the waterline, when the city is bathed in golden light. As the sun dips behind Table Mountain, the sky is a vision of dusty pinks and the sea a silky purple.

You won't regret a sunset cruise in Cape Town.
Sunset bliss cruising Table Bay, Cape Town onboard Mirage

There are various sunset cruises which depart from the V&A Waterfront, most cruises range from 1.5-2 hours, a perfect duration for families to enjoy the sea breeze and a sneaky champagne with just enough time before the novelty wears off.

For a five-star sailing experience, enjoy a cruise on the Mirage, the shiny new catamaran offering morning, afternoon and sunset cruises onboard the 76 feet luxury vessel. Along with warm and friendly staff, there’s plenty of space undercover by the fully licensed bar as well as soft white leather booths to enjoy the views from the top deck, but kids will mostly love stretching out on the trampolines at the ships forward.

Mirage Sunset Cruises

Two-hour sunset sailings cost from R500 ($50 AUD) per person, which includes a welcome juice or champagne. Perhaps the combination of the freedom felt at sea, the gorgeous surrounds or the spectacular vista of Cape Town sparkling to life, conjures up an overwhelming sense of joy and this alone is worth the small family splurge.

For more information visit Mirage website.

Jolly Roger Pirate Boat – day sailings

For a little more fun there is the Jolly Roger Pirate Boat, a life size pirate ship that sails three times daily. The morning, lunch and afternoon sailings include a pirate show and cost R150 ($15) per adult or R75($7.50 per child).

Sunset cruise onboard Jolly Roger Pirate Boat have a “party boat” atmosphere which may not be suitable for kids.

Check out colourful Bo-Kaap

Address: Wale Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

 

Bo-Kapp is most famous for its street lined with brightly coloured homes and where tourists will flock to take photos of the contrasting pastel lines.

Beyond the colourfully painted township, the Cape Malay heritage is evident in the restaurants selling Cape Malay food, locals offering cooking classes and crafts and in the heritage buildings including Auwal Mosque, the original dating back to 1794. The rich history and diverse culture makes Bo-Kaap one of the best places to visit in Cape Town, South Africa.

Getting to Bo-Kaap from Cape Town

Bo-Kaap is easy to visit, a short 10 minute taxi ride (8km) from the V&A Waterfont or closer still (7 minute taxi ride) from the city centre, ask for Wale Street, Bo-Kaap.

Allow a minimum of an hour wander the streets, take a few snaps, visit the slave lodge and have a traditional snack or meal. It’s also a quick stop on the way to somewhere else for a instagram or wo.

Bo-Kaap Neighborhood
Brightly coloured Bo-Kaap. Image: David Stanley, CC.

Why are the houses of Bo-Kaap brightly painted?

Though the origins of the coloured homes are not known, it is said that Muslim residents would celebrate Eid al-Fitr the religious holiday marking the end of Ramadan by painting their houses in bright colours. Another more practical reasons is that as a poorer community, the home owners would paint with the cheapest paint that was readily available.

 Colourful Bo Kaap. Image: Christina, CC.
Colourful Bo Kaap. Image: Christina, CC.

History of Bo-Kaap – and why it’s a must visit

Expand and read more about Cape Town's tragic slave history here

From 1653 – 1834, the Dutch East India Company or VOC, imported slaves to be used as labour to expand the Cape, settled as a resupply station for VOC ships.

Chained and forced into ships with appalling conditions the slaves, mostly Javanese but included Indian, Persian, South East Asian and Chinese, made the treacherous journey to the Cape of Good Hope, where the survival rate averaged 50%.

Those that made it to the Cape were labelled Cape Malay and over 176 years of slavery, were deemed property purchased by the VOC as Company slaves or put to work by the ‘free burgers’ or Dutch free settlers, as personal slaves.

A proportion of the Cape Malay slaves lived with their masters in the ‘Malay Quarter’ above the city centre on Signal Hill. Company slaves were less fortunate and were housed in large communal slave lodges. After the emancipation of slaves a majority settled in the area now known as Bo-Kaap.

Under apartheid Bo-Kaap was spared the fate of District Six where communities were separated and forcibly removed. The Cape Malays, a close-knit Muslim community were able to fight back and retain ownership of their homes and the area was eventually segregated as a coloured neighbourhood for Cape Malays.

Bo-Kaaps incredible history combined with it’s highly instagrammable location makes it’s easily one of the best things to do in Cape Town South Africa.

Marco Polo tip

Listen out for the Noon Gun

Just above Bo-Kaap, high on Signal Hill a canon fires at noon each day (except Sunday’s). A tradition that started in 1806, the Noon Gun signalled Captains on the ships below to adjust their chronometers.

Visit the nearby Slave Lodge

AddressFor more information visit Mirage website. WebsiteFor more information visit Mirage website.

The Iziko Slave Lodge is 650 metres from the colourful street of Bo-Kaap, a museum dedicated to the history of slavery in Cape Town. At one time the windowless building bar a few narrow slits, which opened inwardly to a central courtyard, housed 1000 slaves.

Today, the former Slave Lodge is part of the Iziko Museums of South Africa and the upper levels hold exhibitions including the states Egyptology, Silverware and Ceramics collections.

Slave Lodge
Cape Town’s former Slaved Lodge. Image: David Stanley, CC.





Explore Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

AddressRhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town. Website: For more information visit Mirage website

 

One of the greatest Botanical gardens in the world offers a vision of immaculate gardens set against the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. The 53-hectare garden has over 9000 of the 22,000 South African plant species and a variety of trails to explore, some extend up to Table Mountain.

Best time to see Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

One of the best Cape Town places to see year round, spring in September through October steals the show with flowers in bloom. Kids can spot native sunbirds, sugarbirds and butterflies abundant in the gardens. A perfect spot to have a picnic on the lawns.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden 8. Derek Keats
October is flowering season at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. Image: Derek Keats, CC.

