Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, offering a wide variety of things to do and places to visit. However, picking the best day trips from Cape Town might be challenging, but I am here to help you better organize your itinerary. So, while there are countless beautiful places and your time is limited, I selected the best day trips from Cape Town you’ll definitely enjoy!

Just to mention a few: going on a day safari, hanging out with a penguin, whale watching from a boat, driving the most beautiful road in South Africa, and reaching the point where the Indian Ocean meets the Atlantic Ocean. All of those can be done by renting a car in Cape Town and driving yourself or as part of a group. 

I’ve planned our time in gorgeous Cape Town so that we could incorporate all the sites mentioned below, so take a look and feel free to decide what to visit first! 

Disclosure. *This post contains a few affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through my link.*

 

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10 best day trips from Cape Town you can't miss     10 epic day trips from Cape Town

 

Hike or Take the Cable Car at Table Mountain National Park

amazing view from Table Mountain in South Africa

Distance: 5 kilometers, 15 minutes drive

Visiting Table Mountain isn’t technically a day trip from Cape Town but deserves a whole day; that’s why I included it in this article! Maybe you’re hiking in the Table Mountain National Park or taking the cable car to enjoy the views from above: those activities will need an entire day, so plan your time in Cape Town well. 

If you’re here for the views from the top, book your cable car ticket online to skip the line. Take my advice: book the tickets only after you’ve checked the weather forecast. The visibility can change quickly over the day, and you don’t want to miss the beautiful scenery. We booked the tickets the day before, and we had wonderful weather. Another advice would be to bring a jacket as the wind is pretty cold at the top. 

Another thing you can’t miss at Table Mountain is going on the Kloof Corner trail, a popular hike among locals and tourists. Known as one of the easiest hikes, the Kloof Corner trek is only 1.9 kilometers out and back and takes 60 minutes to complete, depending on your fitness level and how much you stop along the way. If the weather is nice, bring a picnic basket and watch the sunset! It’s simply amazing! 

Hiking up Lions Head is another popular activity in Table Mountain National Park. The relatively short trek meanders around the iconic section of Table Mountain and offers 360 views over Cape Town. There is no entrance fee; just park your car at the base of the Mountain and walk from there. The first part that runs uphill might be challenging, and some climbing chains are involved, but the trek is easy. Plan two to three hours and enjoy the views!

See the best of Cape Town with this combined Table Mountain return cable car ticket, Cape Town hop-on hop-off bus ticket and free walking tour.

 

Learn About the History of South Africa at Robben Island, One of the Most Touching Day Trips from Cape Town

guide offering explanation in Robben Island, part as a day trip from Cape Town

Distance: 11.6 kilometers from the mainland, 30 minutes by ferry

No visit to South Africa would be complete without learning more about its sad history, so visiting Robben Island is one of the best day trips from Cape Town!

Visiting Robben Island was at the top of my South Africa travel list, and I am glad I had the opportunity to experience it, but it was overwhelming. Reading about the apartheid means nothing compared to facing history and reality in South Africa. 

The only way to visit Robben Island is via an official tour, so if you’re not driving, the best idea is to book a tour with a hotel pick-up: Join a Robben Island Ferry Tour with 1-Way Hotel Pickup. Book a few days ahead to ensure you get there on your wish day.

If you’re renting a car, make your way to the Nelson Mandela Gateway at V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. From here, you’ll embark on the ferry to Robben Island, only 11.6 kilometers from the mainland. Depending on the season, there are three to four ferry departures daily. The tour takes 3.5 hours, including the ferry to and from the Island. 

Once on the Island, a bus will carry you to all the historical sites: a graveyard of those who died from leprosy during the mid to late 1800s, the Bluestone Quarry, and the Lime Quarry, where Mandela spent most of his days. You’ll visit the church where prisoners visited every Sunday, some navy and army bunkers, Robert Sobukwe’s house and the main prison where many South Africans were incarcerated. In fact, there were more than 3,000 prisoners between 1960 and 1991, most of them incarcerated for political reasons. Of course, you’ll get to see Nelson Mandela’s cell and learn about the atrocities from a knowledgeable tour guide. We had as a guide a former prisoner, and listening to his stories was heartbreaking! 

 

Hit the Beaches

amazing beach in South Africa

Distance: the closest beach mentioned in this article is only 8 km from the city center, 20 minutes drive

With so much to do and see in and around Cape Town, you need a day to relax and do nothing. Luckily, there are plenty of beaches where you can take long walks, read a book, lay in the sun and unwind after much sightseeing.

