I have lived in Cape Town since February 2014 so you could call me a true Capetonian now. In that time, I have walked or driven to almost every part of the Mother City, seeing all the touristy attractions, unearthing hidden gems and experiencing all that Cape Town has to offer. So I think it is time that I share my local knowledge of this beautiful city through a travel insider’s three-day itinerary.
Exploring the Mother City in Three Short Days
While I could share the usual tourist spots and mainstream attractions – and I will include some – I prefer to give you an insider’s take on the Mother City. This will help you get the most out of a short stay.
Three days is not nearly enough time to experience all that Cape Town and its surrounds offer. Still, it makes for a good start, especially if you are pressed for time or cannot enjoy a longer stay.
I will share a suggested itinerary for each day, with some optional ideas (ideal if the weather doesn’t play ball and you need a Plan B because yes, we really do get four seasons in a day in Cape Town).
A Local’s 3-Day Guide to Cape Town
Day One in the Mother City
1) Hike up Table Mountain or catch the cable car (weather permitting)
If the weather is good and your fitness levels are decent, a hike up Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge is a relatively easy, fun hiking experience.
This hike is free to enjoy and you can either hike up and back down the mountain – or you can catch the cable car one way.
However, for safety, it is best to hike in a group and to always check the weather in advance, as it can quickly change up the mountain.
As you hike, you have the option of sticking with Platteklip Gorge – or branching off into the scenic India Venster. But be advised that India Venster is a much trickier route up Table Mountain and should only be used by experienced hikers heading up the mountain.
Note: Both hiking and the cable car are weather-dependent activities so please check ahead beforehand. If you are catching the cable car, check their website for crucial live weather updates.
The cable car is not a cheap outing but it is worthwhile and SA citizens generally enjoy discounted rates. For cable car fares, times and operational status, please see here.
Things to See and Do on Table Mountain
Once you reach the top of the mountain, you can enjoy exploring the mountain using the different mapped out routes; visiting one of the little shops; grabbing a meal or drink and more.
I would say set aside a morning or afternoon for visiting Table Mountain. You need about 45 minutes to an hour to explore the top of Table Mountain properly – and that excludes hiking and/or travel time.
If you are hiking up, factor in a good 1.5-2 hours each way.
Especially during weekends and holiday seasons, the cable car can get very busy so it is advisable to book online if possible. The cable car is quick if you don’t have to queue for ages.
2) Head on Citysightseeing bus tour to either see the city/coastline or explore the Constantia Winelands. Alternatively, enjoy a self-drive or guided tour experience.
One of my best ways to explore Cape Town is through the affordable, highly professional and fun Citysightseeing Cape Town bus tours.
These eye-catching, cherry red double-decker buses allow you hop on, hop off and explore the city, winelands and even the coastal areas.
Different Citysightseeing Tours to Enjoy
My personal favourite Citysightseeing tours are:
- Mini Peninsula Bus Tour: this can take you from the Two Oceans Aquarium to Kirstenbosch, the Constantia Winelands and back to the Waterfront office via Camps Bay and Green Point.
- Red City Bus Tour: this takes you through the city to Table Mountain Cableway and then back through Camps Bay, Green Point to the Waterfront.
- Sunset Bus – only available from November to early May: this takes you from the Waterfront, through Sea Point and Camps Bay and up to Signal Hill, where you watch the sunset before heading back to the Waterfront office.
- Harbour Cruise: this is a cheap, yet unique way to explore the Waterfront and Cape Town harbour from the water.
Not only is a Citysightseeing tour a safe, highly family-friendly way to see the city but these trips also offer great insights, thanks to the audio tours that you enjoy as you ride.
Along the way, you can hop off and explore a number of interesting places, like Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, the Constantia wine farms, World of Birds, local beaches like Camps Bay and Clifton and much more.
Note: Standard Citysightseeing ticket prices do not include entry fees or on-site offerings, food and drink or other activity fees. Although they do have different ticket options that include vouchers and discounts.
