Cape Town is one of my favorite cities in the world, all thanks to its nature, climate, and the people. You gotta love a city with a towering 1,000-m (3,280-ft) mountain right in the middle of it and the Western Cape sprawling all around!
Where Cape Town truly shines is the nature and food scene. If you’ve ever read any of my articles, you know that that’s a winning combination in this traveler’s heart! This city offers days bursting with adventures and natural marvels, topped off with evenings at some of the world’s finest restaurants. What more could you ask for?
Cape Town’s amazing, but not all of it is equally impressive: I find places like Clifton and the towns between Cape Town and Chapman's Peak to be magnetic, but the famous Long Street didn’t quite hook me. I love the vibe of the V&A Waterfront but felt Robben Island’s fame might just be slightly overstated. And most of all, I love Table Mountain! It’s the first place I’ll be sending you on this Cape Town itinerary—that way, no matter if you have 3, 4 or 5 days in Cape Town, you won’t miss its crown jewel (plus, see the very end for a bonus day if you need it!).
Here I am, on my way up Table Mountain
Hold up—an itinerary for 3–5 days? Yes. I’m not indecisive, I’m inclusive! You see, I think you could spend 5 days in Cape Town and its surroundings easily, but I know there are folks out there that simply have less time on their hands. Maybe you have less vacation days (looking at you, Americans!) or maybe you can’t be away from that new project of yours for very long without it going awry.
So, for you short-on-time guys, the first 3 days of this itinerary packs the very best of Cape Town into some admittedly long days. But honestly, that’s just how I personally travel and I’m not even in a time crunch. Maybe that’s why I need those epic dinners—to properly recharge for the next big day!
If you’re here for a 4- or 5-day Cape Town itinerary, you’ll be rewarded with some vineyard action, and for folks with even more time on their hands, well, you’ve got choices! Choose one of the awesome day trips from Cape Town, explore in a slightly more chill pace and let some of the previous days spill over, or have you ever considered shark cage diving?! If you have more than 5 days in Cape Town, the possibilities are endless!
For each day, I’ll give you a fully planned-out itinerary, complete with opening times, prices, and places you simply have to eat, because YUM! Have I mentioned the incredible restaurants in Cape Town?! I have, I know, but when there’s good food on my mind, I just can’t shake it. Oh, and I also have a recommendation for where to stay, because I loved our hotel on our last visit—DysArt Boutique Hotel. More about that later.
Here’s a map of the places you’ll be visiting on your Cape Town itinerary:
Alrighty, Cape Town’s waiting, so let’s do this:
Are you ready for your first day exploring Cape Town?
Main sites visited on day 1: Table Mountain, Signal Hill, V&A Waterfront, Diamond Museum, Aquarium
Restaurant tips: Pier Restaurant
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel
Further reading: 9 FAQs about Table Mountain | 20 best places in Cape Town | 23 unpretentious luxury hotels in South Africa
Let’s start your day with a Table Mountain hike
Set your alarms, folks, it’s time to hike up Table Mountain! Or, if you’re like me, you’ll be like a kid on Christmas morning and just wake up early out of sheer excitement—Table Mountain is one of my favorite natural places in the world. I’ve been many times and each time I come back, it’s still just as magical.
I recommend the most direct way up, the Platteklip Gorge Hike, because it’s also the fastest… and steepest. You have a lot to do today, so get a good breakfast, you’ll need to go from 0 to 100 really quickly!
Allow 1.5 hours for the 3 km (1.8 mi) hike. You need to be fit enough to keep going up the entire time, with some big rocks and boulders making this “walk” extra fun. Bring water, extra layers, and expect to be in the sun the entire time. Get all the details about the Platteklip Gorge Hike in my article about the best day hikes in South Africa.
For an extra challenge, take the even tougher India Venster Hike. It’s mountain-goat level, but kudos to you if you’re up for it!
There’s also the cable car which I recommend taking on the way down from Table Mountain—just know that in bad weather (storms, strong winds), the cable car stays home, and you need to walk both ways.
The top of Table Mountain could keep you occupied for half a day, with many trails and viewpoints. But you only have 3 days in Cape Town (or was that 4? Or 5?), so make it snappy! Next up, the Lion’s Rump!
From Signal Hil you can see your first stop—Table Mountain
After the Table Mountain hike, you’ve earned yourself a bonus viewpoint that takes very little effort to reach. Signal Hill, formerly known as “the Lion’s Rump”, is part of a duo of smaller mountains next to Table Mountain that together form the shape of a lion. Today, you’ll explore the, um, 'posterior' end of this peculiar feline-like landscape. It’s easy to spend an hour or two up there just chilling, so make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy Signal Hill to its fullest.
