Cape Town, South Africa is often considered one of the most beautiful cities on earth. It’s a city set between mountain and ocean and surrounded by pristine natural landscapes and wildlife. It sits proudly right where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet and is spread between neat pockets of suburbia nestled throughout its striking terrain!
It’s a vibrant multicultural city with a lively atmosphere, and it never fails to provide visitors with exciting things to see and do. It’s South Africa’s cultural hub and foodie capital, offering a fusion of flavors that is one of a kind!
It’s also a city with a convoluted and divided past, the remains of which are still evident today. Despite this unfortunate reality, Cape Town remains one of the best tourist cities in the world.
Whether you’re a nature-lover, food fanatic, sports enthusiast or cultural connoisseur, Cape Town has something for you, and it’s ready for you to have an incredible weekend!
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Insider Tips for an AMAZING Weekend in Cape Town
Whether you’re visiting Cape Town for a couple of days, or plan on staying for longer, this Cape Town itinerary will give you the inside scoop and help you plan your time in the Mother City!
Cape Town has many great neighborhoods, all spread out fairly sparsely around the mountain and the oceans. Each suburb has its own unique style and charm, but most of the attractions are situated around the city center.
It’s a wise move to stay somewhere central during your weekend in Cape Town. By doing so, you’ll be able to minimize travel time and make getting back home at night easier. You’ll also find yourself nearer to many of Cape Town’s incredible bars and restaurants, as well as its shopping hotspots and tourist attractions.
Make sure you choose your accommodation wisely. From hostel to hotels and guesthouses in Cape Town, there’s the right one for everyone.
The CBD (central business district) is the bustling hub of the city, located at the base of the looming Table Mountain. There are many other great neighborhoods near to the city that each offer a different experience. Some of our favorites include Gardens, Observatory, Woodstock, and Camps Bay. Be sure to check out our Cape Town neighborhood guide for more information!
Our Favorite Hostel – [email protected] Cape Town
- Great location right near the V&A Waterfront (close to the city center)
- 24-hour security to ensure that you’re always safe
- Delicious food, an awesome bar, a pool, a kitchen and regular BBQs
There are many amazing hostels in Cape Town, and the city has one of the most developed hostel scenes in the world. But, all in all, our favorite hostel has to be [email protected] It offers an incredible blend of partying and chill time, as well as exceptional standards in terms of security, cleanliness and comfort. Guests at the hostel even get a free tour of the city.
Our Favorite Budget Hotel – Parliament Hotel
- Centrally located right in the heart of the city
- The hotel has a friendly staff, comfortable rooms, and great amenities
- There is a shuttle service that can transport guests to and from the airport
Located right in Cape Town’s CBD, Parliament Hotel offers great value for money. The spacious rooms come equipped with en-suite bathrooms, air-conditioning, and HD satellite TV. The hotel is simple, clean, and comfortable. Guests can sip on a drink at the bar and enjoy on-site massages and spa treatments.
Our Favorite Splurge Hotel – POD Camps Bay
- Stunning views out over the Atlantic Ocean
- Just a minute’s walk from the incredible Camps Bay beachfront, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world
- Walking distance from a variety of amazing bars and restaurants
Located in Camps Bay, right near one of the best beaches in the world, POD immerses its guests in absolute luxury. The striking interior design is modern, minimalistic, and gorgeous. Each of the air-conditioned rooms is large and include a great entertainment system. A delicious breakfast is served each morning, and the on-site bar makes incredible cocktails.
Know How to Get Around in Cape Town
Getting around Cape Town is quite different to getting around in most other major tourist cities. For starters, the city is spread out between a vast number of suburbs covering an expansive area. Walking isn’t a viable method of transport in Cape Town, although walking around within the different suburbs is a great way to explore.
Secondly, while taking public transport is an option, it isn’t quite like what you find in most first-world countries. There is a network of buses and trains, but delays and cancellations are commonplace, and safety can be an issue at times. For getting around the city, the Myciti busses are your best bet. They’re safe and fairly efficient, but not yet up and running in some areas.
