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Since I’m a travel blogger so many people ask me – “Where’s the best place you’ve been to?” – a question I’d always found difficult to answer. I’ve travelled to a lot of destinations and I always struggle to choose a favorite. But then I found some cheap flights from London to Cape Town (£400 return peak season – thank you Jack’s Flight Club) and I have to say Cape Town is incredible.
Why so? Well, for starters, it’s cheap. You can go to a top-end restaurant in Cape Town, order seafood and wine and still pay less than you would for an average restaurant in say, London. The food is ridiculously fresh and colorful. Then there’s the scenery. It’s stunning. In a way it reminds me very much of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Everywhere you drive you’re met with views of beautiful beaches and dramatic mountains. Car is king in Cape Town and rentals are very affordable, so it’s the ideal place if you like the freedom of road tripping.
One week in Cape Town South Africa is the perfect amount of time to see everything that the city has to offer and do some day trips as well. With this 7 day Cape Town itinerary you’ll see some beautiful beaches, visit wineries and admire the view from the top of Table Mountain.
Getting to and from the airport
When you fly to Cape Town you’ll land at Cape Town International Airport, which is about 20km from the city ceter. We rented a car for our entire trip and I recommend you do to.
Car rentals are very affordable and the best thing to do is pick up and drop off at the airport. Renting a car will allow you to drive out to places like Boulders Beach and Stellenbosch and not have to worry about transportation. If you do choose to rent a car then try to book accommodation that comes with free parking; we chose an Airbnb that had its own parking spot.
You could get around the city using Uber and book some tours to get further afield but you’ll have much more freedom if you rent a car. To compare car rental prices, I usually use Kayak or Rentalcars.com.
What side of the road do they drive on in Cape Town? – They drive on the left, just like in the UK. If you’re coming from the U.S or Europe where people drive on the right hand side of the road, this might take some getting used to. If you’re coming from the UK you’ll have no problem at all.
Uber or taxi
If you don’t rent a car from the airport then the best option for getting into the city is by ordering an Uber or taxi. It’s the quickest and easiest way. Metered taxis are available at the airport and the trip should cost between R300 and R400 (around $19-$25 USD).
If you’re on a tight budget you could take the A01 MyCiTi bus which operates between the airport and the Civic Centre. From the Civic Centre you can catch onward connections to wherever you need to go.
Buses from the airport run from 5am to 9.30pm on weekdays and 6am to 9.30pm on weekends. Cash isn’t accepted on board so you’ll need to purchase a myconnect card for R35 from a MyCiTi station kiosk in order to ride the bus.
You can load money onto the myconnect card and pay as you go, or you can get a multi-day package and get unlimited travel on as many bus routes as you want. A 1-day pass costs R70, a 3-day pass costs R160 and a 7-day pass costs R230. For up to date fares and timetables visit MyCiTi.
Cape Town Itinerary: 7 days
- Day 1 – Clifton Beach
- Day 2 – V&A Waterfront & Catamaran Cruise
- Day 3 – Boulders Beach
- Day 4 – Stellenbosch wineries
- Day 5 – Woodstock and Bo-kaap
- Day 6 – Table Mountain
- Day 7 – Robben Island
Day 1: Clifton Beach
My flight landed at 8am and on my first day in Cape Town I drove straight to the beach. Two of the best beaches in Cape Town are Camps Bay and Clifton Beach.
Camps Bay is great if you want to be close to a wide choice of restaurants – I would definitely recommend heading to Zenzero for brunch. Their breakfast menu features fresh juices, smoothies and food items such as roast grapefruit, baked eggs, carbonara pizza, avocado toast and roast apple pancakes.
Clifton Beach is a lot more beautiful since you have to walk down a flight of stairs in the cliff to get to it. The beach has beautiful white sands with rolling waves and the beach vendors will keep you happy with all the ice cream and drinks you can manage.
Parking: Most people park on the side of the road at the top of the cliff but it does get very crowded so you may have to drive up and down a few times looking for a spot.
Day 2: V&A Waterfront/Catamaran Cruising
On day 2 in Cape Town I’d recommend you hit the beach again, before heading to the V&A waterfront in the evening. This is Cape Town’s iconic mixed-use area located in the oldest working harbor in the southern hemisphere.
The waterfront is lined with all sorts of shops and top notch restaurants serving fresh fish and sushi. But first, book yourself onto the Peroni Catamaran which will take you on a tour of the coastline at sunset. The views are magical and you’ll get a glass of prosecco or two to toast a magical day in Cape Town.
My favourite spot at the V&A waterfront is Den Anker, a Belgian restaurant serving Belgian beers and delicious snacks like croquettes and seared tuna. I also had some of the best sushi I’ve ever eaten in my life at Sevruga restaurant – it tasted like it had come right out of the ocean (which it had).
