Besides its spectacular natural beauty, Cape Town is also home to unmissable historical and cultural museums that showcase the country’s deep and rich history.
Whether you’re interested in science, history, nature or art, the museum scene in Cape Town is brimming with fascinating exhibitions that should be on your bucket list.
Here’s a list of some of our favourite museums in Cape Town.
Iziko South African Museum
Founded in 1825, Iziko South African Museum is the country’s oldest museum, located in the historic Company Gardens in the CBD. The museum houses over a million-and-a-half natural specimens that have been collected over the past 200 years.
View exhibitions that tell the story of the history of Mother Earth including ancient fossils, human-made tools, rock and meteorite samples, unique plant displays, animals and marine life features and various skeletons of extinct animals. Highlights include the massive life-size dinosaur and whale displays on show.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM
- Adults: R20.00
- Children from six to seventeen years: R10.00
District Six Museum
Built in December 1994, the District Six Museum tells the painful stories of the forced removals from a vibrant community of freed slaves, immigrants and merchants during the Apartheid regime.
The exhibition recalls the memories and experiences of former residents to offer a glimpse into how the enforcement of the Group Areas Act impacted the vibrant community of District Six.
In 2006, the museum was declared a National Heritage Site, due to its contribution to the restoration of District Six. Ex-residents offer guided tours of the District Six area.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 9 AM to 4 PM
- Adults: R45.00
- South African children, ages seven to seventeen: R5.00
- South African university students and international learners: R15.00
Iziko Slave Lodge
One of Cape Town’s oldest buildings located on Adderley Street, the Iziko Slave Lodge museum reflects on the long history of Cape Town and its slave trade past.
Opened in 1889, the temporary exhibitions have been used to raise awareness around human rights. This museum offers audio-guided tours, galleries and older displays, such as ceramics from around the world, silverware of Cape, Malaysian, Rusian and English origins as well as Egyptology collections.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10 AM to 5 PM, closed on Christmas Day and Workers Day.
- Adults: R30.00
- Children six to seventeen years: R15.00
- South African students and pensioners: R15.00 (free entry on Fridays)
- Children five years and under: R5.00
Located in the prestigious V&A Waterfront, the Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) is the first museum of modern African art on the continent.
Housed inside a re-designed grain silo, the nine-story building features 80 separate gallery spaces with a collection of contemporary artworks from Africa and the African Diaspora. There are over 100 exhibitions that change every few months throughout the year. The museum also includes a charming rooftop sculpture garden, conservation vault, bookshop, a restaurant, bar and cafe.
End off a day spent at Zeitz MOCAA with a cocktail on the rooftop of the Silo Hotel.
Opening times: Every day: 10 am to 6 pm
- Adults: R190.00
- Adults annual membership: R270.00
- Under 18’s: Free
- African citizens: Free on Wednesdays from 10 AM to 1 PM
- Half-price (first Friday of the month) 4 PM to 9 PM
The V&A Waterfront is one of Cape Town’s most popular locations for tourists and locals. Explore the buzzing harbour with our list of the top 10 things to do in the V&A Waterfront.
Situated in the historical area of Signal Hill, the Bo-Kaap Museum showcases the Mother City’s local Islamic culture and heritage.
The building dates back to the 1760s, and in 1978 it was converted into the Bo Kaap Museum. The museum documents the history of the Cape Malay communities and their contribution to the city.
Our Cape Town city tour offers deep insight into the history of the Bo-Kaap and allows guests to explore more of this colourful neighbourhood.
Opening times: Monday to Saturday, 10 AM to 4 PM
- Adults: R45.00
- Guided tour for adults: R60.00
- South African learners, ages six to seventeen: R5.00
Opening its doors in April 2018, the Norval Foundation is a new edition to the Mother City’s art scene. Situated in the serene Steenberg vineyards, the modern yet majestic structure offers sweeping views of Table Mountain National Park.
The Norval Foundation museum is home to world-class gallery rooms featuring renowned South African artworks, a sculpture garden, an outdoor amphitheatre, research library, the Skotnes restaurant and bar. The Norval Foundation showcases world-class art and fosters an appreciation for the surrounding natural landscapes.
Opening times: Monday to Sunday, 10 AM to 6 PM closed on Tuesdays
- Adults: R180.00
- Pensioners: R160.00
- Students with valid student card: R100.00
- Under 18’s: Free
South African Jewish Museum
A touching tribute to one of the great Jewish communities, the South African Jewish Museum is one of Cape Town’s thrilling historical museums.
Housing a range of interactive displays, rare artefacts and detailed audio-visual presentations, the museum takes visitors on a journey through South Africa’s Jewish roots. As an added attraction, the museum offers the opportunity to view one of the world’s finest collections of Netsuke (Japanese miniature art) originating from the 1st Century.
Opening times: Monday to Thursday 10 AM to 5 PM, Friday 10 AM to 2 PM (closed Saturdays and Jewish holidays)
- Adults: R75.00
- South African Pensioners: R45.00
- Students over 12 years: R45.00
- Students under 12 years: Free
No visit to Cape Town is complete without taking a visit to one of these fascinating museums. These are just some of the incredible sightseeing locations to visit while you’re in the Cape. Some of our other top suggestions for things to do in Cape Town are:
- Go up Table Mountain
- Hike up Lion’s Head
- See a penguin colony at Boulders Beach
- Explore Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Get in contact with us today to start planning your dream holiday to the Mother City!
Have you visited any of these impressive museums? If you have, share your experience with us in the comments section below.