For all their Cape Town tours and offerings, fares or to book online, please see here.
If you prefer to go your own way, take a self-drive from the CBD and explore the coastline from Camps Bay to Hout Bay and beyond. A drive along Chapmans Peak is unbeatable.
3) Explore the V&A Waterfront and Silo District on foot
One of my favourite places to safely explore on foot is the world-famous V&A Waterfront and chic new Silo District.
Here, you can find world-class boutique- and retail-stores, cinemas, a wide array of fast food and restaurant offerings, classy hotels and some pretty cool local attractions like the Cape Wheel, Hamleys (kiddies) train, Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Food Market, Makers Landing and much more.
V&A Waterfront Highlights
Other highlights include arts and crafts stalls, the Watershed, Oranjezicht City Farm Market (open over weekends and Wednesday nights), Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), Nobel Square, Clock Tower and more.
If you have a mid-morning, afternoon or early evening free, explore the Waterfront. It is vast but if you select the stores or attractions you want to see, you can do it in 1.5-2.5 hours if pressed.
If you want to visit the Zeitz MOCAA for a museum tour, then I would add on maybe 3-4 hours minimum for the Zeitz MOCAA.
OPTIONAL IDEAS FOR DAY ONE:
Day One is already quite jam-packed with activities and local attractions but if you have the time (and budget), here are some optional ideas you might try add in:
4) Enjoy a harbour cruise with Cityseeing Cape Town
As I mentioned earlier, this is a fun, affordable and lovely way to see the Waterfront and working harbour.
You will see plenty of boats, ships, yachts, fish (if you are lucky) and maybe even the odd Cape Fur seal or two.
This activity is quick and ideal for all ages and travellers. Tours generally last for about 25 minutes.
5) Book a tour to Robben Island
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Robben Island is one of Cape Town’s most iconic local attractions. It is now a World Heritage Site and museum.
As the place where former president Nelson Mandela and many other former political prisoners were imprisoned, this island has a deep-seated South African history.
There are boat tours that run from the Waterfront to Robben Island. Once there, you get an island tour, which is led by a former political prisoner. I have not been yet but I have heard the tours are worth doing.
Standard tours take about 4 hours but it can be longer with boat travel times to factor in.
For more information on the tours and Robben Island itself, please see here.
6) Enjoy afternoon tea in the Mother City
If you are looking for a lovely food and drink experience in the Mother City, our hotels all generally offer enviable afternoon tea spreads.
These tea offerings are generally suited to two guests or more and pricing and offerings vary per establishment – but I can say that all are really quality and decadent treats.
Best Afternoon Teas in Cape Town
From personal experience, some of my favourite Cape Town afternoon teas include those from the Belmond Mount Nelson, Table Bay Hotel and Cape Grace.
Tip: For these tea experiences, you don’t need to don your Sunday best – but it is important to dress a bit smartly, so a smart casual dress code is advised.
7) Explore our array of world-famous beaches
The Mother City’s CBD is a short drive away from some incredible, world-famous beaches.
Although you can head further out to places like Simon’s Town or Bloubergstrand for more beach bliss, there are enough gorgeous beaches close(r) to the city to enjoy. Especially if you are short on time and just want to quickly visit a few during your trip.
Some of my picks in and around the city are:
- Camps Bay Beach
- Clifton 1-4 Beaches
- Oudekraal Beach (you pay a small conservation entry fee here)
- Kommetjie’s Long Beach
- Noordhoek Beach
Be Beach Wise
You need to be vigilant visiting any public space in the city and beaches, especially near sunrise or sunset, are much the same.
I would not recommend visiting them alone if you can avoid it. Some can be a bit isolated, especially when it is dark or quiet.
However, if you are travelling solo, rather visit when there are some crowds out. Otherwise, go in a group for some fun in the sun.
If you want to visit all these beaches, you can drive from the city via Camps Bay, Hout Bay, then along Chapmans Peak Drive and into Noordhoek and even Kommetjie before doubling back to the CBD.