Highlights of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

Here are the top things to do at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens for families:

Tree Canopy - Boomslang
Tree Canopy – Boomslang by Meraj Chhaya, CC.
Boomslang – tree canopy walkway
The Boomslang is a tree top canopy walkway opened in 2013, where a flat stroller friendly 130 metre walkway, winds through the treetops 12 metres above ground.

Located by the arboretum garden, there is no additional cost to walk along the Boomslang. There are a series of easy walking trails from the garden entrance to reach the Boomslang, download a map here.

Conservatory
The impressive glassed Conservatory houses the large variety of semi-arid species of South African desert plants and built to keep plants dry rather than warm.

Peruse the bulbous plants, variety of succulents, stone plants and in the centre of the conservatory is a baobab tree.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Baoba Tree, Conservtory.
Baobab Tree in the Conservatory, Image: Kent Wang, CC.

Dinosaur Sculptures (until June 2017)
Amongst the cyads, a species of native subtropical palms on the verge of extinction, are five life-size dinosaurs. The exhibition is to bring awareness of cyad conservation and is open until June2017.

Nearby are the permanent sculptures in the gardens including a life-like otter and a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

King Proteas Garden
Proteas are South Africa’s national flower similar in appearance to Australian’s Banksias they are in full bloom in Spring and Summer and can be found in abundance in the Proteas Garden.
Van Riebeeck’s Hedge
Jan van Riebeeck is seen to be the founding father of the Afrikaner population in   Cape Town, sent by the Dutch East India Company to establish a refreshing station for ships between the Netherlands and the East Indies, the Cape soon became the place for the first Dutch Settlers in South Africa.

Van Riebeeck's Hedge, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Town-006
Van Riebeeck’s Hedge. By Leo za1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
In 1660 in order to fortify the new settlement against the indigenous Khoisan population, who were peaceful semi-nomadic farmers, Van Riebeeck’s ordered a large wild almond hedge along with thorny bushes to be planted, which kept the Khoisan away from the Salt River and their prime grazing land.

A small section of the original hedge remains at the botanical gardens and is kept as a symbol of exclusion and one of Cape Town’s more interesting places to visit.

Camphor Avenue
Another must-do at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town is to take a walk along beautiful Camphor Avenue, lined with shady camphor trees and native ferns and flowers that thrive underneath.

Planted by former Prime Minister Cecil John Rhodes in 1895, it was apparently intended for Queen Victoria, although she never did see the Camphor Trees the magnificent views benefits everyone today after he bequeathed the land to the Nation in 1902.

Toursts in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Western Cape
Stroll along the Camphor Trees. Image: South Africa Tourism.

Marco Polo Tip

Summer Concerts at the Botanical Gardens

From December to April open-air performances are held at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. BYO picnic & wine.

Untitled
Summer concerts at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Image: Warren Rohner, CC.

Explore the City Bowl – Cape Town CBD

Exploring the city centre tops the list of the most visited attraction in Cape Town, trumping the V&A Watefront, Robben Island and Table Mountain.

Table Mountain imposing on the City Bowl, Cape Town. Image: Jim Sher
Table Mountain imposing on the City Bowl, Cape Town. Image: Jim Sher

The City Bowl is a collection of inner residential suburbs including Gardens, Oranjezicht,and Vredehoek surrounding the historical precinct of Central, Cape Towns CBD.

A wander around the City Bowl is one of the Cape Town activities growing in popularity. The City Bowl’s convenient central location and the relative ease and safety in exploring both gentrified inner urban areas and the historical and cultural sights make it a drawcard:

Cape Town City Bowl Family Highlights

There’s allot to see and do in Cape Town’s City Bowl here are the best family friendly highlights:

City Hall, Cape Town
City Hall, Cape Town CBD. Image: Danie van der Merwe, CC.

South African Museum

Families can visit the oldest museum in South Africa where exhibits include a 20 metre blue whale skeleton, fossils of ancient reptiles that roamed 50 million years ago and the World of Water exhibit featuring a replica giant squid.

Unfortunately the Planetarium located inside the National museum is closed for renovation until January 2017.

Iziko South African Museum.JPG
By Josephou – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0
Museum Mile

The Museum Mile that runs along the Company’s Gardens is also home to noteworthy museums and galleries including:

Cape Town Holocaust Centre – provides an insight into the role, importance and struggles of the Jewish community in Cape Town.

District Six Museum – a place to communicate the destruction of District Six during apartheid and the forced removal of 60,000 residents to the Cape Flats.

South African National Gallery – the oldest gallery in South Africa and home to historical and contemporary art by African, British and Flemish artists.

District Six Museum - Cape Town, South Africa
District Six Museum – Cape Town, South Africa. Image: Thomas Sly, CC.

Historical Buildings

Stroll along the streets and view the romantic Victorian residential buildings, most are now guest houses or boutique shop fronts.

It’s in the City Centre that the oldest and most historically significant buildings remain in tact, and worthy of a sneaky peak as one of Cape Town South including:

Cape Town House of Parliament. Image: carolinamibia, CC.
Cape Town House of Parliament. Image: carolinamibia, CC.

Gardens area – Kloof Street
On the slopes of Table Mountain is The Gardens area, a trendy inner city suburb of Cape Town and hub for the creative industries including TV broadcasters and media, digital agencies, advertising executives and publishing companies who have made their home in and around Kloof Street.

Kloof and Orange Street are worth a stroll through, packed full of trendy restaurants ranging from fine dining to casual with choices galore on cuisine. There are cool cafes and bars and families can choose to stay here with boutique hotels and comfortable guesthouses.

