A Guide To The Best Museums in Cape Town

With its rich and storied history, Cape Town has a lot to offer visitors. Our world-class museums showcase a glimpse of the city’s past, delving into struggles and the country’s road to freedom.

Here are some of the museums in Cape Town that are worth the visit: 

The Iziko South African Museum

Situated in the historic Company’s Gardens, the Iziko South African Museum is home to more than 1.5 million items of cultural and scientific significance. Explore the museum to learn more about fossils and ancient insects, stone tools made by people 120 000 years ago, and traditional clothes from the last century. 

Location: 25 Queen Victoria Street, Gardens, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open daily, from 9am to 5pm

Price: R60

Website: www.iziko.org.za/museums/south-african-museum

Iziko Slave Lodge

The Iziko Slave Lodge offers a haunting reminder of what many slaves had to endure. Known as one of Cape Town’s oldest buildings and where slaves once called home, this Cape Town site features exhibitions that explore the long history of slavery in South Africa, temporary exhibitions that put a spotlight on human rights awareness, and upper-level galleries. 

Location: Corner Adderley Street and Wale Street, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open daily, from 9am – 5am

Price: R60

Website: www.iziko.org.za/museums/slave-lodge

District Six Museum

Few areas are as vivid an example of the Apartheid regime as District Six. A once racially diverse and vibrant community, the original residents were forcibly removed from the area when the National Party government declared it a “white group area”. 

The District Six Museum Foundation was founded in 1989, hot on the trail of the Hands Off District Six Conference a year earlier. The museum launched in 1994 with a compelling inaugural exhibition called Streets: Retracing District Six and has become a must-visit spot for local and international travellers. 

The District Six Museum is now home to a permanent exhibition called Digging Deeper, which includes the life histories of District Six residents.

Location: 25A Buitenkant Street, District Six, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open daily, 9am to 4pm

Price: From R60

Website: www.districtsix.co.za

Cape Town Museum of Childhood

The Cape Town Museum of Childhood celebrates the wonders of childhood for both young and old. 

Hailed the first museum of its kind in Africa, it has the unique purpose of preserving childhood heritage through documentation, memory, research, and interpretation. With a vast national collection of childhood-related exhibits, the museum offers an immersive and interactive experience that highlights the vital role children play in society. 

Location: 3 Milner Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open Wednesdays to Saturdays between 10am and 4pm

Price: Free

Website: www.museumofchildhood.org.za

Long March to Freedom

Brush up on your history in the most unique way!

The Long March to Freedom is an outdoor exhibition featuring 100 life-size bronze sculptures of South Africa’s most famous heroes. From Nelson Mandela to Walter Sisulu, the Long March to Freedom transports you back in time to the lives of these countless souls and how they each played a role in the country’s 350-year journey to freedom and democracy. 

Location: Century Boulevard, Century City, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10am to 4:30pm 

Price: Between R10 – R75  

Website: www.longmarchtofreedom.co.za

Cape Town Holocaust Centre

The Cape Town Holocaust Centre stands alongside the South African Jewish Museum – also well worth a visit – and is home to a wealth of information on the Holocaust. While undeniably wrought with emotion, visitors can enjoy written and verbal exhibitions that delve into one of the most devastating periods of history. 

Location: 88 Hatfield Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open Sundays to Thursdays, from 10am to 5pm and Fridays from 10am to 2pm

Price: Free

Website: www.ctholocaust.co.za

Castle of Good Hope

Completed in 1679, the Castle of Good Hope, once a fort, has been restored and now functions as a museum. Guided tours are offered weekly and the Key Ceremony (the ceremonial unlocking of the Van der Stel entrance by the guards) is performed from Mondays to Fridays. There is also the firing of the Signal Cannon tradition, once used to alert people inside the font of a ship spotted at sea. 

Location: Darling Street & Buitenkant Street, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open daily, from 9am to 5pm 

Price: From R25

Website:  www.castleofgoodhope.co.za/index.php

Bo-Kaap Museum

The Bo-Kaap – also known as the Cape Malay Quarter – is one of the city’s most visited destinations. Beyond the iconic colourful houses, the area has an incredibly fascinating history. Many of the residents are descendants of enslaved people from Malaysia, Indonesia and various African countries who were forcibly brought to the city in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Bo-Kaap Museum is the perfect place to discover the history of the area.

Be sure to check out depictions of the life of a typical Malay family.

Location: 71 Wale Street, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open Mondays to Saturdays, from 9am to 4pm

Price: R60

Website: www.iziko.org.za/museums/bo-kaap-museum

Robben Island Museum

This well-known Cape Town attraction has a very chequered past. It was first used as a prison when the Dutch Settlers were in the Cape and later used as a leper colony and animal quarantine station. However, the island is most famous for being a political prison during the apartheid regime. Its most notable prisoner, Nelson Mandela, served 18 years in the island’s prison.

Visitors to the island can expect an insightful tour by former political prisoners, which includes a visit to Mandela’s cell and a ferry ride. 

Location: Robben Island

Opening Times: Open daily, from 9am to 3pm 

Price: From R210 

Website: www.robben-island.org.za

Warrior Toy Museum

Escape into a childhood dream of toys, models, ships, trucks, aeroplanes and toy soldiers at the Warrior Toy Museum in Simon’s Town. The museum boasts over 4000 model cars, 500 dolls and teddy bears and has a special sale section for those who want to start their own collection. 

Location: 1067 King George Way, Simon’s Town, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open daily, from 10am to 4pm

Price: Various

Website: https://bit.ly/3W8zshA 

Koopmans-de Wet House

Koopmans-de Wet House, the first ‘period house’ museum in the country, opened its doors in 1914 after the death of its last owners Marie Koopmans-de Wet and her sister Margaretha, known for helping orphans and widows during the South African War. The house boasts some of the best pieces of Cape furniture and silver in the country, and a priceless collection of ceramics.

Location: 35 Strand Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open Thursdays and Fridays from 9am to 4pm 

Price: R60

Website: www.iziko.org.za/museums/koopmans-de-wet-house

Rust en Vreugd

Rust en Vreugd was built on what was then the outer limits of the city in 1777 for a high-ranking official of the Dutch East India Company. In the early 1960s, it was restored and converted into a gallery space when William Fehr donated his private collection of works of art on paper (watercolours, prints and drawings) to the people of South Africa. Visitors will get to see part of the collection.

Location: 78 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town

Opening Times: Open Thursdays and Fridays from 9am to 4pm 

Price: R60

Website: www.iziko.org.za/museums/rust-en-vreugd

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