Photo by Estee de Villiers
If you're traveling to Cape Town, copy this awesome and affordable seven to fourteen days itinerary that's adventure-packed!
There’s more than one reason why they call it the Mother City. Cape Town is the absolute mother of all cities from stunning beaches backed by Table Mountain, a Natural World Wonder, to rowdy nightlife, some of the best hikes, and icy, alive making swims. I chose to move over 12,500km away from my home because it’s just that good.
If you’ve never been to the African continent before, Cape Town is a great way to wet your feet! Whether you're hiking Lion's Head for the best sunset views of Camps Bay, following Chapman’s Peak Drive from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope for one of the world’s best ocean drives, taking a walking tour of Bo-Kaap, or learning Gumboot with dancers in Langa Township, there’s something everyone will want to do in Cape Town.
After two years of living in South Africa, I planned this itinerary for my family's first trip to Cape Town, and it was amazing and adventure-packed! If you have 2 weeks or even just 7 days to spend in Cape Town, this is your perfect South Africa itinerary.
Psst…Want more Cape Town, South Africa travel tips? Check out these other posts:
Guide to Visiting South Africa for the First Time
30+ of the Best, Most Iconic Places to Eat and Drink in Cape Town
Read on for my favorite activities for A 7 to 14 day cape town itinerarY.
Table of Contents
Day 1: Hang Out with Penguins at Boulders Beach, and Coffee, Swim, and Stroll in Kalk Bay
Day 2: Take It All In From the Red Bus, and Stand Atop Table Mountain, A Natural World Wonder
Day 3: Visit the Most Southwesterly Tip of Africa at Cape Point, and Drive Chapmans Peak
Day 4: Get to Know South Africa's Important History, Shop for Chocolate, and Visit the Book Lounge
Day 5: Get Your Adrenaline Pumping with Shark Cage Diving, and Chase the Sunset at St. James and Muizenberg
Day 6: Hike to the Top of Lion's Head, Have Brunch, Visit Robben Island, and Watch the Sunset
Day 7: Visit Colorful Bo-Kaap, and Stroll Along the Sea Point Promenade to Clifton
Day 8: Take A Tour of Langa Township
Day 9: Go Wine Tasting in the Winelands
Days 10 - 14: Safari in Kruger National Park
Hang Out With Penguins at Boulders Beach
If you want to see these little guys, and who am I kidding, of course, you do! It’ll cost you. R152 per international visitor and R39 per SA local to be exact. But it is so worth it to spend the day lazing in the sun, watching penguins waddle past, hop from rock to rock, and swim past you into the blue sea. Yes, you can get in the water and swim with them! Just remember not to feed them, try to approach them, or disturb them in any way. They can be quite curious, but they are still wild animals.
Photo by Tanya Paquet
☀️day 1 cont'd
coffee, swim, and stroll in kalk bay
During my first two trips to Cape Town, I had no idea Kalk Bay existed. Like most tourists to the city, I’d sped past it on my way to see the penguins at Boulders Beach. Now that I live here, I can’t imagine my life in Cape Town without early morning swims in Dalebrook Tidal Pool, shopping along Main Road, coffees at Lekker, Dalebrook Café, and Salt, or fish and chips at Kalky’s.
After swimming with the penguins, head just 20 minutes north along the coast to Kalk Bay. Your first stop is Kalky's for the best fish and chips in Cape Town. In Kalk Bay, Kalky's is an institution. The sometimes-long queues are well worth the wait for the fish and chips they’ve been serving since the 1950s. At a price that hasn’t changed much with the ages, fish and chips will only cost you R75. Don’t forget to take cash, as they don’t take cards and the ATM inside often has a queue.
After lunch, walk around Kalk Bay, shopping and supporting local, before watching the sunset at Dalebrook Tidal Pool. (I love Soul Design Jewelry where you can make your own jewelry or buy their locally-made designs inspired by African cultures).