Rent a Classic Car or Motorcycle for Chapmans Peak Drive
There are a number of classic car- and motorcycle-rental options and tours that you can enjoy Chapmans Peak Drive, otherwise fondly known as Chappies, through.
Either way, it’s a beautiful drive and one that you can essentially do in an hour or two, depending on traffic and how far you wish to spend at each spot etc.
Note: After passing a certain point, you have to pay to continue driving along Chapmans Peak Drive.
It is a toll road and the fee applies both ways. Fees vary per vehicle type.
Also, sometimes the Chappies road is closed following dangerous weather conditions and rock falls. So always check ahead to confirm it is open and safe to use.
8) Enjoy a sunset cruise
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The Waterfront is home to a selection of different boat tours and pirate and/or sunset cruises that visitors can choose from.
For most, it seems that you can generally book at the harbour a short while before departure. Although some offer online booking services too.
There are a number of charters, like Waterfront Charters and Waterfront Adventures, that offer different options. With some options, you can cruise and dine or enjoy some MCC/bubbles as you ride.
Just Cruising into the Sunset
If you want a romantic experience, I would recommend a sunset cruise. I have heard these are great and this experience has been on my must-try ‘date night’ list for a while now.
This could be a great way to end off your first evening in the Mother City! 🙂
Cruise times and durations vary, especially during the different seasons. However, generally most tours seem to be minimum 1 – 1.5 hours in duration.
Day Two in the Mother City: Head to the Cape Winelands
No visit to South Africa is complete without experiencing our world-famous, beloved Cape Winelands.
Steeped in rich Cape history and Dutch architecture, with stunning scenery and world-class wines, food and experiences, the Cape Winelands is one of our most popular destinations – and for good reason.
Best of all, you don’t even have to be a wine lover to enjoy it. Because the Cape Winelands and South African wine farms at large offer so much beyond their award-winning wines.
The Winelands near Cape Town
While the Cape Winelands is spread across the province, there are a few regions and towns that are +/- 20-30 minutes’ drive from the Cape Town CBD. Think: Durbanville, Paarl, Wellington, Stellenbosch and of course, fair Franschhoek.
So for Day Two of your Cape Town adventure, let’s look at all you can sample and savour in the verdant Cape Winelands.
Tip for Day Two
Note: You can’t fit the whole Cape Winelands into Day Two because it is vast and spread across the province. But you can definitely spend a day driving around the Winelands, visiting a wine farm or two and of course, savouring some local experiences or food and wine.
This is especially doable if you can stay overnight in one of the towns or at a local wine farm. So do your research and pick the winelands town or region you want to explore for the day.
For example, Paarl and Wellington are relatively close together so you could try squeeze both in for Day Two. Alternatively, you could do Stellenbosch and Franschhoek – or even Durbanville and Stellenbosch.
If you prefer to focus on one town, like Stellenbosch, find some wine farms in the area that interest you and enjoy exploring several farms for Day Two.
1) Enjoy a range of outdoor experiences in the Cape Winelands
If you thought the Cape Winelands and our local wine farms are stiff places that only offer wine tastings and bottles of the good stuff – then think again. Because our wine farms offer a host of incredible indoor and outdoor experiences and activities for all ages.
If you are into outdoor adventure, there are segway tours, MTB and e-bike trails, horse rides, hikes, wine trams and even tuk tuk tours etc.
For culture vultures, preserved Cape Dutch buildings, historic national monuments, on-site museums and old gardens are the order of the day.
While, for the foodies among us, there are a host of food and drink offerings to enjoy. Everything from fun markets with all sorts of local goodies to wine farm picnics, afternoon teas and of course, amazing fine dining too.
Fabulous Wine Pairings
The wine pairings found in the Cape Winelands are also incredibly varied and fun. There is everything from chocolate and wine to savoury eats like bunny chows and quiches to ice-cream and of course, our iconic cheese- and/or charcuterie-platters that are second to none.
Just when I think I have tried it all, a new wine pairing pops up and I have another interesting one to try!
