3-Day Cape Town Itinerary without a car by JetSettingFools.com

3-Day Cape Town Itinerary (without a car!)

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Our visit to Cape Town, South Africa was part of our maiden Around the World Trip as we made our way from the island of Mauritius to the Europe. Although Cape Town was our only destination in Africa on that trip and we wanted to make the most of our time in the area, we didn’t want to drive.

We have never been confident maneuvering a vehicle in a foreign country – especially where they drive on the left! We had a good amount of angst while wondering and worrying about whether or not it was possible to experience the city without a car. In the end, we felt like we devised a Cape Town Itinerary that allowed us to see the sights while never having to get behind the wheel!


Cape Town Itinerary 3 Days

3 Day Cape Town Itinerary, South Africa Without a Car

Our Cape Town Itinerary is designed for the first-time traveler who wants to partake in the best Cape Town sightseeing without driving. It is ideal for visitors on Cape Town holidays who want to truly experience the city – as well as those planning to set sail on cruises from Cape Town.

We include Cape Town facts about each sight, as well as links to more information. We’ve included a helpful Cape Town map of sights at the end of the post, as well as advice about getting around Cape Town without a car and where to stay in Cape Town.

Save, Pin or Bookmark our Cape Town Travel Guide to plan your trip to South Africa!


Day 1 in Cape Town

5 South African flags flying in Cape Town, South Africa

On the first day of your Cape Town, South Africa Itinerary, go to the top of the famous Table Mountain and marvel at the incredible views. Then join one of the guided Cape Town tours of the city – or set out on your own to see the Cape Town highlights. End your day at the V&A Waterfront, the top entertainment hub in Cape Town.


Table Mountain Cape Town

The 12 Apostles range at Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

Start your Cape Town adventures by climbing to the top of Table Mountain – either by foot or cable car. The plateaued South African mountain features dramatic cliffs, stunning vantage points and is one of the most prominent Cape Town landmarks.

Devil's Peak at Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

Located within the Table Mountain National Park, which extends to the southern end of the cape, the most notable characteristics of the mountain – aside from its flat top – are Devil’s Peak, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.

The ‘Back Table,’ which runs along the Atlantic Coast from Table Mountain to Hout Bay is often referred to as The Twelve Apostles for the twelve distinct peaks. The top of Table Mountain is often shrouded in a thick layer of clouds – called the ‘Tablecloth’ – which forms when the colder south-easterly wind condenses air over the mountaintop.

Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

Travelers looking for adventure activities in Cape Town can hike to the top of Table Mountain in about 2 to 3 hours. However, those seeking easy and fun activities in Cape Town can hop on the cable car that whisks visitors to the top of the mountain in just five minutes.

Table Mountain Cableway going up the mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

How to get to Table Mountain without a car: Public Transport, Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour

{Read all about our experience Visiting Table Mountain}


Cape Town Walking Tour

City Hall in Cape Town, South Africa

Explore Cape Town on foot and discover the most historic sites in downtown. The Castle of Good Hope, the Company’s Gardens, St. George’s Cathedral and the Slave Lodge Museum are just a few of the top Cape Town destinations for visitors.

Colorful houses in Bo-Kaap district in Cape Town, South Africa

Wandering through the bright and colorful Bo-Kaap District, home to the city’s Malay population, is one of the unique things to do in Cape Town and should be on every visitor’s Cape Town To-Do List. There are numerous options for sightseeing in Cape Town covering a range of interests and budgets. Start your search on Viator for Cape Town private tours as well as group guided walks. 

The Company's Gardens in Cape Town, South Africa

How to get to downtown Cape Town without a car: On Foot (if staying downtown), Public Transport, Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour

{Find your way with our Self-Guided Cape Town Walking Tour}


V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront and view of Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – the oldest (and still operational) harbor –  is also Cape Town’s premier entertainment district. Boats still bring in the fresh catch of the day and the structures along the V&A Waterfront Harbour are occupied by posh accommodations, restaurants, bars and shops.

