Cape Town Travel Guide
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Best time to go to Cape Town 📅: Cape Town is located in the southern hemisphere and hence the seasons are reversed. Winter is considered between May and August and the weather is generally around 18 degrees Celsius during the day and there is a higher chance for rainy days. We went in late May and some days were sunny with 20+ degrees, some days it was rainy and cooler. Nevertheless, the weather was very pleasant to visit. To me, the only downside was that it was darkening at 6 o'clock. To enjoy the beaches and sea the most suitable season from December to April. A great time to warm up during the winter months in Europe. Although there is not a very extreme difference in flight tickets, accommodation prices show a steep increase in high season.
Do I need vaccination for Cape Town 💉: Nope
Where to stay in Cape Town 🏨: We stayed in different neighborhoods and hotels during our stay. Here all hotels we stayed at.
Getting around in Cape Town 🚋: Cape Town is not a city you can easily explore by foot or public transport. Best way is to rent a car because some of the places to visit are 1-2 hours away. Rental prices and gas are quite affordable. Alternatively UBER is a very common and cheap option.
Itinerary 👣: I could spend months in Cape Town but the minimum should be 1 week. Especially in Summer there are endless ways to fill your days. You can also add a couple of days to drive along the coast or do a safari.
Is it safe to go to Cape Town?
I asked this question a lot before I went, and when I searched the internet, horror stories would appear. Good thing we didn't mind and went anyway. Of course, there are more dangerous or safer areas in Cape Town. In a place where wealth and extreme poverty are so close to another this is inevitable. Personally, we did not experience any negativity. There are many beggars, especially in the city center and at the traffic lights, but they usually ask politely and move on. There are security guards and cameras everywhere in the tourist areas. My advice as a precaution; taking standard measures such as leaving valuables in the hotel safe, putting your car in closed parking lots, not leaving any items in the car are sufficient. Do not enter the secluded streets, do not walk around alone at night. We generally love to explore cities by foot, but especially in CBD, these walks are not very enjoyable. As long as you're a bit alert, there's nothing to be scared of. When in doubt, you can always consult hotels, restaurants. They always help to ensure your safety.
Water crisis in Cape Town: Cape Town is experiencing a serious drought and water resources are running out. Local people are subject to severe restrictions and daily water consumption is limited. So you will always see warnings in hotels and restaurants about this. Although there are no restrictions for tourists, it is useful to be sensitive. Simple measures such as not having the towels changed every day, using hand disinfectants instead of washing hands, taking a short shower and flushing only when really necessary, saves already a lot of water. After returning from Cape Town, I realized that I became more conscious about it. In fact, if we consume a little more carefully before it's too late, we can make a difference.
Best things to do in Cape Town
The list is long, here are my top things to do when in Cape Town
This is the bay famous with its penguin colony. Simons Town is very close and takes about 1 hour by car to get there from CBD. There are two paid entries to Boulders Beach and entrance costs ZAR 76 per person. If you enter the entrance on the side of Kleintuin Road, you will see more penguins, but you will only be able to watch from a remote viewing platform. My advice is to enter the entrance on the side of Bellevue Road. Although there are fewer penguins here, you can go directly to the beach and get close to them. We didn't pay any entrance fee and entered through the entrance on the right next to Bellevue Road. It says Bhurgers Walk at the gate. Here, after a little walk through a narrow road you reach a magnificent bay. When we went, there was only one penguin but the bay was totally ours and the water was perfect. I could swim here all day if it wasn't too cold.
Muizenberg: This bay is famous for its colorful beach huts. We went on the route to Boulders Beach and it is so worth a visit. There is not much here in winter, except taking pictures with the huts. But in summer the beach is a great place to chill. You can also dive into the side streets and look at the many murals.
Cape Point: Although it is often referred to as the southernmost point of the African continent, this is not true. The southernmost point is Cape L’Agulhas. Cape Point is the most southwestern point. This is a national park and you pay ZAR 176 per person at the entrance. Then you go to the end point by driving another 15 min. There are several hiking routes here, as well as a cablecar for the lazy ones. We saw the crowd of tourists and walked away quickly. It was nice to watch the scenery and the crazy waves of the ocean, but I didn't really love it here. And I'm not sure if it is worth the 2 hour drive.
Chapmans Peak Drive: I could go to Cape Town just for this experience. This is a narrow and winding road by ocean next to the huge mountains. It reminded me of Need For Speed. You pay 48 ZAR to use the road. It was the most scenic and memorable drive of my life. There are also areas where you can stop and watch the views and take pictures.
Hout Bay: This bay is famous for its sea lions. If you are lucky, you can meet a sweet sea lion. We spotted one in the water. It is also a bay with fishermen. I highly recommend Fish on the Rocks where you can enjoy fresh sea food watching over the bay.
Usually, the route of Muizenberg - Boulders Beach - Cape Point - Chapmans Peak - Hout Bay can be easily done in 1 day. If you have time, it can be divided into two days.