Also, the Cape Winelands offers stunning accommodation. It has everything from cosy B&Bs to affordable, yet quirky Airbnbs to immaculate, five-star wine farm hotels, glamping offerings and even exclusive spas. So there is no shortage of excellent accommodation either.
2) Relaxed lunch or seasonal picnics in the Cape Winelands
While many restaurants in and around the Cape Winelands are high-end, fine dining offerings, there are still a few affordable, yet high quality eateries that both locals and tourists can afford.
Better still, many wine farms also offer beautifully curated, family-friendly picnics. Not only do you get to feast on excellent local food and cheeses but you also get to really soak up the atmosphere of our beautiful farms.
Some of my personal favourites for relaxed, yet classy winelands’ lunches are The Kraal Restaurant at Joostenberg (Stellenbosch), Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant (Franschhoek), Steenberg (Constantia) and Constantia Glen (Constantia), Babylonstoren’s Greenhouse (Franschhoek) and La Paris Bistro (Franschhoek).
While for picnics, I love Mont Rochelle, Boschendal, Spier, Hazendal, Warwick, De Meye, La Bri and many more besides!
3) Explore a beautiful garden near the Winelands
Another wonderful boon of our local wine farms and indeed, Winelands’ towns at large is that they offer unadulterated Cape nature and stunning gardens.
Some of my favourite wine farm gardens can be found at:
- La Motte
- Delaire Graff
- Nitida (Durbanville)
- Joostenberg Wines
- And many others
We also have some incredible local gardens and nature reserves in and around the Cape Winelands.
Some of my personal favourites include:
- Tygerberg Nature Reserve (near Durbanville Wine Valley)
- Old Nectar estate gardens
- Avondale Open Garden (near Durbanville Wine Valley; only open once a year to the public)
- Dylan Lewis Sculpture Garden (bookings are essential)
- Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve
- Meulwater Botanical Garden
Some of the gardens, like Dylan Lewis or Old Nectar, and reserves require you to pay a small entrance fee but it is worth it.
FAMILY FRIENDLY WINELANDS ATTRACTIONS INCLUDE:
If you thought wine farms are not kid-friendly, think again.
These wine farm activities and offerings are hugely popular among the little folk:
– Hazendal’s Wonderdal, an interactive and educational state-of-the-art play centre
– Picnics and child-friendly meals at Hazendal
– Pony rides, MTB fun and more at Boschendal
– Segway tours and gardens at Spier
– Gorgeous gardens and farm animals at Babylonstoren
– Adorable, famous goats and family-friendly dining at Fairview
– Picnics for all (most wine farms offer child-friendly versions of their adult picnic offerings. These include the likes of Spier, Boschendal and Warwick to name a few.)
– Child-friendly tastings (instead of wine, kiddies enjoy sweets, treats and juice as a fun, non-alcoholic wine pairing option. Many estates like Rickety Bridge, Bloemendal or Van Loveren offer these kid-friendly pairings.)
Day Three: See the Countryside or Coastline Beyond
You cannot do everything in three days so sadly, this is the part where I am going to force you to pick one option for your final day in Cape Town.
Happily, all of these are stellar offerings and, no matter which option you choose, you will be spoilt with rich Cape beauty, abundant nature and wildlife, mountains and beautiful towns and villages.
Each trip is about +/- 1-2.5 hours from Cape Town so you don’t have to spend hours on the road. In fact, if you leave early enough, you can easily drive to and back from even the furthest of these destinations in the same day.
Although ideally, you can stay overnight in your destination and travel back to the Mother City for your return flight or departure the next day.
Option 1: Head to Cape Point and soak up the False Bay coastline
People often ask me what my top destinations are in Cape Town and I usually say something along the lines of: “Obviously, the Cape Winelands, Table Mountain and/or our beaches – oh and you have to visit Cape Point at least once in your lifetime!”
And I stand by that recommendation because if all else fails and you really cannot squeeze everything in, those recommendations will still afford you incredible memories, overflowing with rich, natural beauty, history and world-class offerings.
