We’re going to start this off with a straight-up answer to your question. Yes, Cape Town is worth the trip. Whether you plan to spend a week, two weeks or a month in Cape Town, this travel guide will highlight the pros and the cons of traveling there so you can decide for yourself.
Reasons You Should Not Visit Cape Town
If you’re flying from Los Angeles, it will take you over 20 hours to get to South Africa. From New York, about 15 hours, and from London, over 10 hours. Most travelers fly straight into Cape Town International Airport, as it’s only a 30-minute drive to the city center.
Traveling to Cape Town from almost anywhere is not the most budget-friendly, but once you get there, you can have a great time on a smaller budget. June-August and December-February are the most expensive months to travel to Cape Town from New York. It can cost from $900-$1,700 for a round-trip flight. That’s because it’s summertime in South Africa from December to February, and dry season for wildlife watching between April and September.
Having Enough Time
Some argue that you can do Cape Town in five days. But why rush around when you’ve flown all that way? If you have the flexibility or vacation time, we recommend spending at least two weeks in Cape Town alone, not including a safari in Kruger National Park. At the end of the day, the time you have could limit your experience. So, a big downfall of visiting Cape Town is that you need at least 10 days for it to be worth the travel time.
Cape Town is becoming a key tourism destination, despite warnings regarding safety. Our tip is to stay in the central business district, Camps Bay and Clifton, and use your common sense to keep an eye on your belongings. Use Uber to get from point A to point B, and avoid walking alone late at night. Your best bet is to stay in the city center but don’t let that stop you from gaining some perspective and visiting the surrounding townships. Just be sure to go with a trusted local ethical guide, as it can be dangerous for you and damaging for the communities you’re visiting otherwise.
Why Visiting Cape Town Is Worth It
Penguins. That’s enough of a reason to visit Cape Town if you ask us. Cute creatures aside, Cape Town is known for its lush green landscapes and breathtaking coast. Whether you travel for food, adventure or a little bit of both. The city and surrounding areas have so much to offer.
You can hang out with wild penguins.
If you thought penguins only live in Arctic conditions, think again. South African penguins live in colonies on the south-western coast. These flightless birds can be found waddling around Boulder’s Beach just outside of Simon’s Town. A lesser-known penguin hang-out is at Stony Point Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay.
There are plenty of amazing hiking trails.
The most famous landmark and popular hiking destination in Cape Town is Table Mountain. The main route takes about two hours by foot, but view-seekers can take the cable car up. Other popular city-center hikes are Lion’s Head, Chapman’s Peak and Cape Point. Outside of the city are beautiful nature walks in Steenbras River, Helderberg Nature Reserve and Tygerberg Nature Reserve.
To ensure you have everything you need for any hiking adventure, bring a backpack, like the Solgaard Shore-Tex™ Daypack, with you.
You’ve not had barbeque until you’ve had Braai.
South African barbeque is a meat lover’s dream. It’s true when they say food brings people together. The tradition of braai is shared across ethnic groups, something unfortunately quite rare in South Africa, even today. Just like a good ‘ol American barbeque, you don’t mess with the chef. The Braaimaster will cook up beef, wild boar, ostrich, fresh seafood--the works, while you chew on jerky called biltong.
You can get a great meal.
Like any emerging economy, visitors have a range of dining choices in Cape Town. You can get away with a simple lunch for R100 (South African Rand), which is about $7USD. And you can eat and drink very well with R200 (about $15USD). The food scene in Cape Town is strong. One of our favorite spots is Kloof Street House, where you can indulge in kingklip with truffle cauliflower mash and sip on a roobois tea daiquiri.
The surf in Muizenberg is stunning.
If you’re keen to ride the waves, the best time to visit Cape Town is in the winter months of April through August, when there are big swells from the South Indian Ocean. Yes, there are sharks, but Muizenberg has a shark warning system that will keep you safe.
Have You Booked Your Flight Yet?
South Africa is one of the most stunning travel destinations in the world, and Cape Town is a true gem. There’s so much to do and see, and we’ve only scratched the surface. Take this photo above. It was taken in Bo-Kaap, an area of Cape Town that used to be called the Malay Quarter. Its history is as distinct as it’s aesthetic.
If you aren’t convinced yet, go ahead and do more research. As for us? We’re packing our suitcases already and booking that flight!