The Best 3 Days in Cape Town Itinerary

21 min read
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An aerial landscape of Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background
Cape Town with Table Mountain in the background

Cape Town is a stunning colourful city that deserves a place in every traveller's bucket list. Surrounded by pristine beaches and high mountains, Cape Town has a rich cultural history, modern shopping streets with chic restaurants, and incredible wildlife.

My 3 days in Cape Town itinerary will allow you to enjoy all that. You will roam around colourful neighbourhoods, taste the best food, and get fascinated by breath-taking scenery.

Cape Town is located in the most southern part of Africa, in the Western Cape province, and is the oldest city in South Africa. It is also referred to as the 'Mother City.' It is situated in The City of Cape Town area that includes the city itself and the surrounding suburbs.

There are tons of interesting things to do in Cape Town such as hiking Table Mountain, swimming in the clear blue water, and visiting Cape Winelands. Cape Town is also the perfect place to start a road trip along the Garden Route, or along the West Coast of South Africa.

The city has a Mediterranean climate, so it is lovely to visit all year round. However, the best time to visit Cape Town is from September to November, and March to May when it's not too rainy, windy, cold, or hot.

Be aware that the seasons are opposite from Europe, Asia and North America; summer is around December to February and winter is from June to August. These are just a few of the tips you should keep in mind when visiting South Africa, especially if it's your first time in the country!

If you are determined to have the best trip of your life, then keep reading and find out what to do in Cape Town for three days.

  • 3 day guide
  • Average of 8 stops per day

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Cape Town 3 Day Article

Cape Town Map

A map of Cape Town. Use the map to explore all the days and stops.

Mountains, Coast, and Wine Tasting

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The sun rising over Cape Town and Table Mountain
Table Mountain sunrise from Signal Hill

The first day of 3 days in Cape Town itinerary will have you discovering green places in and around the city, relaxing by the coast, and discovering the best wines in the country.

Your day will begin with adventurous hiking in Table Mountain National Park, where you will watch a spectacular sunrise and have a meal at the mountain cafe. Continue your journey to the Newlands Forest and have a relaxing stroll before you reach Cape Town Botanical Garden, which houses various local and exotic plants.

Later you will travel deeper into the Constantia Valley, which houses some of the best wine estates available in South Africa, such as Groot Constantia. After wine tasting and lunch, continue your day at the majestic Camps Bay. You can make a short stop at Hout Bay and relax by the beach or check out the Hout Bay Harbour.

As all locations are a bit out of central Cape Town, I don't recommend relying on public transport. I suggest renting a car or hiring a driver for the whole day. Only that way you will have full freedom of your day.

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A cable cart going up to the summit of Table Mountain
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Hike Table Mountain - 'A Gift to the Earth'

Table Mountain is one of the must do things in Cape Town and is a famous landmark of Africa. The mountain lies in the Table Mountain National Park and is the most iconic mountain in South Africa. The mountain was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2011.

It was named Table Mountain because of its flat-topped peak (1086 metres above sea level) that resembles a table. The mountain also has about 2 200 species of plants and 1470 floral species, which are found only in the park.

There are several hiking trails easily accessible from different parts of Cape Town. However, the easiest way is to take a cable car straight up to the top and hike down.

Strangely, everyone says that Table Mountain is the best spot for sunset viewing. However, I believe that sunrise is even more beautiful and relaxing as you can avoid crowds by coming early in the morning.

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The view of the ocean and Cape Town from Table Mountain
The view from the top of Table Mountain of Cape Town, South Africa

Have late lunch at Table Mountain Cafe

What can be better than eating breakfast at the top of the mountain? Table Mountain Cafe is a perfect place to grab a quick meal and enjoy fantastic views over the mountains and Cape Town.

The cafe opens early in the morning for the breakfast service to reward people reaching the top for the sunrise. Even though the space is minimal, the cafe has indoor and outdoor seating. It is also connected to the Table Mountain cable car.

Table Mountain Cafe has a wide selection of self-service desserts, drinks, and meals inspired by traditional South African cuisine. It also tries to be more environmental-friendly than other cafes in the city. Most of cafe's plates, cups, and containers are made from organic materials.

You can also ask for takeaway and eat your breakfast on the peak or while going down.

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A running stream in Newlands Forrest
A stream in Newlands Forest in Table Mountain, South Africa

Walk in the Woods - Newlands Forest

Newlands Forest is situated on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. The forest is a popular area among the families, runners, walkers, and hikers.