Day 3: Boulders Beach
Penguins at the beach? It’s a bit strange to see penguins in a hot, sunny place as we usually associate them with snowy Antarctic conditions.
But Boulders Beach is home to a colony of African penguins, known as “jackass penguins”, which are the only type of penguin found on the African continent.
The beach falls within a protected reserve so it’s been kept in pristine condition and it gets its name because of the granite boulders that the penguins like to hide amongst. There are two parts to the beach – there’s the viewing platform, which attracts throngs of tourists, as well as the beach part, where you can swim and have your photo taken with them.
There’s an entrance fee for Boulders Beach and the price varies according to whether you’re a foreigner or a local. At the time of writing, the entrance fee for foreign nationals is R160 per adult R80 per child. The cost for South African residents is R40 per adult R20 per child. The entrance fee will give you access to the beach as well as all the walkways.
Since you can swim at Boulders Beach I recommend packing a beach towel and swimsuit, plus some refreshments so you can relax on the beach for a while.
However, a little tip for you: there’s a beach outside the area called Seaforth and I stopped there for a spot of sunbathing after my trip to Boulders Beach. I went for a dip in the ocean and about 5-6 penguins casually swam by me in the water. I couldn’t believe it. They settled on the rock and I managed to get even better photos than at Boulders Beach. So if you want to see the penguins for free then check this place out!
Day 4: Stellenbosch
Ahh Stellenbosch. The scenery in wine country is absolutely breathtaking. Stellenbosch lies about an hour’s drive outside of Cape Town and is known for its vineyards that produce top notch South African wines. The fantastic thing about visiting wineries in South Africa is that everything is much cheaper than in America’s wine regions, so you can visit here on a budget but still be able to order anything you like.
I began my day with a visit to Rust en Vrede, which is nestled in the lower slopes of the Helderberg Mountain. It’s one of the prettiest and most picturesque wineries in South Africa. The winery only produces red wine, so you’ll need to be a red wine lover, but the terrace has a spectacular view and is well worth a visit.
Rust en Vrede’s terroir is suited to full-bodied reds, so the winery therefore focuses solely on producing Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah in order to produce the best wine possible. The tasting room is open 7 days per week and you can enjoy a winemaker’s lunch between the hours of 12pm and 3pm.
After that I drove to Delaire Graff Estate, which boasts a luxury hotel and a fine dining restaurant with a large terrace overlooking the entire vineyard. The food is excellent and it’s the best place in Stellenbosch for lunch with a view.
Day 5: Woodstock/Bo-kaap
On day 5 in Cape Town I’d recommend you discover Bo-Kaap, Cape Town’s vibrantly colored Islamic neighborhood. The buildings here are painted in all sorts of bold colors including pinks, greens, yellows and every color of the rainbow.
You don’t need a long time here – around 30 minutes to an hour at most, but it’s a fantastic spot for photos!
Afterwards head on over to the hipster area of Woodstock, which is an edgy, creative neighborhood with a number of vintage shops, galleries and restaurants. One of the highlights of the area is the Old Biscuit Mill, which is an old mill that has been repurposed into a hub for art, design, and food.
While exploring the neighborhood I stopped for some beer tasting at Woodstock Brewery before grabbing tacos at The Fat Cactus. Their tacos are incredibly fresh (as is all the food in Cape Town) and the patio attracts a fun crowd.
You’ll find numerous gin distilleries and breweries in Woodstock, including Devil’s Peak Brewing Company, Woodstock Brewery, Woodstock Gin Company, Hope on Hopkins and Brewers Coop.
The neighborhood is also filled with street art and eye-catching graffiti. Juma Art Tours offers a Woodstock Street Art Tour that allows you to explore murals and galleries with the help of a local guide.
Day 6: Beach Day/Table Mountain
Next the attraction you’ve been waiting for: Table Mountain. It’s possible to hike up the mountain but most tourists take the cable car up to the top. If you’re afraid of heights, rides or anything scary like I am, you’ve been warned. The cable car has a revolving floor, which creeped me out and left me hanging on to the side for dear life. The ascent is steep, so I wouldn’t advise looking at the cliff face.
Once at the top, the view is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever witnessed. You can walk around the flat top and take pictures, and if you’re feeling brave enough, you can stand on top of some of the rocks around the edge. The clouds seem to flow off the top of the mountain, making for some dramatic photos over Cape Town.
There’s no barrier round the edge so be careful when walking around! Table Mountain is an incredibly popular tourist spot but there are usually around 10-20 fatalities each year. The mountain is actually deadlier than Mount Everest. Don’t put yourself in danger just to get the perfect selfie.
