Citytrip Cape Town: itinerary for 3 to 4 days

Citytrip Cape Town: Tips for 3 to 4 days

Cape Town was the icing on the cake of our beautiful roadtrip through South Africa. It is one of the largest and nicest cities to visit in South Africa. There is so much to see and do! Before I left for South Africa, I was going nuts looking for a logical time schedule (the best itinerary of Cape Town). What would be a logical route and how do we plan everything as efficiently as possible? But actually, you will always run out of time. You can stay here for two weeks and still not have seen and done everything. If you can only spend 3 to 4 days in Cape Town, here is my itinerary and my day-to-day tips!

Map sights cape town

Red = our hostel | Blue = day 2 with the Hop-on-Bus | Yellow = day 3 with the car | Green = day 4 with the car

Where to stay in Cape Town

If you book a short stay in Cape Town, choose a hotel or hostel at a strategic location! For us (and probably for you too) it was important that the hostel was in a safe neighborhood. There are a number of safe and fun neighborhoods in Cape Town. These are The Gardens, V&A Waterfront and Campsbay.

We chose: The Backpack in the heart of Cape Town!

hostel cape town

***** Hostel The Backpack is in an ideal location, right in the center and in a safe area. Although you always have to remain vigilant in Cape Town. The famous streets Kloofstreet, Longstreet and Church Street are within walking distance and the V&A Waterfront can be reached within 5 minutes with your own car or an Uber (taxi). There is a swimming pool, a restaurant, a free parking space in front of your door and free WiFi. This fair-trade hostel is located in the trendy Gardens District, on the edge of Tamboerskloof and Bo Kaap.You can sleep here for as little as $30 per night in a dormitory with 8 beds. That includes a super tasty breakfast. If you want a little more privacy, you have a double room with a shared bathroom for $90 a night. We took a room with a private bathroom. This costs $130 per night including breakfast. You can book here.

Cape Town in 3 tot 4 days: sights and hotspots

We stayed four nights in Cape Town and had spent a total of 3.5 days in this beautiful big city. On the map above you can see the sights. These were our activities on a day-to-day-basis!

Day 1 – Arrival Cape Town

Things to do today

  • Pick up your rental car
  • Check in to your accommodation
  • Stroll down Kloofstreet and Longstreet

Around 2.30 pm we landed in Cape Town. We picked up our rental car. You can pick up the car directly at the airport. We rented a small compact car (Kia Picanto) for 6 days and paid $90 through Rentalcars. Driving left in Cape Town takes some getting used to because it is considerably busier here than in other parts of South Africa. Within half an hour we drove to our accommodation in Cape Town. Our hostel The Backpack is close to the most famous and bubbling street of Cape Town: Long Street. We strolled through Kloofstreet and Longstreet until sunset (around 8 p.m. in the summer / January).

Long street cape town

Walking around Cape Town in the evening is not a great idea. Although the hostel is in a safe neighborhood, we thought it would be better not to have to walk too far after dinner. We went out for dinner at The Fat Cactus, a trendy Tex-Mex restaurant. This restaurant is a 2-minute walk from The Backpack. I ordered a jug of lemon juice for myself – not knowing it had tequila in it – and it quickly quenched my thirst. We had a nice meal and that tequila turned out to be a great nightcap!

hotspots cape town
Hotspot in Cape town: The Fat Cactus

Day 2 – Change of plans: explore the city

Things to do today

  • Check the weather: do you see the table mountain? Yes -> see day 3!
  • Otherwise: get on the Hop-on-Hop-off bus!
  • Visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • Hop off at Houtbay, Camps bay and the V&A Waterfront
  • Climb Lion’s Head (highlight of the day!)

I got up early (at 6.30 am) to see if we could climb Table Mountain. Climbing or visiting Table Mountain is an absolute must, but for this activity you’ll be highly dependent on the day-to-day weather conditions. When it is cloudy, it makes little to no sense to go up the mountain. At the swimming pool of hostel The Backpack I had a perfect view of Table Mountain and you can see the result on the photo below! No Table Mountain today.

