Cape Town travel itinerary and things to do

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
V&A Waterfront, the busiest and the most touristy area in Cape Town

If you’re planning a trip to Cape Town and want to get the most out of staying here this city guide is what you need, written by locals for tourists contains best recommendations, itineraries, insider tips, place to visit and things to do – the best of Cape Town  for you!

If you ask what makes Cape Town so special? We’ll say the mountain and the sea, the perfect combination of these two will convert any city in an awesome place for living and traveling. We’re not saying it because we live here but because it’s 100% truth! If you still have some doubts they will be gone by the time you finish reading this post.

Best time to visit Cape Town

  • For sightseeing – any time is good, though winter months; June – August can be quite chilly and rainy.
  • For beach holiday – January – April, hot and sunny. November – December are quite hot months as well, but it can get extremely windy.
  • For diving – the water around Cape Town is always cold, but can be dived all year round, inside False Bay in winter and The Atlantic side in summer.
  • For surfing – winter months May – August are the best for surfing around Cape Town, summer can be ok e.g. though the wind is an issue.
  • For hiking – September – November and March – May, winter is rainy and cold, summer is too hot.

Water warning!

In last years water has become a major concern for Capetonians due to the worst drought ever registered in the area. Please, help us to save water and use it wisely!

Cape Town city map 

Set up your budget

  • Backpacking – ZAR300/US$25 per person.
  • Middle budget – from ZAR600/US$50 per person.
  • Luxury – from ZAR2000/US$160 per person.

Cape Town travel budget break down

Accommodation in Cape Town

The most budget option is Couchsurfing there are many hosts in Cape Town important to check the location of your future couch and how easy it’s to get there by public transport, since you’re on a budget and probably not planning to rent a car or uber around a lot.

Hostels (budget) – there are many, some are really awesome, some not that great but cheaper. Avg price for bed in a hostel ZAR140/US$11.

Budget hotels, B&Bs and Air B&B, there are many starting from ZAR500/US$40 for a twin/double room.

Fancy hotels – these are the easiest you just go for one of the big names, as you probably already stayed in a couple of them in different cities. from ZAR1200/US$100 for a double room.

Cooking vs Dining out

The cheapest option is to cook for yourself, but you need a kitchen, most hostels and B&B have it. Depending on your preferences you can get away with as little as ZAR70/US$6 per meal for two. Tip! The best places to do food shopping are big supermarkets, there are a couple of them in the city center; Pick and Pay, Checkers, Super SPAR.

Street food and fast food – fish & chips kind of meal will cost you about ZAR40-50/US$4. For cheap fast food breakfast option check popular local franchise, Wimpy, they serve breakfast all day, Streaky breakfast (bacon, eggs, toasts) costs ZAR30/USD2,5 without coffee.

Restaurants – there are plenty in the city; steak houses, sea food and vegetarian restaurants, Italian pizzerias, Thai and Indian cuisine etc. An average price for a meal without drinks will be ZAR150/US$10 and up.

Moving around the city

Walking will be the most budget option, but we don’t recommend doing it at night.

Public buses – one bus ride in the city starts at ZAR12/US$1 if you use Myconnect card.

Uber – not as budget as buses but cheaper than taxis, to uber around Cape Town city centre (5km) will cost you from ZAR30/US$2,5.

Taxis – if you willing to pay for it than rather get a reliable taxi from your hostel/hostel, for an average taxi ride (5km) within the city you pay ZAR40/US$3.

Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain
Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain

How to stay safe in Cape Town?

  • Don’t walk at night in the city if you go out take a taxi back to your hotel and try to stick to a crowd of 4 or more.
  • If you rent a car don’t leave anything inside when parking, not even a book or an old jacket, otherwise you risk finding your car with broken windows.
  • When driving make sure your doors a locked and windows are not wide-opened.
  • Keep your valuable stuff with you all the time, don’t put it on a seat next to you, it’ll disappear before you notice it.
  • If you venture to hike up Table Mountain do it in a right time of the day when there are other people walking it, not late evening on your own carrying an expensive camera with.
  • Don’t take your passport and all the valuable stuff with rather lock it in a hotel safe or locker.
  • Use reliable taxi service not any random guy that stop on the street.
  • To draw money rather use ATM in a bank office, mall or supermarket. You can pay by card in most hotels, restaurants, ticket offices.

It may sound too much and a bit scary it’s not meant to discourage you from enjoying Cape Town more to prevent an unpleasant experience in our city. By the way we live here and have never had any bad experience.

Cape Town neighborhood guide

Camps Bay is  beautiful but the most expensive area in the city with stunning landscape, fancy restaurants and designer shops. The upper-class restaurants and coffee shops are great for a cocktail or a coffee, but very expensive for lunch! The beaches here are stunning, but the water is freezing. Camps Bay and Clifton are perfect beaches for walking around in your bikini, sunbathing and playing beach bats, very cold for swimming. Would like to stay here? Prepare to pay from ZAR1200/US$100 per night.

