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The Only Itinerary You Need for the Perfect Week in Cape Town

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Cape Town is a delightfully compact city with quite literally everything on offer: amazing (and very affordable) food, unmatched mountain and ocean views, an exciting culture and vibe, great weather and an endless list of things to do. The list really does keep going, and Cape Town just keeps giving.

The city is reminiscent of Miami both in terms of vibe and its architecture. You don’t have to look far from Sea Point to find the art deco buildings. With Table Mountain above it and the Atlantic Ocean below it, the vibe of Cape Town is like nowhere else. The only thing you’ll wish you had in Cape Town is more time. That’s why you need to have a perfect Cape Town travel itinerary for 7 days.

Because a number of markets and sites are only open on certain days, for the purposes of this seven day itinerary for Cape Town, we have assumed that your week will begin on a Monday.

Getting to Cape Town

From the U.S.

United Airlines operates direct flights to Cape Town (CPT) three times a week from Newark (EWR) and Washington (IAD), and Delta operates a direct flight to Cape Town three times a week from Atlanta (ATL).

From Canada

There currently aren’t any direct flights to Cape Town from Canada. Your cheapest option is to fly through the U.S. or the UK.

From the UK

There are plenty of options from London to Cape Town, including daily services with both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic from London Heathrow, and a service from London Gatwick to Cape Town three times per week.

And to make things even better, Norse Atlantic has recently announced a new service between London-Gatwick and Cape Town beginning October 2024. More competition on the flight route means cheaper prices for everyone, but Norse Atlantic is already known for notoriously cheap flights if you’re looking in the right place (they’ll fly you to Cape Town for as low as £499 return).

From Australia

There currently aren’t any direct flights from Australia to Cape Town. However, Qantas operates a daily service between Sydney and Johannesburg (JNB), and South African Airways operates a service between Perth and Johannesburg three times a week.

The best way to save money on this flight route is to book the direct flight to Johannesburg from Sydney or Perth and then book a domestic flight from Johannesburg to Cape Town (make sure it’s a separate ticket to save the most).

The best areas to stay in Cape Town

Although Cape Town is small and easy to get around, it is critically important that you choose the right area to stay, not least because of safety concerns, but also because it will have a direct impact on the quality of your experience.

Atlantic Seaboard

It is usually best to stay around the water in Cape Town. That means Sea Point, Camps Bay and Bantry Bay. The vibe in these areas is simply unmatched in all aspects, whether it’s breakfast, daytime activities or nightlife.

One of the best hotels in Sea Point is The Winchester which has just been completely renovated. There is an amazing vibe in and around the hotel, and the internal garden is the perfect place to enjoy breakfast in the morning.

You may also want to stay further up from Sea Point in Green Point or Mouille Point but those areas are more isolated and don’t have much of a vibe in and of themselves.

As far as the V&A Waterfront goes, it is certainly an option, but we think that the V&A Waterfront is better to drop in and visit than stay in.

City

If you’re the type that prefers mountains to water, you should stay in Gardens and specifically Kloof Street Hotel. You will be right in the thick of it.

The two areas that abut Gardens to the left and right are Tamboerskloof and Oranjezicht. Both of them are quieter and greener places to stay in and are just across the hill from Camps Bay, but they are more residential.

Villas

If you’re going to Cape Town with a big group of friends and want to rent a villa, there are quite a few options for exceptionally stunning villas in the city. The best place to find a short-let property is in Llandudno which has some of the most expensive residential properties in South Africa. There aren’t any shops in the area, but it’s a great base. It’s only about 25 minutes from Sea Point.

Getting around Cape Town

Cape Town is known for a lot of things, but one of them is not its public transport. There are certainly public transportation options, but private car hire services like Uber are ubiquitous and are incredibly reasonable.

For safety, we recommend that you select Uber Comfort – especially at night. It is a slight premium, but the quality of the vehicle is dramatically different (I don’t use dramatic lightly: think an old Kia with tattered seat covers, as distinct from a clean Mercedes Benz).

Though you can walk around some areas during the daytime, we don’t recommend that you walk at night – even if it is a short distance.

The Perfect Week in Cape Town

Day 1: The Heart of Cape Town

Morning: City Centre

Head to Adderley Street, right in the center of town, for a glimpse of South Africa’s commercial hustle and bustle. You’ll also want to make sure to visit the Castle of Good Hope which is the oldest standing colonial building in South Africa and has had lives as a residence, prison, church and army headquarters.

If you didn’t manage to get to Johannesburg for the Apartheid Museum, spare an hour to visit the District Six Museum on Buitenkant Street, the street that marked the boundary between white and non-white settlements during the apartheid era.