If you choose option 1, here are some of the False Bay highlights you can enjoy:
- Boulders Beach, famous for its resident, endangered African penguin colony;
- Wild, semi-deserted Cape Point beaches, like Platboom and Dias Beach;
- The incredible Cape of Good Hope, which is the most south-western point of the African continent;
- Within the Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point Nature Reserves, travellers can enjoy incredible coastal hikes, picnic spots, rustic accommodation and seeing amazing natural flora and fauna – everything from seasonal whales to ostriches, Chacma baboons and zebra.
Note: As they fall within the jurisdiction of the vast Table Mountain National Park, both Boulders Beach and Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope have a separate conservation fee payable upon entry to each attraction.
Once you have explored Cape Point, you can either travel back to the city from Simon’s Town. Or you can head back via Noordhoek and Chappies or even Ou Kaapse Weg.
This ensures a truly scenic, special end to your third day.
Option 2: Explore the West Coast
The Cape West Coast is one of the jewels of the Western Cape. It offers everything from quaint coastal towns and sleepy villages to breathtaking flora and fauna, seasonal flower- and whale-spotting, stunning, sun-kissed beaches, local wine farms and craft breweries and a host of outdoor offerings like fossil sites, game drives, archery and 4×4 and MTB trails.
If you pick option 2, I recommend exploring small towns like Darling, Yzerfontein and Langebaan. While you are at it, enjoy some outdoor fun.
My personal picks include the likes of Thali Thali Game Farm and the West Coast National Park – but there are so many hidden gems found throughout this gorgeous region.
Soak up the pristine coastline and white sand beaches; unleash your inner adventurer; be charmed by rustic, peaceful Cape small towns and villages – and discover why the West Coast is the best coast.
Option 3: Head to Elgin Valley
One of my favourite places in South Africa is the lush Elgin Valley. Like something out of a fantasy novel, this beautiful region is blessed in abundance with mountains, forested landscapes and natural, wild beauty.
Situated in the stunning Cape Overberg Region, Elgin is a special town and region. It offers everything from cool climate wine farms to apple orchards, lush gardens and incredible MTB trails.
Some of my top picks in and around Elgin include:
- Steampunk-inspired Elgin Railway Market;
- Epic ziplining in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve;
- Thrilling e-bike adventures and MTB trails;
- Special cool climate wine farms;
- A unique, timeless steam train experience that runs from Cape Town to Elgin Railway Market on selected dates;
- Stunning local accommodation – everything from designer airstream trailers to glamping camps, e-bike hotels and tranquil farm cottages.
Tip: When travelling to and from Elgin, I suggest going via Franschhoek Pass one way – and then returning via Sir Lowry’s Pass and Strand the other (or vice versa). That way, you can soak up even more of the Cape in one trip.
Option 4: Take a road trip from Cape Town and explore the famous Route 62
I grew up in the heart of the Route 62 and Klein Karoo so I am biased towards the region – but this semi-arid region is loved by travellers the world over so my bias is well-supported.
The iconic Route 62 is famed for its charming small towns and villages, winelands, outdoor adventures, farm stalls and rich Cape scenery. It is also an unmissable part of the Cape.
If you can, use this option to travel from Cape Town and explore some of the route’s most iconic towns along the way.
Some of my personal favourites include Tulbagh, Wellington, Rawsonville, Robertson, Montagu, Barrydale and Swellendam to name only a few.
Like I said before, it is impossible to explore Cape Town in three days (or even in three years!) because this city and its surrounds offer so much to see and do.
But I hope that my itinerary will at least help you to safely and happily explore some of its best local attractions, destinations and experiences over a three-day period (or even slightly longer).
Best Months to Visit Cape Town
Many tourists and locals enjoy exploring the Mother City during our summer and heading into early autumn (generally December to March). This is because the warm weather really is a treat in Cape Town. Think: warm, scorching temperatures and clear blue skies for days.
