Last Updated on 2022-07-03 by AlexHales
In this article read about AN IN-DEPTH TRAVEL GUIDE TO CAPE TOWN. Cape Town is a cultural melting pot dominated by the iconic Table Mountain, which serves as a backdrop to everything in the city. Its allure was obvious the moment we arrived: we had a monthlong apartment rental and a list of “must-see” attractions, but the laid-back vibe of the city had us in no hurry to see them.
“We’re going to love it here,” we said after only an hour of exploring.
We hadn’t managed to get away from the city after two months of soaking up the sun, enjoying the outdoors, and eating delicious food. Cape Town’s allure extends far beyond its natural beauty; it is found in what it has to offer visitors.
We never ran out of things to do, whether it was visiting a weekend market, hiking, attending a jazz concert, canyoneering, or spotting wildlife. And neither will you! Do you want to travel to cape town or South Africa , book a South Africa trip or stay in a South Africa safari lodge. Live your best life today.
1. Go on a free walking tour
Begin your trip with a free walking tour. It’s the best way to get acquainted with the city and learn the lay of the land. You’ll see the main attractions, learn about the history, and meet a local expert guide who can answer all of your questions.
Walking Tours for Free Every day, Cape Town offers free walking tours. Taking one is the best way to begin your journey. Just remember to tip your guide at the end (that’s how they get by).
2. Appreciate the View from Table Mountain | Cape Town travel guide
The views from Table Mountain are the best in the city, at over 3,500 feet above sea level. One of the first things we did was ride the famous cable car up the mountain. It is, however, relatively expensive at 330 ZAR (USD $22 USD).
If you prefer to hike, the shortest trail takes about two hours. You’ll get a 360-degree view of Cape Town, the harbour, the mountains, and the beaches from the top. The best time to visit is at sunset — hike up, bring some snacks, and take in the scenery!
3. Travel from Chapman’s Peak to Cape Point by car.
Cape Point National Park is southwest of Cape Town, past Chapman’s Peak, where you can see the Atlantic and Indian oceans collide at the Cape of Good Hope. Long hikes, coastal birdlife, and the chance to see the world’s smallest and richest floral kingdom, the fynbos, are all available in the national park (a small belt of natural shrubland).
To drive on the road, you must pay a toll of 52 ZAR ($3 USD); however, the scenic drive is well worth the cost! The famous highway snakes along Table Mountain’s vertical cliff faces, leaving you wondering if your car will end up in the Atlantic.
A rental car should cost at least 250 ZAR ($15 USD) per day. The Cape Point National Park entrance fee is 320 ZAR ($18.50 USD).
4. Go to Robben Island | Cape Town travel guide
Visiting Robben Island’s former political prison was high on our list of things to do. Nelson Mandela spent 18 years in prison here, and the site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999.
Everyone is personally guided around the prison by a former inmate. It is both sobering and inspiring to learn firsthand about South Africa’s first black president from people who knew him. We were able to hear their stories and sit in the same cells where prisoners fighting for their rights were imprisoned.
It’s difficult to think about the victims of political oppression who are still imprisoned around the world and remember that, despite what the news says, we’ve come a long way in the last two decades.
Ferries run three times a day, beginning at 9 a.m. (a fourth ferry operates during the summer). Adult admission is 320 ZAR ($22 USD) and anyone under the age of 18 is 200 ZAR ($13.50 USD) (tickets include the ferry ride).
5. Explore Hout Bay
On weekends in Hout Bay, artisans and vendors from all over the city flock to the Bay Harbour Market to sell their wares, which include everything from fish stew to souvenirs, crêpes, jewellery, art, and even mojitos, as well as live music.
You can get almost anything you want. We happened upon the market by chance: we had come to swim with the seals in Hout Bay and simply followed the sounds of the bustling market. We had so much fun that we went back several times.
Friday evenings from 5pm to 9pm, and weekends from 9:30am to 4pm.
A large number of seals and seabirds live in the bay and harbour. Migrating whales can also be found here between June and November. Right whales, humpback whales, Bryde’s whales, and dolphins abound. A whale-watching tour will cost you approximately 900 ZAR ($50 USD) per person.
6. Visit the Kirstenbosch Gardens | Cape Town travel guide
On a beautiful spring day, we drove to the southern suburbs to visit Kirstenbosch Gardens. Set against the slopes of Table Mountain, the stunning botanical gardens have been dubbed “Africa’s most beautiful garden.”
Kirstenbosch allows visitors to explore the fynbos and other floral kingdoms found on the African continent. The gardens, which cover over 1,300 acres and are home to over 22,000 different plant species, were established over 300 years ago. Make sure to walk through the tree canopy walkway, which provides breathtaking views.
This was without a doubt one of our best outings, and it provided a welcome respite from the city. The cost of admission is 70 ZAR ($5 USD).
7. Unwind at Muizenberg Beach | Cape Town travel guide
Muizenberg is a southern Cape Town suburb known for its boardwalk and surf. It’s a 30-minute drive from the city centre and an excellent place to learn how to surf. The relaxed neighbourhood is a beach bum’s paradise with a vibrant multicultural vibe. A one-hour lesson with a wetsuit costs only 350 ZAR ($20 USD) and is an excellent way to stay active while on vacation.
If surfing isn’t your thing, there are a number of cultural events and yoga studios in the area. We tried out a free yoga class on the beach, followed by a healthy wrap and smoothie. Following that, we photographed the famous beach stands, which are painted in a rainbow of colours.
8. Visit Lion’s Head.
While hiking up Table Mountain may take too long in the evening, the nearby Lion’s Head is only a 45-minute climb to the top. It’s like Table Mountain’s younger sibling.
