Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the entire world! It’s surrounded on either side by the ocean and the mountains. Table Mountain looms above the city, watching over the daily lives of the people. On a cloudy day, the top of the mountain will dissapear, creating a mysterious vibe. This city has great weather, plentiful outdoor activities, a great food scene, and a hip culture. Read below to find out how to have the perfect Cape Town itinerary.
While Cape Town has so much beauty, one cannot escape the dark historical past and current political failings. Apartheid, or institutionalized racist rules, ruled the country of South Africa for many years. As you explore the town, you can still see the longing effects of the system and you can’t escape the poverty that still abounds. Shanty towns sit on the outskirts of town and sprawl for miles. You can’t visit without learning about the systems in place and learning how to help.
I have been to more than 45 countries and countless cities, Cape Town is one of the few that I could see myself living in. You could spend months exploring all of the different areas in this city, but if you only have a short time then you can still take in the highlights. Here you will find my suggested three days in Cape Town itinerary!
Table of Contents
Three Days in Cape Town
Day 1: Cape Town
Ride the Cable Car up Table Mountain
A trip to Cape Town is not complete without a visit up to this austere mountain. It recently was named one of the new 7 Natural Wonders of the World and it’s one of the most accessible wonders. You can take the cable car up to the top or walk up to the top for more of a challenge. The ride to the top costs $12 one way or $22.50 round trip!
You will want to make sure that you visit on a clear day so that you can get the full impact. From the mountain you can see the sprawling city, the roaring ocean, and the famous Cape of Good Hope. We actually tried to go to Table Mountain a few different days, but were only able to go on our last day when the weather finally cleared up.
Admire the Homes in Bo-Kaap Quarter
Once you’ve gotten the view from above the city, drive 7 minutes into town to learn more about its history. The Bo-Kaap Quarter will delight your eyes with the brightly colored houses that line the streets. This is one of the most photographed areas of the city and at any given moment, you’ll see tourists posing for pictures in front of the colorful homes.
Bo-kaap is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Cape Town and has deep roots. Slaves were brought over and given these houses where they were forced to keep them white. When the slaves were finally emancipated, they painted the homes to express their freedom. You can learn more about the history at the Bo-Kaap Museum and visit the country’s oldest Mosque that sits in the neighborhood. We really enjoyed visiting on a cloudy day, because the bright houses contrasted the sky above.
Enjoy the Woodstock Saturday Market
After learning about some of the history, it’s time to enjoy the current culture of the city. Neighboursgood Market has been called the “coolest market in the city” and I would have to agree. It runs every Saturday in the Woodstock area, which is known for its artsy, hip vibe. So make sure your Cape Town itinerary includes this stop!
Walk through the market to visit the brilliant art vendors, the mind-blowing food stalls, or sip on a drink while live music plays in the background. This was one of the highlights of our trip there and someone even recognized my brother from the movie he starred in!
Watch Sunset in the Marina
We stayed in the lovely Cape Grace Hotel that sat along the V&A Waterfront, which meant we had easy access to the marina. I love walking around harbors with the sun shining and sailboats lined up on the piers.
The Marina is a great place to spend an evening with plenty of restaurants and fun attractions to enjoy. You can go on the Ferris Wheel to get great vantage points over Cape Town. While you’re there, stop at a restaurant or sit on a bench to watch the colors change and the sun go down.
Day 2: Drive the Cape Peninsula
Visit the Penguins
Drive 45 minutes away to Boulders Beach outside of Simon Town, to visit the abundant African Penguin colonies that live here. This beach draws thousands of penguins, which makes it a prime spot for penguin viewing. Entrance is about $10 for adults and $5 for children to enter the area.
Walk along three boardwalks to get into the areas where the birds hang. You will get a kick out of watching the cute birds waddle through the sand and dive into the ocean shores. I could have stayed here for hours watching the penguins hang on the beach and play around with each other.
