Cape Town is a great city to have a dog. There are plenty of things to do here that your pup can join you on, from hiking and trail running to cafe-going. As long as you’ve trained your dog well and built up a good bond, you’ll be able to take them out with you often!
We’ve got a collie-mix adopted from TEARS, and she’s packed with energy and loves to be with her people wherever we go. So, we’ve quickly learned where we can take her and what we can do so that she can always be a part of the adventure.
Read on for a few fun ideas on dog-friendly activities in Cape Town – along with some information on doggy daycare and adoption centres!
What to do with your dog in Cape Town
So, let’s get to the most important list for most of us first! What can you do with your dog in the city?
Take a hike
This is a classic Cape Town activity, whether you have a pet or not. We have some beautiful hiking trails all over the city, but of course, Table Mountain is the most central and the most beautiful of these options.
Unfortunately, not all of Table Mountain and its routes are open to dogs. This is a helpful source on which areas you can take them – but the Pipe Track, Kloof Corner, or any of the contour paths are great options that will have you surrounded by nature without putting too much strain on you or your pup. They’ll also meet a good few other dogs and humans on the route! We also enjoy the route up Signal Hill, which ends with a beautiful view of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, and the sprawling city.
Enjoy a meal at an outdoor cafe
Many cafes in Cape Town allow pups to come and sit with you, as long as they’re well-behaved. But your best chance is an outdoor cafe, where there’ll be no risk of peeing or barking indoors.
If your dog is still young like ours, and not a peaceful old dog that doesn’t even need a leash, here’s a good trick to keeping them happy and calm. Bring a bone or a meat stick along for them to chew on while you eat, and be sure to bring along a bowl for water too! We also keep our little Luna on her leash and thread a chair leg through the loop so that she can’t roam beyond our area. She quickly figures out it’s better to lay down and have a gnaw.
Bring them to De Waal Park
De Waal is one of the absolute best places to bring your pup! It’s one of the city’s few closed-in parks. All the doggies can run around freely, meeting humans and dogs and doing lots of sniffing. You’ll have a few new dogs running after every ball you throw, and often see a good few swimming and splashing about in the central fountain.
You can also bring your kids here, and there’s a lovely children’s play park to one side of the park. This makes it a perfect place to get your doggo used to children – or alternatively, to get your kids used to dogs! You might even see some folk slacklining amongst the trees.
De Waal was a five-minute walk away from our Gardens apartment during lockdown, long before we had Luna. We found it a bit of a lifesaver, to have a beautiful park where we could see loads of happy dogs running amok. I’d highly recommend it!
Have a swim at a dog-friendly beach
Many of Cape Town’s beaches are not dog-friendly – particularly in summer. But if you check the ‘No dogs allowed’ sign at your nearest beach, you’ll often see in the fine print that they are allowed before 9 am and after 6 pm in summer, and in winter they’re allowed at any time.
Still, even in summer you’ll find a good few beaches where dogs are allowed off-leash all year and all day! These are beaches where local wildlife and their nesting habits won’t be negatively impacted, and where beachgoers won’t be overly disturbed by an inquisitive and playful pup.
Here’s a quick list of all the free-roaming beaches in Cape Town:
- Clifton 1st
- Danger Beach
- Dolphin Beach
- Fish Hoek Beach
- Glencairn Beach
- Gordon’s Bay Main Beach
- Hout Bay
- Lagoon Beach, Milnerton
- Long Beach, Kommetjie
- Long Beach, Simon’s Town
- Mouille Point Beach
- Sonwabe Beach
- Strandfontein Beach
- Sunrise Beach
- Sunset Beach, Milnerton
- Table View
Socialise and exercise at Green Point Park
Green Point Park is the best and biggest urban park in Cape Town. You can enjoy a picnic under one of the many trees, stroll along the lake and watch the giant catfish swim about, take the kids to the large playpark within it – all with your pup on a leash.
At the Western edge of the park, you’ll find an enclosed dog park where your pup can roam free and socialise with other dogs. People take their dogs here everyday, so you’re sure to meet others here. It’s also a great place to get some good exercise chasing balls and having some fun!