Long Street
On the list of the top Cape Town South Africa activities is a night on Long Street. Strictly adults only, the young and the free spirited gather at the many bars, clubs and lounges offering live music and cheap drinks. Families can walk down Long Street and pop into a few places to dine when it’s more subdued during the day.
Company’s Gardens
Once a working garden to supply fresh produce to the Dutch East Indian Company ships, a replica working vegetable gardens now exists to showcase the agricultural practices used by the VOC in the 16th and 17th century.

The sprawling grounds offers pathways lined with mature trees, lawns and benches to picnic, a dam with plentiful fish, an aviary filled with birds and a backdrop of Table Mountain.

Greenmarket Square

One of South Africa’s oldest public squares, Greenmarket Square among other things was once a slave market, now in better times the square transforms into a flea market selling African art, craft, fabric, jewellery, sculptures and knick knacks.

Greenmarket Square (Cape Town)
Greenmarket Square (Cape Town). Image: Bertrand Duperrin, CC.

As well as market vendors, there are food vendors, coffee stands and buskers perform for spare change and provides for a vibrant atmosphere. Don’t forget to bring cash in small denominations and if there is time scan the shops few blocks either side of the square to work out a fair price.

Marco Polo Tip

Visit the 'Flyover to Nowhere'

In the middle of Cape Town is an unfinished section of a motorway. This comical Cape Town tourist spot garners many a visit, as tourists have a chuckle and grab a quick snap. Unsure how it came to being, some say engineers miscalculation or budget cuts, the incomplete road garners is a popular spot for photo shoots and movies.

Flyover to nowhere, Cape Town South Africa.
Flyover to nowhere, Cape Town South Africa.

Goto Woodstock

Woodstock was one of the neighbourhoods that fell into the ‘grey area’ of the Groups Areas Act and was relatively unscathed by apartheid, remaining a ethnically diverse community of coloureds, blacks and whites. Post apartheid Woodstock had problems with gangs, drugs and crime. Today tourists are making their way as one of Cape Towns

Julian Schroede 14.03.01 - Old Biscuit Mill Market
Old Biscuit Mill Market. Image: Julian Schroede, CC.

With low rent, close proximity to the city and loads of space, it was the art galleries that first saw the potential and took a chance with relocating to Woodstock and the revitalisation of the neighbourhood began.

Although it’s still a little sketchy in parts, Woodstock has cleaned up its act with boho flare, there’s a flourishing food scene, trendy cafes and restaurants, an emerging art community, galleries, antique shops, advertising agencies and boutique fashion labels.

Woodstock Street Art

Around the back streets and alleyways, walls are adorned with works of Cape Town’s best and budding street artists. Look out for murals by FreddySam, Faith47, FalkoOne and DALeast.P

Put a walk around Woodstock in search for art with the kids as one top things to see and do in Cape Town, they may even get an understanding of the social message behind the street art, like BTS’s Save our Rhino murals below:

Cape Town Street Art 16. Save our Rhino artist BTS. Image by: Matthew and Heather, CC.
Street Art in Woodstock ’34 Save our Rhino’ by artist BTS. Image: Matthew and Heather, CC.

Neighbourgoods Market

A the heart of Woodstock is the The Old Biscuit Mill home to the Neighbourgoods Market, where the hip and trendy Capetonians shop for organic produce, boutique fashion and jewellery labels as well as local arts and crafts.

Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, Cape Town
Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock, Cape Town. Image: Anouk Pilon, CC.

Saturday’s is a hive of activity with visitors and locals alike dining from long shared tables and listening to live music which envelopes the undercover complex of 120 local stalls.

Places to eat and drink in Woodstock

Stop into a craft beer brewery at the Taproom or grab a bite to eat at the award winning Test Kitchen (one of the best in Cape Town) or for more of a casual affair try a burger at Three Feathers or a tasty pizza at Burrata.

Test Kitchen (courtesy Test Kitchen)
Test Kitchen, Woodstock. Image: Test Kitchen and @ccfoodtravel, CC.

Catch a chopper over Cape Town

On a clear sunny day, head to the skies for a birds eye view of the Mother City. It’s an exhilarating experience being able to hover over Cape Town in a taking in Table Mountain, the city and coastline in its entirety.

Cape Town Helicopter Costs

Helicopter rides are offered in intervals of 15 minutes from the V&A Waterfront, most with transfers to and from your hotel. Helicopters can fit up to 6 passengers. On our 4-passenger helicopter, it cost $90 AUD per person with NAC helicopters.

There are also 20, 30 and 50 minute Cape Town city tours at additional costs. Kids under 4 typically ride free on a parent’s lap, contact your tour company to advise.

Marco Polo guide to Cape Town
Marco Polo onboard NAC helicopters.




Best time to visit Cape Town – Weather

Cape Town has two main seasons a cool and wet season and a warm and dry season where Spring and Autumn are shorter transitional seasons and the summers and winters are a little longer.

Expand for month by month overview - Best time to go Cape Town

December – Summer (Peak)

January – Summer (Peak)

February – Summer (Peak)

March – Autumn – best

April – Autumn – best

May – Autumn / Winter

June – Winter (Off Peak)

July – Winter (Off Peak)

August – Winter (Off Peak)

September – Spring – best

October – Spring – best

November – Spring / Summer (Peak)

The most popular time to goto Cape Town is during the summer from late November to February, the weather is generally dry and warm with temperatures in the high 20’s Celsius. It can get blistering hot with temperatures soaring to the high 30’s C.

Summer in Cape Town marks the peak season popular with tourists and therefore larger crowds and higher room rates.

Weather in Cape Town is unpredictable

Weather wise, a typical day in Cape Town is  unpredictable. A day can start off looking rainy and gloomy and turn into a brilliant day with sunshine and blue skies. I travelled mid-August and there were gloomy grey days as well as perfectly clear sunny days.

Winter in Cape Town is low season (cold and rainy)

Winter in Cape Town falls between Late May to August and is generally wet and cool and when tourists tend to stay away. This is Cape Town’s off-peak season with colder temperatures and rain, however hotel rack rates are lower and there are fewer crowds.