Table mountain weather conditions
6:30 in the morning … Too cloudy to visit the Table Mountain!

Change of plans. No Table Mountain today. Now that we are up early, we decide to go to the V&A Waterfront to do a city tour from there. Normally I am not a fan of the Hop-on Hop-off Bus, but in Cape Town this bus is a solution! The bus runs along all the highlights of Cape Town, so that’s handy. The online tickets are R20 cheaper ($1.70) than on location. A “Classic” ticket for 1 day should be sufficient and costs R180 ($14) per person.

1. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Things to do cape town
Visit Kirstenbosch

The Hop-on Hop-off Bus stops at various sites, including Kirstenbosch. This botanical garden is number 7 on the list of most beautiful botanical gardens in the world. Kirstenbosch is located at the ‘rear’ of Table Mountain and can also be reached within 20 minutes by car. We arrived early at Kristenbosch, at 9 am. This botanical garden is open for visitors daily and we paid R65 ($5) per person to enter. You can walk around here for a whole day and chill, but we only spent the morning there.

Kirstenbosch cape town

2. Hout Bay: Seals and Seafood!

Our next stop is Hout Bay, or Houtbaai. Hout Bay is located just outside of Cape Town and has a nice beach and a pleasant harbor. From Hout Bay you can do a boat tour. The boat will take you to a spot with a lot of seals. The boat departs daily at 7:50 am, 8:30 am, 9:15 am, 10:00 am, 10:45 am and 3:30 pm (with a minimum occupancy of 15 persons). Costs R90 ($7) and the tour takes 40 minutes. We arrived too late in Hout Bay, but we spotted a few seals on the pier! You should definitely taste the Superb Seafood here! If you don’t have much time in Cape Town, you can safely skip Hout Bay.

Cape town itinerary

3. Camps Bay: glamorous hotspots

After a tasty bite of fish in Hout Bay we hopped on the bus again – which comes by every 20 minutes – and continued on to Camps Bay. Camps Bay is a chic neighborhood in Cape Town, with gorgeous beaches and fine restaurants. Unfortunately, we did not take our swimming gear with us, so we strolled the beach. Although we just ate fish, we decided to have lunch at Camps Bay.

Camps bay tips cape town

4. V&A Waterfront

We concluded our afternoon at the V&A Waterfront. This is a nice, but also very touristy part of Cape Town. Large shopping centers, many restaurants, cafes and entertainment. We decided to come back later.

V&A Waterfront tips

Diner tip: The Food Market

Opposite the harbor is a Food Market and you should really visit it! The covered Food Market is only open during the day (or until 7-8 p.m.) and here you can taste almost anything: Mexican food, sushi, Vietnamese spring rolls, smoothies, frozen yogurt, tea, chocolates, cheese and more!

where to eat
Food market V&A waterfront

5. Climb the Lion’s Head

It seemed like there was no end to our day! We did so much in just one day (well, we got an early start at 8 in the morning). We wanted to end this day with a bang and we decided to drive our rental car to Lion’s Head. You can just park the car along the road, because eventually you will have to continue on foot. Lion’s Head is a mountain in the shape of a lion and it is about 700 meters high. Our hike started around 6 p.m. and we would soon feel our calves burn. The sun will set around 8 p.m. (after sunset it gets really dark within 30 minutes).

climbing lions head
Climb the Lion’s Head (or back)

The path to the top is very clear and easy to follow. Being afraid of heights is not an option here! The path turns into a path of stones and rocks without a grip, and it can get very steep. Climbing is not a big problem, but going down is, because you will be looking into the depth. After hiking for 1 hour we thought we had finally reached the top, but that was not the case. We would have to do a very steep climb (see photo at the top right) to reach the top. Because of our fear of heights and the beautiful view that we already had, we stayed on the back of the lion. No Lion’s Head but Lion’s Back for us, but definitely a highlight of Cape Town!

