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The best Cape Town 3-day itinerary – 2022/23 season

If you’re planning a trip and want to get the most out of your visit this Cape Town 3-day itinerary is what you need. It’s written by locals (us) for tourists. The suggested itinerary includes the city’s best, recommendations, and insider tips. It includes the must-see places in Cape Town. Let us help you to make the best out of your Cape Town visit!

View of Cape Town from Lion's Head one of the places to include in the 3-day itinerary
View of Cape Town and Table Mountain from Lion’s Head

Our Cape Town 3-day itinerary

This is the standard itinerary for spending 3 days in Cape Town. The itinerary allows you to visit the main attractions in Cape Town. You can switch days around depending on weather conditions, days of the week, your own priorities, etc. Below every attraction, you can find a table with the opening and closing times that will help you to adjust the itinerary to your needs. 

If you’re not planning to rent a car you can visit most of the places in this 3-day itinerary using Cape Town City Sightseeing Bus. You can buy 1 or 2-day tickets on the hop-on-hop-off bus.

Stormy sky, turquoise blue water, white sand beach and Table Mountain on the background

Day 1. Natural landmarks

  • Morning. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.
  • Afternoon. Constantia Wine Route. Bo Kaap Neighborhood.
  • Evening. Table Mountain (cable car). Sunset.

Day 2. Historical Cape Town

  • Morning. V&A Waterfront. Robben Island.
  • Afternoon. Woodstock Neighborhood. The Castle of Good Hope.
  • Evening. Lion’s Head, sunset.

Day 3. The scenic drive

  • Morning. Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay, Hout Bay. Chapman’s Peak Drive.
  • Afternoon. Cape Point National Park. Boulders Beach, Muizenberg.
  • Evening. V&A Waterfront. Sunset cruise.

Find out when is the best time to visit Cape Town to plan your trip accordingly.

It’s always recommended to have travel insurance when you go overseas especially if you’re planning to do some outdoor and adventure activities. Choosing a company, make sure it has experience in working in the international travel market. If you don’t have one yet we can recommend using World Nomads. Their insurance policies are very flexible and easy to purchase online before or during your trip. You can buy a policy that covers the whole trip or only a part of it. Get an instant quote now!

Day 1. Cape Town’s Natural Landmarks

Map of the attraction to visit on the day one of your Cape Town itinerary
A sightseeing route on the first day of the Cape Town 3-day itinerary. To open Google Maps click on the map

If you’re planning to visit several attractions during your 3 days in Cape Town buying a City Pass might be worth it. The Cape Town City Pass includes access to over 80 city sights and free use of the hop-on-hop-off bus for the duration of your pass.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardne

  • Opening hours – September to March, daily from 8 am to 7 pm; April to August, daily from 8 am to 6 pm.
  • Entrance fee – adults – ZAR210/US$11, children (6-18) – ZAR30/US$1,5, children under 6 – free.
  • Drive time from City Bowl to Kirstenbosch – 15-25 min.
  • Parking – there is a parking lot on the territory, in case of a concert or an event it gets full quite quickly, and you’ll have to park your car outside the Garden. 

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is a perfect place to start the morning. There are a couple of places inside the garden where you can have breakfast. One can spend the whole day or just a couple of hours here. There are several easy walking routes and a couple of longer trails in the garden. The Skeleton Gorge hike is one of them. It starts in Kirstenbosch and goes all the way to the top of Table Mountain. You’ll need 3 hours to complete it.

The Sky Bridge is a not-to-miss attraction in Kirstenbosch, from here you can get a nice view of the Garden and the surrounding area.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden one of the highlights of Cape Town
One of the walking trails in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Day 1 of the 3-day itinerary

Constantia Wine Route

  • Opening hours (Groot Constantia Estate) – daily (except Good Friday and Christmas) from 9 am to 4 pm. Tickets sold between 9 am and 2.30 pm
  • Cost – from ZAR100/US$6 per person
  • Drive time from Kirstenbosch to Groot Constantia – 12-20 min. 
  • Parking there are a couple of parking lots on the territory.

Visit Constantia with a tour

Visiting a couple of wine farms in Constantia is a must-add to your Cape Town itinerary. Constantia is one of the most famous wine routes in Cape Winelands. If you’re looking for a lesser-known alternative you can visit Durbanville wine farms instead. Both Constantia and Durbanville are located just outside Cape Town, it’s a short drive from the city center.

