Cape Town is a beautiful city full of pristine beaches, scenic hikes, world-class restaurants, amazing views, and a fun nightlife scene. What more could you ask for? It’s the perfect place for an unforgettable trip or adventurous honeymoon, or as a launching-off point for a longer trip seeing the rest of South Africa. Whatever your case, keep reading for my 5-day Cape Town itinerary and start planning your trip!
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Cape Town Trip Overview:
- Days: 5
- PTO/Vacation Days Needed: 7 (if you’re coming from the US)
- Closest Airport: CPT
- Cost: $$
- Exchange Rate: $1 USD = about 16 Rand (ZAR)
- Getting Around: Uber is super easy and cheap
Cape Town Itinerary Overview
- First Day: Bo-Kaap, V&A Waterfront
- Second Day: Lion’s Head Hike, Camp’s Bay
- Third Day: Cape Peninsula
- Fourth Day: Table Mountain, Botanical Gardens
- Fifth Day: Winelands
When is the Best Time to Go to Cape Town?
The best time to visit Cape Town is March-May, and September-November. These months are during the shoulder season with fewer crowds and nice weather!
Best Area to Stay in Cape Town
Cape Town is a bit similar to Los Angeles in the sense that the city is divided into many different neighborhoods, each with a different vibe. I did a lot of research before our trip, and ended up choosing to stay in the Camp’s Bay area. Camp’s Bay is an upscale, beautiful beach town with a main street right next to the beach with bars and restaurants. This area is also super close to Table Mountain.
Recommended Hotel in Camp’s Bay
I highly recommend staying where we stayed, at Atlanticview Cape Town Boutique Hotel. The rooms are beautiful and high-end, the views are epic, and the service & staff are friendly and helpful. Because this spot is a boutique hotel, you get more bang for your buck. It’s much more affordable than the high-end resorts nearby (although it’s still pricier than the kinds of places we normally book for trips. We splurged a bit!)
I love that the hotel is set up in the hills, so you get a view of the ocean but also of Lion’s Head peak & Table Mountain. You get the most lavish free breakfast each morning delivered to you in your room (or on your private deck with a view). We looked forward to it every morning! The only downside of this spot is that it can sometimes be hard to get an Uber from the hotel if you are just trying to go a short distance. We never had any trouble getting back to the hotel, though.
If you are more of a city-dweller, check out one of the neighborhoods in the “City Bowl” section of Cape Town, like Woodstock. Woodstock is known to be a vibrant, up & coming neighborhood with a younger crowd.
V&A Waterfront is another popular area to stay in Cape Town. Nestled against the marina, although this area is a bit touristy, there are great bars and restaurants and it’s super walk-able.
5-Day Cape Town Itinerary
There are so many things to do and see in Cape Town. 5 days isn’t nearly enough, but it’s definitely a great start to scratch the surface of this amazing city!
Cape Town Itinerary: Day 1
Kick off your Cape Town trip with a visit to the colorful neighborhood of Bo-Kaap. You might recognize this area with the bright, colorful houses as being a popular Instagram photo-op, but it’s so much more than that. Bo-Kaap has a rich cultural heritage. The Malay people that lived here before they were freed from slavery were not allowed to paint their white houses. So once they were emancipated, they painted their houses the bright colors that you see today!
Spend some time walking around these streets. Take some pictures, visit the small museum, or if you have time – take a cooking class with a local Bo-Kaap resident!
Take a 10-min Uber ride from Bo-Kaap to the popular V&A Waterfront district, which is located on South Africa’s oldest harbor. There’s always a lot going on here. You’ll see street performers, shops, bars & restaurants, a ferris wheel, and a view of iconic Table Mountain in the background of it all. Stop here for lunch and/or a drink with a view overlooking the marina! We picked a spot called Den Anker and sat on the patio for drinks. Chill vibes and a great view! If you have more time/interest, consider taking a boat tour, taking a trip to Robben Island to learn about Nelson Mandela, or check out the Nelson Mandela museum.
