Cape Town. – I’ve been in the Cape Town area for about 15 years and know this is where I belong, surrounded by the Cape fold mountains and her rather moody oceans. It may not be my place of birth, but its certainly where I belong.
That said, I proudly and constantly encourage all I meet to visit Cape Town and be richly rewarded by what the city has to offer. Time is often a consideration though and to help with planning, I thought I’d offer suggestions on how best to spend five days in Cape Town and surrounds. From keeping it local to venturing beyond the city for day trips to the Winelands, Overberg, West Coast and Cape of Good Hope.
As below, a few ideas:
Day 1 – Get to know the heart of the city.
Iconic to the Mother City and one of the Natural Wonders of the World, the best orientation of Cape Town is from Table Mountain. The easiest way up is by revolving cable car, yet there are numerous marked hiking routes should you prefer. Once on top, take the full 45-minute circular walk. It really is flat up there, with incredible fynbos and many a dassie and lizard to photograph. If the weather has the cable car closed, a drive up Signal Hill is good compensation.
Once down, allow yourself to walk the city. There’s something very special about taking in the smells, sounds and feel of a new destination on foot, and Cape Town is no different. A city map can play guide, but its simple enough to start at the Company Gardens, with zig-zags into Shortmarket, Bree, Long and Wale St, as well a look at George’s Mall as you make your way down towards the Foreshore and on to the V&A Waterfront.
There are many options for African traders, antique stores, coffee, lunch, artisan chocolate, craft beer, galleries, churches and museums along the way. The Company Gardens offers a perfect reprieve from the buzz, with the Company Gardens Restaurant a good place to stop for a coffee or meal. There’s even wifi on offer if you feel the need to connect with the world and put up an enticing Instagram pic.
Take some time to explore the cobbled streets of the Bo-Kaap area on the slopes of Signal Hill, with their candy-coloured historic homes …
In the evening as the sun softens, walk the Sea Point promenade. It’s become a place to walk, run, cycle and talk, with yoga on the lawn, public art and inspired benches to pause on. Also a sure place to get into a chat with some locals.
From here easy access to the V&A Waterfront for markets, craft, restaurants and sundowner spot all rubbing arms with a picturesque working harbour and world class shopping.
At the V&A Waterfront. Top pic, scenic Bo-Kaap.
Day 2 – Visit the Cape of Good Hope.
Irresistible to any visitor and a draw to locals, a visit to Cape Point allows a circular route from the city, driving the False Bay coastline through St. James, Kalk Bay, the naval base of Simonstown and on to the Cape Point National Park. Stop at Boulder’s Beach in Cape Point to visit the African Penguin colony, a real treat.
Must see’s are a visit to the original lighthouse, by footpath or funicular. As well as to the South-Western most tip of the continent for a photo opportunity. Here waves crash onto the rugged shore and beaches while plains game can be spotted. A beautiful place to pause and take in the natural beauty of the Cape. There are many shipwrecks in this area, the most famous being that of the Flying Dutchman. Be on the look out for baboons.
The drive back to the city can be through Scarborough and Noordhoek along the scenic Chapman’s Peak Drive, following the Atlantic Seaboard back towards the Waterfront area. If time allows, start the day with a visit to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. They do our city proud.
My favourite beach in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, Diaz Beach.
Day 3 – Take to the West Coast.
Too often forgotten is the more barren and real area West of Cape Town. The drive up the R27 highway offers a look at Bloubergstrand, Melkbosstrand and Yzerfontein.
Blouberg undoubtedly offers the best views towards Table Mountain.
Heading further North, the West Coast National Park is one of my chosen break away places, with its 16-mile beach, tranquil lagoon and game viewing. Don’t miss the opportunity to spend time here. Actually you can book lunch at the Geelbeck Restaurant which is lovely, or continue to Langebaan and have a meal on the water’s edge.
Wild flowers in the Postberg section of the West Coast National Park.
NOTE: Wild flower season is from August to early October each year.
Day 4 – Get to know the Overberg.
Spoilt for choice when it comes to coastlines, with Cape Town being the pinnacle from which we explore, you can choose to go East.
What you will discover is one of the most scenic drives in the world. Clarens Drive, which connect Gordon’s Bay with the inviting Rooiels, Pringle Bay, Betty’s Bay and Kleinmond. Small settlements gaining momentum in their offerings as they draw ever more interesting people from the urban edge to a quieter life.
Further along, about 90 minutes from Cape Town, is Hermanus. A town that has built a reputation for having the best shore based whale watching in the world. With a rocky coast that offers an elevated look at the South Right Whales that frequent our waters each year. Offering varied accommodation, restaurant, shopping and activity options, this is a wonderful place to visit. One of the greatest offerings is boat based whale watching. A very good day out with lunch enjoyed overlooking Walker Bay.
Also in the Overberg is De Kelder village and what has become known as the capital of shark cage diving. A great attraction to visitors to the Cape, with False Bay having a very high population of these protected animals.
You could go out for an early dive and meander back with a stop in Hermanus for lunch … A beautiful place to lunch is Grootbos Private Nature Reserve. (Bookings are essential).
Whale watching in Hermanus. WIth a seal at play, above.
Me shark cage diving off Gansbaai.
NOTE: Best time for whale watching is between June and November.
Day 5 – Taste your way through our Winelands.
For this it may be best to look at having a driver or guide, as you won’t be able to resist tasting the many South African wines you will come across and we don’t really have public transport options.
For a day out, decide where you’d like to do your exploring in Paarl, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch or Wellington. All four towns offer excellent wine estates, large and boutique, with various cultivars to keep your taste buds satisfied.
A few favourites of mine listed here:
- Babylonstoren in Franschhoek for wine, a natural garden, gorgeous tea house and beautiful home grown food. Excellent wines too.
- Warwick Wine Estate near Stellenbosch.
- The Spice Route in Paarl for a collaborative mix of Wine, Charcuterie, Cheese, artisan chocolate, restaurants and even glass blowing.
- Boschendal Wine Estate in Franschhoek, one of our oldest estates, ones owned by Cecil John Rhodes, now transformed into a welcoming option for wine, accommodation, picnics and traditional dining.
- Bosman’s Wine Estate in Wellington, 6th generation historic farm.
- Graham Beck Franschhoek, for the MCC bubbly.
Make a day of it, booking lunch at one of the restaurants and take time to walk around the village of your choice for some shopping. Franschhoek is probably the best for that …
NOTE: We harvest between January to March, but the vineyards.
This photo taken at Temple Wines outside Paarl.
Hope this gives you an idea of a five day Cape Town and surround itinerary. In addition, bear these points in mind while finalising your plans:
– Besides trips to the beach, which won’t cost you a cent, there are many other things to do in Cape Town for under R200.
– As one of three capital cities, Cape Town is a hub of historical, cultural and natural attractions – and you won’t have to be a big spender with these six ways to enjoy the city on the cheap.
Oh, one more thing to bear in mind while considering Cape Town as a holiday destination. The New York Times voted it No.1 of 52 places to go in 2014. Now that says something.
If flying in from abroad, check out Cheap Flights for excellent deals. Okay, that’s me on my come to Cape Town drive. Look forward to seeing you here!