Corona Virus important information
A perfect day in Cape Town | Insight Guides Blog

A perfect day in Cape Town

Cape Town, one of the world’s most appealing cities, is set on a peninsular of almost indescribable beauty. Here’s how to make the most of it in a day
Table Mountain, Lion's head and Twelve Apostles are popular hiking destinations for both locals and tourists all year round
Cape Town view and Table Mountain

Often touted as South Africa’s most beautiful and engaging city, Cape Town offers visitors a wealth of activities, attractions, places to eat and things to enjoy. Here’s how to begin planning your perfect day


A full-on Italian and Portuguese fusion, Beleza in the city centre offers a good, hearty breakfast to begin the day. Choose from South African style pancakes, if you're feeling daring: poached eggs with Peri Peri livers, or a milder Portuguese spread. You’ll find the menu is extensive. Doubling as a vintage clothes shop, take the time to browse the rails and you might find a bargain.


No trip to Cape Town is complete without a ride to the top of Table Mountain. Weather permitting – neither hikers nor the cable car are allowed unless the conditions are right – start your morning by travelling the 1,089 metres above the city skyline on the cable car. In operation since 1929, the cable car has ferried over 24-million people to the summit. From here, take advantage of impressive panoramic views over the sprawling city, rugged coastline and surrounding sea.


Once back down to sea-level, take the time to explore the neon-painted Bo-Kaap district, formerly known as the Malay Quarter. The narrow, winding streets here are richly-atmospheric and home to a fascinating history, more of which you can learn about in the Bo-Kaap Museum.

Walk the streets and see the sights of the city for yourself on this Cape Amazing: Cape Town Explored tour.

Brightly-coloured house in Bo-Kaap, Malay Quarter, Cape Town.Brightly-coloured house in Bo-Kaap, Malay Quarter, Cape Town. Photo: Ariadna22822 / Shutterstock


Continuing through Cape Town’s centre, move onto the Company’s Gardens, established in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company for the victualing of their ships en route to the East Indies. Today, the gardens offer a retreat from the bustle of the city. Look out for the giant Outeniqua yellowwood, planted in the 17th century, it’s said to be the tallest in the country.


The south end of the gardens is also home to the Iziko South African Museum, housing a wide range of cultural and natural history displays, including an impressive collection of rock-art and a set of 2,500-year-old ceramics.


Two blocks east of London Street, you’ll find Greenmarket Square. Another highlight of the city centre, the square is alive with flea-market stalls manned by a pan-African assembly of French-speakers from Senegal and Mali, or Swahili-speakers from Kenya and Tanzania, selling artwork, hand-painted fabrics, glassware, curios and more.

It’s more than just a market: the square is a congressional point for buskers and cultural voyeurs of all sorts and is lined with cafes and characterful old buildings.


Located on Long Street – just off Greenmarket Square –  pop by FORK for a late-afternoon lunch. Diners will find Spanish bite-sized portions with a South African taste. They feature the classic tapas options – from calamari to chorizo – but also rustle up distinctly South African options, including pan-seared ostrich fillet. Vegetarians will be pleased to hear there are plenty of meat-free dishes too.

Take the ultimate travel companion: Insight Guides: Cape Town City Guide

the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.Home to shopping, boat excursions and restaurants, the V&A Waterfront is a favourite tourist destination. Photo: Quality Master / Shutterstock


Towards the East side of the city, overlooking the Grand Parade, is the 17th Century Castle of Good Hope. Completed in 1697, it is officially the oldest, surviving, intact structure in South Africa. Each wall is 10-metres thick, with five impressive corner bastions.

Today the castle acts as a military headquarters, as well as a military and maritime museum, with objects including paintings, Cape silver, furniture and Asian porcelain housed here.


Next stop is the V&A Waterfront, touted as one of the country’s best shopping experiences. Open daily from 9am-9pm, you’ll find fashion, homeware and jewellery, alongside smaller stalls and an expansive food market.

The area regularly hosts events too, from historical walking tours to comedy clubs. Located in a city’s charming harbour, you’ll be surrounded by impressive views of the ocean, cityscape and Table Mountain beyond.


Here you’ll also find the Bascule Whisky, Wine & Cocktail Bar – without a doubt the area’s most sophisticated drinking hole. Choose from over 400 whiskies and an extensive wine list, while relaxing in plush leather sofas and admiring the breath-taking views of Table Mountain.

Although, be warned, you might break the bank with a single glass of Sauvignon Blanc: this place is expensive!


When it comes to eating out, Cape Town caters to every taste and budget. For the city’s most romantic spot, head to The Roundhouse. Located in an 18th Century hunting lodge, it overlooks Camps Bay beach and the city. Time it right and you’ll see the sunset: making the most of the stunning views below.  The food on offer is a contemporary mix of European style with South African flavours and recipes.

Insight Guides can help you plan the perfect trip to Cape Town and South Africa. Talk to one of our travel experts now.

Taking on a tour of South Africa? Don't miss these top 7 attractions 

Find truly special settings at these top 5 private game reserves 

South Africa is one of 13 destinations to visit this summer. Find out why here

Alternatively, plan a trip for the autumn months with our guide on where to go this September, October and November