Cape Town’s natural beauty, cosmopolitan lifestyle and enviable wine regions lure naturalists, foodies, and oenophiles. Affectionately referred to as the Mother City, she has a vibrant personality capturing your heart from the moment you land.
Climb mountains, hike trails, wander national parks and gardens. Hit the surf, fish two oceans or take scenic coastal drives. However you spend your time, this dynamic city will provide history, culture and entertainment.
A five-day break in Cape Town will hardly touch the sides, but here’s a start on where to eat, drink, explore, shop, and stay.
Day 1: The CBD
First things first. I highly recommend purchasing a Cape Town City Pass. Cape Town is an affordable city for visitors but who isn’t keen to save a buck or two? Cape Town City Pass will save you a lot more than that - two, three, and five day passes avail entrance to museums, hop-on-hop-off buses, walking tours and, in some cases, wine and champagne tours. Follow this link, select your preferred Cape Town City Pass, proceed to checkout, and they’ll email a barcode. Either print, or load the barcode onto your phone, and you’ll be scanned into your chosen attraction. Simple!
Now your savings are sorted, Table Mountain awaits. Table Mountain dominates the city. You can see her from almost every angle - replace your daily cardio by following one of the hiking trails or take the cableway up. The floor of the cableway rotates so it doesn’t matter where you stand, you’ll be privy to the entire vista. Once at the top, the 360° views are spectacular.
Hiking trails don’t only seek the summit, there are many taking you to various key locations on the mountain reserve. Keep an eye out for Dassies, these cute little critters scamper past and are quite used to humans invading their space. Fully equipped with amenities, dining options and local beer and wine, Table Mountain requires at least a couple of hours of your time, if not all day.
From the mountain to the sea, or at least to V&A Waterfront. This lively area was resurrected with the restoration of the stunning Victoria and Alfred Hotel. Now with a wide variety of accommodation including Cape Grace, The Commodore and One & Only Cape Town, V&A Waterfront draws quite a crowd. It’s here where you’ll board your vessel to experience Robben Island, the prison Nelson Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years of incarceration.
Before you go, visit the Medical Museum, Breakwater Prison or Cape Town Diamond Museum for an insight to Cape Town’s past. Get up close and personal with sharks and penguins at Two Oceans Aquarium while absorbing information from the conservation centre. V&A Waterfront houses independent stores and a shopping mall for the retail inclined and dining options satisfy foodies from seafood to steak. This link will take you to some recommended dining options and bars to add to your list.
Day 2: Kirstenbosch & Constantia
A mere 10 - 15 minutes from the CBD will find you in Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens. This UNESCO World Heritage site is devoted to the cultivation of 7,000 rare and threatened indigenous flora species. Hiking trails through the 36 hectares of established gardens, some joining Table Mountain trails, take in dense forest, rolling hills and masses of fynbos attracting flocks of stunning birdlife. Don’t miss the Centenary Tree Canopy Walk beginning on the forest floor, winding through until finally reaching a platform above the trees. Seating is provided so relax and take in the magnificent views.
From Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens the wine region of Constantia is only a few minutes away. Constantia Wine Tours are worth investigating for no fuss, organised half or full day tours. They’ll prepare a bespoke tour for specific wine estates on your list or leave it to the experts and enjoy the surprise. Additions of craft brewers or lunch are arranged so sit back and relax. Your wine tour just 20 minutes from Cape Town’s CBD is sorted.
Of course, you can follow your own path and meander from one estate to another at your leisure. Be sure to have Groot Constantia on your list. The oldest of South Africa’s estates, Groot Constantia is well and truly established. With two restaurants, Groot Constantia is a great lunch stop option and if you like a little history with your wine, be sure to join the estate tour. To find out where and what else to taste in the beautiful Constantia wine region, please follow this link.
Day 3: Woodstock
Woodstock is an inner city suburb housing artists, designers and artisans. You may need to shuffle your itinerary to visit Woodstock on a Saturday. It’s the best day where you’ll find the Neighbourgoods Market pumping with Cape Town locals and visitors. Here’s where organic fruit and vegetables is in abundance, breakfast burgers to fix the queeziness from last night’s shenanigans, and wine tasting begins at 09:00 am.
