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24 Hours in CT

Experience the best of SA's top tourist destination with our 24-hour guide to Cape Town

By Catherine Franklin | January 18, 2017 | Travel Leisure

Cape Town is the perfect destination for a one or two week vacation, so it may seem impossible to do it all in 24 hours. Fortunately it’s only 65 kilometres from the V&A Waterfront (the city’s most visited attraction) to the windy tip of the peninsula of Cape Point. Venture past Table Mountain, sun-dipped beaches, quaint fishing villages, sprawling vineyards and a small colony of African penguins – and it can all be done if you’re prepared for a busy 24 hours in South Africa’s top tourist destination.

Discover the West Coast and The Little Karoo in these helpful guides.

8am: Where to Stay
Cape Heritage Hotel

Start your 24-hour Cape Town experience in the historically gracious Cape Heritage Hotel. Situated in Cape Town’s Heritage Square, this boutique hotel offers direct access to the city’s vibrant street life. As an integral part of the restored Heritage Square, the hotel’s roots run deep into the 18th century (the central courtyard is shaded by the oldest known fruit-bearing grapevine in South Africa) providing a true sense of Cape Town’s customs. Take an hour to settle into this luxurious oasis of calm before setting off to explore what the Mother City has to offer.

Find more places to stay in and around Cape Town here.

9am: Explore a Charming Fishing Village
Kalk Bay

A gem on the False Bay coastline, Kalk Bay will be your first stop outside of the city. Catch a ride on the train or take an Uber to this seaside village that hasn’t lost any of its old-school charm. With cutesy curio shops featuring antiques and unique items, Kalk Bay is the perfect place to wander between coffee shops and antique trading posts. Stop for breakfast at Sirocco, a casual yet sophisticated outdoor café part of the Harbour House Group. Satisfy your hunger with salmon Eggs Benedict and freshly-squeezed orange juice. For a more casual and unique South African bite to eat, visit Lekker, where the aim is to provide delicious food as well as make visitors feel at home.

Explore the famous Winelands in a completely unique way with our guide to wine tasting in Cape Town.

11am: Play with Penguins
Boulders Beach

Near Simons Town lives a colony of thousands of African penguins – formerly known as jackass penguins due to their distinctive braying – in between granite boulders. At the cost of a small conservation fee, anyone can walk in and amongst the penguins. Meander around the boardwalks along the coast mingled with dense vegetation, where you can truly take a selfie with the tuxedoed locals, or picnic while watching them in their natural habitat. A completely unique experience.

1pm: Get a Taste for Cape Malay
Bokaap

Catch a lift or take a drive back to the city and spend some time in the Bokaap. On the east flank of Signal Hill is the old Muslim quarter of Cape Town, famous for the photogenic pastel-painted homes and mosques that line the cobbled streets. Descended from dissidents and slaves brought by the Dutch in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Bokaap residents have mixed heritages from Africa, India, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, but have combined all their different rich cultures to become the completely unique Cape Malay community. Explore the streets and purchase local goods in premier craft shops such as Monkeybiz and Streetwires, or stop for lunch at Bismillah, a legendary Cape Malay restaurant in the Bokaap that features a proud fusion of Asian, Afrikaans and African spices and flavours.

Plan your proudly South African foodie road trip on the outskirts of Cape Town here.

3.30pm: Visit a Secret Beach
Bakoven

Everyone knows Cape Town is famous for its white sandy beaches – Camps Bay even throws in a few palm trees to truly replicate that tropical aesthetic. But because of their fame it ultimately means they are packed with people, especially on hot summer days. However, locals know all the places to head when the crowds are too daunting. A few hundred metres from the Camps Bay strip is one such favourite: Bakoven. A hidden path grants access to this secluded and tiny beach, preventing passersby from wandering too close, and it has an unmatched view of Lion’s Head.

Alternatively, spend some time shopping boutique-focused Bree Street to get a taste of truly Cape Tonian decor and design – find out more here.

6pm: Sundowners
Twelve Apostles

While the majority of locals and tourists are enjoying the typical Capetonian tradition of sipping a refreshing drink while watching the sun go down, head to the Twelve Apostles Hotel for a more exclusive viewing. In its secluded position between Camps Bay and Hout Bay, the location couldn’t be more perfect. From cognac and port to a wide selection of cocktails (and bartenders who are on hand to create signature cocktails using your favourite ingredients), The Leopard Bar at the Twelve Apostles is the ideal place to relax in a pristine setting.

Explore more of Cape Town and Jo’burg’s best cocktail spots here.

8pm: Dine in Style
The Shortmarket Club

Situated on busy Shortmarket St, which is constantly pumping with local markets and live entertainment, The Shortmarket Club is founded by Luke Dale-Roberts and headed by his top chef Wesley Randles. The restaurant space has been conceptualised and designed by Sandalene Dale-Roberts, Luke’s wife, and her vision is a powerful one creating an uncompromisingly opulent feel. The centrepiece of a wall of framed butterflies, conceptualised by artist Mark Rautenbach is a striking visual focus while enjoying West Coast Mussels, Chestnut and Fynbos Roasted Petit Poussin and a Rhubarb Mess.

Read more about The Shortmarket Club in our exclusive review.

10pm: Experience the Night Life
Long Street

No trip to Cape Town is complete without a taste of its well-known night life, which has a little something for everyone. Beer lovers can head to Beerhouse which, true to its name, houses 99 craft beers on tap and in bottles as well as a ‘Round the Clock’ tasting plate of different types of beers; or if you haven’t had enough of Cape Town’s cocktails try Outrage of Modesty for unusual cocktail concoctions using local ingredients and focused flavours. Café Roux hosts local musicians for the music inclined, or alternatively visit the rooftop bar at The Waiting Room. Long Street is a mass of clubs and bars each with their own distinctive style so wander up and down the street for its eclectic offering. If you’re not up to partying with the locals then spend the evening at The Labia Theatre for a taste of Cape Town’s local and nouveau film scene.

Plan your next quick trip with our 24-hour guide to Jo’burg here.

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