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 Around the World trip as we traveled from the island of Mauritius to the European continent. Although Cape Town was our single destination in Africa and we wanted to make the most of our time in the fascinating city, we didn’t want to drive. We have never been confident maneuvering a vehicle in a foreign country – especially in countries where they drive on the left. We endured a good amount of angst while wondering and worrying about whether or not it was possible to experience the city without a car, but 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

Our Cape Town Itinerary is designed for the first-time traveler to the city who wants to partake in the best Cape Town sightseeing. It is ideal for visitors on Cape Town holidays who want to experience the city – as well as those traveling to the city to set sail on cruises from Cape Town. We include Cape Town facts and useful information 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 information about getting around Cape Town without a car, where to stay in Cape Town and other useful travel tips.


Day 1 in Cape Town

On the first day of your Cape Town, South Africa itinerary, go to the top of the famous Cape Town Table Mountain, then join one of the Cape Town tours of the city – or set out on your own to see city-center Cape Town highlights. End your day at the V&A Waterfront entertainment hub.


Table Mountain Cape Town

Start your Cape Town adventures by cruising to the top of Table Mountain – one of the most prominent Cape Town landmarks.  The plateaued mountain features dramatic cliffs and stunning vantage points. 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.

Travelers looking for adventure activities in Cape Town can hike to the top…those seeking fun activities in Cape Town can hop on the cable car that whisks visitors to the top of the mountain in just five minutes.

{Read about our experience visiting Table Mountain}

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


Cape Town Walking Tour

Explore Cape Town on foot and discover the most historic sites in the city. The Castle of Good Hope, the Company’s Gardens, St. George’s Cathedral and the Slave Lodge museum are just a few Cape Town destinations in the CBD. 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 – from Cape Town private tours to self-guided walks. 

{Read our Self-Guided Cape Town Walking Tour}

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


V&A Waterfront

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – the city’s oldest (and still operational) harbor –  is Cape Town’s entertainment hub. Boats entering the harbor bring in the fresh catch of the day and the structures along the harbor are occupied by restaurants, bars and shops. Additionally, the harbor is home to museums and the city aquarium – as well as the departure point for Robben Island tours. Spending an evening at the V&A Waterfront is one of the fun things to do in Cape Town at night.

{Take a guided tour to learn the incredible history of the V&A Waterfront}

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


Day 2 in Cape Town

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


Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

The Cape Town botanic gardens were established in 1913 to preserve and study indigenous plants, but parts of the gardens date to the year 1660 (a hedge that was planted around the Dutch colony still stands today). The Kirstenbosch Botanic Gardens cover an expansive 1,300 acres featuring the unique flora of the region, wild birds and other animals, a Canopy Walkway and art installations. The paths that crisscross through the park 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.

{Read more about Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens}

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


Wine Tasting Cape Town

Cape Winelands is South Africa’s most popular wine-growing region, which attracts wine connoisseurs from afar. The history of wine in South Africa began in 1685 when the Constantia Estate was established – which became famous in the late 1700s when their wine was favored by kings around the world. Home to some of the oldest vineyards in the country, Constantia Valley is easily accessible from Cape Town – as it is just 15km from the city center. Other nearby regions include well-known Stellenbosch, Franschhoek Valley and Paarl.

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

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


Cape Town Sunset Tour at Signal Hill

One of the romantic things to do in Cape Town (or anywhere, for that matter!) is to watch a sunset – and one of 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 sea. As the sun sinks into the horizon, the sky changes from fiery orange to deep purple.

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



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


Day 3 in Cape Town

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 beaches.


Penguins on Boulders Beach

Take a Cape Town day trip to Simon’s Town, a city located 40km south of Cape Town on False Bay. Home to the South African Navy, it is the tuxedo-feathered residents on Boulders Beach that draw the tourists. Nearly endangered, two pairs of African penguins settled on the sandy shores of Boulders Beach in the 1980s. Since then, the colony has grown to around 3,000 birds. The penguins roam freely on the beach and elevated platforms have been constructed so visitors can watch the funny birds in their natural habitat.

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

How to get there without a car: Train or Group/Private Tour


Cape Town Beaches

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. 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 or walking on the sand. Sunsets can be amazing from the shoreline and dinner at an ocean-view restaurant is ideal. Two of our favorite beaches in Cape Town are Hout Bay and Camps Bay. 

{Read more about Cape Town Beaches}

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

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Tourist Map of Cape Town, South Africa

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


Getting Around Cape Town

Cape Town is a big city that sprawls from the city center both north and south along the coastline. Many of the top Cape Town sights – Table Mountain, wineries and beaches – are in the vicinity, but cannot be reached by foot or bicycle from the city center, meaning some form of Cape Town transport is required. Driving in Cape Town – on the left! – was not something we wanted to do. Travelers, like us, have a few choices of how to get around Cape Town without a car – options that range from expensive to economical.


Taxi Cape Town

Hiring taxis in Cape Town is a standard option – but can be a mighty expensive one! Rather than calling a taxi, we recommend using Uber 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 fantastic. The Cape Town buses are clean, efficient and inexpensive – and even have free wifi. Routes to many tourist destinations originate in the city center, making it incredibly easy for those staying in the Cape Town CBD 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 the CBD to Table Mountain is equal to about $1.25 USD. 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 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 $1 USD per ride. However, Cape Town train times 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!


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.

{Check for airport transfer options on Viator.}

Top Tip: Travelers who decide to drive in Cape Town can get a car rental at the Cape Town airport. Check current rates on Expedia. Be sure to buy a city map in advance of your trip so you can plot out your road trip in Cape Town!


Cape Town Tour Bus

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

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


Cape Town Day Tours

In addition to the Red Bus Tour in Cape Town, visitors can get to Cape Town top tourist attractions by joining tours. There are many 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 holiday 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 part of the city 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 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 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 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 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 city 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 a few weeks. 


3-Day Garden Route Tour

Get a wild introduction to South Africa’s most picturesque region on a 3-day safari. 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

If you have more – or less – time 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 booking a 3-day Garden Route Tour.

{More about the tour here!}


Things To Do in Cape Town On A Budget

Travelers visiting Cape Town on a budget will find plenty of options for budget activities – as Cape Town prices are generally less than in other parts of the world. 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, our above Cape Town trip itinerary is a good place to start!
  • Pick up a copy of the Official Visitor’s Guide from the airport to find money-saving coupons and offers for cheap deals in Cape Town.


Where To Stay in Cape Town

During our visit to Cape Town, we stayed in a super Airbnb Apartment. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) 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 hotels 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

  • 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. 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 trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) 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.
  • You’ll want to also travel with a great day bag to keep all of your essential everyday travel items organized and secure.
  • We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.


Cape Town Safety for Tourists

Safety should be a concern for travelers visiting any city. 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 safety tips on the city’s official tourism website


Cape Town Drought

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.


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