Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. From the iconic Table Mountain and the historic Robben Island to the surrounding world-class vineyards, there is so much to see and do – but how does one fit it all into a 5-day itinerary ? Here’s how…
5-day itinerary for Cape Town: The Ultimate Guide
We’ve based our itinerary on a 5-day Cape Town visit but it is easy to add or remove days or switch the order to suit your own schedule.
Day 1: A view like no other
A trip to South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ – the home to the country’s parliament, a vibrant arts scene and the iconic Table Mountain – wouldn’t be complete without a trip up the mountain by cable car. While the views from the top are simply breathtaking, as you take in Lion’s Head, and even spot the infamous Robben Island in the distance. Because Cape Town is a renowned tourist destination, lines for the cable cars can be long, so an early start is suggested.
Climbing Table Mountain on the first day of your visit is a great way to get your bearings on the city, but be warned, sometimes it can be covered by clouds so be prepared to rejig your itinerary to see it in all its splendour.
On your descent, take a trip to the Malay Quarter (Bo-Kaap). Bo-Kaap is a former township, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and a historical centre of Cape Malay culture. The colourful houses are a photographer’s dream. Afterwards, head back to the city centre and Company Gardens where there are many great restaurants to enjoy a late lunch.
After lunch visit District Six Museum, which tells the story of multi-racial communities during Apartheid in South Africa, and then head to the V&A Waterfront to visit the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, which is the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa.
After the sun goes down, settle yourself at one of the picturesque bars at the V&A Waterfront, as you enjoy cocktails, craft beers, or fine local wines.
Day 2: The best beaches
Time for a bit of R&R – and the many Cape Town beaches are a great spot for this. Head over to the beach of your choice for some sun, sand and remarkably cold sea.
Recommendations: Camps Bay is a curving wide stretch of beautiful white sand. The four Clifton beaches under Lion’s Head each have their own vibe. Bloubergstrand is a 20-minute drive from town, and has great views back to Table Mountain – an ideal spot for kitesurfing.
End the day with dinner and drinks in Camps Bay, renowned for its posh seafood restaurants, mellow cafes and cocktail bars with patios overlooking the promenade.
Day 3: Tour the Cape Peninsula
No trip to Cape Town could be complete without a visit to Boulders Beach to say hello to the penguins.
While South Africa may be better known for its Big 5, the country is also home to one of the world’s most accessible wild penguin colonies – and less than an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
Boulders Beach is located on the Cape Peninsula, so once you’re there, just another half hour of driving will get you to Cape Point – the meeting place for the warm Indian Ocean and cold Atlantic. But watch out for the chacma baboons – the colonies can be quite mischievous!
The drive to Cape Point is a very scenic one, with abundant wildlife to be spotted.
Set the evening aside for a relaxing sail in the harbour and out to sea where you can enjoy cocktails as the sun sets. There are many service providers, and booking is essential.
Day 4: Nelson Mandela’s prison cell
Former South African President, Nelson Mandela spent 27 years on Robben Island – a short ferry trip from Cape Town. Ferry tours to the island only operate when weather conditions permit – so you may want to plan is in advance, checking the weather forecast.
On the island, you will be taken on a tour of the former prison, and can step inside Mandela’s prison cell. This trip is a must if you are keen to learn more of South Africa’s anti-Apartheid history.
Day 5: Wine tours
On the final day of your 5-day itinerary for Cape Town, enjoy a tour to historic Stellenbosch in the Winelands to sample the region’s world-renowned wines.
There are many different wine tours to choose from, so it’s worth picking one in advance and setting it aside for the day. Stellenbosch has about 150 estates to choose from, making it a good option if you want to be spoilt for choice. Many of the estates have fine-dining restaurants on-site, while some tours will offer pre-packed picnics or more casual dining options.
Come evening time, you’re likely to be ready for an early night – reflecting on an incredible journey through one of South Africa’s most beautiful regions.