Tickets for Table Mountain – You can purchase tickets online using the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway official website. When I went in the afternoon there was a long line but you can fast-track the line by booking a ticket online before you get there. Round trip tickets cost R390 between 8am and 1pm and R320 from 1pm till close.
How to get to Table Mountain Aerial Cableway – We drove and parked but you can also get there by Uber, metered taxi, sightseeing bus or regular bus. The City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off bus runs every 20 minutes and stops at most major tourist attractions in Cape Town. If you travel by regular bus you’ll need to take the 107 bus route that runs from Civic Centre to Camps Bay and get off at Kloof Nek Road. From there you’ll take the free 100 bus that takes you to the cableway.
Day 7: Robben Island
OK, I actually never made it to Robben Island as it was actually sold out for the time I wanted. Instead, I did what any pasty English lady would do; I spent my last day trying to catch the last rays at the beach.
However, Robben Island is one of the top attractions in Cape Town because this is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. The tour will take you around the maximum security prison, which culminates in a visit to Nelson Mandela’s cell. Tours depart from the V&A waterfront and usually take approximately 4 hours.
You’ll take 30-minute ferry ride out to the island; just be aware that sometimes tours are cancelled due to weather conditions. Ferries operate at 9am, 11am and 1pm and you’ll need to arrive at the departure point around 30 minutes prior to departure. If your tour is cancelled due to weather you’ll receive a full refund.
On the tour you’ll see:
- Graveyard of people who died from leprosy
- Lime quarry
- Robert Sobukwe’s house
- Bluestone quarry
- Army and navy bunkers
- The Maximum Security Prison that housed thousands of South Africa’s freedom fighters
- Nelson Mandela’s cell
Make sure you purchase tickets in advance as the tours get booked up. You can buy tickets online here. Adult tickets cost around R600 for non-South Africans and R400 for South Africans.
Where to stay in Cape Town
We stayed in an Airbnb in Cape Town that has free parking for a standard size car. If you want to book the same one, this is the Airbnb we stayed at. This 2 bed/2 bath apartment is located in a safe neighborhood called Sea Point and boasts fast fiber optic Wi-Fi, which is necessary for someone like me who works online. The decor is super cute and the host was responsive – it was the perfect place for our stay in Cape Town and I can’t speak more highly of this place.
If you’d prefer to stay in a hotel, these are some great options:
The Silo Hotel – If money’s no object, book a room at The Silo Hotel, which towers above the V& Waterfront. Built inside the historic grain silo complex, this 5-star design hotel features just 28 rooms with private balconies and unique collection of African contemporary art.
Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront – This seaside hotel has beautiful views over the Atlantic Ocean and offers a complimentary shuttle to the V&A Waterfront. Rooms are furnished in a nautical style and some feature private balconies so you can wake up and enjoy coffee with a view.
South Beach Camps Bay Boutique Hotel – If you’d prefer to stay near Camps Bay, this boutique hotel has suites that are all sea facing with either balconies or private patios. The hotel also offers a private gym, guest laundry and free bicycles so you can explore the area on two wheels.
Taj Cape Town – Located in the center of the old city, this 5-star hotel features 176 guest rooms that have scenic views of either the city or Table Mountain. On site you’ll find an a la carte restaurant called Bombay Brasserie, plus a bar where guests can enjoy a selection of pre-dinner drinks.
If you’re backpacking on a budget in Cape Town, there are several well-rated hostels you can stay at including:
- ONCE in Cape Town
- 91 Loop
- [email protected] Cape Town
- Long Street Backpackers
Is one week enough in Cape Town?
Yes I think one week is the perfect amount of time to spend in Cape Town! Although, if you’re a beach bum I’d say you could spend 2 weeks here just enjoying the beaches and relaxing as driving around the Western Cape.
If you have more time I’d suggest doing a safari too. While Kruger National Park near Johannesburg remains the most popular place for a safari, there are several safari destinations that you can get to from Cape Town. These include Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, Aquila Private Game Reserve, Grootbos Private Nature Reserve and Gondwana Private Game Reserve.
Best time to visit Cape Town
If you want to hit the beach and top up your tan then the best months to visit Cape Town are the summer months of December to February. However, these are also the busiest and most expensive months, especially when children are off school for Christmas and New Year. At this time of year accommodation is more expensive and you’ll need to book ahead if you want better prices.
If you’re not so bothered about tanning on the beach then a good time to visit is the shoulder seasons of March to May and September to November. Prices in these months are lower and you’ll still experience decent weather.
Low season runs from June to August, which is winter time in the Western Cape. These months experience the most rainfall.
A final word…
7 days is a good amount of time in Cape Town, although it would definitely be possible to spend 2 weeks there and not get bored. I loved this city for so many reasons, but mainly because the food was so damn good and the scenery was just out of this world. If you haven’t been there yet and you’re thinking of visiting, it’s well worth the long flight to get there.