With only five nights in Cape Town, I jam-packed an itinerary full of bucket list items and incredible experiences. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with this gorgeous city. Here’s a guide to all my favorites!
Hike Lions Head
A great way to work off the jet lag while getting your first glimpse of the entire region is by heading up Lions Head trail.
The trial is a short drive from most parts of town, if you don’t have a car uber can easily drop you off here. The path circles its way up Lions Head with 360-degree panoramic views of the city bowl, Table Mountain, Camps Bay, The 12 Apostles mountain range and the vast shoreline.
While its a pretty easy hike that takes around 2 hours total, there are some ladders and chains in a few bouldering areas which can get your adrenaline pumping. The view at the top is worth every step!
Once back at the bottom we weren’t able to find wifi to call an uber but had no problem grabbing a taxi to take us to our next stop.
Breakfast at Arnolds
Arnolds is located on Kloof Street in a super trendy and less touristy area of Cape Town.
The cafe serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner; I especially loved their healthy breakfast options (served all day) and coffee. We happened to be staying right above the cafe and became frequent visitors of it while in town. When our jet lag woke us up at the crack of dawn, we were thrilled this restaurant too is open that early!
This area of Kloof Street is my favorite part of the city; it’s much more quaint and mellow than the waterfront and Long Street. It’s a perfect place to stroll up and down the street checking out all of the local restaurants, bars, and shopping.
Cable Car up Table Mountain
Without a doubt, this should be on your Cape Town To-Do List! While you can also hike Table Mountain, it is much more strenuous than Lions Head. So, I’d say to opt for the cable car, saving your time to enjoy the view at the top!
Be prepared to wait in line, sometimes for over an hour. You can purchase tickets in advance, or use their wifi once you arrive to buy with your mobile phone.
After exploring and taking in the views of the city, Atlantic Seaboard and the mountain chain stretching across the Cape Peninsula, you could encounter a dassie which I renamed the brown little thing! Ha! There’s also a restaurant with food, alcohol, and wifi; a perfect place for a celebratory glass of bubbly!
Kloof Street House
This Victorian house turned restaurant/bar/lounge is a MUST!
When entering from the street, you walk into a tea light lit garden reminiscent of a Midnight Summers Dream or Secret Garden. As you continue into the house, it’s dimly lit by candles and gorgeous chandeliers throughout the various rooms and bar. The whole venue is magical. The lounge and bar are equally as intriguing, worth stopping for a pre or post meal drink, or both! Lots of dark burgundy, mahogany, and bookcases (Ron Burgundy would approve), it feels like a little world away from whats going on outside.
To top it off, the food is AMAZING including small apps and full meals. The menu had so much I wanted to try, but I couldn’t pass up the Butter Chicken entree and truffled parmesan polenta chips, both which were delicious.
Considering the restaurant was pretty busy and we had to book a reservation in advance, I think its no secret it’s a Cape Town gem!
Boulders Penguin Colony
There are full day tours that cover Hout Bay, Simons Town, Cape Point, Boulders Beach, Fish Hoek, and even stop back by Kirstenbosch Nation Botanical Gardens. A full day tour usually departs around 8 am and doesn’t get back until after 5 pm.
If you have the time, it is worth it seeing it all, however, if you don’t have much time to spare I would recommend booking a half day tour that just covers seeing Cape Point and Boulders Beach for the penguin colony.
The African penguins moved into the area in the 1980’s and multiplied from 2 to over 3,000 this decade. Sadly, they’re an endangered species, and their numbers have stopped increasing in recent years.
This beach offers one of the closest viewing opportunities, with three boardwalks wrapping around the dunes, vegetation, and beach. At any given point you may run into a penguin hanging around or cruising through the parking lot, but for the most part, the majority of them can be seen on the white sandy beach between the boulders.
Cape of Good Hope
Not to be confused with the most Southern Point of the continent of Africa, which is a mere 90 miles to the east from here, The Cape of Good Hope is still a notable landmark with historical importance.
The day trip here from Cape Town covers some gorgeous terrain and a remarkably beautiful drive along the coast. Once at the Cape be prepared, it will most likely be extremely windy! It’s worth it to walk up to the Lighthouse as well.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
Now, this is no ordinary botanical garden; it’s more like stepping into the Alice and Wonderland rabbit hole. With only a mere hour to spend exploring, we barely got to see bits and pieces. So I would suggest coming here only if you have at least a couple of hours to enjoy it.
