The Best Things to Do in Cape Town in 3 Days

8 min read
Beach Huts at the Cape Town Beach by peasandqs

Cape Town is located in the most southern part of Africa, in the Western Cape province specifically, and is the oldest city in South Africa. It is also referred to as the 'Mother City.' The city's population is around 500,000 and 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. It is famous for its stunning landscape that is surrounded by the Table Mountain and clear blue water, multicultural community, delicious food, arts, winelands and natural beauty that comes with the Cape Peninsula. 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 water is always cooler here than anywhere else in South Africa, so be aware! Also, since it’s further down south, the seasons are opposite from Europe, Asia and North America - summer is around December – February and winter is from June – 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 to the country!

This 3 day itinerary covers Cape Town's highlights, the historic side of the city and National Parks just outside of town. All three days are self-guided and some days/activities might require a car.

  • 3 day itinerary
  • Average of 4 stops per day

Visit Cape Town's Highlights

Table Mountain in the Background of Cape Town by martinaH79

The first day of this itinerary covers the most popular sites in Cape Town that are a must-see when visiting the city. You will travel a little bit out of Cape Town to reach Constantia Valley, which houses some of the wine estates available in South Africa, such as Groot Constantia. You will also have a chance to visit the majestic Cape Town Botanical Garden, climb the iconic Table Mountain and watch the sunset at Camps Bay.

As you are going to spend most of your day outside, be prepared for any type of weather, wear comfortable clothes and good shoes. It is highly recommended to rent a car to go to Constantia Valley and the Botanical Garden. However, you can always take public transport or catch an Uber/Taxi.

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Groot Constantia – The Best Wine in Cape Town

Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa. It was established in 1685 and is known as having the best wine in the country. The wine estate has a great restaurant and offers wine tastings and cellar tours that allow you to taste a variety of red and dessert wines. Make sure to check out their website to know what to expect before your visit. Also, Groot Constantia is located in the beautiful Constantia Valley, which has a view of Table Mountain in the background and makes wine tasting that much more special.

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Majestic Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens is located on the eastern part of Table Mountain National Park. It is home to 7000 species of plants from South Africa. 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).

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Hike Table Mountain - 'A Gift to the Earth'

Table Mountain lies in the Table Mountain National Park and is the most iconic mountain in South Africa. It has several hiking trails easily accessible from different parts of Cape Town. The trail from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens up to a flat-topped peak (yes, it does look like a table) takes about 4 hours (with plenty of breaks). At the top, you will be able to see Cape Town below and enjoy a drink at the Cableway café. To go down to your next stop, you can take a cable car or walk down Caps Bay Way, which leads you through the beautiful trail.

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Watch the Sunset at Camps Bay

Camps Bay is a popular tourist attraction as it is an upscale neighbourhood that sits at the foot of the Twelve Apostles and has an amazing white sandy beach (the water is a combination of the Atlantic and Indian Ocean). It is easily accessible after you have descended Table Mountain. It is also a famous option for dining as it has more than 20 restaurants where you can dine outside and watch the stunning sunset. If you don’t fancy eating at a restaurant, grab take away and have a picnic on the beach.

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The Historic and Colourful Side of Cape Town

The second day in Cape Town involves a little bit of travelling by the sea and some more hiking, so be prepared for another adventurous day! You will have a chance to visit the famous Robben Island, explore Nelson Mandela’s Path, visit the booming V&A Waterfront neighbourhood that is filled with high-end shops, roam around the colourful Bo-Kaap area and, of course, hike Lion’s Head to see the most majestic sunset.

You will learn more about Cape Town and South Africa's history, which is very interesting and unique. I can guarantee that you won’t be bored, not even for a second! So start at around 8 AM and finish late in the evening.

