Last updated on January 29th, 2024 at 07:15 pm
Cape Town has it all: history and culture, fantastic food (particularly if you’re a fan of steak), nature and wildlife, fun for families, and a stunning backdrop (Table Mountain). If you’re planning on 5 days in Cape Town, follow this family-friendly Cape Town itinerary for what not to miss.
How Many Days Do I Need For Cape Town?
We spent 4 nights and 5 days in Cape Town which we felt was a good amount of time. There’s plenty to see and do, but South Africa as a country has so much more to offer and I was ready to head out of the city and into quieter areas such as the Winelands and the Garden Route after 5 days in Cape Town.
I think you’d be fine with 4 days in Cape Town, or even 3 days in Cape Town but any less than that and I’m not sure you’d be able to do it justice!
What Is The Best Month To Go To Cape Town?
We travelled to Cape Town in April, which is Autumn in South Africa. We experienced mostly sunny weather. The first couple of days were very warm with it then becoming quite a bit more chilly.
The weather is a little more unpredictable at this time of year, but it can be extremely hot in December, January and February which is high season. I think, overall, March or April is a great time to go. No big crowds or long queues and still pleasant weather most of the time.
Is Cape Town Cheap Or Expensive?
Whether Cape Town feels expensive or not will depend on where you are coming from. Flights to South Africa are not cheap, as the demand is high. But, coming from the UK, we found that once we were there, prices for most things were very reasonable.
Eating out, and in particular, the price of kids’ meals, was really good value. Tickets for attractions are normally priced higher for tourists than for residents but are still fairly reasonable.
Travelling by Uber was quite a bit cheaper than in the UK.
Hotel accommodation varies but plenty of good value options can be found. We stayed at Urban Elephant Docklands which was a good budget option suitable for families and with everything we needed (plus a fantastic location)!
Day 1 of Your 5-Day Cape Town Itinerary
A trip up to the very top of Table Mountain via the aerial cable car (or hiking if you’re feeling energetic) should definitely make your Cape Town itinerary (book tickets for the Table Mountain Cableway here).
Check the website to see whether the cable car is running on the day you plan to go (it won’t go in windy weather). Postpone until another day if it’s cloudy as the ‘tablecloth’ (a layer of cloud covering the mountain) may compromise your view.
Tickets are valid for 7 days from the day you’ve booked them for. Booking tickets ahead of time means you’ll only have to queue once (to get on the cable car) when you get there.
There are 3 different walks you can do at the top, all named after animals you might find there. These are the Dassi Walk, the Klipspringer Walk and the Agama Walk. They vary in length, but none of them are long and all three will be suitable for most people.
When it comes to hiking up Table Mountain, there are 5 official routes. Skeleton Gorge is the shortest at 2.5 kilometres. This will take you around an hour and a half and you can do it without a guide.
The views from the top are breathtaking. This should be Number 1 on your Cape Town itinerary!
Address: Tafelberg Rd, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are beyond beautiful, no matter which season you visit them in.
You can hike to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens from Table Mountain. However, if you took the cable car then you’re better off getting an Uber (which is really straightforward) or hopping on the City Sightseeing Bus, which goes to both locations.
You can buy tickets at the gate at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, or online here.
Highlights of the gardens include the Boomslang Canopy Trail (Boomslang means tree snake in Afrikaans), the beautiful bird of paradise flowers and the lovely Fynkos Kirstenbosch Tea Room, where you’ll find some fantastic lunch (try the Mezze Platter) and afternoon tea options.
Look out for the sensory garden, medicinal garden and Protea Garden (the Protea is South Africa’s national flower). There’s also a garden centre, bookshop and impressive gift shop which are all worth having a look around.
Guided tours take place every weekday (there are none on weekends or public holidays). These leave from the Visitor Centre at 10 am, 11 am and 2 pm. Tours are included in the price of your entry ticket.
Over the summer (between the end of November and the beginning of April) concerts take place every Sunday (late afternoon). You can book tickets directly here.
Address: Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735
Day 2 of your Cape Town Itinerary
Of course, South Africa is not without its difficult history of apartheid and political repression. It’s important to recognise the impact this had and visiting Robben Island is one of the best ways to ensure your family does this.
Book tickets in advance for Robben Island (head here to book them). Booking several days ahead is usually adequate, although you may want to plan further ahead in high season (December, January and February).
