June 7

8 Best Hikes in Cape Town


By Hanli Matthee on June 7, 2024

Cape Town's splendour should be explored from as many different viewpoints as possible. And luckily, there are plenty of scenic hikes, rivalling some of the best trails in the world! Think waterfalls, fynbos, forests, and the ocean – just endless views all around. So, follow us as we take you through our favourite hiking trails in our Mother City...

Woman hiking in Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background

Enjoy the best hikes in Cape Town

Stunning Must-Do Hikes in Cape Town

There are seven areas in and around Cape Town with hikes to explore.

  1. Kloof Nek
  2. Newlands and Kirstenbosch
  3. Muizenberg and Kalk Bay
  4. Tokai and Constantia
  5. Hout Bay
  6. Camps Bay
  7. South Peninsula

Hikes vary in the Mother City. Effort levels can range from easy strolls to more adventurous outings only for the very fit. Furthermore, some hikes can be flat, and others expose you to scaling heights that's perhaps not for the faint of heart.

Cape Town from above

Views from Table Mountain in Cape Town

Lion’s Head – Kloof Nek

Time: About two and a half hours

Difficulty: Moderate difficulty but with some ladders and chains to climb 

Lion's Head is one of the most popular hikes in Cape Town. As you spiral your way up, you'll get a 360-degree view of the city, the most expensive neighbourhoods in the country, and the glistening ocean. On a clear day, you can even see all the way beyond Melkbosstrand up the West Coast.

The hike starts with an incline, and as you get closer to the top, it gets steeper. You'll need to climb up a three-metre ladder and some chains. However, if you're scared of heights, an easier route that overlooks Clifton and Camps Bay is an option. From here, there's another steep climb. And after the second three-metre ladder, you're almost at the top!

When you finally reach it, the panoramic views take your breath away (not just the steep climb!). Pack some snacks and coffee to enjoy at the top. Trust us, there's a reason this is such a beloved hike among guests and locals alike. The views are so worth the climb! 

Lion's Head is one of the best hikes in Cape Town

Lion's Head is one of the best hikes in Cape Town

Pipe Track – Kloof Nek

Time: Three hours

Difficulty: Easy, relaxed stroll

The Pipe Track is one of the oldest hiking trails in Cape Town. A lovely path along the contour above Camps Bay, it starts at Kloof Nek and will take about one and a half hours to reach the end at Slangolie (snake oil) Ravine.

There are a few strategically placed benches for you to take in the beautiful views of the mountains on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. Having such a pleasant trail close to the city is so convenient, as it's an easy escape from the hustle and bustle. 

Early morning strolls are refreshing when the trail is still mostly covered in the shade of the trees. Throughout the day, you'll find many people walking their dogs and other hikers on the way to more challenging trails like Kasteelpoort, Valley of the Red Gods, and Tranquility Cracks. When you've reached a sign reading "Dangerous Ascent" at Slangolie Ravine, you've reached the end, and the stroll back just as lovely.

A woman on a hike in Cape Town on the pipe track trail

The Pipe Track trail is one of the top hikes in Cape Town, Image Credit: Naomi Koepfli

Tranquility Cracks – Camps Bay

Time: Four and a half hours

Difficulty: Strenuous with exposure to heights. Not for beginners.

The way to the Tranquility Cracks might not feel as tranquil as the actual cracks, considering the steep steps up via Corridor Ravine and back down via Woody Ravine. The latter is steeper, which is why we suggest coming down via Woody Ravine.

The trail will take you along a riverbed, under dense trees, waist-high fynbos, and through cracks in the rocks. Just after these cracks, you'll enter Tranquility Cracks that's hugged by sky-high yellowwoods. The space is as serene as it sounds. Spend some time here to disconnect, breathe, and clear your mind.

When you're ready, return to the main path and continue down via Woody Ravine after you pass the Saucy Dog and Three Firs Route. Although the option might be available, do not descend via the Three Firs Route due to erosion.

Tranquility Cracks Hike

You're rewarded with splendid views, Image Credit: The Happy Traveller

Chapman’s Peak – Hout Bay

Time: Two and a half hours

Difficulty: Strenuous but beautiful

Chapman's Peak is a favourite among locals. It's a bit of a workout to get to the peak, and it's such a beautiful spot for a post-hike picnic. Pack some crackers, cheese, biltong, and a Bialetti for coffee. 

Driving from Hout Bay on Champan's Peak Drive, ask for a free day pass at the toll gate. Once you've parked your car, the trail climbs next to a stream. The hike will take you over another stream, through proteas and gorgeous watsonias, when they flower between November and February.

The views of Hout Bay are picturesque, and you're soon greeted with views of Fish Hoek. On a clear day, you can see as far as Gordon's Bay. At the top of Champan's Peak, take in the panoramic views of Noordhoek and the Southern Suburbs. Allow yourself some time to enjoy a picnic before returning to the same path.

The views of Hout Bay, the mountains, and the Atlantic Ocean are picture-perfect from every angle, Image Credit: Hanli Matthee

Long Beach – South Peninsula

Time: Two hours

Difficulty: Easy stroll along the beach

There are a few ways you can enjoy this beach hike. There's a shipwreck, Kakapo, locatted midway between Kommetjie and Noordhoek. So, you can either start at Kommetjie (our recommendation) and turn back when you reach the shipwreck. 