If you are game to take a chance, you can get great prices, few crowds and some bright days with sunshine.

Winter in Cape Town can be cold and grey.
Winter in Cape Town can be cold and grey.

Best months to visit Cape Town – Spring and Autumn

Cape Town’s shoulder season is in the Autumn and Spring, these are short transitional periods with milder weather, less crowds and a chance to score a bargain. I believe this is the best time to goto Cape Town with kids and the locals favourite time of the year.

Visit Cape Town in the Spring

Spring from September to October offers mild weather with average temperatures of 20-22 degrees Celsius. A wonderful time to visit Cape Town with abundant wildlife including whales off the coast of Hermanus and spectacular vistas of flowers carpeting valleys and coastlines.

Table Bay. Flowers carpet the dunes, Table Bay in Spring (October). Image by: Jonathan Gill, CC
Flowers carpet the dunes, Table Bay in Spring (October). Image by: Jonathan Gill, CC

Visit Cape Town in Autumn

Autumn from March to April sees milder weather with days averaging 18-20 degrees Celsius. An ideal time to visit Cape Town with the leaves turning golden and the absence of the South Easterly winds known as the Cape Doctor. Autumn in Cape Town is also the start of the wine harvest with activities centred around the bountiful period.

Cape Doctor winds during Spring & Summer

Table Mountain Pano. Table Cloth on Table Mountain - Cape Doctor, Cape Town. Image: Jim Sher, CC.
Table Cloth on Table Mountain – Cape Doctor, Cape Town. Image: Jim Sher, CC.

Note that from the start of Spring to late summer (September – October), the Cape Doctor blows in with the famous strong South Easterly winds, the strong gusts are off-set by clear blue skies and the sight of the clouds and intermittent rain rolling across Table Mountain known as the Table Cloth.

Cape Town Must-Eats

Cape Town has a fabulous food scene and there is a great variety and choice, here are some of the must-eat foods in Cape Town, you can’t leave without giving some a try:

astwcapetown-neighbourhoodsmarket-joburg-sumtingfresh

Gatsby

Is a giant bread roll loaded with fillings of you choice, which may include: fried bologna, steak, battered fish, calamari or sausage with the staple ingredients that is always a large helping of chips splash of vinegar, topped with either a spicy achar or peri peri sauce.

A personal-sized Gatsby sandwich prepared with calamari and chips, being sold at a food stall
A personal-sized Gatsby sandwich. Image: HelenOnline – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

The colossal Gatsby sandwich is sliced into four portions and intended to be shared, sometimes it’s sold in smaller portions.

Where to eat Gatby’s in Cape Town

The best places to try Gatby’s in Cape Town are:

  • Mariams Kitchen, a franchise located on the Foreshore and City Centre.
  • Farm Stall & Takeaway in the Ottery claims to make the best Gatsby’s in Cape Town.
  • Golden Dish a local haunt and famous for their Gatby’s.
  • Cosy Corner has been serving Gatsby’s since 1973.
A store in Cape Town, South Africa with signage for Gatsby sandwiches
Tastebud Shack, common shop that sells Gatsby’s. Image: HelenOnline – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Waterblommetjie Bredie

A stew made with lamb and waterblommetjies, a water flower found in the Western Cape. The edible flowers resemble the texture of an artichoke but the subtle flavours resemble a slightly tart green bean stew.

The stew is seasonal as the flower only blooms in July and August, although there is a tinned waterblommetjies.

Depth of field project: waterblommetjies in Wellington by Van Clark.
Fresh harvested waterblommetjies Image: Van Clark, CC.

Where to eat Waterblommetjie Bredie in Cape Town

The following Cape Town restaurants serve waterblommetjies, if travelling just for the stew it’s best to phone ahead to confirm it is on the menu:

  • The Kitchen
  • The Orchard Farm Stall
  • Lelieblom farm restaurant

Potjiekos

Dutch trekkers used cast-iron pots in the 17th century to cook on open fires and the tradition of Potjiekos, Afrikaans for pot food, is kept alive in Cape Town.

The shared meal consists of seared meat, usually lamb layered between carrots, potatoes and other vegetable of choice inside a cast-iron pot and slow cooked on a fire, Capetonians like to add in Cape Malay spices to taste.

Traditionally, Potjieko required a minimum amount of liquid, however sauce consistencies vary from soupy stews to thick creamy curries.

Cape Town's Pojeikos can e found at the Quarterdeck restaurant. Image: Portswood Hotel.
Cape Town’s Pojeikos can e found at the Quarterdeck restaurant. Image: Portswood Hotel.

Where to eat Pojiekos in Cape Town

The best places to try Pojiekos in Cape Town are:

The Quarterdeck Restaurant at the Portswood Hotel

Cape Town Fish Market for a scrummy Seafood Potjie

Mama Africa for an authentic Game Potjie

Biltong

Not only is it a Cape Town must-eat, Biltong is a must eat in South Africa. Introduced by the Dutch settlers made by air drying strips of beef, springbok, kadu or ostrich mixed with a blend of spices and vinegar, it’s considered a national dish and can be easily purchased at gourmet Biltong purveyors to the local service station.

Biltong delicious, Neighbourhoods Market
Biltong! Cape Town Must-Eats.

With many South Africans calling home abroad, Biltong is readily available across the world, although the original and the best is in Cape Town where it all began and where meat like Kadu or Springbok is often hard to come by anywhere else.

Where to get the best Biltong in Cape Town

Look for a quality ‘wet’ looking Biltong that can be sliced on request. Local Capetonians have a special place for Kleyn Begin Biltong, J&M Bitong, WP Biltong (that make Chicken Biltong) and Silvers Biltong.