Groot Constantia is one of the most famous wine estates in Constantia. It has a tasting room, a museum, and two restaurants on its territory. The area is beautiful on weekends and holidays; it gets very busy. Tasting is from ZAR 100/US$5 for 5 wines including a wine glass that you can take with you as a souvenir. We usually pay for one person they pour enough wine to taste and someone always has to drive. Wine tasting and lunch can take between 2 and 3 hours depending on how many estates you visit.

Bo Kaap neighborhood

  • Drive time from Groot Constantia to Bo Kaap – 30 min. 

Visit Bo Kaap with a tour

To continue the day head to the colorful Bo Kaap neighborhood – one of Cape Town’s postcard images and probably one of the most photographed areas of the city. It’s fun to walk around the houses painted green, red, blue, yellow, etc. and to take photos, you won’t need more than 1h-1.30min. for that.

Colorful Bo Kaap neighborhood, Cape Town
Bright and colorful Bo Kaap neighborhood – a must-include in your 3-day itinerary

Table Mountain

  • Opening hours (cable car) – from 8.30 am to 6 pm (in the peak summer months from 8 am to 7 pm)
  • Cable car tickets – adult from ZAR 340/US$18 return, children (4-17) from ZAR 195/US$10 return.
  • Drive time from Bo Kaap to Table Mountain cable car station – 10-15 min.
  • Parking – there is a parking lot at the bottom but it’s quite a walk up from there, most people park their cars along the road before or after the station. 

Visit Table Mountain with a tour

It’s time to visit Table Mountain – the most iconic attraction in Cape Town and a must-include in your Cape Town 3-day itinerary. You can see it pretty much from anywhere in the city but going up Table Mountain is a must-do. If you’re planning to take a cable car, the evening is a better time, the mountain is often in thick mist in the morning you might have no views at all, but it usually clears up by midday. 

A breathtaking view of the city from Table Mountain, the best in the Cape Town itinerary
The stunning view from the top of Table Mountain. Going up the mountain is a must-include in the Cape Town itinerary

If you want to go up following one of the Table Mountain hiking trails it’s better to do it in the morning when there are more people, the evening is not the best time. There are several routes that lead to the top of Table Mountain. The Platteklip Gorge is the most popular one. The India Venster is the most challenging. And the Skeleton Gorge is the greenest one. The other two routes are the Kasteelspoort and the Diagonal Trail both leading to the famous Diving Board.

Guided Table Mountain hikes

Day 2 (option 1). The Historical Cape Town

A second day map for the 3-day itinerary
A map of the sightseeing on the second day of the Cape Town itinerary. To open Google Maps click on the map

Robben Island

  • Tour departure times – daily at 9 am, 11 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm
  • Price (return boat + guided tour) – adults – ZAR600/US$33, children (2-17 yo) – ZAR310/US$17.
  • Drive time from City Bowl to V&A Waterfront – 10-15 min.
  • Parking – there is no free parking lot at Waterfront, you’ll have to park your car at one of the paid parking, it’s quite expensive to park here, for 4-hour parking expect to pay between ZAR40-50/US$2,5-3,5.

Visit Robben Island with a tour

Head to V&A Waterfront there are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops to go to for breakfast with the view. 

Robben Island is an essential historical place in Cape Town. The Island is famous for the prison where Nelson Mandella spent the last years of his sentence. To get to the Island you’ll have to take a ferry that departs from the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island in V&A Waterfront. It takes 30-45min. to get to the Island. The entire tour (including the return boat ride) takes 4 hours.

During the summer months of December, January, and February it’s highly recommended to buy your ticket in advance, 9 am tours are often sold out.

If you have some time before or after visiting Robben Island you can do a 30-minute boat cruise to find out more about the history of the Waterfront and to spot some seals. 

To get the best views of Cape Town and great memories do a helicopter flight. The helicopter leaves from V&A Waterfront Helipad.

Woodstock neighborhood

  • Opening hours – Mon – Fri from 10 am to 4 pm, Sat from 9 am to 2 pm, Sun closed.
  • Drive time from V&A Waterfront to Woodstock – 10-15min.
  • Parking – from Mon to Fri you can park within the Mill. On Saturdays, there is paid parking (ZAR10/US$1) at the College of Cape Town (in front of the market).