View of V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa

Additionally, the V&A is home to many excellent Cape Town museums and the Two Oceans Aquarium – as well as serving as the departure point for Robben Island Tours. Furthermore, spending an evening at the V&A Waterfront is one of the fun things to do in Cape Town at night!

Take a photo with the Love Cape Town Sign, South Africa

How to get to the V&A without a car: Public Transport, Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour

{Take a guided tour to learn more about the history of Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront}


Day 2 in Cape Town

Historic Company's Garden in Cape Town, South Africa

On Day 2 of your 3 days in Cape Town, take a stroll through the beautiful Botanical Gardens before setting off in the afternoon on one of the popular Cape Town wine tours, then end your day watching a stunning sunset from Signal Hill.


Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: The Main Pond and majestic mountain in the background

The Cape Town Botanic Gardens were established in 1913 to preserve and study indigenous plants, but parts of the garden date to the year 1660 (a hedge that was planted around the Dutch colony still stands today).

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa...and the name of the Cricket team!

The Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens cover an expansive 1,300 acres featuring the unique flora of the region, interesting animals, a Canopy Walkway and intriguing art installations. The paths that crisscross through Kirstenbosch are also a starting point for trails that lead to the top of Table Mountain – and hiking to the peak from the gardens is one of the more adventurous things to do in Cape Town.

Orange flowers blossom at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in Cape Town, South Africa

How to get to Kirstenbosch without a car: Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour

{Read more about Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens}


Wine Tasting Cape Town

Vineyards at Groot Constantia Wine Estate in Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Winelands is South Africa’s most popular wine-growing region, and it attracts wine connoisseurs from all over the globe. The history of wine in South Africa began when the Constantia Estate was established in 1685 – and later became famous in the late 1700s when their wine was favored by kings around the world.

Eagle's Nest Wine Farm in Cape Town, South Africa

Home to some of the oldest vineyards in South Africa, Constantia Valley is easily accessible from Cape Town – as it is just 15km (less than 10 miles) from the city center. Other nearby Cape Town wine regions include well-known Stellenbosch, Franschhoek Valley and Paarl.

Wine Tasting at Eagle's Nest Wine Farm in Cape Town, South Africa

How to get to Cape Town wineries without a car: Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour

{Read about our experience visiting Cape Town Wineries Without a Car}


Cape Town Sunset Tour at Signal Hill

Views from Cape Town's Table Mountain South Africa JetSetting Fools

One of the romantic things to do in Cape Town (or anywhere in the world, for that matter!) is to watch a sunset. The most picturesque places to watch a sunset in Cape Town is from Signal Hill. The naturally elevated viewpoint sits between the stoic Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its latitude, Cape Town sunsets are known to be particularly fiery orange and then fading to a deep purple.

How to get to Signal Hill without a car: Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour


Top Tip for Day 2: None of the Cape Town activities for Day 2 can be reached by public transportation, but they can be visited by the City Sightseeing Cape Town Bus. We share more on modes of transport and Cape Town tour bus options at the end of the post.


Day 3 in Cape Town

African Penguin at Boulders Beach in Simon's Town, South Africa

On Day 3 of your Cape Town, South Africa travel itinerary, go on a Cape Town excursion to see penguins in the wild! Then spend the afternoon and evening on the coast at one of the pristine Cape Town beaches.


Penguins on Boulders Beach

African Penguins on Boulders Beach in Simon's Town near Cape Town, South Africa

Take a Cape Town day trip to Simon’s Town, an area located 40km (25mi) south of Cape Town on False Bay. Home to the South African Navy, it is the tuxedo-feathered residents on Boulders Beach that draw tourists to Simon’s Town.

