Two Days In Cape Town - The Ultimate 48 Hour Itinerary

By Dieter Hieser

Edited by Jess Wright

2 days in Cape Town is barely any time at all. From our abundance in cultural diversity - which also makes for an unbeatable culinary landscape - a history that lays claim to the birthplace of humankind, along without mountains, forests and oceans, Cape Town is the world’s playground. Truly, Cape Town offers it all and there are simply so many things to do in Cape Town in two days. Two hours in any direction will land you in an entirely different wonderland, in which you could easily while away two full days, so curating 2 days in Cape Town takes an expert. I have spent most of my adult life in this wondrous city, and absolutely love to share it with guests so luckily for you I am here to share the perfect two days in Cape Town itinerary.

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Day 1- Breakfast

Start your 48 hours in Cape Town off with coffee from one of the many tasty stands in the food market at the V&A waterfront, which makes for a great place to get your orientation in the city. In good weather, you can enjoy your breakfast at one of the outside tables with a view of the harbour and of Nobel Square, where sculptured statues of all four Nobel Laureates of South Africa stand tall and proud. After you’ve had your fill, take a casual walk over to the beautiful and innovative Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeits MOCAA) – once an unsightly cluster of old cement silos, this feat of architectural ingenuity is now a world-class art gallery. If art is not your thing, skip the ticket price and head straight to the top using an elevator in one of the old silo towers, which will give you a great view of the inspired engineering that went into converting the building. On the top floor you might pop into the restaurant – if you’re still hungry or in need of a caffeine kick – for a quick coffee or bite to eat, or simply enjoy the strikingly pretty view over the harbour. Equally stunning views can be enjoyed from the top of the Radisson Red, where – if you’d like to switch out your coffee for a cold beer – there is a cool rooftop bar and pool. Since we still have so much to do, I’d save this one for later!

Photo Credit: Unsplash


Morning adventures

Time to get walking! Head up (by way of an Uber to save yourself the steep hike and valuable minutes of your 48 hours in Cape Town) into the colourful Bo-Kaap neighborhood to kick-off your city stroll. Bo-Kaap is a culturally rich neighbourhood that makes for beautiful photography! After exploring the candy-coloured, cobbled streets, make sure to end up near Biesmiellah – a restaurant serving fragrant, spicy Cape Malay food– at the top of Wale Street. A walk down Wale Street – leading to many of the historical places in Cape Town – will take you past many popular and busy streets filled with eateries, cafeś, bars, galleries and stores. The area can be unsafe at night, when you'll need your street smarts about you, but by day it is full of vibrant city life and you have little to worry about. The stroll will also take you all the way to a few of Cape Town’s attractions, including St George's Cathedral – home to a quirky jazz club called The Crypt – and behind the cathedral, the lush green of Company Gardens. 

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Snack-time

For the history buffs, there is simply a plethora of things to explore; I suggest carrying on with Wale street to the Iziko Slave Lodge – a historic exhibit on slavery in Africa, as well as displays of ceramics, silverware and Egyptian artefacts – or heading to the nearby Castle of Good Hope. For a midmorning pick-me-up, make your way to Charly’s Bakery for delicious novelty treats, Truth (a steampunk cafe ́with award-winning coffee) or Nude Foods, a packaging-free grocery. 

Photo Credit: https://www.facebook.com/charlysbakery/

A smorgasbord of delicious cuisine can also be found at the Eastern Food Bazaar, but just grab a few nibbles and don’t eat too much; lunch is still on the way! This part of the city is so vibrantly colourful and rich in typically Capetonian sights, smells and sounds, that it is almost impossible to experience everything in the course of one day in Cape Town. If you have more time on your hands, return to discover the rest, you could easily spend a day or two exploring this section of Cape Town. Be sure that when you do, you grab a local to show you around so that you can uncover the special little sites like the flower market, the diamond museum, and Cape Town’s oldest grapevine; over three hundred years old! 

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Afternoon explorations

After all that walking, I’m sure you’re ready for a break! A good thing too, because next on the agenda is a drive around the peninsula, out of the CBD and around Greenpoint, then passing beautiful suburbs like Llandudno until you reach Chapman’s Peak Drive. There are many ways to do this trip, including buses and even (for the fit!) cycling, but the most affordable and easiest way is by renting your own car from a well known global rental company or a local option like Rent a Cheapie. Whichever form of transport you choose, be sure to choose the route that goes via Chapman’s peak. The drive around Chapman’s Peak is about 20 minutes of windy road with breathtaking panoramic views over the Atlantic, and many viewing points to stop off and enjoy them. Looking back you might be able to see Hout Bay while looking forward you might spot the long white stretch of Noordhoek beach; either way, you’re in for a visual treat! Once you reach Noordhoek you could stop off at one of the farm-stall styled bistros and eateries, or continue on to Slangkoppunt (the Kommetjie lighthouse) for a quick visit and some snaps, before ending off in Kalk Bay on the False Bay side of the peninsula, for a huge helping of the best classic style fish (straight off the boat) and chips from the no-frills Kalkys.