We had dinner in a restaurant near our hostel that evening.

Day 3 – Table Mountain & Cape of Good Hope

Things to do today

  • Visit the Table Mountain by cable car
  • Visit Cape point and Cape of Good Hope
  • Chapman’s Peak drive

We get up at 6:30 am again. Just to check the weather and the clouds.

hotel tips cape town
Swimming pool of The Backpack overlooking the Table Mountain

Perfect! Today we’ll be able to climb Table Mountain. We decided to have breakfast on top of Table Mountain. We drive to the cable car station with our rental car. You can park your car, for free, along the road. The Hop-on-Hop-off Bus also stops at the station or you can use an Uber (taxi) for just a few dollars.

1. Coffee at the Table Mountain

table mountain cape town

If you like an adventure, climbing the Table Mountain is a possibility. The easiest route is Platteklip Gorge. This route starts at the bottom of the cable car station. You walk to the top in 1.5 to 2.5 hours using a kind of a rock staircase. We took a cable car because we had already bought the tickets for it. You can buy them onlinefor around $20 for a return ticket. The online tickets are valid for 7 days from your chosen date. Super handy, as you’re highly dependent on the day-to-day weather conditions.

table mountain view
The best view!

We arrived early at 8 am, and there was already a long line for the cable line! So, make sure you leave really early, to be at the front of the line. In the end it went really fast because they were able to fit 65 persons in each cable car. We stood in line for half an hour. We had breakfast in the restaurant and then went to explore the Table Mountain. There are so many stunning places and the view … phenomenal!

cape town in 4 days
On top of the mountain

Around 12 o’clock we came back down, and got in our car. We went to visit some places around Cape Town. We first drove to Muizenberg Beach (+/- 40 minute’s drive from Table Mountain).

2. Muizenberg

Muizenberg Beach is a large beach and ideal for surfers and other water sports enthusiasts. Muizenberg Beach is also very famous for the colored houses / changing rooms. If you don’t like surfing, you can skip Muizenberg Beach as far as I’m concerned.

beaches cape town
Muizenberg Beach, just a little less stunning than expected …

3. Simons Town & Boulders Beach

Simon’s town is half an hour’s drive from Muizenberg Beach. We went for lunch in the harbor of Simon’s Townand then drove on to Boulders Beach: the beach with the penguins. Boulders Beach is a 5-minute drive from Simon’s Town. You have to pay an entrance fee of R75 per person ($6) and walk to the beach via a wooden platform. You are not allowed on the beach, you have to stay on the wooden platform. Super cute to see all those penguins, especially when they waddle out of the water!

boulders beach

4. Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope

If you are visiting Cape Town, you cannot skip the Cape of Good Hope. It is the most South-Western point of the continent and of course we had to go there. Cape of Good Hope is part of the Table Mountain National Park.

cape of good hope
Windy weather at the Cape of Good Hope
map cape of good hope
Map of the park

Be sure to spend an entire afternoon at the Cape of Good Hope and bring a picnic and your swimming gear!

Looking back, I would not have visited the Cape of Good Hope on the same day as Table Mountain. This means you will have more time left to spend at the Cape of Good Hope. It is not only the most South-Western point, but a stunning area with many hiking opportunities, beautiful beaches, bays and braai spots. You can also visit Cape Point, a beautiful viewpoint with a 19th century lighthouse.

Cape point tips

The entrance to the park is R145 per person ($11). You can relax here for a whole day or afternoon. Swimming in ‘infinity pools’, braai, enjoy the animals and the dazzling views.

Infinity-pools-cape-point
Natural infinity pools

We made sure that we were back in the car by 6 pm. We wanted to drive Chapman’s Peak Drive, one of the most stunning car routes in the world. This beautiful route is located exactly between the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Town.

