Cape Town is said to be one of the world’s beautiful cities and it truly is. I’ve been there twice and can’t wait to visit again! I have a thing for cities with quick access to mountains and beaches. Rio De Janeiro is another similar city that I like.
If you’re trying to figure out when to visit, summer time in Cape Town is November through February with average temperatures of 73 °F (23 °C). May through August is winter time with average temperatures of 55 °F (13 °C).
I haven’t been to all the tourist attractions but below are some of them. Some of these places will be better with a car. If you prefer not to drive, hire a driver. Otherwise, you can use a mix of Uber (or Taxify), MyCiti Bus, and/or train.
Table of Contents
THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Visit the iconic Table Mountain
You can either hike to the top or take a cable car up and down. I’ve done both.
The cable car can close at anytime so be prepared especially if you’re planning to hike and don’t want to hike down. Be sure to check the forecast because if it’s windy or bad visibility, the cable car station will be closed.
If you’re solo and want to hike, read more about how I hiked Table Mountain through Airbnb experiences.
Eat Black South African Cuisine at Marco’s
If you’re a foodie, this restaurant is a must! Locals and tourists come here.
My favorite item to order from Marco’s was the scrumptious malva pudding. My oh my. If you have never had it before, you HAVE to.
Make sure to order a side dish called chakalaka. Every restaurant makes it differently but I like Marco’s version the best. Crunchy with a peppery taste.
I also recommend the dish below, the Serengenti platter. Consists of grilled fillets of kudu, ostrich, and crocodile with a side of umngqusho (samp and beans) and mushroom sauce. All meats were tender and moist.
Umngqusho is the Xhosa word for samp, which is made out of maize. Personally, I did not enjoy it.
The customer service at Marco’s is excellent and I was quite impressed. I typically have no expectations when being served by any African. For whatever reason, many lack customer service skills. And it doesn’t matter where in the world. It happens in the United States.
When next I’m in Cape Town, the first place on my agenda is Marco’s. That’s how much I love this place! The restaurant is owned by a Black man, which is even better given the history of South Africa.
It’s about a 30 minute drive from downtown (CBD). In the summer, you’ll find a lot of surfers and kitesurfers out at the beach. They offer lessons and equipment for both.
The water is very cold at any time of the year, but people still go in the water.
There are a couple of restaurants facing the beach. A flea market every Sunday by the beach. 2 hostels in the area. It also has its own train station. Around 8 pm on a weekday, the town is dead. Most shops are closed. Few cars on the road and few people roaming the streets.
See African penguins at Boulders Beach
The beach is in a suburb of Cape Town called Simon’s Town, which is close to an hour from downtown (CBD). If you want to save money, you can take the local train to get here depending on where you are coming from.
Tip: Cape of Good Hope is close to Simon’s Town so you can possibly combine both places in one day.
There are wooden platforms and elevated paths to walk on for viewing the penguins. You’ll also find some penguins nestled in the bushes.
There is also a small beach section where you can enter the water and catch the penguins swimming in the water. The views are beautiful! If someone can help me adopt a penguin, let a sister know. They are the cutest thing!!
Visit Bo-Kaap and Eat Cape Malay Cuisine
Bo-Kaap is an area in Cape Town which consists of mostly people who descended from slaves imported by the Dutch. Slaves came from Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, and other parts of Asia.
Biesmiellah serves Cape Malay Cuisine. The dish below is called bobotie, which is rice mixed with egg and spiced minced (ground) beef. They are strictly Halal.
Visit Cape of Good Hope at Cape Point
The drive to get here is stunning! Cape Point is in the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve within Table Mountain National Park.
You can drive to the furnicular station (or hike from the Cape of Good Hope sign) to get a panoramic view of the park and where Atlantic and Indian Ocean meet. Within the park, you’ll see some wild animals like ostriches and baboons.
By the furnicular station, there is a restaurant and some shops.
Tip: If you plan to visit during peak season on a Saturday, it’s best to arrive early in the morning or you’ll be stuck at the park entrance queue for a while.
Go Wine Tasting at Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is a town east of Cape Town known for its wine production. It was such a beautiful drive because it’s surrounded by mountains.
Wineflies has certain pickup locations and the price will include transport back and forth to your pickup location as well as the tour stops. I arranged my tour via email and paid by credit card through a secured link.