Woodstock used to be a shabby neighborhood of Cape Town but in the last couple of years, it turned into a hipsters’ hub with many small young businesses opening in the area it became one of the most popular places in the city where you can find small art galleries, conceptual coffee shops, organic food markets, and breweries. Espresso Lab is one of our favorite coffee shops in Cape Town.

The most famous and busiest place in Woodstock is The Old Biscuit Mill market. There are many different food stalls, organic farm products, hand-made souvenirs, crafts, etc. The Mill is one of the favorite Capetonians’ places to meet up with friends and family. It’s a very popular place to come on Saturday morning, every Saturday there is a big Neighborhood Market.

The Castle of Good Hope

  • Opening hours – daily from 9 am to 5 pm
  • Entrance fee – adults – ZAR50/US$2,5, children – ZAR25/US$1,5
  • Drive time – from the Old Biscuit Mill to the Castle – 5-10 min.

To continue with the history of Cape Town do a quick visit to the Castle of Good Hope the birthplace of Cape Town. It was built in the 17th century by the Dutch East India Company as a bastion fort. The visit will take between 1-1.5 hours. The Castle is on the way from Woodstock to Lion’s Head no need to do any extra driving to get there.  You can buy entrance tickets online.

Lion’s Head

  • Drive time to Lion’s Head/Signal Hill from the Castle of Good Hope – 15-20 min., from the Aquarium – 17-25 min.
  • Parking – on the slopes (along the road) of Lion’s Head or Signal Hill, it might be difficult to find a spot if you arrive too late.

Visit Lion’s Head with a tour

Time to visit another iconic location in your 3-day itinerary – Lion’s Head. It’s one of the most popular hikes in Cape Town and a great spot for watching the sunset. It’s better to arrive earlier to find a parking spot. To get to the top you’ll have to hike up the mountain. The Lion’s Head hike includes some rock, chain, and ladder climbing at the end. If it’s too much for you you don’t have to go all the way to the top just find a good spot at a lower level.

You can do a guided sunset hike up Lion’s Head if you don’t feel confident enough or just don’t want to walk alone. Watching the sunset from Lion’s Head is the best way to finish the second day of your Cape Town itinerary.

Another option is to go to Signal Hill (the neighboring mountain) instead of Lion’s Head. It might be a better option if you travel with children as well. You can drive all the way to the top. Parking might be a problem, make sure to arrive early.

Paragliding from Signal Hill, Cape Town day 2
Paragliding from Signal Hill with landing at Sea Point a great end of the day in Cape Town

Day 2 (option 2). The safari drive

Including a safari drive in your 3-day itinerary might be a good option for people with children and for those who are not planning to visit any safari parks in South Africa during their trip. You can do a day visit to one of the nearby safari parks to see the famous Big Five; lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino, and leopard. The nearest to Cape Town game lodge where you can see all of them is Aquila Private Game Reserve, about 2 hours drive from the city.

If you have more time you can stay at the game reserve for a couple of days, it’s a great getaway from Cape Town. Spending two days here you’ll have time to do a day and a night safari drive and see more animals. You can drive there yourself and join a safari tour there or book a tour from Cape Town that includes driving to and back and safari drives inside the park.

African antelopes at Aquila Game Reserve
Gemsboks at a waterhole in Aquila Game Reserve that you can include in your Cape Town itinerary

If you drive that way you can stop in Stellenbosch, there are many great things to do there.

After visiting the safari park you’ll still have enough time to get to Lion’s Head for the sunset.

Day 3. The Cape Peninsula scenic drive 

Route map of the drive around the Cape Peninsula
The driving route around the Cape Peninsula on the third day of the Cape Town itinerary. To open Google Maps click on the map

The last day of the suggested Cape Town itinerary is the most scenic one. The drive around the Cape Peninsula is truly spectacular, it’s one of our favorite day trips from Cape Town. The road waving along the rugged coast offers some of the best views in the whole country; unspoiled white sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, cozy towns, and diverse marine life. It’s possible to join a small group full-day tour around Cape Peninsula.

Start the coastal drive at Green Point, and drive through Cliffton and Camps Bay (where you can stop for breakfast) to Hout Bay. Stop at Haut Bay harbor there you have a good chance of seeing Cape Fur seals scavenging on fishermen’s leftovers. If you want a closer encounter you can go snorkeling with the seals from the Hout Bay Harbor. These guys are very curious and playful snorkeling or diving with them is a lot of fun.