Psst… For a full list of swimming in Cape Town's best tidal pools, check out this post.
Take It All In From the Red Bus
In my opinion, there’s no better way to first get to know the city than from Red Bus from City Sightseeing. For R245, you can choose from The Red City tour to the Table Mountain Cableway, The Blue Mini Peninsula tour, The Purple Constantia Valley Wine tour, The Yellow Downtown tour, or The Blue Mini Peninsula tour (another of my favorites). Tour departs from the V&A Waterfront next to the Two Oceans Aquarium. Hop on and off the stylish double-decker red bus and take in the sights from the top deck. Skip the line by buying tickets online for The Red City bus tour and the Table Mountain Cableway; it's R655 to buy both tickets together online. Taking the cable car separately usually costs R320 for a roundtrip afternoon ticket and R390 for a roundtrip morning ticket.
Photo by Tod Podmore
☀️day 2 cont'd
Stand Atop Table Mountain, A Natural World Wonder
Have you even been to Cape Town if you haven’t been to the top of Table Mountain? Whether you hike up or take the cable car (no judgment here!), visiting the top of this Natural World Wonder is a must-do. Once at the top, there’s a restaurant where you can buy snacks and drinks and a gift shop where you can get stuffed animals of the cute little guys you see running around (they're called dassies and they’re closest relative is the elephant).
Once you hike or take the cable car down, rejoin your Red City bus tour, and enjoy the sunshine and salty air as you breeze through Camps Bay past the Twelve Apostles, and around the corner towards Sea Point and the V&A Waterfront.
If you want to hike Table Mountain instead of taking the cable car... Buy your red bus tour ticket separately, then hike up Table Mountain one-way and pay only R210 for a one-way ticket on the cable car. Platteklip Gorge is touted as the easiest hike to the top, but it’s still a winding 2.5-3 hours over a 650m climb. (You can do it! There’s joy in reaching the top, gazing out at the city below as you catch your breath and wonder how this beautiful city is even real.) Another favorite hike is Kasteelspoort. While as strenuous, you get the added stop of “Surfboard Rock,” what the trail's famous precarious rock is called as it juts out above the Atlantic Ocean.
Photo by Shashank Kumar
Visit the Most Southwesterly Tip of Africa at Cape Point in the cape peninsula
See the not-most-Southern-point of Africa. Some tour guides will tell you Cape Point is the most southern point of Africa. That’s not true. It’s actually three hours East in L’Agulhas, which is also where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Indian Ocean. But Cape Point is the most southwesterly point in Africa. At R320 for international visitors, it’s a steep price to pay for what’s not the most southern point of Africa, but there’s more to see in Cape Point, much more. Walk or take the tram to the lighthouse and listen to the power of the ocean as waves smack the rugged cliffside. After, see how many ostriches, baboons, and elands you can spot, as you make your way to Buffels Bay for a picnic and to brave the tidal pool.
On the long drive back from Cape Point, make sure to stop at the Southern Peninsula's quirky and iconic Scone Shack. Head back to the Cape Town city centre through Noordhoek and the iconic Chapman's Peak Drive.
☀️DAY 3 CONT'D
road trip cape town with a Drive on Chapmans Peak
Chapmans Peak Drive is one of the most beautiful ocean drives in the world. Start at Noordhoek and drive through to Hout Bay, and pay just R50 per car for the toll fee. If you have more time, plan to hike Chapman’s Peak; it’s a 2 – 3 hour hike roundtrip with stunning views over the Bay and more time to take them in, as you wind your way to the top.
Photo courtesy of the District Six Museum website
get to know south Africa's important history at the district six museum
If today is a cloudy or rainy day, then it's a perfect day to learn more about South Africa's important history at the District Six Museum. The museum is a memorial and celebration of District Six, a once-vibrant, mixed-race community in Cape Town whose residents were forcibly evicted in the 1970s by the apartheid government. The tours, which cost R50, are led by former residents of District Six. A visit to this important museum is a perfect entryway into learning more about South Africa's traumatic history and celebrating the rich cultures it impacted.
