3 Days in Cape Town Itinerary
Updated April 2020, 3 Days in Cape Town Itinerary was originally written in September 2015
I kicked off my first trip to the African continent by spending 3 days in Cape Town, South Africa before taking off on a 6 week overland journey through southern and eastern Africa all the way to Zanzibar.
I flew over on a mileage ticket from all the miles I’d racked up over the years, but the only time I could arrive in Cape Town with a mileage ticket before departing on my grand overland adventure was to fly in 4 days before the send-off. So without hesitation, I booked the mileage ticket and spent 3 days in Cape Town to start. Based on my trip here is a 3 day Cape Town itinerary.
Looking for recommendations on where to stay? Click here to skip to the accommodations section.
Day 1: Gardens, Birds & Wine
Get an early start today, because your first day in Cape Town is jampacked. Today you’ll tour the city by way of the red, double-decker hop-on-hop-off buses. You can book your bus ticket online here to save time, but you can also buy them once you’re in Cape Town (note that the prices are the same).
Start off your day by hopping on the blue peninsula bus route and head for Kirstenbosch Gardens.
Book your Cape Town bus tickets here
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Even if you aren’t that interested in plants and flowers, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a great way to start off your time in Cape Town– it’s beautiful. There are trails that meander all over the gardens with lovely displays, and there is even a canopy walk. If you happen to be here on a Sunday, don’t miss out on the weekly concert held on the garden stage.
- Adults: R75
- Kids (6-17 years): R20
- Children under 6 years: Free
Bird nerd out at the World of Birds
The World of Birds is a wildlife sanctuary home to over 3,000 birds of over 400 species, overlooking Hout Bay. Don’t miss the forest walk and keep your eyes peeled for birds, as well as monkeys, reptiles, and squirrels. If you don’t want to deal with lines when you arrive, you can book your World of Birds Admission tickets here.
Bird World Admission
- Adults: R130
- Kids (3-16 years): R50
- Children (under 3 years): Free
Cape Town Wineries
After you’ve finished up at World of Birds, switch to the purple bus route to head for the wineries. South Africa and Cape Town, in particular, are widely regarded for their wine. After wrapping up at the Botanical Gardens you’ll want to switch to the purple bus route that takes you to explore Cape Town’s wineries.
Wanna join a wine tasting day tour? Check out this one!
With over 330 years of history, Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine farm, and its wines are widely known. From personal experience, I recommend at least doing the wine & chocolate pairing. Read up more on Groot Constantia on their website.
- Wine tasting only: R100
- Wine & chocolate pairing: R150
- Wine tasting + cellar tour: R115
- Wine & chocolate pairing + cellar tour: R165
The Eagle’s Nest was a part of Constantia Farms but has passed hands several times over the years. While the Constantia Valley is known for its white wines, Eagle’s Nest is known for its reds, owing to the unique environmental factors around its area of the valley. Read more about Eagle’s Nest here.
- Wine tasting: R75
- Wine & food pairing: R195
Beau Constantia wins for the best wine with a view category. With sweeping, panoramic views of False Bay and the Stellenbosch and Helderberg Mountain Ranges, this is the perfect way to end your self-guided Cape Town wine tour.
- Wine tasting: R65
After you’ve finished up touring the Constantia Valley wineries it’s time to head to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Don’t miss out on the sunset over Table Bay Harbor and Table Mountain. End your first day in Cape Town with a nice dinner. Click here to look through your restaurant options.
Road-tripping from Cape Town to Cairo? Check out my Cairo travel guide
Day 2: Penguins & Cape Point
Up and early! Kick off your second day in Cape Town by getting out of it and heading south to nearby Simon’s Town. From here visit the Boulders Beach Penguin Colony and Cape Point (the Cape of Good Hope).
Take the train to Simon’s Town
Get up early and make your way over to the Cape Town train station. Simon’s Town is located about 46 km south of the city, reachable by train in about 45 minutes.
I’d recommend getting on a train departing at around 7 am to beat the crowds at Boulders Beach. Make sure to get a seat on the left (east) side of the train for great views of the Atlantic Ocean on your way down. Trains depart frequently, but you can also check the timetable here.
