V&A Waterfront at the sunset the best time of the day to see it
South Africa

17 Must-see places in Cape Town for first-timers

There are many attractions and places of interest in and around Cape Town that are worth visiting. Even if you live here it’s difficult to visit all of them. Like any other city, Cape Town has some definite highlights that can’t be skipped. In this post, we selected the top attractions that are must-visit for first-timers. These are our suggestions if you feel like skipping some of them and visiting different places instead it’s up to you to decide.

If you don’t have enough time to visit many attractions and have to choose the main ones I’d choose Table Mountain, Bo Kaap, Robben Island, Constantia, and Camps Bay. These five represent the diversity of Cape Town. You can visit all of them in one day.

You can find more information on the best activities in the city in our post Amazing things to do in Cape Town.

Best areas to stay in Cape Town

Depending on how long you’re planning to stay in the Mother City. If you come for a couple of days I’d strongly recommend staying close to the City Bowl. It’ll save you a lot of time driving, you can get around without a car by the City Bus or Uber. Different areas of the city center are good for different reasons.

Downtown

Staying right in Downtown in Bree Street or Long Streets is great for single travelers, there are many bars and restaurants, several hostels. It’s a very social area, great for meeting people. The center is a good place to stay for those who are on a business trip. Offices of many big companies, as well as Cape Town International Convention Center, are located here.

Green Point (Sea Point)/V&A Waterfront

This area is a more suitable option for families, couple and those who prefer the tranquillity of the seaside to the bustling streets of the city center. There are a couple of supermarkets, many restaurants, coffee shops and one or two big playgrounds in the area.

Camps Bay

The most expensive neighborhood in Cape Town with no budget accommodation options. It’s a perfect area to stay if you’re on a honeymoon or on a romantic holiday.

Big Bay/Bloubergstrand

If you’re planning to stay in Cape Town for a couple of weeks I’d suggest staying in the city center for the first couple of days to visit the main attractions and then moving to a different area. We love Big Bay/Blouberg, it’s about 20km from Downtown. The area is great for surfing and windsurfing, there are a couple of beaches with long promenades perfect for running or cycling. If you stay in Big Bay you can easily get around without a car pretty much everything you need including a couple of supermarkets, many restaurants, cafes, surf shops are walking distance away.

Bloubergstrand beach and the view of Table Mountain and Cape Town
Table Mountain and Lion’s Head from Bloubergstrand, Cape Town

Best ways to move around the city

Renting a car is the easiest way to move around. I’d definitely recommend it if you’re a couple of people it’ll be cheaper than doing tours. Having a car is great if you’re planning to visit some places outside the city e.g. Stellenbosch, Cape Point, safari parks, etc.

Car rental prices at Cape Town International Airport

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

For visiting attractions within the city, the City Sightseeing Bus is a great option. There are four different routes that take you to all the sights in Cape Town. I actually prefer this option it’s easier, you don’t have to worry about parking, traffic, finding the right street, etc. On the bus, you get informative comments about the city and the main attractions. There are 1 and 2-day tickets. A 2-day ticket includes the Sunset Bus tour, 2 walking tours, and a seal cruise. You can buy City Sightseeing bus tickets online.

If you’re planning to visit many city attractions and to use the City Sightseeing Bus quite a lot it might be worth buying The Cape Town City Pass. The Pass gives you free access to 90 attractions. You can use the City Bus for free for the duration of your Pass. There are 3 and 5-day Passes that can be purchased online. The countdown starts from the day you activate your Pass. With the Premium Pass you can choose one of the following activities; Great White Shark Cage Diving, Big 5 Safari, Cape Town Helicopter flights, Whale watching, and more.

A map with 17 must-see places in Cape Town
A map of the must-see places in Cape Town

Bucket-list places to visit in Cape Town

We combined the city attractions into 5 groups according to their locations to make it easier for you to plan your Cape Town holiday. We have a detailed 3-day itinerary for Cape Town that might be helpful in your planning. If you’re lucky to have more than 3 days in the Mother City you can use it as well there are some optional days that extend the itinerary to 4 or 5 days. 

Group 1: Table Mountain, Lion’s Head & Signal Hill, Bo Kaap neighborhood, Castle of Good Hope, and District Six Museum. You’ll need the whole day to visit all these places. If you’re planning to hike up Table Mountain I’d recommend going there first thing in the morning. Then in the afternoon visiting the Castle of Good Hope and District Six Museum. Stopping for lunch somewhere in between. In the evening stop at Bo Kaap and from there go to Lion’s Head to watch the sunset.

Table Mountain 

  • The best time of the day to visit; morning or evening (not if you’re planning to hike), it often covered in clouds in the afternoon
  • Admission fee; cable car ticket – ZAR 350/US$18 adults, ZAR 180/US$9 children.
  • Working hours; the cable car operates depending on the season between 8am and 8pm (summer), 8am-6pm (winter).
  • Parking; along the road leading to the Lower Aerial Cableway station, the closer to it you can park the better.
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route. You can buy a combined City bus/Cable car ticket.

