Jun
16

24 Hours in Cape Town

June 16, 2019
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Sebastian De Romijn

Known as the “Rainbow City” thanks to its multicultural and ethnic diversity, Cape Town’s compact and colourful city centre is ideally situated between a bustling harbour and the iconic Table Mountain.  Only got 24 hours to explore?  Try this itinerary from our Cape Town tour guides to get the most out of your visit!

Early morning (0700hrs to 0900hrs)

Platteklip Gorge

Climb Table Mountain via the picturesque Platteklip Gorge. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Start the day right with a visit to one of the (many!) city centre cafés – Jason Bakery is a family-run artisan bakery on fashionable Bree Street.  Popular with the locals, they offer freshly baked bread and pastries, as well as a mean ‘doughssant’!  Pick up coffee and a croissant for later and take a taxi or Uber to Lower Tafelberg Road.

Be kind to the planet (and your bank balance!) and hop on the 110 MyCiTi free shuttle bus to the Lower Cable station on Upper Tafelberg Road.  Head to the cableway road below Table Mountain for a spectacular sunrise above the city. For an unforgettable start to the day, enjoy a picnic breakfast while you breathe in the fresh air, stillness and incredible panoramic views.

Feeling adventurous? Take a hike up Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge, or for a more leisurely start to the day, opt for the cable car instead (open from 0830hrs May to October and 0800 hrs Nov to April, return price R330 return / R190 single as of June 2019). The peak of the mountain offers fantastic views of the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, Robben Island, Twelve Apostles, Mitchell’s Plain and the Cape Flats – don’t forget your camera!

Morning (approx. 0900hrs to 1200hrs)

Bird's eye view of Greenmarket Square, Cape Town

Grab a bargain at Greenmarket Square. Photo credit: Cape Town Tourist Board

Take a taxi or Uber to the central business district (CBD) and explore the city as trading begins.  Cosmopolitan yet quaint, Cape Town offers unique shops, street vendors, cafés and restaurants alongside exciting architecture, craft markets, theatres and museums.

Check out Greenmarket Square on Longmarket Street where you’ll find one of the oldest markets in Cape Town.  Lively and colourful, this place will give you a real taste for authentic Cape Town, plus it’s a great place to browse and barter for a bargain!

Take a short walk to the Iziko South African National Gallery to see an impressive collection of African and South African artwork.  You’ll find it within the Company’s Garden, a botanical garden boasting the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa (and if that doesn’t make you want to visit, we don’t know what will!)

Adjacent to the Company’s Garden, the South African Jewish Museum blends ultra-modern architecture with a poignant insight into South Africa’s Jewish heritage.  Round the corner on Buitenkant Street, the District Six Museum remembers the apartheid era and offers an insight to the complexities of South Africa’s rich history.

A five-minute walk from the city centre will lead you to Bo-Kaap, one of the most historic neighbourhoods in Cape Town.  Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap overlooks the city bowl on the steep slopes of Signal Hill.  Admire the tapestry of brightly coloured houses as you make your way through the cobbled streets.

Lunch (approx. 1200hrs – 1400hrs)

Birds eye view of vendors and stall holders at V&A Food Market in Cape Town

We love a good food market for lunch and the V&A Food Market is one of our favourites! Photo credit: Cape Markets

Listen out for one of Cape Town’s oldest traditions at midday, the Noon Gun (and your cue for lunch!) Take a taxi/Uber/MyCiTi bus to the V&A Waterfront, one of Africa’s most visited destinations.  You’ll soon see why it’s popular – perched on the edge of a natural working harbour with views of the ocean, city bowl and Table Mountain, it offers history, culture and a range of leisure, shopping and entertainment options. The size of 80 rugby fields (pretty big, huh?!) it’s split into districts with attractions including a shopping mall, big wheel and aquarium.  What’s not to love?

As you enter the V&A Food Market the sign above the door invites you to “Experience Goodness”. Musicians perform throughout the day and we know you’ll love the huge range of food on offer from over 40 vendors – the only problem will be what to choose; the struggle is real in a place like this!  Chat to the friendly local vendors, taste some free samples and once you’ve chosen your favourite dish(es!) for lunch, weave your way through the stalls to an outside seat with views of Table Mountain.  If the weather’s not on your side, try the upper level of the Food Market for a spot of people watching instead!

Before you leave, why not stop off for ice cream at Unframed? Serving classic flavours with a twist (turmeric ice cream anyone?!), this is the perfect place to find a new favourite.

