17 PROPERLY Strange and Unusual Things To Do in Cape Town

  Whenever I google “strange and unusual things to do” or “unique experiences to have in Cape Town”, I find lists of the most obvious, well-known, conventional tourist attractions. I am not even going to mention the things you will find on them. Whatever comes to mind when I say "Cape Town" is exactly right. 

It’s quite disappointing. 

Well, having lived here for almost four years, I have done a fair amount of exploring on my own and have compiled my own list of properly unusual things to do and unique experiences to have in and around Cape Town based on my own experiences. 
It's a pleasure!

So, if you're tired of boring SEO-formulated blog posts clearly written by AI (that possibly even include the odd attraction in Mpumalanga that no human picked up on and edited out), you have come to the right place! Instead of getting misinformation from robots on the internet, I am going to give you factual information on how to get misinformation from hotel concierge robots in person! Instead of going down pointless rabbit holes, I'm going to show you how to go down manholes into historical underground tunnels. And, instead of reading bull-poop on the internet, I'm going to show you how to find real pig-poop in real life from a world-famous pig. 

...Okay, that last one sounds a bit gross, but it is satisfyingly unusual and more fun than it seems!

Here follows a list of unique things to do, unconventional adventures to embark on and offbeat experiences that you can have in and around Cape Town: 

1. Go on an underground tunnel tour 

The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving building in South Africa and the best-preserved example of a Dutch East India Company fort in the world. If you're looking for insight into South Africa's colonial history, a visit to the fort is a must. If you do a Castle and Dungeon Tour with Good Hope Adventures, however, you don't just get to see the fort but you can journey underneath it too. 

This historical adventure tour takes visitors underneath the Castle of Good Hope to explore Cape Town's forgotten tunnels, some of which date as far back as 1652

The Dutch do love their canals and so when the Cape was under their rule, they formalised some of the streams running from Table Mountain to the sea into canals or "grachte". However, their plans for "Little Amsterdam" didn't quite pan out and when the canals became polluted and more proficient at spreading disease than transporting clean water and boats, they covered them over into tunnels. They have been covered over for so long that many Cape Town residents don't even know that they're down there.

If you're looking to combine an educational history tour with an adventure, an underground tunnel tour is the way to do it. Strap a braai torch to your forehead, put on your least favourite pair of shoes and beware of the oversized cockroaches ... and possibly some ghosts. 

Read the Sharonicles of my tunnel tour experience here: 

2. Sleep in a rooftop caravan park 

The Grand Daddy Hotel is a boutique hotel in central Cape Town that is home to the only designer rooftop Airstream Trailer Park in the world. The seven authentic Airstream trailers each have their own individual decor theme and collectively reflect a typical South African road trip (minus the potholes and fear of vehicle theft).

If you're looking for a unique and memorable place to stay in Cape Town, then staying in one of the Grand Daddy Hotel's rooftop Airstream trailers is a great option. 

And if you can't justify spending money to stay in a fancy rooftop trailer because you're already hustling to pay rent to avoid having to permanently move into a not-so-luxury trailer (Cape Town rent is pricey!), you can still access the rooftop terrace for a cocktail at the hotel's Sky Bar near the trailers. Maybe if you're lucky, the cleaners will leave a trailer open long enough for you to pretend to be staying there for Instagram. 

Waiting on my strawberry daiquiri 

3. Chat with a robot hotel concierge

If you're looking for a hotel experience that's less "road trip" and more "sci-fi", the Hotel Sky is for you. 

Hotel Sky is a hotel in Cape Town that is known for its striking design aesthetic, rooftop vertical drop ride and robot concierges. The robots, named Mika, Skyla and Maya, are able to answer questions about Cape Town and the hotel. Well... mostly. 

While the use of AI chatbots has now become ubiquitous, when the hotel opened in 2021 this was unheard of. At the time that I temporarily removed my pandemic mask to interview Mika in the below video, I had never heard the letters "GPT" strung together. I'm keen to revisit the hotel to see if Mika and her sisters have been upgraded to provide more coherent answers to some of the burning questions I asked before:

If the robots in the lobby are not reason enough for you to choose this hotel for your stay in Cape Town, you can have a quick chat with them on your way to the rooftop. On the hotel's glowing red rooftop antennae (and the thing that makes the Cape Town skyline a boy) is the adrenaline-inducing Sky-HI ride, a vertical drop ride that lifts brave souls high above the city for some of the most incredible views in town before threatening your bladder control with a frightful drop. 

And you thought my #turtleselfie pic was flattering!

While you're there, be sure to ask Mika why her cousin stole my content writing job! 

Read the Sharonicles of the Hotel Sky here:

4. Find a hidden speakeasy

The Art of Duplicity is a hidden speakeasy (or secret bar) in Cape Town that is inspired by the Prohibition era in the United States. The bar is located in an unmarked alleyway in the city centre. One has to follow clues to find its location and then decode the password to be allowed access.   