The garden is literally on the slopes of Table Mountain with thousands of different species of plants, beautiful flowers, trees, trails, greenery, an impressive suspension bridge, and even a few restaurants. It’s like a botanical garden on steroids!
Asoka For A Night Out
While any night will do, if you’re in town on a Tuesday, Asoka IS the place to be. This restaurant is probably better known for being a late night bar and lounge, and somewhere to dance the night away!
What started as a twentieth-century house built around an ancient olive tree, it is now a Cape Town hotpot for jazz nights and deep house. The decor features elements from Turkey to Asia and is dark and swanky; mostly lit by candles with a large fireplace. It feels like a trip to an exotic land!
The cocktails are sophisticated and fun (including the Porn Star martini which was delicious!), and the menu offers an international fusion. While it might be better known for the alluring atmosphere, I recommend coming with an appetite; because the food is remarkably good!
This neighborhood of Cape Town is the historical center for Cape Malay culture and known for the boldly colorful houses and tiny cobblestoned streets.
The Malay Quarter came together by the descendants of slaves brought from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and various African countries during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Indeed a neighborhood with a vast and multicultural history, which is evident to this day in its music, dance, and food. It’s also home to the oldest mosque in all of South Africa. I would recommend taking a daytime walking tour here to get the full experience.
Get Caffeinated at Truth Coffee
This coffee shop will surprise you. Not only is the decor a total futuristic trip, but the food and coffee both outstanding. They even spiff up your cappuccino with some cute coffee art, which is every Instagrammers dream!
Here you’ll find my favorite breakfast dish, Shakshuka, an Indian recipe of spicy tomatoes baked with poached eggs. Other breakfast options include avocado toast, Brioche mushrooms, and Benedict’s Underbelly. We loved everything about this unique coffee spot!
Let’s just say this is the Santa Monica of Cape Town. Camps Bay is a posh area right on the beach with a promenade of seafood restaurants, cocktail bars, cafes, shopping, and nightlife.
The white sandy beaches are a summer hotspot, but year round it’s a stunning site to see! The postcard view here is one of my favorites from Cape Town.
Clifton is right down the street with arguably just as amazing beaches but if you’re looking for a more lively area Camps Bay is the place to go!
Babel at Babylonstoren
In my frenzy of research on Cape Town, I kept hearing about Babylonstoren, a trending hot spot in wine country. This Dutch farm dating back to the late 1600’s, is now a small boutique hotel and spa, extensive garden, farm to table restaurant, and wine cellar with tasting room.
The restaurant is a super chic; a contemporary meets Cape dutch mix with stark white walls, huge windows letting in lots of natural light, and artwork of cows (in tribute to the structure once being an old cow shed).
A foodies heaven with the menu offering the seasons freshest ingredients coming straight from the garden on site. I would best describe the dining here as avant-garde; a new and somewhat unorthodox experience that incorporates simple elegance.
After the meal, wine tasting and a cellar tour can ensue! The wine room is equally as aesthetically pleasing in its design.
I adored the whole property, and can’t think of anywhere else that is comparable to it.
Delaire Graff Estate
This estate is what wine tasting dreams are made of! Forget about the wine (which is really good too), but the picturesque backdrop is to die for!
The whole estate is insanely gorgeous; the artwork, decor, and plenty of patio space to admire picture-perfect backdrop of mountains. Having a glass of wine and reveling in it is a must.
I’ve been to a lot of tasting rooms in various regions around the world, and this was definitely one of my favorites.
The Old Biscuit Mill
The best time to visit The Old Biscuit Mill is on a Saturday morning for the Neighborhoods Market. A marketplace full of different local vendors including food, flowers, shopping, and art galleries. Here you’ll find a genuinely authentic Cape Town experience.
Another reason to stop by the mill is you’ll find two of the best restaurants in Cape Town here. The first is South Africa’s best-rated restaurant (and number 22 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2016), The Test Kitchen. Unfortunately, reservations are hard to come by, so a good second choice would be the other outstanding and highly rated restaurant, The Potluck Club. If you dined at either of these, you’d be experiencing the best of what Cape Town’s food scene has to offer and most certainly be lucking out!
Anything else you’ve done in Cape Town that I’ve missed? I would love to hear, comment below!