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Due to coronavirus (COVID-19) travel advisories, some destinations may be unavailable for certain dates. Find out more.
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Robben Island

Visit the cell where Nelson Mandela spent most of his sentence and explore the Table Bay island that has also served as a leper colony and a military base.

For 18 of his 27 years of incarceration for opposing apartheid, former South African President Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island. See the prison cell where he was kept and learn about the history of this former island-prison. It was also used at various times to house convicts, the mentally ill and lepers.

Visits to the island are by guided tours only. Tours start with a 5.5-mile (9-kilometer) ferry ride from Cape Town across Table Bay to the island. While you are waiting for your boat to leave the Nelson Mandela Gateway, go to the exhibition space. It hosts an ever-changing roster of temporary exhibitions featuring the island’s history.

Once on the island, you will be taken on a guided bus tour of key sites. Some of the guides are former political prisoners who share stories of their time in jail.

See Bluestone Quarry where many political prisoners endured hard labor. Visit the leprosarium graveyard, the final resting place of patients with leprosy who died while on Robben. Look at the Kramat, a Muslim shrine in honor of Sheikh Madura, who died here in 1754. During the bus tour, you will mostly remain on the bus, with occasional stops at important sites.

The highlight of the tour is a walk inside the maximum-security prison. Stop by the small cell where Nelson Mandela was confined for many years. While you are on the island, you will also see army and navy bunkers and the 19th-century Church of the Good Shepherd, which was built by the island’s lepers.

Tours of Robben Island depart several times daily from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. Tours last for approximately 4 hours, including the round trip on the ferry, a visit to the maximum-security prison and the guided bus tour. Reductions on the ticket price are available for children under 18 years. Children under the age of 4 visit for free. Tickets for the tours sell out fast so book a few weeks prior to the day of your intended trip and be sure to arrive at the ferry at least half an hour before departure.

Traveling isn't just about marking off places on a map. It's about the friends we encounter and the experiences we have on the way!

Kick off your trip to Robben Island by trying out one or two of these activities:

If you want to check out a complete list of activities, go to our Robben Island things to do page.


Guide to Exploring around Robben Island


Best Lodging Options Near Robben Island

See all 3,227 Properties near Robben Island
Pinard On Sea ¥13,328
Pinard On Sea

Pinard On Sea

47 Stadler Road, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
     
    3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

    Situated near the beach, this apartment building is within 1 mi (2 km) of Big Bay Beach and Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall and Dolphin Beach are also within 3 mi (5 km).

    Blouberg Manor ¥6,744
    Blouberg Manor

    Blouberg Manor

    6 Verkouteren Street, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
       
      3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Cape Town, this beach guesthouse is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Big Bay Beach and 1.4 mi (2.2 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.5 mi (2.4 km) away.

      BB Beach Club 37
      BB Beach Club 37

      BB Beach Club 37

      Otto Du Plessis Drive, Big bay, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
         
        4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Situated near the beach, this apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.2 km) from Big Bay Beach and 2.2 mi (3.5 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.8 mi (2.9 km) away.

        Bradclin Blouberg
        Bradclin Blouberg

        Bradclin Blouberg

        Unit 31 Dolphin Ridge, 1006 Otto du, Plessis Dr, Big Bay, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
           
          3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated in Cape Town, this beach apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Big Bay Beach and 2 mi (3.3 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.7 mi (2.7 km) away.

          Big Bay Beach Club 91
          Big Bay Beach Club 91

          Big Bay Beach Club 91

          Otto Du Plessis Drive, Big Bay, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
             
            3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated near the beach, this apartment building is 0.3 mi (0.4 km) from Big Bay Beach and 2.3 mi (3.7 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.9 mi (3.1 km) away.

            Water's Edge 24
            Water's Edge 24

            Water's Edge 24

            Water's Edge Estate, Cormorant Avenue, Cape Town, Western Cape
               
              0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated near the beach, this apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.2 km) from Big Bay Beach and 1.8 mi (2.8 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.5 mi (2.4 km) away.

              Eden on the Bay 114
              Eden on the Bay 114

              Eden on the Bay 114

              Eden on the Bay, Otto du Plessis Dr, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
                 
                4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Cape Town, this beach apartment building is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) from Big Bay Beach and 1.7 mi (2.7 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.4 mi (2.3 km) away.

                Grazia Dal Cielo ¥6,930
                Grazia Dal Cielo

                Grazia Dal Cielo

                La Paloma, 14 Santa Fe Crs, Cape Town, Western Cape
                   
                  2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Situated in Cape Town, this golf guesthouse is 0.2 mi (0.3 km) from Big Bay Beach and 2.5 mi (4 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 2.1 mi (3.4 km) away.