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Lion's Head, Cape Town

Making it to the top of Table Mountain tends to rank quite highly on most travellers’ sightseeing checklists. The trouble is, that up there stood upon its iconic flat peak, one thing is definitely missing from your panorama of the city – the landmark itself of course. The answer? Climb up nearby Lion’s Head. Now, this is a 360 view of Cape Town

Protected by Table Mountain National Park, Lion’s Head is the hottest spot in town when it comes to catching that soft light of the rising sun. Stifling yawns, make the 669 m climb at dawn for the most rewarding views – ask any travel blogger and they’ll talk for hours about the magic of witnessing “golden hour”. All the pain of the early morning hike will be forgotten once you make it to the top, that’s a promise. The best bit? Your exercise will be done for the day before the rest of the city has even had a chance to wake up. 

Generally speaking, it takes about an hour to reach the very tip of the lion’s head – and that’s allowing for pauses along the way to soak in the sweeping vistas. With multiple routes to choose from, this is a hike suitable for most ages and you don’t have to be a trained athlete to take it on either. If you do opt for the more adventurous routes, chains and ladders have been fitted along the way to help make the scramble to the top that little bit easier. 

Why you should add Lion's Head to your itinerary

Lion’s Head is one of those attractions that encapsulates South Africa’s adventurous spirit. Don’t fancy going up it? Just go round it by following the Lion’s Head loop. Here, it’s all about embracing the city’s natural beauty. As you ascend, watch paragliders throw themselves into the city’s bowl from a craggy launch point, or – if you’re feeling extra brave – why not join them? It would definitely be a story to tell. 

From Wally’s to Watchman’s, the mountain’s natural cave formations make for quite the picture-perfect sites. Look up #wallyscave and take heed, this scene just calls out for one of those “candid” (but really oh-so-posed) Instagram shots. You’ll have to try your hand at off-roading to find them though, as neither are located on the hiking trails.

If your timing’s right, Cape Town’s answer to Ko Pha-ngan’s Full Moon Party is a must. Unlike in Thailand, the status of the moon in South Africa isn’t an excuse for neon-clad tourists to swarm the beaches on mass, but it does have a definite festival feel to it. Here, locals and travellers alike swap out the usual sun-worshipping for a bit of lunar-loving with a monthly pilgrimage to Lion’s Head. Get to the summit early to claim a good perch – so that you can lay out your picnic of course – and watch as the glowing orb rises above the city’s twinkling lights, into the inky sky. And don’t forget to bring a headlamp, because making the descent in the darkness can be tricky.

Lion’s Head provides views of Cape Town like no other, so when you’re in the city make sure to put it on your to-do list and dedicate a sunrise or sunset to this rewarding hike.

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Lion's Head essential information


Nestled between Table Mountain and the body to it’s Sphinx-like-head, Signal Hill.  

Opening times

We’ve said it before, but we’ll say it again: the early bird catches the worm for this one – unless you’re setting out on a full moon walk of course.

Dress code

Appropriate hiking gear, which means shoes made for walking – flip flops just aren’t going to cut it. And if you’re planning on making it up there for sunset, you’ll need a torch and some extra layers handy for the trip down.

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