There are numerous trails in the forest, which lead up in the mountain and connect forest to Rhodes Memorial and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. If you fancy a little bit of adventure, take smaller paths that are less crowded and leading deeper into the woods. Just make sure to bring with you a little map of the area as it is easy to get lost on the wrong path.

Be aware that Newlands Forest gets extremely busy on the weekend, so try to come either on a weekday or before noon on the weekend if you wish to avoid crowds.

The entrance to the forest is free of charge, too. The parking space is available near the woods, and you will need to pay a parking fee.

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A tree canopy walkway in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town, South Africa
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa

Visit Majestic Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens can't be excluded from a 3-day Cape Town itinerary. It is a breath-taking place resting on the foot of Table Mountain National Park. The botanical garden is also one of the most famous tourist attractions in Cape Town.

It is home to 7000 species of plants from South Africa. The area is divided into several themed gardens such as Peninsula Garden (plants that can be found only in the Western Cape), the Water-Wise Garden (gardens filled with plants saving water), the Dell (the oldest part of the Botanical Gardens), Protea Garden, and more.

At the Botanical Gardens, you can enjoy a picnic, have a stroll around the park, get to know more about South African plants, grab a glass of good wine, hike up Skeleton Gorge or if you're lucky, be entertained by a live music performance (usually in the evenings).

I recommend booking tickets in advance to avoid the queues and save time.

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Groot Constantia
Historical Wine Estate - Groot Constantia

Wine and lunch at Groot Constantia – The Best Wine in Cape Town

Groot Constantia, situated deep inside Constantia Valley, is one of the top things to do in Cape Town. It is a perfect place to experience wine tasting if you don't have time to visit Stellenbosch wine route.

Groot Constantia was established in 1685, making it the oldest wine estate in South Africa. It has been known as having the best wine in the country.

The wine estate has two restaurants, a museum, and a wine tasting room. It offers regular cellar tours that allow you to taste a variety of red, white, and dessert wines. Wine tasting tour can last from 2 to 3 hours. During the tour, you normally can taste up to 10 different kinds of wine.

After or instead of wine tasting, grab lunch from a high-class restaurant. You can even request a picnic package and have your lunch on the lawn instead of sitting in the restaurant.

Wine bottles can also be purchased on the site and make a perfect gift to take home from Cape Town.

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A landscape view of horseshoe of Hout Bay in Cape Town
A landscape of Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Make a short stop at Hout Bay

If you are still looking for what to see in Cape Town South Africa, Hout Bay is a perfect destination for a shortstop.

Hout Bay often called the Republic of Hout Bay by locals, used to be a fishing village. Today, it's a lovely seaside neighbourhood that offers lots of fun activities. If you have a car, it can be easily reached from Groot Constantia.

Hout Bay is known for having the most scenic drive to Cape Town - Chapman's Peak Drive. It is also famous for its pristine Llandudno beach which is surrounded by the ocean and mountains, and on the way to Cape Town.

If you have a bit of time left till sunset, visit Hout Bay harbour where you will find a marina, working fishing factories and fleet, crafts market, and several restaurants serving lobster, and fish and chips.

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A view of the ocean from the walkway near Camps Bay, Cape Town
The scenic Camps Bay in Cape Town, South Africa

Spend evening at Camps Bay

Situated about 30 minutes away from Groot Constantia (by car), Camps Bay is a perfect spot to finish your first day. The bay is a popular tourist attraction as it is an upscale neighbourhood. It sits on the foot of the Twelve Apostles and has an amazing white sandy beach that is a good location for watching the sunset

Camps Bay is also well-known for its numerous restaurants, cocktail and whisky bars. Try Umi Japanese Restaurant if you want to experience drinking in the upscale restaurant.

You can also head to the Theatre on the Bay, which showcases various musicals, plays, and cabaret. Just book the ticket in advance as they sell out very quickly!

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Explore Historic and Colourful Side of Cape Town

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Colourful buildings in the Bo-Kaap area of Cape Town
The colourful Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town, South Africa

The second day of this Cape Town 3-day itinerary is packed with interesting sites around central Cape Town. You are going to start your day quite early in the morning, so be prepared!

From early morning you are going to explore colourful Bo-Kaap area filled with spectacular heritage sites and lovely cafes for filling breakfast. Later you will head towards booming V&A Waterfront neighbourhood from where you will take a tour to Robben Island. You will explore Nelson Mandela’s Path and learn more about the city's history.

On the second part of the day, you will travel to the Woodstock area, which is filled with art galleries, themed coffee shops, breweries, and the organic market. Your day is going to finish with an easy hike to Lions Head to see the most majestic sunset.