Dinner at Pot Luck Club
There are many world-class restaurants in Cape Town, but Pot Luck Club is one of the most iconic. Located in the Old Biscuit Mill with views of Table Mountain, this chic restaurant is shared tapas style and is also known for their craft cocktails. It was one of our favorite meals during our 2 weeks in South Africa! Make a reservation well in advance.
Cape Town Itinerary: Day 2
Lion’s Head Hike
Of course, no trip of mine is complete without a scenic hike, and that includes my Cape Town itinerary! Hiking Lion’s Head was one of my favorite memories of our 5 days in Cape Town. Most people who are visiting Cape Town who want to do a hike choose between either Lion’s Head or Table Mountain. If you only have time or energy to hike one of them, I recommend Lion’s Head for a few reasons:
Lion’s Head vs Table Mountain Hike
- You can take a cable car up Table Mountain, but the only way to get up to Lion’s Head is to hike
- I think the views are better on top of Lion’s Head, partly because you can see views of Table Mountain from the top (vs when you are on top of Table Mountain obviously it’s not part of the view)
- The hike is fun & challenging, incorporating chains and ladders (reminded me of Angels Landing in Zion National Park!)
A lot of blogs I read recommend hiking Lion’s Head at sunset, however I personally think that would be a bit dangerous getting down in the dark (unless you are experienced on this trail + have a headlamp). Instead, I recommend hiking it at sunrise! The light is nice and soft, the air is cool, and the views are amazing.
The hike is 3 miles out & back with 1,118 elevation gain. It’s well-marked, open year-round, and is dog-friendly. There are a few short ladders that everyone must climb, however you are able to skip the most difficult part (involving chains + staples in the rock as footholds), by taking left at the fork in the trail. However if you are not scared of heights, I recommend taking the chains-route up! It’s fun.
Once you get to the top of Lion’s Head, you are rewarded with 360 degree views of Cape Town, the coast, and Table Mountain. It’s stunning!
Breakfast at Nourish’d
After your morning hike, head over to nearby juice bar/acai bowl spot “Nourish’d”. This cute spot on the corner of Kloof Street has amazing acai bowls, smoothies, and other healthy breakfast items. We loved it so much that we went here twice during our 5 days in Cape Town!
Spend the rest of your day relaxing at the beach at Camp’s Bay. Dip your toes in the water, enjoy the scenery, but also take some time to walk along the main street and pop into some of the shops, bars, & restaurants. Check out Cause Effect bar for some super unique craft cocktails with a view of the beach.
Dinner and Drinks
Make a reservation for dinner at Kloof Street House. The food is great and the ambience is stellar. Set in an ornately-decorated Victorian house, you can get a table inside to admire the decor. Or, get a table outside in their garden area with string lights and lush plants.
After dinner, get drinks at The Gin Bar. Gin is a staple in South Africa. What better place to have a gin drink than this little hidden gem of a bar? The Gin Bar feels like a speakeasy – when you arrive, you may think you are at the wrong address for a second. The outside looks like a cookie shop, but if you walk in and go all the way to the back, it opens up into a Mediterranean-style atrium. They have quite a few delicious specialty gin cocktails that are a must-try. I absolutely loved this spot!
Cape Peninsula Tour
Taking a Cape Peninsula tour is definitely a must-do activity on any Cape Town itinerary! Your day will be full of scenic drives, iconic landmarks, and penguin beaches! If you rented a car, you can definitely do this on your own if you want to save money on a tour. However, if you want to sit back and relax and not worry about directions and logistics – I highly recommend booking a private tour for the day! This is what we did, and it was so worth it.
We took a Cape Peninsula private tour with Winelands Guide, which ended up being about $150 each for the whole day. Since it’s a private tour, you can customize it if you want to see something specific, and can go a bit on your own timeline. You also really get to know your guide. We had such great conversations with our guide (Ismael) and learned a lot about the local culture, and about the sights we were visiting. He picked us up at our hotel around 9am and we returned around 4pm. It was an awesome day! Here’s what you can expect:
1. Hout Bay
Your first stop on your Cape Peninsula tour is Hout Bay, which is about 20 minutes from the Camp’s Bay area of Cape Town. This little fishing village has a super scenic marina. Here you’ll find locals selling handmade goods (great spot for souvenirs), and you might even see a few seals!
