24 Hours In Cape Town – The Only Guide You’ll Need

24 Hours In Cape Town – Something For Everyone

Got 24 hours to spend in Cape Town? Wait a minute….. why do you only have 24 hours? The first thing you need to do, is try to rearrange your plans so you have more time! …. You’re still here? Couldn’t change your travel plans? No matter! With this handy guide you will be able to find an itinerary to keep you busy doing the things you love to do, all day long. I promise!

First things first – we need to decide what travel style you would like do use for your whirlwind Cape Town tour. Are you a history and politics buff? Culture vulture? Outdoor enthusiast? Or are you looking for something family friendly? Well, all you need to do is scroll down to the tailor made section of this blog post. But of course, for those well rounded types, feel free to pick and chose your own schedule – I mean, after all, it’s YOUR holiday!

If you do not have any place to stay in Cape Town, you will want to start by finding some accommodations. Even though you will be spending your entire day out experiencing the city, having a comfortable place to relax after sightseeing is an absolute must. Luckily, Cape Town is full of wonderful properties with excellent amenities for you to consider. If you want to stay by the beach, book a hotel room in the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront or Camps Bay. Those who would rather be in the middle of the action can stay in the City Bowl, which is the area’s central business district and is close to most tourist destinations.

Family Fun in Cape Town

First stop for family’s with a tight schedule in Cape Town should be the tourist hot spot the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront. There are so many activities, things to do, and places to grab snacks. It is a great place to spend some time wandering with the kids, and why not grab breakfast or snacks at one of the vendors. You will want to be well fed for the next activity on the itinerary!

One thing not to miss if you are travelling with youngsters is the Two Oceans Aquarium. Located on the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, it is easy to find. Explore the underwater marine world, and if you come on a weekend, make sure to be there in time to see the sharks being fed. (check out their website for animal feeding times) Scuba diving is also offered for the more adventurous among us.

After the excitement of the aquarium, a little bit of relaxation may be in order. The Clifton beaches, which are accessible from Victoria Road are always a great place to spend some time in the sun. Make sure to head to beach #4, the family friendly beach!

Photo of Cape Town Waterfront
The Victoria Alfred Waterfront With Table Mountain In The Background – CC Catherine Murray

Back To Nature In Cape Town

Regular readers of this blog know that James and I are nature enthusiasts! And Cape Town has a lot to keep us busy! If you have more than just 24 hours (and I hope you do!) then look into visiting on the natural parks or nature reserves within a few hours drive from the city. If you are short on time though, you can compensate by visiting Table Mountain.

There are two ways to visit Table Mountain; by cable car, or by hiking it the old fashioned way. What you chose to do will depend on how much time you have, and what your fitness level is. Platteklip Gorge is the most accessible and popular way to climb cable mountain. However, it is still a serious hike, so make sure you have proper clothing and shoes with you. And always, always take lots of water. As it is a steep climb, the descent is often more difficult than the ascent, so consider taking the cable car on the way down.

If you don’t feel like breaking a sweat, consider taking the cable car. Make sure you dress appropriately, as the weather is often much cooler up here than it is at the bottom. You wouldn’t want a bit of a chill to ruin your experience of this unique landscape! You may even be lucky enough to spot the small rock rabbit, whose closest relative is actually the elephant!

After all this physical exertion, you will probably be starving! A popular Cape Town eating experience can be found at Mzoli’s. This place is popular with locals, tourists, and celebrities alike! Basically the idea is, you select and buy your meat from the butcher, and then take it back to the kitchen where the chefs BBQ it for you in their special sauce. But beware – it gets pretty busy sometimes!

Photo of Table Mountain
Table Mountain – CC warrenski

Politics and History Tour of Cape Town

As we all know, South Africa has had a turbulent political history. There are many ways to discover this history in Cape Town, so you will have to really plan your time correctly if you want to cram in as much as possible in 24 hours.

