My Favourite Cape Town Tours – RANKED! 

Last Updated on March 28, 2024 by thecapetownblog

I’ve lived in Cape Town for a few years now and I’ve done SO many fun tours during that time. Some of them have been sightseeing experiences, but others have been super adventurous experiences, like paragliding, shark cage diving, and quad biking! Oh, and don’t forget all of the wine tours. 

But if you’re only in Cape Town for a couple of weeks, which tours are worth it and which ones should you skip? Obviously, the best choices vary from person to person, but I’m going to give you my personal ranking to help you choose. Let’s go! 

1. The Franschhoek Wine Tram

Coming in at number one has to be the Franschhoek wine tram. It’s a full day tour and it’s just SO. MUCH. FUN. 

I used to think that you’d need to stay in Franschhoek or hire a private driver to do the wine tram, but then I found out about the wine tram explorer tour and I HAD to give it a try. So, I rallied my nearest and dearest and off we went for the day. 

There are lots of different lines on the wine tram, but with the explorer tour you have to do the Navy one (except at festive season). Honestly, I think you’d have a good time on any route so this didn’t bother me, and I thought that the Navy route was fantastic. 

We left the Aquarium at about 8 am and got to Franschhoek just before 9 am. The bus left to go back to the city around 5:30 pm, which gave us plenty of time to go tasting! Trams and tram buses go about once an hour, so you can do four or five wine farms. We chose to do four and spend two hours at our favourite wine farm, Bartinney. The views were so stunning, the cheese boards were amazing, and we snagged the prime table out on the balcony! 

You can read my full review of the wine tram explorer here, but I’ll deliver the abridged version if you don’t have time right now. It cost me R695 for the tour, which includes transport from Cape Town and the wine tram ticket. After all the tastings and food, my total for the day came to about R1,300.

The other farms we chose were Plaisir Platform, Vrede en Lust, and Le Pommier, all of which were beautiful. Next time, I would like to try Boschendal. Camberly looked small, but I hear it delivers super personal and friendly tasting experiences, so I think I’ll be going there too. And of course, I’ll be heading back to Bartinney! 

2. Paragliding

Okay, so whereas the wine tram was a full day experience, a tandem paragliding flight only takes about five minutes. But my goddess, what a five minutes! 

My wonderful friend, Sarah, bought me a tandem flight for my birthday and it’s one of the best gifts I have ever been given. Flying off of Signal Hill and over Sea Point, towards the ocean, was just incredible. The views were gorgeous and I really don’t think that anything can beat the feeling of flying. 

I was pretty nervous when I rocked up at Signal Hill, but the crew were so friendly and put me at ease. I’m not very good at jumping off of things, but paragliding isn’t scary at all because you run and the wind just takes you. The next thing you know, you’re soaring through the air! 

Obviously, I didn’t book this tour myself as it was a gift but tandem paragliding flights cost around R1,530, and then it’s usually about an extra R300 for the GoPro footage. 

3. Sunset Champagne Cruise

As someone who grew up miles from the ocean, I take any chance I can to get myself on a boat! But what I love even more than that is sparkling wine (yes, we all know the champagne rule) and sunsets! So of course I couldn’t resist the chance to take some of my friends on this cruise, and we had so much fun. 

The sunset was beautiful – we got all shades of purple and orange on the night we went! The bubbly wasn’t the best quality, but we got a bottle between two people, which was pretty generous given the price point of the tour. You can buy more if you run out, but we were almost back to shore by the time we finished ours. 

For R580, I think that this cruise is super well priced for such a fabulous experience, but there’s also a pre-sunset version for R360 (don’t worry, it still includes bubbles!) It gets chilly out at sea and it was super windy on the evening that I went, so my advice would be to take a jacket or jumper with you. 

4. Constantia Wine Bus

I almost feel bad for putting the Constantia wine bus fourth, because some of my favourite days in Cape Town have been wine tasting on this tour! However, if you’re short on time and it’s a question of Franschhoek vs. Constantia, I would have to pick the former.