The most recognizable attraction that Cape Town is known for all over the world. If you have to choose one sight to visit in the city Table Mountain is definitely the one. There are different ways of getting to the top. The easiest and the fastest one is to take a cable car from the parking lot. 

Walking to the top is another option but I’d strongly recommend, for safety reasons, choosing a popular route like Platteklip Gorge. Morning is the best time for hiking to the top; it’s nice and cool even in the summer and there are quite a few people on the trail, especially on weekends.

If you decide to hike up make sure to wear comfortable shoes. Light hiking shoes will be the ideal but running shoes or sneakers will work fine as well. Take at least 1 liter of water per person, the ascent is tough and you’ll be thirsty. There is no place to refill the water until you reach the top. Put on sunscreen, wear a hat or a cap and take a light jacket, on the top it might be quite chilly even on a sunny day. You can join a guided hike to Table Mountain that includes pickup and drop-off at your hotel, a guide, snacks, and water.

There is another route to the top of Table Mountain from the Lower Cable Car station. It is called the India Venster (Indian Window). The route is beautiful but more challenging than the Platteklip it involves some rock scrambling. If you want to climb this route I’d recommend for safety reasons to join a hiking tour.

You can combine both options: walk up and take the cable car down or another way around. On the top, you can find a shop selling snacks and souvenirs, a restaurant, a cable car station with a ticket office and toilets.

Aerial Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain the most famous sight in Cape Town
Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain a must-visit attraction in Cape Town

Lion’s Head

  • The best time of the day to visit; at the sunset
  • Admission fee; free
  • Working hours; 24 hours, no gate
  • Parking; along the road that leads to Signal Hill. There is another parking spot between Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, lower down if there is no place on Lion’s Head it’s usually empty, but it’s an extra 10-15min. walk to the trailhead. Parking is free.
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route goes past Lion’s Head but there is no bus stop there, the nearest stop is at Lower Cable Car station. 

Another symbolic mountain in Cape Town. If you have a good imagination you will be able to see that the shape of the hill has some resemblance with the head of a lion. To get to the top of it you’ll have to walk there is no other option. The first part of the route is just a steep footpath, it just makes you a little bit tired. The last part is more challenging and involves some ladders and ropes, don’t worry most people will be able to do it. To get nice views of the city you don’t have to climb all the way to the top. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes not flip-flops, they’ll be uncomfortable for climbing the ladders.

As an alternative instead of climbing Lion’s Head, you can go to the top of Signal Hill. It’s the neighboring hill that is easier to access, the road goes pretty much all the way to the top. The views from there are impressive as well. Signal Hill is a popular spot for paragliding with landing on the beach at Sea Point. It’s better to book the activity beforehand to make sure there will be available equipment and instructor. 

Both Lion’s Head and Signal Hill are very popular spots for watching the sunset. On a nice day, hundreds of people come here. Lion’s Head is probably the best sunset spot in the city. If you want to make it in time for the sunset I’d recommend coming here a couple of hours earlier to find a parking spot and to have enough time to make it to the top (there will be some traffic on the trail). As an option, you can join a sunset/sunrise hiking tour up to Lion’s Head.

For those who don’t want to drive around the city chasing the sunset and looking for a parking spot, Sunset Sightseeing Bus tour is a great alternative. The bus leaves between 5pm and 6pm (depending on the sunset time) from V&A Waterfront. It takes tourists to a couple of popular sunset spots including Signal Hill.

Bo Kaap

  • The best time of the day to visit; during the daylight
  • Admission fee; free
  • Parking – The Riebeeck Square parking lot on Shortmarket St., price from ZAR 20/US$1.
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route

The most colorful neighborhood of Cape Town is a must-visit place. Its cobbled streets with colorful houses painted in red, blue, green, yellow, orange, and purple is a real city’s gem. Bo Kaap is one of the favorite spots for photographers and Instagrammers. 

Bo Kaap is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. The name Bo Kaap in Afrikaans means “top Cape” referring to the location of the neighborhood on the top of the hill. The history of Bo Kaap dates back to the times when slavery was still allowed in the British Empire and thousands of slaves mostly from Malaysia and Indonesia were brought to South Africa. Many of them settled down in Bo Kaap. Most of them were Muslim. Bo Kaap is home to the oldest mosque in the country. 

Originally the neighborhood wasn’t that colorful, all houses were painted white. After the ablution of slavery residents of Bo Kaap painted their houses in bright colors as a sign of freedom. 

Depending on how much time you have you can stop here just to take a couple of photos or to explore the area in a more substantial way with the city cycling tour. If you like cooking you might enjoy a cooking class in Bo Kaap where you can learn how to make traditional Malay dishes. 