Camp’s Bay Beach is the perfect place to enjoy the majestic views over Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles and is also an ideal spot for catching the sunset. There are many great restaurants along the road, so indulge in the local cuisine. 

Bakoven Beach is not a proper beach where you can lay on the sand and swim. It’s rather a place to have a picnic, relax on the rocks, and enjoy the views away from the crowds.

Llandudno Beach is a secluded white sand beach, the perfect spot for relaxation. Note the currents might be strong, so keep yourself safe. If your time allows, stay for the sunset, which is fantastic. 

Sandy Bay Beach is a stunning white sand beach from where you can go on several hiking trails. Getting to the beach is not easy; it will take around 20 minutes to walk, but you’ll enjoy the surroundings once there. 

famous cabin beach in Muizenberg town, South Africa

Muizenberg Beach is well known for its long white sand beach and colorful cabins! If time allows, drive the 30 kilometers to reach this fantastic beach!

 

Take the Epic Chapman’s Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak Drive Views in South Africa

Distance: 25 kilometers, 30 minutes drive

Welcome to one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world, Chapman’s Peak Drive! The twisting 9-kilometer road is part of the M6 and goes from Hout Bay to Noordhoek. Flanked by the high mountainside and vertical descents into the Atlantic Ocean, Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the best day trips from Cape Town. 

What’s impressive about this route is the whale-watching vantage points. So, if you don’t have the energy or the time to drive to Hermanus, you can stop along the way and look for them. Don’t be surprised if you see some dolphins playing also. There are several lookout points and picnic spots, so feel free to stop anytime and enjoy the views.

If you feel energetic, hike to Chapman’s Peak (593 meters). The hiking trail has some technical parts and can be pretty demanding, sometimes needing hands for support. Start early, as it can be scorching in the sun. Enjoy the breathtaking views, the wind blowing up, and the smell of the Atlantic Ocean!

One of the things you can’t miss after exploring the Chapman’s Peak drive (and hike) is to return to Hout Bay, find a restaurant with an ocean view and spoil yourself with a fresh seafood plate!  

 

Hang Out with the Penguins at Boulders Beach

penguins at Boulders Beach, day trip from Cape Town

Distance: 40 kilometers, 50 minutes drive

One of the best day trips from Cape Town is visiting Boulders Beach and hanging around with an adorable penguin. Did you hear it right? Are there penguins near Cape Town? For sure! Not only is it the most visited beach in South Africa, but it’s also the only place where you can get so close to the African Penguins. Amazing, right?

Boulders Beach is the perfect place to escape the buzzing town and chill for a few hours while admiring the cutest things alive. They adore playing in the waves, discovering the shore, and nestling in the bushes near the parking lot! 

There are two penguin colonies at Boulders Beach. First is the popular one, where you’ll find the majority of tourists. And there is the second one, right on the beach, where you can hang out with these cutes. So make sure to visit both of them!

While many combine a trip to Boulders Beach with a visit to Cape Point National Park, I recommend this place as a day trip without any other stops. So take your time, enjoy the sun, read a book and take plenty of pictures!

There is a small fee to pay, and the money goes into preserving the currently under-threat colonies.  

cute fellow penguin at Bolders Beach near Cape Town

TIP. Please do not touch or feed the penguins. And always be environmentally responsible. After a few hours spent with these beauties, I remember we bought some canned juices to refresh ourselves, and I asked for some straws. And the vendor reminded us that they don’t sell straws anymore since those can harm the penguins. So it was the moment I realized I had to buy environmentally friendly straws to take with me on my travels. 

 

Sip a Glass of Wine at Stellenbosh

taking a wine tour in Stellenbosh, on a day trip from Cape Town

Distance: 50 kilometers, 47 minutes drive

Stellenbosch is, without a doubt, one of the best day trips from Cape Town. This lively university town offers many activities for foodies, nature lovers, and art lovers, but the wine scene is the main reason many choose to visit. No matter which dish you try, a simple bruschetta, a pizza bowl, or an ostrich dish, expect to pair it with a glass of regional wine. 

Yes, Stellenbosch is all about wine tasting. And the best way to explore this wine region is with the Vine Hopper, a hop-on-hop-off bus with three different routes. Pretty convenient as you get to visit 5-6 estates a day. 