Chapman’s Peak Drive

  • Drive time from City Bowl to Hout Bay (through Clifton) – 40-50 min.
  • Parking – you can park at the harbor for free.

The famous Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most scenic drives in Cape Town. It starts at Hout Bay, it’s not a very long but absolutely stunning drive with several lookouts and viewpoints. There are a couple of hiking trails that go up the mountain but I’d strongly recommend not venturing up there, the area is not safe, and in the last couple of years, there were several attacks on hikers there.

If you want to stretch your legs a bit there are many great trails at Cape Point National Park – the next stop on the way. I’d suggest driving to Cape Point through Kommetjie (there are some nice beaches there), not through Simons Town, you’ll drive through Simons Town on the way back anyway.

Cape Point National Park

  • Opening hours – daily from 7 am to 5 pm
  • Entrance fee – adults – ZAR360/US$19, children (2-12 yo) – ZAR180/US$10.
  • Drive time from Haut Bay to the Cape Point entrance gate (through Kommetjie) – 1h-1h10min.
  • Parking – there are several free parking areas inside the park, the main one is at Lower Funicular Station.

Visit Cape Point with a tour

Cape Point National Park with its breathtaking scenery, white sandy beaches, rugged cliffs, and spectacular lookout points definitely should be in your Cape Town itinerary. The famous Cape of Good Hope is situated in the park. Some people think that the Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost point of the African continent but it’s not right. The southernmost point of the continent and the meeting point of two oceans is Cape Agulhas it’s 250km up the east coast in the small town of Struissbai.

Cape Point National Park highlights

  • Dias Beach – a fantastic white sand beach surrounded by rugged cliffs it’s just a pity that the water is very cold. 
  • Cape of Good Hope – the famous point where you’ll probably have to line up to take a photo. By the way, at Cape Agulhas (the actual southernmost point of Africa) there are usually very few people.
  • The Old Lighthouse – it’s a short hike from the parking spot as an option you can take a funicular almost all the way to the lighthouse. The lighthouse itself is quite nice but the views from there are breathtaking. 

There are several hiking routes in the park and it’s safe to walk there, I’d say it’s the best area in Cape Town for hiking. 

Diaz Beach at Cape Point National Park
Stunning Diaz Beach at Cape Point National Park is a must-include in your 3-day itinerary

Boulders Beach

  • Opening hours – daily from 8 am to 5 pm
  • Entrance fee – adults – ZAR170/US$9, children (2-11 yo) – ZAR85/US$4,5
  • Drive time from the Cape Point entrance gate to Boulders Beach – 15-20 min.

Visit Boulders Beach with a tour

After spending some time at Cape Point head to Boulders Beach in Simon’s Town, a small and beautiful white sand beach with huge boulders and many African penguins walking around. Those guys are very small and cute, watching them is a lot of fun. I’d recommend stopping here for lunch there is a place with a balcony from where you can see the penguins and the beach while enjoying your meal. 

Simon’s Town is a popular place for diving and kayaking. If you’re a qualified diver you can do a couple of boat dives to see seals, cow sharks, blue sharks, Mako sharks, and many nudibranchs. There are a couple of places where you can do shark diving in Cape Town.

If you’re in Cape Town between July and September, you might see Southern Right whales from the boat. The best place for whale watching is Hermanus, a small town 120 km from Cape Town.

Muizenberg

From Simons Town continue driving along the coast to Muizenberg, this town is famous as a good spot to learn surfing and its colorful wooden beach cabins. It’s just a short stop to take photos after that you can start heading back to Cape Town. 

  • Drive time from Boulders Beach to Muizenberg – is 35-45 min., there is always a traffic jam at Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay.

V&A Waterfront

  • Drive time from Muizenberg to V&A Waterfront – 45min.-1h.
  • Parking – one of the paid outside or inside parking lots.

Go out for dinner or drinks at V&A Waterfront or Camp Bay you might be in time for another beautiful sunset in Cape Town. For a really special end to your Cape Town trip, instead of having drinks or dinner on land, you can join a sunset Champagne cruise.

From Cape Town, you can continue your South Africa trip and do a road trip on the Garden Route. You can do it as a self-drive trip; rent a car in Cape Town and drop it off in Port Elisabeth or join a tour.