Colorful houses of Bo Kaap one of the bucket-list places for tourists in Cape Town
Bright & colorful Bo Kaap a must-see place in Cape Town

Castle of Good Hope 

  • The best time of the day to visit; 10am and 12pm Key Ceremony, 10am, 11am and 12pm Cannon firing
  • Admission fee; ZAR 50/US$2,5 adults, ZAR 25/US$1,5 children
  • Working hours; every day 9am-7pm
  • Parking; there is a free (up to 2 hours) parking lot at 10 Darling Street, 50m from the Castle
  • Hop-on bus route; the yellow line. The red line bus stop in Long Street is just 2 blocks away.

The Castle was built in the 17th century as a fortification construction to protect the area from possible attacks from the sea. It is considered one of the best-preserved 17th-century constructions of its kind in the world. During the 17th-18th centuries, the entire city was located within the Wall. It housed a church, bakery, various workshops, houses, shops, a prison, and other facilities. If you want to learn more about city history and the Castle you can join a guided tour. Tours start daily at 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm. 

District Six Museum

  • The best time of the day to visit; 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm guided tours times (it’s better to pre-book a tour)
  • Admission fee; ZAR 45/US$2,5 adults, ZAR 15/US$1 children (self-guided visit)
  • Working hours; Mon-Sat 9am-4pm, closed on Sundays
  • Parking; you can use the same parking at 10 Darling Street, the Museum is 400m away from the Castle.
  • Hop-on bus route; the yellow line. The red line bus stop in Long Street is just 2 blocks away.

District Six was a residential area in Cape Town where from 1966 to 1994 the end of the apartheid only white people were allowed to reside. Non-white residents of the district were forcefully removed to the suburbia areas. Some of these areas nowadays are huge townships. You can visit some of them with a guided tour that starts at District Six.

Visiting first the Castle and then the Museum is a great way to learn the history of Cape Town from the time it was founded till the modern period.

If you want to learn more about apartheid time and meet some of the ex-residents you can join a guided museum tour or a guided site walk tour. It’s better to arrange both tours beforehand.

Recommended books about South African history

Best places to eat in the area

Truth Coffee Roasting (City Center) one of the locals’ favorite coffee places in the city. Great coffee, many coffee-based drinks, and desserts. Open Mon-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 7am-4pm.

New York Bagels (City Center) is our favorite place to come for breakfast after our weekly morning run up Table Mountain. They have delicious bagels (salmon and cream cheese is my personal favorite), great coffee, and freshly-baked pastry. Open Mon-Fri 7am-4pm, Sat 7am-2pm, Sun closed.

Lekker Vegan (City Center) is a vegan junk food restaurant (they call it this way) where you can get vegan burgers, chips, wraps, and toasties. Open Mon-Sat 12pm-8.30pm, Sun closed.

For authentic Cape Malay flavors, the best is to find a small family-run place in Bo Kaap. Faeeza’s Home Kitchen (Bo Kaap) is a good place for curry lovers. Open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, closed on Sundays.

Harvest Cafe & Deli (Bo Kaap) is a great place to come for a healthy breakfast. Smoothies, healthy bowls, eggs Benedict, avocado toasts, etc. Open Mon-Sat 7.30am-4pm, Sun 8.30am-1pm.

Chefs Warehouse & Canteen (Bree Street) the place to come for tapas-like lunch or dinner in a modern minimalist style. Open Mon-Sat, lunch 12pm-2.30pm, dinner 4.30pm-8.30pm. Closed on Sundays. 

Bombay Bicycle Club (Gardens) – a cool place to come for a couple of drinks and dinner. The menu is very diverse from ribs and seafood to vegetarian and vegan dishes. Open Mon-Sat, bar 4pm-midnight, kitchen 6pm-11pm.  

The Dog’s Bollocks (Gardens) another Capetonians’ favorite. A great place to come for a very informal dinner with a beer. Burgers here are the best in the city. It’s a cool place for a younger crowd. Open Mon-Fri 7.30am-10.30pm, Sat-Sun 8.30am-10.30pm.

Cream cheese and salmon bagel and a cappuccino at my favorite bagel place in Cape Town
Salmon and cream cheese – my favorite bagel in New York Bagels cafe

Group 2. Robben Island, V&A Waterfront, Two Oceans Aquarium, Sea Point & Camps Bay. Try to choose a nice sunny day for visiting these attractions because you’re going to spend a lot of time in the ocean. It’ll take around 7 hours to visit these places. A tour to Robben Island requires 3h30min. It’s better if you take the earliest tour to the Island, at 9am from V&A Waterfront.

Visiting the sights from this group can be combined with the attractions from Group 3. Start the morning with a visit to Robben Island then go to the Aquarium. After, drive to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, you’ll need 2 hours or so to walk around. From there head to Constantia and visit a couple of wine farms. After the wine tasting drive to Camps Bay, Sea Point, and V&A Waterfront to watch the sunset.

