After years and years of thinking about visiting South Africa, I finally made it to Cape Town! I was initially drawn to South Africa to do a safari, but after some research, I realized how incredibly cool and trendy Cape Town was and I actually became more excited to visit the city than to do the safari! We only had 8 days for this holiday and decided to spend 3 days in Cape Town, the rest was split between a safari and the wine region. Honestly, 3 days in Cape Town is just enough to discover the city on the surface, and I think 5 days would be better to explore various neighborhoods and discover the city’s famous food scene! This being said, if you only have 3 days to visit Cape Town, you can follow this detailed itinerary to make the most of your time and discover iconic landmarks, and breathtaking scenery, and have a glimpse into the rich history and culture of this vibrant city.
3 DAYS IN CAPE TOWN, THE COMPLETE ITINERARY
Day 1: Explore Cape Town’s vibrant waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Start your day by diving into the vibrant atmosphere of the iconic Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront.
Immerse yourself in the artistic buzz of the Watershed, an indoor market showcasing the creativity of over 300 local brands, Explore the colorful stalls filled with local art, fashion, natural skincare products, beautiful jewelry, and mouthwatering local delicacies. The Watershed is the perfect place to find unique souvenirs and gifts for your loved ones back home. For a mix of local and international brands, Victoria Wharf Mall has you covered, while the Alfred Mall offers a collection of upscale jewelry, art, and craft. With over 400 shops to explore, the V&A Waterfront is a shopper’s paradise!
NB: I didn’t include any other shopping destination in this 3-day Cape Town itinerary, so if you want to do some souvenir shopping, this is the time.
After indulging in some retail therapy, it’s time to satisfy your taste buds. The V&A is lined up with beautiful waterfront restaurants offering picturesque harbor views, where you can soak some sunshine and drink delicious South African wine. We had lunch on the terrace of the Life Grand Cafe and ordered some fresh salads, sandwiches, and local white wine and it was delicious. Try grabbing a spot on their first-floor terrasse for a beautiful view of the harbor,
Afternoon and sunset at Clifton Beach
Afterward, it is time to head to the beach. We decided to visit Clifton Beach, a lineup of four pristine beaches known for their crystal-clear waters and white sandy shores. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon soaking up the sun or taking a (very) refreshing dip in the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped by Clifton 2 and the sunset view from there was absolutely stunning.
Sundowner and dinner in Camps Bay
As the day winds down, make your way to Camps Bay, a trendy coastal neighborhood known for its palm-fringed beach and lively restaurant scene. We had dinner at Chinchilla Rooftop Cafe and Bar, a cool bar facing the beach, and serving sushis, classic bar bites, and cocktails. The perfect end to our day 1 in Cape Town.
If you have more time, consider visiting Robben Island Museum, the island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 years. The tour takes around 3.5 hours (including the ride to and from the island) and ferries depart from Nelson Mandela Gateway at the V&A. The museum is open every day, from 08 a.m. to 05 p.m.
Day 2: Discover the incredible nature and the rich history of Cape Town
Day 2 of your 3 days in Cape Town will be a great mix of nature and history.
Hiking Lion Head
Kickstart your day with an early morning hike up Lion’s Head, one of the most famous hikes in town, offering stunning panoramic views of Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the surrounding coastline. The hike took us around 45 min, but I have to admit we were pretty quick and didn’t take many breaks (humble bragging, I know!).
Here are a few recommendations to make the most of your hike:
- Consider leaving from the departing point around 60 to 75 min before sunrise.
- For the first 20 min you are on the side of the mountain with no view of the sunrise at all, so think about it when planning your departure time.
- There is no lighting along the way, so consider taking a flashlight. We didn’t have one and had no issue, but on some days the moon might be brighter than others.
- Toward the end, the trail splits into 2 paths. One way continues as a regular hiking trail while the other goes vertical, and involves climbing metal ladders and pulling yourself up with chains. We chose the latter and it was a fun little climb. On the way down we used the regular hiking trail. Both paths reach the same final viewpoint.
- The last 5 minutes of the hike require climbing through big boulders and using your hands to pull yourself up. It is the most demanding part of the hike, but it is also very short!
- Don’t expect to be all alone up there. The sooner you arrive, the better the spot you will be able to grab to watch the sunrise.
- Wear good shoes! Sneakers are fine, but don’t attempt to do this hike in flip-flops.
- Bring water and snacks, as you will find nothing along the way.