While making it inside is quite a challenge, it's worth the effort. Once you enter the speakeasy, you are transported back in time to the 1920s. The bar is decorated in a vintage style, the cocktails are inspired by classic Prohibition-era recipes and you may even be treated to live Jazz music.  

To find out how to find this speakeasy, read more here: 

5. Get lost in a secret garden 

Well, I didn't meet any princes or find any unicorns but other than that, visiting Little Stream in Constantia is just like being in a fairytale.
Even the cheesecake is magical!

With fake giants lying in the greenery, a picture-perfect tree swing, some whimsical sculptures and the ruins of the castle from Narnia scattered around this simple underrated Constantia estate, this is a great place to take a kid or an adult who can appreciate the simple things in life. It is also the site of a tranquil tea garden where you can relax under the trees and enjoy a cup of tea or a meal. 

6. Be a pirate for an afternoon 

If you know a kid who's always dreamt of becoming a pirate, or if you're like my friend Dan and are looking for a way to kick off your mid-life crisis with a unique 40th birthday party experience, set sail on a (fake) swashbuckling escapade unlike any other on The Jolly Roger Pirate Boat

Here you can learn about South Africa's pirate history - Oh wait, we don't have one! But you can still realise your wildest pirate fantasies, complete with billowing sails and an atmosphere that reeks of treasure and untamed seas. 

We even saw whales! 

Even if you are not as lucky, the views of Cape Town and Table Mountain are quite spectacular. 

The Jolly Roger Pirate Ship is a popular attraction at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. They refer to themselves as "The only authentic pirate ship in South Africa" so it's possible that they hijacked it from someone else. The company offers a variety of tours, including a 45-minute cruise and a 90-minute sunset cruise (for the romantic pirate). 

Grab your eye patch and parrot (optional), unleash your inner Jack Sparrow (but maybe keep your inner Johnny Depp at bay) and climb aboard for a boat tour that's more fun than a barrel of rum – and a lot safer and more family-friendly too!

7. Grab a drink at a Western saloon 

If you would rather be a cowboy than a pirate, you're in luck!

For some reason, located in the Cape Town CBD is a surprisingly convincing Western saloon called Dust and Dynamite. Stepping off Caledon Street into the very out-of-place establishment that serves only alcohol (no food) seems bizarrely surreal. The exhibits that line the walls appear to be museum quality. Even the bar manager (and I suspect owner) is dressed for the part and seems as interestingly eccentric as his place of work. 

I would love to know more about the history of this strange Cape Town landmark that doesn't even have a website. Please enlighten me if you know more?

It can be found at 27 Caledon St and it's properly weird. That's all I know. 

8. Get a steaming cup of steampunk coffee

For a different kind of beverage in a different kind of themed establishment, Truth Coffee is a distinctly unique steam-punk-themed coffee shop. From the industrial piping, machinery, cogs, Victorian-era gadgetry and decor to the waiters' uniforms (or more like costumes), this cafe transports visitors to a surreal destination.  

You would be forgiven for thinking the cafe's vintage cast iron drum is just for show but this is where the coffee on offer is hand-roasted. While this might sound overly gimmicky, the coffee has a reputation for its quality and the coffee shop was listed among the world's best by The Daily Telegraph.

Truth Coffee provides a feast for the eyes and the tastebuds with a wide variety of coffee drinks as well as pastries and other food items. It also offers coffee tastings and other events for fans of coffee. If you consider yourself a coffee connoisseur, this place will get you buzzing long before the caffeine does.

And, yes, this, sadly, is the best photo I have at Truth Coffee and it captures none of its awesome steam-punkiness! I will have to return and try to get less distracted by the caffeinated beverages next time.

9. Explore an abandoned zoo

If you don't like the idea of animals being kept in cages, you are in luck because this zoo doesn't have any! For any urban explorers out there who like deserted places, Cape Town's abandoned Groote Schuur Zoo is a must-see! 

Located on the grounds of the University of Cape Town, the Groote Schuur Zoo is home to overgrown pathways, rusted cages and crumbling enclosures with plenty of evidence of nature's attempts to reclaim this space. Shut down somewhere between 1975 and 1985, the dilapidated grounds make for a fascinating place to explore.

Find out how to go about visiting the zoo here:

10. Discover unusual treasures down Memory Lane  

There's antiquing and there's antiquing. Some people go antiquing because they want to find valuable treasures for a classically-decorated home. And, yes, you may find some of that in Kalk Bay, but around these parts, you're more likely to find all things "What the actual-?" 

If you slip down Memory Lane, a narrow and easily overlooked alleyway off Main Road, you will find The Sweet Ol' Jester, an antique shop with treasures like these: 

You know Second Chance Antiques, the fictional antique store in Toy Story 4? Similar vibes. 

Further down the alleyway is the Whatnot & China Town. An antique china shop, lined wall to wall with crockery, tea sets and porcelain ornaments. I'm genuinely afraid to sneeze in this shop. But it is definitely a great place to go for antique china and some strangely quirky items sprinkled throughout. 