You don't need a car for this day and can rely on public transport. However, the car can make this fast-paced day more relaxing, so if you have already rented a car, make sure to use it!

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A colourful street in Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
Colourful houses in Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa

Early morning stroll around Bo Kaap

Bo Kaap, formerly known as Malay Quarter, is probably the most interesting area in the city that can't be missed out from my guide to Cape Town. The area is usually filled with tourists, so morning is the best time to explore the area quietly.

Located at the bottom of Signal Hill, Bo Kaap neighbourhood was built in the 1760s when houses were leased to slaves. These people (Cape Malays) were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia, and the rest of Africa to work in the city. Today, it is a lively area filled with tons of things to see.

To this day, colourful houses are the main points of interest. The houses were painted in different colours by former slaves to express their freedom. The best way to learn the real history of the area is to head to Wale Street - the oldest street.

Keep roaming around, and you will find the first Muslim mosque in South Africa, Islamic shrines, food and craft markets (some operate from early morning), and cosy cafes.

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Have breakfast at Harvest Cafe & Deli

Situated in the heart of Bo Kaap neighbourhood, Harvest Cafe & Deli is a relatively new cafe serving healthy food and drinks. It is a simple cafe with modern design, laidback atmosphere, and spectacular views of the mountains.

The cafe is serving one of the best breakfasts in the area. You can select various types of porridges, well-topped toasts, and freshly made smoothies or juices.

It is open from early morning, so it is a perfect place to relax after a long stroll around Bo Kaap. As it is a popular breakfast place, reserve a table in advance if you are coming on the weekend.

The cafe also offers a takeaway service, so if you are running late, I suggest taking out your meal and eating on the way.

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Entrance to the high security Prison at Robben Island, South Africa
Robben Island, South Africa

Discover The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island

After a relaxing morning, it's time to learn more about the country's history. The best place to do it is The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island (or just The Gateway) museum.

This triple-story glass museum links V&A Waterfront harbour to Robben Island. It is also a passenger ferry terminal where the tours to the famous island start. Museum's several exhibitions tell the story of the beginning of Nelson Mandela, Robben Island, and South Africa's politics.

The museum also has an auditorium, conference room, and a museum shop. You will need to book a tour to Robben Island to enter the museum. Tours start quite early in the morning, so don't worry about coming before 10 AM.

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The ferry dock at Robben Island, South Africa
The ferry dock at Robben Island, South Africa

Take a ferry to the historic Robben Island

Situated on the small island near Cape Town, Robben Island, also known as 'Seal Island', was widely used between 17th century and 20th century. The island used to be a prison, mental hospital, and military base. However, it is most known as a high-security prison for political prisoners.

Since 1997 Robben Island has been a museum focusing on South African history and country's freedom fighters. Today, tourists can explore the island with a 4-hour long tour departing from V&A Waterfront.

Robben Island has a small village, which has a magnificent church, several alleys, and a square. It is also an important location for wildlife. The island is home to various types of sea birds and more than 8 500 breeding pairs of African penguins.

The island was listed in the South African National Heritage Site and on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

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Boats harboured at V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background
V&A Waterfront at the Port of Cape Town, South Africa

Have lunch at V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront is one of the main Cape Town points of interest. It is a newly developed neighbourhood, which has tons of various cafes, restaurants, museums, hotels, and high-end shops. The area is lively any time of the day.

V&A Waterfront is technically a working harbour; however, most visitors come there for shopping and dining out. The area is divided into several districts including Victoria Wharf, the Watershed, The Alfred Mall and Pierhead, The Clock Tower, and Breakwater Point. It has more than 450 stores in total.

As for the food, I recommend heading to V&A Food Market where you will find regional food, various snacks, and drinks. The market is the best place to eat if you want to grab a quick traditional South African lunch.

If you desire somewhere to sit down and enjoy lunch, try Grand Africa Cafe & Beach, which offers spectacular views of the ocean and mountains.

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Learn naval history at South African Maritime Museum

If you still have some time left till evening, visit the South African Maritime Museum, or Maritime Centre, located in the V&A Waterfront. The museum tells the story of shipping in Cape Town.

You will find models of Table Bay harbour (built-in 1885 by prisoners) and Breakwater Prison. The museum also includes a research centre that consists of more than 20,000 photographs and several thousand archives.

Every visitor will be able to learn more about whaling, shipwrecks, the history of Table Bay, and famous ships. It is a perfect place if you want to have an overview of naval history.

The museum is open daily, and there is no charge to enter.