Train prices (one way)
- First class: R15.50
- Second class: R9.50
Once you arrive in Simon’s Town, make the couple kilometer walk over to Boulders Beach, or hop on a shared van.
Shared vans will be waiting at the train station parking lot when the train arrives. Vans leave when full, and be prepped, they pack them to the gills. A one-way ride will set you back about R10.
Don’t want the hassle of planning it yourself? Check out this Boulders Beach and Cape Point Day Trip
Meet the Boulders Beach locals
I hear… donkeys. Didn’t you say a penguin colony lives here? Yup, right and right. The African Penguin gains its nickname ‘jackass penguin’ from its donkey-like brays. You’ll likely hear these little guys before you see them.
My best advice is to beat the crowds and get here when the park opens. The park opens at 8 am, so I recommend taking a train that departs Cape Town at about 7 am.
In December & January, I recommend leaving Cape Town around 6 am because the park opens at 7 am. Getting there at 8 am (October) gave me ample time to visit the penguin colony without a crowd. There was only a family of 4 and two couples there for about the first hour.
Foxy Bay is the best area to view the Penguins.
Boulders Beach admission
- Adults: R75
- Kids (2-11 years-): R40
- Children (under 2 years): Free
Have lunch in Simon’s Town
There are a number of restaurants to choose from in Simon’s Town, so take your pick. I chose to treat myself to a nice (pricy) lunch at Seaforth (it was my 28th birthday, after all).
Head down to the Cape of Good Hope
Another 25 km down the coast is the Cape of Good Hope to see the rugged and beautiful beaches and coastline here. A common misconception is that Cape Point is the southernmost point of Africa– it isn’t, that’s Cape Agulhas, located about another 200 km away.
If you have your own transport, Cape Point is easy to reach. But if you don’t, getting here is a bit expensive– to the tune of about R600 by a tour from Simon’s Town. If you do want to visit both and don’t want to drive yourself I recommend checking out this day trip that includes transport and entrance fees.
Or Spend the afternoon relaxing on the beaches
The beaches along Simon’s Town and Boulders are gorgeous, so if you want a more relaxed day, or are sticking to a tighter budget this is a great option. In the late afternoon catch a train back to Cape Town and grab dinner for the evening.
Looking for other places to go in Southern Africa? Check out Botswana’s Chobe National Park
Day 3: Table Mountains & Camps Bay
Your final day in Cape Town will take you to explore the more natural side of the city, taking in its amazing aerial views and powdery white sand beaches.
Hike Table Mountain
Wakey wakey. It’s time to hike up that big iconic thing Cape Town is known for, Table Mountain. Order an Uber to drop you off at the Table Mountain Trailhead.
It’s a pretty intense hike to the top and if the sun’s out it will get quite hot, so be sure to bring plenty of water. If you’re traveling on a tighter budget I recommend packing some snacks for a picnic at the top, but if you aren’t there is a restaurant up top. Once you reach the top of Table Mountain you’ll have amazing views of Robbins Island and the city of Cape Town.
Not feeling up for a hike? Not to worry! There’s a cable car that can take you up and down Table Mountain. It actually spins around as you scend/descend giving everyone on board epic views. I recommend hiking up and taking the cable car back down.
Cable car prices (one way/return)
- Adult morning: R200/R360
- Adult afternoon: R200/R300
- Kid (4-17 years) morning: R180/R100
- Kid (4-17) years (afternoon): R150/R100
- Student: R180/R100
- Children (under 4 years): Free
Don’t wanna enjoy Table Mountain alone? Join this cable car and city day tour of Cape Town.
Camps Bay & Clifton Beaches
Once back down off of Table Mountain, order an Uber to Camps Bay and treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon at the beach. Clifton Beach and Camps Bay both are stunning with soft white sands, flanked by mountains and dotted with beautiful homes.
Have dinner at one of Long Street’s many restaurants
End your Cape Town adventures with a glass of South African wine and a nice dinner, cheers.
Going to Zambia on your southern Africa adventure? Don’t miss South Luangwa National Park
Where to stay in Cape Town
Cape Town the start of your trans-Africa adventure? Don’t miss Mikumi National Park in Tanzania
Have any questions about this 3 day Cape Town itinerary?
Ask in the comments section below.