Afternoon (approx. 1400hrs to 1800hrs) 

Guide and travellers saying cheers with their beers

Tasting Cape Town’s best craft beer on Urban Adventures’ Taste of Woodstock tour

You’re bound to be buzzing after a visit to the Waterfront so stop for a breather and take a taxi/Uber or MyCiTi bus to the vibrant and super-cool Woodstock neighbourhood.

Join our fun, food and drink filled Taste of Woodstock Tour to find out how the area has been revitalised by the small business owners you’ll meet along the way.  This three-hour tour (starting at 1430hrs) is the ideal opportunity to eat, shop and drink like a Capetonian!

One of Cape Town’s oldest (and hippest!) neighbourhoods, you’ll find a diverse mix of cultures appealing to fashion, art and design lovers alike.  Colourful street art adorns many of the walls – look out for a black and white mural by Freddy Smith, commemorating 20 years of democracy in South Africa.   Check out the Old Biscuit Mill, Woodstock Exchange and Woodstock Craft Brewery then chat to the locals over a beer and game of pool at the Locomotive, a favourite hangout for Woodstock residents.  You might describe this place as a little “tired” but the cheerful atmosphere and welcoming regulars more than make up for it!

Evening (approx. 1800hrs onwards)

Couple jogging the Sea Point Promenade at sunset. Cape Town

Jogging along the Sea Point Promenade at sunset. Photo credit: Cape Town Tourist Board

Take a taxi/Uber or MyCiTi Bus to the Sea Point pavilion and walk or cycle along the traffic-free Sea Point Promenade (try Up Cycles for bike hire.)  Take in the mesmerising city, sea and mountain views and look out for Cape fur seals and dolphins in the ocean – if you’re lucky you may even spot a humpback whale or orca!

Evenings on the Promenade are a hive of activity – as well as restaurants and cafés, you’ll pass art installations, outdoor gyms, mini golf, children’s playgrounds and a maze, so there’s plenty of opportunities to stop off at your leisure along the way.

If you fancy stopping for dinner, carry on past Green Point Park and try Lily’s Restaurant – an all-day eatery, favoured by locals and offering contemporary dishes in a relaxed and friendly seaside setting.

Travelling with a loved one?  Make time for a little romance! The Promenade is an ideal spot to watch the sun setting over the Atlantic Ocean and the perfect end to your day in Cape Town.

Layover in… 

Got a layover of 6+ hours in Cape Town? Make the most of your time with these tips from our tour guides!

Here for a morning or afternoon layover? 

IZIKO SOUTH AFRICAN MUSEUM

Music recitals are sometimes held in this magnificent space in the Iziko South Aprica Museum. Photo credit: Cape Town Tourist Board

Take a taxi, Uber or the MyCiTi bus to the CBD and check out the exciting architecture, craft markets, theatres and museums.  You’ll find an array of unique shops, street vendors, cafés and restaurants.  Visit energetic Long Street, trendy Bree Street or arty Loop Street for a taste of what’s on offer.  Best of all?  Just look up to admire the incredible backdrop of Table Mountain!

For a taste of Cape Town culture, visit the Iziko South African National Gallery, located in the Company’s Garden.  Admire the impressive collection of paintings, photography, sculpture and beadwork before wandering through the botanical garden, which was first planted in 1652.  The nearby South African Jewish Museum blends ultra-modern architecture with a poignant insight into South Africa’s Jewish heritage. Round the corner on Buitenkant Street you’ll find the District Six Museum which remembers the apartheid era and offers an insight to the complexities of South Africa’s rich history.

If you’re longing for some R&R, take a taxi/Uber straight from the airport to chilled-out Glen Beach where you can enjoy sparkling seas, shelter from the wind and a majestic backdrop of the Twelve Apostles mountains.

Here for an evening layover?

Take a taxi/Uber/MyCiTi bus to the Victoria and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, one of Africa’s most visited destinations.  Perched on the edge of a natural working harbour, the V&A offers spectacular views coupled with history, culture and a diverse mix of leisure, shopping and entertainment. Hungry? Make a beeline for the V&A Food Market and choose from over 40 vendors!

For an evening stroll, take a taxi/Uber or MyCiTi bus to the Sea Point pavilion and meander along the traffic-free Seapoint Promenade. Take in the mesmerising city, sea and mountain views and look out for Cape fur seals and dolphins in the ocean – if you’re lucky you may even spot a humpback whale or orca!  The buzzing Promenade boasts art installations, outdoor gyms, mini golf, children’s playgrounds and a maze so there’s plenty of opportunities for fun along the way.