10 Best Day Trips from Cape Town, South Africa
“Working from my laptop while traveling the world” may sound great and all, but don’t let my cool travel photos fool ya— it’s exhausting. And what I’ve ultimately realized is that slow travel truly is the best route to take if you want to make this lifestyle your reality. So I recently made Cape Town, South Africa my temporary home for a couple of months. In doing so, I got to explore some pretty cool spots around the country.
If you happen to find yourself in the Western Cape and are looking for some unique day trips from Cape Town, your girl has got you covered! Read on for some of my favorite memories throughout my journey in South Africa. :)
1. Take a drive to the Cape of Good Hope
Taking a mini road trip from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope is hands-down one of the most scenic drives you can experience in the Western Cape — there is truly SO much to see along this route. While Matt and I didn’t actually make it all the way to the Cape of Good Hope, I’ll go ahead and give you the important details to make your journey as smooth as possible!
Important to Note: this is going to be the Chapman’s Peak Route.
First stop: Hout Bay!
Your first stop should be Hout Bay — there’s a lookout point here where you can see the entire bay, making this spot an ideal photo opportunity.
Beach it out at Nordhoek
Further down the route, you’ll reach Nordhoek Beach— a long, stretching beach with incredibly white sands. Its known to be a bit windy here, but its still a great place to stop for a nice, picturesque view!
Drive to Simon’s Town & chill with the penguins at Boulder’s Beach
You’ll then want to drive across the peninsula to Simon’s Town where you’ll find Boulder’s Beach… and the penguins! If you’ve been following along my journey on Instagram, you probably know that I was very excited for the African penguins— and it turned out to be one of my favorite experiences during my time in South Africa. :)
Its important to note that Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town is not a zoo— its a sanctuary where you can find wild, African penguins in their natural, protected habitats. You can get pretty close to the penguins by walking across the raised boardwalk, or you can even head down onto the beach itself! However, its important to remember that these little guys live here— so just be respectful of their personal space!
Final Stop: Cape of Good Hope
From Boulder’s Beach, the Cape of Good Hope is only about an hour away. This is where you can stand at the most Southwestern tip of Africa. It’s an iconic spot and the ideal (Instagram) photo opportunity.
2. Visit Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre
Without a doubt one of my favorite experiences in South Africa— visiting Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre!
Located in Plettenberg Bay on the scenic Garden Route, Tenikwa is a well-established rehabilitation center for the iconic, indigenous cats of South Africa (along with other various endangered wildlife species).
The animals residing at Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre are brought to the center for a number of reasons, most of which are from injuries incurred in the wild. Being registered with the South African Veterinary Council, this non-profit organization treats a diverse number of injured or abandoned animals, with the overarching goal of successfully releasing them back into the wild. However, this all depends on the severity of injury— if it is not safe to release the animals back into the wild, Tenikwa will create a safe “forever” home for them at the centre.
It is so important to Tenikwa that guests experience these animals in the most natural setting possible to highlight the need to protect the wild spaces in which they live. Thats why the rescue center offers informative, conservation based tours that are educational & enriching for both visitors and the animals residing at the facility.
Matt and I were lucky enough to experience one of these tours ourselves; the Private Guided Tour took us on a 2 hour excursion through the entire rehabilitation center. There are a number of tour options based on your needs, and I highly suggest booking one during your time in South Africa! All profits from tours are used to fund the rehabilitation facilities and conservation activities at Tenikwa.
Side Note: While these Meerkats below are absolutely adorable, you shouldn’t let their cuteness fool you (or ever try and keep them as pets!). The owner was explaining to us how vicious these little guys can actually be— one of them literally ate her entire shoe right off her foot!
As always, its important to let wild animals do their thing & leave them be in their natural habitat — they are just as scared of you as you are of them!
3. Visit the Old Biscuit Mill
Alright— I’m kind of cheating here. A trip to the Old Biscuit Mill isn’t exactly a day trip from Cape Town. However, I couldn’t talk about my experience in South Africa without at least mentioning it and showing off a few of my pics! This place is honestly incredible and deserves a spot on everyone’s Cape Town itinerary.