Still, the Constantia wine bus is fun, cost-effective, and a very convenient way to go wine tasting. It’s also flexible, as the buses go to and from the city centre throughout the day – although, if I’m being honest, my friends and I usually catch the first bus out and the last bus back. We love our wine! 

I’ve written an entire guide to the Constantia wine bus, but basically, it works like this:

  • Buy a sightseeing bus ticket, which you will use to take the blue route to Constantia
  • Catch the bus from outside the Aquarium from 9 am onwards (or 8 am during festive season)
  • Ride to Constantia Nek
  • Change to the smaller purple route bus and go to Groot Constantia 
  • Come back to Constantia Nek, walk to Silvermist
  • Walk from Silvermist to Beau Constantia, and catch the bus back to the city from there – the last one goes at 5:22 pm

It’s a great day out and the wine farms are just beautiful – especially Beau Constantia. I usually book a tasting for that one at around 3 pm as it’s so popular, but for the other two, you can just turn up! 

5. Seal Snorkelling 

I LOVED seal snorkelling in Hout Bay. It was an absolute blast and I must have seen hundreds of seals, even though apparently numbers were low that day. I can’t even imagine how many you’d see when the numbers are high! 

The experience was so well organised and there were only three people in my group, so we had our guide’s full attention and he helped us spot so many seals. In fact, I have to give a big shout out to Clemen here because he was just so friendly and really made the experience what it was. 

This is a self-drive tour, and I did struggle to find the tour office, but it’s next to Ground Up Cafe, so put that into Google Maps and you won’t go far wrong. They weren’t mad that I was a little late, either – the staff really couldn’t have been nicer to me. 

We suited up, took a quick boat ride out to Duiker Island, and then spent an hour in the water looking for seals. One thing I really liked about this tour is that they don’t bait the seals at all. It’s purely about observation, and Clemen taught me that the best way to attract a seal is just to float there, because these curious creatures are sure to come and say hello! 

My only regret from the day is that I lost the footage from the GoPro I rented (and obviously, that’s entirely my own fault). It was a fantastic experience and I would most definitely do it again. You can read my in-depth review here. It costs R950, which includes hot drinks and cookies on the way back to shore – trust me, they’re so welcome after an hour in the cold water!

6. Aquila Safari 

I mean, come on, pretty much everyone who visits South Africa wants to do a safari! However, they’re usually a flight away from Cape Town, so if you’re short on time or just don’t have the budget to visit another part of the country, you can do a safari on a game reserve

I have never actually done a “proper” safari, but I don’t think this is quite the same thing. However, I’ve done it twice with friends who have come to visit and it is pretty amazing. So I’ll say it’s not a true safari, but for safari virgins like myself, it’s probably the next best thing. You can read my in-depth review of the experience here

I’ve done the Aquila safari and a few things change between the summer and winter – basically, you get more meals in the winter but you can use the pool during the summer. However, the gist of it is this: we were picked up in Cape Town, driven two hours out to the game reserve, had a welcome drink and a meal, and went on a 2-hour game drive. Both times, I saw four out of the Big Five. I’m yet to spot a leopard, which is the most elusive one of them all! 

Both times, my friends treated me to this tour as a thank you for having them stay, and it really is such a wonderful experience. I would highly recommend it unless you’re doing a real safari in the Kruger or KwaZulu-Natal while you’re in South Africa. 

This trip costs R3,590 when you book online, which is a lot cheaper than the price my friend and I were first quoted at the tour office, so I’d recommend doing it that way. This includes return transport from Cape Town, the game drive, use of the facilities at the game reserve, and one or two buffet meals, depending on the time of year. Somewhat bizarrely, though, drinks cost extra – yep, even soft drinks and coffee. 

