Greetings Internet Stranger, and welcome to a perfect 24 hours in Cape Town. Well, you’ve come to the right spot! Cape Town is one of my top five favorite cities in the world, and nothing would make me happier than to show you some of my favorite things in the city.
First, we’ll stop by one of Cape Town’s best museums. Then we’ll explore some of the city’s prettiest public art, gardens, gin, and more. We’ll finish up by listening to some of the greatest jazz music in the city while meeting some real locals. Let’s not waste any more time! Our 24 hours in Cape Town awaits!
24 Hours in Cape Town
Where to Stay?
There are so many charming hotels in Cape Town for any budget. But I would always choose to stay at the lovely Cape Heritage Hotel, which has the perfect location. It’s in a safe and busy area, right near tons of attractions, and the 24 hour front desk is available to answer any questions.
Just look at this gorgeous breakfast! You know you want to eat it, don’t you? It’s the perfect way to fill up before heading out on the best Cape Town wine tour. On top of this, there’s turndown service every evening, and the toiletries in the room all smelled delicious and were locally made. Plus the hotel is home to the oldest vine in Cape Town!
Click here for a great deal on this hotel. Or if you’re looking for other options in Cape Town click here! Cape Town is one of the best cities for tourists in the world, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that will suit your style and budget.
24 Hours in Cape Town
What to Pack?
Cape Town’s weather can be unpredictable, and it’s so windy that it felt like I was “skirting” the edge of danger every time I left my hotel room with a skirt on. So the two most important things you’ll need to bring are an umbrella and some rain boots.
My favorite travel umbrella is the Repel Teflon Waterproof Umbrella. It is strong enough to stand up to those powerful Cape Town winds! You’ll thank me later when you see all those tourists throwing their useless umbrellas in the trash because their brolly wasn’t tough enough.
For rain boots, I recommend the Asgard Rain Boots. They are comfy/cozy and keep my feet dry all day. And you can tell that I really wear them because I took this photo on my own rug in my own apartment.
If the weather is sunny, I love my special pink Birkenstocks. These aren’t your grandpappy’s Birkenstocks anymore. I always get compliments on my shiny rose-colored sandals. If pink’s not your jam, you can try a different pair because Birks come in every shade.
Finally, if you’re not from South Africa, you need a universal adapter if you’re going to plug in electronics. South African electrical outlets don’t work with American plugs. I suggest the NEWVANGA travel adapter.
It’s usable with any electrical outlet in the world, so you won’t need to keep buying new adapters. I always carry two with me, just in case something happens to one, like that time I melted my adapter in a Russian hotel room.
24 Hours in Cape Town
Morning: District Six Museum
While Cape Town is a beautiful city, with a plethora of enjoyable activities, it doesn’t seem right to just head to the beach and ignore the country’s often brutal and tragic history. That’s why I recommend starting your 24 hours in Cape Town at the District Six Museum.
This museum tells the story of a multi-racial community that used to live in District Six. During the apartheid era in South Africa, this community was forcibly evicted by the racist government, and their houses were destroyed. By visiting the District Six Museum, you can help keep the memories of this special place alive. I’ll do my part to share what I learned with…
Three Memories: District Six Museum
1) What Was District Six?
District Six was a “coloured” neighborhood, which in South Africa means that the people who lived there were mostly biracial or multiracial. As an American, it took some getting used to the fact that this word has a different meaning in South Africa than it does in the US.
The people who lived in this community were forced to leave their homes by the apartheid government because the government wanted to build housing for whites only. In fact, the former District Six never became a successful new community and is now mostly undeveloped.
The District Six Museum is a memorial for the community that was lost. It’s located in a former church and there’s a plaque outside that reads “God Forgive Us”. Many of the guides in the museum are former District Six residents, which really drives home how recent all of these events were.
2) What Was Life Like in District Six?
You can see many artifacts from District Six at the museum, like this replica of a house for a typical home for eight people. District Six was a very diverse community with many Muslim families. It was also a popular place for music. South African jazz, which we will learn about later in our 24 hours in Cape Town, has a lot of roots here.
Take your time to see the many artifacts from the community, like tools from the local hair salon or equipment from the maternity ward where only coloured women were allowed. Most of these items were donated by former residents of District Six, so they’ve been cherished and loved for a long time.
3) What is the Most Powerful Exhibit?