The Old Biscuit Mill is a vibrant little market located in a trendy Cape Town neighborhood called Woodstock. Open exclusively on Saturdays, the Old Biscuit Mill is a place where talented creators, artisans and designers come together to offer Cape Town visitors the chance to purchase their beautiful, handmade products.
The food offered at the Old Biscuit Mill is absolutely phenomenal. You will undoubtedly be overwhelmed with the amount of choices available— bad news for indecisive people like me! Make sure that you stroll through the entire market before making your decision; Matt and I ordered our food without realizing there were a ton of options available in the second room towards the back. However, we still snagged some delicious sangria back there and our food was amazing regardless!
4. Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary Plettenberg Bay
None of the primates at Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary have ever actually been in the wild— they’re all brought in from captivity (zoos, circuses, monkeys privately owned as pets). I’m always a bit skeptical about these kind of things, but this free-roaming sanctuary is AMAZING to the rescued primates residing here. You’ll find approximately 11 species of primates here at the forest, the majority of which are: Vervet, Capuchin & Howler Monkeys, Ringtail Lemurs, Bearded Saki and the Lar Gibbon.
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary Species
This little guy below is a Ringtail Lemur— the national animal of Madagascar. Each Ringtail Lemur has 13 white and 13 black stripes on their tail. However, their tail is actually unique to each one of them (just like our fingerprints are unique to us!).
In the photo below, you can see one of the Capuchin monkeys (dark-haired monkey on the very right)— this species can be found commonly throughout Monkeyland. The Capuchins originated in South America and are the smartest primates found in the entire sanctuary. These monkeys definitely know how to use their common sense— they’ll use rocks to kill snakes/dangerous predators and will make use of tools in the forest to open up shells, crabs & pretty much anything they can get their little hands on.
This is the Lar Gibbon, also known as the white-handed gibbon, and one of my absolute favorite species in the sanctuary (note that the Lar Gibbon is actually an ape, not a monkey). This species relies on vocalizations for territorial marking, and you will undoubtedly hear its unique “whoop whoop” song if you pay a visit to Monkeyland.
With arms longer than its legs, you’ll notice that the Lar Gibbon is quite lanky— however, this makes it much easier for the species to travel around Monkeyland at high speeds! I was able to snap a photo of Matt hanging out with one of the Gibbons. Don’t let his smile fool you, though— he was a little more terrified than this photo lets on.
If you want to see these beautiful primates for yourself, make sure you plan ahead! It’s best to visit on a day with nice weather— I was a bit chilly because it was wintertime in South Africa (which is actually summertime for us Americans/ Europeans). Check out the tour below which has an option to visit several Plettenberg Bay wildlife sanctuaries:
Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary Tour
Enjoy a visit to the world’s first free-roaming multi-species primate sanctuary
Experience a monkey safari/guided tour that will take you through the 30 acre forest (where over 700+ primate species currently reside!)
Explore Monkeyland’s souvenir store, restaurant & viewing deck (note that food is not included with ticket purchase!)
To purchase your ticket:
First, you’ll need to click this link: Plettenberg Bay: Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani Wildlife Tour . Once you’re on the booking site, you’ll need to choose the amount of participants for your tour and preferred date, then select “Check Availability”. You should then see the tour & price breakdown— simply click “Add to cart” and follow the payment process. Note that you can also purchase a combo ticket for the neighboring Birds of Eden sanctuary, which I’ll talk about in more detail below! :)
5. Birds of Eden in Plettenberg Bay
Being the largest single-dome free flight aviary in the world today, Birds of Eden offers its residents a massive 2.3 hectares of natural forests, streams and dams.
While there are birds galore (hence the name), you’ll also spot other species, such as deer, throughout the sanctuary. Matt tried to snap a photo of me with one but she unfortunately ran away too quickly… (we’ll become friends next time).
