Cape Town in 5 days: tips and highlights for Cape Town in South Africa!

Cape Town is a great city to visit. We think it is one of the nicest cities in the world because of the relaxed vibe, beautiful nature, beaches and cool skyline. We will definitely go back one day because Cape Town (and the rest of South Africa) has stolen our hearts.

There is a lot to do in Cape Town and during the 5 days that we were there, we were not bored for a moment. In this blog we describe 14 highlights and cool things to do in Cape Town. We made a handy map of the city for you with these Cape Town highlights so that you can easily orientate yourself and read about other useful tips for Cape Town.

Robben Island Cape Town South Africa

How many days do you need in Cape Town?

Cape Town, like other world cities, has allure and a lot to offer. The location of this city near the ocean, with mountains in the background is phenomenal. You can easily spend 2 weeks here without getting bored. We recommend a minimum of 5 days for Cape Town.

Which months are the best to visit Cape Town?

November to March are good months for Cape Town. Summer is in full swing and the days are long. December and January are the summer holidays for South Africa, so expect crowds and higher prices. November, February and March are the best months to spend in Cape Town and South Africa. Keep in mind: you’re in South Africa in the summer, it can get quite warm in Cape Town, but in the inlands where Stellenbosch is located, for example, the heat is sometimes completely blistering.

Do you need a rental car in Cape Town?

The highlights of Cape Town are quite far apart. Now you can easily go from place to place by taxi (Uber is a safe option), but we found it nice to just have a rental car at our disposal. You can easily park this in many places and a car is highly recommended for sights such as the Chapman’s drive.

Tip: Do you want to rent a car without hassle? Then we recommend SunnyCars. With Sunny Cars we often book rental cars in and outside Europe because they have you fully covered in terms of insurance and you can contact them 24/7 with all your questions or for last minute changes.

Read our blog with useful tips for South Africa!

How safe is walking around Cape Town?

We also saw a lot of Cape Town by foot. The first day we found it a bit exciting… Cape Town is not known as a safe city. Nevertheless, our experiences (with walking around during the day) were very positive. However, it is advisable not to wear (expensive) jewelry and watches and not to have your phone in sight. Check with your hotel how safe the area is before you go out.

We do not recommend walking around Cape Town at night. If you want to go out for dinner after sunset, it is safer to use Uber. This works great and is relatively cheap.

14 highlights in Cape Town!

There is so much to do and experience in Cape Town! Cape Town is a big city and highlights can be far apart. That is why we have made a map with the highlights of Cape Town for your convenience. This way you immediately see the top sights of Cape Town and you immediately know where to go. Handy when you want to do several things and to combine them.

Cape Town Highlights Map:

Highlights of Cape Town Map South Africa

1. Climbing Table Mountain at Sunset

Cape Town 2

Yes, this is of course a must: climb the famous 1085 meters of Table Mountain. With its flat top that is over 3 km wide, this is South Africa’s most iconic mountain. On top of Table Mountain you have a great view over Cape Town and you can even see Robben Island in the distance.

You have the best view from Table Mountain at sunrise or sunset. The nicest and safest way is to climb Table Mountain at the end of the afternoon and take the cable car down. There is a restaurant on top of the mountain. They have fresh beer on tap and also sell wine. Sunset, wine, friends, how cozy do you want it to be? Read on for useful tips about the hikes to Table Mountain.

Tip: Save time and order the cable car tickets online in advance. You only pay for cable car tickets, the table mountain is also free.

Cape Town at night South Africa

Hiking routes for Table Mountain

There are dozens of trails to the top of Table Mountain. We selected one ourselves (the Platteklip) and talked about the rest with several guides. Therefore, here is some brief information about the possible hiking routes to the top of Table Mountain.

