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Cape Town as a Tourist

Updated on November 28, 2015

Destination Cape Town

Cape Town is a city on South Africa's South West Coast and it is also where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet. You can take a walk on the beach and explore the tropical side or you can go up to the mountains and take on your adventure side and the best part is that you can do this all in one day!

There is so much beauty in South Africa and the Cape Province is only a small section of what you can explore in the country.

It is an English speaking city and the local people are very helpful and friendly so you won't have to be afraid to ask if you need help. They also have information offices everywhere and you will be directed to the best places there are to see.

It is so picturesque and there but it does require you to be able to travel everywhere. The transport in Cape Town is great and they have the best transport systems in the country with buses that work well and regularly along with the tourist bus that will take you on a sightseeing tour of the city.

I did it the other way and hired a car so that we could drive to all the hot spots and the best part is that we could take our time in each one of the stops.

I recommend hiring a car because there are so many places to go to and you can achieve a lot in one day.

Hotels and accommodation options in the Cape are a little expensive but you can find cheap accommodation on the outskirts of the city and yes safety is an issue in every country that I have been to but in South Africa, avoiding all the danger zones is a must and going into "District 6" is not recommended unless you would like to be mugged.

Travelling to Cape Town is an adventure and it should definitely be on your travel list!


Cape Town, South Africa

The beautiful city of Cape Town, where the two oceans meet and where you can climb a mountain or swim with the dolphins on the same day
The beautiful city of Cape Town, where the two oceans meet and where you can climb a mountain or swim with the dolphins on the same day | Source

Cape Town - The Place to be

Southern Sun, Waterfront Hotel is affordable and luxurious at the same time. It is also central to everything in Cape Town
Southern Sun, Waterfront Hotel is affordable and luxurious at the same time. It is also central to everything in Cape Town
Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town. Comfortable, affordable and central
Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel in Cape Town. Comfortable, affordable and central | Source
Avoid Cage diving to see the Great white Shark because they associate food with people and this is dangerous at sea.
Avoid Cage diving to see the Great white Shark because they associate food with people and this is dangerous at sea.

Travel to Cape Town - Transport and Accommodation

The airport in Cape Town is called the Cape Town International Airport and it is the second busiest in South Africa. It is very organised and once you land there you will either want to take a taxi or catch a bus which will be very close to the arrivals.

The car hire is a little walk away from the building and if you have a lot of luggage then you can catch a courtesy golf cart which will take you to where you need to go. I recommend that you do this with lots of luggage because you don't want to exhaust yourself before you have even arrived.

Options for transport are taxi's and buses which are regular and easy to find and they take you to most of the popular destinations.

Get yourself a map and familiarise yourself with the main roads so that when you ask a taxi driver to take you somewhere you can ask him to take the quickest route so that you do not end up paying more than you should.

Car hire is not too badly priced but you should look around before you go into the nearest office and if the daily rate is cheap then make sure that you check how much the excess will be if there is an accident because this is usually very high. Get a car from a known dealer and ensure that you get unlimited kilometres because doing it any other way will cost you more.

Cape Town city centre has bus zones everywhere and you will be able to get to all the tourist spots with a bus. Ask information for the best taxi services as this will keep you safe.

Accommodation is easy to find and if you want budget accommodation then there are a few backpacker places to select but as I am not a fan of those I can't recommend them to you and I would suggest that you just stay in a hotel.

There are apartments that you can rent out as a big group but it won't pay you to do this in a small group because they are expensive unless you can all split the cost.

Hotels range from R500 per room to R3000 per person and up it depends on where you would like to stay. I am an average earning citizen so we will go with average prices but if it is just a place to sleep then you can book a room for four adults for R600 per room excluding breakfast just look for the "Sun1" hotels which are usually close to the waterfront but not in the safest areas to walk around in.

I chose to stay in the Waterfront, one road behind which allowed me to walk if I wanted to and it was affordable enough to enjoy without breaking the bank. My hotel was luxurious and comfortable with two double beds, shower and toilet and it included breakfast. The view from my room was the Table Mountain and from my travel buddies room it was the Harbour, but you will not be spending anytime in the room so just get one that allows you a peaceful nights sleep.

There are B&B's but they are very much the same price as the hotels in the centre and if you need budget accommodation then looking at Sun1, Road Lodge or City Lodge hotels are a good idea. The middle of the range hotels are Garden Court and Tsogo Sun hotels and for those who can really afford to throw money around then I would suggest the Table Bay Hotel right in the heart of the V&A Waterfront. It is luxurious and the staff will get you whatever you need.

