Putting together an epic Cape Town itinerary is EASY!! Because there is so much to see and do, and Cape Town is so damn cool! For years friends have been saying… go there you’ll love it. And it didn’t take me long to realise they were not wrong.
This little itinerary is going to share some of our favourite must see places. Depending on the time of year that you decide to go, will depend greatly on what you ultimately decide to see and do. But at the end of this post you’ll find our suggested itinerary to help you plan your Cape Town vacay.
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Where to Stay in Cape Town
Let’s start with where to stay. We recommend that you look at Green Point or Sea Point. The location is very central and if you are staying up in the Signal Hill district the views are incredible. There are some great Airbnb’s in this area… click here if you’d like to see where we stayed. Or check the map below for some other options.
We recommend that you rent a car. Driving in Cape Town and further beyond is very easy. There is just so much to see, and having a car gives you the independence to see it at your own pace.
We found that people would offer to look after the car for us while we parked in certain districts. We were advised that there is no obligation, or even need, to accept such offers. However for a few South African Rand we often did.
What to Do in Cape Town
I’m sure you will have heard of this mountain before now… maybe seen a picture or two. Well you can’t miss it, this incredible table shaped formation is the backdrop to this funky city.
But, it’s important to note that Table Mountain cable car does not run all year round! No my friend, it certainly does not. Surprised? We were!
During the winter months, scheduled over a few weeks, the cable car is closed for maintenance. So if you happen to visit during this time, you have two options. The first, walk the track up to Table Mountain. Or the second is to take a helicopter flight around Table Mountain. We took the second option! And boy were we glad we did… the view was STUNNING!
The flight departed from the V&A Waterfront. Parking was convenient within the shopping centre. Then it was an easy walk to the booking area and a buggy ride to the helipad.
Definitely try to take a flight later in the day or early in the morning so that you’ll get some picturesque photos. The orange setting sun in the evening makes Table Mountain POP! Also if you happen to enquire at the end of the day and there are no further bookings, you might find there is a little wiggle room on the price if you ask.
Helicopters don’t land on Table Mountain but a flight around the mountain and along the coast provide an exceptional experience.
Now hiking is not for the faint of heart. There are some fairly steep inclines to navigate from what we read beforehand. This is a great post by Deviating the Norm that you should definitely read, if you intend on making the hike.
To get to the top it is going to take approximately 2 1/2 hours via the Platteklip Trail. When you are up there you have the option to walk back down, or take the Cable Car (if its running.)
If you prefer to take the guided tour through Platteklip Gorge then you can book a well recommended guide right here.
The best advice here is go when the weather is good! If you arrive in Cape Town on day one, and you wake up to a perfect morning on day two… then go! The mountain can be covered in cloud, so when it isn’t, then waste no time and get yourself up there.
The cablecars are revolving and the views on the way up are fantastic. It’s a must do for sure if you get the chance.
OZCF Market Day
We thoroughly recommend a Saturday morning visit to the Oranjezicht City Farm Market on Granger Bay Road. Wander through tented stalls filled with homemade goodies, both food and crafts, to tempt every type of visitor. The atmosphere is super lively and popular among the locals of Cape Town.
When you’ve wandered enough, then grab a bite to eat… or like us you might grab several bites to eat. The variety available is impressive and the tastes are GOOOOD!!
Just a little further south in Green Point is the Mojo Market. We didn’t get here, but if we’d had more time we certainly would have. The Mojo Market boasts live music and a hip atmosphere in an urban style setting. Open seven days a week, this is the perfect spot to grab a beer and eat some South African grub!
Bay Harbour Market
Situated in Hout Bay is the Bay Harbour Market, a third market to visit should you love the market side of life. Set within a small fishing bay, this market which opens later in the day is worth a visit. Once again, the music is live and the atmosphere is VIBRANT!
One very colourful district of Cape Town is Bo-Kaap. Houses painted in all colours of the rainbow line the streets of this predominantly muslim inhabited community.
There are a few shops and a museum to visit if you’d like to get a better idea of the history of this place. But there is certainly no need for a guided tour, you can walk around the neighbourhood and admire the culture and vibrancy yourself.
While visiting this area you may want to take a drive up to Signal Hall for a lookout over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a quick drive from Bo-Kaap and easy to navigate… just keep heading up!
This is essentially a large mall and possibly not the kind of place you imagine spending a day on holiday (or maybe it is). Beyond the mall walls, you’ll discover a busy wharf and port hub. This is where you’ll find the helicopter tour operators waiting to sell you a flight.
