Cape Town, set in stunning scenery, has a fascinating backstory and an excellent food & wine culture. Our 5-day Cape Town itinerary captures all that is great about this African city.
There is a lot to fit in on a 5-day Cape Town itinerary because there is so much to do in this intriguing city. A melting pot of native African and European colonial culture set in a truly beautiful location. Mountains drop into blue oceans where powder-white beaches provide home to penguins and seals. Clifftop drives and hilltop walks offer breath-taking views that Cape Town has become famous for.
It also has some of the best value high-quality food in the world. Eat in Constantia or in the bars and restaurants around Kloof Street and you will find culinary innovation at a fraction of the price of many other destinations.
But, there’s another side to this beautifully set location. Our 5-day Cape Town Itinerary explores the history of this once troubled town. Apartheid only came to an end 25 years ago and visiting Robben Island, District 6 Museum and a township helped us to learn more about the challenging legacy it left on this town and its people.
Cape Town is a great place to visit and it can easily be incorporated into a much longer stay in South Africa, one of our favourite holiday destinations. For more inspiration, read about all our favourite places to visit in South Africa.
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Bo Kaap, Loops & Long Street
DAY 1 – CENTRAL CAPE TOWN
Start your 5-day Cape Town itinerary by exploring the urban centre which covers the rich cultural heritage of the city.
DISTRICT 6 MUSEUM
The District Six Museum tells the story of the forcible ejection of local multi-racial communities from the Sixth District in inner Cape Town. It has both permanent and temporary exhibitions and excellent guides offering personal insights into the museum.
After the museum, grab a coffee at the excellent Uncle Bear Coffee Company before exploring the tourist market at Greenmarket Square and the old colonial buildings surrounding Company Gardens. Next, grab lunch at Yours Truly perched on a stool watching the world go by.
In the afternoon wander over to Bo Kaap. Bo Kaap has a rich multi-cultural heritage, thanks mostly to the descendants of slaves who were brought over in the 16th and 17th centuries. Today it’s an interesting place to stroll around and admire the colourful houses. Check out the museum. Although the exhibits are average, a good TV presentation documents the residents of Bo Kaap as they reflect on their life and the development of their community.
LOOP & LONG STREET
Explore the shops of Loop and Long street before grabbing an early evening drink at The Gin Bar on Wale Street.
DAY 2 – CAPE TOWN OUTSKIRTS
Experience the multiple sides to Cape Town on day 2 with a visit to a township before enjoying South Africa’s food and wine scene.
Head to Langa and join the morning Siviwe Township Tour. Langa is a small tight-knit township, just east of Table Mountain. Touring this township opened our eyes to how many of Cape Town’s citizens live and the ongoing legacy of apartheid. It was one of our best experiences in Cape Town which we highly recommend. If you don’t have your own transport consider joining a tour. This all day Cape Town tour visits Langa, another township, and includes the Robben Island ferry tour.
CONSTANTIA WINE ROUTE
Next head over to Constantia and join the Constantia Wine Route where you can stop at numerous vineyards and try their food and wine. Groot Constantia and Fairview are a must for tastings, and Buitenverwachting is one of the top restaurants in Cape Town and a real treat for lunch. Be there before 2 pm otherwise you might have to do some fast talking to convince them to stay open for you!
Before the afternoon completely disappears in a haze, make your way to Kirstenbosch for a leisurely stroll around the botanic gardens. If you are here in summer try to tie it up with one of their outdoor summer concerts, which are truly excellent.
DAY 3 – TABLE MOUNTAIN & CAMPS BAY
Day 3 of our 5-day Cape Town itinerary takes in two of the city’s most scenic locations, the imposing Table Mountain and the sandy shores of Camps Bay.
TABLE MOUNTAIN CABLEWAY
The Table Mountain Cableway is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, so booking ahead is essential. With or without pre-booked tickets it’s likely you will need to queue, so get there as early as possible. But fear not, your precious time is not wasted as the views across Cape Town, Lion’s Head and the endless expanse of ocean is well worth the wait. The other way to see Table Mountain is to hike the Platteklip trail to the top.