Southern Sun Waterfront Hotel is 1.4km's away from the Waterfront and it is near to the convention centre as well as 5.8km's away from the Table Mountain. The breakfast is standard and the prices are not bad.

If you would like to see the city with the sightseeing bus then walking to the Waterfront is a good idea as there are many transport options there.

I would recommend seeing the city on the bus as you will get to go through the main tourist spots but live a little and go for a boat ride to Seal Island, get into the Cable Car and go up to Table Mountain and I suggest that you hire a car and just drive because you get to see so much more this way.

Whilst on your travels here is a tip; Do not feed the monkeys, stay away from the baboons and never, ever go Shark diving because sharks are associating people with food and this is all due to the Cage diving where they feed the sharks so that you, the tourist, can get an adrenalin rush but when you leave a poor surfer becomes shark bait....so no Shark Diving!!!!

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

A markerV&A waterfront -
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
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Accommodation in Cape Town

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Table Mountain

Getting up to the mountain depends on how the weather is on the day and it can be closed off to the public if the weather conditions are not good, so before you buy your online ticket, be sure to check the weather first. It is very windy in the Cape and I can't say that I have ever been there when there was no wind but I did find that if you are up bright and early then the weather is good until around 3pm when it gets a little cold and windy....this is in Spring/Summer.

You can get a taxi, bus or drive up to the mountain and once you are up there, you will have to stand in a very big line to buy your ticket for the Cable Car which will get you up to the top of the mountain. The cable car costs roughly R250 per person and you can spend as much time up there as you would like depending on the weather conditions. There are many trails to take and there is also a restaurant but the view is absolutely amazing and it is something out of this world! I highly recommend that you go but if you are afraid of heights then this is not for you. There is a route for people who would like to climb up to the mountain but I think the cable car is frightening enough and the pedestrian climb is for people who have a death wish!

There are places on the mountain that are dangerous and the edges are not protected which would encourage you to stay away from the edges and listen to the tour guides when they ask you to leave. The weather can change rather quickly up there and it is very cold too.

Make sure that you wear strong and non slip shoes or sneakers and take a jacket or jersey with you. There is a souvenir shop up there too and you might spot many strange and wonderful animals.

Cable Car Taking You Up to Table Mountain

A cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain is not for those afraid of heights. It is a steep ride and it rotates whilst you are in it, to allow for 360 degree view of Cape Town
A cable car ride up to the top of Table Mountain is not for those afraid of heights. It is a steep ride and it rotates whilst you are in it, to allow for 360 degree view of Cape Town | Source

What to Pack for Daily tours in Cape Town

Table Mountain
In the DAY
At Night
jacket
casual and comfortable
Smart Casual
sneakers
shoes
shoes
jeans
shorts
trousers
T. shirt
jeans
shirts
Camera
T.shirts
light jersey
travel Purse
camera
comfortable shoes
Identity
swimming costume
windbreaker
 
sun lotion
 
 
cap or hat
 
 
Identity
 
Keep your valuables at home, hide your money and avoid wearing flashy jewellery. In the day wear lotion and keep only what you need with you.

Cape Town by Day

Cape Town, South Africa# Table Mountain
Cape Town, South Africa# Table Mountain | Source

Cape Point, South Africa

Of course you have to see where the two oceans meet and the place to go for this is Cape Point. It is also weather dependant and you need to be aware that there is a lot of walking. Once you get up to the highest point you can actually see the line in the sea, where the oceans; Indian and Atlantic meet up.

It is beautiful and worth going to see but I suggest getting there early to avoid bad weather and it is also a little further away from the city centre which will take you an hour and 20 minutes to drive to.

Cape Point, South Africa

The lighthouse at Cape Point where the two oceans; Atlantic and Indian meet up
The lighthouse at Cape Point where the two oceans; Atlantic and Indian meet up | Source

Chapman's Peak, South Africa

Chapman's Peak Drive, a narrow little road used as a toll road
Chapman's Peak Drive, a narrow little road used as a toll road
The view from the top of Chapman's Peak
The view from the top of Chapman's Peak

Chapman's Peak, Cape Town

Because the Cape is so scenic and there are so many little stops to go through, a car is recommended so that you can drive through to the end and get to see all the little spots along the way. Chapman's Peak is a climb up with a car and there is a toll road that you have to pay for but it is worth going through to have a look. It is amazing and I found that it is also always very windy so be prepared for the winds and you do so at your own risk.

It is on the Western side of the Cape Peninsula, 15 kilometres away from Cape Town and was named after John Chapman, the Captain of an English ship.