If possible, we recommend hiring a car during your trip to Cape Town. Having a car will help you avoid the headaches of using a poorly organized public transport system, and allow you to explore Cape Town more freely! You can book your rental insurance with RentalCover.com to be fully covered.
Uber is another great way to get around the city. In Cape Town, Ubers are affordable and numerous, meaning you’ll never have to wait too long for a lift or spend too heavily.
South African taxis are very cheap, can be found pretty much everywhere, and take you just about anywhere. The infamous taxis aren’t taxis as you know them: they’re mini buses that rush along a predetermined route, packed to the brim with passengers (generally far exceeding the load capacity!).
Riding these taxis is a cheap way of getting around, but safety can sometimes be a concern, so we recommend only riding in one if you’re with an experienced local.
Cape Town offers some incredible nightlife options, from sunset drinks to late night clubbing!
Long Street and Kloof
- Some of the best clubs and bars in the country
- A great vibrant atmosphere and all of the best nightlife compressed into two streets
- Club entrance fees are affordable and the drinks are cheap!
Most of the city’s best nightlife venues can be found on Long Street and Kloof Street, a hotspot for backpackers in Cape Town. The neighboring streets are each lined with a myriad of bars, restaurants, and clubs. The atmosphere becomes vibrant when the sun falls away, and the streets fill with young locals starting their nights out on the town.
- Some of the more artistic and interesting restaurants and bars in town
- A great atmosphere, with plenty of destinations to wander between
- A great place to spend a whole evening, from dinner ‘til the small hours
Observatory, generally shortened to ‘Obz’, is a cultural hub and hipster paradise, just a short journey from the city center. Each evening, the main street in Obz, (Lower Main road), becomes a bustling network of energy. Restaurants and bars are plentiful, and the atmosphere is awesome.
Check out the vast, rustic, Jamaican style ‘Trenchtown’, with its large outdoor seating area, dance floor, vibrantly painted walls, cheap drinks, and tasty food!
- Classy and elegant suburb set on the beach front
- Plenty of great bars and dining options
- Take a walk on the beach before settling down to watch the sunset
Camps Bay is one of the classiest areas in Cape Town, with many international celebrities as its part-time residents. The suburb has a stunning palm-lined beachfront, with a wide bank of pure white sand and a plethora of restaurants and bars.
It’s an amazing place to visit at sunset, and the Boho style Chinchilla Rooftop bar is the best spot for it. Sip on cocktails while you dine and watch the sun set spectacularly over the Atlantic ocean.
Cape Town is home to some exceptional flavors, from the famous South African boerewors to the creamy delight of milk tart. But Cape Town is a multicultural city, and a melting pot for interesting flavors, so there is no end to the food experiences it can offer!
Old Biscuit Mill – Neighbourgoods market
- An incredible range of food stalls, offering artisanal eats and fantastic flavors
- A range of other stalls and shops selling everything from locally designed clothes to rustic African souvenirs
- A vibrant atmosphere with live music and happy faces
Every Saturday at 9 am, a retired Biscuit Mill opens its gates to the public, and hosts one of the best food markets in the country!
World-class local artisans, designers, and foodies set up stalls in the cavernous space, offering a delicious range of foodie delights from artisanal mayonnaise and organic vegetables to mushroom skewers and sensational Thai food. Laid back live music floods the courtyard as locals and tourists alike enjoy the delicious food and incredible atmosphere.
Wild Food Foraging Experience
- Forage for wild indigenous edibles, and have them cooked into delicious a three-course meal
- Each foraging experience, and therefore every dish, is different, depending on the environmental conditions
- Great value for money, and the best way to get hands-on experience with local flavors
For the last decade, Roushanna Gray, a local forager and indigenous plant expert, has been experimenting with the delicious flavors of Cape Town’s indigenous edibles. She now offers patrons the opportunity of a lifetime, with an indigenous foraging experience.
She’ll take you on an adventure around Cape Town’s natural landscapes, as you forage for wild edible goodies. Once your baskets have been filled, Roushanna will turn the yield into a delicious three-course meal.
