- Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Tours Type
- 2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
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Sitting several miles off the coast of Cape Town's V&A Waterfront, Robben Island stands as a reminder of South Africa's troubled history. Since the city was founded back in the 17th century, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has acted as a military base, a home for a leper colony, a mental institution, and, most famously, a prison. It was on this fairly desolate land mass that Nelson Mandela, militant anti-apartheid activist and former president of South Africa, was held captive. Today, Robben Island houses a fascinating museum detailing the history of the island and offering tours led by former inmates of the former prison, including Mandela's cell. The guides convey first-hand accounts of what the island used to be like.
Some visitors describe a trip to Robben Island as a sobering experience and praise the museum for its efforts to transform the site from a place of banishment to a symbol of the triumph over apartheid. Others, however, say that the site could use some work. According to one TripAdvisor user, "Buses were crowded and the guide difficult to […] understand. The walk through the prison was hurried and unless you kept pace alongside the guide you could not hear."
To get to Robben Island, you will have to take a ferry from the Nelson Mandela Gateway, located at the V&A Waterfront. The price of the ferry ride is included in the overall admission cost, which also incorporates the guided tour of the island. Admission is 230 ZAR (just under $30 USD) for adults and 120 ZAR (around $15 USD) for children. Tours to Robben Island depart every day at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., and 3 p.m. and last approximately 3.5 hours. To learn more, visit the Robben Island website.