There’s a lot more to see and do in Cape Town’s commercial heart, but the best way to soak it in is a visit to St Georges Mall where you’ll see art deco buildings and historical monuments and, of course, Saint George’s Cathedral.

And if you want a spot of shopping, make sure to visit the boisterous Greenmarket Square. You can haggle with the vendors for lovely handmade local crafts while listening to the drummers and buskers.

Animal and human face masks hanging including a giraffe face

Cape Town is the perfect city for a half-day walking tour – just make sure it includes a visit to Bo-Kaap.

Afternoon: Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap is one of those places that would be placed into the ‘no trip is complete without visiting…’ category for Cape Town. The colorful houses in Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap tell a story of immigration to South Africa by Malaysians who have had an outsized impact on the culture and cuisine of Cape Town. Make sure to spot the very unique-looking mosques.

So many of the flavors that you will experience in Cape Town’s finest and casual restaurants alike will draw from Cape Malay cuisine, and it makes it just that bit more special to understand its origin.

Colored houses in Cape Town orange and yellow

While in Bo-Kaap, check out Tana Baru shrine and stop by Artisan House for some incredible pieces from local and pan-African artists. And make sure to purchase local and African brands like millecollins which has an eclectic style. Everything is designed and produced in Kenya and South Africa, though the brand was born in Rwanda.

One of the best ways to experience Bo-Kaap is through a food tour, because food really is the best way to experience anywhere.

Evening

To take in the evening vibe, head to Tjing Tjing House or one of the other rooftop bars in the city before heading to dinner. Alternatively, if you’re looking for something a bit more exciting, you might want to book Djembe at Gold Restaurant (we won’t spoil it).

Day 2: The Mountains and Greenery

Morning: Table Mountain

If you’re up to it and it isn’t a windy day, you should definitely hike up Table Mountain and take the cable car back down the mountain. A hike up Table Mountain usually takes between two and four hours, and then the cable car on return is just a few minutes.

There are a number of hike trails on Table Mountain. We’ve rounded up the best of them according to avid hiker Capetonians, with the most important things to know to help you choose your trail. But if you want to make your life easier, book a hike up and cable car down with a local.

Trails guide
TrailIn a few wordsComment
Platteklip GorgeQuickest and steepestThe Platteklip Gorge trail is the quickest and most direct route to the top of Table Mountain. This is definitely the steepest of the trails. In fact, Platteklip Gorge is more or less stairs all the way to the top which isn’t the most pleasant experience.

It is one of the more popular trails among the adventure hikers, so it can be quite busy. It is best to take the Platteklip Gorge trial very early in the morning.
Skeleton GorgeShaded and busyThe Skeleton Gorge trail is one of the nicest trails you can do, mostly because the whole of the trail is through forest. It’s the perfect choice for a hot day because it is shaded for pretty much the whole way. Skeleton Gorge is probably the most popular path and takes around 1.5 hours to complete.
India VensterTechnical and convenientThe India Venster trail is probably the most technical of the Table Mountain trails. Prepare yourself for quite a bit of scrambling which, frankly, can be a little bit precarious at times unless you’re a seasoned hiker.

If you’re comfortable with scrambling and are okay to hoist yourself up a few rocks with staples, India Venster is amazing. It’s also convenient if you want to get the cable car down because it starts behind the lower station and ends right at the top station.
DiagonalLonger but less busyThe Diagonal trail is probably the resounding favorite among locals, if for no other reason than it is far less busy than the others. It is certainly the longer options (you’ll need 3-4 hours), but you will see literally all sides of Cape Town on the way. Follow the signs to the Valley of the Red Gods.
KasteelspoortIconic Instagram photoIf you’ve ever wondered where that iconic rock where influencers take Instagram photos is, it’s on the Kasteelspoort trail. It does get quite busy because of this reason, but you could hike up Diagonal and down Kasteelspoort (or vice versa) to try to avoid some of the crowds.
Constantia NekDams and wineThe Constantia Nek trail is less busy and takes you up to the dams. This is the perfect hike if you want to spend the rest of your day visiting the Constantia wine farms.

And if you’d rather not hike for so long, there is a short-hike option called Kloof Corner just near India Venster. In return for about 30 minutes, you’ll get beautiful views of the city.

Warning: Unfortunately, a number of hikers have been attacked and robbed during dawn hikes up Table Mountain.

