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“Practical Advice.”

Robben Island Museum
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Half-Day Robben Island Tour from Cape Town
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: During the apartheid years Robben Island served as a prison for political activists.
Reviewed January 14, 2018

If you're visiting by boat sit on the upper deck on the port side on the way out. If you can't manage that (because space is limited) use the middle deck. That allows you access to the outside. Avoid the enclosed lower deck if you can.

When you reach the tourist buses on Robben Island try to get seats on the right. All the best photo opportunities lie to your right (though you will be taking them through an open window so luck is involved).

It's an oddly attractive place given its ugly history and well worth the effort involved in getting there.

Book over the Internet if possible and before you commit, check the weather forecast. This part of South Africa can lay claim to be breezy, much like certain Scottish islands made famous by the pithy remarks of Sir Billy Connolly.

Parting thought: don't take guns, knives or wine. You go through airport-style security and they frown on such things.

Date of experience: January 2018
1  Thank 806andrewm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 14, 2018

This is an outstanding tour. Most of it is spent on a bus driving through the area. It used to be a leper colony as well as the prison where Nelson Mandela was kept. However the best part was at the end where you see his cell. The guide is someone who was an actual prisoner during the Apartheid days. You could ask him anything. Very insightful

Date of experience: January 2018
Thank retired43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 14, 2018

Make sure to book in advance - it fills up

Make sure to check weather before leaving and have your sea legs ready if windy - our outward crossing was particularly rocky and a few casualties to sea sickness on route. Much calmer on the way back.

Tour is split into two parts

1 - Tour of Prison with former inmate.

This is a really sobering part of the tour and a unique opportunity to hear first hand of what is was like to be in prison on Robben Island during Apartheid. This is still in living memory and very thought provoking. Only criticism is that groups are large and you're given very little time to take it all in. Many of the rooms/sites have museum style descriptions on the walls with tales from inmates etc but we given 2 minutes (our guide counted us down) to read this so I only saw one room which was a shame.

2. Bus tour of the islands history
This is a great overview of the island and our tour guide (not an inmate) was great. You're given one stop off photo break. Unfortunately this is not at a particularly interesting part of the tour.

Overall a must to do if visiting Cape Town but does feel a bit rushed while you're on the island.

Date of experience: January 2018
Thank Adam N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 14, 2018

This was a great experience. For people expecting a traditional museum experience, this is not for you. For those who are open to a unique way to learn about history, I cannot recommend this enough.

I would recommend purchasing tickets on line. I read horror stories of people waiting in long queues to be disappointed. I experienced none of that because I purchased tickets a week in advance on line.

Everything was organized. The ship ride to the island is about 20-30 minutes. Upon your arrival you are on a bus with a guide explaining so many valuable details about the island and the people who had been there.

The bus then drops you off at the prison where you are guided by a former political prisoner. This is not entertainment, it's educational. It is a humbling experience if you respect it for what it is.

An unexpected highlight was on the boat ride back to Cape Town when we saw whale. It was an awesome end to a great tour!

Date of experience: January 2018
Thank Beautiworld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 13, 2018 via mobile

Attention, book 3 days before to be sure to get a ticket. Go on the spot around 3 PM, there are less people in the queue to buy ticket. Or go on the Internet.

Attention, prévoyez d’acheter les tickets 2-3 jours avant. Conseil : aller sur place vers 15h, il y a moins de monde ! Ou alors achetez sur internet

Date of experience: January 2018
Thank fabienlaf
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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