Only have 12 hours in Cape Town? While it may seem like you will never have time to see and do all those things you have read about and heard about, you can fit in a surprisingly large number of things into half a day. To help you make the most of each and every second, we have put together a mini guide on how to spend your limited time in South Africa’s famous Mother City.
Let’s face it – being on a tight timeline can make any travel encounter somewhat stressful. When you find yourself in one of the world’s most iconic cities, it is even more frustrating not to have all the time in the world. While we do not believe in rushing your time in this fabulous city, we can at least offer a few tips on how to spend your time wisely, so that you can get the full Cape Town experience without missing out on too much.
Ready to get rolling? Let’s take a look at the things you absolutely cannot afford to miss during your 12 hours…
12 Hours in Cape Town – What to See, Do and Experience
Whether you are in town on business for part of a day only, or you are travelling through the city en route to somewhere else, much can be accomplished in a few hours… if you plan your time wisely, that is. Before we share some of the top ideas on how to spend your 12 hours, we suggest that you consider a few things that will help you decide where to focus your time.
Knowing what sort of things will interest you the most (and which things will not be worth the effort) makes it far easier to plan your short stay. Choosing a ‘base’ area to explore, such as the City Bowl for example, will similarly make things easier. It is possible to explore most of the peninsula in a short space of time, but that will mean wasting an hour or two on driving. Choosing a general area that allows you to get around quickly allows you to spend all of your time having fun, without any long trips back and forth. With that in mind, here are some of the top things to do in Cape Town in half a day…
* Half Day Tours. Short tours are hands down the best option for saving time. We offer an excellent range of tours that include half day wine route tours, city tours and township tours – each packing in loads of sights, sounds and memories into a smaller amount of time than a standard tour. Typically, shorter tours run for anything from two to six hours. Check out our Cape Town tours page to see what we have on offer.
* A Day at the Waterfront. The V&A Waterfront area is home to a number of top attractions, including the Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A mall, an abundance of restaurants, boat charters, helicopter charters, markets, kid’s activities, live music and plenty of other things to see and do. This area can easily be explored on foot, giving you the chance to take in the sights, stop for lunch, enjoy a cocktail, do some shopping and visit the aquarium or nearby Mineral World scratch patch, Clocktower, Robben Island Gateway Museum (cruises to the island can be taken from here too!), Shimansky diamond tours and many other attractions. See our Waterfront guide to see why you will love this area.
* Hire a Car. Self drive is a convenient and fun choice for exploration – especially if you plan on heading out for the day. One of the most scenic routes to drive is the False Bay Main Road, past Muizenberg Beach, stopping in Kalk Bay for lunch and a stroll to see the art galleries and then continuing to Boulder’s Penguin Beach and then into Simons Town to see the Naval Museum, harbour and Toy Museum. A drive to the Cape Winelands is also highly recommended, while a visit to the Constantia Winelands and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Newlands also makes for a pleasant drive. Book your car hire and then plan your very own self drive route to explore at your own pace!
* Take a Walk. There are many areas that can be explored by foot, including the City Centre where landmarks such as the South African National Museum, SA National Art Gallery, Greenmarket Square and Long Street can be found. Along with the landmarks themselves, routes such as this include little sidewalk cafes, cute shops and boutiques and many other interesting stops. A day can easily be spent taking in the sights, enjoying a lazy lunch and relaxing in the heart of the city. Have a look at our Cape Town by Foot guide for more walking ideas.
* Hop on, Hop off. The City Sightseeing bus offers hop on, hop off trips, with a ticket that lasts for the entire day. There are two routes offered – the red route, which travels across the City Bowl area, and the blue route, which heads out to the rest of the peninsula. There are many different stops on both routes, where you can get off and explore a bit. You can then catch the next bus as it passes, and continue the tour. Check out our guide to the City Sightseeing bus to learn more about this way of exploring the city.
It is important for us to say at this point that these are just a few of the many, MANY different ways that you could spend your limited time in the city. There are loads of other options that we have not covered – so many in fact that it is impossible to fit them all into a single post. We strongly recommend taking a look at our activities page, which is loaded with great ideas.
You are also more than welcome to contact us if you would like any additional tips on where to stay, where to eat and what to do while you’re in the city. We will do everything in our power to help you make your 12 hours in Cape Town as memorable as possible!