COVID-19 alert: Travel requirements are changing rapidly, including need for pre-travel COVID-19 testing and quarantine on arrival.

Robben Island
Vacation Travel Guide

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.

Top things to do in Robben Island

Top Hotels Close to Robben Island

Pinard On Sea
Pinard On Sea
3 out of 5
47 Stadler Road, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
The price is ¥16,794 per night from May 13 to May 13
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 ...
4.8/5Exceptional! (4 reviews)
Feel conned
"We were very disappointed to have to hear that your website is no longer authorised to take bookings for this establishment and that you were supposed to have removed them from your website since you take their bookings and accept payment and never pay the money over to this establishment. We had ..."

Reviewed on Apr 26, 2021

Pinard On Sea
Eden On The Bay Apartment Beachfront Netflix
Eden On The Bay Apartment Beachfront Netflix
Cape Town, Western Cape (province)
Get Rates
Situated in Cape Town, this apartment building is 0.1 mi (0.1 km) from Big Bay Beach and 1.4 mi (2.3 km) from Bloubergstrand Beach. Table Bay Mall is 1.5 mi ...
Eden On The Bay Apartment Beachfront Netflix
BB Beach Club 37
BB Beach Club 37
4 out of 5
Otto Du Plessis Drive, Big bay, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
Get Rates
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 ...
BB Beach Club 37
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.

Reviews of Robben Island

4.4

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
84
5 - Excellent 55.629139072847686%
4 - Good
44
4 - Good 29.13907284768212%
3 - Okay
18
3 - Okay 11.920529801324504%
2 - Disappointing
2
2 - Disappointing 1.3245033112582782%
1 - Terrible
3
1 - Terrible 1.9867549668874172%

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Dec 15, 2019

The best activity for learning about South Africa.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Jan 13, 2019

Absolutely surreal! It is must see. Especially for the historical events of Robben Island.

4/5 - Good

Verified traveler

Jan 2, 2019

Book ahead!

4/5 - Good

JESSICA

Dec 30, 2018

Make sure you buy your tickets in advance. The lines can be long.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveler

Sep 25, 2018

Book ahead and be flexible since the trip can be cancelled for =weather - plan to do it early in your stay just in case.

2/5 - Disappointing

Mario

Aug 26, 2018

One month waiting time ????

Popular places to visit in Robben Island

Robben Island

Best Lodging Options Near Robben Island

Pinard On Sea
Pinard On Sea
3 out of 5
47 Stadler Road, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
The price is ¥16,794 per night from May 13 to May 13
Pinard On Sea
Eden On The Bay Apartment Beachfront Netflix
Eden On The Bay Apartment Beachfront Netflix
Cape Town, Western Cape (province)
Eden On The Bay Apartment Beachfront Netflix
BB Beach Club 37
BB Beach Club 37
4 out of 5
Otto Du Plessis Drive, Big bay, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
BB Beach Club 37
Bradclin Blouberg
Bradclin Blouberg
3 out of 5
Unit 31 Dolphin Ridge, 1006 Otto du, Plessis Dr, Big Bay, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
Bradclin Blouberg
White Waves Beach House
White Waves Beach House
4 out of 5
4 Batavia Road, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
The price is ¥7,339 per night from May 22 to May 22
White Waves Beach House
An Extraordinary Beach House With one of the Best Views in the World
An Extraordinary Beach House With one of the Best Views in the World
Cape Town, Western Cape (province)
An Extraordinary Beach House With one of the Best Views in the World
Water's Edge 24
Water's Edge 24
Water's Edge Estate, Cormorant Avenue, Cape Town, Western Cape
Water's Edge 24
Blouberg Manor
Blouberg Manor
3 out of 5
6 Verkouteren Street, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
The price is ¥11,588 per night from Jun 1 to Jun 1
Blouberg Manor
Eden on the Bay 114
Eden on the Bay 114
4 out of 5
Eden on the Bay, Otto du Plessis Dr, Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, Western Cape
Eden on the Bay 114
Lowest nightly price found within the past 24 hours based on a 1 night stay for 2 adults. Prices and availability subject to change. Additional terms may apply.