Two penguins hold hands at Boulders Beach near Cape Town, South Africa

Nearly endangered, two pairs of African penguins settled on the sandy shores of Boulders Beach in the 1980s. Since then, the Cape Town penguin colony has grown to nearly 3,000 birds. The Boulders Beach penguins roam freely on the sand and in the water. Elevated platforms have been constructed so visitors can watch the funny birds without disturbing their natural habitat.

Viewing platforms to view penguins at Boulders Beach near Cape Town, South Africa

How to get to the Cape Town penguins without a car: Train or Group/Private Tour

{Read about our adventure seeing the Boulders Beach African Penguins}


Best Cape Town Beaches

Camps Bay and Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

The coastline in Cape Town is a combination of rocky shores and white sand beaches. With the teal blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean lapping at the shoreline under the watchful eye of Table Mountain, the beaches are one of the most beautiful places to visit in Cape Town.

Camps Bay and Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

Afternoons at the beach are one of the fun activities in Cape Town, South Africa. Visitors can spend time soaking in the rays, braving the chilly waters for a swim (or surf!) or just walking on the sand and admiring the views. Cape Town sunsets can be amazing from the shoreline and dinner at an ocean-view restaurant in Sea Point is ideal. That said, our favorite beaches in Cape Town are Clifton (2nd Beach), Hout Bay and Camps Bay. 

Cape Town Beaches on western coast

How to get to the best Cape Town beaches without a car: Public Transport, Cape Town Tour Bus or Group/Private Tour

{Read more about where to find the best Cape Town Beaches}

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Tourist Map of Cape Town, South Africa

City views from Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

Use this link to Google Maps to find all our recommended Things To Do in Cape Town, SA!


Getting To Cape Town, SA

The Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is the sixth busiest in Africa and is located 12 miles from downtown. While the majority of long-haul flights arrive from top European hubs (like London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam), there are direct flights from the US to Cape Town via Atlanta and NYC. Read our tips for finding the Best Deals on Airline Tickets and then hop over to Skyscanner and book that flight to Cape Town!


Getting Around Cape Town

Coastline views from train bound for Simon's Town from Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is a sprawling city wedged in along the coastline and between the mountains. Many of the top Cape Town sights – Table Mountain, wineries and beaches – cannot be reached by foot or bicycle from the city center, meaning some form of Cape Town transport is required.

Driving in Cape Town – again, on the left! – was not something we wanted to do. Travelers have a few choices of how to get around Cape Town without a car – options that range from expensive to economical.


Taxi and Cape Town Uber

Hiring taxis in Cape Town is a standard option – but it can be a mighty expensive one! Rather than hailing a taxi, we recommend using Uber in Cape Town. As budget-conscious travelers, we avoided private vehicles and found alternative affordable options for Cape Town transportation.


MyCiTi Bus Cape Town

The Cape Town public transport system is actually quite good. The Cape Town buses are clean, efficient and inexpensive – and even have free Wi-Fi. Routes to many tourist destinations originate in the city center, making it easy for those staying in the downtown Cape Town to get around.

MyCiTi bus fares are calculated on distance traveled and are paid using a pre-loaded MyConnect Card. For example, the price of a ride from central Cape Town to Table Mountain was less than $1USD. Go to the official Cape Town transportation website for the most up to date information on fares and routes.

Top Tip: Bus tickets to Cape Town from the CPT Airport require the MyConnect Card, which can be purchased at the airport kiosk.


Cape Town Train Trips

Trains are not an ideal method of public transport in Cape Town for visitors – as the railway is mostly useful to commuters. That being said, the Southern Line Rail Route on the Metrorail connects Cape Town to Simon’s Town (which is just a short walk from Boulders Beach and the African penguins).

The tracks follow the shoreline for breathtaking vistas and the ride is very inexpensive; Cape Town train fares are about $1USD per ride. However, Cape Town trains can be unreliable – so it’s important to factor that into plans. Budget travelers seeking affordable adventures in Cape Town, South Africa might find one by riding the rails!


CPT Airport Shuttle Cape Town

There are many Cape Town airport shuttle options. Private Cape Town airport transfers can be booked in advance of your arrival, which is especially convenient after a long-haul flight.