Cape Town as viewed from Table Mountain with Lion's Head in the foreground

If you do want to do a dawn hike on Table Mountain when there are fewer people around, you must book a tour with a local guide in a group. Safety is always an issue in South Africa, and you should know that your risk of being victim to criminal activity if you hike up alone during non-peak hours is significantly heightened.

One very underrated activity is to walk the delightfully flat and very beautiful 5km loop around the top of the ‘table’ of the mountain to MacClear’s Beacon and back to Cable Car Station. This is an especially great idea for those who prefer walking on flat ground.

Take the cable car up, do the loop and then take the cable car back down. In many ways, this can be a much more pleasant experience than hiking up.

Late Afternoon/Evening: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is proof that not all gardens are create equal. It’s easy to get there yourself but you can also book a driver to take you with your admission included. You could easily spend the whole afternoon and early evening in the gardens taking in the stunning views and exploring the grounds.

Be aware that the walks within the Gardens vary in difficulty, but one of the best ways to enjoy it is to find a spot to picnic and relax, especially after your hike in the morning. If you do want a short walk, make sure to walk the canopy for very impressive views of Devil’s Peak. There really are very few cities in the world where you can be walking around an actual forest right in the middle of the city.

If you happen to be in Cape Town on a Sunday in summer, you should try to go to the Summer Sunset Concert in Kirstenbosch.

Day 3: History and Modern Cape Town

Morning: Robben Island

You may have got your fill of South African history from the District Six Museum, but if you want a deep dive into Nelson Mandela’s life, a visit to Robben Island is a must. At the very least, the ferry trip over is a nice way to see Cape Town from the water.

So that you can make the most of your day, we highly recommend that you take the 8 am ferry to Robben Island. If you depart any later, you won’t have enough time to leisurely take advantage of the afternoon at the V&A Waterfront.

Robben Island is very much on the well-trodden route, so you’ll find plenty of excellent and reasonably priced Robben Island tours.

Afternoon: V&A Waterfront

Treat yourself to lunch after Robben Island at the V&A Waterfront and then allow yourself the joy of meandering through the area. The V&A Waterfront is filled with live entertainment, tons of restaurants, statues of key historical figures, and some of the finest hotels in the world, including the One&Only. You can easily spend the rest of the day walking through and stopping at the museums and sites.

The Watershed

You simply must visit The Watershed at the V&A Waterfront, by far and away the best place for real and unique handcrafts and local goods. You’ll find beautiful clothes, kitchenware and home goods of exceptional quality – unlike most other shops in South Africa, the shops at The Watershed really aren’t selling the same collection of salad spoons and trinkets.

Interestingly, The Watershed is considered almost like a testing area for new brands and concepts. If a brand does well, they are moved to the nearby Alfred Mall which is better (in theory). But in our opinion, the vibe and atmosphere at The Watershed is much nicer. You can pick up so many incredible souvenirs from local artists and producers that you simply can’t find elsewhere.

One of the finest examples is Spaza which sells stunning pieces handcrafted by women working in home industries around Cape Town. Spaza has beautiful dish covers, napkins and unique hand-knitted kitchen accents that will be a constant reminder of your time in Cape Town.

And while you’re in Watershed, try the hot cross bun latte at Enmasse tea merchants. You can only find it in Cape Town.

Zeitz MOCAA

You may have come across the Zeitz MOCAA in your Cape Town itinerary research. The honest assessment is that the best part of the Museum is its stunning brutalist interior. It’s housed in a converted Silo building which is where The Silo Hotel is located. Otherwise, the exhibits can be hit or miss, but it is worth making a detour to walk by while you’re meandering through the V&A Waterfront.

Evening: Oranjezicht City Farm Market

On Wednesday nights in summer only, the Oranjezicht City Farm Market is open from 5 pm to 9 pm. It’s amazing and definitely worth a visit. If you can’t fit it in on Wednesday night or you are visiting Cape Town from April to November, they also open during the mornings on Saturdays and Sundays.

It’s a great place to sit and relax after picking from the huge variety of foods on offer. It’s really one of the best places to experience Cape Town’s incredibly varied culinary scene. Otherwise, make sure you book a table at one of Cape Town’s best restaurants.

Day 4: Pick-your-own-Day Trip

Option 1: Cape Point driving loop and the Boulder’s Beach penguins

It’s time to see penguins, ostriches and the Cape of Good Hope all in one day. A drive through the Cape Peninsula is the best addition to a Cape Town travel itinerary, so we’ve written a whole separate post on how to do it right.

If you want to swim with the penguins, you have to be there as early as possible in the morning, closer to at 7 am.

