After recently being asked to come up with a three-day Cape Town itinerary for tourists, I found myself reminded of just how much there really is to do in this city.
Basing my itinerary on the type of experiences that would appeal to an active and fun-loving millenial traveller on a first-time visit to Cape Town, I decided to package each of the three days according to an overarching theme.
So, here goes:
Day 1: Urban Culture, Heritage and Food*
- Head to Truth Coffee Roasting in Buitenkant Street for a flat white & freshly-baked pastry. This steampunk-themed, artisan coffee shop in the East City came out tops in a 2015 Telegraph Travel global round-up.
- Set out for the Bo-Kaap, where you will enjoy a walking tour through this colourful Cape Town neighbourhood, formerly known as the Malay Quarter. During the tour, you will learn all about the rich blend of cultures that have made it what it is today – mostly the descendants of slaves from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and other African countries brought over by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th century. Be sure to have your camera ready – apart from the bright colours all round, this neighbourhood also offers spectacular views of the city and the mountain.
- Enjoy lunch at the world renowned Bo-Kaap Kombuis, where you will get to indulge in traditional Malay cuisine, while gazing at the breathtaking vistas.
- After lunch, make your way to Greenmarket Square in Cape Town’s CBD, from where you will set off on your second walking tour of the day – a stroll along the City Walk route. Here, you will have the opportunity to rub shoulders with locals, bargain with informal traders and take in some of the magnificent architecture – from art deco apartment buildings to the Gothic St. George’s Cathedral.
- End your walking tour in the Company’s Garden, where you can spend some time relaxing on the lawns, feeding the curious squirrels, enjoying a cup of coffee at the Company’s Garden Restaurant and taking in the intriguing intersection of Cape Town life. Take note of the vegetable patch, paying tribute to the original garden laid out by the Dutch in the late 1600s.
- If you want to make the most of your cultural experience, spend the rest of your afternoon museum hopping. In the vicinity of the Company’s Garden you will find the South African National Gallery, the South African Museum, the South African Jewish Museum, the Slave Lodge and a little further away, the Castle of Good Hope.
- End your day off in Woodstock with beer tasting and dinner at Devil’s Peak Brewing Company.
- Head back into the CBD and experience the nightlife – catch a live show at The Waiting Room, Cafe Roux or House of Machines.
- Overnight at The Backpack.
Day 2: Up Close And Personal with Nature
- Grab a quick pastry-and-coffee-on-the-go at Jason Bakery in Bree Street.
- Head to Hout Bay for a Seal Snorkeling experience with Animal Ocean – an underrated encounter that will certainly remain with you for a long time to come, as these playful sea-sprites just have a way of spinning, twirling and leaping their way right into your heart.
- After seal snorkeling, it’s time to experience the quintessential Cape Town drive – Chapman’s Peak en route to the Cape Point section of Table Mountain National Park. While it may not be the southern-most tip of Africa, or the location where the two oceans meet, as people often purport (that’s Cape Agulhas), it is found at the very tip of the Cape Peninsula and offers unparalleled views of the Atlantic Ocean. Walk up to the old lighthouse or take the Flying Dutchman Funicular. End your visit off with fish and chips at the Two Oceans Restaurant.
- From Cape Point, it’s time for a cute overload as you head to the Boulder’s Beach Penguin Colony just outside Simon’s Town.
- End your peninsula tour off at the lush Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, where you simply can’t miss out on the ‘Boomslang’ Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway. Enjoy a late afternoon picnic on the lawns or some delicious African cuisine at Moyo.
- Head back to town, enjoy drinks, a late dinner and overnight at The Backpack.
Day 3: Cape Town Classic
- Grab an early breakfast at The Backpack, fill a water bottle or two and lace up your walking shoes – we’re hiking up Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge. Because you still have a few things to experience in the city, however, you’ll be catching the famous cable car down!
- After a quick freshen up at the backpackers, you have a choice: either set off to one of the beautiful Atlantic Seaboard beaches – Clifton, Camps Bay, Bakoven, Glen – to kick back and relax with a picnic lunch OR…
- Make your way to the V&A Waterfront. Here you can enjoy a #DestinationDesign shopping experience and pick up some of the best local design and craft goods at The Watershed and sip local beers and wines at the Food Market, while sinking your teeth into an array of delicious treats. The Two Oceans Aquarium is just a hop, skip and a jump away and comes highly recommended for its truly fascinating tanks and exhibits – the I&J Ocean Exhibit is a firm favourite and so are the Penguin Encounters.
- End your day of activities off by taking in the stunning sunset from the seat of a rented bicycle along the Sea Point Promenade or on the decks of the Jolly Roger Pirate Boat in Table Bay.
- Enjoy the freshest seafood dinner at Panama Jacks, a legendary spot in Table Bay Harbour before heading home for the night.
- Overnight at The Backpack.
* We highly recommend kicking off your Cape Town itinerary on a Thursday, in order to experience the vibrant inner-city Earthfair Market over lunch time, where you will get to sample delicious home-made local goods. Even better – if you happen to arrive on the first Thursday of the month, you will get to experience the electric energy of, well, First Thursdays long after dark. If art, culture and urban adventure is your type of thing, this is not to be missed!