Masters in leatherwork, glass and ceramics, jewellery, limited edition prints and every art medium you can imagine, set up and spend the day. Some are housed in permanent locations and are in residence during the week. If there’s a piece you’re serious about, come back and negotiate when things are a little less hectic.
A short walk from the market and tastings at Woodstock Gin Company await. A series of condiments are added to enhance variations of the gin’s flavour. Woodstock Brewery also offers a tasting of their resident brews. It might be time to eat again too, so head upstairs where slabs of meat char away on the grill. The menu has more to offer than meat for the less carnivorous among you. Further details of Woodstock’s offer can be found here.
Day 4: Stellenbosch
A trip to Cape Town is not complete without jumping in the car and exploring the famous Stellenbosch area. Here is where time gets a bit tight. In my opinion, to do Stellenbosch justice, you really need at least 3 days.
For a start, Spier Wine Farm, with its 300 hectares, has a hotel, multiple restaurants, numerous wine tasting venues, walking, cycling and segway trails. Cattle and sheep are in the pastures, chickens are free range and the property’s gardens provide the kitchens with fresh herbs and vegetables. Art exhibitions, theatre and events are scheduled throughout spring and summer and don’t miss a visit to Eagle Encounters, an independent wildlife rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism centre on the property.
For an in-depth look at the Spier experience,this link will provide everything you need to know.
Stellenbosch Wine Route has around 150 estate members, give or take. Of these, 60 have restaurants, 50 provide accommodation, and there are over 70 different wine tours available. We managed to get to just 7 wine estates on our very short Stellenbosch pilgrimage and you can learn more about those here.
Day 5: Franschhoek
It’s quite likely you’ve decided to extend your time in Stellenbosch, but it would be remiss of me not to encourage you to visit Franschhoek. One of the prettiest villages I’ve had the pleasure of spending time, and I’m confident you won’t want to leave either.
Settled by nine Huegenot families in the 1600s, Franschhoek (French Hook) still represents the farming, bread, wine and cheese-making skills of the original settlers. Surrounded by mountains and national parks complete with hiking, horse riding, and mountain biking trails, Franschhoek is perfect to enjoy the great outdoors. Birdlife is prevalent engaging twitchers for hours. Foodies will be delighted with Franschhoek holding the title of the Cape’s highest awarded restaurants in one area.
Then there’s the wine, and what better way to visit wine estates than on a hop-on-hop-off tram?
Franschhoek Wine Tram leaves from the centre of town with various routes to choose from. Most of the estates have restaurants but, if not, offer charcuterie and cheese boards to keep the wolf from the door. More specific details on Franschhoek’s eat, drink, explore, shop, and stay offer can be found here or for information on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, please follow this link.
The beauty of the Cape wine region is the proximity to Cape Town. It’s quite feasible to do a day trip to either Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, but guaranteed, once you arrive, you won’t want to leave.
If you do only have time for a day trip, perhaps Paarl is your answer. Paarl’s Spice Route Destination showcases much of this region’s products under one roof, well many rooves, but a one-stop shop so to speak.
Wine, (of course), cheese, spices, boerewors, gin, craft beer, chocolate, and the list goes on. Spice Route Destination is a fabulous day out for everyone and perfect for gathering all of the local goodies you plan to take home.
Learn more about the man and the concept behind Spice Route Destination here.
With a little more time, be sure to include the scenic Atlantic Seaboard drive. Make your way through the delightful seaside towns heading to the Cape of Good Hope. Return via Boulders Beach and meet gorgeous African penguins.
You’ll be enchanted by the Mother City. She’ll get under your skin. Scenic, diverse, and not to mention, delicious, Cape Town is a place we love….
Shona’s award winning travel blog shares tips and tricks on where to eat, drink, explore & shop in any given destination. At home ordering street food or perusing a fine dining menu, she seeks out venues with a conscience who promote local produce and sustainability. Find her in markets, museums, art galleries and on walking tours as well as wineries, breweries, distilleries and restaurants. Wherever she is, she’s always looking for something a little different to share with her readers. Follow her travels at www.paraphernalia.co or subscribe to her Shenanigans Report http://paraphernalia.co/subscribe-form/ so as not to miss a post. email@example.com.