  1. The relatively easy route is Platteklip Gorge. The start of this route is about 500 meters further than the cable car station. You can walk to the top within 1.5 to 2.5 hours via a natural staircase of rocks. Note: you climb more than 800 meters and there is limited shade on the way. So put on a sports outfit, a cap and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
  2. An alternative to Platteklop Gorge is the Pipe track, which runs up along the old water pipe. This route is not too steep and therefore the most walked track by families. You will not get to the very top of Table Mountain with this route, for that you have to change to another route. There are several of these, for example the Kasteelspoort.
  3. If you are looking for a bit more of a challenge, Skeleton Gorge is an adventurous route. The Skeleton Gorge Trail is known as the most beautiful and toughest hike to the top. This route is a mix of stairs, rocks and sometimes rope ladders. It is better to do this 5-hour hike with a guide! Otherwise there is a risk of getting lost or a dangerous situation at one of the steep sections.

Safety tip: You can also climb Table Mountain with a guide. That’s what our parents did and they thought it was fantastic! This way you don’t have to worry about finding the way up and this immediately gives a feeling of security.

Tip: Always take warm clothes with you because on top of Table Mountain there can be a cold wind.

Are you traveling along Route 62 into the inlands of South Africa? Then be sure to stop in Montagu. Read all about this city in our Montagu blog!

2. Climbing Lions Head at Sunrise

Cape Town Lions Head

And it doesn’t just stay at Table Mountain in terms of hikes. Another hike that we really loved was the trip to Lions Head. Set the alarm 2 hours before sunrise, climb up in 60-90 minutes and watch the first rays of sunshine illuminate Cape Town. We really thought this was one of the highlights of our South Africa trip. The view of Cape Town and Table Mountain is spectacular. The only way to enjoy this view is on foot. No cable car this time unfortunately.

Lions Head route

The hike to the top of Lions Head is not too difficult. Perhaps the most challenging is getting up early. Depending on your pace, you will be at the top within one to 1.5 hours. Most of the route can be walked and is relatively easy. The last 10 minutes are sometimes a bit of a scramble. If that scares you, consider taking this hike to the top of Lions Head with a guide. Lions Head is also great during sunset, but keep in mind that you have to go down after dark.

Lions Head safety: Beforehand we were quite afraid what it would be like in terms of safety to walk to the top of Lions Head in the dark. No need because we were with dozens if not hundreds of other hikers. This is immediately a tip, come on time, otherwise the parking lot will be full.Cape Town sunrise Lions Head

3. Dive into South Africa’s history: visit Robben Island

Robben Island is the island off coast near Cape Town where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. We had to skip this place this time, but Ries has been here a few years ago. He was very impressed and definitely recommends it. Here you can see the prison where Mandela was kept and you find a museum here where you can learn more about the life of Nelson Mandela and the apartheid regime.

Tip: watch the movie ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom‘ to understand the history of this island even better.

4. Stroll through Bo-Kaap & experience the Cape Malay Cuisine

Cape Town Bo kaap South Africa

Bo-Kaap is an Islamic neighborhood and is known for its brightly colored houses. The origins of the colored houses bring you back to a black page of Dutch history. During the time of slavery, it was forbidden for the slaves to wear colorful clothes.

After the abolition of slavery, the people from the Bo-Kaap immediately painted their houses in a cheerful color. This created a small neighborhood with brightly colored houses in all colors of the rainbow. After Ramadan, most houses get a new coat of paint, so that the neighborhood retains its colorful appearance.

Cape Malay cuisine

Besides the colored houses, this district is best known for Cape Malay cuisine. This popular cuisine is a mixture of South African, Indonesian and Malaysian. Don’t forget to eat at one of the traditional Cape Malay restaurants after your walk through Bo-Kaap.

Tip: Do you want to learn more about Cape Malay cuisine? Then consider doing a cooking workshop in Bo-Kaap .

5. Boulders Beach & Simons Town

Cape Town 2 2

Simon’s Town is a naval town that has grown up against Cape Town, with beautiful Victorian houses located on False Bay. Simon’s Town is named after the then governor Simon van der Stel. It’s a nice place to have lunch or have a coffee somewhere in one of the many trendy coffee places. Even hipper nowadays is Kalkbay, a little further on (after Boulders Beach).

Boulders Beach

At 2 kilometers from Simons Town is Boulders Beach where you can spot penguins. About 3000 penguins live here in Boulders Beach, a beautiful bay with many round rocks. This is the place to spot the little penguin colony and if you want you can make a splash among these weird birds. The entrance is €10 p.p. Really nice to see, but to manage your expectations a bit: it has become a tourist attraction. It also smells very much like… penguin poop ;-).