From Camps Bay in the afternoon head to Table Mountain, from there to Bo Kaap and finish the day watching the sunset from Lion’s Head.

Robben Island 

  • The best time of the day to visit; morning, it’s easier for planning the rest of the day 
  • Admission fee; ZAR 550/US$30 adults, ZAR 300/US$16 children. The price includes a return boat ride to the Island and a 2-hour guided tour.
  • Working hours; boats depart 3 times a day at 9am, 11am and 1pm.
  • Parking; there are several covered parking lots at the Waterfront but they’re quite expensive. If you’re staying close by it’s better to leave your car and walk.
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route and the blue route.

The Island plays an important role in South African history. Nelson Mandela spent 20 years in prison on the island. Robben Island is about 7km away from the mainland. The name means “Island of Seals”. The total area of it is only 5km. From the early 17th century till 1991 the Island was used as a prison. In 1999 the Island was declared a World Heritage Site. 

Robben Island can be visited only as a part of a tour. You can buy tickets online. During the tour, you might be able to see penguins, seals and dolphins. 

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

  • The best time of the day to visit; morning and evening
  • Parking; there are a couple of covered parking lots, cost 
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route and the blue route

One of the safest and most touristy areas of Cape Town with many restaurants, souvenir shops, a couple of malls and expensive hotels. It’s not the place to get an authentic experience but it’s just nice to stroll along the harbor, to watch local musical bands performing on the street and drink a cup of coffee with the sea view. The Waterfront is a nice place to come for the sunset to drink a glass of wine. If you want to have a special evening you can join a Sunset Champagne cruise from the Waterfront. You can combine the cruise with a 3-course dinner.

Another idea for a romantic evening is to board the Cape Wheel for a picnic in the sky. You can have a 30-minute ride with a picnic basket that you fill with your favorite snacks at one of the local stores.

Things not to miss at V&A Waterfront

  • The Harbor
  • The Cape Wheel
  • V&A Clock Tower
  • Waterfront Swing Bridge
  • Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art

There are several tours that depart from the Waterfront. For the best views of Cape Town take a 30-minutes helicopter flight. You’ll get a chance to see Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Cape Point, the Stadium, and pretty much everything in and around the city. It’s a great way to start your Cape Town trip because you’ll get a much better idea of the city and its main attractions.

While walking at the harbor from time to time, look down, usually, you can see a couple of seals in the water. For a closer encounter with these playful animals, you can take a 30-minute boat cruise along the Waterfront.

A Cape seal in water near the Waterfront in Cape Town
A seal playing in the water at V&A Waterfront

Two Oceans Aquarium

  • The best time of the day to visit; feeding times. Penguin feeding – daily at 11.30am and 2.30pm. Shark feeding – Sundays at 3pm. Sea turtles, rays and bigger fish – daily at 12pm and 2pm.
  • Admission fee; ZAR 185/US$10 adults, ZAR 140/US$7 children (14-17 yo), ZAR 90/US$4,5 children (4-13 yo), children under 4 years old – free.
  • Working hours; Mon-Fri from 9.30am to 6pm, Sat, Sun from 9am to 6pm
  • Parking; the Aquarium doesn’t have its own parking, the closest parking is Parkwood parking garage, 50 meters away. Price – ZAR15/US$1 for 1 hour, the longer you park the cheaper it gets per hour. 
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route and the blue route.

The Aquarium is definitely a must-visit place for travelers with children. There is a lot to learn and to see here. You can spend half of a day admiring the incredible diversity of marine life in the cold water around Cape Town. The environment created inside makes you truly feel like you’re underwater. There are several gigantic aquariums that display local fish such as sharks, rays, turtles, yellow-tails, and many others. A 10-meter long aquarium-tunnel is one of the highlights, you’re surrounded by water, anywhere you look you see fish and other marine life. If you’re planning to visit the Aquarium on the weekend or during December holiday I’d strongly recommend buying your tickets online to save time.

The Aquarium offers some unique experiences such as scuba diving or face-to-face penguin encounters. For scuba diving in one of the aquariums, you’ll need minimum Open Water qualification or a same-day PADI Discover Scuba Diving course.

Sea Point

  • Best time of the day to visit; any time during the daylight
  • Parking; along the road
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route and the blue route

Sea Point Promenade is one of the most popular places for jogging, cycling, or rollerblading. It stretches along the coast for 4km from the Waterfront almost all the way to Clifton Beaches. Many locals come here on weekends or during holidays to practice sport, meet-up with friends and family and just to spend some time enjoying the ocean. There are no particular sights to see here, just a lone promenade with street cafes and food kiosks. It’s a nice area to stay, it’s close to the ocean and the city center but not as expensive as V&A Waterfront or Camps Bay. 