11. Experience a Loo with a View 

Constantia is an area in Cape Town known for its fine wines as well as the class and sophistication associated with them. Beau Constantia is a boutique wine farm in the region. This wine farm found an innovative way to elevate its bathroom experience by combining magnificent views of its vineyards from its mountainside location with one-way glass, enabling visitors to be awestruck by spectacular vistas while simultaneously relieving themselves. 

If their wines or their fine dining restaurant aren't reasons enough to visit, be sure to pull in if you need a bathroom break.

If you appreciate memorable bathroom experiences, I can recommend a few.

12.  Find yourself an octopus teacher

The underwater kelp forests of Simon's Town are like exploring an extraterrestrial landscape. If you want to try something very different and you're not afraid of some cold water, borrow a wetsuit, pick up a cheap snorkel from The Crazy Store and check out what is just below the surface of the water.  

Opt for a day when the waters are calm for good visibility and then try not to get addicted, I dare you!

Read the Sharonicles of snorkelling in Simon's Town here:

13.  Search for a Secret Forest Cafe

Hidden in the Tokai Forest - or more just alongside the Tokai Forest - is a secret forest cafe called The Secret Forest Cafe. For those who like to forest bathe or walk their dogs on this huge and scenic plot of land, someone who owns a property neighbouring the forest is cleverly selling refreshments to passersby through a garage-door-sized opening ...if you can find it! 

Coffee and other hot drinks, as well as breakfast items, pastries and cakes, are available to be enjoyed in a small outdoor seating area or on a tree stump. There are also free treats for dogs!   

14. Explore a shipwreck at Cape Point

If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can go in search of shipwrecks to explore. At Cape Point, just south of Cape Town, you can find the Shipwreck Trail. A stroll along the beach will take you to the SS Thomas T. Tucker a World War II ship that ran aground during its maiden voyage. 

Read the Sharonicles of the Shipwreck Trail here:

15. Stop for scones at the quirkiest cafe on your way back from Cape Point

If you like tea and offbeat adventures as much as I do, The Scone Shack is for you! This place is located in the middle of nowhere and it's only open three days a week in the dry season, but it's so legendary that that is enough!

On a farm near Cape Point, you can find a literal shack, made out of mostly windows, where the farm occupants serve wood-fired scones and homemade jams made from locally grown ingredients. As there is very limited seating in the shack itself, this is served to guests in various seating areas sprinkled around a large garden and succulent plant nursery.  Everywhere you look is some item that has been repurposed into "decor."  While you try to take it all in and savour the views and delicious scones, you may be visited by some of the farm animals also looking for a crumb. 

Read the Sharonicles of the Scone Shack here:

Just outside Cape Town:

16. Pet an alpaca in Paarl

If you're looking for something more exotic than any of the amazing wildlife we have in any of the many game farms scattered all over the place here in South Africa, a trip to Paarl offers an exciting South American alternative: Alpacas! 

The Alpaca Loom is a farm full of alpacas that are bred for their wool (as well as a couple of llamas and camels too). For an extra fee, you can also go to the nursery and see the babies! 

And if you're really lucky and you enjoy a bit of schadenfreude (pleasure derived from someone else's misfortune) you might get to see a llama spit on an influencer! 

The farm is also home to a weaving studio, a gift shop and a coffee shop with a great view.

Read the Sharonicles of the Alpaca Loom here:

17. Visit a world-famous pig in Franschhoek

If you want to visit a significantly less exotic but more talented animal than the spitting llama mentioned above, head to the Farm Sanctuary SA in Franschhoek. This is the home of Pigcasso, a world-famous painting pig who has learned how to wield a paintbrush in her snout. Though she does not do live painting demonstrations, here you can see the swine surrounded by her farm animal friends in a barn-cum-art-gallery where her prized masterpieces are on display. 

If you can't afford her art (and you probably can't), there are other options for souvenirs. Living in Franschhoek, the pig obviously also has her own wine label which you can purchase on-site. 

The barn used to serve an additional function as a luxury barn Airbnb that I was fortunate enough to stay in last year. (Blog post coming soon).


A map of all the above attractions (except the speakeasy, you have to figure that out on your own!) can be found here:


Not super-unusual but still moderately unusual things to do in Cape Town:

  • Sand duning in the Atlantis Dunes
  • Bobsledding at the Toboggan Family Park in Tyger Valley
  • The Simon's Town Ghost Tour

If there's anything I'm overlooking, please let me know in the comments below?


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  1. Love this post and the bull-poop you mention! LOL! You would be my kind of traveling partner. I love the unusual things you can do when traveling, like your underground tunnels, which we did in Rome. I have a couple of friends in South Africa that I will forward your article to. Thanks for the info!

  2. Great ideas. These are definitely unusual things to do. I would like to explore on the pirate ship myself.

  3. Great post! You're right about AI focusing on popular spots. Just because a place isn't well-known doesn't mean it’s not cool!


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