Unfortunately, during the spring and summer months, Cape Town gets a pretty strong south-easterly wind (known locally as the Cape Doctor) that sweeps through the city, blowing everyone along in its path. So it can be challenging at times.
That said, we do get pretty intense, cold and wet winters (usually from May to August), with Cape storms, gale-force winds and lashing rains so you have to choose what works best for you.
Personally, I love exploring the Mother City year-round and I think you can make the most of any day in this city.
There is no ‘best’ month to visit Cape Town because our city is incredible no matter the weather and offers plenty of indoor and outdoor attractions.
Just choose what works for you. If you like warm weather, visit any time from September to even early April. If you prefer rainy days or colder temperatures with crispness in the air, then May to August are equally great months.
My favourite months are actually late August right through to April because I love the milder weather and warm sunshiny days the city enjoys then. 🙂
How Much to Budget for on Your Trip
Cape Town, like any major city, is not the cheapest place to visit. Especially if you opt for all the tourist attractions and top restaurants.
We offer some of the world’s best restaurants and wine farms though, so this is to be expected.
That said, during my student years, I explored Cape Town on a tight, shoestring budget (think: under R150 per day). So you can definitely explore the city for less.
If you book affordable accommodation options (like self-catering or Airbnb stays or B&B guesthouses), you can save a pretty penny. The same goes for shopping for groceries and enjoying some homecooked meals, as opposed to dining out thrice daily.
For a three-day visit to Cape Town, excluding accommodation, travel/petrol and meal expenses, I think you can safely get by on R1500-2000 per person, per day. This includes ticket prices, activity fees and even some food and drink options too.
Calculate Your Day Trip Expenses Before Visiting
But again, daily costs will vary from person to person. I might be able to explore the city for under R500 because I possess a local’s street savvy – whereas a tourist might spend R3000 p/p minimum and not even think it is a lot.
The best plan of attack is to figure out what you would want to do for each day and calculate ticket prices and the like based off that.
Use tools like the Uber fare calculator or check the Citysightseeing or MyCiTi bus prices to try get a sense of your travel expenses.
If you are renting a hired car (which is arguably the best way to explore Cape Town, especially on a budget) – factor in a full tank of petrol and how many kilometres you can get out of it with your rental car.
How to Get Around Cape Town
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One of the best ways to explore Cape Town is to hire a rental car. But if you have any qualms about driving in a foreign city or country, the city offers Uber, private tour guides and the MyCiTi or even Citysightseeing buses.
We do have modes of public transport, including Golden Arrow buses and Metrorail trains but I would not recommend these to tourists or even locals unless you have no other option. (And I say this as someone who has used both options extensively and felt the frustration and delays that come with both.)
During the day, you can walk in most parts of the city, especially in the busiest parts of the CBD or quiet suburbs in the CBD, Southern and Northern Suburbs but crime is always a concern. Especially if you are not used to where and when to go.
So, if you do decide to explore on foot – you need a professional guide or at least a Cape Town friend who knows the city well to accompany you.
Otherwise, just stick to the places that are designed to be as safe as possible for foot traffic. Think: Sea Point Promenade (not at night though, stick to daytime) or the V&A Waterfront and its immediate surrounds.
Using Uber and MyCiTi to Get Around the City
Ubers and private tour buses are the most expensive options if you need to travel far out of or around the city – but for short trips around Cape Town, MyCiTi buses and Uber work well.
Note: For MyCiTi, you need a MyConnect bus card; you top up your card with money as needed.
While for Uber, you need to download and install the app, set up a verified Rider profile and link your PayPal or bank/credit card to it. You can pay with cash but most Uber drivers prefer bank/credit card- or PayPal-payments and these methods of payment are safer for you too.
Perhaps the biggest tip I can give when exploring Cape Town is to stow valuables out of sight, especially when you are out and about or walking from place to place.
Also, only ever carry a small amount of cash on your person. It is far safer and easier to have payment apps on your phone (like Zapper or SnapScan); use a bank/credit card; or carry a bus card or ticket (like for MyCiTi or Citysightseeing).