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The orange glow of a sunset at Signal Hill
A perfect sunset at Signal Hill in Cape Town

Watch sunset from a Signal Hill

Connecting Kloof Nek to Lions Head, Signal Hill is one of the most famous spots for watching the sunset. It is a flat-topped 350 metres hill that showcases majestic views of Cape Town, mountains, and ocean. Signal Hill is well-loved among the tourists and locals.

Signal Hill is also known as the perfect spot for a date night, so don't be surprised seeing couples having a drink. If you visit it during a summer evening, you will be able to see Table Mountain lit in thousands of lights.

You can drive up to the peak and lookout point or hike (should take about an hour). Don't forget to bring drinks and snacks to enjoy while watching the sunset.

If Signal Hill isn't enough for you, you can take a trail from the hill leading to Lion's Head (669 metres above sea level) and enjoy the sunset from there. Just be aware that it will take longer, so make sure you are comfortable hiking in the dark.

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Enjoy dinner at The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar

This stop is optional, so don't feel like you have to rush to the restaurant from Signal Hill. However, if you to make the most of this 3 day cape town travel guide, a visit to The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar is a perfect choice.

Situated a short drive from Signal Hill, The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar serves the best oysters and mussels in South Africa. The restaurant is known for its high-quality seafood from Saldanha Bay and sustainable work ethics.

The Mussel Monger & Oyster Bar has a wide selection of drinks and fresh seafood. It is on the expensive side, so be prepared to pay a bit more than at other restaurants in the area.

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Outside Cape Town: Enjoy the scenic drive

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The view from the road of Chapman's Peak Drive towards the ocean
Part of Chapman's Peak Drive

On your last day of this Cape Town 3 day itinerary, you are going to go on an adventurous drive through the most scenic places in South Africa. You will enjoy majestic views of tranquil beaches, peaceful mountains, and lush national parks.

Today, you will need a car. If you don’t know how to drive or are worried about driving in a different place, you can rent a car with a driver. I suggest splurging on the car instead of going with a tour or relying on public transport.

You will start your drive at Green Point, and you will drive through Cliffton, Camps Bay, and Hout Bay (you can stop for a snack only as you have already visited these places), and continue to the Chapman's Peak Drive - one of the most scenic drives in the world.

In the afternoon, you will reach Noordhoek and will have the opportunity to explore Cape Point National Park. Take the road leading through Kommetjie to enjoy magnificent views of pristine beaches.

After checking out Cape of Good Hope in Cape Point National Park, continue your drive to Simon's Town to reach Boulders Beach - the last stop of the day.

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The red and white lighthouse of Green Point Lighthouse in Cape Town
Green Point Lighthouse, Cape Town, South Africa

Start your journey from Green Point Lighthouse

First lit in 1824, the Green Point Lighthouse is a remarkable structure that can be noticed from afar. It is a square-shaped lighthouse that reminds of candy due to its red and white stripes.

Today, the lighthouse is used as the Head Office of the Lighthouse Services. It is also a perfect spot for taking photos, so don't miss this opportunity!

Near the lighthouse, there is a small cafe called Caffe Neo that serves delicious breakfast and drinks. Have your breakfast at the cafe before starting a long scenic drive.

If you aren't interested in the lighthouse or your accommodation is too far from the Green Point, skip this stop.

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The four secluded beaches of Clifton Beach
Clifton Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Quick stop at Clifton Beaches

When you pass through Sea Point, you will reach Clifton - a suburb of Cape Town. The area is well-known for its secluded four beaches, which are naturally divided by rocks. It is also a popular location for beach walks.

The secluded beaches have calm but cold waters, so you won't see many people swimming in the ocean. Due to this reason, there aren't many tourists roaming around so you can have these pristine beaches all to yourself.

Stop your car by the fourth beach (the biggest one, too) and go for a lovely walk along the coast. Enjoy picturesque views of Table Mountain and the turquoise water.

Be aware that there are lots of rocks on the beach, so wear trainers instead of sandals!

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A landscape of Hout Bay with the leopard statue on the rocks
The bronze leopard statue in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Fascinating Hout Bay and its Bronze Leopard

As you have already visited Hout Bay on your first day, try not to spend too much time exploring the area. If you plan to skip some later stops, I recommend booking a snorkelling with seals experience from the Hout Bay Harbour that lasts for a bit more than 2 hours.

If you don't plan that, head straight to the Bronze Leopard statue. It is regarded as one of the main attractions of Hout Bay and attracts thousands of tourists every month.