The Cape Point Ostrich Farm is an oddly interesting place to stop during your Cape Point loop, maybe because you can buy an ostrich egg which is the equivalent of 24 chicken eggs. It’s also generally quite a serene plane.

Thankfully, Cape Point Ostrich Farm doesn’t let you ride the ostriches anymore as some ostrich farms do. It’s a lot of fun to be around the ostriches though.

The tours at Cape Point Ostrich Farm run every half hour between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm. The tour is very much worth it, not least because you’ll get to see the wildlife rehabilitation center.

You simply must drive back via Chapman’s Peak Drive for the most stunning drive along the ocean. Chapman’s Peak Drive is that picture-perfect drive you see in car commercials and always wonder where it is (disclaimer: I don’t know if Chapman’s Peak Drive has ever been used in a car commercial, but it should be).

If you’re looking for a quick dip in the ocean during your day trip, Smitswinkel Bay Beach or St James Beach on False Bay is the right choice (though there simply are so many incredible beaches in Cape Town).

If you like to hike, there are plenty of great hikes at Cape Point Nature Reserve. It’s hard to see how you could go wrong with any hike there because the views are always magnificent.

You can also do an excellent tour of Table Mountain, the Cape of Good Hope and the penguins at Boulder’s Beach.

Old Lighthouse at the Cape of Good Hope

Option 2: Stellenbosch

Very few places in the world boast having winelands as stunning as Stellenbosch, and it’s only a 45-minute drive from Cape Town. Stellenbosch is a whole separate beast on its own, so you need to make sure you have planned which wineries (or wine farms, as South Africans call them) you’ll be visiting.

What you need to know about Stellenbosch is that is an experience in and of itself. Driving out to the winelands, watching the rolling hills coming into view, walking into your first winery, taking your first sip of local wine. It’s all designed for maximum enjoyment.

If you do choose to do a night in the winelands, Clouds Estate is one of the best stays in the area. And there are plenty of incredible restaurants in Stellenbosch.

You’ll also find wine tours to Stellenbosch & Franschhoek which can be an easy way to have the day planned.

Option 3: Langebaan

Langebaan is about a 1.5-hour drive from Cape Town but it’s so worth the time – and we’ll tell you exactly why. Langebaan is the kitesurfing town that nobody knows about; when the weather is good, the kites fill the sky in the most mesmerizing way.

If you like kitesurfing generally, you should also check out Akyaka in Türkiye and Nantucket in the U.S.

One of the other reasons to head up north to Langebaan is to have a long lunch at Die Strandloper. This is a place that only locals know (it’s unusual to see many tourists up here). In short, Die Strandloper is a ten-course lunch cooked over open hearths. It’s extremely casual: no cutlery, just mussel shells to pick up your food.

This might be the most South African experience that one can have. Bring a boardgame to enjoy in between being called up for your next course.

Day 5: Constantia Wine Route

Cape Town has done it again: not only does it have amazing beaches right in the heart of the city, it also has Constantia, Cape Town’s very own wine-producing suburb right in the middle.

The famous Constantia Wine Route connects the wineries in this little gem of an area, and there are great local tours that will whisk you through the best of eight wineries in the area. Or you can follow our tips below and take yourself on a journey through the area.

Groot Constantia is the oldest (and, admittedly, most commercial) winery in Constantia. In our opinion, it also has the most interesting history of the wineries on the wine route. We’ll admit that the tasting area at Groot isn’t the best on offer, but Groot redeems itself with some beautiful walking and running paths through its vineyards. It also happens to be a great spot for breakfast if you started early.

Groot is a great breakfast and walking spot. Jonkerhuis serves some of the best Cape Malay food you can get in Cape Town, and it’s set up invitingly as a casual bistro in Groot. There is also a restaurant named Simon’s which boasts a broader array of Cape cuisine in the 300-year-old wine estate.

Make sure to visit Buitenverwachting, a firm local favorite and one of the more underrated wineries in Constantia. It’s especially great for lunch, so make sure to get a picnic platter and sit on the lawn. And you can’t leave without trying their chardonnay.

Depending on how much time you have, you should also pay a visit to at least one or two of Beau Constantia, Eagles’ Nest, Constantia Glen, Klein Constantia and Steenberg Vineyards on your wine route. However, we have to mention Steenberg in particular if you have a penchant for sparkling wines (even if it’s the furthest away from the others).

Local tip: Make sure you book Constantia Glen in advance.

Constantia Glen is a smaller wine farm so it gets busy and full quickly. And while you’re moving between the wineries, make sure to stop by Chardonnay Deli if you need a sugar fix. Their cakes and cheesecakes are absolutely fantastic.