The Promenade at Sea Point a nice place to come for a stroll along the sea
Sea Point Promenade a nice place to come for a walk along the ocean

Camps Bay

  • The best time of the day to visit; any time, looks very beautiful at the sunset.
  • Parking; along the road on the beachside.
  • Hop-on bus route; the red route and the blue route.

The fanciest neighborhood of Cape Town with perfect white-sand beaches, ice-cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and luxury mansions crowning the top of the hills. It’s one of the most picturesque areas of the city. The views from Maiden’s Cove parking are spectacular; huge boulders at the waterline, sandy beaches, and the town squeezed between the ocean and the Twelve Apostles mountain range. Camps Bay is a great area to stay if you can afford it there is no budget accommodation here. If you’re not planning to stop for lunch here, 30 minutes will be enough to see the area and to make a couple of photo stops. 

Group 3. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden & Constantia. As I mentioned above these two places can be combined with Group 2. Both the Garden and Constantia are located outside the city center on the other side of Table Mountain. 

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

  • Best time of the day to visit; afternoon in the summer. You can spend the hottest time of the day in the shade of the trees and enjoy a picnic on the grass. Free guided tours in the Garden are Mon-Sat at 11am and 2pm.
  • Admission fee; ZAR 75/US$4 adults, ZAR 20/US$1 children (6-17 yo), children under 6 years – free.
  • Working hours; daily, September to March (summer) 8am-7pm, April to August (winter) 8am-6pm.
  • Parking; free parking at Gates 1, 2 and 3
  • Hop-on bus route: the blue route

Kirstenbosch is a green paradise within the city. If you have time you can spend pretty much the whole day here. The Garden occupies  528 hectares, it’s one of the largest Botanical Gardens in South Africa. Visitors can see here thousands of species of plants and flowers that grow in different parts of the country. There are several walking routes and longer hiking trails inside the Garden. Including the Skeleton Gorge, a lesser-known route up to Table Mountain. I’d strongly recommend walking this route on weekends or public holidays when there are more people. Otherwise, you can do a guided Skeleton Gorge hike that includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel, a guide and snacks and water.

If you’re planning to do one of the longer hikes (Skeleton Gorge or Nursery Ravine), morning is the best time before it gets too hot. Keep in mind that there is no cable car going from the top of Table Mountain to Kirstenbosch. It means if you arrive by car you’ll have to walk down back to the Garden the same way to get to your car. If you take a bus you can walk up to Table Mountain and get down by cable car down on the other side. Make sure to carry enough water, to wear comfortable shoes and a cap.

Every season Kirstenbosch is different. Spring and early summer is the best time for visiting the Garden when you can see the most flowers and trees in blossom. 

Kirstenbosch is a great place for a picnic on the grass. You can bring your own food or buy a picnic basket at one of the restaurants inside the Garden. Moyo has a very diverse picnic menu that includes meat, pescatarian, gluten-free and vegetarian options. 

In the summer season (end of November – the beginning of April) every Sunday at 5pm a Summer Sunset Concert takes place in the Garden. It’s a combination of a picnic and a concert. It’s better to buy tickets in advance.

The walking bridge above the trees in Kirstenbosch Garden - not to miss in Cape Town
The Tree Canopy Walk in Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden – a green paradise within the city

Constantia wine area

  • Best time of the day to visit; the afternoon is the best time you can combine lunch and wine tasting
  • Admission fee; entrance to the farms is free, wine tasting costs between ZAR 70-100/US$5-8 per person.  
  • Working hours; most tasting rooms are open between 10am and 4pm.
  • Parking; all farms have parking lots near their tasting rooms
  • Hop-on bus route: first, take the blue route to get to Constantia Nek Wine stop. From there switch to the purple route with three stops at Groot Constantia, Eagle’s Nest and Beau Constantia.

Constantia is the oldest wine area in South Africa and the oldest wine-producing region in the Southern Hemisphere. Groot Constantia, one of the most famous wine farms in the area, was established in 1685 by Simon van der Stel, the governor of Cape Town.

There are several wine estates in Constantia. I’d recommend choosing 2-4 places depending on how much time you have. Wine tasting takes time, it’s difficult to enjoy it if you’re in a rush. If you prefer not to drive while tasting wines you can join a half-day wine tasting tour. It includes pick-up and drop-off at your hotel in Cape Town, a visit to 3 wine estates with tasting and lunch. You don’t have to worry about anything, just relax and enjoy the day.

The best way to explore the area is to stay here for one night and spend two entire days visiting wine farms and tasting local wines. The Constantia Valley is spectacular, a perfect place for a romantic holiday or weekend. You don’t have to be a wine expert to enjoy wines. Even if you know nothing about the wine culture during the tasting you’ll get a chance to learn a lot. Who knows maybe by the end of your trip you’ll become a real wine connoisseur. 