Bring a camera with you on your hike because it’s one of the most photogenic spots in Cape Town. Despite rising high above the city skyline, it still offers breathtaking views of the city, sea, and Table Mountain. The evening we hiked up, we witnessed a rare display as a low blanket of clouds obscured all trace of man.
Sunrise and sunset can be congested, as locals and tourists alike scramble up the mountain to take in the breathtaking view. Once you’ve reached the peak, treat yourself to a traditional African “sundowner” (a drink while watching the sunset). The classic gin and tonic is our favourite drink, and it pairs perfectly with a sunset on Lion’s Head.
Just remember to bring a flashlight for the descent!
9. Check out the Boulders Beach Penguins | Cape Town travel guide
This was at the top of our list of things to do in Cape Town. So we put it off until a special occasion and went to see the home of thousands of African penguins (the colony is home to over 3,000 penguins).
Visitors can get a good look at them from a raised boardwalk while still giving the massive colony their space. When you hear the African penguin call, you’ll understand where its second name, “jackass penguin,” comes from.
Boulders Beach Park costs 152 ZAR ($9 USD) per person to enter, with the proceeds benefiting park maintenance and penguin conservation. If you get too close to a penguin, it will bite you (I speak from experience).
10. Wine and dine in Stellenbosch | Cape Town travel guide
One of the world’s most renowned wine regions is only a 45-minute drive from Cape Town. In and around Stellenbosch, there are hundreds of privately owned vineyards, with tastings typically costing 60-75 ZAR ($4-5 USD) (food pairings are available as well).
If you don’t have a car and want to take a tour, a half-day tour will cost you 1,000 ZAR ($68 USD). Many of the city’s hostels also run their own tours or have partnerships with local tour guides who can take you with them. Make sure to shop around for the best deal!
Check out the Vine Hopper, a hop-on, hop-off van with different vineyard routes. If you only have time to visit one vineyard, we recommend Lanzerac to taste the origins of the region’s own Pinotage variety.
11. Wandering Bo-Kaap | Cape Town travel guide
Walking distance from the city centre is the vibrant Cape Malay (Muslim) neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap, the former slave quarters of the city. However, the neighbourhood grew over time, and various communities have called it home.
The Cape Malay community now lives in a vibrant neighbourhood. Don’t be afraid to walk around and take pictures; the residents are friendly and are used to having their homes photographed and posted on Instagram. We went to the neighbourhood early in the morning to take photos and watch the neighbourhood come alive.
We ended up staying for a couple of hours, visiting South Africa’s first mosque, Auwal Mosque, and eating at Bo-Kaap Kombuis, one of the best Cape Malay restaurants in the area.
Following that, we had a great time posing for photos in front of the bright orange, green, pink, blue, and yellow houses.
12. Go to Slave Lodge
The Dutch East India Company built Slave Lodge in 1679 to house their slaves. It is one of the city’s oldest structures. Over 60,000 African slaves were brought to the city up until 1811, with 300 living in the cramped lodge at a time.
The lodge is now a museum where visitors can learn about the difficulties slaves faced in their daily lives in Cape Town.
Average Cost In Cape Town travel guide
When compared to other major cities around the world, Cape Town is unquestionably affordable. Hostels and apartments will have the best rates on accommodation, buses (though slow and inconsistent) are incredibly cheap, and no good meal should cost more than 120 ZAR ($7 USD) unless it’s at a high-end restaurant.
We were never on a shoestring budget, so we could live quite comfortably, with great food and entertainment for a quarter of the price of Manhattan. Excursions outside of the city, such as canyoneering, whale watching, and bungee jumping, cost between 900-1,400 ZAR ($50-80 USD) per person.
Overall, if you’re a backpacker, I’d recommend budgeting 662-836 ZAR ($38-48 USD) per day. Expect to spend between 1,220-1,480 ZAR ($70-85 USD) per day if you’re a mid-range traveller who stays in cheap hotels and eats out frequently.
Saving Money in Cape Town travel guide
Here are a few quick tips to help you save money during your visit that helped us stick to our budget:
Travel during the off-season – Visiting South Africa during the winter season will save you money. Locals leave the city to tourists during the summer, and South Africans from all over the country take over.
Because there is less competition in the winter, you can find cheaper apartments on Airbnb. We visited in September and were able to negotiate the best deal with a number of apartment owners. It is worthwhile to shop around!
Take advantage of free activities –
If you’re looking for free activities, getting active is a great option. Climbing Lion’s Head, swimming at the beach, and running along the Sea Point promenade are all free workout options. Almost any outdoor activity in Cape Town will provide breathtaking views of the ocean!
Shops at the Watershed, Camps Bay, and downtown offer handmade local products, but they aren’t cheap. Because these are some of the most popular areas in the city, the prices are generally higher. If you want to save money, avoid shopping in tourist areas!
Stay in low-cost neighbourhoods –
Camps Bay, Sea Point, and the Waterfront are all real estate hotspots: they are some of Cape Town’s most beautiful areas. As a result, they are the most expensive areas to stay in.
Try Muizenberg, Vredehoek, or Woodstock for more affordable options. We stayed in apartments in each of those neighbourhoods, which had their own attractions, but we were only an Uber ride away from the main attractions.
There’s no reason to wonder why so many people flock to Cape Town. Beaches, food, mountains, wildlife, history, culture, wine, and adventure sports are all available in the city.
It takes time to explore Cape Town.
In the Cape, time seems to move a little slower. The relaxed attitude of the locals will make you want to do the same. We were there for two months and still hear about things we missed. We’re already planning our next trip back!
Find low-cost groceries –
Shoprite and Checker’s are two less-expensive supermarket options. Shop at either of these two stores if you prepare your own meals.