7 Unique Day Trips from Cape Town – By a Local

There’s enough to do within Cape Town itself to keep you busy for weeks on end, but there are also tons of fantastic places to explore within easy reach of the city. So, if you’ll be here for longer than a week, I highly recommend taking at least a day trip and experience the true variety of the Western Cape.

However, as a local, I can also tell you that some of the day trips from Cape Town are overrated, so I’ve only included the ones that are truly worth your precious time in this beautiful city. I’ve made sure to select accessible ones, too, as I think it’s a shame to waste most of the day in the car when there’s fun right outside.

Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

West Coast National Park 

Distance from Cape Town: 98.3 kilometers (61 miles)

The beaches in Cape Town are undeniably beautiful, but I must admit, they get pretty crowded during summer, and the water is frigid! So, as much as I love Clifton and Camps Bay, sometimes nothing beats packing up the car and heading to West Coast National Park for the day. It’s definitely worth the hour’s drive.

This stunning park is home to the beautiful Langebaan Lagoon, which boasts clear, calm water ideal for swimming and is surrounded by pristine white sand. The first time I visited, I was honestly blown away by its beauty. Best of all, the water here is much warmer than in Cape Town. I’m able to stay in for as long as I like here, whereas in Cape Town, five minutes is usually my limit.

There’s not much here in terms of amenities, so bring plenty of food and drink with you, and remember to drive slowly through the park to protect the wildlife. I’ve seen some speed demons here – don’t be one of those! Entry to the park costs R116 for international visitors or R74 for South Africans during the summer. 

While this is my top choice for a hot day, visiting the park during August and September, which is wildflower season, is also possible. It will probably be too cold to hit the beach, but the spring flowers definitely make it worth visiting. 

Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope 

Distance from Cape Town: 55.4 kilometers (34.4 miles)

This is one of the most iconic day trips from Cape Town and a good way to combine some beautiful scenery with a closer look at the city’s history. I actually wasn’t too fussed about visiting Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope when I first moved here, but I really enjoyed visiting when a friend came out to visit.

It only takes a few hours to check both of these spots out, as they’re very close together, but if you know what you’re doing, you can turn this into a fun, full-day adventure. We actually took a tour as I didn’t have a car at the time, which made everything really easy.

If you have a rental car, start by heading to Cape Point, a stunning peninsula about an hour’s drive south of Cape Town. Remember that you’ll have to pay the R400 entry fee on the way in! I’d also recommend packing a waterproof jacket and a warm layer. It was hot when we left the city, but the wind at Cape Point was crazy – you’d never have known it was the middle of summer! 

Cape Point is said to be where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. As we learned when we visited, that’s not actually true, but it’s still worth climbing to the top of the lighthouse to enjoy sweeping views of the area. There’s also a funicular, but it doesn’t work during load shedding, and honestly, I wish I had saved my money and walked up instead. 

Then, you can either hike or drive to the Cape of Good Hope. This headland was so-named because when European traders found it, they considered it a promising sign that they could reach India via this route. The name is pretty ironic, not only for obvious reasons but also because the stormy weather means that there are around 3,000 sunken ships in the water! 

The hike takes around 30 minutes and is well-signposted, or it’s only about a 5-minute drive. This is the southeasternmost point of Africa, so snap a photo with the famous sign, clamber onto the rocks, and enjoy the views. 

Then, as you drive back to the city, there are some fun places to stop! Visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach is always fun, and I love exploring the charming hippie town of Kalk Bay and taking a dip in the Dalebrook Tidal Pool. And if you’re not the one driving, you could even stop in Constantia for a cheeky wine tasting! 

Tour Option: Cape Point and Boulder’s Penguins Full Day Tour

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Paarl Spice Route 

Distance from Cape Town: 57 kilometers (35.4 miles) 

Paarl isn’t as famous as Franschhoek, but in my experience, it’s just as worthy of a visit. The town’s crown jewel is the Paarl Spice Route, which is a farm complex that’s pretty much a destination in itself. We bought a “passport” when we arrived which included five different tastings, so over the next few hours we enjoyed everything from artisan gin to biltong, beer, and chocolate. Not bad for R300, and I definitely enjoyed the novelty factor of it all. 

I actually chose to do this because a friend who came to visit wasn’t into wine (shocking, I know), so I wanted to replace the typical wine tasting day. We were lucky enough to get great weather, but I also think that this would be a great thing to do in Cape Town when it rains, as there are plenty of indoor areas to enjoy all of your food and drink, and an umbrella would protect you for the short amount of time it takes to walk from station to station. 

And if you’re a keen cyclist, there are also bike trails here, plus a boutique Pilates studio and a spa. So basically, it’s a one-stop-shop for all of your lifestyle needs. This place is very family-friendly, too, as they have a “junior adventure passport” covering many fun activities for kids, although parents will need to book this in advance.

You might be worried about driving with all of the beer and spirits tastings on offer here, but don’t worry because you can book a private transfer instead and sip away to your heart’s content. Trust me, this is much easier than trying to call an Uber from Paarl back to Cape Town, which can take hours and totally ruin your buzz.

