Known for its stunning natural beauty and vibrant culture, Cape Town is an excellent choice for a family vacation. Many of its iconic attractions, from Table Mountain to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, are fit for travelers of all ages. Head to the beach, observe the local flora and fauna, and dive into South Africa’s history — you’ll have no problem staying busy. Here’s where to get started if you’re planning a family vacation in Cape Town with your kids.
Take the cable car up Table Mountain
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain that overlooks Cape Town. It’s one of the city’s most iconic landmarks and a popular hiking destination, but if you’re traveling with young kids, you can also reach the summit via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. The rotating cable car takes visitors to the top of the mountain in under five minutes and showcases beautiful panoramic views of the city and its surroundings along the way.
See penguins at Boulder Beach
Boulders Beach is a must-see for visitors of all ages. Located near Simon’s Town about 45 minutes south of Cape Town, the beach is home to a large colony of African penguins, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and families. With towering granite boulders lining the shore, it’s perfect for exploring or simply taking in the stunning scenery and wildlife. The best time to visit is during summer when the water is warm enough for wading, but note that swimming is not recommended due to the presence of sharks in the area. Kayaking is a nice way to get out on the water with the whole family, on the other hand.
Explore the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a fun and educational outing for kids to learn about plants and wildlife while exploring one of the most beautiful — and exciting — botanical gardens in the world. The gardens are packed with interesting sights, including the steel and timber Tree Canopy Walkway that winds through the treetops and a bird-watching area. Kids can take part in educational programs and enjoy the interactive exhibits in the visitor center. Just be sure to bring along hats and sunblock for the hot summer days.
Tour Robben Island
Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an incredibly important symbol of South Africa’s struggle for freedom. Located off the coast of Cape Town, it’s best known for being the prison where anti-apartheid activist and South Africa’s first Black head of state Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years. Robben Island is a place of great historical significance and should be visited by everyone who comes to South Africa, kids included. Visiting the prison is an opportunity for the whole family to learn about Mandela’s legacy and South Africa’s history of colonialism and apartheid, as well as instill an appreciation for peace, justice, and human rights.
Spend an afternoon at the Two Oceans Aquarium
The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town is one of the world’s finest aquariums, located at the V&A Waterfront. With over 8,000 aquatic animals representing more than 300 species from the Atlantic and Indian oceans, the museum offers visitors the chance to enjoy up-close encounters with small and large animals alike, from seahorses to sharks and penguins. There are plenty of interactive exhibits to explore, including a rockpool touch pool and an interactive kelp forest installation. Younger kids may also enjoy the I&J Children’s Play Centre, which specializes in age-appropriate activities such as puppet shows and marine-themed arts and crafts.
Eat and play at the V&A Waterfront
After visiting the Two Oceans Aquarium, stick around the V&A Waterfront, one of Cape Town’s top tourist destinations. Located on the edge of Table Bay, the V&A Waterfront offers an array of fun activities for the whole family, from eating your way through its markets, to taking a ride on an old-fashioned carousel, visiting the Cape Town Science Centre, to catching a show at the V&A Waterfront. One spot that’s sure to delight everyone in the family is the waterfront’s harbor where you can spot seals, dolphins and sometimes even whales.
Visit the Cape Town Ostrich Ranch
Ostriches are one of South Africa’s most iconic animals. The large flightless birds are endemic to Africa, meaning that’s their only natural habitat. They have long legs that they use to run up to 43 miles per hour and powerful beaks that they use to defend themselves against predators. The Cape Town Ostrich Ranch is located on the outskirts of Cape Town and offers a unique experience for those looking to learn more about ostriches. Visitors can tour the ranch and get up close with the fascinating birds while learning about their environment and behaviors. The ranch also hosts guided safaris during which guests can observe ostriches in their natural habitat. You can sample ostrich eggs at the ranch’s on-site cafe.
Kid-friendly accommodations for a family vacation in Cape Town
Picking the right accommodation is an essential part of planning a successful family vacation. Depending on the size of your family and ages of its members, that could mean finding a rental that feels like a home away from home or picking a hotel in a central area that makes seeing a destination’s major attractions easy. Here are a few Cape Town Airbnbs and hotels to jumpstart your search, all close to the attractions that make a memorable family vacation in Cape Town.
We hope you love these hotels and Airbnbs for a family vacation in Cape Town! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of the time of publication.
AC Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront
Located in the heart of Cape Town by the V&A Waterfront, the AC Hotel by Marriott offers easy access to an array of shopping districts and train stations. Nearby cultural sights include the Two Oceans Aquarium, South African Museum and Planetarium, and the Cape Town Gateway Visitor Centre. When you’re not exploring the city, enjoy lounging by the pool.
Price per night: From $120
Hillside Airbnb with Ocean Views
If your idea of a family vacation in Cape Town involves staying in spacious digs outside of the city center, this serviced apartment in the Camps Bay area bordering the Table Mountain Nature Reserve might be the place for you. It has a master bedroom with a king bed, a second bedroom with a queen bed, and a third bedroom with two small beds that are perfect for little ones. In addition to a beautiful backyard and pool, not to mention views of the ocean, the Airbnb Plus comes with kid-friendly amenities including a crib and pack n’ play, high chair, books and toys, children’s dinnerware, and even babysitter recommendations.
Three bedrooms, five guests
Price per night: $137
Boulder Beach Hotel, Cafe, and Curio
Another quiet option for a family vacation in Cape Town, the Boulder Beach Hotel caters to families on a budget who still want to stay someplace clean, cute, and cozy. One benefit of staying at this hotel in Simon’s Town is that you can book a family apartment that sleeps five, rather than individual rooms. Plus, with Boulders Beach so close, you’re a stone’s throw from Cape Town’s penguins.
Price per night: From $25