How to spend 24 hours in Cape Town
Updated: Jul 14
Cape Town, also affectionately known as the 'Mother City', is home to some of South Africa's most iconic landmarks, such as Table Mountain and Robben Island. It's also considered one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world.
With so much to see and do in the legislative capital, how can you cram in as much as possible in one day? On the #RedBusSA of course! Available in 15 languages, the hop-on, hop-off tour allows you to explore the best of the city, at your own pace.
We opted for the Mini Peninsula Tour - a circular tour that takes you around the back of Table Mountain, with stop-offs at some of Constantia's best wine estates.
Here's how we spent 24 hours in Cape Town.
After a leisurely breakfast at Ginja restaurant at the V&A Waterfront, we boarded the bus at the Aquarium (also the location of the City Sightseeing Tour Office). Plugging our earphones in to hear about the city's rich history while we took in the sights, we hopped off at Long Street, well known for its many bookstores, ethnic restaurants, youth hostels, and bars.
After taking in the hip hangouts and stopping for a coffee at From Coffee with Love, we jumped back on the bus to head to our next destination, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is internationally acclaimed as one of the seven most magnificent botanical gardens in the world. The 528-hectare estate boasts a fragrance garden, a medicinal garden, 2,500 species of plants, a braille trail, and a cycad amphitheatre.
We particularly enjoyed snaking our way (excuse the pun!) along the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – affectionately known as the Boomslang. This 130-metre steel and timber bridge provides stunning views of the Garden and the Cape Flats.
I also liked the sculpture garden, where we found an exhibition of African stone sculptures and bronze animal sculptures by Dylan Lewis.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Feeling peckish and in need of some refreshment on a hot day, we decided to pay a visit to South Africa's oldest wine estate, Groot Constantia. Its heritage stretches back to the formation of Constantia and is thereby linked to the country’s very first grape plantings in 1652.
We opted for their classic wine tasting and were able to choose our five wines. A nice surprise was that our branded glasses were also included in the price. After falling in love with their sweet Cape Ruby dessert wine, we quickly purchased a bottle before heading to one of their restaurants, Simon's, for a much-needed cheese and meat platter to share before embarking back on the bus to our next stop.
Mariners Wharf in Hout Bay is Africa’s and the Southern Hemisphere’s first harbourfront emporium. A great place for seal spotting and enjoying a leisurely seafood lunch outside on the deck. If your trip is on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, make sure you pay a visit to the nearby Bay Harbour Market to do some shopping.
Nestled amongst the Twelve Apostles of Table Mountain, Lion's Head and a stretch of beach that seems to never end, Camps Bay is one of Cape Town's major tourist attractions. We loved walking along the promenade, taking in all the sights and smells, before stopping for an ice-cold beer at Paranga. If the waves are too cold to swim in, the large tidal pool is an excellent spot for those who enjoy outdoor swimming.
Keen cyclists can also attempt to cycle the stretch of road between Camps Bay and Sea Point, which will bring you to the waterfront in the city centre.
The Green Point Lighthouse, located on Mouille Point, was first lit on 12 April 1824, making it the oldest operational lighthouse in South Africa. The lighthouse was sadly closed to visitors due to Covid, but we've heard that the views from the top are spectacular on a good day. A nice spot for taking some pictures and watching the world go by.
The final stop of the day and back to where we started - the Aquarium at the V&A.
No trip into Cape Town is complete without a walk around Bo-Kaap, formerly known as the Malay Quarter, and famous for its iconic colourful houses. For a mere R20, you can also visit the Bo-Kaap Museum. While it is small, it offers visitors a look into the past, culture, and socio-political climate of the Bo-Kaap neighbourhood.
A short walk from Bo-Kaap and you'll stumble upon Bree Street, a bustling strip of restaurants, bars and cafes in the heart of the city centre. We highly recommend a visit to Vixi Social House, which offers an all-day dining Mediterranean menu. The decor is also to die for with quirky tropical wallpaper, Beyonce prints and hanging lights.
In this bustling hub of the CBD, however, there's no shortage of places to go for food, and of course, the obligatory nightcap or two!
Love Thy Neighbour Bar on Bree Street, Cape Town