The sunrise view from the top of Lion’s Head is truly amazing and really something you shouldn’t miss during your 3 days in Cape Town.
Explore the Bo Kaap neighborhood
Next on the itinerary of the day, it is time for some cultural visits. First, immerse yourself in the vibrant Bo Kaap neighborhood. Known for its colorful houses and rich Cape Malay heritage, this area is a photographer’s paradise. Take a leisurely stroll through its quaint streets and learn about the history and culture of the Cape Malay community.
Visit District Six Museum
Then continue your journey by visiting the District Six Museum. This poignant museum documents the forced removal and displacement of thousands of residents during the apartheid era. Although we gained insights into the struggles and resilience of the affected communities through exhibits and personal stories, we would have learned way more with a guided tour. Such guided tours are available at the following hours: 9h30, 10h30, 11h30, and 13h30 (subject to availability, better to pre-book).
The museum is open from Monday to Saturday, from 09 a.m. to 4 p.m. The entrance fee is 50 ZAR (±3 USD).
Catch the sunset from Table Mountain
In the afternoon, make your way to Table Mountain, Cape Town’s most iconic landmark. Ascend to the summit via the cable car for incredible views of the city, coastline, and surrounding mountains. One thing I didn’t expect what how huge the top of the mountain was. You can easily walk around for several hours, marveling at the diverse flora and fauna that make this UNESCO World Heritage site a true natural wonder. Therefore, consider reaching the top between 60 and 90 min before sunset, that should give you plenty of time to explore and find a quiet little spot for an incredibly beautiful sunset. The cable car can get very busy, so book your tickets in advance and don’t hesitate to show up early. Also, check the weather conditions on the day, as the cable car can be shut down in case of excessive wind.
Details of the first and last cable car trips are available here. The return cost for 1 adult is 22 USD in the morning, 18 USD in the afternoon.
If you have more time consider visiting the Old Biscuit Mill, an old factory transformed into a beautiful retail space with local and artisanal shops and delicious restaurants. During the weekend, the outdoor area also welcomes the very cool Neighbourgoods Market. (Saturdays & Sunday from 9am).
Day 3: Road trip to Cape Point
On the last day of this 3 days Cape Town itinerary, let’s embark on a stunning road trip to Cape Point, a stunning nature reserve located at the tip of the Cape Peninsula.
Muizenberg & Kalk Bay
The first stop of this road trip could be the town of Muizenberg, a surfer hub renowned for its colorful beach huts. Personally, I didn’t find the place very interesting but it was a cold, windy, gloomy day, so maybe during the summer and if you are a surfer you might enjoy it!
Otherwise, I recommend heading straight to the lovely village of Kalk Bay, where you can browse through eclectic shops, bookstores, and antic galleries. Walk around the harbor and pay a visit to the local seals before having lunch in one of the local eateries on the seafront. If you want something a bit fancy with a beautiful sea view, try Harbour House. If you prefer more authentic local fish and chips, try the iconic Kalky’s! The servings are massive and messy and the fries are delicious! I loved it <3.
Boulders Beach and the penguin colony
Continue your journey to the iconic, and oh-so Instagrammable Boulders Beach, home to a colony of African penguins. Get up close and personal with these adorable creatures as they waddle along the beach and enjoy the turquoise waters. There are actually 2 separate areas in Boulders Beach. One with a viewing platform from where you can see most of the penguins (here) and one where you can actually go on the beach, swim, and be close to some penguins (here). If you do not want to pay anything and still see a few penguins, I recommend parking here and walking along the Burgers Walk, all the way to Windmill Beach. The sea there is absolutely spectacular and you should encounter a few penguins on your way!!
Boulders Beach Conservation fee costs 176 ZAR (10 USD) for foreign adults. Entrance timing varies per month. You can find more details here.
Cape Point Nature Reserve and Cape of Good Hope
Finally, from Boulders Beach, make your way to the stunning Cape Point Nature Reserve. Ascend to the viewpoint either by the Flying Dutchman Funicular or opt for a scenic hike to experience the breathtaking vistas from the famous Cape Point Lighthouse. The view from up there is absolutely spectacular and one of the most beautiful places we have been during these 3 days in Cape Town.
If you have time, hike down to the iconic Cape of Good Hope. If you do hike, beware of the colony of baboons living there, who will have no mercy on you if you carry any food. You can also just drive to the Cape of Good Hope (only a 10-minute drive from Cape Point) and soak in the stunning view and atmosphere, especially as the sun goes down.