Babotie

One version of the origin of South Africa’s national dish has the Cape Malay slaves making a popular Javanese curry called Bobotok from the ingredients found in Cape Town. The slaves would collect the scrap meat off the roasted bones served on Sundays and make a baked curry with whatever spices they could rustle up from passing spice ships. As the slaves had a reputation of being good cooks, they had a heavy influence on the food and the early settlers later embraced it as Bobotie.

Delish Babotie served with yellow rice.
Delish Babotie served with yellow rice.

Another version has the Dutch introducing a similar recipe to the Cape Malays, proven that the first recipe was published in a recipe book in 1807 before the settlement in Cape Town. Either way, Bobotie was a dish of the working class and now enjoyed by all walks of life.

A beaten egg and milk mixture is poured over minced meat combined with spices, curry powder, bread, garlic, onion and raisins. The mild sweet curry dish is then baked and served with yellow rice and chutney.

Where to eat Babotie in Cape Town

Noteworthy family friendly places to try Bobotie include:

  • Bo-Kapp Kombius.
  • Biesmiellah.babotie
  • Ladybee diner where you pay by the weight.

Cape Town Braai (BBQ)

A South African barbeque where meats like chicken wings, pork chops and slices of beef are flame grilled and washed down with a cool beer. There are usually beats and good vibes, the great braais ask to BYO plates and forks.

A good South African Braai, Neighbourhoods Market, South Africa
A good South African Braai

Where are the good Braai’s in Cape Town

Don’t leave a braai without sampling:

  • Boerewors sausage recognised by its spiral shape on the grill, it’s dubbed South Africa’s national sausage and is infused with coriander, cloves and nutmeg.
  • Sosaties skewered apricots, onions and marinated curried lamb
  • Sand lobster because it’s Cape Town!
  • Pap a maize polenta to mop up the sauces
  • Chakalak a tomato and bean sauce side dish
By Manuel Ebert - originally posted to Flickr as Loooads of Samp., CC BY-SA 2.0
By Manuel Ebert – originally posted to Flickr as Loooads of Samp., CC BY-SA 2.0

Bunny Chow

Originating in Durban, a Bunny Chow is an Indian fast food, where curry is poured into a hallowed out loaf of bread, as lunch on the go for coloured workers. A ‘Bunny’ can be purchased at fast food outlets throughout South Africa.

By EricEnfermero - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23323956
By EricEnfermero – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Where to eat Bunny Chow in Cape Town

In Cape Town the best place to get a Bunny is the Chip n Ranch, an iconic street food trader in Cape Town.

Township snacks – chicken feet & lamb heads

Those who want to eat broaden their horizons and eat like a real local in Cape Town, adventurous diners can eat like a local and dive right in with:

Runaways & Walkie Talkies

Chicken feet and chicken heads, which are initially boiled and a layer of skin removed. They are marinated in spices and finally grilled or deep-fried. These snacks can be commonly found at shopfronts in the Townships.

Langa Township, Cape Town, RSA
Prepping Smilies at Langa Township, Cape Town. Image: ser_is-snarkish, CC

Smilies

Another Township delicacy, whole sheep heads are give a good scrub and placed in vats of boiling water. The head is then grilled over and open fire, where the sheep’s lips are curled back and his teeth exposed, bearing a wicked smile. Any remaining fur is scorched off with a hot metal rod. The head can be sliced in half so meat, like the tounge, eyes and cheeks is easier to pick off.

Getting to Cape Town

It’s important for families to prepare for the long journey, however way you slice it, it takes awhile.

Most flights from Australia require a stop in Johannesburg before reaching to Cape Town’s Tambo International Airport. The exceptions are Dubai Airlines and Qatar Airlines.

For flights via Johanneburg, most airlines check luggage straight through to Cape Town where a customs and immigration check is required prior to entering South Africa.

Flights to Cape Town depart every capital city, most with one stop.
Flights to Cape Town depart every capital city, most with one stop.

The minimum journey is 21.5 hours from Australia, which depends on number of stops and departure point. Allow time to transit between airports, which then extends total journey time. With kids, allow a minimum of 2 hours for each stop.

Cape Town with kids: Qatar Airways flights from Australia

Flights From Australia

Emirates are the only airlines that offer a direct flight to Cape Town via Dubai from Brisbane. Although transit times in Dubai can be long, two stops via Sydney (or Perth) and Johannesburg ends up being quicker.

Emirates

One stop: Emirates Airlines fly to Cape Town (CPT) via Dubai Airport (DXB) from Brisbane (BNE), Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL) and Adelaide.

Two stops: Emirates Airlines also operates a flight to Cape Town (CPT) with two stops via Dubai Airport (DXB) and Johannesburg (JNB).

Qantas

One stop: Qantas Airlines fly to Cape Town via Johannesburg (JNB) from Sydney. Code share with South African Airways.

For those flying via Sydney to another interstate city, on the return leg, allow time to pick up luggage and clear customs in Sydney’s International Airport, before transiting onto a domestic flight to Brisbane.

Singapore Airlines

Two stops: Singapore Airlines fly to Cape Town via Singapore’s Chiangi Airport (SIN) and Johannesburg (JNB) from Sydney (SYD).

Virgin Airlines

One stop: Western Australia is serviced with Virgin Airlines who fly to Cape Town (CPT) via Johannesburg (JNB) from Perth (PER).

Qartar Airways

One stop: Qatar Airways fly to Cape Town (CPT) via Doha’s Hamd International Airport (DOH) from Sydney (SYD) and Adelaide (ADL).

Getting around Cape Town

Licensed taxis and Ubers are used in Cape Town and are safe. Taxis are inexpensive, a ride from the V&A Waterforont to the airport was approximately $30 AUD. With taxis always enforce the meter or negotiate a fare at the start of your journey.

Restaurants are able to request Ubers on behalf of guests on their account who then pre-pay the estimated fare beforehand, though this is dependant on the restaurant, it’s worth asking. Setting up an Uber account is straight forward even in Cape Town.