Reverie Social Table
- A unique social dining experience, where you can meet like-minded foodies
- Five delicious and creatively plated dishes which compliment the social atmosphere
- The dishes are seasonally inspired and paired with wine from local estates
Set in the heart of Observatory, The Reverie Table offers a unique and delicious dining experience. The centerpiece of chef Julia Hatting’s restaurant is an 18-seater table, where patrons can meet and dine with other foodie minded individuals. The social table experience offers an awesome backdrop for a delicious five-course culinary adventure, that will take your breath away.
Cape Town, with its endless mountains, sparkling ocean, and countless sports grounds is a sporting paradise.
Go for a surf
- Cape Town has some of the best waves and most beautiful beaches on earth
- Easy board rental and affordable surf lessons at Muizenberg beach
- The water on the Atlantic side gets pretty chilly, so pack a wetsuit!
Surfing is one of Cape Town’s favorite pastimes, and it’s easy to see why. The city is perched on an outcrop of mountainous land almost entirely surrounded by ocean, and it is home to some of the best and most beautiful surf spots in the world.
Llandudno is one of these spots, with its famous surf break and stunning landscape. Muizenberg beach is better for beginners, as the waves are generally smaller and surf schools are abundant.
Go for a Hike
- Cape Town offers some of the best hiking in the world
- Easily navigable hiking routes and stunning natural wildlife
- Check out this guide to Cape Town’s hiking trails
Tucked between Cape Town’s vast bordering oceans is its stunning towering mountain range. Table Mountain National Park comprises the area of the mountain near the city, and is one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.
The hiking in the area is exceptional; the landscape and wildlife are stunning, and the park is well maintained. Contour paths wrap around the mountain and are strung together by narrow paths running up vertically, so it’s easy to navigate while you explore!
Dive beneath the waves
- A highly diverse range of scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities
- Plenty of PADI certified scuba operators, such as Pisces Divers
- The water is cold, but the sights are well worth it!
Cape Town isn’t just gorgeous above the waves, beneath the ocean’s surface lies a stunning seascape filled with color and life. The diving opportunities are exceptional; from gently waving kelp forests and vibrant coral to the infamous great white shark. Simonstown is great for coral, while most of the shark diving takes place in False Bay.
Cape Town is a cultural hub, with plenty of amazing venues that host frequent entertainment. From music and theatre to art and cinema, Cape Town has got you covered.
Labia independent art cinema
- Gorgeous independent cinema showing independent films and recent Hollywood favorites
- An alcohol license allows you to buy and sip on a drink (or drinks!) throughout the film. They even serve warm Gluhwein in winter.
- They also serve delicious snacks and you can get a movie and dinner deal for an extra $1 – $2 USD.
The Labia cinema in Cape Town is a local favorite. Set in an old building, with a fairy-lit garden, the cinema is beautiful and has a retro vibe. They show a collection of independent and African films, as well as recent big-name films. The atmosphere is awesome and the tickets are cheap!
The Baxter Theatre
- Exceptional theatrical entertainment on pretty much all Fridays and Saturdays
- Set in a strikingly well-designed and cavernous building
- Easy to get to from all of our recommended suburbs
The Baxter is a beautiful theatre in the suburb of Rondebosch. Originally built in 1976, the theatre challenged the oppressive apartheid regime by staging experimental and multi-racial work. The cinema has hosted many theatre legends and consistently stages high caliber, critically acclaimed productions.
Summer sunset concerts
- Set in the lush Kirstenbosch botanical gardens on the sloping base of the mountain
- Big name local and international artists perform every Sunday during the summer months (November – March)
- Bring your own snacks and drinks and enjoy the amazing atmosphere
If you’re fortunate enough to be visiting Cape Town in summer (which we highly recommend), then you can’t miss the opportunity to see a summer sunset concert. Set in the lovely Kirstenbosch Gardens, the weekly Sunday concerts provide top-notch music performances from big-name local and international artists.
Sit on the sloping lawns amongst the foliage at the base of the mountain, with a picnic and drinks as the sun slips away and vibrantly colors the sky.
