By Travel + Leisure and Travel + Leisure Staff
March 18, 2016

With the dramatic silhouette of Table Mountain in the background and stunning beaches—some of which are home to penguins—Cape Town is a wildly beautiful and sophisticated city.

Fun things to do in Cape Town for first-time visitors including summiting (by foot or by cable car) that iconic, flat-topped mountain which towers 3,500-feet over Cape Town and driving along the peninsula and down to the southwesternmost tip of the African continent, the Cape of Good Hope. Ask locals what to do in Cape Town at the Neighbourgoods Market, where food vendors set up every Saturday to sell their goods (think: silk-and-leather sandals), or on bustling Bree Street, lined with everything from cheese emporiums (order Culture Club’s cumin gouda-and-ham sandwich) to galleries and cocktail bars.

After a little Cape Town sightseeing, grab lunch at Hemelhuijs—order anything as long you pair it with a fresh-squeezed juice—to experience the vibrant food scene, which focuses on creative combos and fresh, local ingredients. Head to Boulders Beach for penguin spotting, and later to residents’ favorite, Clifton Beach, where you’ll see brave locals splashing in the waves even though water temperatures hover at a brisk 60 degrees.

Finally, take a ferry to one of the best Cape Town sights, Robben Island, home to the prison where Nelson Mandela spent most of his almost three decade-long sentence.