{Check for Cape Town Airport transfers on Viator.}

Top Tip: Travelers who decide to drive in Cape Town can get a car rental at the Cape Town airport. We recommend checking the current Cape Town rental car rates and rules on Expedia. Also, be sure to buy a city map in advance so you can plot out your road trip in Cape Town!


Cape Town Tour Bus

Wine Tasting, Cape Town South Africa

Although not nearly as affordable as the public buses, the Cape Town tourist bus is a viable option for traveling around Cape Town without a car – besides, the Open Top Bus Cape Town is a fun and informative way to see the city. The City Sightseeing Cape Town bus has three routes to Cape Town top attractions – one of which travels to Cape Town vineyards, where there are no public bus routes.

In addition to the being able to visit wineries without a car, the Hop On Hop Off Cape Town bus conveniently makes stops exactly where visitors want to go. The City Sightseeing Bus in Cape Town also relieves travelers of the hassle of calculating fares and topping up transportation cards – as the Hop on Hop off Bus Cape Town sells daily tickets for an unlimited number of rides.


Red Bus Cape Town Tickets

Passes can be purchased for one or two days and start at about $15 USD. All of the sights on our Cape Town Itinerary can be reached with the Cape Town Tour Bus – which makes it an ideal option for travelers! 

Top Tip: The 2-day tickets include free walking tours and a boat cruise in Cape Town.

{Find out more about the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour Cape Town!}


Cape Town Day Tours

Barking sea lion at Hout Bay in Cape Town, South Africa

In addition to the Red Bus Tour in Cape Town, visitors can get to other Cape Town top tourist attractions by joining tours. There are more things to do in Cape Town than we could squeeze into a 3-day itinerary. Here are a few of the highly-rated Cape Town tours that you might want to add to your vacation in Cape Town:


Cape Town City Tours

There are many ways to experience Cape Town – and hiking and biking are two of the most popular ways! Search for a highly-rated Cape Town City Tour on Viator that explores the area you most want to see. 


Whale Watching Cape Town

One of the best outdoor things to do in Cape Town is to board a boat for a Whale Watching Tour! Find the best tours here!


Winelands Tour from Cape Town

Wine Tasting Tours in Cape Town are one of the most popular day tour activities. Cape Town vineyard tours can be organized as half-day or full-day trips – depending on how far you want to go and what kind of experience you want to have. Find a tour that fits your budget and style!


Robben Island Tour

Learn the history and stories of Cape Town’s infamous island prison on a tour of Robben Island. Three South African presidents, including Nelson Mandela, were held captive at the prison before the fall of apartheid. 


Township Tours

Visiting townships with a guide has become one of the top cultural attractions in Cape Town. Many visitors rank a trip to Langa Township as the best township tours in Cape Town.

Top Tip: Combine Robben Island and a Township Tour into a full-day trip.


Cape Town Adventure Activities

Cape Town is an adventure-seekers paradise! Shark diving, paragliding, surfing and snorkeling are just a few of the heart-pumping Cape Town action tours that can be booked! Check out the top adventure activities for your trip! 

Top Tip: Looking for other things to do in Cape Town? Check out the events calendar for fun things to do in Cape Town. During our visit, we attended the Cape Town Beer Festival.


Multi Day Trips From Cape Town

Travelers who want to venture beyond the city limits will find a plethora of Cape Town day trips that last from a few days to several weeks. 


3-Day Garden Route Tour

Get a wild introduction to South Africa’s most picturesque region on a 3-Day Safari from Cape Town. Learn more here! 


22-Day Cape Town to Victoria Falls Tour

Travel from Cape Town to Namibia on this incredible 22-day journey to the world-famous Victoria Falls. Find out more! 