2. Chapmans Peak
Next, you’ll drive along the super scenic Chapman’s Peak. This road reminds me of cruising along the PCH to Big Sur in California! It’s absolutely stunning. Your guide will stop a few times at various scenic lookout points along the way (and snap some pictures for you!)
3. Cape of Good Hope
You’ll continue on about 45 minutes through Chapman’s Peak to Cape of Good Hope, which is the southwestern most point of Africa. A common misconception about the Cape of Good Hope is that it is where the Indian and Atlantic ocean meet. This is what I thought until our guide educated us otherwise! The spot where this occurs is actually called Cape Agulhas, which is about 90 miles from there.
Take a picture with the iconic sign, stroll up to the lighthouse, check out the gift shop, and soak in the views. It’s a popular spot, but for good reason!
Also, keep an eye out for wildlife on this road! We saw a few baboons and ostriches on our way.
4. Boulders Beach
From here, you continue on about 30 minutes to Boulder’s Beach. There is a colony of penguins here living on the beach! This was definitely a bucket list item for me. You pay a small fee to enter the protected area, and then walk along a boardwalk to the end. Here you will see the penguins hanging out on the sand and diving into the waves. So cool! Checking out Boulders Beach is something that is a must on any Cape Town itinerary.
Pro tip: I realized after we got back that you can actually go on the other side of the beach and walk on the sand to get closer to the penguins (instead of having to view from afar on the boardwalk). You should obviously not get close enough to touch the penguins, but I do wish we were able to get a bit closer than we had from the boardwalk!
5. Muizenberg Beach
Your guide will take you to a lunch spot. He had a few to choose from, and ended up taking us to a nice spot right on the water. After lunch, head about 20 minutes to Muizenberg Beach. This beach is a popular surfing spot, but you might also recognize it from the bright colorful huts on the beach that have become famous on Instagram. We stopped for a quick coffee in town, then took a nice walk on the beach and took some pictures.
From here, it’s about 40 minutes back to the Camp’s Bay area of Cape Town.
Cape Town Itinerary: Day 4
Table Mountain is the flat-topped mountain that is almost always present in your views around Cape Town. It’s one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World! You cannot come to Cape Town without adding this spot to your itinerary. It’s the most famous landmark of South Africa!
Getting to the Top
There are two options for getting to the top:
- Cable Car
Hiking Table Mountain
The hike up to Table Mountain is listed as moderately challenging. It’s 4.2 miles out and back, with 3,369ft elevation gain. It’s a pretty steep scramble! If you want, you can also hike up and take the cable car down (or vice versa).
We opted to take the cable car up. I love hiking, but we really only had the time and energy to do one hike during our Cape Town itinerary, and chose to do Lion’s Head instead.
To take the cable car, you need tickets. You can either buy online ahead of time, or buy at the box office there. It costs about $24 for a round-trip ticket. There is also an option to buy a “fast track” ticket online where you can skip the line for about double the price.
In my research, I read that the line for the cable car can be super long, so we were tempted to buy the fast track ticket. However, tourism has severely decreased since COVID, and when we were there on a Friday morning there were only 3 people in line!
Pro tip: if you are worried about there being a line, you can buy the fast track ticket with the option to pick it up at a nearby Pick n Pay (convenient store) and pay for it there. If you don’t pick up your ticket in 24 hours, it goes back into the system. So, you could technically do this, then go to Table Mountain and see what the line looks like. If there’s no line, buy the normal priced ticket at the box office and forget about the Fast Track one. If the line is super long, head over to Pick n Pay and pick up/pay for your Fast Track ticket and then head up to the cable car!
What to Expect at Table Mountain
Once you’re at the top, there are a few short, paved trails to walk along with placards educating on the history and nature of Table Mountain. The views up here are incredible! There is also a little cafe at the top if you want to get a meal or some drinks before heading back down.
It can be very cold and windy at the top of Table Mountain, so make sure to wear layers to be prepared! If it is ever too windy, they will stop the cable cars from running until the wind dies down.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Visting the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden was something that I wanted to include on our Cape Town itinerary, but we ran out of time for it. It looks amazing, though!