Waterford Wine Estate Reserve. This charming estate was our favorite place in Stellenbosch. We started with a hike on the Porcupine Trail to learn more about flora and fauna. A light lunch was served, and on return, we relaxed in a cozy place near the fire and enjoyed the fairytale atmosphere. Last on the agenda was the wine and chocolate experience, which was sublime. 

Tokara Wine Estate. Situated on one of the most scenic drives in South Africa, it’s one of the best places for wine tasting. 

Spier Wine Farm. This fantastic property is perfect if you decide to stay overnight. There is so much to do here, from self-guided walks to wine tasting, from going on a picnic to eagle encounters, from joining a sunset segway vineyard tour to pampering with a treatment spa. 

Delaire Graff. If you’re into fine dining, this place is what you’re looking for, so make sure not to skip it. 

If wine tasting is not your thing, go to the historic market on Root 44 and choose from a wide range of fantastic food. Then, walk down Dorp Street to admire the Dutch building and see the famous Moedergemeente church. 

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of driving and drinking, join a full-day Winelands tour with wine tastings & food with great reviews and value for money!

 

Explore the Cape Peninsula 

Cape of Good Hope Sign in South Africa

Distance: 70 kilometers, 1 hour 20 minutes drive

The Cape of Good Hope is the southern tip of South Africa, often mistaken for the southernmost point of Africa, Cape Agulhas further East. (I’ll mention it later in this article). It occupies an important place in the country’s trading history, as a provision camp was established here by a Dutch company to provide supplies and shelter to the sailors and later became a settlement. Unfortunately, in the 18th century, the Cape became a significant hub for trading enslaved people. 

Now, sandy beaches and coastal development have turned this place into a significant attraction. 

Renting a car and driving to the Cape, admiring the coastal views along the way, and exploring the region make it one of the best day trips from Cape Town. 

First, head to the Cape of Good Hope and take photos of the famous sign with coordinates. It’s a popular spot, so expect crowds. Then, if you’re up to it, take the 1,7 km trail to reach the Cape of Good Hope. 

Next, drive to Cape Point. Stop along the way to admire the beaches and the dramatic cliffs from several lookout points. Once here, leave the car in the parking lot and climb up to the Lighthouse, 15 minutes ascend. Of course, you can also take the funicular, but you’ll miss the fantastic views of the coastline. Take your time, enjoy and don’t rush to return to Cape Town.

Whale watching and taking long walks on the endless beaches are also popular in the area!

There are plenty of tours to join from Cape Town. I chose some that combine a stop at Boulders Beach with a scenic drive around the peninsula. 

If you don’t feel like driving, enjoy a full-day excursion from Cape Town to Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope!

 

Whale Watching at Hermanus

girl watching the ocean from the shore

Distance: 121 km, 1 hour 30 minutes

Whale watching is a big trend in South Africa, and Hermanus is the best place to do it, only one hour and 30 minutes from Cape Town. So, hop in the car and get to this beautiful coastal town. You can embark on a boat to witness these beauties by sea, take a Cessna plane to watch them by air or watch them from the shores. With so many options, getting to Hermanus is one of the best day trips from Cape Town. 

The first thing to do when you reach Hermanus is hop on a boat for the best encounter. From June to November, different companies operate boat trips daily to spot whales. 

BOOK YOUR 2-HOUR BOAT TOUR TICKETS HERE

Once you’ve completed this trip, it’s time to rest and sip a coffee at one of the many coffee shops in town. Something sweet might grab your attention, so feel free to spoil yourself. 

Next on your agenda, start eye-hunting the whales from the shore.

The 12-kilometer-long Cliff Path offers the best viewpoints for this activity. Stop along the way, park your car and look out for whales. Sometimes, they appear as close as five meters. How impressive, right?

The 1.6-kilometer-long Windsor Bay is another excellent spot for watching whales. Right next to it is the Dreunkrans, a popular place for locals to spot whales. 

Another terrific way to watch whales is by air, on a helicopter, or on a Cessna plane. The aircraft can get close to the sea, and sometimes you can spot sharks and dolphins. 

 

Join a Safari at Aquila Private Game Reserve as One of the Best Day Trips from Cape Town

elephant coming out from the bushes at Aquila Private Game Reserve

Distance: 176 km, 2 hours drive

If there is only one day trip from Cape Town to choose from, it would definitely be a day-trip safari. It’s one of the best things to do in the area and an experience of a lifetime. 

