Cape Town in 24 hours

Sasha Arms is a respected freelance journalist and founder and editor of Hungry Nomad. Known for getting caught up in travel experiences that veer toward the bizarre (from wangling her way into a Latin America prison and being bitten on the backside by lion cubs in South Africa), Sasha offers a fresh and unique perspective in her travel reviews.

Seeing Cape Town in just one day is no small feat. If you’re short on time, however, you may have no other option. What this mammoth day in Cape Town will do is ensure you plan a much longer stay in South Africa’s “Mother City” next time round. By the end of the day, that fact will be a sure thing.

Breakfast at Camps Bay

Start the day early and in style by heading over to Azure restaurant in the Twelve Apostles Hotel in Camps Bay. The views overlooking the bay really will inspire you for the day ahead, and the breakfast will certainly set you up for it. Camps Bay is all about the elite side of Cape Town – classy bars and restaurants, celebrities and wealthy Capetonians, and a beach to see and be seen. Take note of your surroundings – it’ll be a contrast to what you see later on.

Exploring Table Mountain

South Africans love the great outdoors, and you’ll see plenty of people out and about, or putting up makeshift braais (barbeques) in the most unlikely spots. Take the opportunity to take part in this lifestyle that’s possible even in the city, by joining the Pipe track to walk to the bottom of Table Mountain. The track takes a path that was once used to transport water from some of Cape Town’s reservoirs and goes via the ridge atop the Twelve Apostles Mountain range – it should take about an hour and a half.

Next it’s time to go up Table Mountain. It’s Cape Town’s most famous and prominent landmark, and the chance to go up to the pinnacle simply cannot be missed on any Cape Town visit. The cableway gets you to the top in a matter of minutes, and you’re able to see the Cape below from all angles. “Taking in the scenery” will never seem like a watery idea again once you’ve been on top of Table Mountain.

Museums and Markets

Check out the center of town before lunchtime, grabbing a bite to eat from one of the many cafés at some point during your meanderings. Check out the District Six Museum – it’s very much a community-focused museum about the bulldozing of the area during the apartheid. It’s told from the perspective of the displaced community and is one of the most important museums Cape Town has to offer.

For some arts and crafts, stop at Greenmarket Square and the Pan-African Market inside an old Victorian building on Long Street. Both are full of artisans and craft-sellers from across Africa selling really high-quality wares.

Local Townships and Farms

A visit to Cape Town isn’t complete until you’ve seen and understood how all of Cape Town’s residents live.  Many tour operators run township tours that are much-welcomed by the communities visited. You often get to go to a number of townships, and meet and speak with local residents – some also include a drink in a shebeen (pub) and a visit to a witch doctor.

If you’ve managed your time carefully, you should just have time for one more unforgettable experience before nightfall. Make your way down the Cape Peninsula to Imhoff Farm near Kommetjie. It’s a fun place to look around with tiny shops selling all sorts, a farm, camel riding and more. Finish your day on a horse-riding trip along the beach, where you may also be lucky enough to spot some whales.

Evening African Feast and a Night in a Trailer

You may well be exhausted, although totally exhilarated, by this point in the day, but there’s more fun to be had yet. Have dinner back in Long Street at the Khaya Nyama game restaurant. It looks a bit like a bushman’s cave, but don’t let that make you think it’s tacky. It feels like “proper Africa” with live African music and a selection of game meats on the menu you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

At last, time for bed … but this isn’t any ordinary hotel room you’ll be sleeping in tonight. The Airstream Rooftop Trailer Park is on the top of the Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street, and comprises  a series of seven trailers, each decorated in its own style, from “Earthcote Moontides” to “The Ballad of John and Yoko.”

So there you have it. From trekking and townships to Table Mountain and trailers, one totally unforgettable day in Cape Town.

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Featured Image: Cape Town ( Expert Tips

How To Get There: Cape Town International Airport (CPT) is approximately 12 miles from the city center, and is serviced by 20 domestic and international airline carriers. Information regarding area transportation is available here.
Best Time To Visit: Located in the Southern Hemisphere, Cape Town’s weather is the opposite of North America. Their summer months run from late Oct. to March or April, with Dec. and Feb. being the hottest months and the best time to go the beach. The best time to visit is probably from March to May, when the weather isn’t as hot and the summer crowds have thinned out.

Sample Fares: Fares displayed are the lowest roundtrip fares found in the last 48 hours to Cape Town from:
New York — $1003 (Travel Nov. 9-21)
Los Angeles — $1492 (Travel Aug. 28-Sept. 19)
San Jose — $1454 (Travel Oct. 3-5)
San Francisco — $1165 (Travel Nov. 9-10)
Washington, D.C. — $1144 (Travel Sept. 15-Oct. 5)
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