Hout Bay, Cape Peninsula

I found no Submarine Shark in Hout Bay but I would avoid the sea anyway
I found no Submarine Shark in Hout Bay but I would avoid the sea anyway | Source

Hout Bay for Fish and Chips

Hout Bay is a great little fishing village that is worth a stop and it is located on the Western Peninsula. I would recommend that you have a look at the fish shop, eat some fresh fish and chips there and then be on your way. Avoid stopping and chatting to the locals that are at the ships because they tend to want to trap the tourists with unofficial tours and they will try to get money out of you in some way, so do not go into one of the boats without it being an official tour. If you are unsure then ask the information first.

It is also a beautiful place to just sit on the beach and relax whilst watching the seagulls and the seals play. I would avoid swimming in the sea there because of the Megalodon shark called the Submarine Shark which is said to be a 30 foot shark that has been terrorising bathers and tourists since the 70's. It is an urban myth that many have said has been sighted.

Whether it is true or not, I found Hout Bay interesting enough to stop, eat and go.


The Cape in Pictures

Clifton Beach, Cape Town. One of the most expensive areas to live in
Clifton Beach, Cape Town. One of the most expensive areas to live in
This old Seal sits here waiting for lunch from the local fishermen in Kalk Bay.
This old Seal sits here waiting for lunch from the local fishermen in Kalk Bay.
Muizenberg beach hut is a colourful and interesting item on the list.
Muizenberg beach hut is a colourful and interesting item on the list.
Simon's Town on the Pier across from the Cape Navy base.
Simon's Town on the Pier across from the Cape Navy base.
Fish Hoek beach in Cape Town.
Fish Hoek beach in Cape Town.

On The Road in Cape Town

Taking a drive on the road to Chapman's Peak is a great way to see some of the smaller areas and you can stop at any one that you like or simply pass through.

Camps Bay, Clifton and Llandudno are three of the most expensive areas in Cape Town and you can stop and take a walk on the beach or sit and have a cocktail at one of the restaurants along the strip.

It is interesting to see and the view there is absolutely magnificent!

Muizenberg, Fish Hoek, Simonstown and Kalk Bay are also on the same route and they all have something different. Wine farms, the navy town and fresh fish are what you can experience in these parts.

Kalk Bay is great for fresh fish but carrying that out of an airport might be a challenge so eating it there is a better idea. Whilst waiting for your fish to cook, you can have a look at the seals jumping into the water and you can also see the seagulls catching their own food too.

Muizenberg is a nice beach to visit but most of the beaches on this side have shark warnings and it might be a challenge trying to relax whilst having a swim in the freezing ocean, instead I watched the surfers and went on my way. They have interesting little beach huts for people to change in and it is a cute little idea for the beach.

Simonstown is the navy town and you are not allowed to go too close but you can take a walk in the town and even go for a boat ride. Fish and chips is a good idea here too and the houses and buildings are uniformed and look a little like "New Orleans."

Fish Hoek has a wine farm that you can visit as well as a nature reserve but don't go swimming in the sea there because most of the time the water is too murky to tell if a shark is lurking around waiting for you.




Signal Hill at Sunset

If you want to end your day of driving on the scenic route through Chapman's Peak then a beautiful sunset drink on Signal Hill is a great idea. Again you have to ensure that the weather is good so that you can really appreciate the view but it is worth going to look at. The hill is very steep and it overlooks Table Mountain, Robben Island and the sea view is absolutely breath taking so much so, that it is not something that can be explained in words or in a photo. This is something that you will have to experience in person.

Sunset on Signal Hill Cape Town

Sunset is beautiful on Signal Hill as you can see the entire Cape from there.
Sunset is beautiful on Signal Hill as you can see the entire Cape from there.
Robben Island can be visited but the view from Signal Hill is nice to see.
Robben Island can be visited but the view from Signal Hill is nice to see.
Cape Town from the top of Signal Hill
Cape Town from the top of Signal Hill

Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, has a great atmosphere and it is a nice place to have a drink and do some shopping.
The V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, has a great atmosphere and it is a nice place to have a drink and do some shopping. | Source
The harbour has a variety of boat rides and adventures on offer but having a drink whilst watching the town come to life at night is worth the visit.
The harbour has a variety of boat rides and adventures on offer but having a drink whilst watching the town come to life at night is worth the visit.

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

There are so many places to visit whilst in Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront is one of them. There are a few boat cruises that you can take, you can go shopping for your souvenirs or you can choose to have a cocktail and watch the boats in the harbour. It is a bit of a tourist trap and I would not recommend eating there but it is fun to sit and have a drink whilst watching the ships come in.