If you refuse to sweat even a little bit, the viewpoint is even accessible by car. The upper parking lot tends to be full, so I recommend leaving your car down at the beginning of Table Road and walking the rest of the route.
Sea views from Signal Hill
Not only can you get incredible views of Table Mountain from Signal Hill, but if you took my advice and woke up early today, you can aim to be there by the time the Noon Gun goes off. It’s one of the oldest traditions in Cape Town which used to serve as a way for the check that their chronometers are set to the exact time. You can see the cannons and the ceremony at Lion Battery.
Time for a little city walk
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (V&A for short) is like a Disneyland for adults. Instead of rides, there are fantastic restaurants and shops, and instead of a white castle as the focal point, you get the big, white Cape Wheel (Ferris wheel) and views of the harbor.
You can easily spend the afternoon walking around, getting too many coffees or a beer or four, browsing unique stores, and staring out onto the water. Or, go on a cruise, look for gemstones at Scratch Patch, and visit some museums—I highly recommend taking a guided tour at the Diamond Museum. South Africa is a big deal in the diamond world, after all (make a booking in advance).
I also couldn’t miss the Two Oceans Aquarium, and I promise it’s fun even if you don’t have kids (I have exactly 0 of those, and I never miss an aquarium). At the meeting place of two great oceans (Indian and Atlantic) you can meet over 8,000 creatures!
Not your regular table setting @ Pier Restaurant
I warned you that you may not ever want to stop eating while in Cape Town, and now is when you’ll get proof: Pier Restaurant won “Best in Africa” at the World Culinary Awards. Need I go on?
You’ll get your meal on a plate that looks like it came from an art gallery, your starter may come out floating on dry ice, and you may need to pretend that you always eat dessert off of upside-down porcelain mushrooms. It’s fantastic, they won their award fair and square, and you’ll finish off your first day in Cape Town on the highest note possible.
We had the 10-course dinner (about USD 100 per person) and it was amazing, one of the best I’ve ever had. I even liked the oysters—a premier for me! Oh, and the langoustines were the highlight. The service is good, but can be a bit slow. But the food… divine
One you’re done with dinner, retire to the fantastic DysArt Boutique Hotel. One of the standout features of DysArt is its impeccable service. From the moment I stepped foot into the hotel, I was greeted with a level of hospitality that's hard to match. With only 10 rooms, DysArt Boutique Hotel exudes a sense of serenity and exclusivity. It’s located in the Green Point neighborhood, very strategic for exploring the city’s iconic attractions.
Our room at DysArt Boutique Hotel
Cape Town’s city hall
Main sites visited on day 2: Castle of Good Hope, District 6 Museum, Iziko Slave Lodge, Long Street, Lion’s Head
Restaurant tips: Bouchon Bistro| Truth Coffee
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel
Further reading: 20 best places in Cape Town | Best day hikes in South Africa
You can’t skip Cape Town Castle
You’ll need to wake up early today (are you starting to sense a pattern?), but unlike yesterday,you’ll start out your morning with a little South African education! Head to central Cape Town and visit the country’s oldest colonial building: the Castle of Good Hope (aka Cape Town Castle). This pentagon-shaped fortress is more of an introduction to Cape Town and South African history than anything else—don’t get too excited about the building itself.
Built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company, it's not your standard Disney-like castle. You’ll encounter the typical characteristics of a fortress—sturdy walls, military ramparts, and a sense of old-world fortification.
I highly recommend joining a guided tours—our guide could answer all of my prying questions, was funny, and he talked so fast it sounded like he was rapping the whole time.
Inside, there are various displays, and you can visit various courtyards and rooms including the prison, workshops, and slaves’ living quarters. There are also 4 museums that you’ll go through on the tour. One is centered around the Colored community. It's kind of a reflection of a group that doesn't quite fit in anywhere, which was pretty eye-opening. Then, there's my personal favorite, the military museum—it covers all those wars between the locals and Boers back in the day. Gave me a good glimpse into that period.