Cape Town, South Africa Trip Planner Suggestions

Sailboats at Marina in Hout Bay in Cape Town, South Africa

If you have more – or less – days in your Cape Town, South Africa trip itinerary, here are a few suggestions about how to spend your time:


One Day in Cape Town

With only 1 Day in Cape Town, we recommend following the first day of our Cape Town itinerary. 


Cape Town Itinerary 4 Days

With 4 Days in Cape Town, we recommend following our 3-Day Cape Town, South Africa Itinerary – and then joining a Robben Island tour on your last day. 


Cape Town Itinerary 5 Days

With 5 days in Cape Town, we recommend visiting the same activities as in our 4-day Cape Town Itinerary (above) and adding a whale watching tour and/or a bicycle tour. 


A Week in Cape Town

Create a Cape Town one-week itinerary by following our suggestions for 4 days in Cape Town above and then heading off on a 3-day Garden Route Tour.


Things To Do in Cape Town On A Budget

Man feeds a seal fresh fish from his teeth in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

Travelers visiting Cape Town on a budget will find plenty of options for affordable activities – as Cape Town prices are generally considered a good value. There are many cheap things to do in Cape Town; in fact, there are budget options for everything listed on our Cape Town Itinerary.


Top Tips For A Budget Cape Town Trip

  • Use public transportation instead of taxis or tours.
  • Find cheap accommodation in Cape Town on Airbnb instead of staying in hotels (there are several cheap self-catering accommodation options available – more on the best places to stay in Cape Town in a minute).
  • Go to the grocery store instead of eating out (or search for affordable restaurants in Cape Town on TripAdvisor).
  • When searching for affordable things to do in Cape Town, we feel our above Cape Town trip itinerary is the best place to start!
  • Pick up a copy of the Official Cape Town Visitor’s Guide from the airport to find money-saving coupons and other offers for cheap deals in Cape Town.


Where To Stay in Cape Town

Hout Bay Beach in Hout Bay, Cape Town, South Africa

During our visit to Cape Town, we stayed in a super Airbnb Apartment. With our Airbnb budget accommodation in Cape Town, we had an entire apartment with a kitchen, rather than a simple hotel room.

However, travelers who prefer traditional accomidations will find everything from luxury to affordable hotels in Cape Town. Check out the amenities at these top-rated hotels in Cape Town: Taj Hotel, Urban Chic Boutique Hotel and One&Only Hotel – or start your search for the perfect place to stay in Cape Town on Booking.com.


Top Tips For Your Trip to Cape Town

Enjoy the Cape Town, SA Beaches Vacation Itinerary

  • Cape Town is a walkable city…but only if you pack the right travel shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip to South Africa. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
  • We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your Cape Town trip! Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for high quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures and is a slim and lightweight budget camera).
  • It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city…even Cape Town! Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
  • Get (and stay) organized for your SA vacation by using our Travel Planning Printables!
  • Whether you travel with a backpack or suitcase, you’ll want a great day bag to keep all of your essential everyday travel items organized and secure.
  • If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to South Africa, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.


Cape Town Safety for Tourists

Safety should be a concern for travelers visiting any destination. During our time in Cape Town, we were constantly reminded to be vigilant about our surroundings and advised to keep high-dollar items (jewelry, phones, cameras) out of sight and in zipped bags. Read the top Cape Town safety tips on the city’s official website


Cape Town Drought and Loadshedding 

The drought in Cape Town made headlines around the world. While it seems the situation is under control now, it’s always important to be aware of water usage. Follow these guidelines for conserving water during your Cape Town visit.

Although not an entirely new issue, Cape Town power shortages and conversation programs (locally called Loadshedding) have increased in recent years. You can check the current measures and guidelines before your vacation to Cape Town on the official tourism site.


Start planning your trip to Cape Town! Search for the lowest airfares, the best accommodations and fun things to do…then start packing!  Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for more information and tips on traveling – and for country-specific information, take a look at our Travel Guides page!


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3-Day Cape Town Itinerary by JetSettingFools.com