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Evening

Drive back to town via the Winelands of Constantia. With some 13 wine estates to choose from, you might want to make sure you have a designated driver! Groot Constantia, founded in 1685 it is the oldest wine farm in the country that supplied wine to Napoleon Bonaparte. Restaurants, wine tasting, cellar tours and a museum that will take you back to the days of the farm’s founding. If you happened to pick up some yummy goods in your explorations of the city, now might be a good time to lay them out on the grassy lawns for a picnic.

Photo Credit: https://www.grootconstantia.co.za/groot-constantia-walked-away-with-a-phenomenal-seven-top-100-double-platinum-awards-at-this-years-prestigious-top-100-sa-wines-awards/

Other notable farms in the area include Buitenverwachting and Constantia Glen, both of which offer the authentic wine farms experience, full with wine-tastings, restaurants and utterly amazing views of the vineyards and surrounding farms. Finally, head back into the city and end off where you started where you can either end off your days with a visit to one of the many excellent restaurants, or go for gold; an evening of dinner and entertainment at Gold. This unique restaurant offers an immersive dining experience with beautiful, theatrical storytelling and food which the restaurant considers an “edible map of Africa” full with all the flavours, spices and culinary heritage of the continent, and (more specifically) the Southern tip. 


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Day 2- A morning up the mountain

Start your day bright an early by getting to the Table Mountain CableWay station as early as possible to miss the crowds. It’s undoubtedly a touristy thing to do, but there is a reason for that - the 360º view of Cape Town from the top! From Lion’s Head all the way to Green Point Stadium and beyond to Blouberg on the one side, and the majestic 12 Apostles and peninsula on the other; you could potentially spend hours just trying to spot all the places you’ve already explored, and uncovering all the places you have yet to see in the magnificent Mother City. Beyond the view, the top of the mountain offers plenty to do; grabbing a bite to eat, doing some (admittedly overpriced) souvenir shopping, and if you’re wondering why there is an offer of a one-way cable-car ticket that’s because one of the best things to do on top of table mountain is hike all the way down again! Hiking this route gives you the opportunity to see some of the amazing wildlife that calls the mountain home; dassies, lizards, insects and a plethora of birdlife. There are even courses on offer to educate visitors on foraging for food, and there is nowhere better to practise this skill than up the mountain! If you opt for the option to hike back, be sure to guard your skin against the harsh African sun, don’t do it alone in case of accidents and be prepared with plenty of fresh drinking water. 


Photo Credit: Unsplash

Lunch-time

After all that walking, it’s time to unwind, and the best place to do that is in Kirstenbosch Gardens, the only completely indigenous botanic garden in the world and among the top 10 botanical gardens in the world. For a nominal fee you can spend the entire day lounging between lush blooms, exploring the extensive gardens by way of manicured walkways or – if you have the energy – more rugged hikes, and uncovering the gems Kirstenbosch has to offer in the way of botanical jewels and manmade treasures. The gardens are truly magnificently maintained, with the boomslang suspension bridge adding an element of excitement for visitors. If hunger strikes (as it undoubtedly will after so much cardio) you have the option of a picnic on the expansive lawns or a visit to Moyo for traditional food and some subtle African face paint. If you time your visit right you might catch a summer sunset concert or performance, but even without that a visit to this must-see Cape Town highlight – conveniently located 15 minutes from Cape Town's CBD in the suburb of Newlands – is as close as you are likely to get to Jurassic park!

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Evening

Time for a night on the town! Cape Town CBD is a mixed bag of nightlife, with hip lounges, tapas bars and cosmopolitan gastronomy that could easily keep you busy for 2 nights in Cape Town. Whether you feel like a luxe evening of fine-dining, or a dance-till-you-drop party, Cape Town offers it all. For upmarket drinks head to the Gin Bar– a trendy gin spot set in a magical courtyard, tucked away behind a chocolate shop, offering local gin in anatomically themed cocktails with locally foraged botanicals added for flavour. The top floor of Tjing Tjing offers a hip, neon-lit atmosphere with Asian origins, and if you come hungry you have the pick of the first two floors for sustenance – the first offers out of this world, authentic Japanese food, while the second floor is a swankier, fine-dining affair with top-notch decor and a luxurious feel. 

Photo Credit: https://www.tjingtjing.co.za/
If Japanese ticks your boxes, but a more relaxed vibe is what you’re after head to the hidden gem Downtown Ramen; dimly lit, with wood panelling and sake bottles lining the wall you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into a Japanese back alley, with all the hip, casual ambience of a Capetonian joint. When you’ve slurped down all the mind-blowing ramen and sake you can fit, head downstairs to Lefties; a grungy bar with an alternative crowd or head to Harrington’s to dance the night away! 


Photo Credit: Unsplash

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