An open-air restaurant at Groot Constantia a must visit area for wine lovers
Restaurant at Groot Constantia wine estate, the oldest wine farm in South Africa

Places to stay in Constantia

Unlike in other wine areas like Stellenbosch or Franschhoek where there are dozens of farms Constantia Valley has only 9 farms. Which is great in a way because if you decide to spend here two days you’ll have enough time to visit all of them. 

The main wine estates in Constantia

Groot Constantia is probably the one that you should include because it’s the oldest farm and it’s a very beautiful estate. Wine tasting here from ZAR 100/US$5 per person. Open Mon-Sun 10am-4pm (you can buy wine tasting tickets till 2.30pm). There is a nice restaurant with an outdoor terrace at the estate.

Klein Constantia is considered to be one of the most beautiful wine estates in South Africa. It was established just after Groot Constantia in 1685. There is a bistro where you can have lunch with a breathtaking view of the valley. Tasting from ZAR 100/US$5. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm.

Eagle’s Nest is another beautiful estate with great wines. The farm is located on the slope of the hill and offers some amazing views of the vineyards and the valley. Tasting ZAR 75/US$4. Open Mon-Sun 10am-4.30pm.

If you don’t have much time to visit both famous wine areas near Cape Town Constantia and Stellenbosch you can choose one of them. We, personally, prefer Stellenbosch; there are more wine estates but Constantia wine farms are equally great and beautiful. 

Group 4. Stellenbosch & Franschhoek are our two favorite towns in South Africa. Every time when we’re in the country we spend our wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day or just a romantic weekend in one of them. You can drive here for a day with a rental car or join a full day wine tasting tour from Cape Town.

The best way is to stay here at least for one night to have enough time to visit a couple of wine estates, go out for dinner and enjoy the breathtaking scenery of the Winelands. If you enjoy great wine and delicious food you can easily stay for a week in both Stellenbosch and Franschhoek there is a great number of amazing wine farms and restaurants to visit.

Cape Winelands

Stellenbosch

  • Best day of the week to visit; Fridays & Saturdays the town gets busy, there are a couple of street markets on Saturday.
  • Admission fee; entrance to the farms is free, wine tasting costs between ZAR 50/US$2,5 and ZAR 100/US$5 depending on the estate.
  • Working hours; most tasting rooms are open Mon-Sat between 10am and 4pm. Some tasting rooms are open on Sundays but they close earlier around 12pm.
  • Parking; all farms have parking lots near their tasting rooms.

Stellenbosch is a beautiful University town in the heart of Cape Winelands. There are more than 150 wine farms around Stellenbosch. Of course, not all of them do wine tasting and are open to the public but many are. We’ve been to Stellenbosch many times and every time we try to visit a couple of wine estates but so far we managed to do no more than 20 farms. More information about wine farms around Stellenbosch you can get in our detailed post Wine tasting in Stellenbosch.

The town and the surrounding area look splendid in spring – beginning of summer, it’s my favorite time to come here. Wine tasting is not the only activity in Stellenbosch, there are many outdoor things that you can do here; hiking, MTB, horse riding, trail running, etc. Many wine farms have hiking and MTB trails on the estate where you can combine tasting with hiking or cycling. If you want to know more about different activities in the town our post Amazing things to do in Stellenbosch might be helpful. 

Most wine estates allow you to share one tasting between two people. We always do it, it’s cheaper and you get enough to taste.

Our favorite wine estates in Stellenbosch

  • Tokara – one of the most beautiful farms in the area. The location is spectacular, the views are breathtaking. Open Mon-Sun 10am-5.30pm. Tasting ZAR 75/US$4.
  • Waterford – a little Italian corner hidden in the vineyards of Stellenbosch. Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat 10am-5pm, Sun closed. Tasting from ZAR 90/US$5.
  • Delair Graff – stunning views, beautiful garden and great wines. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-4.30pm. Tasting ZAR 75/US$4.
  • Spier – a great place to start tasting with, their chocolate and wine pairing is brilliant. Mon-Wed, Sun 9am-5pm, Thu-Sat 9am-6pm. Tasting from ZAR 40/US$2.
  • Jordan – a beautiful estate surrounded by the vineyards with good wines. Open Mon-Sun 9.30am-4.30pm. Tasting ZAR 55/US$3.

If you travel with children wine tasting might be not their favorite time-spending but there are places in Stellenbosch where children will find how to keep themselves busy. Fairview is one of such places. Fairview is a wine and cheese farm so parents can enjoy tasting while kids watch cute goats that roam around on the grass, climb on the top of the goat tower and walk over steep bridges. Open Mon-Sun 9am-5pm (on Sundays wine tasting till 12.30pm). Tasting from ZAR 40/US$2. 

Spice Route is another great place for travelers with children here the whole family can enjoy tasting; for adults wine and cheese, for kids chocolate and ice cream. Plus there are several hiking trails of different length for all ages. Open Mon-Sun 9am-5pm. Tasting from ZAR 40/US$2.