Visiting the slightly disappointing District Six Museum
Next up on your journey through history is the District Six Museum. The District Six Museum stands as a tribute to a community forcibly removed during the apartheid regime. An interesting topic with lots of unused potential, in my opinion. The museum tries to capture the resilient spirit of District Six, a diverse area before it was designated a "whites-only" zone in the 1970s, but it could be better, not going to lie. I’d honestly skip this stop if I were planning my next trip to Cape Town, so unless it’s something you’re dying to see, and maybe need to leave something out of the itinerary, this is it.
As you walk through District Six Museum, get ready to dive into personal stories, photographs, and artifacts showcasing the life of the District Six community, some quite touching.
Want an insider’s view? Hop on a guided tour where a displaced resident shares the heart-wrenching experiences of being uprooted from their home. If you prefer a solo expedition, no worries. Plaques and engaging displays are there to guide you through the exhibits.
Getting caffeinated at Truth Coffee
Just a block away from District Six Museum is Truth Coffee, a café that has won “best café in the world” at least a couple of times (as ranked by Telegraph). And even though I can’t agree with it being better than every other coffee shop on the planet, I do like it a lot, and I return whenever I’m in town.
Take your top hat and monocle with you, because the design is a cool steampunk setup. The coffee is very good (great for those of you that prefer more sour roasts)—don’t even think about asking for sugar for your coffee, it’ll make the staff give you the stink eye faster than you can finish your sentence. “No sugar” is basically implied. There’s also all-day breakfast made from high-quality, fresh ingredients, and the bakery churns out the best bread in town.
Remembering things you don’t want to remember @ Iziko Slave Lodge
Alright, one last sobering stop on the 2nd day of your Cape Town itinerary: Get ready to visit the Iziko Slave Lodge—this place's got stories, real ones, about the shitty times of the past. Once a place that housed slaves during the colonial era, the lodge is now a museum, shedding light on the harsh realities of the slave trade. It took us about 2 hours to get through this museum.
It looks at slavery in general, not just from a South African perspective, so it’s incredibly educational. I especially liked the second-floor exhibit about the 1976 student riots which really started the fall of the Apartheid.
You’ll feel the echoes of what it was like for those who lived in a world where freedom was a foreign concept. The museum introduces the racial system very well and you’ll feel quite clearly how, if you were colored, you were basically f-ed. Take a tour or just wander around—it’s an eye-opening experience either way.
This next stop won’t knock your socks off, but as it’s on everyone’s checklist, I’ll include it anyway, if only for the “been there, done that” sentiment. It’s a couple of blocks from the Slave Lodge, so you might as well get a peek.
I wouldn’t go to Long Street again, there’s nothing special about it really. It’s a long, busy street. It’s how I imagine New Orleans to feel (you can correct me if I’m wrong).
So, what is Long Street? A long street with restaurants, bookstores, and nightclubs! I know, how very exciting. There are some nice Victorian buildings to look at and some of the bars outdid themselves with their facades, but overall, nothing you need to go out of your way to see.
Rise and shine! The Lion’s Head hike is your first stop today!
And just when you thought you’re almost done for the day, it’s time to earn that feast that you’ll be having for dinner today! This time, it’s the Lion’s Head that’ll get your heart pumping. (You could potentially go on this hike first thing in the morning, but despite the police presence, it is known for muggings, so I like to wait until the sun is nice and high.)
The trail is almost 5 km (3 mi) long and spirals around the mountain, making sure the views keep changing on this 2-hour hike. Once you reach the rock face at the top, you can add some adrenaline into the mix by taking the metal ladders and staples. (If you’re not feeling up for it, there’s a path you can use to walk around the exciting section.)
I don’t need to tell you that the views from Lion’s Head are epic: you get Cape Town under you, Table Mountain next to you, and the ocean in front of you. And as a bonus, you'll find yourself surrounded by the vibrant flora of the Cape Floral Kingdom. Seriously, it’s a magical way to end day 2 of your Cape Town itinerary. But don’t stick around too long... food is in your future!
The oysters were amazing @ Bouchon Bistro
Back from the hike? Oh goodie! It’s time for another fantastic dinner spot! Today you’ll dine at Bouchon Bistro & Wine Bar, I’d say one of the top 10 restaurants in Cape Town (so don’t forget to stop by your hotel and shower before you go). This restaurant feels sophisticated yet relaxed, and in their own words is for people who “love flavorsome, down-to-earth food and are curious about the world of wine”. I’m more of a beer guy myself, but I can’t say anything bad about Bouchon.
I have to highlight the service at Bouchon—it was even more memorable than the food, and the food was awesome! Our server was always there, with a smile, exactly when we needed him.