6. Horse Riding in Noordhoek 

There are actually lots of great places to go horse riding in and around Cape Town, and I just couldn’t pass up the chance to go riding on the beach! Noordhoek beach is quiet and absolutely stunning, and the 1.5 hour ride also took us through wetlands and a lagoon, so we got to see it all. 

The riding company we went with was really accommodating and I ended up with the most beautiful horse. She was so well-trained, and they did a good job of matching horses and riders. My much more experienced friend, Sophie, got given a very “spirited” gal, while I got a much more obedient horse, since this was only my second ever ride. 

We paid R850 for the experience, and we booked directly with the company. We submitted the form and then they emailed us asking for more details, and sent a payment link. The tour doesn’t include transport, so we drove ourselves to Noordhoek, which took about 50 minutes from the CBD. 

7. Bo Kaap Free Walking Tour

I was really impressed by the quality of the free – or, let’s be honest, tip-based – walking tour I did in Bo Kaap! I’d already lived in Cape Town for a while, so I kind of knew the area anyway, but it was still very interesting. 

The free walking tours company are also super chilled out, so you don’t need to sign up. All we had to do was turn up in Parliament Square at either 2 pm or 4:20 pm and look for the green umbrellas. Then, we walked from there to Bo Kaap and learned so much about the area as we explored. Our guide gave us a fantastic recommendation so we stayed behind afterwards and had a yummy 3-course meal at Faeza’s Home Kitchen. 

I can’t recall exactly, but I think we tipped around R100 each for this tour. My former housemate, Marianne, is now one of the guides, so if you’re in her group please tell her that I say “hello!”  

8. Dolphin Kayaking 

If you’re the active type, then a kayak tour is a must while you’re in town. We saw quite a few dolphins on this tour, as well as sunfish, seals, and a lone penguin floating on the waves. It was so much fun, and the only reason that it’s this far down the list is because I felt quite seasick for a lot of the time. 

Okay, I do realise that this is akin to when people give tours bad reviews because of the weather, but I’m ranking these by my own experience. I still had a fantastic time dolphin kayaking and you know what, I’d definitely go again! I’d just take some seasickness tablets beforehand. 

Anyway, our guide was really funny and I loved that they took photos for us. The kayaks also had rudders which made the steering super easy. I was so grateful for this because I am not the strongest kayaker, but even I didn’t have any issues. 

I went through Kaskazi Kayaks, who operate in Sea Point, and I would definitely recommend them. However, there are a few different tour options that leave from all over the city, including the Waterfront, Hout Bay, and Simon’s Town. 

9. Cape Point Explorer Tour 

Honestly, I never really understood the hype about the Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope, until I went and checked it out for myself! When my friend, Liam, came to stay, visiting these famous land formations was on his list of things to do, so we booked this sightseeing tour and off we went! 

Despite bad weather, I was really impressed by the beauty of Cape Point in particular. The tour also took us to see the penguins at Boulders Beach, which was lots of fun, and hey, it’s not everyday that you get to visit the southeasternmost point of Africa – aka the Cape of Good Hope. I was really excited by how much wildlife we saw there, as there were tons of ostriches and baboons around. 

We loved our tour guide and the day was really well-organised. If you’re hiring a car, then you could totally just do this by yourself, but since I didn’t have a car at the time and Liam and I were mostly sticking to the city centre, this tour was a more convenient and budget-friendly option for us both. You can check out my full review here.

The tour costs R565, but we had to pay for our entry to Boulders Beach and the Cape Point Nature Reserve on the day, so it comes to about R1155 in total. 

10. Cape Winelands Tour

I had a really good time on the Cape Winelands tour, so you might be wondering why it’s so far down the list. Well, honestly, one reason is because this list is super competitive. However, after some deliberation, I decided to give it the #10 spot because although the winelands tour is great, I think that there are just better wine tours available. 