Boat to Seal Island
After your visit to see the penguins, drive 40 minutes down the road to take a boat ride! The boats take you from Hout Bay to Seal Island, where if you’re lucky you will see hundreds of Cape Fur Seals. The trip will cost about $7 a person!
If the waters are choppy, then i recommend you skip this stop! My family went on a particularly windy day and most of us ended up fairly sea sick from the ride. We did have the fortune to see a few seals, but it probably wasn’t worth it for us. If you get luckier though with calmer seas, this would be a beautiful ride with plenty of wildlife.
Climb Old Cape Point Lighthouse
In order to get to the one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, Old Cape Point Lighthouse! In order to get to the top, you will have to climb up to the top of the hill or take the funicular. This is one of the oldest lighthouses in all of South Africa and it provides a beautiful view of the ocean and the cape.
If you are lucky to visit during peak whale season, you may get the chance to see them as they come close to the shoreline. Watch out as you climb out of your car in the parking lot, because there are a ton of rambunctious baboons. When we got back to our car, a baboon was trying to get in and started to yell at us. It was frightening!
Experience the Winds at Cape Point
Winds will howl around you as you visit the treacherous Cape Point. Storms swell, waves crash, and Great White Sharks abound in this feared location. This area has been the subject of much mariner’s lore through the centuries as many boats have been swept to their deaths at this point.
Stop to see the crashing ocean and the stunning views here. If the sky is clear, you can see the horizon stretch out to the most Southwesterly points of Africa.
Day 3: Winelands
Enjoy a Sunrise Hike at Lion’s Head
Before you begin your day full of wine drinking, get some exercise in the morning. Many Capetonians spend their mornings jogging or strolling up Lion’s Head Mountain trail to catch the sunrise before a work day. Sunrise is one of the best times to hike up the trail, but if you want to catch it you have to start in the dark. The hike is 2.7 miles and climbs up 1100 feet!
Bring a flashlight and good walking shoes, because the trail can get slippery and steep. You will walk up the hill, over staples, and up ladders before making your way to the top. The view from the top is unbeatable. If you make it at the right time, pinks and oranges will take over the sky and the lights of the city will shine below. For those who like to be active, this is a must do!
Spend the Day Wine Tasting
No Cape Town itinerary is complete without a visit to the winelands. Leave the city for a day to explore the rich winelands of South Africa. The Winelands are actually made up of three towns: Franschhoeks, Stellenbosch, and Paarl.
Luckily these towns are all very close together so you can spend the day visiting locations in all three towns. You can sign up for a tour or you can go on your own to visit specific Wineries. We started at Jordan Wine Estate where we had one of the best wines I have ever had!
Best Wineries in the Winelands:
- Delaire Graff Estate
- Jordan Wine Estate
- Franschhoek Wine
Stroll through Small Towns
Take a break from tasting wine to explore the cute towns and eat at delicious restaurants. We made a reservation at Marigold, an amazing Indian restaurant in Franschhoek.
The meal was astounding and the workers were very attentive. After our meal we spent a few hours walking through the streets of Franschhoek. It was a really charming town with plenty of adorable shops to peruse. I highly recommend visiting the wineries and towns in this lovely area.
Catch Sunset at Camps Bay
End your day back in Cape Town, taking in one last gorgeous sunset. The upscale area of Camps Bay has plenty of fun restaurants and bars that overlook the ocean. This is the perfect spot to watch the sun drop below the horizon.
We were able to enjoy a cocktail while the sun set over the ocean’s horizon. If you walk across the street to the beach, you can also get a fantastic view of Table Mountain behind you. It’s a fantastic way to say goodbye to this city.
Cape Town is a vibrant city with plenty to do and see, it has something for everyone from wine lovers to adventure seekers. I could definitely see myself moving here one day if given the opportunity. I can’t wait to get the chance to go back. Don’t forget to add a safari to your trip to South Africa!