Did you know: Unlike popular belief, Cape of Good Hope is not the most Southern point of the African continent, Cape Agulhas is. A quick look at Google Maps will make that very clear!!
The regular entrance fee for Cape Point is 376 ZAR (±20 USD). Last entrance by 6 p.m. in summer and 5 p.m. in winter. Last exit by sunset time.
On your return way to Cape Town, drive by Scarborough Beach, Misty Cliffs, and onto Chapman’s Peak. Sometimes compared to the Amalfi Coast, the drive has some truly spectacular cliffside scenery with many viewing points along the road. We stopped at the main Chapman’s Peak Drive Lookout point and soaked in the stunning views of Hout Bay. The drive at sunset is absolutely gorgeous and a must-do during your 3 days in Cape Town. From Chapman’s Peak, it is roughly 40-minute drive back to the city.
Alternatively, if you are more wine trip than road trip, you could consider spending this 3rd day exploring the beautiful wine regions of Stellenbosh, Franschhoek, and Paarl, located less than 2 hours drive from Cape Town. The best way to do so is with a guided tour, so you can enjoy all the wine tasting without the worries of driving.
This small group Wineland tour guided by a wine specialist includes 2 of the most beautiful estates in the region, Delaire Graff Wine Estate, and Babylonstoren. This private tour, includes a visit of Stellenbosh and Franschhoek towns, as well as 4 premium estates, Delaire Graff Wine Estate, Jordan Wine,Lanzerac Estate, and Richard Branson’s Mont Rochelle Estate.
Finally, you could hop onto the iconic Wine tram to discover the estates you want, at your own pace. It is so much fun, I highly recommend it!
WHERE TO STAY FOR 3 DAYS IN CAPE TOWN
A few areas and hotels I recommend in Cape Town:
- The waterfront, from Camps Bay to V&A is beautiful, with plenty of hotels, restaurants, and bars, The Marly is one of the most beautiful hotels in Cape Town, with a panoramic view of Camps Bays and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range as a stunning backdrop.
- Cape Town City Center is very central and convenient to visit the city. It is a much less privileged area than the seaside though, so you need to be a bit more alert. During our 3 days in Cape Town we stayed at the Gorgeous George Hotel and absolutely loved it. The rooms are large, modern, and comfortable, with a stunning black and white bathroom. The whole hotel is super arty and stylish with a vibe quite similar to The Hoxton hotels. Gigi, the rooftop restaurant is excellent from breakfast to dinner! You can also consider the Kloof Street area, with its abundance of trendy cafes and restaurants.
- Constancia is an affluent suburb South of Cape Town known for its vineyards. A little bit far from the center, but truly stunning, it is the perfect place if you want to relax away from the hustle and bustle of Cape Town. My dream hotel in Constancia is The Alphen Boutique Hotel and Spa, a classic mansion with a stunning pool and a perfectly landscaped garden. THE DREAM!
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is a paradise for foodies, and it was incredibly hard to decide where to eat as there was so much choice. I think my next trip to Cape Town will be fully dedicated to exploring the food scene so I can create a foodie itinerary!! But in the meantime, here are the restaurants we tried and liked during our 3 days in Cape Town:
- Life Grand Cafe: If you are in the V&A neighborhood, the Life Grand Cafe is a good choice to grab lunch. Take a table by the sea where the atmosphere is lively, or head to their upstairs terrasse for a beautiful view over the harbor.
| Best for a casual lunch in the sun
- Gigi Rooftop: Located downtown, this cool restaurant and bar serves delicious food and cocktails in a festive atmosphere. Ideal for dinner, it is also a good option for a relaxed breakfast.
| Best for dinner & drinks, or breakfast!
- Pot Luck Club: Hop on a glass elevator or walk up the 6th floor to the trendy Pot Luck Club. It’s perched atop an old flour silo at the Old Biscuit Mill from where you have a stunning 180-degree view of the city. The atmosphere has a very industrial New York loft vibe and the food is super creative. We visited on a Sunday and they were only serving their tasting menu, which was unexpected, but a great way to discover many different plates! It is not cheap by Cape Town standards but it is one of the coolest restaurants in the city. Early reservation is a must!
| Best for lunch and dinner
- Neighbourgoods Market: Also located in the Old Biscuit Mill, this weekend’s market brings together local artisans, designers, and plenty of street food stalls, from local cuisines, to Turkish, Korean, and other internal flavors. Topped with live music, the atmosphere is really relaxed. The Neighbourgoods Market is really a must-visit place if your 3 days in Cape Town happen to fall on the weekend. Open every Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m.