Photo by Irene Kredenets
☁️DAY 4 cont'd
shop for chocolate and visit the book lounge
If you're a chocolate-fiend in Cape Town, you're spoiled for choice. My all-time favorites are Honest Chocolate and Grumpy and Runt. They're both minutes away from the District Six Museum and your next stop.
Between the bustling streets of Loop and Bree, sip your Coconut Dream dairy-free milkshake in a sunny courtyard (a standout from the original building), and think you’ve stumbled into summer in the Mediterranean. Don’t forget to pick up your Honest Chocolate truffles or “bunny chow,” banana bread with ice cream and chocolate ganache, inspired by the original bunny chows of Durban Indians. All their cacao beans are sustainably sourced, and their chocolate is made by hand.
Not only are Grumpy and Runt's donuts hand-rolled, hand-cut, and fried fresh each morning, but the flavors of their small batch donuts change every week. Each week, their "Flavor Drop" keeps Capetonians coming back to their sunny little courtyard in Gardens to try the latest from this female-run donut shop.
Full up on chocolate and donuts, visit Clarke's Bookshop on Long Street in downtown Cape Town. The gold-lettered, wood-floored bookshop once held banned books. Now it holds rare books, out-of-print books, secondhand books, and impossible-to-find vintage prints. If you want to soak up South Africa’s history after visiting the District Six Museum, this is the place to go. I recommend reading Biko, Asking for Trouble, and Long Walk to Freedom.
get your adrenaline pumping with shark cage diving
If you’re looking for an adventure while in Cape Town, this is it! We booked with African Shark Eco-Charters because they are relatively close to Simon's Town and they are the only company in the area to use respirators, so you get to spend lots of time braving the icy water in search of sharks. On my last trip, we saw two huge Bronze Whaler Sharks swim in front of us. One was almost 3m long! It is absolutely mind-blowing to watch the sharks disappear into the depths after checking you out. We also spotted many Cow sharks and saw a massive colony of 60,000 seals as we passed Seal Island. Make sure to bring sea sickness pills as the water can be rough.
If you're looking to see Great White Sharks, you might want to head to Gansbaai or settle for seeing Bronze Whalers, as the presence of Great Whites has significantly decreased in the last few years due to orca activity. On my first trips in 2016 and 2017, I was lucky enough to see several Great Whites, but I haven't seen them since in Gansbaai or in Simon's Town.
☀️DAY 5 cont'd
chase the sunset at st. james and Muizenberg
On your way back from Simon's Town, cool off along the beautiful coastal drive from Simon's Town to St. James Tidal Pool and Muizenberg Beach. Both beaches have colorful changing houses that are a photographer's dream, so make sure to visit before golden hour!
Photo by Estee de Villiers
Hike to the Top of Lion's Head, have brunch, and visit robben island
Start your day early with a sunrise hike of Lion's Head; it's much cooler in the morning and less crowded, so the early start is well worth it. The hike to the top of Lion’s Head is a cult favorite for a reason. It’s relatively easy, quick, and suited for most individuals. The 360° view from the top is well worth it. Standing on top of Lion’s Head, watching the cars of Sea Point go by, or the waves roll into Camps Bay, and the sunset over Twelve Apostles and Table Mountain is a must-do Cape Town experience. Bring snacks or drinks to the top for your celebratory break. Just make sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight for the trail-up if you begin your hike before sunup. The trail takes 90 minutes to 2.5 hours roundtrip (not including your golden photo session at the top, basking in the glory of Table Mountain).
After your hike, have brunch at Jason Bakery or Coco Safar.