Tours include the boat journey across to the island, a guided bus tour around the prison grounds, and a tour of the prison interior (your guide will be a previous inhabitant of Robben Island).
The tour of Robben Island, from start to finish, will last around three and a half hours and you can choose to book tickets for a 9 am, 11 am or 1 pm start. Tickets include all aspects of the tour.
There are limited options for food on Robben Island. Your first stop on the bus will be at a viewing point. There’s a small building here which used to be a pub for the prison guards. You can pick up some snacks (sandwiches, crisps and muffins) there.
This trip is probably most suitable for children aged 10 and over. The guides don’t share too much detail of what went on in the prison, but they do, for example, show you a piece of equipment prisoners were chained to in order to be whipped by the guards. That might be a bit much for younger children – although you could easily wait outside if you wanted to and join the group afterwards. There’s also lots of information to take in, which again might suit older children more.
Ticket Office Address: Clock Tower, V and A, Waterfront, 8002
Two Oceans Aquarium
The Two Oceans Aquarium makes a good stop if you’re in Cape Town with kids (particularly younger ones) and it’s often included in lists of the best aquariums in the world. You can book your tickets to visit the aquarium here. If you visit the aquarium after 3 pm, tickets are discounted.
The highlights here are the African and rockhopper penguins and of course the sharks. The sharks are only fed once a week (on a Saturday at 12 pm) however the large fish in the main tank are fed daily (we caught the 4 pm feeding session).
There’s a Penguin Experience (suitable for children over the age of 8) available (book ahead online) as well as diving adventures for adults and teens.
The Two Oceans Aquarium is not particularly large, and you’ll probably make your way around in about an hour. It’s a good rainy day or avoiding the midday heat activity.
Address: Dock Rd, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002
Day 3 of Cape Town in 5 Days
Boulders Beach and the Penguin Colony
You may have heard about the ‘Penguin Beach’ near Cape Town, famous for its adorable-looking occupants. It’s called Boulders Beach and it’s on the eastern side of Cape Town’s tip. It’s one of the most fun things to do with kids in Cape Town.
We picked up our rental car on the third day of our stay as we’d planned to head down to the southern tip and wanted the flexibility of doing it under our own steam. If you’re interested in doing the same, Boulders Beach, near Simons Town should be your first stop.
It’s around 40 minutes from the centre of Cape Town and if you’re driving, there are plenty of car parks nearby.
Once you’ve purchased your tickets, you’ll head down a wooden boardwalk towards the beach. You can’t actually get onto the beach, and you mustn’t touch any of the penguins (they bite). But you will get a really good view of the penguins. You’re bound to see plenty (there are around 3000 here).
The penguins at Boulders Beach are African penguins (previously known as jackass penguins) and are quite small. They’re endangered -due to the reduction of food supplies caused by the fishing industry and pollution such as oil spills. They only live in this part of South Africa, in two locations near Cape Town – so Boulders Beach is definitely worth a visit.
Address: Simon’s Town, Cape Town, 7995
Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope
Next, head to the Cape of Good Hope on Cape Town’s southernmost tip. Tickets to enter the national park are quite pricey but the money goes towards the conservation of the area. Keep your eyes peeled for ostriches and baboons (the latter can be quite aggressive, particularly if you have food – so keep any snacks well hidden).
We parked at the Cape of Good Hope first and had our pictures taken at the famous sign which indicates where the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet. You can head up the cliffs here for some fantastic views. However, it did feel fairly treacherous at points and we didn’t travel the whole way up.
From the Cape of Good Hope, we drove the short distance to Cape Point (also in the national park). Here, you can walk uphill or get the funicular up to the lighthouse.
You’ll be able to learn a bit about the history of the lighthouse (it wasn’t always very successful at guiding ships through the sometimes treacherous waters)! Again, there are some amazing views here if you make it to the top.
There’s a restaurant and snack bar at Cape Point, as well as bathrooms. Picnic spots can be found in the area if you’d prefer to bring your own food (but again, watch out for those baboons)!
It’s preferable to have a rental car to travel around the national park. However, you can reach it by way of the city sightseeing bus. The park gets particularly busy in the afternoon, so the morning makes a better time to visit.
Cape Point Nature Reserve Address: Cape Peninsula, Simon’s Town, 7995
Camps Bay and Chapmans Peak Drive
If you’re driving, it’s worth heading back to Cape Town via Camps Bay and Chapmans Peak Drive, on the western edge of the tip.