Aquila Private Game Reserve is just a two-hour drive from Cape Town and the best place to see wildlife in its natural habitat. The 10,000-hectare property is home to the Big 5: elephant, rhino, lion, leopard, and buffalo. You can choose a day safari, a fly-in, a quad-bike, horseback, or an overnight safari. 

If you decide on a half-day safari, I will go for the early morning one, when wildlife is more active and present. The safari is led by an experienced guide who will share his knowledge about the residents and surroundings.

Another great option is the full-day safari, where you will meet the Big 5. You’ll learn so much about the place and the wildlife and have plenty of time to absorb the experience! And to make the experience more memorable, you can cool off in the swimming pools and enjoy a cocktail after a perfect safari day. 

I can tell you from my experience that it’s one of the best day trips from Cape Town, and I will forever cherish this day! 

Join a round-trip to Aquila Private Reserve with Game Drive on a full-day trip!

 

Check the Southernmost Point of Africa, Cape Agulhas – One of My Favorite Day Trips from Cape Town 

the southernmost point sign in Cape Agulhas

Distance: 223 km – 2 hours 30 minutes drive

It might seem far away, but trust me, you must check out the southernmost point of Africa at Cape Agulhas, the meeting point of the Indian and Atlantic Oceans and the African continent’s end. Also known as Cape of Needles, maybe because compass needles show no variation between magnetic north and real north because of the sharp rock formations. 

The Cape of Good Hope wasn’t a highlight for us, but Cape Agulhas definitely was. Maybe the lack of tourists made this place memorable.  

Once you reach Agulhas, have a late breakfast or enjoy a coffee break at Suidpunt Potpourri restaurant. It’s a good opportunity to buy some souvenirs from here. 

Next, head to the famous Cape Agulhas sign and take some photos at the Southernmost point of Africa! Chances you’ll see no one around are pretty great. We had to figure out how to take a selfie because our selfie stick couldn’t accomplish its job due to the strong winds. You can select several trails, but I highly recommend the Rasperpunt trail. 

Visiting the red and white Lighthouse, the third to be built on the South African coast, is something you don’t want to miss while here. You’ll get the chance to learn more about the history of the place and if a lovely lady wants to explain more, don’t refuse her. 

By now, you might get hungry, so it’s time to taste a famous ostrich dish or some fresh fish plate at Zuidste Kaap Pub & Restaurant

 

South Africa Travel Resources

Car rentals

We always use DISCOVER CARS when we want to rent a car as it compares local, national and international companies. Renting a car is the easiest way to see all the famous country has to offer. Almost all destinations are easy to access with a rental car, and having your own car is also the smoothest way to travel and discover new places. Check out the best rental deals HERE.

Secure your travel insurance

We never leave home without travel insurance designed to cover our expenses if something goes wrong. If you’re still on the lookout for travel insurance for your trip to South Africa, I highly recommend HEYMONDO, a trusted insurance provider for leisure and business trips, backpackers, long-term travelers, and digital nomads. Their travel insurance protects against theft, flight delays, injury, illness, cancellations, and much more.

Get an eSIM before the trip

Because phones have become our most important devices, it’s necessary to have a data connection as soon as you step foot in a different country. Your home data plan might only work if you paid for a much more expensive package, finding wifi connections in airports or train stations might be tricky, and seeking a local store to buy a SIM card might be exhausting. Forget all of that!

You just purchase an e-SIM, install it on your phone, and activate the plan when you’re ready to use it. Getting out of the plane and instantly connecting to data was a game changer for me. I didn’t have to waste time standing in line to get a local SIM card or finding a wifi connection to book a taxi to reach my hotel.

If you ask me, getting an e-SIM is a quintessential part of traveling. There is no physical installation and no long-term commitments. And the best part is that you can always top up or purchase a new plan through the app. Pretty convenient, right? You can get an e-sim card with AIRALO

South Africa-related articles

If you’re planning a trip to South Africa, you might want to read my other articles:

AMAZING THINGS TO DO IN PLETTENBERG BAY

THE BEST SELF-DRIVE SAFARI AT ADDO ELEPHANT PARK

ONE DAY IN JOHANNESBURG ITINERARY

ONE DAY IN CAPE AGULHAS ITINERARY

Save time and book a tour

For a local experience, I recommend checking out the guided tours on GET YOUR GUIDE

For more day trips from Cape Town, check out these tours too!

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