Tip: Combine Simons Town, Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope in one day. From Simons Town you can easily drive to Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.

6. Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve & Cape Point

Cape Town 4

Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, or Cape Point, is the famous peninsula south of Cape Town. Many ships have sunk here because of the strong wind and strong current. Now it is part of the Table Mountain National Park and you can enjoy hiking here. We especially saw many seals and ostriches.

Hike to the Old Lighthouse and Cape of Good Hope!

Do you like hiking? Then set aside at least a whole morning for this. Stop at Buffelsfontein Visitors Center to learn about the various hiking trails. We found the hike to the real Cape Point from where you can see the old lighthouse very cool (+/- 1 hour). A cable car is also possible here if you travel with small children, because it is quite a climb. Another beautiful walking route is the Cape Peninsula Wooden Walkway. This eventually runs all the way to the well-known Cape of Good Hope sign (+/- 1.5 hours). Both hikes depart from this parking lot.

Cape Town 5

Do you drive the Garden route? Then definitely visit the cute town of Wilderness. Read more in our blog! Read all about this town in our blog! Also nearby is Knysna, definitely a must visit! 

7. Go to the Beach: Cape Town’s Finest Beaches

Cape Town has several nice and fine beaches to visit. Camps Bay and Clifton are the finest and most beautiful beaches around Cape Town. Other beaches we have been to and which we can recommend are Hout Bay and Muizenberg.

Clifton Beach | Pearly white beaches with a touch of glamour

Clifton Cape Town South Africa

Clifton beach is all about trendy beaches, glamor and beautiful people. At least that’s the name Clifton Beach has in Cape Town. It is above all a place to be seen. The beaches of Clifton consist of 4 small beaches separated from each other by rocks.

When we arrived here at the end of the afternoon to enjoy a beautiful sunset, we didn’t notice much of the fame and glitter vibe here. Clifton Beach simply has a beautiful coastline and is a nice place to enjoy the beach. And yes, it is true that there is a lot to see.

Tip: There are no restaurants or shops at Clifton Beach, so bring your own drinks and snacks.

Camps Bay | Cape Town’s Ipanema

Camps Bay Cape Town South Africa

Camps Bay is pretty much the Ipanema of Cape Town. From Camps Bay beach you have a phenomenal view of the Twelve Apostles, Lions Head and Table Mountain. The beach is teeming with palm trees, restaurants and bars.

Make sure to catch at least one sunset from Camps Bay. Buy a bottle of wine and some snacks and watch the sun slowly sink into the sea.

Hout Bay

This is a lively town close to Cape Town, with a beautiful kilometer-long beach, where you can swim, kayak or walk. Hout Bay is known for its (crayfish) fishing. It is a nice beach to have seen. And if you happen to be on your way to Chapman’s Peak Drive, you can combine them well with each other!

We stayed for a week in Hout Bay to enjoy the peace and quietness here. In our Hout Bay blog, we tell you all about this place!

Tip: You will find a Deus Ex Machine shop near Hout Bay. A cool shop/restaurant where you really want to be if you like surfing, motorbikes and good food. In addition to drinking delicious beer, you can also eat fantastic tuna tartare here!

8. Learn to surf at Muizenberg!

Cape Town Muizenberg

Muizenberg is known for its brightly colored beach houses right on the white beach. However, these typical colored houses are not the reason to go to this highlight in Cape Town! You go to Muizenberg to surf!

Rent a surfboard & wetsuit and get in the water. You can also take surfing lessons here. If you’re not a surf fan, consider skipping Muizenberg, the beach huts don’t look great anymore, and the beach vibe isn’t great outside of the surf.

Possible day itinerary for Cape Town:

Do you have little time in Cape Town but do you want to see as much as possible? Then consider driving to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve in the morning via Chapman’s Peak Drive. Take a scenic hike from there, then continue for lunch at one of the many restaurants in Simons Town or Kalk Bay. After lunch you will visit Boulders Beach and go surfing at Muizenberg!