This botancial garden is known as one of the top 7 magnificent botanical gardens in the world. It’s located on the eastern slope of Table Mountain. The gardens consist of about 1.3 acres filled with indigenous plants, including some rare and endangered species.
It cost about $13 for entrance. There are free guided tours on Mondays and Fridays at 10am and 11am.
Visit the Market
If your Cape Town trip falls over a weekend, you’ve got to check out one of the many markets in the city. A few of the best ones:
Oranjezicht City Farm Market
When: Every Saturday
Where: Granger Bay at V&A Waterfront
What: local farmers market. food, produce, artisinal goods, and cooked food items from local shops and farms
The Neighborhoods Market
When: Every Saturday from 9-3
Where: Old Biscuit Mill, CBD Area
What: micro-merchants selling clothing goods, jewelry, accessories, and also food & drinks
Day Trip to Cape Winelands
No trip to Cape Town is complete without visiting the world-renowned Cape Winelands! It’s seriously the most beautiful wine country I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been to several throughout my travels!) The views here are stunning, the wine is great, and the food is world-class.
There are a few areas of wine country, but the two main ones are Stellenbosch and Franschoek. They are only about 30 minutes apart from each other, so you can visit both in the same day if you wish. Stellenbosch is just 50 minutes away from the Camp’s Bay area of Cape Town, and Franschoek is 1 hour and 15 minutes away.
The drive there from Cape Town is pretty easy if you have a rental car, however I wouldn’t recommend driving over there for a day trip if you will be drinking. Instead, opt for a day-trip tour from one of the local operators. This Full-Day Winelands Tour & Tasting is a great option! For $78 you get transportation to/from Stellenbosch AND Franschoek, plus 3 wine tastings (and a cheese tasting) included.
Separate Trip to Cape Winelands
If you have more than 5 days in Cape Town, I highly recommend spending at least 1 or 2 nights in the Cape Winelands. We spent two nights in Stellenbosch at Clouds Estate. It was INCREDIBLE. I wish we could have spent a week here! The view from the room is stunning. And you’re also right next door to Delaire Graff Estate which is known for great wine and a fabulous restaurant.
Make sure to pay a visit Babylonstoren for breakfast, lunch, or wine tasting on this beautiful farm estate, as well as the award-winning restaurant Rust en Verde for dinner.
Cape Town Travel Tips
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- Make sure you buy outlet converters so you can plug in your devices! We used these ones off Amazon and they worked great.
- If you have a car and are driving around Cape Town (and the rest of South Africa) you’ll quickly notice the presence of parking attendants at just about every parking lot. These semi-uniformed people are there to not only help you park (even if you don’t need it), but they also keep an eye on your car while you are gone. They expect a small tip.
- A lot of people ask “is Cape Town safe?” I felt very safe the whole time, but obviously (as with anywhere you travel) don’t go down sketchy alleyways at night by yourself, etc. The only neighborhood in Cape Town where I felt slightly sketched out was Bo-Kaap. A few people came up to us asking for change and were just hanging around waiting for the next tourist to ask. I’ve heard this area is safe during the day, but to avoid it at night.
- Download the app called DinePlan for making restaurant reservations (it’s like the South Africa version of OpenTable)
- Be careful what you eat – I recommend not eating anything raw. My husband got food poisoning from eating oysters.
This Post Has 5 Comments
Hi! Love the itenirary and going next week!
We are staying 2 nights at Clouds Estate as well and very excited – How did you get there from Cape Town and how did you travel within Stellenbosh? Did you rent a car or hire a driver or what would you recommend?
Sorry I didn’t get to your comment in time – I hope you had an amazing trip! Clouds Estate is incredible. We rented a car and drove from Capetown to Stellenbosch (and then kept going along the Garden Route for a few days!)
Thanks, great itinerary. Going in March and looking to fill in a few gaps in our plans. Love the restaurant reviews and pictures, thanks.
So glad to hear that! I hope you have an amazing trip!
Love your itinerary and general comments!! This was very helpful for me as I plan a trip in May 2023.