All the stores are in South African Rands but they do accept Dollars and there is a foreign exchange in most hotels or centres. The boat rides are reasonably priced and it is nice to go out for a sunset ride or dress up like a pirate and get on board one of the fun ships.

Like any centre you need to look out for scams and pick pockets as this is common in every country. Avoid walking around alone and stay away from alley ways that are secluded.

I would recommend having a drink at the Quays as this is reasonably priced and you have a good view of the harbour too.

If you like African culture then you will enjoy listening to the live group of musicians that perform at the waterfront on a daily basis.


Eating Out in Cape Town

Fireman's Arms in Cape Town a street behind the Waterfront.  Great for a Lamb Shank or a pizza
Fireman's Arms in Cape Town a street behind the Waterfront. Great for a Lamb Shank or a pizza
Kalk Bay for Calamari or Fish and Chips while you sit in the restaurant on the rocks, feeling the ocean breeze on your skin
Kalk Bay for Calamari or Fish and Chips while you sit in the restaurant on the rocks, feeling the ocean breeze on your skin

Eating out in Cape Town

I am really difficult when it comes to eating out and I expect good service, cleanliness and a quality meal. There are not many places that I can go to and when I do find a good one or a bad one I like to share the experience.

For a breakfast I would recommend going to the Table Bay Hotel as it is a five star and you can have anything from eggs to sushi to.....you name it they have it! It is a great place to go if you want a brunch and it is not cheap but definitely worth it.

Lunch time in Cape Town is easy, you need to go to Kalk Bay or one of the harbour towns to have a simple fish and chips. Kalk Bay has a restaurant that is on the rocks and on a day where there is no wind, the doors are open and you can feel the sea splashing onto your skin while you eat. I would watch out for the seals and the seagulls because they get hungry too!

Dinner is difficult to find because many of the places are a tourist trap and they have tasteless food that has been pre - prepared for you to eat and get out. They are overpriced and the service is disgusting. I found many of these a problem at the Waterfront and my recommendation would be to go out into the streets and find a local place to eat. We went to the "Fireman's Arms" which is a pub that was a fire station years and years ago. It is where the locals go, it is a pub but it is authentic and I would recommend the Lamb shank there. The prices are not bad at all and the food is tasty. It is hidden around the corner behind the V&A Waterfront and worth a night out.

Another suggestion would be to get some cheese and wine and enjoy a picnic somewhere as there are so many picnic spots available and the wine is plentiful in the Cape.


Paarl for Cheese and Wine

A Cape Town trip is not complete without going to visit one of the wine or cheese farms and the closest ones to Cape Town are in Paarl. I would recommend that you have breakfast before you go and ensure that for this trip you catch a taxi or a bus because drinking and driving is illegal and for this tour you will be drinking!

There are many farms along the way and Fairview is one of the many that will have a cheese and wine tasting for you to try as well as a restaurant experience for those who need to take a break before moving onto the next one. They are all close together and you can visit each one if you would like to but tasting wine all day can make you feel a little tipsy and eventually the history won't make any sense to you at all so take advantage of the coffee shops in the area to keep you alert and sober and have a buddy with you.

You can take a wine route that will stop at each farm but I suggest that you ask at the Paarl information office as sometimes the tours are not on all the time.

Cape Town is not Cape Town without the wine farm experience to go with it and if it is not for you then just go along for the lunch because it is very peaceful and picturesque out there too.

Cape Town Wine Route in Paarl

Fairview is a popular cheese supplier in South Africa and their farm is interesting to visit. You can have some of their wines whilst exploring the different cheese too.
Fairview is a popular cheese supplier in South Africa and their farm is interesting to visit. You can have some of their wines whilst exploring the different cheese too.
Take a visit to KWV one of the biggest known wines in the country and around the world as it is exported.
Take a visit to KWV one of the biggest known wines in the country and around the world as it is exported.

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    • Tashaonthetown profile image
      Author

      Natasha Pelati 22 months ago from South Africa

      Thank you it is definitely worth a visit! Such a beautiful place.

    • Linnea Lewis profile image

      Linnea Lewis 22 months ago from South Carolina, USA

      Nice detailed guide for this unique travel destination, thank you for this.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 22 months ago from South Africa

      Cape Town is a beautiful city. You have provided some of the most essential information :)

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Isaac Weithers 22 months ago from The Caribbean

      Cape Town is on my wish list. First, the apartheid history, and then all the wonderful views you show. The fish and chips are inviting too. Thank for the information and the pictures.