10 Other Awesome Things to do in Cape Town This Weekend
There are plenty more amazing things to see and during a trip to Cape Town. We’ve put together some of our favorites below!
#1 – Table Mountain
Table Mountain is the most unmissable attraction for any visit to Cape Town. Whilst the mountain is visible from the city, the best way to experience it is to head to the top. There are two ways to get up Table Mountain: take the famous cable car, or hike up.
Hiking up is an incredible experience, but not for the faint-hearted. It requires a decent level of fitness and takes a few hours. The cable car is quick and easy, with great views going up. Either way, the summit is just as beautiful. You’ll have 360-degree views of the stunning city and its oceans as you explore the top of this enigmatically flat mountain.
#2 – Drive Chapman’s Peak
Chapman’s Peak drive is often considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world. It hugs the mountain tightly on one side and has a sheer drop off to the Atlantic ocean below on the other. The road winds around the mountain, suspended high up and immersed in the landscape, with views that are unimaginably beautiful.
#3 – Explore Bo Kaap
Bo Kaap offers a lively portrait of South African life, with its vibrantly painted houses, cobblestone streets, and distinct culture. A tourist favorite and one of the best places to visit in Cape Town, Bo Kaap is a stunning suburb with a great atmosphere and is best explored on foot.
The area is a former township, once known as the Malay Quarter, and situated on the slopes of Signal Hill near the city center. It’s the oldest surviving residential neighborhood in the city, and it offers a truly unique experience to those who visit.
#4 – Wine Tasting
A trip to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of the exquisite wine that is produced in the area. And there’s no better way to do so than at one of the farms where the grapes are grown and the wine produced.
Constantia is a lush, green suburb nestled below the mountain, and has many great wine farms that offer tastings. Groot Constantia wine farm is a great option. There, you can sample wines while you look out over the vineyard and learn about its 300-year history. They offer delicious food pairings as well!
#5 – V&A Waterfront
Set on the banks of a working harbor, the V&A Waterfront is South Africa’s most visited destination. You’ll find a host of great restaurants and bars, a world-class shopping mall, all sorts of entertainment, and an indoor food and craft market.
Local musicians fill the streets with traditional African music, and the atmosphere is truly inviting. You could easily spend an afternoon here shopping, eating, exploring, and soaking up the stunning views.
#6 – Zeitz MOCAA
The largest museum of contemporary African art in the world, Zeitz MOCAA contains an incredible range of stunning African art pieces. The exhibitions artfully explore philosophical concepts and uniquely African experiences across the museum’s seven floors.
It is rare that African contemporary art is appreciated on such a large scale. The museum acts as a solid platform for local artists to express themselves and gain the recognition they deserve.
#7 – Visit The Beach
Cape Town is famously home to some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, and visiting the city without seeing them really isn’t an option. There is nothing more relaxing than kicking back on some white sand with a drink in hand and looking out over crystal blue waters.
There are plenty of beaches to include in your Cape Town itinerary, from the boulder lined Llandudno and Clifton beaches to the classy Camps Bay seafront. Boulders beach, with its native penguin residents, offers a truly unique experience!
There is nothing more peaceful than gliding through the sky with your feet dangling, and there’s no better place to do it than Cape Town.
This tandem paragliding experience will turn your dreams into reality as you soar high above the city and the expansive Atlantic Ocean. You’ll take off by running down a gentle slope and cruise the skies for about 20 minutes before touching down. The views are exceptional, and don’t worry – the guides are top notch professionals with safety as their highest priority.
#9 – Aquila Game Reserve
If you have the time, we strongly recommend getting out of the city and heading to Aquila Game Reserve where you’ll see Africa’s famous Big Five. You’re pretty much guaranteed to see lions, giraffes, zebras, leopards, rhinos, and elephants!
Situated just a couple of hours drive from Cape Town, the game reserve is beautiful. This day trip includes all transport to and from the reserve, an entry ticket, and lunch.
