Cape Town, South Africa, is a fascinating city to visit and a huge must on any South Africa itinerary. Situated at the tip of Africa, this vibrant city is jam-packed with a rich history, grand architecture, a vibrant food and wine scene, breathtaking scenery, and incredible nature within easy reach. While there are many beautiful things to do in Cape Town, exploring the surroundings will allow seeing so much more of this incredible part of South Africa. In fact, you'll be surprised by the sheer number of terrific day tours near Cape Town.
Since your time in Cape Town might be limited and seeing all of Cape Town's best bits might take ages. That's why, I've compiled this guide to help you find the best day trips from Cape Town. In this Cape Town day trips guide, you'll have a chance to marvel at unparalleled coastlines, taste the best wines in South Africa, get up close with wildlife, and of course, discover a few hidden gems along the way.
While it is essential to maximize your time in Cape Town, it's also vital to do proper research and planning before your first trip to South Africa. Make sure to read these things to know before visiting South Africa
to enjoy a stress-free trip.
Ready to discover the best side-trips from Cape Town? Here are some of the absolute best day trips from Cape Town and all the tips and tricks you need to make your Cape Town day trip a success.
The 5 Best Day Trips from Cape Town
Chapman's Peak Drive
One of the most captivating day trips from Cape Town, and one that you should not miss (no matter what) is driving Chapman's Peak. It's an incredibly scenic stretch taking you past rugged cliffs and wild ocean shores.
The drive, which takes you from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, is relatively short, but since it winds along the Cape Peninsula, you'll be afforded some of the best views in the city. Along the way, there are plenty of rest stops where you can admire the views, take photos, or even have a picnic. More adventurous travelers could easily spend a day hiking some of the many beautiful trails along the 9km stretch too.
Since Chapman's Peak runs through a protected area, you should know that you'll need to pay a toll fee of R50 to access the drive (prices as per 2020). It's also best to check the Chapman's Peak Drive website
before your trip as the road is often closed due to rock falls or stormy weather.
South Africa's West Coast is home to many incredible seaside villages often overlooked by travelers. But since many of these are within easy reach from Cape Town, exploring these dreamy gems is a sure must while in Cape Town. One seaside village not to miss on a day trip from Cape Town is Paternoster - South Africa's oldest fishing village
famed for its whitewashed fishermen cottages, bokkoms, magnificent nature, and delicious lobster.
Once you arrive in Paternoster, you'll immediately feel at home. It's a different pace of life here, and at its core, Paternoster epitomizes relaxation. There's not a whole lot to do in Paternoster. Still, the highlights have to be slowing down, enjoying incredible seafood and fine wines, taking long strolls on the beach, and hiking the magnificent trails at the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve, which is home to an abundance of fauna and flora.
To see Paternoster and the rest of the West Coast in all it's glory, visit during the flower season (Aug - Sept) when you can see the landscape transformed into a beautiful visual feast filled with colorful wildflowers.
Just 2 hours west from Cape Town brings you to the laidback seaside town of Hermanus
- an amazingly beautiful area home to a rugged coastline, deep-rooted history, fantastic food scene, and, of course, sprawling natural beauty. Besides these significant characteristics, there is another reason why Hermanus should top your Cape Town day trips list - and that's the chance to spot whales during whale season (June to December).
There are quite a few unique things to do in Hermanus ranging from wine tasting, whale spotting, visiting the rustic little Old Harbor Museum, or strolling along the Hermanus cliff path. The 12 km walkway takes you past rugged cliffs, crashing waves, and beautiful wild scenery. Along the way, take a breather at one of the benches to admire the views, pop into a seaside restaurant for a cold beer, or brave the icy cold water in one of the tidal pools.
Hermanus is unquestionably the best place in South Africa to see both southern right whales and humpback whales frolicking in the shores nearby. If you are planning a trip during the whale migration, make sure to book accommodation well in advance. Hotels and guesthouses often fill up quickly and expect to pay steep prices.
