2 Days In Cape Town, South Africa – A perfect itinerary
Cape Town is a great city with many amazing things to do for any traveler be it a family with children, a honeymoon couple, or a backpacker. This 2-day Cape Town itinerary combines historical sites, natural attractions, and outdoor activities in and around the city.
What to do in Cape Town in two days
Day 1 – The highlights of Cape Town
Start your city visit exploring the main Cape Town attractions. The first-day itinerary offers a perfect combination of the most popular historical sites and natural attractions. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes there will be quite a lot of walking involved.
Waterfront is one of the busiest places in the city with hundreds of people strolling along the promenade, dozens of cafés and restaurants open from early morning till late night, many souvenir shops, and street musicians performing at the harbour.
Any day here feels like a holiday. V&A Waterfront is a great place for travelers with children. There are many activities here to keep the little ones busy.
Start your day with a nice breakfast at one of the cafés. Vovo Telo is our favourite here, they have great coffee, a big variety of breakfast options and delicious pastries.
A small island, with an area of only 5km2, located 7km offshore. Robben in Afrikaans means ‘a seal’. The island got this name because of a big seal colony that resides there. Robben Island is famous for the prison where Nelson Madela, its most famous inmate, spent 18 of his 27 years in prison. The island was used as a prison from the 17th century till 1994 when the prison was closed. At the end of the 19th century for a couple of years, Robben Island was turned into a leper colony. Nowadays it is a popular tourist attraction.
Robben Island can be visited only on a tour. The tour includes a return boat ride to the island and a guided prison tour. It takes about 3h30min. Tours leave daily from the Waterfront harbour. I’d recommend doing the 9 am tour to be finished earlier and have enough time to visit other city attractions.
During the tour, you will visit the prison, learn about the history of the island and get some time alone to explore the area. Walking around the island you can see a lot of animals such as Cape Fur seals, different antelopes, ostriches, lizards, geckos, and tortoises as well as seabirds and penguins. From the boat on the way to Robben Island watch for whales and dolphins.
- Tours run daily at 9am, 11am and 1pm
- Price – US$30 adults, US$16 children
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
As an alternative instead of Robben Island, you can include Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in your Cape Town itinerary. The garden is a real green paradise within the city. It’s one of the locals’ favorite places to come for a weekend picnic on the grass.
Kirstenbosch is an absolutely beautiful place with many walking trails that take visitors to the different corners of the garden. It’s a great place for those who like hiking. There are two longer routes that start from the garden and lead up the mountains following the Nursery Ravine or the Skeleton Gorge.
The best views of Kirstenbosch visitors can get from the Boomslang tree canopy walkway, a 130m long pedestrian bridge that winds its way around the tree crowns. Kirstenbosch is a perfect place for a picnic. You can bring your own snacks or buy a picnic basket at one of the local restaurants.
- Open daily from 8 am to 6 pm
- Admission fee – US$4 adults, US$1 children.
The Castle of Good Hope
The Castle is the oldest existing building in South Africa. It was built by the Dutch East India Company between 1666 and 1679. The fortress complex is quite big and includes several constructions; towers, bastions, courtyards, two gardens, a dungeon, a military museum, an arsenal and a couple of souvenir shops and restaurants. A visit to the Castle will take between 1 and 2 hours. The Castle can be visited independently or with a tour. Tours start daily at 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 3pm and 4pm.
If after your visit to the Castle you get hungry there are many great food places in the Woodstock neighbourhood, just a short drive away. If you like bagels and good coffee New York Bagels is the place to go. Their freshly baked bagels are delicious! The Old Biscuit Mill is another great place to go for a light meal and coffee.
- Open daily from 9 am to 7 pm
- Admission fee – US$3 adults, US$2 children
The colorful Bo Kaap is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Cape Town and the most popular photo spot in the city. Colors rule here! All houses are painted in different colors; yellow, red, blue, green, purple, orange and pink. The narrow streets of the Bo Kaap with vibrant houses look amazing.
The history of the neighbourhood goes back to the early 18th century. Its first inhabitants were slaves brought to South Africa from Malaysia and Indonesia. The second name of the neighbourhood is the Malay Quarter. Originally all houses were painted in white color and looked the same. After the abolition of the slave trade in the 19th century, Bo Kaap residents decided to paint their houses into different colors as a sign of individuality and freedom. Nowadays this beautiful tradition continues.
