When our ski trip was cancelled, we made a last-minute plan to fly to South Africa for a week. We flew overnight on the 31st December, which may be my new favourite way to spend New Year’s Eve! It meant that whilst I usually plan our holidays months in advance, I utilised all the tips that I was sent on Instagram to plan our 6 days in Cape Town. We did a lot but there is definitely more that I’d love to go back and explore including Franschoek, going on safari and run the Cape Town marathon or Two Oceans.
The main question that has come up most often about Cape Town and our trip was, did you feel safe? And the answer is overwhelmingly YES.
We spoke to a number of locals who said that Cape Town is like any major city in the world. There are places you shouldn’t go, there are places that aren’t safe at night and there are places best avoided. We were warned that there are pickpockets in some of the very busy, touristy areas.
However I felt very safe running on my own most mornings along the waterfront (there were plenty of other runners and cyclists out), and we mostly got Ubers around which were very easy (and cheap). There were also security guards in most areas.
Covid requirements: we had to have a PCR test taken within 72 hours of landing in South Africa (needs to be printed out) and fill in a passenger locator form. The UK have now changed requirements so all we needed was proof of vaccination and passenger locator form to get home.
PS. See more Active Travel Guides
Cape Town, South Africa Active Travel Guide
Best Outdoor Activities in Cape Town
Cape Town is surrounded by mountains with so many hiking options.
- Lions Head – stunning views across Cape Town and Table Mountain. It’s really popular to do this 3-4 mile hike at sunrise or sunset but make sure you have a decent headtorch or join a group as it is quite steep/scrambly in parts with sections with ladders, staples and chains to climb. We hiked it for golden hour which was stunning.
- Table Mountain – this is probably the most iconic hike in Cape Town and was top of my bucket list. There are a number of routes you can take up the mountain; Platteklip Gorge (the most popular zig-zag route to the cable car), the Pipe Track (does not go to the top but most family friendly), Skeleton Gorge (starts in the botanical gardens) and Kasteelspoort (for a pic on the ‘diving board’ at the top). We had planned on hiking up Kasteelspoort but accidentally took the Corridor Ravine route up, then hiked across the top to the cable car. It was gorgeous and much quieter than expected – in total it was 6ish miles and took us around 4 hours. Make sure you bring plenty of water and snacks! Plus layers as it gets windy at the top.
- Chapman’s Peak – a far less busy hike and with 360* views from the top. It took about 2 hours round trip/3 miles roundtrip, the first section was pretty steep, uneven stone steps before it flattens out. The final scramble is over some large boulders, a great spot to sit and enjoy a snack before heading back down. You’ll need to get a ‘Day Pass’ ticket to drive along Chapmans Peak Drive – it’s free!
Do you need to hire a car?
We hired a car for only one day and mostly used Ubers to get around which was very easy. We spent about £30 on a hire car per day. And drove it from the city down to Chapman’s Peak and to Simons Town to see the penguins (we were a little sad about how busy the penguins were, however apparently there’s a secret spot along the boardwalk without the crowds). We had planned to drive to Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope however apparently Tom and I have very different opinions on what an ‘early start’ meant!
We met a couple in the hot tub (sounds weird, but happened quite a lot!) who went on a kayak trip around the harbour and saw dolphins, seals and reported that other trips have seen whales. On my morning runs I saw groups of kayakers and paddleboarders. It looked beautifully peaceful.
I loved running through V&A waterfront, and along the waterfront from the hotel to Hout Bay – it was gorgeous. I’m planning on writing a whole post on the best running spots as shared by a number of people online – I need to come back to take part in a parkrun, race and to do one of the GoRunning tours.
The Atlantic ocean is COLD. But it is a little warmer on the Indian Ocean side if you fancy a dip in the Ocean. Otherwise there are natural pools and public pools to get your lengths in. We enjoyed sitting on Camps Bay beach one morning although it was super windy. There are a plethora of amazing white sandy beaches in the area. Less touristy options include Noordhoek beach and Scarborough Beach.
More of a cultural than outdoorsy activity but well worth a visit if you have any interest in history. We were taken around by an ex-political prisoner who shared his experience during his 7 year imprisonment at Robben Island. You see Nelson Mandela’s cell, and the spot where he hid his manuscript.
Where to Eat in Cape Town
Good food is abundant and very affordable in Cape Town and beyond. Most of our lunches cost less than £30 for two, whilst dinners were between £25 and £50 per head for 3 courses plus wine at high end spots. And you could eat for a lot less if you’re eating in more local spots.
This was our favourite meal while in Cape Town, set on the top floor of an old biscuit factory, the concept is that you choose 6-8 dishes (between 2) from the menu and the chef will decide the best order to enjoy them.
This felt like kind of a place to be seen on a Thursday night, with pumping music and great wine & cocktails, we really enjoyed the food too. Ideal spot to watch the sunset over Camps Bay.
A gorgeous, high end vineyard in Stellenbosch with great food and wine, although slightly slow service. Arrive early for a sunset drink on the terrace, or better yet, stop for a wine tasting across the road at Tokara first.
We took an Uber from Cape Town out to Stellenbosch for an afternoon and it cost around £40 roundtrip for the journey.
An upmarket contemporary french restaurant. We couldn’t actually get a table at this place, once voted the best restaurant in South Africa, worth booking well ahead of your trip. You could also try Le Petit Colombe in Franschoek which has come highly recommended.
Highly recommended by friends that are Cape Town regulars as one of their fave spots. A wine farm in Constantia with views over vineyards – another one we have added to our list for next time. We did make it to Constantia Glen and Groot Constantia and loved both of them – great food and delicious wine!
We really like the V&A Waterfront, just a 10 min walk from the Westin Cape Town where we were staying and ate at the Harbour House (only OK but gorgeous location) and Life Grand Cafe (great sushi, buzzy atmosphere).
Cocktails on the roof of the The Silo Hotel needs to be on your list with a meal at the Granary Cafe – sadly we didn’t make it down there on this trip.
Overall, we loved Cape Town and would love to go back again someday soon. It was a great combo of hiking, beaches, great food and wine!
Have you been to Cape Town? What are your top recommendations?