You won't be ordering just once from Jason Bakery, not with their menu of fresh house-baked bread made with stone ground flour, pastries, and all-day breakfast. The sentiment "I love" is often overused, but there's no other way to describe how I feel for their croissants made with 100% pure butter over a three-day-long process. Try them almond, bacon (trust me!), or pain au chocolat. For a sweet and savory breakfast at Jason's, think Spanish benedicts, bagels, brioche doughnuts, pasteis de nata, and blueberry cinnabun danish.
A visit to Coco Safar is a visit to Paris with a sea breeze. Their croissants have been recognized as some of the best in the world by Food & Wine. Their "Black Croissant" is filled with maple cheesecake, dipped in caramel chocolate, and sprinkled with roasted pecan nuts. Get a luxury taste of the "Hermes of coffee, patisserie, and café culture," before they expand to style capitals around the world, including New York, Paris, London, and Tokyo.
After brunch, it's time to visit Robben Island, one of the most historically significant places in all of South Africa. During the apartheid era, Robben Island served as a prison for many famous political activists, including Nelson Mandela. If you're visiting Cape Town, you have to visit Robben Island, not just to pay tribute to the great activists who were imprisoned there but also to learn about South Africa's history and bright future. Each tour is led by a former political prisoner, which is another reason to visit now because those former political prisoners won't be around forever. Tours cost R1,400 and depart from the V&A Waterfront.
☀️DAY 6 cont'd
Sundowners at Signal Hill or Camps Bay
What could be better than finishing a day of adventure in the Mother City than with sundowners, watching the sunset above the city below? Choose either Signal Hill or "Sunset Rock" for your sundowners. To visit Sunset Rock in Bantry Bay, search for “Sunset Rock” in your GPS or rideshare. You’ll park in a small parking lot, then follow the path down to an area with several big boulders overlooking Camps Bay. Climb up for the best view of the sunset! Don’t forget to bring your sundown drinks or snacks.
Visit COLORFUL Bo-Kaap
Can I say that Cape Town wouldn’t be Cape Town without Bo-Kaap? This colorful neighborhood with steep, cobblestone streets, the rhythmic call of the adhan, and brightly painted homes is my favorite part of Cape Town. Snap a photo with the iconic “blue car” and search for spices at Atlas Trading Co. The Atlas Trading Co. spice shop is a Cape Town institution. No visit to Bo-Kaap is complete without a stop here for their spices, which are hard to find in many other spice shops. Try the peri peri spice and mother-in-law masala. I love Amina’s Wonder Spice Steaks and Chops Marinade. (Impress Saffers at a braai)! Afterward, tour the nearby Bo-Kaap museum, take a free walking tour, and learn how to use your new spices at one of Bo-Kaap’s cooking classes, where’ll you learn to roll rotis, craft samosas, and attempt your own Cape Malay curry.
As always, remember to be respectful to the people who have made this beautiful, colorful neighborhood their home for generations. Bo-Kaap’s heritage is as colorful as its buildings. Homes to the Cape Malay community, there are several reasons circulating as to why the homes are so colorfully decorated. The most well spread is that they’re painted as expressions of individuals and to celebrate freedom after the end of apartheid. One thing’s clearer, the difficulties facing this tight-knit community are as clearly marked as the contrast between one house and another. Spend time getting to learn their history at the museum and get involved in learning the current issues they face today, including gentrification.
Photo by Estee de Villiers
☀️DAY 7 CONT'D
Stroll Along the Sea Point Promenade to Clifton
One of Cape Town’s favorite walks is the walk along the Sea Point Promenade, or “The Prom” depending on how local you’re feeling. Start at either Mouille Point or the Sea Point public pools and continue all the way to Clifton. Once you round the bend, you’ll know you’ve made it, as Lion’s Head juts out from among white-painted modern homes. Listen to the calls of the seagulls and the lapping of the waves. Bring your “cosi,” local for a bathing suit, if you want to take a quick swim at Saunders Rock’s Beach tidal pool.