A stroll through this area in the late afternoon is definitely worth a visit. There will likely by some live African music in the Amphitheatre playing to get your feet and hips moving.
If you are keen for 15 minutes of chill time, then take the Cape Wheel for a spin. And keep in mind, this is also a good place to find yourself some fresh seafood for dinner in one of the many restaurants! Yum, yum!
Beaches and Seaside
Sea Point Promenade
A walk along the waterfront at the Sea Point Promenade gives a great perspective of the surf. The promenade which runs along the ocean front and above the rocks provides an easy morning or afternoon stroll. And the giant waves that come pounding into the bay, when the wind is right, will leave you wet with sea spray. There is also a great park here for the kids to spend an hour or so.
Clifton Beaches & Camps Bay
For some white sandy beaches then check out any of these beaches around the corner from Bantry Bay and Sea Point. We loved Clifton Beach 3, which we kind of stumbled upon. And even though it was winter, it didn’t stop our kids from dipping their toes!
You can park at the designated parking zones off the main road, and then there is a short walk to the beach below. Catch it on a clear day and this bay is just beautiful.
Camps Bay is a bigger stretch of beach a little further around than Clifton Beach. Ultimately, the sand is white, the swimming is perfect, and so these pretty little spots get a 10 out of 10 from me.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The National Botanical Gardens, spread over 52,000 square kilometres, are a highlight on any Cape Town itinerary. They also often host concerts and music events, which make them well worth a visit. Check out their Facebook page here to get a better idea of what they offer during your stay. Sadly we didn’t get to visit during our visit, but when I return they will definitely be at the top of my list.
A Robben Island trip was very high on our must see list for Cape Town. A couple of days before our visit, I went online to book tickets. But alas, to no avail… half day tours had booked up well in advance. So I will stress that you must book this in advance to avoid dissapointment.
This prison island, if you are unfamiliar with it’s name, was where Nelson Mandela was detained for 18 years. A ferry ride and visit out to this island and World Heritage Site, is sure to provide an insight into the political and historical nature of South African past.
And if you really want a unique experience in South Africa then you are going to want to try this! Sounds like fun doesn’t it. Climbing into a cage, lowering into shark infested waters, and coming face to face with the pearly whites of a great white. Not for me! But hey whatever floats your boat.
We know a few groups of friends who have taken these tours, and they have truly raved about them. So if it sounds like you, then check these few tours below.
Going Beyond Cape Town
Cape Town is absolutely beautiful, and you could easily spend a full week or more there if you have the time, discovering all there is to do. But we wanted to go a bit further beyond the city to see the wine country and other areas highly recommended by our South African friends.
A Day Trip to Cape Point
If you have a rental car then it’s a great idea to take a full day drive down to Cape Point and back. Take in the extraordinary coastline, watch surfers catch a wave, visit penguins, swim in little bays, take a funicular, watch seals feed while you eat fish and chips. This day trip has a little bit of something for everyone.
Start by heading south out of Cape Town towards the west coast of the peninsula along the M6. The cliffs are breathtaking and the photo opportunities are endless. Continue along the M6 until you reach the east side of the cape turning right onto the M4, just above Simon’s Town.
Boulders Penguin Colony and Beach
A little beyond Simon’s Town, you will see Boulders Visitor Centre. Park here, collect your tickets and the superintendents will tell you where the penguins are hanging out for the day. Make your way along the boardwalk which will bring you to the viewing platform. The penguins will be busy waddling in and out of the ocean, going about their day.
There is a seperate fee if you’d like to gain access to the beach a little further along, where supposedly the penguins occasionally come in to nest. We decided not to take this option, and instead drove a little further up the road to park at the Boulder Beach Lodge and Restaurant. From here, we took a short walk to Windmill Beach. This little bay is perfect for a refreshing midday swim.
Cape of Good Hope & Cape Point
Back on the road, continue south on the M4 towards the cape point. When this coastal road begins to turn inland, keep a look out for the National Park entrance on your left. Here you will pay the park entrance fee and continue the road south.
As you follow your nose south, look out for signs towards the Cape of Good Hope. All the while, there is a great deal of wildlife to look out for, ostriches, baboons, eland or zebra to name just a few. And when you reach the sign, you know you’re at the right place. There is a small walk and lookout point if you’re up to it. Otherwise jump back in the car and take the drive on to Cape Point and lighthouse.