Camps Bay has lovely sandy white beaches but is also well known for its fantastic restaurants and bars so it’s a good idea to stop for a drink or something to eat. The water is cold here (it’s the Atlantic Ocean) so you may be happier with a paddle rather than a swim.
Mountain pass Chapman’s Peak, named after ship pilot John Chapman, is probably one of the most spectacular coastal drives you’ll ever experience.
This 9-kilometre road is a toll road (you’ll have to pay a small fee when you reach the end of it) and there are several stop-off points along the way where you can take photos.
Day 4 in Cape Town
Bo Kaap is special and definitely worth your time. Not only is Bo-Kaap famous for its colourful houses, but it’s also an area with a rich history and culture. Originally the neighbourhood was inhabited by Malay slaves, brought to South Africa by the Dutch East India Company. The culture and customs have been preserved and the area is known for fantastic Cape Malay cuisine.
Bo-Kaap’s colourful houses are concentrated on the following streets:
- Chiappini Street
- Wale Street
- Rose Street
If you have a car, head up to nearby Signal Hill for an amazing bird’s eye view of the city, including Bo-Kaap.
District 6 Museum
The District Six Museum was built to honour and remember District 6, which was destroyed in order for the harbour area to be expanded and facilities for white Capetonians to be built. 60,000 black or mixed heritage residents were forcibly removed during the apartheid era in the 1960s.
District Six is a small, personal museum. Make sure you time your visit to coincide with one of the tours (the first ones are at 9.30 am and 10.30 am). For a small additional fee, you’ll understand what happened and its devasting impact so much better, since the tours are given by a previous resident of District 6.
Tours are suitable for older children – younger children might struggle to concentrate on what is being discussed.
Our tour guide shared that the South African government have agreed to financial compensation and the return of land to previous residents. However the usefulness of this, given the time that has passed, and the age of many of the former residents, is debatable.
Address: 25A Buitenkant St, District Six, Cape Town, 8000
Day 5 in Cape Town
If you have 5 days in Cape Town, plan on venturing out to the Winelands for Day 5. They’re only 45 minutes to an hour outside of the city. Take a look at my article which highlights The Best Wine Farms in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek for families.
If you’d rather remain in the Cape Town area, head to the wineries in the Constantia area. Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in South Africa and also has a museum detailing the history of winemaking.
The wine farms in this region are very close to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, so you could combine the two. The wine farms are great places to stop for lunch or, if you wanted to sample a few of the estates, you could plan on driving the Constantia Wine Route.
Groot Constantia Address: Groot Constantia Rd, Constantia, Cape Town, 7806
Where To Eat: Family Restaurants Cape Town
Cape Town has loads of choices when it comes to eating! Whether you are a seafood lover or seeking steak, you’ll be happy. Here are our favourite family restaurants in Cape Town:
Gold Restaurant Cape Town
Without a doubt one of the most unique restaurants in Cape Town, you’ll get an opportunity to partake in a drumming session before you eat, as well as be thoroughly entertained between courses.
Make sure you get your face painted too if you’re asked.
There’s a set menu for the whole table (with dishes from all over Africa: from Ostrich Salad to the national dish Bobotie). The food is amazing. You can request a separate kids’ menu if you think your children won’t want to eat from the set menu. Booking ahead here is vital – make sure you don’t miss it.
Address: 15 Bennett St, Green Point, Cape Town
Iron Steak and Bar
Iron Steak and Bar does some of the best steaks in Cape Town, indeed possibly the whole of South Africa (we tried a few)! The kids’ menu is amazing value. We loved the (free) extras here too – popcorn with our drinks and ice cream afterwards!
Address: Shop 8, Quay 5, V&A Waterfront, Dock Road, Cape Town
There’s a substantial menu at Mozambik but I’d recommend the seafood in particular. The kids’ portions are fairly big here. It’s got a tropical theme (it definitely feels like you’re on holiday) and you can grab a cocktail with your meal.
It’s on the V&A waterfront which is always a popular place to eat. It gets busy here so book ahead.
Address: 114 Bree St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town
I hope that this 5 day Cape Town itinerary has been useful. If you’re renting a car and interested in finding out more about the Garden Route, head to Cape Town to Knysna: The Garden Route with Kids.
If you’re planning a longer stay and want to explore South Africa further, check out this 20 Day South Africa Itinerary.