5. Chapman’s Peak Drive: the most enchanting car route in South Africa

Chapman’s Peak Drive is a toll road ($3.50) and starts in Hout Bay and ends in Noordhoek (or the other way around like we did, from Noordhoek to Hout Bay). From the Cape of Good Hope it is a 40-minute drive to Noordhoek. Just follow the road along the coast and you will automatically arrive at the toll booth where you will have to pay for the Chapman’s Peak Route. It is a 5M route with 114 turns and spectacular views. The hour before sunset is just unreal, with the soft sunlight reflecting off the cliffs. There are various picnic areas on the route where you can stop and enjoy the stunning view.

Chapmans peak drive route

We arrive in Cape Town around 7.30 p.m. and drive straight to the V&A Waterfront for dinner.

Day 4 – Bo Kaap, Camps Bay & V&A Waterfront

Things to do today

  • (Take the boat to Robben Island)
  • Visit Bo Kaap
  • Tanning at the most beautiful beaches

1. Boat to Robben Island

Today we are sleeping in for a bit. After breakfast we get in the car, because we would like to do another beach day. We skipped a visit to Robben Island. This is the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for years. In the Waterfront neighborhood you can take a boat to Robben Island every day at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. You do not only book the boat, but a full guided tour. In the high season it can be smart to buy tickets in advance. A tour lasts 3.5 hours and costs R340 ($25). You can spend the rest of the day at V&A Waterfront. We first visited the Bo Kaap neighborhood today.

2. Take pics at Bo Kaap

Bo Kaap cape town

Bo Kaap is virtually next to our hostel. It is a neighborhood with colored houses and a rich history. It is an Islamic neighborhood and the ancestors of most residents are of Javanese descent. They descend from slaves from the colonies of the Dutch and British. After the abolition of slavery, they settled in the Bo-Kaap. You can take a guided tour here, but that was just a bit too touristy for us. This colorful area in Cape Town is nice to give just a quick visit, because of the hordes of stereotype tourists getting off the bus to take pictures.

3. The most exquisite beach: Clifton Beach

Clifton beach 4
Clifton beach 4

Clifton Beach is next to Camps Bay and is the most stunning beach in Cape Town! There are four beaches, Clifton Beach 1, 2, 3 and 4. I think you can run into celebrities on beaches 1 & 2 and beach 4 is for the ‘normal’ public. Just relax, read a book and get a tan! Swimming didn’t quite work out that day, the water was so cold! I felt like I was walking into an ice bath.

best beaches

Lunch tip: The Bungalow

In the afternoon we went for lunch at The Bungalow (HOTSPOT!). Clifton beach is a 15-minute walk away. The Bungalow is a very trendy place where a reservation is absolutely necessary. We had this super tasty sushi while enjoying a drink and lounge music!

The bungalow
The Bungalow in Camps Bay

4. V&A Waterfront

After dinner we visited the V&A Waterfront for the third time. You can shop here, eat really tasty food and spot whales. We were so lucky! There were 4 to 5 whales (small ones) swimming laps in the harbor.

citytrip cape town

What would I do differently?

Our city trip to Cape Town was absolutely mind-blowing! In retrospect I would have made some changes in terms of our day-to-day schedule.

  • Start the hike to Lion’s Head around 5.30 p.m. (instead of 6 p.m). This gives you a little more time to enjoy the views.
  • I would like to spend more time in the National Park at the Cape of Good Hope. Do all activities as described on day 3, except for Table Mountain.
  • Visit Table Mountain and spend the rest of the day just chilling in Camps Bay and V&A Waterfront.
  • I would eat more often at The Food Market at the V&A Waterfront!

After Cape Town we continued to Stellenbosch for a lot of wine tastings!

Nice Tours in Cape Town

Do you have any questions about your citytrip to Cape Town? Feel free to leave your comment below.

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