Getting around Cape Town via taxi is convenient, set a price before or insist on the meter.
Getting around Cape Town via taxi is convenient, set a price before or insist on the meter.

You can request an Uber with a car seat for kids, though availability is low and choices are limited especially if requesting multiple car seats. Taxi’s on the other hand do not require kids to be in a car seat in Cape Town.

Many visitors use the Hop on Hop Off Bust tours to get to popular areas.

Where to Stay in Cape Town with kids

Each of Cape Town’s neighbourhoods have their own unique character but the mountain or ocean are never too far away.

Here are our pick of the best places to stay in Cape Town with kids, the family friendly accommodation Cape Town options with a focus on safety, location, family friendly amenities and facilities.

The following section uses affiliate links from Tripadvisor. By clicking on a link to search best prices, we receive a small commission that you are not out of pocket for.  

You are welcome to search hotel prices using your preferred hotel provider. 

V&A Waterfront

The Victoria and Alfred waterfront offers families the conveniences of the shopping mall, a variety of restaurants and a picturesque setting of mountains and sea. Most importantly it is safe to get around with 24 hour CCTV, patrolled security and services targeted for the tourists. Perfectly suited for families even though it has a stigma for being one of Cape Town’s tourist places.

There’s also good choice of accommodation options with major hotels and resorts occupying the waterfront and its close proximity to Cape Town attractions including Table Mountain, the City Centre and access to Robben Island.

Cape Town from the air. Image courtesy: One&Only Resort Cape Town.
Cape Town from the air. Image courtesy: One&Only Resort Cape Town.

Luxury family accommodation at V&A Waterfront

Here are the top five star super luxury family accommodation in Cape Town V&A Waterfront.

One&Only Cape Town

Address: Dock Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Opulent One&Only is positioned in the heart of the V&A Waterfront walking distances to the areas main attractions. If wanting to indulge in Cape Town with kids (or without) this is the luxury accommodation to do it in.

The resort offers wonderful facilities including a 350 square metre expansive midnight blue infinity pool and private island surrounded by palm trees, a well equipped gym, yoga and pilates stuido, spa and wellness center and three restaurants including Michelin Star Nobu, the only African outpost for the fine dining restaurant. Kids can dine for 50% off accompanied by an adult guest.

Room with rollaway bed. Image: One&Only Resort Cape Town.
Room with rollaway bed. Image: One&Only Resort Cape Town.

Impeccably furnished bedrooms have all the luxurious expected of a One&Only resort and includes uninterrupted views of either Table Mountain or Table Bay. Room facilities include Nespresso Machine, flat screen TV, complimentary WIFI, plush beds and an ensuite marble bathroom with egg shaped bath.

Kids club at One&Only Cape Town

Kids receive a welcome backpack full of treats and have complimentary access to the resorts very own kids club, for ages 4 to 11 years.

KidsOnly Club image: One&Only Resort Cape Town.
KidsOnly Club image: One&Only Resort Cape Town.

There is a clubhouse with video games, library, a movie area and private garden. The supervised program changes daily and activities are based on the theme including birds and bugs, safari and oceans. Kids are not couped up in the room there are guided excursions to nearby attractions like Two Oceans Aquarium and Butterfly World.

Price Range: One&Only Cape Town

A standard room with two queen beds cost from R8100 ($810 AUD) per night for a family of four.

Search the best prices for One&Only Cape Town

Find best prices and read reviews for One&Only Cape Town here.

Mid-Range family accommodation at V&A Waterfront

Here are the top mid-range family friendly hotel at the V&A Waterfront Cape Town.

Portswood Hotel Cape Town

AddressPortswood Square, Portswood Rd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town.

Historical Portswood Hotel was once the holding cell for prisoners on route to Robben Island. It is now more widely known as the place for authentic Cape Malay cuisine and Sunday braais at the Quarterdeck Hotel Restaurant.

Positioned at the foot of Table Mountain and a stones throw from the waterfront, where families can walk to the nearby restaurants, shops and Victoria Wharf mall, ideal or families who wants to be in the heart of the V&A Waterfront.

Rooms have been recently refurbished with a modern nautical deco theme of silver and navy. As well as the sophisticated décor, flat-screen satellite TV, AC, tea and making facilities, safe, complimentary WIFI and the slick new bathroom features shower over bath, perfect for kids. Connecting rooms are available on request.

There’s also a pool where kids can cool off in after a day exploring Cape Town.

Price Range: Portswood Hotel Cape Town

A room for a family of four cost from R2500 per night (aprox $250 AUD).

Find the best prices for Portswood Hotel Cape Town

Find best prices and read reviews for Portswood Hotel Cape Town here

Budget family accommodation at V&A Waterfront

Here are the best budget family friendly place to stay in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront.

Protea Hotel by Marriot Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge

Address: 3 Main Rd, Green Point, Cape Town.

The V&A Waterfront commands high prices however the Protea Hotel bucks the trend by offering the most affordable for the location and within walking distance to the V&A Waterfront.

This photo of Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfont Breakwater Lodge is courtesy of TripAdvisor
This photo of Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfont Breakwater Lodge is courtesy of TripAdvisor

As well as standard hotel rooms, where some are interconnecting, the hotel offers renovated Family Rooms with two separate sleeping areas and own flatscreen TV, free WIFI, satellite, tea making facilities with mini-fridge and air conditioning.

This photo of Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfont Breakwater Lodge is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Separate sleeping areas in the Family Room. Image: Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfont Breakwater Lodge.

Price Range: Protea Hotel by Marriot Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge

Standard room costs from R1437 per night (aprox $144 AUD) for a family of four.

For more space a Family Room costs from R2200 per night for a family of four (aprox $220 AUD).

Find the best prices for Protea Hotel by Marriot Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge

Find best prices and read reviews for Protea Hotel Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge here.