9. Shopping at Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town

The Victoria & Albert Waterfront is a modern commercial shopping center in Cape Town’s harbour. In addition to the many shops, restaurants can also be found here. The Nelson Mandela Gateway is also located here, from where the boat to Robben Island departs.

A visit to the V&A waterfront can easily be combined with a boat trip to Robben Island.

Tip: from V&A Waterfront you can also take a helicopter flight and admire Cape Town from the air. You can easily book a helicopter flight online. Click here for more information.

10. Stroll through the cozy weekend markets

Do you visit Cape Town on the weekend? Then consider visiting one of the many markets in Cape Town! These are mainly known for the food trucks! From Israeli, Indian to the South African braai! You can also score nice clothes, juices and sunglasses here! This is also a fun activity to do with kids.

We visited the Neighborhoods Market in the Woodstock district. Here you will find a list of all kinds of weekend markets that you can visit in Cape Town.

11. Visit the Botanical Gardens in Cape Town | Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Cape Town Botanical Gardens

At the foot of Table Mountain you will find a place where you can walk between beautiful plants, colorful flowers & large trees called Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is the largest botanical garden in South Africa. This huge garden is an oasis of tranquility. A perfect place to recover from all the hustle and bustle of Cape Town.

Tip: There are regular concerts on the weekends. Look here for the current program.

12. Chapman’s Peak drive | Beautiful coastal route around Cape Town

Scenic ocean drive Cape Town South Africa

The impressive 9 kilometer long Chapman’s Peak Drive with its 114 bends is a breathtaking coastal route and takes you from Houtbay to Noordhoek (or vice versa). Chapman’s Peak Drive is a toll road (€3) with the ocean with its steep cliffs on one side and the high red rocks on the other. There are plenty of picnic areas where you can stop to take beautiful pictures.

Tip: don’t have a rental car but do you want to admire this beautiful coastal route? Then grab an Uber!

13. Enjoy the great restaurants in Cape Town!

There is certainly no shortage of good restaurants and nice places to eat in Cape Town. Prices for food and drinks are lower in South Africa than, for example, in the Netherlands. That means that you have a delicious meal for a good price. There are so many good restaurants in Cape Town and fortunately also more than enough blogs about all these restaurants. 

Tip: Always wanted to eat at a star restaurant? Then consider La Colombe (book on time). Located in Constantia, the wine region behind Table Mountain, this amazing restaurant is soooo good!

14. Visiting wineries for a day in Stellenbosch

Wine trips Cape Town South Africa

Just outside Cape Town, an hour’s drive away, is the wine region of South Africa, namely Stellenbosch. Stellenbosch is named after Simon van der Stel, a Dutch governor who planted the first vines here in 1679 and is a true highlight when visiting South Africa!

Besides the many wineries, a beautiful historic center, Stellenbosch is also a student city. With many cozy bars, shops and a busy nightlife, Stellenbosch is also a nice place to stay for a few nights. Read our travel guide to Stellenbosch.

Tip: book a dinner at Rust & Vrede on time!

Planning to taste wine in the Cape Winelands? We wrote several blogs about this: the nicest wineries in Paarl, the 9 best wineries in Stellenbosch and the 9 most beautiful wineries in Franschhoek!

Our favorite Cape Town hotels

There are more than enough nice hotels in Cape Town. Are you traveling in high season? Then make sure you book your favorite hotel in time.

Below is a selection of three nice places in different budget categories. For an overview of all hotels in Cape Town, click here.

The Walden House 

The Walden House Cape Town

Located just 5 minutes from Table Mountain, this elegant Victorian home has a swimming pool. The rooms have air conditioning and a balcony. We loved it here! From €50 per room per night.

Book now

Mountview Guesthouse €€

Mountview Guest House

This hotel is centrally located in Seepunt near Clifton and Camps Bay. The nicely furnished rooms have air conditioning. This hotel also has a swimming pool with spa facilities. From €105 for 2 people.

Book now

O’Two Hotel €€€

O Two Hotel

Ready for a stay in luxury? Then book this beautiful boutique hotel. The rooms have everything you need. The best thing about this hotel is the rooftop terrace with swimming pool! From €195 per night with breakfast.

Book now

Read our South Africa hotel guide here with a selection of the nicest hotels along the Garden Route!

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