Cape Wine Route
If there's one Cape Town day trip that you absolutely should not miss, it's to tour the Cape Wine Route. South Africa's Wine Route is revered for its incredibly beautiful landscapes as well as its excellent selection of world-class wineries. And to be honest, you simply cannot visit Cape Town without at least taking the 90-minute drive to one of the Wine Route's most beautiful towns - Franschhoek.
Set in a lush green valley with mountains and vineyards as a backdrop, Franschhoek boasts a fascinating history dating back to the 17th century, plenty of wine tasting opportunities, art galleries, quirky artisan stores, and even several Michelin star restaurants.
After you've explored the nooks and crannies in town and taken a selfie at the Huguenot Memorial Monument, it's time to visit the vineyards. One of the best ways to do this is to hop on the adorable wine tram
. This funicular train has five routes and stops at the most prominent wineries in the valley. It's a delightful way to see a bit more of the region and, of course, one that will leave an everlasting impression.
Some of the best vineyards to visit are Vrede and Lust, Mullineux & Leeu, Grande Provence, Chamonix, and Boschendal. Further afield, stop by Fairview for a delicious wine and cheese tasting and a chance to see goat climbing to the top of a tower!
The drive along the Southern Peninsula takes you past some pretty incredible landscapes and through charming fishing towns - all offering plenty of photo opportunities. If you really want to experience Cape Town's best of the best, then I couldn't recommend exploring the Southern Peninsula enough.
Although there are several small quirky towns dotted along the way, a visit to Muizenberg, Kalkbay, Boulders Beach, and Simons Town would not disappoint. While the Southern Peninsula makes for a perfect day trip from Cape Town, one could easily spend a few days at each little village as each one is beautifully unique.
Muizenberg is a sleepy town famous for its brightly colored beach huts, dreamy beaches, great seaside walking paths, and excellent surfing opportunities.
The town itself is rather small, but there are several hipster hangouts where its easy to mingle with the surfer crowd, enjoy a cold beer or eat amazingly fresh seafood. If you enjoy walking, follow the seaside walkway between Muizenberg to Kalkbay for magnificent views over the ocean.
My favorite town en route to Cape Point has to be Kalk Bay. This quirky fishing village is filled with exciting things to do - from hiking, fine dining, shopping, catching a show at the iconic Kalk Bay Theater, and spotting seals riding the waves near the harbor.
While there's plenty to keep you busy in Kalk Bay, one of the best things to do is to catch the epic sunset at Brass Bell - a lovely ocean side restaurant and pub famed for its terrific views, eclectic atmosphere and boozy cocktails. Right beside it, there's also a huge tidal pool - perfect for taking a dip on a hot summer's day.
From Kalk Bay, head to Boulders for a chance to meet the endangered African penguins. A trip to Boulders is a fun day trip from Cape Town, especially since it's one of the few places in the world where you can really get a close-up view of these furry birds in their natural habitat.
Follow along the designated boardwalks, which offer excellent viewing points over burrows, dunes, and the ocean. Further afield, drop by the Boulders Beach Visitors Center, where you can learn more about the penguins and SANPark's conservation efforts to protect these furry friends.
Spending a day at Boulders is really an incredible experience and one that should not be missed while in Cape Town. But, please remember, these are endangered animals. Please don't attempt to touch, let alone feed them. And, always keep a safe distance.
A short drive from Boulders Beach brings you to the picturesque town of Simons Town. There are lots of shops and restaurants along the main strip, while the South African Naval Museum offers a unique glimpse into South Africa's seafaring history. A bit further afield, drop by Jubilee Square, where you can see the SS Mendi Memorial and buy an array of African art. (Don't forget to haggle!)
Afterward, grab a scrumptious scone and a cup of Rooibos tea at Frans Place before heading down to the harbor where you can watch the boats come and go, or take a trip to spot dolphins or go shark cage diving.
There are so many wonderful day trips from Cape Town - from exploring the natural landscapes and quirky seaside communities to discovering South Africa's wine region. While these are just a handful of day tours to consider, make sure to add at least one (or all of them) to your next Cape Town trip.
Text and photos by Mariza from Hoponworld.