Local's Advice: How to Make the Most of 24 Hours in Cape Town

Local's Advice: How to Make the Most of 24 Hours in Cape Town

This post was written by Ken Treloar.

Cape Town (also known as The Mother City) is an increasingly popular travel destination for local South Africans and visitors alike. Nestled below iconic Table Mountain, and alongside towering Lion’s Head, its abundance of activities to suit each and every taste makes this coastal city a must-visit destination on every traveller's bucket list.

The aerial view of Cape Town

With a cornucopia of things to see, do, taste, see and explore, it's no easy feat deciding on what to add to one's itinerary on visiting the World's Fairest Cape.

With an impressive number of beautiful beaches, restaurants, wine farms, stunning views, and exhilarating activities located right on its doorstep—it can all be a bit overwhelming. Finding a knowledgeable local to show you around (especially when your travel schedule is tight) is by far one of the best decisions you can make while on your visit to Cape Town.

Meet Ken:

I'm a freelance photographer and a beer-loving, wine-tasting, good-food-eating South African as well as Showaround local who loves a good bike ride, hike, or scenic adventure through the countryside. I enjoy meeting new people from all over the World and sharing with them the splendour the Cape has to offer. I speak English, Afrikaans, Spanish, and basic German, all of which has really come in handy!

With my interest in cuisine, history, art, music, horticulture, wildlife, climatology, mechanics, linguistics, design, education, sports (and a whole lot more), I am seldom left without words and love to teach, entertain, and chat to visitors on any number of topics while on their visit to the Mother City.

While the typical guide to Cape Town suggests a trip up Table Mountain, a visit to Stellenbosch or the Franschhoek wine farms, a walk around the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and some bar-hopping down Long Street in the evening... and while all fantastic ideas, it's not often possible to fit all the above into just one day in the Cape. One way to see and experience a little bit of almost everything would be to head off on a city and peninsula tour. Here's my guide on what to see and do to get a taste of a little bit of everything Cape Town has to offer within just 24-hours:

Sunrise

Head off to Signal Hill for a sweeping panoramic view of the Cape Town Harbour, Waterfront, and Robben Island. If you're feeling like you need to do something more energetic, swap the Signal Hill viewpoint for a hike to the Top of Lion's Head where you will be rewarded with a near perfect 360-degree vantage point where you will be able to feast your eyes on spectacular views of Table Mountain, the City below, the 12-Apostles mountains, coastline, and everything in between.

Early morning

Grab yourself a fantastic cup of coffee from a nearby cafe. Some coffee shops actually custom roast their own beans, and the coffee is some of the best you will have in the World - something some visitors find as quite unexpected and delightful! Don't forget to pair your brew with a scrumptious breakfast before setting off for the rest of the day.

Mid-Morning

Sunscreen? Snacks and water? Camera, and jacket for 4-seasons in one day? Check! Now for a drive hugging the mountain above the Southern Suburbs, visiting Rhodes Memorial near the University of Cape Town, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and Constantia Nek all with views of the suburbs and valleys below, nearby forests and mountains above you, and an awesome day's exploring that lies ahead.

Kalk Bay in Cape Town

Hugging the coastline, pass Muizenberg (a local surf spot), as well as St.James, and take in picturesque Kalk Bay harbour, while enjoying the views of False Bay and the surrounds as you make your way along the coast heading towards Cape Point via Simonstown (South Africa's Naval headquarters) and make sure to stop to see the famed African penguins at Boulder's Beach.

Two penguins at Boulder Beach, Cape Town

Penguins in Boulder Beach

Lunch

If you're feeling hungry (and all depending on where you are along the route) there are good spots for lunch at Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, and Simons Town alike.

The Cape Point Nature Reserve is a must-see along the Peninsula route, and weather permitting a walk from the coast up to the lighthouse is one of the most scenic walks you will find anywhere! The reserve also boasts an impressive display of fynbos (local flora) as well as local wildlife like various antelope, birdlife, and Chacma baboons.

After exploring the nature reserve head past Ostrich farms and via a lovely winding road en route to Noordhoek (where horse-riding on the beach is one of the main activities) all via quaint eco-villages such as Scarborough and Misty Cliffs, as well towns like Kommetjie and the Slangkop lighthouse standing proud below.

Early Afternoon

If you haven't had lunch by now, you will likely be hungry after your visit to Cape Point and a stop in either Scarborough, Kommetjie, and Noordhoek will not disappoint.

Cape Point Vineyards

Not sure if you will make it to the famed Winelands? Have no fear, the Cape Point Vineyards are here! Take in a relaxed wine-tasting overlooking the vines and Long Beach below.

Mid-Afternoon

No trip along the Cape peninsula would be complete without a drive over Chapman's Peak towards Hout Bay. Stop at the top of the pass to take in the sights of Seal Island, Sentinel Hill, Hout Bay Harbour and more. A definite must!

Chapmans Peak in Cape Town

The sign of Chapmans Peak in Cape Town

Head up Suikerbossie Hill and on towards Llandudno and it's secluded beachfront, before heading along Victoria Drive. There are lots of stops along this section of the peninsula where one can stop and take in the view of the coastline. Visiting in the second half of the year? Try your luck and see if you can spot whales who make their way up to the Cape from the Southern Ocean during this time of the year.

Sunset

If you find the light fading on you, enjoy the sunset from either along Victoria Drive, up on Signal Hill, or even Tafelberg Road on Table Mountain, before heading to a local spot for a well-earned supper.

You can literally be spoilt for choice in Cape Town, and there is no shortage of restaurants in and around the Mother City, and absolutely no lack of nightlife. From open-air movie theatres to ballet and plays, jazz clubs, a multitude of bars, and nighttime shopping, or simply a South African braai with a local... (our take on a barbeque) there is something for everyone!

Note: If you're into some added adventure; add some excitement to the peninsula tour and go on a hike, paraglide, abseil, mountain bike ride, scuba-dive, boat trip, cycle safari, and more! There are quite literally thousands of things to see and do, that no two itineraries are the same on any given day in Cape Town.

Visit the Mother City and enjoy an experience of a lifetime.

See you there!

Showaround: Thank you Ken for your tips! Don't forget to check out his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.