You can do a quick photo stop in the Bo Kaap or spend a couple of hours here learning to cook the traditional Cape Malay dishes like bobotie, Malay curries or bredie.
The most recognizable city landmark and a must-do thing in Cape Town. The easiest way of getting up Table Mountain is to use the Aerial cableway that will deliver you to the top in 5 minutes. The ride offers stunning panoramic views of the city and its surroundings. The scenery is truly breathtaking; sandy beaches, rugged mountains, and the endless blue sea.
The views from the top are spectacular. One can spend a couple of hours exploring Table Mountain. There are many walking trails on the top that take visitors to several look-out points. There is a restaurant at the Upper Cable Car station where you can drink coffee or have lunch.
For adventure lovers walking up Table Mountain following one of the trails is a great alternative to the cable car. The Platteklip Gorge trail is the most popular one. It starts about 500m past the Lower Cable Car station. The route is quite strenuous, it takes between 1 hour and 1h30min. to get to the top.
The India Venster trail is another route starting next to the cable car station. It’s a more challenging trail for relatively fit people. It’s possible to combine both options; walk up and take the cable car down or the other way round.
Sunset from Lion’s Head/Signal Hill
Lions Head is another iconic city mountain. It’s famous for being one of the best places in Cape Town to watch the sunset. Make sure to arrive at least one hour before sunset to have enough time to get to the top. Walking is the only way of getting to the top Lion’s Head. It doesn’t take as long as to walk up Table Mountain, but it does involve some climbing using ladders and ropes (nothing hectic). The views from the top of Lion’s Head are spectacular.
You can see Camps Bay, Table Mountain, Robben Island, V&A Waterfront, Clifton Beaches and other city attractions. At sunset, you can see the sun going down the horizon painting the sky and the sea into different shades of yellow and orange – a beautiful performance by nature.
If climbing up Lion’s Head sounds like too much of a mission you can watch the sunset from the top of Signal Hill, a neighbouring hill that can be easily accessed by car. The views from Signal Hill are as spectacular as from Lion’s Head.
For adventure lovers, tandem paragliding from Lion’s Head or Signal Hill with landing on the beach is the perfect way to end the first day in the city.
Day 2 – The scenic drive around the Cape Peninsula
- Total distance – 150km
- Required time – 6-8 hours
Spend the second day of your Cape Town itinerary driving around the Cape Peninsula. The area is truly beautiful; rugged coastline, dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, stunning look-outs and charming towns.
Start your day at Sea Point, go for a morning stroll along the Promenade and have breakfast at one of the local cafes. Shift Espresso Bar is a must-stop for coffee lovers; delicious breakfast with aromatic coffee is a great way to start the day. From Sea Point drive along the coast towards Camps Bay, one of the most beautiful neighbourhoods in Cape Town.
On the way to Camps Bay stop at Clifton Beach, there are four beautiful white-sand beaches connected with each other. Like anywhere else in Cape Town water at Cliffton and Camps Bay is freezing.
To get the best views of Camps Bay, stop at Maiden’s Cove parking. From there you can see the entire neighbourhood, a couple of beaches and the impressive Twelve Apostles mountain range in the background.
- Cable car operating hours in summer from 8 am to 8 pm, winter from 8 am to 6 pm
- Price – US$18 adults, US$9 children
The next stop on the route is Hout Bay, a small fishermen’s town about 13km from Camps Bay. There are a couple of look-out points on the way with stunning views of the coast. Hout Bay is a great place to see Cape Fur seals. You always can see a couple of them at the harbour, local fishermen usually give them leftovers of their catch. For a closer encounter with these playful animals do a boat tour.
Tours depart daily from the harbour. You can watch seals from a boat or even better snorkel with them. These guys are very curious as soon as snorkelers get in the water they immediately come to check them out. Swimming with seals is an incredible experience. No need to worry about snorkelling gear tour operators provide everything you need.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
One of the most scenic drives in South Africa. It starts from Hout Bay and continues along the coast for 9km till Noordhoek offering some of the best views in Cape Town. The road zigzags along the rugged coast of the Atlantic Ocean with every next turn offering a better view than the previous one. There are several look-out points along the road where you can stop for photos.