After descending in the cable car, head the short distance to Kloof Street and grab lunch at one of the many options in the area. Kloof Street House was our pick.
Time for a bit of R&R, so head over to the beach of your choice for some sun, sand and remarkably cold sea. Camps Bay is a curving wide stretch of beautiful white sand. The four Clifton beaches under Lion’s Head each have their own vibe. Bloubergstrand, about a 20-minute drive from town, has great views back to Table Mountain and is a great spot for kitesurfing.
End the day with dinner and drinks at one of the many establishments overlooking Camps Bay. It’s sloppy tourist-driven fare, but the view, energy and sunset make up for it.
DAY 4 – ROBBEN ISLAND & LION’S HEAD
Start day 4 by learning more about the era of apartheid in South Africa, followed by a strenuous but thoroughly rewarding hike to one of the best viewpoints in the city.
ROBBEN ISLAND TOUR
Robben Island was used by the South African government as a prison for political prisoners and convicted criminals from 1961 until 1991. Today the island is home to a number of former inmates who work as tour guides, providing very personal – and at times – harrowing accounts of their experience in the prison. Ferries to Robben Island depart from Victoria and Albert Waterfront and booking in advance is recommended. The whole trip takes around 4 – 5 hours. You can also mix up the days and include it on a tour of two nearby townships.
Upon your return, explore the V&A Waterfront, a modern shopping complex by the harbour with some great dining options. A good place to get your bearings is the Waterfront Food Market which has a wide selection of street food and artisanal products.
LION’S HEAD HIKE
This afternoon hike up Lion’s Head. The well-trodden path winds its way up the mountain and offers spectacular views of Cape Town, Table Mountain, the Twelve Apostles and Camps Bay beach. The views from the top are stunning. Make your way to the top by late afternoon as the sun drops and the surroundings are lit up in all their golden glory. If you take a couple of beers with you to the top, you will have a truly memorable moment.
Park 500m up Signal Hill Road, just after turning off the M62 at Kloof Neck. The path is easy to follow. There is a bit of scrambling towards the top, but if the sight of ropes and ladders leaves your palms sweaty, walk a bit further and you’ll see another path avoiding these tricky bits. The walk takes around 1 hour, 15 minutes up and 1 hour down. If you’d prefer a guide to help you make your way and tell you about the area book here.
DAY 5 – CAPE POINT PENINSULA
Get out of the city today to enjoy the spectacular setting that makes a Cape Town visit such a memorable experience on a road trip down the Cape Peninsula. It’s easy enough to drive yourself if you have hired a car, but otherwise there are plenty of day tours visiting many of the highlights. Or you can hire your own guide.
HOUT BAY & CHAPMAN’S PEAK
Take the M6 down to Harbour Road in Hout Bay, home to a traditional fishing harbour and market, which offers some excellent seafood and a cool seaside vibe. After a walk around Hout Bay Harbour, head to Cape Point via Chapman’s Peak. This is a toll road, but you will not resent the small payment one bit; the drive is nothing short of spectacular.
CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
Once the M6 hits the M65, turn right and go via Kommetjie, taking the circular route around the peninsula. About 1h 20m after leaving Hout Bay you will arrive at Table Mountain National Park. Pay the entry fee, then and follow the signs to The Cape of Good Hope. Walk up the hill nearby and keep your eyes peeled for whales. After you’ve soaked up the views, drive up to Cape Point, walk up to the new lighthouse and out to the point that looks down over the old lighthouse.
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BOULDER’S BEACH & ST JAMES
Back in the car, head up the east side of the peninsula to Boulder’s Beach (35min) and have a quick visit with the penguins. Continue to St James (25 min) and walk to the much-photographed brightly coloured beach huts framing a tidal rock pool.
Next head back south to Kalk Bay, to check out its coffee shops and bohemian vibe before having dinner at Livebait, a great, reasonably priced seafood restaurant so close to the front the waves are lapping at the deck. Get there while it is still light to watch the sun go down.
WHERE TO STAY IN CAPE TOWN
Tamboerskloof and Camps Bay are both excellent locations but for different reasons. Tamboerskloof is younger and cooler, close to the city centre with access to the café and bar scene of Kloof Street. The views up to Table Mountain are pretty great as well.
