Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Nothing can beat the views of Table Mountain, especially when the clouds roll in, covering it in an almost ethereal like mist (also known as the ‘table cloth’).
The stunning turquoise colour of the ocean, the white sandy beaches and the phenomenal sunsets make this a city that is not to be missed! And in addition to its natural beauty, it is also a city that is steeped in history, culture and has a vibrant food scene. Here are some of my top recommendations for spending 8-10 days in Cape Town.
Top Tip! Take the hop-on-hop-off bus. I don’t normally ever take these but in Cape Town, I found it to be a good option if you don’t drive. Cape Town is a big city and not easily walkable. The bus takes you to all the main sites/attractions and it also felt safe. It is particularly handy for places that are further afield like Groot Constantia and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Free Walking Tour
I would recommend taking a walking tour as it’s a good way to acclimatise yourself in a new city. I used Free Walking Tours Cape Town and did the Historic City and Bo Kaap tours. Recommend both! The Historic City Tour was great to understand the fabric of how Cape Town has developed over the years, including its colonial history.
Bo Kaap was particularly photogenic with its colourful houses and diverse neighbourhoods.
Cape Town is home to a number of great Museums which you could easily spend a couple of days exploring. Definitely a good back-up if the weather decides to play up. To discover an integral (and disturbing) part of Cape Town’s history, I would recommend visiting the District Six Museum which documents the forced removals and dispossession of black and ethnic South Africans, from this inner-city neighbourhood during the apartheid era.
If you enjoy modern art, make sure to visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA). It is worth visiting just for the building itself, which is a restored grain silo.
The Iziko South African National Gallery is another good option for art lovers as it houses a diverse collection of art from South Africa and abroad.
Situated in the historic Company’s Gardens, the Iziko South African Museum is South Africa’s version of the Natural History Museum in London. From fossils to scientific specimens, you can spend a few hours exploring. A good option especially if you have kids.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
This is probably the best botanical garden I have ever visited. Period. With the backdrop of the stunning Table Mountain, it’s so much more than just a botanical garden.
A beautiful area to explore and also great for food. You could definitely spend a few hours wandering around the port and taking lots of photos. This area also felt pretty safe.
Robben Island is a must-visit when in Cape Town, a unique symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering and injustice”. A prison for around 500 years, it is most infamous for incarcerating Nelson Mandela. It is a truly humbling experience to walk through the corridors of the prison and to see Nelson Mandela’s prison cell. The tour guides are also ex-prisoners and have their own stories to tell. Ferries depart from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A Waterfront.
I think you already know how much I love Table Moutain, it’s difficult not to! If you’re an avid hiker, there are lots of hiking routes (NB: a guide is recommended). If, however, you’re not a hiker or don’t have that much time, I would recommend the cable car. The views are phenomenal and it was one of the highlights of my trip. One thing to be aware of is that the cable car can be closed if it’s windy so make sure you check the weather and the official website for updates. I’d leave enough flexibility in your itinerary so that you can make sure you get to visit.
Lion’s Head hike
This relatively short but steep hike was again worth the effort for the amazing views. Most of it is relatively easy in terms of terrain but the latter end requires some climbing so do wear appropriate shoes (and bring lots of water). If you do the hike at sunrise/sunset, make sure to bring a head torch with you. Also best not to do the hike alone.
Camps Bay beach
For a chilled out beach day, make sure to visit Camps Bay. Its promenade is lined with cafes and restaurants so lots of options in terms of food and drink as well.
Old Biscuit Mill
I cannot recommend the Old Biscuit Mill enough. It’s a mix of Borough Market, Camden and Portobello all wrapped into one. A great market where you can shop till you drop but also a foodie heaven. You could easily spend a few hours exploring the many boutiques and stalls and eating your way through the market. Green Market Square is another great option for buying gifts/souvenirs.
A sunset spot with stunning views. The hop-on-hop-off bus drops you here but make sure you don’t miss the last bus after sunset!
Cape Town has so much to offer and you could easily spend a whole week here without leaving. But there are also lots of day trip options should you want to explore further afield. I would recommend visiting the Cape of Good Hope, the southern most tip of the African continent.
The Boulders Beach Penguin Colony was also amazing. These penguins are the only ones found on the continent so worth a visit.
I also visited the Aquila Game Reserve as I really want to experience a Safari. I personally wouldn’t recommend this Reserve. It was essentially like a zoo but with less obvious cages. The animals were fed rather than allowed to hunt so the experience was not very authentic. I would recommend saving for a safari experience in places like Kruger National Park instead.
If you’re a wine drinker, there are also plenty of vineyards to explore, including Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, just outside of Cape Town. Although I don’t drink, I visited Groot Constantia in Cape Town. It was beautiful and worth popping off the hop-on-hop off bus.
Where to Eat
Cape Town has so much to offer in terms of food. A few places to recommend include Willoughby & Co for fantastic sushi and Mozambique, both in the V&A waterfront.
Gorgeous George is also a fab restaurant in Downtown, perfect if you like small plates.
If you’re in Bo Kaap, do check out Beismiellah for delicious Cape Malay curries.
For ice-cream, check out Unframed and Jason Bakery for coffee and snacks. For a real treat, book yourself a table at the Mount Nelson, Belmond Hotel, for Afternoon tea. It’s a stunning hotel and the Afternoon tea is reasonably priced.
Now that you’ve read about how much there is to do in Cape Town, what are you waiting for, book a ticket and go!