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

After exploring Cape Town you can continue your trip and visit the spectacular east coast and the famous Garden Route.

Where to stay in Cape Town during your 3 days?

City Bowl. The best area to stay for backpackers, solo travelers, party lovers, and those who come to the city for business. Bree and Long streets are the main places to go out in Cape Town with many bars and clubs, if you’re up for a pub crawl or party it’s the place to be. 

V&A Waterfront/Seapoint. The best area to stay for families with children, older travelers, and couples. For me, it’s the best area to stay in the city, the main reason it just feels safer here than in City Bowl, you can walk in the evening along the promenade, there are many people, and it always has the festive vibe.

V&A Waterfront a perfect area to stay for a 3-day itinerary
V&A Waterfront is one of the best and safest areas to stay in Cape Town

Camps Bay. The fanciest area of Cape Town and a perfect place for a luxury stay. It’s the best area to stay in Cape Town on your South Africa honeymoon holiday. The area is safe with many restaurants and bars, beautiful white-sand beaches and some surfing spots, just remember the water here is ice-cold, it’s nice to walk around in a bikini but to do anything in the water you’ll need a wetsuit. 

Renting a car for 3 days in Cape Town

To drive in and around the city you don’t need a big 4×4 car, a normal sedan car will be more than enough unless you’re more than 5 people a minivan is a better option. The smaller your car the easier it’ll be to park on the streets of Cape Town. The best and the easiest is to rent a car at the airport on arrival and drop it off there on the way back.

Renting a car at Cape Town airport for 3 days

ModelPrice (3 days)SeatsGearbox*
Nissan MicraUS$355manual
Renault ClioUS$435manual
Toyota CorollaUS$555manual
Nissan AlmeraUS$665automatic
Audi A3US$905automatic
Volkswagen TransporterUS$1608manual

*it’s more expensive to rent a car with automatic gear.

Cape Town safety tips

  • 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 at the right time of the day when there are other people walking it, not late evening on your own carrying an expensive camera.
  • Don’t take your passport and all the valuable stuff with rather lock it in a hotel safe or locker.
  • Use a reliable taxi service, not any random guy that stops on the street.
  • To draw money use ATM in a bank office, mall, or supermarket. You can pay by card in most hotels, restaurants, and ticket offices.

Recommended books and guidebooks

Many books and guidebooks are accessible for free for Amazon Kindle Unlimited users, the program allows you to get access to thousands of e-books and audiobooks from any device (Kindle, tablet, mobile). You can try Amazon Kindle Unlimited for free for 30 days.

Travel resources to plan your trip

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Neo Mokoto

Thursday 14th of January 2021

I'm planning a trip to Cape town and this is just perfect!! Very informative and practical. Love it :-)

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 14th of January 2021

Hello, Neo! Thank you very much for the feedback! If you have any questions regarding your itinerary or things to do in Cape Town we'll be happy to help. Cheers!

Sonam Shah

Friday 8th of February 2019

Hi. I read your blog and it’s very informative. Just wanted to check with you that Incase I decide to drive down the garden route then I would be staying at Diffrent locations. I intend to stay for 3 nights. We will be having 4 bags with us as we are a family of 4. You mentioned not to even leave a jacket in the car then how safe is it to travel with bags and stopping on the garden route to do my adventures or sightseeing. Can you advice what can we do. I have 2 children aged 11 and 6 with me.

Stingy Nomads

Sunday 10th of February 2019

Hello, Sonam! Thank you for reading our blog! What I meant is not to leave anything on the car seats because it can be seen through the windows and encourage people to break into your car. You can leave you bags in the boot when you do activities, usually companies that arrange them have parking lots where you can leave your car. Enjoy South Africa and safe travels!

Ines Croatia

Thursday 26th of July 2018

Very good website. Keep up the good work. All the best from Croatia

Niclas

Thursday 19th of July 2018

Really great guide! But sad to see that Lions head didn't make it into the top places to visit in cape Town! :D Watching the sunrise from there is one of my favourite things to do in Cape Town! Again, really good guide, and lots of useful info :)

Stingy Nomads

Thursday 19th of July 2018

Hi, Niclas! Thank you for your comment! If you read the entire post you'll see that Lion's Head is included in our three day itinerary, on a first day, as a great spot for watching sunset. Cheers!

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