More details on different wine estates around Stellenbosch you can find in our Guide to the best wine estates in Stellenbosch

Places to stay in Stellenbosch

The entrance to Waterford Wine farm in Stellenbosch, a little corner of Italy in Cape Town
Waterford Wine farm one of our favorite estates in Stellenbosch

Franschhoek

  • Best day of the week to visit; any day is good but Sunday. Most places including restaurants are closed on Sundays.
  • Admission fee; entrance to the farms is free, wine tasting costs between ZAR 50/US$ and ZAR 100/US$ depending on the estate.
  • Working hours; most tasting rooms are open Mon-Sat between 10am and 4pm.
  • Parking; all estates have free parking lots.

Franschhoek is another incredible place to visit for those who enjoy great wine and delicious food. It is the food capital of South Africa that houses some of the best restaurants and wine estates in the country.

Franschhoek is all about wine, fine dining and art. I absolutely love this town and the surrounding area. It’s absolutely beautiful. Dining and wine tasting are not the only activities that you can do in and around Franschhoek. Visiting Huguenot Monument and Museum, driving over Franschhoek Pass, hiking in Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. Several farms offer hiking and cycling trails so you can combine wine tasting and outdoor experience. For more detailed information on the activities in Franschhoek check our post Best things to do in Franschhoek

You can visit Franschhoek as a part of a tour from Cape Town to Cape Winelands. If you want to see more of Franschhoek you can join a day tour from Cape Town to Franschhoek that includes a return transfer from your hotel and the hop-on-hop-off wine tram that makes stops at several wine farms. You get stunning views from the double-story tram driving through the vineyards, taste great local wines and don’t have to worry about getting back to Cape Town. 

Our favorite wine estates in Franschhoek

  • Dieu Donne – probably our favorite farm in Franschhoek, we love their Wooded Chardonnay. Great views from the tasting room. Open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat, Sun 10.30am-5pm. Tasting ZAR 75/US$4.
  • Boschendal – an amazing farm with great wines with a huge garden where you can set a picnic. Open Mon-Sun 10am-6pm. Tasting from ZAR 65/US$3,5. 
  • Haute Cabriere – a nice place to combine a light tapas-like meal with wine tasting while enjoying beautiful views. Open Mon-Sat 8am-8pm, Sun 8am-4pm. Tasting from ZAR 15/US$1.
  • Chamonix – one of the few places where you can taste Pinot Noir in South Africa. Open Mon-Sun 10am-4.30pm. Tasting ZAR 75/US$4.
  • Leopard’s Leap – a nice place to start your Franschhoek wine tasting experience. Open Tue-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 11am-5pm. Tasting ZAR 55/US$3.

Places to stay in Franschhoek

If you have more time and really want to experience Franschhoek spending here a couple of days is a great way to do it. Like in Stellenbosch there are many stunning estates around the town that offer accommodation. Sitting with a glass of wine on a porch watching the sunset in the vineyards is an amazing experience.

Franschhoek wine tram on its way to some of the best wine farms in the area
Wine tram in Franschhoek an unmissable experience. A great way to spend a day visiting beautiful farms and tasting wine

Group 5. Chapman’s Peak, Cape Point, Boulders Beach and Muizenberg. All these places are located along the coast. Together they make a perfect day road trip with breathtaking scenery and amazing attractions. For more details on the drive read our post The best weekend road trip in Cape Town.

You can combine this drive with visiting attractions from Group 3. Start your day from Chapman’s Peak drive. From there drive to Cape Point National Park and spend a couple of hours there. Then head to Boulders Beach to see the penguins. Stop in Muizenberg to take some photos of the colorful beach cabins. From there drive to Constantia to do some wine tasting and finish your day in Kirstenbosch. You can do it another way around and visit Kirstenbosch first and finish with Chapman’s Peak Drive. This way you’ll get to drive along the coast at sunset. 

There are two ways of visiting these places; renting a car or joining a tour from Cape Town. If you rent a car you’ll have more flexibility. With a full-day tour, you get to visit all the attractions but you don’t need to worry about anything or do any planning. It might be a good option if you travel alone. 

Champan’s Peak

If we talk about our favorite weekend drive in South Africa Chapman’s Peak Drive will be at the top of our list. 

  • The best time of the day to drive; it’s beautiful at any time but at sunset, the area looks the most impressive.
  • Admission fee; there is a road toll between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, ZAR 50/US$2,5 per car.
  • Working hours; 24 hours
  • Parking; there are several lookouts along the road where you can stop your car for taking photos.

The drive starts in Hout Bay and finishes in Noordhoek. A 15-kilometer drive along the rugged coast of the Cape Peninsula. Before starting the drive you can stop in Hout Bay to watch Cape seals playing at the harbor. If you have enough time you can go snorkeling with seals. They’re very playful and curious and love interacting with people.