Birds of Eden Plettenberg Bay Tour
If you want to see these vibrant birds for yourself, you might as well book the tour before your journey begins! Its important to note that tours at Birds of Eden are self-guided— this is to allow you to see the aviary at your own pace. However, guided tours can also be arranged on request at no additional cost to you. Here are some of the tour highlights:
Enjoy a visit to the world’s largest single dome free flight aviary— home to 200+ species and almost 3,500 birds
Experience a self-guided walking tour through the 2.3 hectare aviary
To purchase your ticket:
First, you’ll need to click this link: Plettenberg Bay: Monkeyland, Birds of Eden, Jukani Wildlife Tour . Once you’re on the booking site, you’ll need to choose the amount of participants for your tour & preferred date. Select “Check Availability” and you’ll see the tour/price breakdown— click “Add to cart” and follow the payment process. Note that you can also purchase a combo ticket for the neighboring Monkeyland sanctuary.
6. Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn
Without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite day trips from Cape Town: Cango Wildlife Ranch! Recognized as one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions, Cango offers SO much value for its visitors — up-close-and-personal animal encounters, Crocodile Cage Diving (say what?!) and plenty of fun activities for families!
The animals residing at Cango Wildlife Ranch come from all over the world & are brought to the center for a large variety of reasons. Some of the animals have been rescued from the wild, while some have been brought over by concerned citizens in the local area.
These injured animals are typically nursed back to health and released back into the wild. However, this all depends on the severity of their injuries— if it is not safe to release the animals back into the wild, Cango will create a safe home for them at the ranch.
Matt and I decided to do one of the animal encounters (I mean, how could we not?!). For the first few minutes, I was terrified to be so up-close-and-personal with the cats. Mostly because the cheetah kept turning around & trying to lick me… and it honestly scared the living daylights out of me. The Cango employee said that it was because I was blonde and the cheetah was confusing me for its trainer. So although the experience freaked me out a bit in the beginning, it was exhilarating & incredibly humbling to be so close to these amazing creatures.
7. Visit an Ostrich Farm in Oudtshoorn
Undoubtedly one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had…. but definitely one for the books— feeding the lanky ostriches at Highgate Ostrich Show Farm in Oudtshoorn!
Highgate Ostrich Show Farm — Oudtshoorn
Highgate Ostrich Show Farm offers unique interactions with the world’s largest bird— the ostrich! I’m not going to lie to you— this is actually a pretty terrifying experience. However, I am honestly SO glad I went and braved the birds!
Don’t let my smile fool you— I actually thought I was going to have a mild anxiety attack (these creatures are seriously HUGE and way more intimidating than my photos lead on).
Overall, the Highgate Ostrich Show Farm was an incredible experience. Once you can get past the initial fear, you’ll be so glad you did it! Aside from feeding the birds, there are a number of options available at Highgate. You can go on a tour with an experienced guide who will show you the ropes on life at the Ostrich farm, you can visit the restaurant or you can explore the souvenir shop. Definitely a must-do day trip from Cape Town!
8. Head over to Bloubergstrand
Considering this is where I spent a majority of my time in South Africa, I definitely couldn’t leave it off the list. This beach town is definitely a bit on the quiet side, but its perfect if you’re looking for some relaxation time during your trip!
Beach it out at Bloubergstrand
The name Bloubergstrand literally means “blue mountain beach” in Afrikaans (one of South Africa’s official languages; a West Germanic language that was descended from Dutch). While this beach town is primarily a quiet, residential area, it actually attracts a large number of adventure enthusiasts— particularly those into kitesurfing and windsurfing. And if water sports aren’t your thing, you can always have fun playing at the shoreline!
The beach offers a beautiful view of Table Mountain, which you can see in the distance in the photos above. While walking along the beach, you can find a number of stands offering local sweet & savory treats— Matt and I snagged a few pancakes at one of them (and FYI— pancakes in South Africa are not what you would expect from a pancake in America. Amazing, nonetheless).
