Our trip to Cape Town, South Africa was absolutely amazing! I was so pleasantly surprised with all the things that this city had to offer. Below I share with you our itinerary from the trip and the top things to do while you’re visiting!
Flight to Cape Town from the US
We arrived in Cape Town in the late evening (around 9 pm local time) which in my opinion is the way to go to avoid jet lag. We were so tired after such a long trip (22.5 hours with the layover!) that we immediately fell asleep upon checking in to the hotel. Both of us were able to sleep a full 8 hours and the next day we didn’t have ANY jet lag.
We stayed at the President Hotel in Bantry Bay. It was a great hotel – rooms were spacious, beautiful, clean and the staff at the hotel was very helpful and accommodating. Best of all, the breakfast at the hotel was delicious! It was a feast – they served a variety of food and coffee! We had lattes and fresh fruit every morning.
- Had we planned more in advance, we would have preferred to stay somewhere in Camps Bay, right across from one of the beaches. Our area (Bantry Bay) was much quieter and definitely less “touristy”. However, we walked to the beaches almost every day – it was about a 30 to 35 minute walk and we encountered spectacular views on the way!
Tips for long flights:
- Dress in layers. We had a layover at the airport in Amsterdam and it was freezing there. Thankfully I had a warm blanket scarf with me that kept me warm.
- Stay hydrated. Bring your own water bottle or buy 2 Liter water bottles before you board your flight. I actually always buy two for long flights as I don’t think the flight attendants come by with enough water during the flight.
- Bring the following flight essentials with you on board: a book to read, headphones, eye mask, fuzzy socks, and snacks.
- Stand up and stretch your legs during the flight. On the flights back home, my calves and ankles swelled up like a balloon from sitting for so long! It was terrible.
Day 2: Table Top Mountain and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
On our first full day in Cape Town, we first had breakfast at the hotel and then decided to explore the area by foot. We walked to Camps Bay and spent a little time on the beach. As it was a somewhat cloudy day, there weren’t many people at the beach so we get to enjoy it almost all to ourselves. After spending an hour or so there, we walked back to our hotel, had lunch & we used the City Sightseeing Red Tour Bus to get to Table Top Mountain. The Tour Bus conveniently stops next to popular hotels and tourists areas.
When we got to Table Top Mountain we were surprised that there were barely any lines. We should have realized at this point that we would not be encountering a great view at the top. Instead we thought we were so lucky and paid for our tickets. As the cable car whisked us up to the top, we realized there were no lines for a reason – there was no visibility at the top at all due to the huge cloud covering Table Top Mountain! If you are planning on visiting, save yourself the hassle and money of going to the top unless you know visibility is good. After this experience, we actually became aware of two things:
1) The Mountain’s website indicates the status of the visibility and
2) Before you purchase your ticket, you can also check the visibility on one of the Welcome Boards near the ticket booth!
Had we paid more attention we would have passed on going up. We also realized that just because a cloud is covering Table Top Mountain doesn’t mean that other parts of the city or surrounding areas will be cloudy and cold. It was rather strange but Table Top Mountain seemed to be perpetually covered by clouds.
- Unfortunately, Lion’s Head was closed the whole duration of our stay. We learned from locals the stairs / trails were being restored and renovated. If you have your heart set on climbing Lion’s Head during your stay, make sure you check the website to confirm it is open during your stay!
After this small fail, we went back to our hotel, changed & took another City Sighting Tour Bus (this time the blue line) to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Let me tell you – this place is absolutely magical and breathtaking. It is home to THOUSANDS of plant species. It so green, so quiet and peaceful there! One of the main attractions of the Botanical Garden is the “Boomslang” canopy walk which is a winding bridge amongst the trees and mountains. The views from the canopy bridge are absolutely amazing! We were so lucky that it was sunny in this area!
Tip: Make sure you apply and reapply sunscreen. The sun in Cape Town is scorching hot and I got major sunburn. I had to go to the local supermarket to buy sun relief lotion which rarely happens to me. I usually never burn!
Day 3: Cape of Good Hope
On our third day in Cape Town we took a City Sightseeing tour to the Cape of Good Hope and Boulder’s Beach. This all day trip was one of the most amazing day trips ever! Cape of Good Hope is the most south-western point of the African continent and also the point where two oceans meet –the Atlantic Ocean on the west and the Indian Ocean on the east. It’s like essentially you are in two places at once!
When we arrived to the Cape of Good Hope National Park, we climbed the trail to the Cape Hope Lighthouse. The views from the peninsula overlooking the cliffs and oceans were absolutely breathtaking. The climb up to the lighthouse took about 30 minutes and was well worth it. We spent about half an hour at the top enjoying the views, exploring the paths and taking photos.
After we climbed down to the Visitors Area, we took a 45 minute hike to the Cape of Good Hope beach. The hike was mostly on flat terrains and the views were amazing!
Tip: Cape of Good Hope is known for being extremely windy and at times quite chilly. Make sure you come prepared with a hair tie, hat and some warm clothing.
We were so incredibly lucky that it was hot & not windy during our stay at all! However, I sunburned very badly even though I reapplied sunscreen multiple times!
The Cape of Good Hope beach was beautiful & peaceful. We enjoyed the views and sounds of the crashing waves on the huge rocks near the beach.
On the way back from Cape of Good Hope we stopped by Boulders Beach. The beach is home to a penguin colony! It was incredible watching the penguins in their natural habitat. They were so cute! I adore the way they wobble while they walk!
Cape of Good Hope is an experience you don’t want to miss!
Day 4: Aquila Game Reserve
On the fourth day we visited the Aquila Game Reserve. We booked an all day tour and we were picked up bright and early from our hotel. The drive from Cape Town to the Game Reserve took about 2 hours. Upon arrival we had breakfast at the facility and we laid out by the pool while we waited for our safari ride through the reserve.
Keep in mind that the Aquila Game Reserve is NOT a typical safari. The game reserve is an enclosed area and home to many animals that were saved by the organization. It is a sanctuary for animals which would have a hard time adjusting to go back into the wild.
The big 5 and many other species of animals can be seen at the game reserve. We saw elephants, lions, zebras, giraffes, hippos and many other kinds of animals during the excursion. They were all majestic and beautiful.
Day 5: Exploring Cape Town Beaches and Table Top Mountain
On our last day in Cape Town we visited Table Top Mountain again, this time with prefect visibility! The wait to go up to the top was much longer. We stood in line for almost 2 hours but the views were so worth it!
After Table Top Mountain, we went to the beach in Clifton again and spend a relaxing afternoon there.
Tip: For lunch, we had healthy smoothies from Kauai. They were so delicious! I highly recommend.
Tip: UBER in Cape Town is fairly inexpensive and very convenient. We took an UBER from our hotel to Table Top Mountain and to the beaches since it was very hot this day.
Summary of Top Things to Visit in Cape Town, South Africa
- Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
- Cape of Good Hope
- Boulder’s Beach
- Tabletop Mountain or Lion’s Head (if open and you like hiking)
- Winery or Aquila Game Reserve
Let me know if you have any questions about traveling to Cape Town!