The Toughest Question: Stellenbosch, Franschhoek or Constantia?

You will almost certainly go to Stellenbosch and/or Franschhoek, but the Constantia wine route is truly underrated. It’s perfectly picturesque with gorgeous flowers and huge, bright green trees. It’s also far less known than Stellenbosch and Franschhoek because all the wine produced in Constantia is produced locally so there’s hardly anything left for export.

Day 6: Indoors and Outdoors

Morning: Neighbourgoods Market

The Neighbourgoods Market is probably one of the best food markets in the world (and yes, we’re including London’s world-famous food markets in that). There is such a huge variety of new and exciting foods on offer, some of which you absolutely must try while you’re visiting South Africa.

But even beyond the food, there is an artisanal clothing market and super lively bars, restaurants and cafes. It’s a microcosm of the best of Cape Town.

Local tip: Neighbourgoods Market is only open on the weekends and is best on a Saturday (it’s mostly only food on Sundays).

Locals will recognize a lot of the food and clothing stalls at Neighbourgoods because they used to be at the waterfront before it was redeveloped. In many ways, the Neighbourgoods Market is a better home because the atmosphere is so exciting.

Special mention to the roosterkoek stall at Neighbourgoods Market. They have perfected the art of making South Africa’s national bread.

Afternoon/Evening: Kayaking in the Atlantic

Kayaking around the Atlantic Ocean is the perfect partly active, partly relaxed outdoor activity. Capetonians love to get outdoors, so it’s no surprise that Cape Town has turned into one of the best places for outdoor sports in the world. And kayaking is, in our humble opinion, one of the best ways to enjoy the mountain views and endless ocean.

We recommend a guided kayaking tour that begins from Mouille Point, the area wedged between Sea Point and the V&A Waterfront. You’ll get stunning views of Cape Town from the water, and there are often dolphins and seals – and sometimes penguins. Any good Cape Town itinerary for the summer should include kayaking.

One of the reasons why we love kayaking in Cape Town is because there’s a pretty good chance you’ll find yourself kayaking with dolphins at Heaviside, but make sure you book the right tour so you can catch them. It’s an enchanting experience to be around dolphins on your kayak.

Day 7: Mountain and Ocean

Morning: Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head is the classic Cape Town hike and is a must on any Cape Town travel itinerary – and for good reason. It is, plainly and simply, spectacular. The full round trip is less than two hours so, in short, you’ll get the most amazing views for the least effort (as far as hiking mountains goes). It’s the perfect start to the last day of your 7 day itinerary for Cape Town and to make your relaxation day deserved.

Travel tip: Don’t attempt to hike Lion’s Head when it’s wet or cloudy.

It’s just not worth the risk, especially because of the ladders and ropes towards the end. And if you want to go for sunrise or sunset, you should absolutely book a group hike as there has been a spate of crime targeting hikers during less busy periods.

Prepare yourself for steepness in certain places. There is some scrambling involved, and visitors often underestimate it. If the subtext of that isn’t clear, the message is to wear proper shoes (not sneakers) and take water and snacks. If you’re prepared, you’ll be glad this is on your Cape Town itinerary.

Local tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, go very early in the morning – and preferably on a weekday with a group.

If you prefer a flatter trail with great views, the Pipe Track and the trails around the base of Lion’s Head and around Signal Hill are truly fantastic and are the local favorites. You can get onto those trails from the same parking area where the hike for Lion’s Head starts. In our view, the best place to begin is the path behind the food truck.

Afternoon/Evening: Beach

After a full week in Cape Town, the best way to spend your last day is simply to do what Capetonians have perfected: relaxing on the beach. You’re spoiled for choice for beaches in Cape Town, so we’ve selected the best of them sorted by vibe and activity.

Clifton Fourth Beach is the trendiest beach in Cape Town and usually attracts the young, fitness crowd. If you’re around Camps Bay, the beach there is also wonderful and the tidal pool is perfectly positioned for a relaxing swim. Whether you choose Camps Bay or Clifton Fourth, you’ll be getting the classic Cape Town beach day experience.

If you’re in Cape Town during summer, every Thursday on Clifton 1st beach you can join a volleyball game for free with Friends Who Volley. This is one of the best free things to do in Cape Town, and it is a quintessentially Capetonian experience.

If you want something a little more secluded, it’s Glen Beach. It’s a lot quieter than Clifton Fourth and Camps Bay, and if you make your way up the rocks all the way to the right (facing the sea), you’ll find what is probably the best sunset picnic spot in Cape Town.


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