Cape Town, South Africa’s “Mother City” is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Established by the Dutch in 1652 as a refreshment outpost, this picturesque city’s mountain and sea views will take your breath away. Besides the mountain and the sea, Cape Town boasts of rolling hills filled with vineyards, multi-ethnic restaurants, exciting nightlife, beautiful beaches and of course proximity to the best game reserves.
Visitors to Cape Town often find themselves having too many choices, too many decisions and too little time to do everything on their list. Trippy users, Phillip and Robb, felt the same. So they sought advice from other travelers.
I am going to be in Cape Town soon for 2.5 days (Friday – leaving Sunday evening). What is a good plan to leverage the stay as much as possible regarding
Accommodation (design/boutique-ish, safe district, central)
Things to do/see outside
Any good restaurant tips (upscale, South African food)
Is it worth going a day to the Winelands and stay sat night there? What else would be worth a day trip?
Top Ten must-see Cape Town
Here’s how to spend three days in Cape Town, suggestions given by Trippy users:
Table Mountain came top in Trippy users’ list of things to do in Cape Town. Sean from Cape Town and Brew from Manhattan Beach recommended going to Table Mountain.
Hike Table Mountain National Park or Lions Head Summit. I personally like the hike up Lion’s Head a little better, but if you’ve never been to Cape Town before, I think Table Mountain is a must. The best way to do it is to hike up Platteklip Gorge and take the cable car back down. The trailhead for this trail is about a mile past the cable car station, and the hike up will take about 45 minutes to an hour (lots of steps and pretty strenuous).
My top recommendations would be Table Mountain National Park, Waterfront Village, Boat Cruise (can be Robben Island), Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens I highly rate the hop on hop off red CitySightseeing bus to get an overview of a lot of the best attractions. You can get a two day pass for that. The red bus also does a wine route. Then also Boulders Beach and Cape Point is a spectacular day trip. And so much more.
Another Trippy user Angela suggested abseiling down Table Mountain:
Getting to the top of Table Mountain National Park and Lions Head Summit are musts. If you like to hike, the hike up Lion’s Head is really great with amazing views. The Cape of Good Hope is another beautiful place with hiking opportunities. You can also Abseil down Table mountain – something we really wanted to do but couldn’t because of the weather.
Table Mountain is a flat top 3,500 feet high massif that dominates the skyline of Cape Town. You can hike the slopes of Table Mountain, Signal Hill and Lion’s Head with a guide or take the cable car to the mountain.
Cathy from Brussels recommended:
Hiking up Table Mountain from Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens and then getting the cable car down.
Trippy user Ciaran said:
Visit the Bo Kaap area in the CBD. It’s one of Cape Town’s only historical sites that hasn’t been demolished (although development there is currently threatening it).
Located on the slopes of Signal Hill is Bo Kaap, the oldest and most colorful neighborhood in Cape Town. See colorful 19th-century terrace houses and visit Muslim’s quarter, walk on cobblestone streets and enjoy the curries and delicious Cape Malay food. We suggest joining a guided Bo Kaap walking tour so you can learn more about the local culture and history of the neighborhood. Check out Auwal Mosque, Bo Kaap Museum and of course the colorful houses.
Stellenbosch and wine route
You’ll need a full day to tour Stellenbosch. Resident Sean highly recommended a tour of Stellenbosch and the wine routes. He wrote:
Visit Stellenbosch and the wine route. I personally think this is a must as the wine country here is incredibly beautiful and has a lot of historical significance. Stellenbosch is a university town and has a bunch of examples of Cape Dutch architecture. If you want to do a whirlwind tour, hire a car and driver for the day and visit: Morgenhof Wine Estate, Delheim Wine Estate, and Muratie Wine Estate, which are close to each other, but give you a great feel for Cape Dutch architecture and the overall scenery of the area. If you are ambitious, you could probably do Table Mountain and this quick wine tour in 1 day. If you want to take more time, Boschendal Wine Estate is further afield but sits in an incredibly beautiful setting, but there are a bunch of gorgeous and interesting wineries in the area, so you could pick many to visit.
Emily felt the same way:
Taking a trip to the Winelands in Stellenbosch (approx. 45-minute drive outside of Cape Town or 1.5-hour train) is definitely worth it. Some vineyards I highly recommend for wine tasting, as well as amazing lunches, are Asara and JC le Roux. If you prefer to eat at a local cafe The Blue Crane & The Butterfly or Postcard Cafe are excellent choices with a wide selection of lunch food. For dinner, I recommend Man’oushe Restaurant (the freshest food, fun environment, great chef). Then if you are spending the evening (choices of higher-end hotels or low key backpackers), there is a wonderful brunch place called The Old Bakery. There may be a bit of a wait, but it is definitely worth it.
Stellenbosch is the center of the Winelands, and home to beautiful 17th century Cape Dutch architecture, outdoor cafes, galleries and museums.
Depends on how much you love wine and the Winelands. With such a short time in Cape Town, I would spend all my nights near the city and then use the red bus or do some other day trip out to Groot Constantia or Stellenbosch. It’s not very far.
Another option instead of Stellenbosch is to combine a trip to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden with Constantia.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Visit one of the best botanical gardens in the world featuring 528 hectares of a nature reserve, cultivated gardens and the Tree Canopy Walkway (Boomslang). Boomslang is a steel and timber bridge that allows visitors to view the garden and the mountains from above ground. The garden has a tea room, coffee shop and in summer visitors can bring their picnic and enjoy a Sunday evening open-air concert.
Try an African dining experience at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden says Lara from Cape Town:
If you are looking for great traditional food, try Moyo at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. All other restaurants within the city are pretty good too. Long Street has a wide variety of restaurants that cater to everyone.
Cathy loved the botanical garden. She commented:
Open-air concerts in Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens in the summer, which take place against the backdrop of Table Mountain – usually on a Sunday evening.
There is a ‘hop on, hop off the bus’ in Cape Town which covers two separate routes, so you would be able to do most of these even if you don’t hire a car.
Besides Stellenbosch, Cape Town has another wind region in Constantia. Constantia is one of the world’s oldest wine region outside Europe. It is located south of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden offering views of False Bay and Table Mountain. Lara from Cape Town said if you’re planning on visiting wineries, choose Constantia. Here’s why:
I’d advice the Constantia Winelands (along the route of the CitySightseeing Bus). It is only 20 minutes outside the city and is easily accessible with a taxi cab too.
Another place that Sean recommended was Robben Island. He said:
If you want more culture, history and to get an idea of how apartheid affected the country, then these should be done. Re: township tours, I have done several tours, some of which were amazing and some of which were average or bad. It all depends on the guide. And if you do decide to do a tour, you need to find a colored tour guide named Brian Smith (colored means mixed-race in South Africa). Brian used to work for Grass Routes tours. He was one of the best tour guides I’ve ever had. Unfortunately, the last trip we did was not with Brian, and it was actually dreadful and a waste of time/money.
David, a resident in Cape Town, agreed:
Robben Island (if you like that boat trip, try Hout BayHout Bay and go to Seal Island too).
Robben Island was where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated. This offshore jail is not a happy place but definitely one that we can discover the meaning of adversity and freedom.
If you’re looking for a place with a local vibe to spend the rest of the afternoon and evening, head over to Old Biscuit Mill. Old Biscuit Mill is actually a former biscuit factory located in Woodstock. Sarah from Cape Town commented:
The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock on a Sunday is an awesome market- clothes food, etc. Hout Bay also has a great market.
The Sea Point Promenade Park for walks in the evening is beautiful. Walk then have a drink at the Winchester Mansions Hotel.