Try it out, you’ll dine by candlelight and can choose from a variety of tapas-style dishes, which are perfect for tasting a variety of food without getting analysis paralysis. We had 6 courses among the two of us and it was just right. We paid about USD 50 total for everything that night.
Now let’s head to the beach
Main sites visited on day 3: Chapman’s Peak, Nordhoek Beach, Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach, Muizenberg Beach
Restaurant tips: Sentinel Café in Hout Bay | Hudsons at Muizenberg Beach
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel
Further reading: Exploring Cape of Good Hope | Best beaches in South Africa
Day 3 of the itinerary is here, and no matter if this is your last day or you still have a couple days left to go, you better make it count. Today’s all about exploring some of the most beautiful coastal areas in all of South Africa.
If it is your last day, you’ll have seen the very best of Cape Town and its surroundings by the time you’re chowing down on your burger at Hudson’s this evening. Day 4 and day 5 is about bonus experiences that you’ll have to put off until next time if 3 days in Cape Town is all you have.
The beaches, the villas...just amazing!
Another morning in Cape Town, another possibility to wake up early!
Today, you’ll start out driving along the prettiest coast I’ve ever seen. If you want to buy a house by the sea, check the listings here. The villas are out of this world, and now I want one. Retirement, maybe?
Me, planning my retirement in a villa on Chapman’s Peak
The Chapman’s Peak drive stretches from Noordhoek to Hout Bay and is approximately 9 km (5.5 mi) long—so not very long at all. But you can stop along the way and take in those views. Otherwise, the poor driver has to keep one eye on the road at all times and will miss half of the scenery! And that’s no easy feat with 114 turns and curves to deal with.
You could even start out with a coffee overlooking the beach in Hout Bay at Sentinel Cafe. I don’t know about you but for me, a nice beach morning is all it takes to set the mood for exploration for the day.
At the other end of the Chapman’s Peak drive lies a wild coastal paradise that you’ll need to see to believe. One of the best beaches near Cape Town, Nordhoek Beach is a long, wide, perfect stretch of white sand with the clear waters of the Atlantic right at your toes. It’s almost unbelievable that this little slice of natural perfection is so close Cape Town, a metropolitan area of 5 million people!
The gorgeous Cape of Good Hope (notice the 3 ostriches trailing us on the bottom left photo!)
Next, drive roughly 1 hour to the very south of the cape to visit the stunning Cape of Good Hope. This place is a personal favorite of mine and I could spend almost all day there just exploring the nature and coastal scenery.
After two South African adventures filled (and I mean filled to the brim) with hiking and exploration, the Cape of Good Hope remains my all-time favorite hike in South Africa. It’s only 4.7 km (3 mi), but you need at least 2 hours if you don’t want to shortchange yourself. Take time to explore the side trails, this area is worth it.
Start your journey at Cape Point and make a beeline for the lighthouse. The view from that cliff is mind-blowing. Then, take a detour to Diaz Beach—it's an absolute beauty that earned a spot on my best beaches in South Africa list.
Brace yourself for some animal encounters: baboons, ostriches, cobras, you name it, Cape of Good Hope has it!
From this photo it’s unclear who’s watching who (Boulders Beach)
For your drive back up to Cape Town, I have two more beach stops in store for you on today’s itinerary. Don’t get the urge to skip any of them though, each beach on today’s trip plan is very different from the rest.
First up, Boulders Beach. What’s special about this one is that you get to hang out with adorable African penguins. This beach is theirs, and humans are only allowed on the wooden walkway in order to not disturb the peace. Even without the penguins, Boulders Beach is a stunner—white sand, turquoise water, the whole shebang.
Tip: Just a stone's throw away from Boulders Beach lies Simon's Town, a coastal town that's worth a visit if you’re ready for coffee no. 3. It has old-world charm with its historic buildings and scenic harbor views.
Muizenberg Beach won’t let you down (but the smelly huts might)
Hop back into your car and drive 25 minutes to Muizenberg Beach, where instead of penguins, you’ll be tripping over humans. I really liked Muizenberg—it’s a city beach that’s just lively enough but not pretentious, impressive in all weather, and the sand is very soft. It’s the one with those colorful huts that are so famous they are on every photo of Cape Town. Not sure why to be honest (they are filthy inside, too).
A very family-friendly beach (if you forget about the great whites in the water) where people actually swim in the summers—or more like wade in and then out again, 21°C (70°F) isn’t exactly toasty.
