I love visiting museums in different countries, because you always end up learning something or seeing history from a different view than the one you’ve been brought up with.

I’ve learned a lot through my travels, but nothing really shocked me as much as some of the history I learned about in South Africa as I visited some of the museums in Cape Town.

Of course, I had vaguely heard of apartheid, but in my Catholic high school they didn’t teach us anything about it. 

Hearing about just how recent and messed up things were in Cape Town during apartheid blew my mind. I don’t understand why they didn’t teach us more about this situation in school. 

Even if you can only make it to a few museums, I really encourage you to dig into the history of South Africa.

I didn’t make it to all the museums this trip, but I have it on good authority from a few local friends that these are the museums in Cape Town that you should add to your itinerary.

Best Museums in Cape Town


1. District Six Museum

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This is one of Cape Town’s newest museums, and a must-see while you’re in town. 

The museum focuses on District Six, a neighborhood that was once lively and brimming with culture, before over 60,000 residents were forcibly removed in the 1970s during apartheid. 

If you can, schedule ahead with the museum to book a tour.

Depending on who’s available, you may have either an old resident or volunteer taking you through the museum. 

The District Six Museum isn’t overly large, and can easily be done in about one or two hours, depending on how many plaques you read.

Address: 25A Buitenkant St, District Six, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa


Don’t miss out on seeing this must-see museum!


2. Cape Town Diamond Museum

Anyone who loves sparkles needs to check out the Cape Town Diamond Museum

You’ll learn all about the natural and commercial history of diamonds, plus the importance of the four C’s when picking out diamonds. 

In case you didn’t know, they cut, clarity, color, and carat. 

If this history lesson has you wanting to buy something special to take back with you, don’t worry, you’ll also have the opportunity to buy jewellery. 

And even though everyone always says this is the perfect spot to pick out an engagement ring, I don’t think solo travelers should limit themselves to society’s beliefs that you should only get nice jewelry from a partner.

I’ve made it a goal of mine to treat myself to one special piece of jewelry a year to commemorate my travels.

After all, even single ladies deserve special jewelry. 

Go ahead, treat yourself to something special to remember your visit to Africa!

Address: Level 1 Clock Tower, Clock Tower District, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa



3. Iziko Slave Lodge

A huge part of Africa’s history involves the slave trade. 

Visiting Iziko Slave Lodge will give you a huge insight into the history of slavery in South Africa.

The building itself was once used to house slaves, so you really feel connected to the history that is shown from the beginning of slavery up to the apartheid.

Besides lots of information available to read, they also have a display of various historical items, including objects from 19th and 20th century South Africa.

I didn’t go inside, but heard a lot about it during a free walking tour that my friend and I did. 

Our guide said this place is absolutely worth stopping by, and to expect to spend at least two hours there if you want to read all the informational plaques. 

Address: Corner Adderley Street and, Wale St, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa



4. Iziko South African Museum

Open since 1825, The Iziko South African Museum is home to thousands of interesting artifacts, including fossils, traditional clothes, stone tools, plus other gems, some of which are almost 700 million years old!

Oh, and don’t miss seeing the Iziko Planetarium and Digital Dome while you’re checking out the museum.

A New Yorker who I met on the walking tour said this is one of their favorite museums in Cape Town because it reminds them of The Met in NYC

I didn’t make it here during my first visit to Cape Town, but as someone whose favorite museum is The Met, you better bet that this museum is at the top of my list for when I return to South Africa.

Address: 25 Queen Victoria St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa



5. Cape Town Holocaust Museum

Featuring multimedia displays, historical artifacts, and special exhibits, the Cape Town Holocaust Museum takes you through how the world and South African Jews were affected by the holocaust. 

I didn’t make it here on my first trip to Cape Town, but this is another spot that comes highly recommended by a local guide I met.

She said it’s got a beautiful layout, tons of history, and it’s free to visit. 

What more could you want?

Address: 88 Hatfield St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa



6. Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope, built in the 17th century, is the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa. 

You can either do a quick walk-by like we did, since we had limited time, or go inside to check out more about its history, as well as the military museum inside. 

I’ve also heard that you can get a pretty epic view of Table Mountain if you walk along the top portion of the fort.

Local’s Tip: Our local walking tour guide told our group that this is one of the worst areas for pickpockets. Be extra careful when walking around this area. 

Address: Darling St & Buitenkant St, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa



7. Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum

The Bo-Kaap neighborhood in Cape Town is a formerly racially segregated area, and the center of Cape Malay culture.

Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum will give you a free glimpse into all of this neighborhood’s history, plus the chance to view some beautiful artwork. 

The museum itself is quite small, but worth stopping by while exploring the area.