#10 – Two Oceans Aquarium
The aptly named Two Oceans Aquarium is one of the best and most accessible ways to experience Cape Town’s diverse marine life. Located at the V&A Waterfront, the aquarium is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.
You’ll get to see numerous species of sharks, including the famous great white, right up close! The museum is also home to a myriad of other underwater species, from turtles and penguins to jellyfish, manta rays, and much more! The aquarium is truly spectacular, and work hard to protect and preserve the coastline’s incredible ocean life.
By now you’re probably buzzing to head over to Cape Town, but you may have a few questions that you want answers to before you take off. Don’t worry, our Cape Town guide has you covered!
#1. What should I pack for a weekend in Cape Town?
You may be wondering what you should pack for your weekend in Cape Town, other than the usual backpacking essentials. We’ve got you covered:
- Weatherwise Clothing – Cape Town gets really warm in summer, but can get quite chilly in winter. If you’re there in summer, you’ll want shorts, T-shirts, summer dresses, and flip-flops. In winter you’ll want trousers, closed shoes, sweaters, and maybe a jacket in case you get unlucky with the weather.
- Swimsuit – Cape Town has so many beautiful swim spots, that it would be a crime not to take advantage of them. Come prepared with some swimwear even if you don’t think you’ll swim – we think you’ll change your mind when you see it!
- Plug adaptor – South African plug sockets are pretty unique, but most appliances there work off of European plugs, so there are plenty of EU adaptors around. Be sure to bring an adaptor for either South African or European plugs..
#2. Can I get an apartment in Cape Town for the weekend?
Definitely! Apartments are a great way to experience a new city, and Cape Town has an incredible range to choose from. Staying in an apartment can give you a more homely experience and offers you the chance to live more like a Cape Town local. This designer apartment in Cape Town is beautiful and centrally located right near Table Mountain.
Apartments are a great option if you’re traveling in a larger group, as it can greatly reduce the cost of accommodation. It’s also great to have a private communal space where you can hang out with your friends or family.
Airbnb is one of our favorite platforms for renting an apartment in Cape Town. It’s quick, easy, safe, and affordable. With Airbnb, you can even choose to stay in an apartment with a local, who can give you some insider tips on how best to enjoy their beautiful city!
#3. Is Cape Town safe for a weekend trip?
To outsiders, South African cities are often seen as being generally unsafe. However, whilst crime is an issue in Cape Town, its many suburbs vary greatly in terms of safety. The areas which we’ve outlined in this Cape Town travel guide are all safe, so long as you’re sensible.
Due to South Africa’s oppressive and segregated past, Cape Town remains strongly economically divided. This, unfortunately, sets the stage for petty theft, as economically disadvantaged individuals make desperate attempts to get money.
Whilst violent crime is uncommon outside of the townships, petty theft can occur pretty much anywhere in the city. When you’re in crowded areas, keep your personal belongings close, and try to keep them out of sight.
Don’t walk alone at night, and always avoid poorly lit or vacant areas, especially if they give you a bad vibe. Follow these travel safety tips and use your instincts and common sense to avoid dodgy situations and individuals, and don’t make yourself look like an easy target.
Lastly, don’t forget to bring sunscreen! Cape Town’s sun is hot in summer and can give you a nasty burn easily.
Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for travelers, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
Final Thoughts on a Great Weekend in Cape Town
Cape Town is a beautiful city, with an incredible amount to offer. Its natural landscapes are impossibly dramatic and unarguably breathtaking, its culture is vibrant, and its history fascinating and convoluted.
Aside from being exceptionally gorgeous, Cape Town is a melting pot of cultures, an adventure sports paradise, a foodie fantasy, an entertainment nirvana, and an amazing place to spend a night out!
Spending two days in Cape Town is an amazing way to enjoy a weekend, but it may not be enough time to see and do all that the city has to offer. If you’re able to spend three days in Cape Town, or longer, you certainly won’t regret it!
Whether you’re backpacking in Cape Town or stopping by for a whirlwind weekend in the city, we hope our Cape Town travel guide has prepared you and filled you with excitement!
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.