Luxury family accommodation at Camps Bay

Boutique hotels and guesthouses occupy elevated views over the Atlantic Ocean. Families choosing to stay in Camps Bay can take in the glorious vista of the Twelve Apostles, dine in the trendy cafes and restaurants and have the stunning Camps Bay Beach as their playground.

Camps Bay is a safe neighbourhood where private security patrols the area to protect the tourists and affluent Capetonians that call it home.

Main attractions are a short 10-15 minute affordable taxi or Uber ride away and there are plenty that service the route from the City Centre to Camps Bay.

The Bay Hotel

Address: 69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay 8005, South Africa. 

The Bay Hotel, in Camps Bay. Image: TripAdvisor
The Bay Hotel, in Camps Bay. Image: TripAdvisor

The snow white Bay Hotel is an icon in Camps Bay located on the palm fringed esplanade across the road from glorious Camps Bay Beach, famous for its Sandy B Private Beach Club where guest have exclusive access. There’s also a gym, day spa, tennis and squash facilities.

The stylish resort feature four unheated pools, perfect for summer and two solar heated pools for the winter or for people like me who prefer the water warm.

Families can enjoy luxurious rooms with all the modern comforts including free WIFI, mini robes and slippers for kids and their own Nintendo WII station.

Breakfast is provided on an alfresco deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, lunches are offered in the bistro and there’s an ocean front bar ideal for sunsets.

This photo of The Bay Hotel is courtesy of TripAdvisor
One of two pool in the best location in Camps Bay. Image: TripAdvisor

Price Range: The Bay Hotel

Maximum occupancy per room is for a three people. Two connecting rooms cost from $1,433 AUD per night for a family of four.

A couple with one child can stay in a standard room cost from $718 AUD per night.

Find the best prices for The Bay Hotel

Find the best prices and read reviews for The Bay Hotel here.

Mid-Range family accommodation at Camps Bay

Here is our pick for the best mid-range family friendly place to stay in Camps Bay Cape Town.

Camps Bay Resort

Address: 32 Camps Bay Dr, Camps Bay 8040, South Africa (Formerly Camps Bay Village)

 This photo of Camps Bay Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor
At the base of the mountains and on the beach. Image: Camps Bay Resort.

Walking distance to magnificent Camps Bay Beach makes the affordable Camps Bay Resort one of the best mid-range hotels for families in Cape Town. Families can choose from large rooms, studios and apartments with separate bedroom, bathroom with bathtub and full kitchen.

 This photo of Camps Bay Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Family accommodation right on Camps Bay Beach. Image: TripAdvisor

This photo of Camps Bay Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor

All accommodation options feature flat screen TV, free WIFI, DVD player, music system and air conditioning.

Two bedroom ‘Family Apartments’ are equipped with satellite TV that includes Disney Channels, DVD players with family movies, cots and high chairs available on request.

 This photo of Camps Bay Resort is courtesy of TripAdvisor
Spacious apartments feature full kitchens. Image: TripAdvisor

The resort offers two swimming pools, self service laundry, communal BBQ area and is walking distance to the trendy shops and restaurants on Victoria Street and grocery store.

Price Range: Camps Bay Resort

Standard rooms from R2500 per night (aprox $250 AUD) for a family of four.

Find the best prices for Camps Bay Resort

Find the best prices and read reviews for Camps Bay Resort here.

Budget family accommodation at Camps Bay

Here is our pick for best budget family friendly place to stay in Camps Bay Cape Town.

Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom

Address: 46 Camps Bay Dr, Bakoven, Cape Town. Website: TripAdvisor Holiday Rentals Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom.

 

The Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom is a little gem in Camps Bay. The light, bright and airy one bedroom apartment offers great value for money with glimpses of ocean and gardens from the balcony.

Main Bedroom Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom. Image: Leanne Fouche (Owner)
Open plan living and dining. Image: Leanne Fouche (Owner)

The apartment is a little on the smaller side although roomier than a hotel room and can sleep up to four with two day lounges in the living area that can turn into beds for the kids. The small kitchen is sufficient for self-catering and there’s a shower over the bath.

Note: This is a holiday rental rather than a hotel or resort stay. 

Main Bedroom Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom. Image: Leanne Fouche (Owner)
Main Bedroom. Image: Leanne Fouche (Owner)

Price Range: Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom

A room for a family of four from R1750 per night (aprox $175 AUD).

Beach views at Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom. Image: Leanne Fouche (Owner)
Beach views at Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom. Image: Leanne Fouche (Owner)

Find the best prices for Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom

Find the latest prices and read reviews for Caprice Court Travellers One Bedroom here.

City Bowl

If the sea is not a deal breaker, head to the historic centre of Cape Town and stay in the City Bowl and urban enclave at the base of Table Mountain. There are a number of boutique hotels and guest houses that offer more space and self-catering facilities, great set up for families.

The inner suburbs of Gardens, Orajezicht, Higgovale and Taboerskloof are residential neighbourhoods with a mix of predominately white-collar locals and tourists wanting a local feel. There’s access to trendy cafes, restaurants and shopping. Main attractions are a short 10 minute taxi or Uber ride away.

Luxury family accommodation in the City Bowl

Here is our pick for the best Luxury family friendly accommodation in and around City Bowl Cape Town.

Charming and quiet just off Kloof Street, Gardens area. Image: More Quarters Cape Town.
Charming and quiet just off Kloof Street, Gardens area. Image: More Quarters Cape Town.

More Quarters – Gardens

Address2 Nicol St, Gardens, Cape Town. Website: More Quarters Hotel.

A charming laneway off trendy Kloof Street leads visitors to More Quarters, a collection of luxury serviced apartments offering families privacy and space.

Elegant apartments available in one, two and three bedroom configuration are flooded with natural light, furnished in neutral tones and all the modern comforts of home. Each apartment has a spacious lounge area, sofa bed for younger guests, a shared bathroom with separate shower and a nice deep bath.

