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Cape Town: Alternative ways to see the city

During your holiday to South Africa, opt for an unconventional way to experience one of the world’s greatest cities.

Cape Town offers sun, sea and sand on South Africa’s western coast, and its bustling centre and eclectic suburbs aren’t to be missed, either. Picnic in Kirstenbosch, hike Table Mountain, say ‘sawubona’ to penguins and party with minstrels; there’s always something to see and do here. 

Motorcycle side-car excursions

Don your leather jacket and hit the road on a thrilling side-car ride around Cape Town. Guided by highly experienced drivers, your tour can take between two hours and half a day depending on your preference. 

Explore the inner city, including the Castle of Good Hope, City Hall and Bo-Kaap, before skirting the coast past to the picturesque Maidens Cove, Clifton and Sea Point. Or push out a little farther - and higher - with a tour of the Atlantic seaboard and Chapman’s Peak. Chappies, as it’s affectionately known, is part of the Cape Peninsula, the same mountain range as Table Mountain, and the winding drive around its rocky face is as breath-taking as it is nerve-wracking. There are routes taking in the Cape’s winelands and Table Mountain, too, all while leather-clad and goggle-strapped in a vintage side-car. A motorcycle side-car excursion is possibly the most rock-n-roll way to see Cape Town.

Scooter tours of Table Mountain

Take a scooter tour of the iconic Table Mountain and the slopes of nearby Signal Hill. The eco-friendly scooters provided are non-motorised, but gravity does the hard work – all you have to do is steer. From Signal Hill, follow a dirt track downward to Bo-Kaap, the city’s Malaysian quarter famous for its colourful houses, cobbled streets and 19th-century mosques. On the way, pause to admire the views of the harbour, the skyscrapers of the city centre and Table Mountain – your next destination. 

After being shuttled to the plateau of South Africa’s most famous mountain, your second downhill excursion provides more scenic views from a fresh angle. Spot the halo-shaped Cape Town Stadium, the popular V&A Waterfront and the city’s trendy suburbs before rolling into Oranjezicht. Scooter tours are a greener and family-friendly way to enjoy the beautiful sprawl of Cape Town from up high.

Cycling the Promenade

Sticking with two wheels, hop on a bike and cycle Cape Town’s popular beachfront promenade. Wind around the coast from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point, through the suburb of Sea Point, enjoying the oceanic views along the way.

Popular with joggers and walkers, the Prom is smooth and flat, making it an easy ride for anyone. Choose a rental bike and make your own way, or take advantage of a guided tour from the V&A Waterfront. If you’re feeling ambitious, incorporate it into a larger cycle route, taking in more of Cape Town’s vibrant city and spectacular coastline.

Walking tours of Cape Town

There are few better ways to get to know a destination than to experience it on foot, with the added benefit of local knowledge. From its dramatic mountains, through its urban centre to its gorgeous coastline, discover the history and hidden treasures of Cape Town during a guided walking tour. 

There are a range of tours available for this easily navigable city: sample the wines of nearby Stellenbosch and the catch of the day on a foodie tour, follow in the footsteps of Mandela’s long walk to freedom by visiting key historic sites or explore the elegant architecture of the city’s Victorian-era buildings. Alternatively, side step the usual tourist track with a tour of Cape Town’s overlooked haunts, boutique shops, small galleries and trendy cafés. 

Boat tours of the waterfront

Don’t just enjoy that big blue ocean from afar – jump on a boat tour of Cape Town’s coast. There are options aplenty, from circular hour-long routes around the harbour, to full-day adventures out at sea. Cruise by pretty beaches, pass the dramatic massifs of the Cape Peninsula, navigate the blue waters of Hout Bay and chart a course for where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. You may even spot whale, dolphin and shark on your journey. Viewing Cape Town by sea provides a different way to appreciate this beautiful part of South Africa’s west coast.

Hot air balloon rides

If Table Mountain isn’t quite high enough for your sightseeing wants, how about gazing over the Cape Winelands from 300 metres in the air? Whilst floating through the sky at a gentle clip, a hot air balloon ride gives you an aerial view of the verdant vineyards north of Cape Town. The course your one-hour flight takes is a little up in the air, though – you’ll go wherever the wind takes you, guaranteeing no two journeys are ever the same. Weather can also dictate whether your flight is a no or a go, but unlike more northerly areas of South Africa, the Western Cape’s summer is dry, providing ideal conditions for ballooning. Up, up and away. 

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