Created by sculptor Ivan Mitford-Barberton, the sculpture of Bronze Leopard was placed on the rock in 1963. It was dedicated to the leopards which used to live in the mountainous area before Cape Town became too populated.

Today, the Bronze Leopard statue marks the entrance to the Chapman's Peak Drive.

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The view of the mountains and oceans from Chapman's Peak Drive
Chapman's Peak Drive, Cape Town, South Africa

Experience the most scenic drive in South Africa - Chapman's Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak Drive is a must-do drive during your trip to Cape Town. It stretches from Hout Bay and Noordhoek and is one of the most spectacular drives coastal drives in the world.

Constructed during WWI, the drive is 9 km long and has about 114 curves leading through the rocky coastline. The road has several viewpoints and hiking trails. Its highest point is Chapman's Point that reveals fascinating views of the ocean and bays.

Be aware that you will need to pay the toll fees or you can purchase a day pass from the Hout Bay side (the pass only valid during daylight). The route also has several stop areas where you can take a rest or have a picnic.

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The pristine and white sand of Noordhoek Beach in Cape Town
Noordhoek Beach, Cape Town, South Africa

Have lunch at tranquil Noordhoek

Chapman's Peak Drive finishes at Noordhoek - a very tranquil area where you can enjoy fresh air and nature. The area is filled with rustic farms, restaurants, vineyards, traditional shops, and artisan bakeries. It is a good place for eating lunch after a long drive from Cape Town.

If you don't mind splurging on the meal, go to Jakes on the Common Restaurant and experience a real South African farmer's lunch. Or pop inside the Cafe Roux for a simple meal and delicious pastries.

While in the Noordhoek, you can also visit the beach and famous Wreck Kakapo (British steamship built-in 1880), or try horse riding.

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Signage of Cape of Point in Cape Town
Signage of Cape of Point in Cape Town, South Africa

Discover magnificent Cape Point

Cape Point National Park (also known as Cape Point Nature Reserve or Cape Point) is a spectacular area known for its wildlife and unspoilt natural beauty.

Located just 60 km away from Cape Town, Cape Point fascinates everyone with its stone cliffs, sandy beaches, tranquil bays, and green valleys.

There are tons of interesting things to do in the national park. You can walk along the Diaz Beach (one of the best beaches in the Cape Point) or take the Flying Dutchman, which takes you to the Old Lighthouse in three minutes.

However, the most popular attraction of the park is Cape of Good Hope - the rocky tip of the peninsula, which used to be considered as the most southern tip of Africa.

Cape Point is known for stormy weather and rough seas, so be prepared for any extreme weather condition and possible park closures. There is also an entrance and parking fee.

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African penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa
African penguin colony at Boulders Beach in Cape Town, South Africa

Meet Penguins at Boulders Beach

Your final destination during this three days in Cape Town itinerary is Boulders Beach, where you can get up close and personal with some African wildlife.

Located in Simon's Town, Boulders Beach is famous for its enormous African Penguin colony as it is the only place where you can get near them. You will be able to see about 2000 penguins in one place! Due to this reason, it is one of the most visited beaches in Cape Town.

Boulders Beach is a peaceful, beautiful beach that offers excellent views, swimming opportunities, lots of boulders, and of course, penguins! It is a perfect place to relax and enjoy an evening swim.

If you are hungry, head to the Simon's Town centre for a quick dinner before you start driving back to Cape Town.

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In Summary

Cape Town is a lovely city to explore and add to your travel list. There is so much to see and do, and three days is not enough to even see half of Cape Town's attractions.

My 3 day Cape Town itinerary covered the Cape Town's landmarks, breath-taking hikes, sunset viewing points, places to eat, and scenic drives. It is perfect for people who are visiting Cape Town for the first time and have very limited time.

If you are having a bit more time in the city or travelling with kids, central Cape Town offers lots of things to do including visiting numerous museums, aquarium, and exploring local shops. You will also find monuments, little parks, and squares.

If you are adventurous, definitely don't miss a chance to explore Table Mountain's hiking trails and try diving at one of Cape Town's pristine beaches. Just skip some stops and make some time for those adventures!

I hope this itinerary will help you to plan unforgettable and a hassle-free trip to Cape Town!

This article was first published on Jun 10, 2019 20:02 UTC.

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Written by Agne Civilyte

031226hug WRITER I am a Lithuanian living in the UK and trying to travel all around the world. I love visiting places that are still not well-known to tourists. My favourite part of the world is Southeast Asia as I can find beautiful mountains and temples there. My absolute favourite country is South Korea as I feel at home there.

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