When Liam came to visit, we did the Constantia wine bus but he was also keen to visit Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Had I known about the wine tram explorer tour, we would have done that, but at the time I thought we’d need to stay overnight in Franschhoek to enjoy the wine tram together, which was beyond both of our budgets at the time. So instead, we booked the winelands explorer. And honestly, it was a brilliant day. 

We met the nicest people from all over the world and visited three lovely wineries. However, there was quite a lot of time on the bus, which ended up making us so sleepy and tired. So I think that the Franschhoek wine tram just delivers a better day out overall, because there’s less time travelling and more time drinking! 

Still, we got a sabrage demonstration, a cellar tour, and a delicious cheese board at one of Stellenbosch’s top wineries, went for lunch (and another tasting) at a nice restaurant in Franschhoek, and a wine and chocolate pairing in Paarl. The experiences in Stellenbosch and Paarl were standout wine tasting experiences for me, and it truly was a wonderful day. So if you’ve done the wine tram before, I think that this would be a great choice. 

The tour costs R695, which includes transport and all tastings. The only thing you have to pay for is lunch on the day, and we grabbed coffee when we stopped in Franschhoek town, too. So honestly, I think it’s really good value for money. I spent about R120 on lunch, so R815 in total, which means it’s cheaper than doing the wine tram. Since it’s more organised than the wine tram, it’s also a great way to meet new people – we made friends with two fantastic couples from Canada and Brazil!

I honestly feel bad for putting this tour so far down my list because I had such a wonderful day. However, I can’t deny that the wine tram is now my go-to for friends and family who come to visit. 

11. Quad Biking

The sheer variety in Cape Town just blows my mind, even after all this time. As well as beaches, mountains, and wine farms, the city is also home to pristine white sand dunes – and what better way to explore them than on an ATV tour?

Now, I wouldn’t say that this tour is a must-do while you’re in Cape Town. If you’re only here for a week, there are definitely other activities that should take priority. But if you’re renting a car and want some seriously cool photos for Instagram, then I can’t deny that this hour-long quad biking tour is a lot of fun. 

I was actually surprised by how easy it was to drive the ATVs, and by the end my confidence had grown a lot. We also stopped for a while and our guide took tons of pictures of everyone, with plenty of guidance on how to pose! 

For R599 (plus a R118 permit fee on the day), this was a really fun activity. However, as I say, I’d only recommend it if you’re renting a car because the dunes are about an hour out of town. Ubering there will be pricey, and you’ll struggle to get one back. But if you are renting a car, then go for it! And if you time it right, you could always stop for a cheeky wine tasting at De Grendel on your way back into Cape Town, to enjoy magnificent views of Table Mountain. 

12. Shark Cage Diving

You may be surprised to see shark cage diving at the bottom of my list of tours. After all, it’s an iconic Cape Town activity! To be honest, when I booked the tour, I didn’t think it would end up so far down either, but there we go… 

So, the reason that I’m putting it so far down is because it’s SO. MUCH. TRAVEL. TIME. My friends and I booked the cheapest tour, thinking that they would be all the same… and we were wrong. Our boat ride was only an hour long, whereas other tours, like this one, offer two hours on the boat. 

It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Cape Town out to Gansbaai, where the tour takes place. We had issues on the way there and back (which you can read more about if you check out my full review), so we ended up spending about 7 hours in the van that day, for the sake of a 20-minute cage dive. 

The boat was also pretty crowded and while I loved sitting on the top deck and watching the sharks jump, it was just too long of a day. If you’re short on time, I’d recommend this tour from Cape Town which has much better reviews than the one we did. 

However, I think the ideal way to do it would be to rent a car, spend a few days in the beautiful seaside town of Hermanus, which is only half an hour from Gaansbaai, and book the tour without transport. Then, you can go shark cage diving from there and it’ll just be a neat little half-day experience! 

All in all, shark cage diving was a very cool experience and I don’t regret doing it, but for me, it just wasn’t worth all of the travel time. 

Thanks for taking the time to read this article! If it was helpful for you, then I’ve got more where that came from…

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