Less than 24 hours in Cape Town. Yep, you read that correctly. It was too short.
Not that we planned it that way. Due to unexpected circumstances (see Birth certificate required to fly to South Africa if you are traveling with kids), our plans changed: instead of three days, we had less than 24 hours in the Mother City, as Cape Town is known.
Let me preface this post by saying that I sincerely hope your vacation in this beautiful corner of the world is no shorter than three days. Please follow my advice, you won’t regret it.
Anyway, how did we manage our cramped schedule?
After getting settled in our hotel, we started our shortened tour right away. To maximize our time, we had a private driver taking us to all of the sights that we could possibly see in one afternoon. As time went by, we realized that more we saw, the more the city revealed itself as an endless source of entertainment. Sadly, we recognized how much we were missing. So please, stay a while.
Take a deep breath and follow us on this non-stop six-hour tour around the city:
First stop, Table Mountain, officially one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. We checked the weather conditions and, although the wind was blowing, it was okay to take the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway to the plateau. The cable car closes when it is too windy. Our driver dropped us off on Tafelberg Road, where the lower cable station is located. Luckily, the queue was short, and cars were departing every 10 minutes.
After a 5-minute ride with panoramic views during the trip, we landed on the top of Table Mountain, 1,089 meters (3,753 feet) above Cape Town. The views of the city and surrounding mountains were breathtaking! We hiked a short trail, took some pictures, and caught the cable car to make our way down.
African penguins at Boulders Beach
Boulders Beach came next. Home of African penguins, this sanctuary is located near Simon’s Town on False Bay, 24 miles from Cape Town. On a scenic drive through Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak, we made quick stops to enjoy the incredible views of the coastline: rolling hills, serene ocean, and blue sky.
Reaching our destination, the driver told us which direction we should go, and waited for us in the car. We walked through a street with modest shops and homes, until we reached the Boulders Visitor Center. A conservation fee of R65 ($5) is required to access the beach.
A boardwalk led us to the beach through dunes and vegetation. We were fascinated by the beauty of a sandy cove with clear water and boulders, hosting many penguins. They were all over the place. We wished we had time to spend a few hours there, swimming, climbing over the rocks, and watching those cute animals.
Back at the car, our driver told us that Foxy Beach, adjacent to Boulders Beach, is many families’ favorite spot because it is clean, safe, and less crowded. He also told us that it is possible to travel between Cape Town and Simon’s Town by train. The station is located north of Simon’s Town, about 10 minutes by foot.
Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point
We were tired. Was it pleasant to rush from place to place? Absolutely not. However, we thought that it would be unacceptable to leave Cape Town without seeing anything. We sucked it up and moved on to the next sight.
Around 5 pm we stopped at Cape Point, located on the Cape of Good Hope, and part of Table Mountain National Park. Cape Point is a high point of land that continues into the Atlantic Ocean. An historic lighthouse stands on the highest section of Cape Point, so we boarded for the three-minute ride aboard the Flying Dutchman Funicular railway that transported us from the lower station, at 127 meters (417 feet), to the upper station, at 238 meters (781 feet) above sea level. From there, we had fantastic views of valleys, bays, and beaches.
There was an option to hike down instead of taking the railway, so we did. The trail goes along the tracks and it wasn’t hard at all. We definitely didn’t have any time to spare, but it felt good to stretch our legs and enjoy a gorgeous sunset. Yay!
Dinner at Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Later, our driver dropped us off at the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront, a popular destination for tourists and Capetonians. The sun had already set and the area was cheerful. Soon we realized it wasn’t only a place where many restaurants were located, but also a shopping destination. From well-known international designers to restaurants, coffee shops, fast-food, bars, museums and more, V&A has so much to offer.
After trying without success to get a table at a couple of restaurants (they were fully booked), we sat down at Meloncino. Luckily, the last table available had stunning views of the V&A Waterfront. We sat back and enjoyed the service, food, atmosphere, and a glass of wine. The day was almost over.
All things considered, Cape Town is a beautiful place and we loved it. We missed so much. That said, we must return one day when we have plenty of time to enjoy a city well-known for its natural beauty, cuisine, and hospitality.
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