What to do in Cape Town, South Africa, in Three Days

Cape Town's famous Waterfront

Cape Town’s famous Waterfront

Cape Town is chic and exciting, historic, sophisticated and endearing. There is plenty to do to keep you occupied for weeks or forever, but if you only have three days—here’s what to check out:

Points of Interest

Cape Town's 'Table Top Mountain' surrounded by rising clouds in the morning.

Cape Town’s ‘Table Top Mountain’ surrounded by rising clouds in the morning.

Table Top Mountain.  To outsiders, it is just a hill, but to Capetonians it is a sacred mountain.  This rock formation overlooking the bay is made of granite and is lined with mountain biking trails. Take a gondola to the top or hike up on foot to observe sweeping views of the Cape.  The #1 tourist stop in Cape Town, a must for photographers.

Hop On, Hop Off Tour Buses. Hop on at specified stops around Cape Town. Hop off at any destination you choose. There are two different routes (red and blue) that run frequently so you are never waiting long, all the while  providing an efficient mode of transit along Cape Town’s favorite areas. Ask your hotel concierge too book it for you, or map the route online, go to the stop and pay the driver directly. Tip: Listen to the audio lecture—it’s fascinating!

The Cape Town Waterfront. Ride the Ferris wheel, shop for souvenirs, enjoy a Savannah Dry Hard Cider, and munch on frites while gulls soar overhead and the seals sing from the waters below.

Long Street. Lined with bars and restaurants and reminiscent of New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, LS has a multitude of spots where you can belly up to watch the country’s most beloved sport: fútbol.  We loved the “Royale Eatery,” serving what had to be the best cheeseburgers in all of Cape Town.

Cautionary Note: Although there are a lot of locals peppering the streets and a heavy police presence, keep your wallet in your front pocket and your purse in front of you—or don’t carry one at all.

Looking out from Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

Looking out from Robben Island, Cape Town, South Africa

Robben Island.  Just a 60-minute ferry ride from the Waterfront, across the shark infested seas, is the Robben Island Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This prison was once home to Nelson Mandela (affectionately referred to by locals as “Madiba,”) and other political leaders who were enslaved there for decades. Tour the prison on foot or by bus with guides, some of whom were also once imprisoned here.  Read the poetic words Mandela wrote in letters to his wife, and learn why—as Mandela states in a documentary at the Cape Town Jewish Museum—”South Africa was better off before the Apartheid.”

High Tea at the Table Bay Hotel. One of the top-rated places in the world to enjoy a High Tea.

*Viewer tip*: Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, a huge park with South African flora under the Table Top Mountain. — JuanVelascoBlog

Camps Bay, South Africa

Camps Bay, South Africa

Camps Bay. The main street is sort of a  Big-Sur-meets-Africa, Ferrari’s climbing the streets lined by white sandy beaches. Camps Bay is sophisticated and frequented by South African celebrities as well as foreign celebs such as Leo, David Beckham and George Clooney.

They call it the “no wind zone” but here you can listen to palm trees furiously move among the powerful winds from the sea. Shrapnel of sand and city debris have been known to knock umbrella’s from Euro-style sidewalk bars that line the strip. Lively.



Unforgettable Day Trips:

Stellenbosch Wine Country

About 2 hours by car from Cape Town, the drive up windy garden routes is almost as beautiful as the estate wineries pouring the native Pinotage.  This is Africa’s premier wine making region.

Where the Atlantic and Pacific meet - The Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

Where the Atlantic and Pacific meet – The Cape of Good Hope, South Africa

The Cape of Good Hope

Just a two hour drive from Cape Town, enter baboon country and head to the southernmost spot on the African continent where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. Stop near the entrance of the park to view ostrich at a neighboring farm. The fastest bird on Earth has legs that turn red when ready to run. Their hide is the second most valuable in the world (behind crocodile, ahead of kangaroo.)

Fun Facts:

– Cape Town’s  nickname is the “Tavern of the Seas”
– It is inhabited by Dutch settlers, the Afrikaans, Zimbabwean migrants and nomadic expats—a  multicultural feast!
– South Africa is not a malarial country, no vaccines needed! Unless you visit Kruger National Park in the east, then you will need a double dose.
– Buy a multi-attachment adapter.  It seems that immigrants brought their outlets to the region, too.
– Water is very clean throughout Cape Town, and tap water is reported to be not only okay, but “pretty good.”

© 2013, World on a Fork. All rights reserved.

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Categories: Adventure + Exploration, Africa, Where to Travel

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4 Comments on “What to do in Cape Town, South Africa, in Three Days”

  1. February 17, 2013 at 9:00 AM #

    It’s a beautiful city and the wine region around Stellenbosch is amazing. I would also recommend Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, a huge park with South African flora under the Table Top Mountain

    • February 17, 2013 at 12:30 PM #

      Ah, yes! We were disappointed to have missed it when in CT! We added your tip to the article and did a little reading to find that Kirstenbosch was the first botanic garden in the world to be devoted to a country’s indigenous flora. Fascinating. And, it was developed during the spring, almost exactly 100 years ago in 1913. #LoveLearning.

      • February 17, 2013 at 4:49 PM #

        Thanks Stefanie! For High Tea aficionados, the Mount Nelson hotel is also internationally acclaimed, loved it there

      • February 24, 2013 at 11:37 AM #

        Have a good article coming up about the history of high tea – will research this recommendation in prep. 🙂

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