| Best for a casual lunch
- Chinchilla Camps Bay: A cool rooftop bar set right by the beach. The perfect place to watch the sunset with a cocktail. They also have a good selection of sushis, platters to share, and other bar bites.
| Best for a sunset drink with a view
- The Bungalow: Located on Clifton, the Bungalow serves Mediterranean-style cuisine by the sea. There are a lot of seafood options, but meat eaters will be not disappointed either.
| Best for lunch or an early dinner to catch the sunset
- La Colombe: Want to treat yourself to some world-class fine dining, then head to La Colombe. We didn’t have the chance to visit during our time in Cape Town, but we did have dinner at its sister restaurant La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek and it was incredible, so I have no doubt that La Colombe would be amazing. La Colombe serves tasting menus made of 8 to 12 plates which are equally stunning and delicious. A truly unique experience, that needs to be booked (way) ahead.
| Best for an upscale culinary experience for lunch to dinner
Travel tips: We made all our restaurant reservations via the app DinePlan. Almost all the restaurants are on there, so it is really easy to manage all your reservations. Some of the restaurants require a downpayment to book, which is usually refundable if you cancel no less than 24 hours ahead.
WHAT ABOUT PERSONAL SAFETY IN CAPE TOWN?
It is no secret that South Africa is quite dangerous and everyone I have talked to since we came back from Cape Town has asked me about our safety during the trip. It is not an easy topic and depends on everyone’s own personal experience but I will address it as transparently as I can.
First of all, I went to Cape Town fully aware that safety was a concern, and for that reason, I traveled without expensive belongings. So no luxury bags or fancy watches/jewellery, etc. The only thing really valuable I always had with me was my camera. While in Cape Town, the feeling of safety varies a lot from one neighborhood to the next. V&A and the seaside (Clifton, Camps Bay) are pretty trendy and wealthy areas where you will feel safe.
The city center (around George Mall for example) is less privileged and you will encounter a lot more people roaming the streets, going through trash cans, and begging, either in the streets or at the traffic lights for example. You might also encounter some small-scale slums by the side of the road, which are heartbreaking and uncomfortable (like around The Castle of Good Hope). Although poverty doesn’t equal crime, I was not always at ease and was quite careful with my bag and camera, trying my best not to look like the super tourist I was.
Overall it is important to be street smart, to keep alert, and to not go to any places that give you even the slightest doubt. At night we went out with Ubers and only had good experiences with friendly drivers.
Even though you drive past a huge township just outside the Cape Town airport, it would be quite easy to ignore the poverty in Cape Town, and frankly, I think if we had stayed by the seaside we could have overlooked it completely. But I am glad we didn’t as it is such an integral part of what Cape Town and South Africa is and it is important to face it. You will also quickly realize that the poverty divide follows the race line, and that made me think a lot about the terrible ravages of Apartheid and the huge impact it still has on people’s lives today.
This being said everything I included in this Cape Town itinerary is absolutely safe to do! Cape Town is such an incredibly vibrant city to visit and I recommend it wholeheartedly, and I can’t wait to go back myself to discover more.
USEFUL INFORMATION TO ORGANISE YOUR 3-DAY CAPE TOWN ITINERARY
– Is 3 days enough to discover Cape Town
3 days is not quite enough to explore all the amazing experiences Cape Town has to offer but if this is all the time you have, this itinerary should give you a great first taste of the city. Planning 5 to 7 days in Cape Town will give you the opportunity to do so much more! If you have more than 3 days, here are a few things you could add to your Cape Town itinerary:
- Exploring the Winelands: Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are less than 2h drive outside of Cape Town.
- Doing a safari in one of the private game reserves in the Western Cape. We stayed 2 days in Gondwana Private Game Reserve and it was an amazing experience.
- Visiting the Kirstenbosch Botanic Garden.
- Learning more about Nelson Mandela and the Apartheid at Robben Island Museum.
- Spend time at some of Cape Town’s beautiful beaches, such as Clifton, Camps Bay, or Bloubergstrand Beach for an incredible view of Table Mountain.
- Checking out the street art in the Woodstock neighborhood.
– The best time to visit Cape Town
December to February – These are the peak summer months in Cape Town and the weather is hot and sunny, This is the perfect time of the year to visit Cape Town if you want to enjoy long, warm days at the beach. This is also the peak season for tourism, which means prices and occupancy are high, so it is a good idea to book ahead of time.