9. Wine Tour Cape Town
Spending an entire day sipping on South Africa’s best wines?! Um yes, please— count me in! Its important to note that you have a few options for wine tasting tours:
You can book a walking or bike tour in Stellenosch or Franschhoek
You can book a wine tram/train that will take you to various wineries
You can opt for the more adventurous/DIY route and book a shuttle to take you to the wineries
My friends and I ultimately chose the third route and booked a shuttle for the day. We managed to go to quite a few of them on a tour with a pickup from Cape Town included (and it was much cheaper booking as a group). Some of the wineries we visited included Tokara in Stellenbosch and Vrede En Lust in Franschhoek.
Stellenbosch Wine Tour
The town of Stellenbosch is located around 50km from Cape Town (roughly an hour-long drive), making this the perfect day trip! This region is rated as one of the world’s most famous wine territories, and for good reason. Not only will you see the beautiful local vineyards, but you can even book a wine tasting tour where you’ll spend the day sampling numerous wines from around the region.
Stellenbosch is actually a university town— around 30,000 students are enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch each year. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’d be able to get much school work done while surrounded by amazing wine at every corner of my university campus (but hey— if it works, it works!).
Franschhoek Wine Tour
You can also opt to head over to the region of Franschhoek— because my friends and I opted for the shuttle route, we were able to visit various wineries in Cape Town. One of the Franschhoek spots we visited included a beautiful winery called Vrede En Lust.
With tons of fireplaces and an overall cozy feel, Vrede En Lust truly makes you feel right at home from the minute you walk in— I highly recommend paying them a visit!
Best Cape Town Wine Tasting Tours:
If you’re a wineaholic like me, then you definitely won’t want to miss out on one of the many amazing wine tasting tours that Cape Town has to offer. Below, I’ve rounded up a few of the best tours that offer some of the most scenic views and tastiest wine/cheese plates in all of Cape Town!
10. Sip on Cape Town’s best coffee at Truth
Alright, alright— I’m cheating again (last time!). Not exactly a day trip, but Truth Coffee is definitely worth a visit during your time in Cape Town! The city is very well known for its coffee/cafe scene, so I had to add this one to the list. And I mean, the Telegraph rated this cafe as “the best coffee shop in the world”, so it must be pretty great, right?!
Truth Coffee Cape Town
If you’re a coffee-holic like me, you’ll definitely want to venture on over to the best coffee spot in the city— Truth Coffee. First & foremost, Truth takes pride in serving high-quality, artisan coffee to customers (No Sugar Required is the motto here). This cafe has a unique, steampunk themed interior.
This place was, without a doubt, the trendiest spot I experienced during my time in Cape Town. Although I personally didn’t visit at night, Truth is said to come alive at night with their “Dessert AfterDark” experience. Just make sure you bring a friend if you come at night, because the location is a bit dodgy (but I mean, every place in the world has its dodgy bits and you can’t live your whole life in fear!).
Not only is Truth Coffee a caffeine lover’s dream come true, its actually a photographer’s as well. Hence why I snapped so many detail shots— the interior at this cafe is truly out of this world!
The steampunk theme makes you feel like you are immersed in some sort of industrial movie set — even the skilled baristas are dressed for the occasion! Seating arrangements at Truth include tables, both long & short, and high-back booths like the one seen in the second photo below.
Truth doesn’t encourage sugar and won’t readily offer it — that’s how much they believe in the taste of their coffee! You will see signs of their motto, “No Sugar Required” in various spots throughout the cafe. But they do still have it for those who absolutely need it…
I hope that I’ve inspired you to take some of your own day trips from Cape Town during your visit to the Western Cape! If you are planning on visiting South Africa and have any questions for me about your travel journey, feel free to drop a comment below and I will get back to you as quickly as possible! :)
*Disclosure; Some of the content above may contain affiliate links (at no cost to you). However, I would never recommend tools, apps or resources if I didn't use them and find them helpful myself.
Hi there! I’m Fallon. A Florida native who, after receiving my masters degree in the U.K., decided to nix the 9-5 path in search of something more. Now, I run my graphic and web design business straight from my laptop, all while traveling the world. I’ve now traveled to over 25 countries and have knocked some pretty big adventures off my bucket list… and I’m just getting started. Follow along my journey as I present tips, guides and resources on solo female travel, photography, videography, entrepreneurship & the crazy lifestyle of a digital nomad.