• Robben Island Cape Town


Robben Island

See where the most famous political figure was incarcerated

As the place where Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of imprisonment, a visit to Robben Island promises to be a poignant experience and is one of Cape Town's most humbling tours.

The prison was still fully functioning until 1996 and the site now has UNESCO World Heritage status and is preserved as a sobering memorial to those political prisoners, including Mandela, who served time here. Robben Island has become a symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice”, and with its 500 year history, is annually visited by thousands of people who want to understand important aspects of South Africa’s history.

Take a short boat ride from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront to visit the prison and then explore the rest of the island by bus, including the limestone quarry where Mandela and his fellow inmates spent their days working. A visit to Cape Town isn't complete without paying a visit to Robben Island and remembering those who resided here all those years ago during times of racial inequality.


Essential Information

  • Open:  Daily
  • Ages:  All ages
  • Useful Information:  Currently the ferries operate at 9.00am, 11.00am and 1.00pm. A 3.00pm ferry sometimes runs in peak season. Passengers should arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time of departure, boarding gates close 10 minutes before departure time.

Top Tips from our Experts


Destination Specialist

"I recommend a visit to this thought-provoking island (it's best to get the first boat departure of the day).Regardless of your political stance, this is a haunting reminder of South Africa's past but also a celebration of how far the country has come in such a short period of time."