Stop for a light meal or a cup coffee at Noordhoek, another small town at the end of Chapman’s Peak Drive. Cape Point Vineyards is our favorite food place here. The restaurant has great wines, delicious food and amazing views of the area from the outside terrace.
From Noordhoek drive to the Cape Point National Park, on the way stop in Kommetjie, a popular surf town with endless sandy beaches and a beautiful lighthouse.
Cape Point National Park
The park is one of the most beautiful places in Cape Town. The scenery here is breathtaking; spectacular cliffs dropping 10m down into the ocean, unspoiled beaches, rocky pools and jaw-dropping look-outs. The best way to explore the park is to leave a car at Lower Funicular Station and walk around following boardwalks and footpaths. If you walk away from tourist crowds you might be able to see some animals that inhabit the park such as Mongooses, porcupines, antelopes, ostriches, tortoises, and chameleons.
Not to miss at the Cape Point National Park:
- Diaz Beach, a stunning white-sand beach surrounded by the steep cliffs
- Cape of Good Hope, one of the most southern points of Africa
- Cape Point, a look-out with the best views in the park
- Cape of Good Hope Old Lighthouse
- Flying Dutchman Funicular, a funicular railway that takes visitors from the parking lot to the Old Lighthouse and Cape Point
- Buffels Bay Beach, a long sandy beach with a picnic spot and a tidal pool
- Venus Pool, a natural saltwater pool formed by massive boulders, a great spot for a refreshing swim.
- Open daily from 7 am to 5 pm
- Admission fee – US$17 adults, US$8 children
From Cape Point head to Simon’s Town, a beach town famous for its penguin colony. Boulders Beach is one of the tourists’ favorite attractions in Cape Town. A perfect white-sand beach surrounded by massive boulders with cute African penguins walking and swimming around. It’s definitely a not-to-miss place in the city for travelers with children.
Continue driving along the coast past Fish Hoek and Kalk Bay to Muizenberg.
- Open – daily from 8 am to 5 pm
- Admission fee – US$8 adults, US$4 children
Another beach town and a popular place for learning surfing. There are a couple of surfing schools and board rental places close to the beach. Muizenberg is famous for its colorful beach cabins. The wooden cabins painted blue, yellow, red and green create a beautiful contrast with the white sand and the blue water – a perfect spot for Instagram shots.
Wine tasting has to be included in the Cape Town itinerary. Cape Winelands is the renowned wine region that produces some of the best wines in the world. Constantia is a part of the Cape Winelands. It’s home to some of the oldest wine farms in the Southern Hemisphere.
There are nine wine estates in the Constantia area – visiting all of them in a couple of hours is impossible. Choose two or three farms to have enough time for tasting. We recommend Groot Constantia, the oldest farm in South Africa, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig. All three estates are absolutely beautiful and have great wines. You can combine wine tasting with lunch – all farms have restaurants on their premises.
- Wine tasting daily between 10 am and 5 pm
- Cost of tasting – US$5-8 per person
Sunset at V&A Waterfront
V&A Waterfront is an amazing spot for watching the sunset in Cape Town. There are many restaurants and bars with great views of the sea from their terraces. If you want something special consider doing a sunset Champagne cruise from the Waterfront. You can enjoy a fantastic sunset with a glass of Champagne from a boat. Some tours include a 3-course meal.
Picnic in the sky at the Cape Town Wheel is another option for a memorable evening in the city. Book an extended 40-minute ride in the cabin set for a picnic. Enjoy fantastic 360° panoramic views of the night city while drinking wine and easting your favorite snacks. You get a picnic basket at the ticket office and can fill it with your favorite food and beverages at one of the local shops.
Places to stay in Cape Town
The best areas to stay to have easy access to the main attractions, tourist buses, restaurants and bars are City Bowl, V&A Waterfront and Sea Point. Some hotel options to choose by budget:
- Backpackers: Never@home Cape Town | Atlantic Point Backpackers
- Middle price range: The Odyssey 407 in Green Point | The One 8 Hotel
- High-end: Victoria & Alfred Hotel | The Table Bay Hotel
Author Bio: Campbell & Alya are an adventurous travel couple based in Cape Town and manage the great Stingy Nomads travel blog. Hiking and outdoor lovers, road trips and camping enthusiasts. When not traveling time they spend in Cape Town trying, tasting and exploring. They love discovering new off the beaten track places and sharing them with their readers.
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