I almost never carry cash on me – but still I try keep small change (think a few R5 coins or a few R20, R50 notes) on me just in case.
Not only is it easier but it is safer too. You can always cancel a card or buy a new phone, if needed – but you can’t get back cash once it gets lost, blown away, damaged or stolen.
Where to Shop for Groceries and Snacks During Your Stay
Cape Town has no shortage of malls and large grocery stores throughout the city but some are pricier than others.
For example, shopping at the V&A Waterfront or Century City might be convenient but it isn’t necessarily cheaper.
If you are staying in a accommodation offering or Airbnb in a peaceful suburb, rather shop at your local grocery store like Checkers, Pick n Pay, Woolworths, SPAR or even Game.
Checkers and Pick n Pay are the cheaper options, while SPAR and Woolworths are a bit more elitist but may offer a wider range of goods. (Woolworths has clothing, home and food offerings in most of its main stores so you can shop for everything in one place if needed.)
Many suburbs also offer kiosks, or spaza shops, for daily essentials but I would recommend sticking to one of our main grocery stores, like Checkers or Pick n Pay.
For online food delivery services, you can use Uber Eats, Mr D Food, CheckersSixty60, Pick n Pay or Woolies Dash to name a few.
If you need basic, comfy clothing or shoes during your stay, Mr Price, Edgars, Woolworths, Ackermans, MrP Sport, Pick n Pay Clothing or Jet all offer good clothing and shoes at affordable to moderate prices – especially compared to the likes of Foschini, Zara, H&M, Cotton On etc.
Travel Essentials to Keep on Your Person
When exploring Cape Town, a small backpack, drawstring bag or sturdy sling handbag are all handy for storing valuables and essentials.
I would recommend always carrying the following:
- a smartphone charger or power bank;
- bank/credit card over petty cash;
- warm fleecy top/jersey or light rainproof jacket (even on the hottest day, the wind can cool things down or slice through you);
- sunscreen and sunhat/peak cap (yes, even in overcast or cooler weather; our South African sun is intense).
Also, always wear comfortable, sensible shoes.
For general city exploration and day outings, sandals, pumps/flats or trainers/sneakers are your best bet. Leave your heels and dress shoes at home unless you are going out for a proper meal.
If you go hiking, you will need proper hiking/exercise shoes with a good, firm grip.
You might think it is a good idea to carry an umbrella in the Mother City. And to that I say: don’t even bother!
The Cape Town wind is fierce and relentless. It has mercilessly destroyed or claimed many an umbrella of mine.
If you must carry an umbrella, get a small pocket one that can easily be stored in your bag or slung about your wrist. Generally though, a hoodie or windbreaker jacket (with a hood) are far better for windy or rainy conditions.
During winter, rainboots or durable shoes and socks are a good idea. During our winter spells, fashion takes a backseat over warmth and practicality.
Useful Online Resources
Below are some useful websites and information resources for visitors to Cape Town to refer to:
- Cape Town Travel/Love Cape Town
- City of Cape Town
- Safe Travels
- Accuweather Cape Town
- Winelands (winelands.co.za)
- Visit Stellenbosch
- South African Police Service
Emergency Contact Numbers to Know
Here are some essential emergency numbers.
I recommend memorising or at least keeping these on your smartphone or in your wallet:
- Police response (nationwide): 10111
- Ambulance services (it can be used in conjunction with police or fire services): 10177
- Cellphone emergency (free): 112
- Cape Town fire emergencies (24 hours): +27 (021) 480 7700
For more information on what to do in an emergency or who to contact, please see here.
Please bear in mind that COVID-19 restrictions and lockdown levels may affect the availability, opening times, crowd capacity, activities and offerings of certain facilities, wine farms and destinations.
If visiting Cape Town and surrounds, please be responsible and abide by all COVID19 rules and regulations.
About the author
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust - Travel Writing and Photography, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. Despite having a national diploma in Journalism and working as a content writer by day, Tamlyn's preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.