90% of the wine tasting was red wine 🍷. Most were dry to very dry. Very few were sweet. Visited 5 places and drank 25 wine samples over 7 hours with lunch included.
My experience with Wineflies was a good learning experience since I’m nowhere close to being a wine connoisseur. Learned a lot about red wine itself, how to taste wine, how to properly drink wine, food pairings (cheese and chocolate), and more.
Hike Lion’s Head
There are multiple trailheads to reach Lion’s Head but I started from Ave St Leon, which is in a residential neighborhood. If you have a car, there is a Lion’s Head parking lot right on Signal Hill Road.
The hike to Lion’s Head is 2.6 miles (4.2 km) and it gives you a view of Table Mountain, Signal Hill, the city, and Atlantic Ocean. There is a ladder and chains by the top.
What’s good about Lion’s Head is there is no entrance fee and the hiking isn’t intense like Table Mountain. If you have spare time, hike the Signal Hill trail.
Unfortunately I could not complete the other half of the hike due to trail maintenance. There was a guard by the no entry sign.
Langa is one of South Africa’s oldest townships. It’s similar to Soweto in Johannesburg. You’ll find shanty towns without indoor plumbing and nice middle-class homes.
I spent a few nights in Langa on my first visit to Cape Town with a South African friend and felt safe.
See Chapman’s Peak Drive from Hout Bay
It’s a 5.6 mile (9 km) drive between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. I started the drive from Hout Bay since I was driving from CBD.
The coastal drive miles before Hout Bay is so beautiful! You’ll see mountains and Atlantic Ocean throughout as well as cyclists.
Chapman’s Peak Drive is a very curvy road and a toll fee involved. It’s R47 one-way per vehicle. You can get a free day pass from the Hout Bay side depending on the time at which you arrive and it remains free for up to a certain distance.
Do a FREE Cape Town Walking Tour
Tours run daily, rain or shine. Booking is not required. Tips are strongly encouraged.
They offer a Historical City Tour, Bo Kaap Tour, and Apartheid to Freedom tour. The tour times are: 11 am, 2 pm, and 4:20 pm.
I did the Apartheid to Freedom tour at 2 pm with the guide Janet. As we walked to certain parts of Cape Town, she talked about people who played a role during that era, where Mandela made his 1st speech as a free man, and more.
|EXPENSE||PRICE (R = South African Rands, $ = US Dollars)|
|Rental car||See "Renting a car" section|
|Uber ride: Airport to Kraaifontein (20 mi)||R260 / $18|
|Taxify ride: Table Mountain to Langa (10 mi)||R130 / $9|
|Taxify ride: CBD to Muizenberg (17 mi)||R85 / $6|
|One-way train ride||R9 / $0.64|
|Table Mountain cable car (roundtrip)||R330 / $23|
|Marco's Serengenti platter||R310 / $22|
|Marco's malva pudding||R60 / $4|
|Meal at Biesmiellah||R95 / $7|
|Wineflies Tour||R820 / $59|
|Table Mountain National Park Entrance Cost (international visitors)||R152 / $11|
|Table Mountain National Park Funicular (roundtrip)||R80 / $6|
|Boulders Beach Entrance fee (adults)||R75 / $5|
RENTING A CAR
- Car Rental Price: $35 / R472 per day (price includes unlimited mileage, taxes, and standard cover)
- Car Rental Agency: Tempest via Aroundaboutcars.com
- Car Type: Group D, Automatic compact car
- Pickup & Dropoff location: Cape Town
- Duration: 6 days (includes driving around Cape Town and the Garden Route)
An alternative option if you will not be driving a lot miles (e.g. 150 km max per day) is to get a vehicle from a small car rental agency. Valley Motors is one example. Or choose a manual car and you will save more money in rental fee and fuel.
TIPS / GENERAL INFORMATION
- If you need to fly into or out of Cape Town, try using a budget airline to save money. Flysafair, Kulula, or Mango.
- I’ve used Mango and Flysafair and experienced zero issues. Bare in mind that I had 2 carry-on baggages. No checked bags.
- Most locals will advise for you not to use the local train because some people have been robbed or mugged. Even in daylight.
- Here’s my personal experience: I’ve used it multiple times, both in the day and night and nothing happened. It was a risk I was willing to take.
- Also, bare in mind that there is no air conditioning and can be packed with many locals depending on the route and the time of day. And there can be unannounced delays.
Have you been to Cape Town? Share your thoughts below!