Updated On: November 08, 2023 by Omnia Essawy
The Mother City and one of South Africa’s three capital cities; Cape Town is the crown jewel of South Africa and the continent’s most European-like city.
Thanks to its superb location at the southwestern tip of Africa, Cape Town has played a crucial role in the global trade scene. Home to 3.5 million people, the metro town covers 950 square miles and is set on the coastline in the shadow of Table Mountain National Park.
Despite its problematic history, Cape Town managed to make a name for itself as a metropolis modern tourist destination among the world’s best cities thanks to its breathtakingly beautiful nature, supreme weather, interesting history, and unique atmosphere.
If you plan to take on Cape Town, there are a few things you should know first such as the best sights to visit and the best time to go. Luckily, our ultimate Cape Town Travel Guide has it all covered so dive right in…
When is the best time to go to Cape Town?
You can visit Cape Town at any time throughout the year and you’d enjoy it just as much. However, Cape Town’s peak season is considered to be during South Africa’s summer which is from late December through March.
At this time of year, the city of Cape Town comes alive with tourists and locals hitting the ocean and enjoying the sunny dry weather of this South African capital.
If you want to enjoy Cape Town in a less crowded setting while rates are a bit lower, you might want to visit during the winter which is from late June through late September when you can see whales during the Hermanus Whale Festival which is usually held in late September.
How to get around Cape Town?
There are a lot of ways with which you can get around Cape Town, here are the most popular ones:
There are several local buses and minibusses that go around Cape Town. However, the MyCiti Buses are the best buses for tourists and city visitors as they connect with the airport and serve scheduled stops in high-traffic tourist areas and attractions. You can also take the City Sightseeing Bus which also makes scheduled stops at popular tourist destinations and includes commentary in 15 languages.
Ubers are highly available in Cape Town. Aside from being reliable and safe, they are also fairly affordable. If you don’t have an uber and would like to use a traditional taxi, make sure to use a verified call-ahead car service to book your ride.
Where to stay in Cape Town?
As a prime tourist destination, Cape Town has all kinds of hotels and accommodations to suit the various individual needs and budgets of its wide base of visitors. Here is a list of the most recommended hotels in The Mother City of South Africa:
Overlooking the Atlantic, the rooms in this mansion of a hotel are as comfortable as they are luxurious. The Ellerman House hotel rooms feature heated floors, studded headboards, ocean-facing bay windows, and original artworks.
The One&Only Cape Town
The One&Only hotel is the kind of urban resort usually found on a tropical island with quite the exotic accommodation options. The One&Only Cape Town resort has several swimming pools, including the city’s largest infinity pool.
Camps Bay Retreat
Set in a secluded nature reserve a short walk from the Camps Bay Strip, Camps Bay Retreat is based in the Grand Earl’s Dyke Manor dating back to 1929. The rooms of this magnificent resort vary between old Victorian-styled rooms and edgy contemporary spaces, you can choose between rooms in either the main house or the contemporary deck house and villas. There is also a spa and four pools, including one fed by a stream from Table Mountain.
Hotel Verde is self-titled as the ‘greenest hotel in Africa’ as it depends on solar panels and wind generators to cut down the hotel’s power-grid use. The minimalist hotel features comfy rooms, creative interiors, local arts and crafts, a beautiful garden in the preserved wetlands behind the hotel, as well as an eco-friendly pool.
Villa Zest is a Bauhaus-style villa converted into a quirkily decorated boutique hotel with seven guest rooms that have bold, retro-designed papered walls and furniture accented with furry pillows and shag rugs.
In the lobby of Villa Zest, displayed, you can see the hotel’s impressive collection of the 60s and 70s electronic goods, such as radios, phones, Polaroid cameras, and eight-track cassette players.
Where to eat in Cape Town?
Cape Town’s culinary scene is as rich as its nature which is reflected in the quality of the city’s restaurants and cafes which serve all types of cuisines to satisfy the large masses that visit Cape Town on a yearly basis.
Here are some of the best restaurants in Cape Town city:
Cafe Caprice: Open seven days a week, Cafe Caprice serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as some of the best cocktails in the city. In addition to being one of the most popular hubs in the city, it is also considered to be one of the best places to watch the sunset from.
Foodbarn: Foodbarn serves rustic delicious bistro dishes in the relaxed surroundings of Noordhoek Farm Village. Along with the Foodbarn deli, there is the separate book-lined bakery cafe that is just as good and serves freshly baked goodies, as well as other locally sourced foods and drinks.
Mzansi Restaurant: Ranked the number one restaurant out of almost 1,000 restaurants in Cape Town Central, Mzansi Restaurant is one of the most popular as well as the busiest hubs in Cape Town. It serves food buffet style with signature dishes varying from chicken feet and sheep’s head to vegetarian plates.
Kauai: Serving an impressive collection of fresh and healthy fast food that includes wraps, salads, omelets, and smoothies, Kauai is Cape Town’s best and most fast food joint. Kauai has several locations around Cape Town that serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Mojo Market: Open all week long, Mojo Market has over 15 local food stalls and traders for diners to choose from including fresh mussels, artisanal pizza, build-your-own burritos, sushi, and Cape Town’s only Mac and Cheese joint.
Things to do in Cape Town?
The activities in South Africa’s crown jewel, Cape Town, are countless, and each one tops the next. So here is a list of the best things to do around the South African metropolis town:
Hang with penguins at Boulder Beach
Boulder Beach is the only place where you can get close to African Penguins in the wild, so if you find yourself on the Falsa Bay side of Cape Town, make sure to pay it a visit.
Visitors pay a small entrance fee to have the chance to observe up-close the colony of penguins who inhabit this white sand beach. If you can stand the frigid cold water, you can even take a swim with the penguins.
Hike in Table Mountain National Park
One of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is South Africa’s most iconic landmark and most popular attraction. Around 600 million years old, Table Mountain is the namesake for the massive Table Mountain national park that spans from the city all the way down the cape peninsula to the southernmost tip of Africa.
Aside from its uncanny geological formation, this landmark of a park is home to some biodiversity that includes distinct vegetation that you can’t find anywhere else in the world.
If you feel up to it, like any of the many trails in the park to the top of Table Mountain which is 3,563 feet high or you ride the cable car straight to the top.
Visit Robben Island
With over 400 years of fascinating history, Robben Island which is seen from anywhere in Cape Town was used as a prison ever since Cape Town city was established up until the year 1996.
A Unesco World Heritage Site, this old historic landmark has been preserved as a memorial shrine to those who spent many years of their lives incarcerated in the island’s prison.
Robben Island can only be visited by a tour that takes about 4 hours and requires reservations in advance as they sell out quite fast.
Visit District Six Museum
The memorial District Six Museum was established to celebrate the once lively multi-racial area that was demolished during apartheid in the 60s and 70s and its 60,000 inhabitants who were removed by force.
Inside what used to be the Methodist Mission Church, some home interiors have been created, you will also find some photographs, recordings, and testimonials all repainting the picture of the community that once stood in District Six.
Pass by World of Birds
Africa’s largest bird park, Cape Town’s bird sanctuary, World of Birds has over 3000 birds and small mammals from about 400 different species, including barbets, weavers, and flamingos. So if you want a taste of a truly exotic experience in South Africa’s metropolis capital, don’t hesitate to swing by Cape Town’s World of Birds.
Now that your travel guide and itinerary are all ready, the only thing left is to pack those bags and put your adventure hat on, because a vacation in Cape Town will truly be one for the books.