Take a walk along Sea Point Promenade
The long promenade across all of Sea Point’s coastline is a fantastic place to bring your dog. Many people keep their dogs on a leash out of concern that they’ll veer off and run into traffic. If your dog isn’t quick to follow commands, a leash is best!
But much of the promenade has a large field of grass next to it – a lovely place to let your dog off the leash for a run and a bit of socialising with other dogs. It’s also a great place to socialise them with humans, as you’ll always come across a good few people who’d like to stop and give a pup a pet!
Explore Newlands or Tokai Forest
These two beautiful forests are both great places to take your pup. There is so much to sniff, so many sticks to pick up and trot along with. Even water to splash about in! It’s also a lovely place for you to explore along with your dog, with stunning indigenous (and foreign) plantlife and a friendly atmosphere. My particular favourite is exploring Newlands Forest for its fantastic range of trails, but Tokai is also very beautiful.
Have a swim and a hike at Silvermine
Silvermine Nature Reserve is another wonderful place for you and your pup to spend the day in nature. It has some fantastic hiking trails, and a large dam where you can both swim. But be sure to avoid the paths and areas where dogs aren’t allowed – it’s a bit of a maze. Well worth it, though!
Join the hounds and humans strolling along Alphen Trail
Alphen Trail is such a stunning walking route in Constantia! We took Luna there just yesterday and had to update the post to include it. It’s a long loop, flat and green with a little river running through it and bridges crossing at intervals. You can make it a 30-minute stroll and switch back when you’re keen, or cover the whole loop.
The trail is partially shaded and well-frequented, with fields of nasturtiums and a big variety of trees — really, a lovely walk for both you and your dog.
Take your pup camping in the Cederberg
Dogs LOVE camping! At least, adventurous dogs do. There are many campsites close to Cape Town where dogs are allowed. Including De Pakhuys in Rocklands in the Cederberg, which is a world-renowned climbing space! As well as Beaverlac, a lovely campsite with waterfall hiking trails and a really laid-back atmosphere.
If your pup isn’t used to sharing a small space with you, you might be best off booking a cabin or glamping tent. But if you think they can handle the tent, then just be sure to get your doggo used to it before sleep time. Our Luna slept in the tent with us, and after a little bit of nervousness, she quickly settled onto the blow-up mattress, and slept as well as ever.
Where to adopt a dog
Cape Town has an overpopulation of dogs and cats, and there’s a lot of concern around animal welfare within the city. That’s why it’s always best to adopt a dog! You can adopt a puppy or an adult, and give one wonderful pooch a happy home for the rest of its life.
These adoption centres rescue, rehabilitate and rehome cats and dogs. They also offer veterinary and mobile clinic services, and are incredibly helpful in providing for our animal population!
The four main animal rescue centres are:
Animal Anti-Cruelty League (AACL)
Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG)
Best doggy daycare centres
Now, while there’s lots you can do with your pup, unfortunately if you want to go for a Waterfront cruise or a wine tasting trip, you’ll have to leave them behind. Many who live in Cape Town even bring their pups to doggy daycare every day while they head to work!
It’s great for your dog to be able to spend an hour or two on their own without destroying the lounge. However, most of us in the city live in apartments where a pup can’t take themselves out to pee, and most fun activities take longer than you’d like to leave a dog alone.
Fortunately, there are a number of lovely doggy daycare centres in Cape Town, where you can leave your pup for a few hours, the whole day, or even for an overnight stay. They’ll make sure your dog is well-exercised and well-socialised so that they’re out having fun while you are! These centres even offer dog training and grooming packages, so any needs are fully covered.
Do keep in mind, though, that before you can take your pup to one of these doggy centres, they need to be fully vaccinated, with a vet book to prove it. If you adopt from one of the rescue centres above, they should either be fully vaxxed or have most of them (if still a young puppy).
These are the best dog daycares in Cape Town:
Dog-friendly Cape Town
There you have it, all the best activities to do with your pup, along with where to adopt and where to take them when you want to strike out on your own! Owning a dog is a lot of work, and so much more joy – if you’re like us, having your dog along only makes a trip better. So, I hope these quick tips help you both to have a fantastic time in Cape Town.
Let me know if you know of any more dog-friendly activities and places in Cape Town – I’d love to discover them and add them to the list!