Cape Peninsula is a must do if you have more than a day or two to spend in Cape Town.
During my three-day visit to Cape Town, we felt it would be easier to hop on a day tour since we were strapped for time and hadn’t had as much time to plan ahead as we’d have liked. The day tour — which we took with Cape to Addo — was fine, but we felt rushed and wished we could have spent more time in certain places than we were able. We also would have liked to have been able to stop off at different places and maybe not stop off at others. We wished we could have had more flexibility.
After that experience, I would say that if you feel comfortable with it, I recommend renting a car to explore Cape Peninsula and Cape Town’s surrounds. Driving in the area really isn’t that bad, though, of course, you’ll have to get used to driving on the left side of the road!
Do a search for day tour itineraries and take your inspiration from there; you’ll not only get good ideas of what to see and do but also when to go to avoid the tour bus crowds!
Be sure to make a stop in Bo Kaap to see the colorful houses and sample some delicious Malay cuisine.
Then hop in the car and take in the views along the gorgeous Chapmans Peak Drive to Cape Point Reserve and the Cape of Good Hope. Along the way you’ll pass tons of spectacular beaches and bays; take your time and stop off to take it all in! And keep your eyes out for baboons (beware!), ostriches, and perhaps even the elusive Cape Zebra (which may or may not be extinct, depending who you ask).
Once you reach Cape Point, take your time! This is where we wished we’d been on our own schedule. When you go to visit the Cape Point lighthouse, you have two options. You can drive up to the carpark and walk or take a trolley up to the lighthouse. Or you can park at the first carpark, near the Cape of Good Hope sign, and walk the longer route up to the lighthouse.
If you have the time (allow yourself at least two hours for there and back), I recommend taking this walk. The vistas are gorgeous, and if you are really flexible you can take a little detour down to a gorgeous, empty beach down below the path.
The lighthouse itself wasn’t all that interesting to me, personally, but it’s worth the trek for the views along the way. Note this is the old lighthouse and no longer functions. Also, though people like to say this is where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, you are simply seeing two currents meet out there, not a specific point where the oceans meet.
For a late lunch, sample some delicious fish and chips at a local haunt in Kalk Bay, where you can take in the picturesque sight of docked fishing boats and pose for a picture or two with the resident Cape fur seal.
And of course, a must-visit for many is Boulders Beach.
If you’ve done any research on Cape Town you’ve probably read about the South African penguins (formerly known as jackass penguins because they make a braying sound like a donkey!).
Everything you read will make mention of Boulders Beach, which is where I went as part of a Cape Peninsula day tour. I had read that you could even swim with the penguins there, so I was anticipating being out amongst the penguins, wandering around up close and personal with them.
If you Google pictures of Boulders Beach, this is what you’ll see. However, when we visited Boulders Beach you could not go on the beach itself, you could only walk along a boardwalk type area and stand on a deck looking down on them.
That being said, if you do visit Boulders Beach, I recommend stepping away from the crowds at the main viewing area and trying out some of the walkways. We were able to have some closer encounters with some penguins. If you rent your own car take some time to check out one of the neighboring beaches, where I venture to guess you’ll be able to see some penguins without the walkways and crowds.
Perhaps you may even want to finish out your day with a wine tasting at Constantia, the oldest wine estate in South Africa. Of course, if you’re really into wine (or even slightly into wine!) I would recommend devoting a whole day to it with a full-fledged wine tour around Cape Town’s best wine country.