Start the day at the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront where you can grab some breakfast and be ready to catch the frist ferry to Robben Island. Robben Island is just off the coast, and is where political prisoners used to be held during apartheid. The tour includes a guides bus tour around the area, and usually the tour is actually given by a former political prisoner. The entire tour lasts about 3.5 hours, and if you are lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of African penguins on the island.

When you get back to Cape Town, grab a quick lunch and then hurry off to the District Six museum. District Six was formally a vibrant and cosmopolitan area where many races all lived together. Later, in 1966, the government declared the area a “white only zone” and began forcing the former inhabitants to leave. This moving and informative museum explains the history and daily lives of the people who lived in District Six, and is definitely not to be missed.

If you have any time (or energy) left over, you might want to step away from the past a little and come into the present. The South African Parliament is located in Cape Town, and it offers fre entrance and tours. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the area’s recent history, and how the political system works today.

Photo of district 6 museum
A sign in the District 6 Museum – CC timparkinson

Arts and Culture Lovers in Cape Town

If you are a lover of art, then there are two galleries you must visit. The first is definitely the Iziko SA National Gallery. This is South Africa’s premier art gallery and includes a wide range of works  – from interesting contemporary installations, all the way to paintings from the Dutch era.

If you are like me, then after an hour or two of art you will need a break. How about a lunch stop at the widely renowned Africa Cafe? Ok, it’s very touristy, but sometimes that is a good thing! And the food definitely makes it worth while. Here you can sample dishes from all over the African continent, but it can get very busy, so if you plan to come on a weekend, consider making a booking.

After filling your belly with traditional African cuisine, you will hopefully be re-energized for some more arts and culture! From the Africa Cafe it is not far to the Iziko Mizhaelis Collection – the city’s second oldest public space. The art works here were originally the possessions of Sir Max Michaelis, but they were donated to the city in 1914. As you stroll through the old Rococo building, you will be able to take in all sorts of art works. Be prepared for a wide variety of styles, as often you will find a Rembrant hanging side by side with a contemporary piece. And once you are well and truly exhausted of all the art, you can relax in the courtyard restaurant with a glass of wine….

24 Hours In Cape Town? As You Can See You Will Need More Than That!

How would YOU spend your 24 hours in Cape Town?

31 thoughts on “24 Hours In Cape Town – The Only Guide You’ll Need

  1. A really useful article 🙂 I’m sure anyone can plan a trip there and use the tips you offered – though I hope people will have more than 24 hours to visit Cape Town.


  2. Nice guide! I like how it’s broken up by subject. I’ve never been to S Africa but have always heard great things about Cape Town.


    1. Thanks Laura! This is the first time we have tried writing a guide in this style, and I think it has worked pretty well. Im going to start writing about other cities in this way soon I think.


  3. Cape Town is my home city and I love it so much! I’ve just come back from a 6-month RTW trip and even after seeing 45 different cities, Cape Town still tops them all. A bit biased I guess but it is a beautiful place nonetheless! 🙂


  4. Wow, Table Mountain looks really cool, although all of your recommendations sound intriguing. I’ve had a few friends who studied abroad in Cape Town, but I don’t know much about the city. They all loved it though and said there were so many awesome things to do, including sky diving. That would obviously require being in the city more than 24 hours though. What other city would you want to have a whirlwind 24 hour trip through?


  5. We just spent three days in Cape Town and even that left us wanting more. Cape Town is a lot bigger than we thought it would be — there are so many cool experiences to have there! 🙂 Great ideas to cover 24 hours 🙂


  6. Lovely article – especially pleased that you included District 6, which should be mandatory.

    Cape Town – easily one of best cities in the world, no doubt at all.

    Only one problem – with CPT and South Africa as a whole – there’s just never enough time, and as you do one thing, you find another 5 things you want to do.

    Keep up the great work 🙂

    PS. where/what is the map plugin on the home screen, it’s fabulous! Want !


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