Health + Fitness

Run, Hike or Bike? Where to Cross the Finish Line in Cape Town

Cape Town’s abundance of natural beauty makes it an ideal destination for athletes, health nuts and those of us who simply enjoy keeping fit when we travel. Every year, the city hosts a number of iconic sporting events, from the 68-mile Cape Town Cycle Tour to the Two Oceans Marathon (which, by the way, is the only opportunity in the world to race alongside the Indian and Atlantic oceans).

Whether you’re preparing for your next Ironman Triathlon, or you want to experience scenic outdoor training with the locals, Cape Town won’t disappoint. Join the inside track with these inspiring workout options.

Hike Lion’s Head

Watch the sun rise over central Cape Town from the top of Lion’s Head Mountain, along with the nature-loving locals who kick-start every week with a dose of endorphin-spiked splendor. The 1.5-hour ascent is moderately difficult, but you can cut out all the scrambling if you follow one of the longer paths that spirals up the mountain.

The mountain tends to be busier in the warmer summer months, but hiking up in winter allows you the luxury of sleeping in a bit longer. From May to July, a 6:30 a.m. start will get you to the summit just as the sky becomes washed in subtle peaches and pinks.

Crack of dawn too early? Night owls can save the trip for sunset. Just be sure to bring a headlamp for the hike down.

Soak up Sea Point Promenade

Join the locals for a walk or jog along Sea Point Promenade, arguably Cape Town’s best sunset spot. Capetonians from all over the city come here to unwind, so it doubles as a fantastic hangout for people-watching. If you want to feel the wind in your hair, hire a bicycle from Up Cycles‘ V&A Waterfront hub and follow a three-mile coastal cycle path that joins up with the promenade.

You can drop the bike off at Up Cycles’ Sea Point hub before enjoying a sundowner at La Perla, a timeless cocktail bar with a view, or trendy Mojo Market, just a stone’s throw away.

fitness cape town
Find your sanctuary near the water. (Photo: Getty Images)

If your muscles want more, book a stay at the nearby Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Sea Point and pop into the hotel’s fitness center. Its selection of free weights and cardio equipment will do the trick — and if you opt for a headphones-free workout, you’ll hear the occasional crash of a wave.

If it’s a fully equipped health club that you’re after, get yourself a guest pass at Virgin Active Point (just a 1.5-mile jog away) where you can even enjoy a game of tennis.

Nowhere beats Sea Point Pavilion Pool for cooling off after a workout. Head back to the promenade and experience a dip in an outdoor swimming pool filled with filtered sea water. Oh, and did we mention the incredible Atlantic Ocean panorama?

Cycle Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman’s Peak Drive is the jaw-dropping mountain pass that has inspired many a cyclist to attempt the annual 68-mile Cape Town Cycle Tour. Every weekend, the toll road is packed with cyclists who live to feel the burn on this challenging, hilly cycling route.

fitness cape town
Chapman’s Peak Drive makes for a picturesque ride. (Photo: Getty Images)

Thankfully, Chappies (as it is fondly known) has no shortage of majestic scenery to take your mind off your legs. Every twist and turn of this rocky coastline reveals breathtaking vistas with sandy beaches and azure water sprawling below.

Trail Run on Table Mountain

Get up close and personal with Table Mountain on a trail run along rugged paths bursting with fynbos and other indigenous flora. The Pipe Track is a favorite among locals for a relatively easy trail run after work because of its proximity to the city center.

fitness cape town
Hit the Table Mountain trails. (Photo: Getty Images)

Make your way to the starting point at the intersection of Tafelberg and Kloof Nek Road, or tap into a network of local knowledge via one of many social fitness apps like MapMyRun or Strava, where people map and share their running, cycling and hiking routes.