Tour Option: Paarl Spice Route Pick Up Drop Off Included

Franschhoek Wine Tram

Distance from Cape Town: 75 kilometers (46.6 miles) 

All aboard South Africa’s notorious wine tram! 

Located in Franschhoek, about an hour outside of Cape Town, the wine tram is a fantastic way to explore the winelands. It’s a series of hop-on, hop-off trams and buses that connect the most popular wine farms, and there are lots of different routes on offer. Basically, the Franschhoek Valley is your oyster! 

I usually book a wine tram tour from Cape Town and tackle the Navy route, but you can use a private driver if you want to explore one of the other routes. Honestly, I don’t think it matters which route you take unless you’re super into your wine and are dying to visit one particular estate. 

If you get on the first tram of the day at around 9 am, you’ll have about 8 hours of wine tasting fun. This is enough time to visit 4 to 5 wine farms. Personally, I always aim for 4, so I have time for a nice, leisurely lunch at one of them. 

The wine tram tickets cost R300 per person, and the tastings are extra. If you choose to join the bus tour from Cape Town, it costs R695, including return transport and your tickets. The last time I did this, I spent R700 on tastings and food on the day.

Tour Option: Full-Day Franschhoek Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram Tour from Cape Town

Aquila Safari 

Distance from Cape Town: 176.1 km (109 miles)

If you’re not visiting the Kruger National Park or KwaZulu-Natal while in South Africa, I highly recommend doing a game reserve safari. No, it’s not as spectacular as the real deal, but I got to see lions, zebras, and hippos going about their business as usual, which was pretty epic. And best of all, you can find this experience just two hours away from Cape Town! 

Yup, the Aquila safari tour will pick you up in the morning and drive you out of the city to a vast game reserve where Africa’s Big Five can be found. We got welcome drinks and a huge buffet before we piled into a trailer and headed out for a two-hour game drive. Our guide taught us so much about the animals that we saw, and we spotted four out of the Big Five—unfortunately, there were no leopards to be seen on the day we went. 

The tour costs R3,590 per person with return transport from Cape Town, which I thought was totally worth the money. It runs year-round, too. Although you won’t be able to use the game reserve’s beautiful infinity pool during the winter, you do get an extra meal instead. Swings and roundabouts, I guess! 

Tour Option: Aquila Game Reserve Safari with Park Fees, Transport & Lunch

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Hermanus 

Distance from Cape Town: 122 kilometers (75.8 miles) 

Hermanus is known as the whale-watching capital of the world, so if you’re in Cape Town between June and November, I highly recommend driving out to this seaside town. In September, there’s even a whale festival to enjoy, but whale watching cruises run throughout the season, or you can just spot them from walking along the beautiful Cliff Path. 

This town is about 1 hour and 45 minutes from Cape Town, and it’s a nice, peaceful escape from the city. I highly recommend grabbing breakfast or lunch at The Station, and be sure to treat yourself to a slice of the fantastic cheesecake here! The Country Market is also worth checking out on Saturday mornings.

Tour Option: Whale Watching Wine Tasting and Penguins From Cape Town – Private Tour

Hout Bay and Noordhoek

Distance from Cape Town: 18.6 kilometers (11.5 miles) 

Hout Bay and Noordhoek are both suburbs of Cape Town, but they’re far away enough from the hustle and bustle that they definitely count as a day trip. 

The drive out to Hout Bay is lovely. I highly recommend going along Victoria Road through Camps Bay so that you get awesome views of Lion’s Head, the Twelve Apostles, and the Ocean as you wind along the mountainside. Then, when you get to Hout Bay, there’s a ton to enjoy. I loved visiting Seal Island, and I always have to grab fish and chips from Fish on the Rocks – it’s the best in Cape Town! But if you’d rather chill, it’s also lovely to relax on the beach for a while and enjoy the views of the mountains across the water. 

When you’re ready to head on to Noordhoek, you can drive along an even more beautiful stretch of road – Chapman’s Peak Scenic Drive. With its red cliffs and unobstructed sea views, it’s no wonder that big brands like Mercedes Benz have filmed ads here! It blows me away every single time. 

Noordhoek is home to a long, flat beach that’s absolutely perfect for walking or even horse riding! It’s also home to the Aegir Project, which is home to what I consider to be Cape Town’s best burgers and lots of delicious craft beer. The laid-back Farm Village is also worth checking out, and on Wednesdays, it’s worth sticking around for their evening market. And if you’re all about hiking, the Elephant’s Eye Cave trailhead is in Noordhoek, too.

About the Author: Hannah is the writer behind The Cape Town Blog. She arrived in Cape Town for a 3-month trip in 2021, but fell hopelessly in love with the city and decided to stick around indefinitely. When she’s not writing about life in Cape Town, she’s out enjoying the beaches and discovering the latest and greatest gems that the city has to offer.

Meghan

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