V&A Waterfront, Green Point. Getting better though still quite expensive. Might be a nice area to stay if you have some money and want to spend a week or so in the city. Safe, close to the restaurants and the mall, beautiful. The area is good for a romantic stay within the city.

Sea Point as you can guess from its name it’s at the sea next to V&A Waterfront and Cape Town stadium like Waterfront Sea Point boasts some great restaurants and shops, fancy accommodation options and beautiful sea view.

Tamboerskloof, my favorite neighborhood in Cape Town has some cozy guest houses and hostels to stay, walking distance to Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.

Main hostel and bar areas of Cape Town are along Bree Street, Long Street and Kloof Street any of them are great to stay if you’re planning to go out and want some movement and cool crowd. There are quite a few budget accommodation options along the Kloof Street.

Woodstock, a couple of years ago quite a dodgy neighborhood it’s busy turning into a hipster one with handy craft weekend markets, lofts, cool coffee shops and local designer shops. Note! It’s still not the safest area in Cape Town it’s better to come here morning/afternoon.

Bo-Kaap, colorful neighborhood of Cape Town.
Bo-Kaap, colorful neighborhood of Cape Town.

Things to do in Cape Town

Must visit attractions in Cape Town

Table Mountain, an iconic site of Cape Town and the most visited place in the city, you can’t miss it! Come here in the morning to skip crowds, take a cable car, drink a cup of coffee in Table Mountain cafe enjoying the stunning view over the city.

V&A Waterfront, a busy touristy area in the heart of the operating harbor, one of the most visited places in South Africa. Best hotels, restaurants as well as fancy shops can be found here. The highlights; the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Clock Tower, the Time Ball Tower and the Maritime museum.

Robben island is 7km off shore small island, 5km2, for the last 400 years been used as a prison, mostly for political prisoners, as well as leper colony and animal quarantine station. The most famous political prisoner of Robben island was Nelson Mandela who spent 18 years on here. To get here take a ferry from V&A Waterfront.

Cape of Good Hope, many think it’s the southernmost point of Africa which is not true but it’s a truly beautiful place with rocky cliffs facing the ocean, white-sand beaches and breath-taking lookouts. The Cape is located inside the National park and is great for a scenic drive from Cape Town or a hike, there are several short hiking trails as well as multi day once.

Bo-Kaap neighbourhood former Malay Quarter, the most colorful neighborhood in Cape Town and one of the favorite Instagram spots in the city. 90% of the Bo-Kaap residents are Muslim mostly descendants from Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia and Indonesia. Local restaurants and food markets are famous for the delicious fusion cuisine, mix of Asian, Indian and European cooking traditions.

View on Table Mountain from Lion’s Head

Cape Town outdoor and adventure activities guide

Table Mountain is the number one spot in the city for outdoor adventure; hike or run up Platteklip Gorge route just grab a jacket as it’s usually windy and chilly up there and water, this steep hike up the mountain makes you very thirsty. For thrill seekers tandem paragliding from the top of Table Mountain amazing view is guaranteed.

Lion’s Head is a great place for up hill running with some elements of rock and ladder climbing, it is a very popular hike. By the way it’s one of the best sunset spots in the city. We would recommend that you avoid this hike during full moon since there are thousands of people storming its peak. To walk up and down will take you a couple of hours.

Cape Town has several excellent surf spots spread out along its coast suitable for all levels.  The best time to surf is in winter when the bigger swells come through. Inside False Bay the water is slightly warmer and breaks are relatively safe for beginners.  The best spots for beginners are The Surfer’s Corner at Muizenberg and Big Bay, a beach break close to Bloubergstrand, both about a 30-minute drive from the city center. Long Beach at Kommetjie is a good spot for more advanced surfers.

With excellent spots and consistent winds Cape Town is known as one of the world’s best kite surfing locations. The south easterly wind that blows almost constantly in summer blows parallel to the beach on the west coast of the peninsula, creating perfect conditions on most days in summer. You can kite surf here all year round, but the best time is November to March when the winds are strong and consistent.

There is some fantastic scuba diving inside False Bay, diving with seals, large 7 gill cowsharks and some very interesting nudibranches. Inside False Bay is best dived in winter months when the prevailing north-westerly winds flatten and cleans the bay.  In winter visibility is normally between 5 and 10m. The Atlantic side is best to dive in summer when the South Easterly winds bring in cold clean water, visibility can go up to 20m, but water temperatures can drop to 9C! There are some excellent caverns, wrecks and interesting aquatic life on this side of the peninsula.

Combine hiking, canyoning and kloofing go for a day adventure in the mountains. The easiest and safest way of doing it is through one of the tour operators, transfer, guide and meals are included.

Colorful houses on the beach in Muizenberg
Colorful houses on the beach in Muizenberg

Cape Town travel itineraries

What to do in Cape Town in one day

TO BE CONTINUED…

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