Camps Bay on the other hand is a bit older, but stunningly set on one of the most beautiful city beaches in the world. A number of cocktail bars and restaurants line the front.
CENTRAL & MODERN
Clean lines and contemporary finishes in the heart of the Cape Town action with impressive sea views. The on-site restaurant, Sótano served up well-prepared Mediterranean dishes with an impressive cocktail list.
JARDIN D’ÉBÈNE GUESTHOUSE
This quaint five-bedroom guesthouse in Tamboerskloof is decorated in modern African style with luxurious organic textiles. Breakfast on the deck beside the plunge pool is the perfect way to start your day.
Located along Camp’s Bay’s stunning promenade, The Marly is great for unwinding on Cape Town’s most popular beach. With an enviable location, this is an excellent option for some boutique indulgence.
BOOK BEFORE YOU GO
Cape Town can get very busy, so it’s a good idea to book a few things in advance of your 5-day Cape Town itinerary. The Table Mountain Cableway can close when conditions are windy, so don’t plan to go up on your final day in case it’s closed. While booking online does not skip all of the queues, it does make it considerably quicker.
If you are visiting in the summer months check Kirstenbosch events. The summer concerts in the gardens are excellent.
Cape Town is an excellent destination for sports fans. It is relatively easy to get tickets to world-class rugby and cricket at extremely good prices. Not to mention, Newlands Stadium is a stunning destination with great views over Table Mountain.
GETTING TO CAPE TOWN
The main airport in Cape Town is the Nelson Mandela International Airport which has direct flights from some locations in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and other Africa locations. There are currently no direct flights from the USA to Cape Town. The airport is around 20km from the centre of town with easy connections into Cape Town.
TAXI FROM THE AIRPORT
The official, authorised taxi provider at the airport is Touch-Down Taxis. Picking up a taxi from the stands out front is usually no problem. A taxi into the centre of Cape Town will cost between R300 and R400.
A shuttle bus runs from the airport between 5:30 and 21:30. The fare is around R60 to R100 depending on the time of travel.
GETTING AROUND CAPE TOWN
The MyCiti bus service operated from 5:00 to 22:00 daily connecting the major areas of Cape Town including the city centre, the Atlantic coast and Koof Rd. More information including rates and timetables is available on their website.
This is a fairly action-packed itinerary, so our recommendation is to hire a car at the airport. Car hire is good value and makes getting around a slightly spread out Cape Town much easier. Parking is generally cheap and convenient and the road network is very good. The excess for accidents on hire cares is generally low so we opted to not take insurance.
CAR HIRE IN CAPE TOWN
If you are looking to hire a car in Cape Town, we recommend rentalcars.com. They have access to cars from all the major companies which are compared on a grid format that clearly displays the prices for different car sizes across each provider.
MAP / CAPE TOWN ITINERARY
We’ve listed our favourite things to do in Cape Town based on four main areas that make up city and it’s surrounding areas: the city centre; outside the centre; the area east of Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsular.
BEST TIME TO GO TO CAPE TOWN
Cape Town can be visited all year but it is best to avoid the wet colder months of July and August. If you want to spend time on the beaches then the summer months of December to March bring temperatures in the high twenties and longer days, but also higher crowds.
We recommend mid-January to mid-March to get good weather, long days, fewer crowds and the opportunity enjoy wine festivals and outdoor concerts. Beware though, the seas around Cape Town are cold almost all year round, so swimming takes a deep breath whatever time you travel.
If you are including Cape Town on a longer trip around the country, read our article on the best time to visit South Africa’s different regions.
As one of our favourite places to visit for winter sun, great hiking and incredible wildlife opportunities, we’ve been to South Africa several times. Find all our writing on our South Africa Page or read these guides next.
Constructing the perfect South Africa itinerary
When to visit South Africa
The best things to do in Cape Town
10 reasons to visit the Drakensberg Mountains
Driving a 4×34 up the Sani Pass
Cathedral Peak, Drakensberg
20 incredible safari animals and how to see them
Sabi Sands vs Kruger Self-Drive
Self-driving in Kruger National Park
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