Don’t miss out on walking around the neighborhood while you’re there.

This colorful area is the perfect backdrop to take a cool photo of yourself. 

Fun Fact: When slaves in this neighborhood were finally free and able to purchase their homes, they painted them bright colors as an expression of their freedom.

Address: 71 Wale St, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa



8. Robben Island Museum

This might be the most popular museum in Cape Town. 

If you’re visiting during high season, buy your tickets to see the Robben Island Museum ahead of time. 

My friend and I weren’t able to score last minute tickets, but you better bet this is at the top of my Cape Town bucket list.

Our local friends told us if you can, take the longer walking tour. She told us you’ll learn a lot more, saying that all their tour guides are amazing. 

Obviously, you’ll learn about Nelson Mandela’s time on the island, plus about other political masterminds who were also there.

Address: Robben Island, Cape Town, 7400, South Africa


Book your tickets to Robben Island today!


9. Zeitz MOCAA

Fans of contemporary art shouldn’t miss visiting the Zeitz MOCAA near the V&A Waterfront.

This non-profit is home to the largest collection of African contemporary art.

Even the building itself could be contemporary art, as it’s inside a bunch of old grain silos.

The art is absolutely fabulous, and the interior is an architectural marvel, though kids may not be as into it.

Bring headphones to take part in the audio experiences as you walk around, and plan at least two to three hours to really enjoy the museum.

If you get hungry, there’s a lovely little cafe, as well as a pleasant restaurant on the 6th floor. 

Address: V&A Waterfront Silo District, S Arm Rd, Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa


Skip the line to see this popular museum with a fast track entry ticket!


10. 18 Gangster Museum


Okay, so this isn’t your typical museum. You could even consider it more of an immersive experience. 

At 18 Gangster Museum, the aim is to inform people, especially youth, about the perils of joining gangs. 

They set the museum up in replica prison cells, with immersive text and imagery.

Plus work with ex-gangsters who share insights into their real-life experiences with gangs and prison, and how they’ve turned their lives around.

Not to mention, they offer multiple Township tours, including walking, biking, and party options.

This is one of the most unique museums I’ve ever heard about, and I’m so disappointed I missed checking out a few months ago.

But you better bet, this is another Cape Town museum that’s at the top of my bucket list for when I go back.

Check out the YouTube video below to be seriously inspired by what this museum is setting out to do!

Address: Dullah Omar St, Mandela Park, Cape Town, 7784, South Africa



11. Heart of Cape Town Museum


Speaking of unique museums, the Heart of Cape Town Museum is inside Groote Schuur Hospital.

As you may have guessed, there’s a medical focus to this museum, though I’m told even adults who are not in the medical field will enjoy visiting.

The museum centers on Dr C. Barnard, a South African cardiac surgeon, who performed the first successful human-to-human heart transplant at this very hospital.

You’ll get to see the room where the surgery took place, as well as about the history and relevant facts that led to the operation.

Fair warning though, the hospital is in the Observatory suburb of Cape Town, so it’s a bit of a drive, but from what I’ve heard, totally worth it!

Address: Groote Schuur Hospital, Main Rd, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa


Skip waiting in line by purchasing your tickets today!


12. Norval Foundation


For a well-rounded collection of African paintings, photography, sculptures, and history, head to the Norval Foundation.

They have an ongoing series of special exhibits, plus plenty of permanent collections.

You’ll easily spend two to three hours wandering around viewing everything.

They also have a stunning sculpture garden, that’s a must-visit, especially when the weather is warm.

Oh, and don’t skip the restaurant, The Skotnes Restaurant. They have a lovely menu, and the option to sit outside near the gardens on sunny days.

Address: 4 Steenberg Rd, Tokai, Cape Town, 7945, South Africa


Book this contemporary art tour to see both the Norval Foundation and Zeitz MOCAA!


13. Warrior Toy Museum

If you’re looking for a museum in Cape Town that your kids will love, head to the Warrior Toy Museum

Your whole family will love checking out their model cars, dolls, toy airplanes, trucks, and lead soldiers.

They’ve also got two working railroads, and a sales section should you wish to bring a toy home with you.

Just a heads up, this is another museum that’s a bit of drive from the main bit of Cape Town.

It’s not too far from Boulder Beach, so if you want to go, plan on hitting it up after visiting the famous Cape Town penguins.

Address: 1067 King George Way, Simon’s Town, Cape Town, 7995, South Africa


Wrapping It Up

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There are still so many Cape Town museums that I need to check out, but I love that it gives me a reason to visit this beautiful city again soon.

Let me know in the comments below which museum you’re most looking forward to checking out during your visit to South Africa.

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