Welcome to Kaapstad! Or if you don’t speak Afrikaans, welcome to Cape Town! While it’s unlikely to see everything this bustling city has to offer in just 24 hours, we’ve highlighted a few must-sees if you have a full day to cover in Cape Town.
Rise and Shine! Tie your shoelaces and start early as you head to Lion’s Head right in the middle of town. Rising 669m (2,195ft) above sea level, this mountain is part of Cape Town’s stunning backdrop and you don’t want to miss the view from the top. Hiking boots aren’t essential, but be sure to wear closed shoes with good grip, and don’t forget the essentials: water, sunscreen, hat and, most importantly, your camera. Pack everything in a backpack as there are two ladders you will need to climb.
Once you’ve conquered Lion’s Head, prepare to refuel and reward yourself. Head to Kleinsky’s Delicatessen in Sea Point for the best bagels in this foodie town. They have everyone covered with meat, vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. Smooshed Avo any bagel, anyone?
Next on the list: Boulders Penguin Colony, and yes, there are penguins! At Boulders Beach in Simons Town, your heart will melt as you watch a colony of African penguins waddling across the sand. Wander the boardwalks and viewing area to see this endangered species up close. Since 1956, breeding pairs have declined by more than 80% due to various causes. Don’t worry, visiting the penguins here is done responsibly. Take the opportunity to learn more about how you can help them recover.
Who’s up for a snack? It’s not a trip to South Africa without a healthy dose of biltong. If you’ve never heard of or tried biltong, you’re in for a treat. This dried charcuterie is made without any sugar, preservatives or additives. Different types of meat are used, from beef to ostrich. Wash it down with a red rooibos cappuccino and get ready for your next stop.
It’s a busy afternoon for you — time to head to the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden nestled at the base of Table Mountain. Take a free guided tour (about 90 minutes) or wander the gardens on your own. Look for birds, lizards, snakes, frogs and butterflies as you explore the 528 hectares of natural forest and fynbos (distinct vegetation found only at the southern tip of Africa).
Then, hop in the car for Chapman’s Peak, a mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, for what is considered one of the most spectacular ocean drives in the world. With a speed limit of 25 mph (40 km/h), you’ll meander through a total of 114 bends with views over Noordhoek and Hout Bay. Keep your eyes on the road, but take the time to park at designated viewpoints to take in the wonder of the landscape.
It’s dinner time! Fortunately, your journey ends in Camps Bay. With a plethora of bars and restaurants, you’ll have no trouble finding good food, good drinks and great music. End your day with a stroll along Camps Bay beach before returning to your room for a well-deserved rest. And that’s just one way to enjoy a busy 24 hours in Cape Town. You can easily adjust this itinerary to suit YOUR needs and vacation schedule.
But wait, there’s more! If you have time, you can stroll the blue waters of Clifton Beach, but be prepared for freezing temperatures even in the height of summer. And don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about wine country. Go tasting in Stellenbosch with the very convenient hop-on hop-off wine tours. You can even book a standard tasting, 6 wines and 6 cheeses, at Fairview for only R50/person. It’s US$2.75. And don’t overlook a longer visit to the Robben Island Museum. You can take a 3.5 hour guided tour and learn about the 500 year history of the island.
Cape Town is just one of the picturesque towns in South Africa where you can start or end an adventure with us. Here are some of the visits we recommend to get there:
Southern Africa Highlights
Cape Town and Namibia Adventure
Cape and dune discoverer
Discovery of dunes, deltas and waterfalls
Cape Town Classic Mini-Adventure
Cape Town Day Trip: South African Wine (Full Day)