You’ll know by all the tour buses that you are in the right car park for the Cape Point. This is a good spot for a coffee or toilet stop if you need it. Then grab yourself a ticket for the Flying Dutchman Funicular and head up to the lighthouse and spectacular viewpoint out to sea.
There are hikes and accomodation options if you want to make another day of it within the National Park. Check their website here for more.
Kalk Bay & Muizenberg
After a long day in the car and touring around you’ll be ready for some fish and chips no doubt! Then head to Kalk Bay to Kalky’s or Lucky Fish & Chips. This small fishing port is a great place to spot cheeky seals who laze about on the wharf waiting for fish scraps. Arrive at the start or end of the day and you might be lucky enough to see them being feed the scraps from the local fishermen.
Head on further up the coast to Muizenberg to watch the surfers head out for a wave. And across the road from the beach you’ll find a couple of places to chill for dinner. There are also a couple of surf shops that might be worth a look around before you make your way back to Cape Town for the night.
Stellenbosch & Franschhoek
If you are a wine lover, then you absolutely HAVE to visit the South African wine region. Including Stellenbosch on your Cape Town itinerary is highly recommended. Frankly I don’t think a day trip is enough, do it in a day and you run the risk of missing the magic. If you can plan to stay a couple of nights and I’m sure you won’t regret it.
There are several routes to Stellenbosch, so we’ll let you choose which suites you best. They are all much the same, about 45mins to an hour drive from Cape Town.
If you are looking for a central place to stay in Stellenbosch, then look no further than this Airbnb. This small apartment has a cute balcony that opens up over the main street. Setting up here for a couple of nights is the perfect base for getting out to see local wine estates.
When getting around you’ll want to take Ubers between the wineries so that you can wine taste till your heart’s content.
A little further out, about 40 minutes beyond Stellenbosch is Franschhoek. This quaint little village is also a lovely place to stay and base yourself. If you happen to be there for the weekend of Bastille Festival in July, then go check it out. It’s a good laugh and a great opportunity to get your hands on wines from many of the local estates, all under one roof.
Wine Estates to Visit
Before I begin with a list of the best wineries to visit, you should know that these below were shared with me by a South African friend. Therefore they are the best of the best from a local’s perspective, so you know you can’t go wrong right!
Backsberg – On Sunday they do a lamb on the spit accompanied by live music – you’ll need to book in advance. We loved the wine and chocolate pairing. They also had a cute little play area outside for the kids.
Babylonstoren – Very close to Backsberg, this is a great place for lunch in a restored Estate. We loved the food, the deli section and the ethos behind Babylonstoren, as all the workers own a share and participate in the running of the estate. The grounds are lovely for a walk and there are animals about to admire and feed.
Muratie – This winery is an exceptional experience, unpretentious and unique. The cobwebs have not been cleared away since the 1600’s… and that is no joke! We loved the port, in fact we loved it so much that we even took a couple of bottles for the road.
Tokara – To finish the day this winery does an amazing dinner with some unique dishes to tempt. We loved the menu and the way in which the wines were carefully paired to each dish.
You might also like to try –
- Delaire Graf Estate for the sculptures and the gardens
- Morgenhof Wine Estate for picnics under the vines
- Simonsig Wines for a winery that emphasises on family and history
- Boschendal for the picnics in the garden
- Clos Malverne Wine Estate for the tasting menu
- Overture for great food and the spectacular views
- Rust en Vrede Wine Estate for the dinner (but book in advance)
- Ernie Els for lunch platters and unbelievable views
Our Recommendations for a Cape Town Itinerary
Now that you have an idea of some of our favourite places to visit in Cape Town and beyond, you’ll want to put together an itinerary that blends together some, or all of these highlights. This is how we recommend you do it if you were planning on staying for seven days –
|4 nights in Cape Town –|
|Check out some of the local markets, get acquainted with the city.|
|Take the cable car up Table Mountain, take a walk around V&A Waterfront.|
|Day trip to Cape Point & Boulder penguin colony.|
|Visit to Robben Island or go shark diving.|
|Stop into Bo-Kaap and signal hill, drive to Stellenbosch.|
|2 nights Stellenbosch or Franschhoek –|
|Uber around Wine Estates in Stellenbosch &/or Franschhoek|
|Sleep in a little, recover from the previous day of drinking then make your way back to Cape Town.|
Obviously, there are many different ways to plan your Cape Town itinerary. It largely depends on how many days you plan to stay. This hopefully gets you started!
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And if you are looking for other great African destinations to visit, then be sure to click here for more!