There are plenty of cafes and restaurants close by, speaking of which…
The end of day 3 of your Cape Town itinerary looks like burgers and beers at Hudsons! You can even look out to the colorful huts at Muizenberg Beach while you eat
Burgers and beer is what Hudsons is known for. They have several locations, and one happens to be right by Muizenberg Beach. Time for dinner!
While I appreciate a high-end meal where the portions are small and the prices are high, I’m equally happy with a more casual dinner. I’m a sucker for a good beer selection!
The burgers at Hudsons were really, really good, and there’s easy parking if you need it. I’ve found myself at a Hudsons on numerous occasions on my South Africa trips, so there must be something special about it!
Today’s adventures on the list: A prison and then wine tasting
Main sites visited on day 4: Robben Island, Stellenbosch or Franschhoek
Restaurant tips: Le Petit Manoir Franschhoek | Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch
Hotel recommendations: DysArt Boutique Hotel if you’re heading right back to Cape Town| Southern Sun de Wagen if staying in wine country for the night
Further reading: Awesome day trips from Cape Town | Unique places in South Africa | Wine tasting in South Africa
If you have 4 days in Cape Town, I’d use today to check another popular item off every Cape Town bucket list: the prison on Robben Island. But don’t get stuck there for too long (it’s not really that great anyway), because you can still fit in one more little side trip: wine country! Make it a half-day quickie if 4 days is all the time you have, or, stay the night and really enjoy those South African wines!
The former prison island
Start your day strolling the V&A Waterfront one last time, but don’t get sidetracked by all the cafes; this time, it’s the ferry terminal you’re looking for (it’s called Nelson Mandela Gateway and is close to the diamond museum). Be there by 8:30 am if you’re on the first ferry out (it leaves at 9 am).
Just 9 km (5.5 mi) from the shores of Cape town lies Robben Island. The former prison where Nelson Mandela was held for 18 years is now a UNESCO World Heritage site since it’s a living archive of the Apartheid. The ferry takes about 40 minutes. Once on Robben Island, you’ll board a bus where you’ll meet your guide and get transported to different sites around the prison.
All the tours are guided by former prisoners, making the experience even more memorable. Apart from the prison itself, you'll tour around the island and also visit the quarry, where the prisoners had to work, and the prisoner’s graveyard. Nelson Mandela’s cell is the last stop on the tour.
Your ferry tickets are conveniently included in your Robben Island ticket. Remember to book your tickets in advance, because this is a very popular destination. Expect the entire experience to take about 4 hours, including the ferry trips.
The views and vineyards of Franschhoek
I strongly recommend spending a full day at Franshoek or Stellenbosch, but if a quick afternoon trip is all you can squeeze into your itinerary this time, it’s better than nothing.
The history of producing wine in South Africa dates back to the 17th century so it’s no wonder there are a great deal of wineries to visit in the area. Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, two wine towns just an hour’s drive from central Cape Town (Stellenbosch is the closer one), are surrounded by some of the finest vineyards in the country.
Since you are limited in time, I’d go for the best dining experience you can, all the while sampling a little Pinotage and taking in the gorgeous scenery. My personal recommendation in Franschhoek: Le Petit Manoir Franschhoek. This place is on another level, like Michelin-star level. In Stellenbosch, the place to be is Delaire Graff Estate. Don't miss the chance to sample their incredible wines and have a delicious dinner (the views from this place are out of this world!). Just don’t overdo it if you are heading back to Cape Town for the night.
But like I said, I think Stellenbosch and Franschhoek deserve much more of your undivided attention, so if you can, book yourself into one of the fantastic hotels or manors in the area. I listed a few of my top choices in my Top Luxury Hotels in South Africa article.
Wine tasting makes your view watching even more pleasurable!
Main sites visited on day 5: Wine tour in Franschhoek or Stellenbosch
Restaurant tips: Le Petit Manoir Franschhoek | Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch
Hotel recommendations: Southern Sun de Wagen in Stellenbosch
Further reading: Wine tasting in South Africa | Unpretentious luxury hotels in South Africa | Awesome day trips from Cape Town
Now that you’ve set aside some proper time to experience the wine region of South Africa, you can spend the day exploring this gorgeous area and tasting wine while you’re at it. It’s really a day where you can relax and slow down (finally, after the last 4 busy days!).
I personally find most of the guided tours too rushed and would skip the Vine Hopper bus in Stellenbosch altogether. Wine tasting on a tight schedule is not my thing. On the other hand, the wine tram in Franschhoek was very pleasant. You can even leave the wines you buy at each stop with the driver and then pick them all up at the ticket office at the end of the day. Perfect.