Hout Bay from Chapman's Peak Drive in Cape Town
Hout Bay from one of the view-points along Chapman’s Peak Drive – one of the most scenic drives in Cape Town

Cape Point

  • Best time of the day to visit; morning (in summer) if you’re planning to do some hikes, it can get very hot in the afternoon.
  • Admission fee; ZAR 320/US$17 adults, ZAR 160/US$8 children.
  • Working hours; daily October – March 6am-6pm, April – September 7am-5pm. The funicular, restaurants, and shops open at 9am.
  • Parking; there are several parking lots inside the park, the main one is at Lower Funicular Station.

The Cape Point National Park is simply stunning. If you want to find a place for hiking in Cape Town this is the best and probably the safest area to do it. There are many trails, boardwalks, and beaches that you can explore on foot. One can spend the whole day in the park. There is a 2-day trek Cape Point route that allows you to discover some hidden corners of the park and to enjoy the beautiful scenery. More details on the trek you can find in our post Cape of Good Hope hiking guide

Things not to miss in Cape Point National Park

  • Flying Dutch Funicular that will take you up to the view-point. You can buy funicular tickets online, it’ll save you some time in the park.
  • Old Lighthouse
  • Diaz Beach
  • Cape of Good Hope
One of the capes in Cape Point National Park at sunrise
Breathtaking scenery in Cape Point National Park one of the best places for hiking in Cape Town

Boulders Beach (Penguin colony)

  • Best time of the day to visit; you can see penguins at any time. It’s less crowded early in the morning.
  • Admission fee; ZAR 160/US$8 adults, ZAR 80/US$4 children.
  • Working hours; Mon-Sun 8am-5pm
  • Parking; free parking near Boulders Beach Guesthouse & Restaurant or at Seaforth Beach parking lot. Both are about a 5-minute walk to the penguin colony.

For many tourists, a visit to the Penguin Colony at Boulders Beach becomes one of the highlights of their trip. The beach is stunning; fine white sand, huge granite boulders, clean blue water, and many cute Africa penguins walking and swimming around. You can see them from very close-by and take some awesome photos. 

African penguins inhabiting the beach are one of the smallest penguin species in the world. Adult species weigh 2,5-3,5kg and are 60-70cm tall. They can be found only in South Africa and Namibia. The reserve was established in 1982 to protect African penguins that were on the border of extinction. There were only a few of them left in the area. Over the last 28 years, the colony has grown to 3000 birds.

Boulders Beach is located in Simon’s Town close to Cape Point National Park. There are some great accommodation options for those who want to spend a day or two enjoying the views and exploring the Cape Peninsula. 

Places to stay in Simon’s Town

African penguins at Boulders Beach in Simon's Town. Not to miss in Cape Town
Cute African Penguins at Boulders Beach one of the tourists’ favorite attractions in Cape Town

Muizenberg

  • Best time of the day to visit; the beach looks stunning before the sunset like any other beach around Cape Town. Don’t walk on any beach after the sunset in the dark, it’s not safe.
  • Parking; parking lots along the beach.

This beach town is a very popular surfing spot in Cape Town. Many people come here to learn surfing. There are a couple of big surf schools that offer lessons and accommodation. Like anywhere in Cape Town the water in Muizenberg is cold even in summer, you’ll need a wet-suit to surf here. Whatever gear you need you can rent it at one of the surf shops along the beach. If you want to learn surfing it’s better to stay in Muizenberg for a couple of days. 

Colorful beach cabins is another reason many tourists come here. Yellow, red, blue, and green color wooden cabins on the white-sand beach make a perfect photo spot. 

Keep in mind the drive from Simon’s Town to Muizenberg is only 16km but due to frequent traffic jams, it can take one hour to drive it.  

Places to stay in Muizenberg

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4 Comments

  1. Sally Layton Hill

    Love all the info. My husband and I are flying into Johannesburg and taking the Blue Train to Cape Town. I plan on following many of your recommendations while in Cape Town. Your recommendations have made me even more excited than I already was. Thank you!

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hello, Sally!
      Thank you for the comment! The Blue Train is probably the best transport experience you can have in South Africa. Enjoy South Africa and safe travels!

  2. I have heard so much about Cape Town. And this post speaks for itself! Me and my wife are kayak fanatics and on our every trip we try to spend a day on water. Had to ask just one question. Have you tried bungee jumping there? If yes, How was your experience ? I’d like to gather some information before planning my trip. Thanks.

    • Stingy Nomads

      Hi, Mike! Thank you for the comment! If you mean bungee jumping from Bloukrans bridge yes, we’ve done it. It was great and thrilling, we loved it and easy could do it again! You don’t need to book it in advance, the guys there are professionals, they’ll explain everything and prepare you in less than an hour. If you’re in the area it’s definitely worth it!
      Cheers!

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