Families can choose to self-cater with a full kitchen and dining area although cooking can be kept to a minimum with a decadent breakfast provided in the dining room next door included with room rate. A concierge desk, courtyard and communal lounge is also available at More Quarters where guests are invited to a drink with evening canapés.

After a busy day sightseeing the beds are neatly turned down, a hot water bottle tucked in to warm the toes and a handwritten card informing guests tomorrow’s weather.

Hot water bottle and weather card at turn down. More Quarters Cape Town.
Hot water bottle and weather card at turn down.

Price Range: More Quarters – Gardens

Two-bedroom apartment cost from $631 AUD for a family of four per night. Prices vary during the season.

Find the best prices for More Quarters

Find the best prices and read reviews for More Quarters here.

Mid-Range family accommodation City Bowl

Here is our pick for the best mid-range family friendly place to stay in the City Bowl, Cape Town.

Derwent House Boutique Hotel

Address14 Derwent Road | Tamboerskloof, Cape Town

With rave reviews, the affordable Derwent House Boutique Hotel punches above its star category with a consensus for quality service from exceptional staff.

Beautiful family friendly Derwent House Boutique Hotel. Image: TripAdvisor
Beautiful family friendly Derwent House Boutique Hotel. Image: TripAdvisor

Contemporary rooms at Derwent House have African accents and all have flat screen TV, free WIFI, music system, AC and use of a mobile phone. There are ten rooms including a family suite with a separate bedroom and a bath over shower.

Homely rooms and apartments at the Derwent House Boutique Hotel. Image: TripAdvisor
Homely rooms and apartments at the Derwent House Boutique Hotel. Image: TripAdvisor

For more space there are two roomy self-catering apartments with full kitchen, separate toilet, and bathroom with shower over bathtub.

Guests have access to the concierge that can assist with tours, use of the heated spa and pool, guest laptop, honesty bar, complimentary tea and cake or port and sherry in the evenings.

Price Range: Derwent House Boutique Hotel

Family Suite cost from R2800 per night (aprox $280 AUD) for a family of four. Prices vary during the season.

Find the best prices for Derwent House Boutique Hotel

Find the best prices and read reviews for Derwent House Boutique Hotel here.

Guests have access to the concierge that can assist with tours, use of the heated spa and pool, guest laptop, honesty bar, complimentary tea and cake or port and sherry in the evenings.

Budget family accommodation City Bowl

Here is our pick for the best budget family friendly accommodation in the City Bowl, Cape Town.

SunSquare Cape Town

Address: 10 Mill Street Gardens, Cape Town Central.

Located in the safe suburb of Gardens, SunSquare Hotel Cape Town may look drab, however inside it’s all been recently refurbished with clean and comfortable oversized rooms at great value for money.

This photo of SunSquare Cape Town is courtesy of TripAdvisor
A good family budget option – SunSquare. Image: TripAdvisor.

Rooms offer views of Table Mountain and feature comfortable beds, large flat screen TV, modern bathroom and free WIFI. Families can have more space with interconnecting rooms available on request.

This photo of SunSquare Cape Town is courtesy of TripAdvisor
SunSquare communal areas. Clean, modern, safe. Image: TripAdvisor.

Around the hotel there is a restaurant serving buffet breakfast, full gym and the kids will love the large outdoor pool.

SunSquare Cape Town is well positioned to a nearby shopping mall and the historical precinct in Central and a short 5-10 minute taxi ride to Cape Towns main attractions.

Well appointment refurbished rooms at SunSquare. Image: TripAdvisor.
Well appointment refurbished rooms at SunSquare. Image: TripAdvisor.

Price Range: SunSquare Cape Town

Standard rooms from R2100 per night (aprox $210 AUD) for a family of four.

Find the best prices for SunSquare Cape Town

Find the best prices and latest reviews for SunSquare here.

TIP Travel Insurance

Cape Town Family Travel Insurance

Family Travel Insurance for Cape Town

Travel insurance to South Africa is a must. Find the best family travel insurance policy here.

Cape Town with kids Cover More Insurance

Next time in Cape Town

I have no doubt that Cape Town with it’s diverse attractions, exceptional scenery, friendly hospitality and supreme value for money can stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Rome, Paris, Kyoto and Sydney some of the other cities that are constantly featured on top ten lists and I’ve had the pleasure to visit. If it wasn’t for the safety concern, often over emphasised, it could possibly be the best city in the world.

Safety in Cape Town

Whilst most families hesitate to visit due to safety, this isn’t a concern if families use common sense and stick to the safe tourist passages. The real concern is not allocating enough time for Cape Town with so many things to do with kids.

The two words often uttered by visitors on their first visit is ‘Next Time’, because there is never enough time. Once you’ve visited Cape Town, you’re bound to return.

South African Tourism.

Marco Polo Tips

Safety in Cape Town
  • Look after your valuables and keep them out of sight in public to draw the least amount of attraction and make you less of a target for theft or robbery.
  • Keep valuables like iPads, phones and passports in a hotel safe.
  • Do not keep anything of value in cars or tour busses and remove personal belongings from the car boot.
  • Do not go up the mountains at night. Do not attempt a solo climb up the mountains like Signal Hill, Lion’s Head and Table Mountain at night. Join organised night tours if you wish to see the city lights.
  • Stick to tourist areas, where there is safety in numbers and the tourists are monitored by CCTV.
  • Always have a map handy and know your bearings.
  • Catch a licensed taxi after dark and lock hotel doors at night.
Know your bearings, Marco Polo pullout map.
Know your bearings, Marco Polo guide book with pull out map.

Thanks for reading our Family Cape Town City Guide featuring the best things to do in Cape Town with kids. We love to hear about your trip, upcoming plans, hot tips on Cape Town family attractions and fun things to do around Cape Town. Please leave a reply below:

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