If you’d rather explore Stellenbosch, take a taxi (there’s no wine tram there). That way, you’re in charge of your own time and won’t be ushered in and out of places like a herd of cattle.
My favorite winery stops: Allee Bleue, Kleine Zalze, Neethlingshof (get the “story tasting” for a story with each wine, it was well worth it).
My cage diving experience was, umm, memorable! Thank goodness for sea-sickness lollipops
Maybe you’ve gathered by my gushing about Cape Town’s scenery that this place really is worth an extra day or two and you want to extend your itinerary even further. Or maybe you’re not just naturally beautiful, but also incredibly intuitive, like me, and you knew from the start that you’ll want to spend more than 5 days in Cape Town. Or maybe you hate wine and need an alternative.
Whichever category you fall into, here’s how you could spend a bonus (or alternative) day in Cape Town (that’s not in Cape Town at all). I’ve described all of these—and much more—in my article about the best day trips from Cape Town:
One of my fondest memories of South Africa is that time I thought it’d be really cool to go shark cage diving. Cool it was, but not exactly in the way I expected… though the freezing cold waters probably helped to soothe my terrible nausea just a tad! The mecca for shark cage diving in South Africa is Gansbaai, about a 2-hour drive away from Cape Town. The best time to see great whites is May to October, but you can cage dive year-round if you aren’t dead set on just great whites. Read about my full cage diving experience in another article.
If you like your sea creatures warm-blooded* and you don’t feel like plunging into the freezing ocean water yourself, try whale watching instead. The best area to see whales not only from boats, but also from the cliffs surrounding the shores, is also around Gansbaai. You could even head to the De Hoop Nature Reserve, where there’s a remarkable whale trail. This path winds through coastal fynbos and dunes, leading you to prime whale watching spots.
*Surprise! Great white sharks are actually warm-blooded, too (despite how cold-blooded they’ve been depicted in movies, haha).
Taking in the views from the Boomlang
Prefer staying on dry land? Craving some extra Table Mountain views? Check out the UNESCO-listed Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It’s in Cape Town, so there’s no travel necessary. I’m no botanist, but this garden is really beautiful. Just trust me on this one. Plus there are snakes! And let's not forget the views from the Boomslang—the super cool bridge that snakes its way through the treetops.
For a more active day trip, wake up bright and early and drive 2 hours north to the Cederberg Mountains. If you're a hiking enthusiast, you're in for a treat. You’ll spend 4–5 hours conquering the mighty Wolfberg Arch. Getting to the arch is an adventure; you'll find yourself traversing through epic rock cracks that are like a natural rock maze. Oh, and don't forget to try some rooibos tea while you're in the area. It's the local specialty, and about as South African as it gets.
Three days in Cape Town would be the bare minimum, but you’ll miss out on some must-see spots that are just outside of the city limits. You’ll want to spend 5 days in Cape Town unless you’re extremely short on time. Cape Town is a great base for day trips, so even though you could make do with only 2 days in the city, you’ll want more for places like Cape of Good Hope and the cape coastal drive.
Don’t go to Cape Town in the winter months (June to August) unless you love a rainy holiday. December to February are summer months and they are the most popular (aka crowded). It’s important to also consider other places in South Africa that you’re planning on visiting on the same trip: for example, Kruger National Park is generally considered best in May through October (I say it’s good year-round), but Garden Route will be miserable June through August. On my last trip, I chose April, and it was an epic trip with fantastic weather.
A place that I strongly recommend skipping is Cape Flats, aka the poor part of town. These expansive flatlands stretch out to the southeast of Cape Town. Cape Flats carries heavy historical and socio-economic baggage, and while it can be intriguing from a curiosity perspective, many areas within Cape Flats still grapple with profound challenges, and as a visitor, it may not be the most respectful way to engage with the local community. The only option I’d say is ok to visit Cape Flats (if you simply cannot help yourself) is with a local guide so that you’re getting an honest perspective and not turning the residents into a weird zoo.
Yes, you need a car in Cape Town, because in order to explore the best places, having a set of wheels is the most comfortable and time-saving option. Sure, you can book a hotel in the center around the V&A Waterfront so that you can easily walk in those parts (I recommend a place in the Green Point neighborhood, like DysArt Boutique Hotel), but for almost everything else, driving is necessary. Table Mountain, Cape of Good Hope, the beaches—you need to have a car to get there.
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