Take a Tour of Langa Township
I first visited Langa Township during my very first day in Cape Town. Now that I live and work here, I have visited the community to see friends and do interviews over a hundred times. If you tell most people in Cape Town you are planning to visit a township, you’ll be met with gasps and questions like “Do you know how dangerous it is?” While South Africa is a very beautiful country, it's also affected by a difficult past, and townships like Langa bare a lot of the brunt of enduring issues like racism and unequal distribution of resources.
Langa is a vibrant community, home to South Africa’s history, and some of the most amazing people you will ever meet. As a first-timer, I recommend taking a walking tour with my friend Siviwe Mbinda, a South African change maker and tour guide who shares a birthday with Nelson Mandela. You’ll learn more about Langa’s history and in turn, the history of South Africa, and when you’re done, support local artists at Guga S’Thebe Cultural Centre. Don’t forget to stop at Ikhaya Le Langa for coffee or to pick the brain of entrepreneurial visionary Tony Elvin and have lunch or dinnerat the vibey Jordan Ways of Cooking.
Jordan's is a whole vibe any day of the week with a live DJ, and parties at almost every table. The food is incredible. My partner and I love the Braai meat platter (Swoon!) loaded with beef chops, sausages, chicken wings, chakalaka, steamed bread, and fries. For R450, it's enough to feed both of us twice over.
Photo by Marcelo Novais
GO WINE TASTING IN THE WINELANDS
Stellenbosch or "Stellies" depending on how local you're feeling, has so many wine farms just a quick forty minutes from Cape Town, that you’ll be spoiled for choice to choose. Indulge your senses with chocolate, wine, and beer tastings at the ever-popular Spice Route. Spier Wine Farm is another popular stop in the Winelands; they have a range of wine tastings and pairings, sprawling grounds to explore, and outdoor art installations.
For those who want to rosé all day, you can take a ride aboard the Wine Tram in nearby Franschoek. You can even open a bottle of MCC with a whole saber (just like Champére in Emily in Paris). Yes, you heard that right. A saber. It’s called Sabrage and ties into the French roots of the French wine farm Haute Cabrière. Don't forget to stop in at Babylonstoren for dream garden inspiration, an artfully curated lunch at their Greenhouse Restaurant, and shopping in their charming, seasonally designed Farm Shop.
☀️DAYs 10 - 14
safari in Kruger national park
No, Kruger National Park is not in Cape Town, but it is worth visiting one hundred times over compared to other safari experiences closer to Cape Town. There is truly nothing like seeing these wild animals thriving in their natural habitat, and for that, you need to visit Kruger.
Safaris can be notoriously expensive, but they're not out of reach, especially if you plan right and find the best deals. I've spent hours scouring BushBreaks.co.za, and it paid off when I was able to book a stay at a luxury lodge in Kruger for over 50% off! Make sure to read the fine print, as some deals are reserved for South African nationals.
You will also save money by driving to Kruger from Johannesburg, and then driving yourself within the park. Not only is going on a self-drive safari cheaper, but it's a thrill to choose your own adventure. Kruger is just a short flight away to either Kruger Mpumalanga, Skukuza, or Johannesburg airports. We always opt to fly to Johannesburg for about half the price of the other airports, rent a car, and drive the remaining four hours to Kruger ourselves.
If you want to see big cats in Kruger, then I couldn't recommend staying at Orpen gate in Kruger enough. Bookings are made through the SAN Parks website. If you stay there, don’t miss out on a Night Drive with a Kruger National Park guide. For about R300 pp, they took us to find a lion pride after dark while they had wildebeest for dinner. We also saw another leopard, a genet, and a serval all on just two game drives from Orpen.
Looking for more epic activities while in Cape Town?
Kayak from Sea Point towards Robben Island and down the coast towards the Waterfront. Don’t be surprised if a “raft” of penguins paddles by. Snorkel with seals in Simon’s Town, paraglide from Lion’s Head or Signal Hill, or abseil off Table Mountain.