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Guide at the Robben Island Museum by Adrega

Travel to the Historic Robben Island

Robben Island means ‘Seal Island’, which was given its name by the Dutch. Take a ferry tour from the V&A Waterfront Harbour, which is in the Port of Cape Town, to the Island. Make sure to book in advance. The Island is mainly known for having a prison where the famous South African President, Nelson Mandela, was imprisoned for 18 years. It is also listed in the South African National Heritage Site and on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

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V&A Waterfront at the Port of Cape Town by ldejongh

Visit the Trendy V&A Waterfront

After you come back from Robben Island, check out the V&A Waterfront area. It is situated in Table Bay, which is Cape Town’s oldest working harbour. It is quite a newly developed neighbourhood that is filled with various cafes, restaurants, hotels, museums, amusement rides and high-end shops. Take your time exploring this chic neighbourhood and don’t forget to sit down at a café to taste the finest coffee.

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Stroll Around Bo-Kaap

Bo Kaap is probably the most interesting area in Cape Town and is located at the bottom of Signal Hill. It was built in the 1760s when houses were leased to slaves. Now, it is a lovely neighbourhood that has tons of things to see. While you are there, make sure to visit the oldest street, which is called Wale Street (Bo-Kaap Museum), as you can get to know more about the area’s history. Also, you will be able to find Islamic shrines, mosques, traditional food and craft markets.

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Hike Lion's Head

Lion’s Head is located in between Signal Hill and Table Mountain and is 669 m. above sea level. The mountain is a part of the Table Mountain National Park, which is known for its stunning night time views of Cape Town. The hike will take less than 2 hours (up and down) and is a very easy climb, so even people without experience will be able to hike it. When you are at the top, enjoy majestic views of Cape Town and watch the sunset.

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Outside Cape Town: Chapman's Peak Drive and National Parks

On your last day in Cape Town, you are going to experience the most scenic way to explore the beauty of South Africa. On this day, you will take a drive on the Chapman’s Peak Drive.

Tip: You can book a private car with a driver if you don’t know how to drive/you're worried about driving in a different place.

Chapman’s Peak Drive is considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the world as it follows the South African coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The drive starts at the Hout Bay and goes all the way till Noordhoek. However, you can pass through Noordhoek and continue on to explore other national parks, such as Boulders Beach or the Cape of Good Hope.

Bear in mind that you will need to pay a toll fee at the entrance, and always check beforehand for possible closures.

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Driving Along Hout Bay by russb18

Fascinating Hout Bay: Where the Ocean Meets the Mountains

Hout Bay is the entrance of Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is about a 20 minutes drive from central Cape Town. The bay is surrounded by mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the perfect place for a hike, water sports or dining as it has around 40 restaurants to choose from (including seafood). Stop at the bay, go for a stroll around (or a swim) and get a nice breakfast at one of the restaurants before you carry on.

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Visit the Tranquil Noordhoek

Noordhoek is a very tranquil area where you can enjoy fresh air and nature. The most popular activities here are riding a horse on the beach or visiting the Noordhoek Farm Village where you will find some traditional shops, accommodation and eating places. Also, while in Noordhoek, visit the famous Wreck Kakapo (British steamship built in 1880), which is located in between Noordhoek and the Long beaches. You will be surprised at how big the wreck is!

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Meet Penguins at Boulders Beach

After you finish driving along Chapman’s Peak road, head towards Simon’s Town to find Boulders Beach and get up close and personal with some African wildlife. Boulders Beach is famous for its enormous African Penguin colony as it is the only place where you can get near them. Boulders Beach is a peaceful, beautiful beach that offers excellent views, swimming opportunities, lots of boulders, and of course, penguins! What can be cuter or funnier than watching penguins, or swimming next to them?

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Visit the Cape of Good Hope - Cape Point

The Cape of Good Hope (also referred to as Cape Point – a tip of Cape Peninsula ) is a World Heritage Site and is the most south-western point in Africa. It belongs to a national park and is known for its wildlife and natural beauty. The cape has various exotic species of birds, and you can spot baboons and mountain zebras there as well. It is known for stormy weather and rough seas, so be prepared for any extreme weather condition.

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

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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