After you first arrive in Cape Town, it doesn’t take long to realise that everyone is a bit sports mad. Wherever you go, you’ll see people out running, cycling, surfing, SUP’ing, kayaking, mountain climbing, paragliding and more. In short, everywhere you look you will find people in constant pursuit of that endorphin and adrenaline high.
Naturally, many visitors to Cape Town come for exactly this reason. The incredible natural surroundings of the city make it the perfect place for an active holiday, and the many yearly sporting events also draws its fair share of amateur athletes. Below, we’ve listed a selection of activities you can pursue to make your trip the ultimate active holiday.
Trail Running and Hiking
In a city that has mountains as its backdrop, it’s not a surprise that any activity that takes advantage of this is first on our list of things to do in Cape Town.
For hiking, maybe the most popular route is to go to the top of Lion’s Head for the spectacular views of the city on one side and Camps Bay on the other. The view from up here is one of the most photographed in Cape Town, and in peak season the path can get crowded. However, just because so many use the route doesn’t mean it’s not a challenge, so make sure you prepare yourself.
Another popular hiking trail is going from the bottom of the cablecar station at Table Mountain and walking up Plattekloof Gorge to the top of Table Mountain. If that very long and steep hike hasn’t completely killed you off, you can hike back down the same way or you can choose the cablecar, a thrilling and fast way to get down. Just be sure to take some time to take in the gorgeous views from atop this ancient mountain first!
Less crowded hikes can be had up Chapman’s Peak between the Hout Bay and Noordhoek suburbs. Once you have winded your way up to the top, you’ll be treated with sweeping views of the beach below and the Kommetjie lighthouse at the end of it.
All of these hiking trails are also great for the avid trail runner, a sport which is really thriving in Cape Town. In addition, the Silvermine Nature Reserve has a multitude of trails that are perfect for hiking and running. We recommend the one that leads to the Elephant’s Eye cave – a perfect location for that Instagram-able shot!
Cycling is huge in Cape Town. Even the fearsome South-Easter wind can’t keep droves of dedicated cyclists off the road. This is also partly because of the road cycling race the Cape Town Cycle Tour, the largest timed cycling event in the world, which takes place in the city every year. This year will be the 40th, and 35000 cyclists are expected to take part in the 109km race.
An event like that obviously means lots of training and you can certainly see that from the many cyclists – on the streets and in the coffee shops – dotted all around the Cape Peninsula. If you are mad about cycling, we can’t think of a better route than Chapman’s Peak Drive, perhaps the most picturesque road in the world. Yes, there will be some steep climbing and some heart-stopping descents, but you will be rewarded with the most astonishing sea views on the one side and rugged mountainside on the other.
If you don’t feel comfortable cycling on your own, you could join a tour from Cape Cycle Tours, which caters to both road cyclists and mountain bikers.
Being surrounded by sea means there is no shortage of ocean lovers in the beautiful city of Cape Town – and no shortage of water sports! The most popular is without a doubt surfing, and there are plenty of spots to join in the fun on your active holiday, whether you are a novice or an experienced surfer.
Muizenberg Beach is a great place to start and it is packed with surf shops, coffee shops and restaurants. If you are just getting started, you may want to book a surf lesson with the Surf Emporium where the cheerful instructors will give you the skills and the confidence to hit the waves. You can also rent all the necessary gear there.
If you are more experienced, you may want to test out the surf at Kommetjie Beach, where the beach is also bound to be far less crowded. Just bear in mind that the water around Cape Town is very cold, so you’ll need to wear an appropriate wetsuit to keep the cold at bay.
Stand Up Paddleboarding, or SUP for short, is growing in popularity all over the world, and Cape Town is no different. A great place to try out this new sport on your active holiday is with SUP Cape Town who offer introductory lessons in the canals close the the V&A Waterfront. If you get hooked, you can even rent boards from them to use during your holiday.
If sitting down rather than standing up is more your thing, you could try sea kayaking with Kayak Cape Town. Based in the quaint seaside town of Simon’s Town, these tours will allow you to experience the water in a completely different way, while also getting a good upper body exercise. And, with a bit of luck, you’ll encounter penguins, whales and dolphins on your trip. It’s like an African safari at sea!
If all the activities listed already aren’t enough to get your blood pumping and your heart racing, we have some suggestions for adrenaline infused extreme sports you can do in Cape Town on an active holiday.
Paragliding is a very popular sport in Cape Town and the surrounding areas. The numerous mountains make perfect starting points for these adventures in the sky. Plus, with the option of signing up for tandem paragliding, even complete novices can experience the thrill of this sport. Using a starting point either at Lion’s Head or on Signal Hill, Cape Town Tandem Paragliding will allow you to see Cape Town from an entirely different angle. And if you add inflight video and photos, you truly will have memories that will last a lifetime.
Another option for that adrenaline rush is abseiling, as the mountains in Cape Town have plenty of vertical drops for you to abseil down. The most spectacular place to do this is probably from the top of Table Mountain with Abseil Africa. You can even combine a hike to the top of Table Mountain, as we described before, with an abseiling experience when you get to the top. The feeling you get when you descend down a sheer cliff like this is indescribable, it has to be experienced for yourself.
Finally, you can also make the most of the consistent winds in Cape Town and try your hand at kite surfing, a sport that is steadily growing in popularity. When the wind is really pumping, it’s an incredible rush to be out amongst the waves and feeling yourself being lifted into the air. High Five Cape Town offer kite surfing lessons and rentals, so you’ll be able to pick up all the important skills you need to master this extreme sport.
We hope this has given you some inspiration for an active holiday in Cape Town. We know that making the most of what Cape Town has to offer will only make all that delicious South African wine and food taste so much better.