Alternatively, you can walk all the way to Noordhoek, which is about six kilometres away. Just keep in mind that with the latter option, you'll either need to walk all the way back to Kommetjie or leave a car in Noordhoek.

The beach is more interesting in Kommetjie and offers some artistic perspectives for photographers. It’s best to plan your stroll during low tide when the sand is more solid at the intertidal zone. The beach can get quite windy, so be sure to pack a jacket.

Noordhoeck Beach in Cape Town

Long beach is, well, a very long beach

Amphitheater – Kalk Bay

Time: Three hours

Difficulty: Strenuous with some exposure to heights

This is an exciting hike with a bit of everything. It’s steep, with a lot of steps, amazing viewpoints, caves, and even two forests!

Your hike starts at Boyes Drive. Follow the steep steps to the Kalk Bay Harbour entrance and make a right turn at the top. The path is well-worn, but it intersects with a few others. To avoid getting lost or taking the wrong turn by mistake, either take a very good guidebook with you or use an app like AllTrails.

On your way up to the amphitheatre, you'll walk under a canopy of Afromontane trees. It’s very important to stay on the path and boardwalk at all times! On your way back down, you will stroll through the Spes Bona forest of yellowwoods.

The area is riddled with caves, but do not explore them. The caves are very dangerous and not for beginners! When you reach the Amphitheatre canyon, take your time to enjoy the scenery and have a coffee and snack break.

Views Amphitheatre hike Kalk Bay

Pretty as a picture views, Image Credit: David Zamora

Elephant’s Eye Cave – Tokai

Time: One hour for the cave, but add three hours for the entire circuit

Difficulty: A bit challenging, but no exposure to heights

Exploring the cave can be combined with the Silvermine Circuit, located in the very western part of Table Mountain National Park. An entrance fee is required (last time we were there, we needed to pay cash as reception for card payments is limited).

This fairly easy hike offers beautiful views of surrounding coastal towns and Instagram-worthy moments. It crosses a few other paths, so we recommend using an app like AllTrails to stay on course.

The gravel path is not covered, so be sure to wear plenty of sunscreen and a sunhatand carry enough water with you. The cave is cool inside and offers spectacular views of False Bay, all the way to Hangklip near Pringle Bay.

We recommend packing some snacks for a relaxed picnic at the cave or the Silvermine Reservoir. 

Silvermine hike

Silvermine hike is a must in Cape Town, Image Credit: No Speed Limit

Cecilia Waterfall – Kirstenbosch

Time: Two hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

If you need to burn calories but don’t feel like going to the gym, try a natural step master by hiking Cecilia Waterfall. The starting point is a circular route, so you can either go straight from the parking lot or turn right. The path is mostly covered, but there are uncovered patches that will get hot during summer. 

As another local favourite, you'll find avid hikers, trail runners, and furry friends along the way. The path is not well marked and you might get confused with other paths in the area. Therefore, it’s best to walk with an app like AllTrails.

The path is a winding route up the ravine with many steps. Don’t count them, but take a break every now and then to admire the view (and catch your breath). The waterfall at the top is beautiful, clear, and very refreshing. We recommend packing some snacks for a well-deserved rest stop. Luckily, the area is well-shaded, so you'll get to cool down properly.

If you get to the top from the left, there's a different path on the right you can take down. Even though you'll cross other trails that connect Kirstenbosch and Newlands Forest, the signposts are well-maintained from this side. 

Cecilia Forest is an enchanting hike in Cape Town, Image Credit: Jean-Pierre Matthee

Top 8 Rules for Hiking in Cape Town and Staying Safe

  1. Make sure your cellphone is fully charged and that you have emergency phone numbers saved on your phone.
  2. The weather in Cape Town can be unpredictable sometimes. Always pack a jacket, preferably waterproof, to prepare for bad weather.
  3. Tell someone where you're going to hike, when, and how long you expect to be away. Don't deviate from your plan.
  4. Never hike alone.
  5. Use an app like AllTrails or a trusted guidebook on your hike unless you go with someone who knows the way.
  6. Once on your hike, don't split and go in different directions. Always hike in a group and stay in the group.
  7. Don't veer from the path.
Cape Town has some of the best hikes in South Africa

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The Mother City is calling all her nature-lovers to explore the landscape. Every contour is unique, adorned with a variety of fynbos, waterfalls, cracks, caves, gravel roads, damns, and forests. Let’s make the most of your stay in Cape Town. Our Travel Experts are well-versed in the vibrant city to make recommendations based on your taste.

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About the author 

Hanli Matthee

After her studies, Hanli decided to call Cape Town home and enjoys that every corner is Instagram-worthy, combining mountains, ocean and city. When she's not living it up in Cape Town's nature, she likes escaping to Central Drakensberg, where she's been going for her family vacations for over 20 years now. It's her happy place, where she feels enveloped by valleys and high-rising giants and secretly hopes she'd get lost here where no one will find her...

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