March to April – These shoulder months are amazing for visiting Cape Town, particularly if you enjoy outdoor activities. The weather is cooler and the city is not too crowded with tourists. Temperatures are between 15°c and 27°c which is a bit chilly to go to the beach, but great to do some hiking or explore the city on foot. Pack a couple of warmer clothes for the evenings that can be a little chilly.
May to August – Cape Town’s winter months are the coldest and rainiest. If you enjoy sipping some wine by the fireplace and exploring Cape Town’s delicious food scene or many museums, this could actually be a great time to visit! July and August are also the best months for whale watching. Temperatures range from 13°c to 20°c so pack some warm clothes and layers (the weather can change quickly and you might experience some beautiful sunny days!)
September to November – The spring months bring beautiful blooming landscapes and sunny weather, so it is a great time for outdoor activities like hiking and beach hopping without the tourist crowd.
– The best way to go around Cape Town
Cape Town is quite a spread-out city and some of the places to visit in this itinerary are quite far apart, so walking around town is not the best solution. Here are 3 good options to discover Cape Town: .
- Renting a car: This is a great option, especially if you are planning some day trips from Cape Town, such as the Cape Peninsula Road trip included in this itinerary, or if you are continuing your South Africa journey afterward. Like in other major cities, parking can be challenging in Cape Town, so my advice is to take your car only when absolutely necessary and to use Uber the rest of the time. Keep in mind that there are “parking assistants” in most places, who will keep an eye on your car in exchange for a tip. I don’t think it is an official thing, but it is commonly accepted. Also, don’t forget that driving is on the left side of the road in South Africa! We usually book our cars with Rentalcars, as they have great choices and competitive pricing.
- Uber: Using Uber is a great and efficient way to go around Cape Town, especially if you only have 3 days. The cars are not always in great condition, but in my experience, the drivers are always nice and the waiting time is very limited. It is also the perfect solution to go out at night. Taking Ubers is also quite inexpensive, with a 10-minute ride costing around 60 ZAR (~ 3 USD in Sept. 2023)
- Public transport; Although I didn’t experience it myself, there is always the option of taking public transport. You can find more details on the Cape Town bus system here.
– Electricity supply and load shedding
South Africa is currently (in 2023) suffering major electricity shortages, so there are some scheduled power sheds throughout the day. It basically means that at certain times, in certain areas, the whole electricity will shut down. It is quite impressive the first few times it happens as you see an entire neighborhood suddenly go dark. Luckily most hotels and restaurants have generators that kick in as soon as the main power grid is disconnected, so the impact on visitors is quite minimal. Still, here are a few advice to minimize the disturbance of load shedding on your holidays:
- Contact your accommodation and enquire about alternative power supply, in particular if you are staying in an AirBnb type of accommodation.
- Make sure to charge all your electronics when the power is available
- Keep enough cash with you as the ATM will be down during load shedding.
- If you are in a self-catering accommodation, make sure to prepare your meals during power time (unless you have a gas stove).
- Think about refueling your car when the power is available
- Consider bringing a flashlight.
– How expensive is Cape Town
Always a difficult question to answer as everyone allocates their travel budget differently. I would say that because of the South African Rands weakness vs. the EUR and the USD, Cape Town is quite an affordable city if you are holding these strong currencies. Here are a few costs to give you an idea, from tourist attraction prices to fine dining splurge!
- Average Uber trip within Cape Town: 6 USD
- Entrance to Boulder Beach: 10 USD
- Afternoon cable car ticket to Table Moutain: 18 USD
- Gorgeous George Hotel: 170 USD/night
- Lunch for 2 at Life Grand Cafe (incl. wine): 45 USD
- Fine dining for 2 at La Petite Colombe (incl. wine): 240 USD
- Car rental for 8 days: 550 USD
READY TO BOOK YOUR CAPE TOWN TRIP?
From booking a flight to finding some beautiful cultural tours, or getting an e-sim ahead of your trip to stay connected, I have gathered here all the super useful websites I always use to organize my travels!
★ Find the cheapest flights:
★ Get the best deal on car rental
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Here you go, this is my complete itinerary for 3 beautiful days in Cape Town! I hope you found all the information you were looking for, but as always if you need any further information, or if you have any comment, please feel free to leave me a message in the comment box below, or slide into my DM on Instagram. I am always happy to exchange and help where I can.