Camps Bay: This place stole my heart. I've watched one of the best sunsets I've ever seen right here. After sunset you can enjoy dinner and drink at one of the places on the promenade. The most popular place to have a drink is Caprice. We also loved Bilboa. For dinner we went to The Butcher steak house which was also quite good. The houses in Camps Bay are goals and we instantly started dreaming of owning a house here.
Sea Point: Another cute seaside town. This place is especially enjoyable for beach walks. If you get hungry, Mojo Market is the best address. An indoor food market where various dining alternatives are gathered under one roof. If you want a bigger meal, The Butcher Shop is a good option. Sea Point also has an outdoor pool that resembles the pool at Bondi Beach. Situated on top of the ocean and the views are wonderful. I'm sure it gets super busy in the summer.
Table Mountain: Of course Table Mountain should be on top of your list. For those of you who love the challenge, there are several hiking routes to get up. We went on the cable car and it took around 5 minutes. The cable car ride is a pleasure. The 360-degree view is great and the wagon rotates on its way up. Depending on weather conditions, the cable car can sometimes be closed, be sure to check on the web page before you go. Fee for a roundtrip is ZAR 293. Buy tickets in advance from the internet, so you don't wait. In summer lines get crazy. Unique landscapes, ultra-sweet animals named Dassie await you on the top. Try to go during the sunrise or sunset.
Lions Head: This is another famous landmark of Cape Town. There is no cable car to get up but you can hike. The hike is manageable but still not easy. Of course we did not hike :) We drove up to Signal Hill and the scenery here was not bad either.
Bo-Kaap: This neighborhood is often seen on Instagram. Famous for its colorful houses. It is located right in the city center. The reason that the houses are colorful is that back then, slaves were kept white houses and the colors symbolized the salvation from this dark history. Yes, the colors are very vivid and sweet, but I did not love this area too much.
V&A Waterfront: It is known as the most touristic and also the safest region of Cape Town. It is a kind of marina and also a shopping mall. Ideal for a meal on the waterfront or for an evening stroll. We ate snacks and Belgian beer at Den Anker and it was delicious. I also recommend V&A Food Market. In general, this place is very touristy so we did not waste much time here but definitely worth a visit.
Old Biscuit Mill & Woodstock: Like every city Cape Town also has a hipster neighborhood: Woodstock. Here, Old Biscuit Mill was one of my favorites. On Saturdays there is a market called Neighborgoods Market. Local designers and every kind of food you can think of in one open air market. We bought extremely nice items from here, and we got plenty of calories :) I recommend Esspressolab for coffee lovers. We also bought a Gin from Woodstock Gin & Co as a souvenir.
Places to eat in Woodstock
Saucisse - Light lunch
Rosetta Roastery - Coffee place
Woodstock Grill & Tap - Beers
The Pot Luck - Great for dinner
Vineyards: Cape Town is famous for its great wines. Even though we are not big wine drinkers, we said let's see the vineyards and went to the Spice Route in Paarl. After driving 45 minutes from Cape Town, we entered an environment reminiscent of Tuscany. This place is so beautiful! Not only wine, barbecue, biltong, chocolatier, brewer were present. And best of all, you can taste from all. It's eating and drinking all day here. The views are also great. We had a delightful dinner at the Italian restaurant called La Grapperia and it was one of the most enjoyable meals we had in Cape Town. Of course we didn't forget to buy wine to bring back home.
Another famous wine vineyard you can visit is the Warwick Wine Estate.
Gardens: This place is ideal for young people who love nightlife and want to mingle with local people. Here are a few places I can recommend:
El Burro Taqueria – Best Taco ever
The Power and the Glory – Best bar, also great for breakfast
Yours Truly – Super cute place on Kloof Street
Publik – Great for evening drinks
Junior – Burgers
Jerry’s Burger Bar – Burgers
The Sorrows – Great bar
CBD: CBD (Central Business District) is the downtown of Cape Town and most offices are in this region. So there are plenty of places to eat. There are plenty of cool places, especially on Long Street and the surrounding area. But at night, unfortunately, the most sketchy area in terms of security. A few tips:
Clarke’s – Super yummy burgers and Crispy Chicken sandwich
The Gin Bar – Gin heaven
The Crypt Jazz Club – great place to listen to live Jazz
Swan Café – Crepes
Truth Coffee – Best coffee and great breakfast
Haas Coffee – coffee place
Tiger’s Milk – great pub and food
Hail Pizza – Pizza
Bread Milk & Honey – breakfast
Safari in Cape Town: Although we were not sure if it will be worth it, we finally decided to go on a safari close to Cape Town, and we're glad we did. We stayed for 2 nights at Gondwana Game Reserve, which is a 4 hour drive from Cape Town. Here a detailed post about our safari experience.
Other items to add to your to-do list but we did not have time to do are:
Cage diving with sharks
Hike Lion’s Head
District 6 Museum