That’s subjective, but for me it was the story of Noor’s pigeons. Noor Ebrahim is one of the founders of the District Six Museum, and when he lived in District Six, he used to train pigeons. They would fly out of his home and always return to him.
After Noor was evicted from District Six, he let his pigeons out, but they didn’t return to his new home. He went looking for them and eventually found them in the ruins of his old home in District Six. They wanted to return to their first and best-loved home.
24 Hours in Cape Town
Afternoon: Explore Cape Town
It seems strange to be a tourist in Cape Town after learning about the sad events surrounding the destruction of District Six. But it’s important to see what Cape Town is like today, not just what it was like in the past. So spend the afternoon exploring some of the beautiful places in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. I’ll get you started with…
Approximately Top 5: 24 Hours in Cape Town
1) Lunch at Lola’s
Lola’s is a real Cape Town institution. I went there during my first visit to Cape Town back in 2012 and yet again on my most recent visit. It’s the perfect place to go if you want a yummy coffee, some healthy and satisfying lunch, friendly staff, and great people-watching on Long Street.
I got the Cajun chicken, which was moist but not too spicy. But the most exciting part of the meal was the many side salads with chickpeas, feta, quinoa, and cucumber. The salads change daily, so you never know what to expect. It’s a veritable veggie adventure!
2) Company’s Garden
The Company’s Garden is one of the prettiest places in Cape Town and a perfect spot for relaxation. On my first visit to Cape Town, I stayed near here and used to drop by every day for a full week to read and go for a walk. Here are all the things you can do in the Company’s Garden:
- See the oldest pear tree in South Africa
- Step outside the Houses of Parliament
- See contemporary art installations
- Watch local performers (and leave a nice tip!)
- Look at the gorgeous exterior of the Mount Nelson Hotel
- Buy some earrings or fruit or…whatever people happen to be selling
- Use a very decent public restroom
3) Shopping in Woodstock
After your stroll, Uber on over to Woodstock, arguably Cape Town’s trendiest neighborhood. You won’t find Jimi Hendrix singing the American National Anthem here, but you will find great places to drink coffee like Tribe Coffee in the Woodstock Foundry shopping area. The staff is incredibly friendly, and they’ll let you select the bean you desire for your coffee.
For even more shopping, stroll over to the famous Old Biscuit Mill. They have a huge party every Saturday morning, but on other days, you can enjoy the trendy boutiques. I bought a lovely scented candle and a sticky traditional South African bun called a sisterkoek. Delicious!
4) Enjoy Woodstock Street Art
Woodstock used to be considered a dicey neighborhood, according to some locals, but is now getting more and more popular with locals and visitors alike. And of course, the easiest way to tell a neighborhood is getting trendy is that you see charming street art all around.
Street art changes all the time, so I can’t promise any of my favorite pieces will still be there when you spend your 24 hours in Cape Town. But I especially liked this one above, which represents three different generations (the young, the middle-aged, and the old, I suppose) supporting each other.
And if you really want to learn about supportive street art in Cape Town, check out the NGO Baz. This organization uses art education to steer youth away from violence. A noble cause if there ever was one! So some of the street art you see in Cape Town isn’t just pretty; it’s supporting a great cause.
5) Drinking in Woodstock
There’s two places I suggest drinking in Woodstock, and we’re going to start with the very classy Woodstock Gin Company. They offer a lovely tasting of four of their gins for an extremely gin-reasonable price. Plus you get to tour their facility! The owner explained to me that gin is very easy to make, unlike whiskey. You just need juniper, or else it’s vodka and not gin. In fact, you can make it in only one day.
And you can drink it in way less time than that! That holds true even if you are drinking several gins. On my tasting, I had one gin with lemon and spice, one with grapefruit, a pink modern gin with pomegranate, and a whiskey like gin with pepper. (That last was my fave because I’m a whiskey girl.)
The owner told me to sniff coffee to clear my palette in between each one. I’m still think he might have been pranking me, but it seemed to work okay. And don’t worry about getting tipsy on an empty stomach. If you didn’t fill up on sisterkoek, you can snack on corn nuts and a dried meat called biltong here. It’s like a yummier South African beef jerky.
Now, maybe you prefer beer to gin, or perhaps you prefer to chase gin with some beer. This blog does not judge either way. In any case, head over to Woodstock Brewery, where you can sample some classic beer styles in a chillaxed setting. Try anything from a light lager to a stiff IPA.
Many people know that the IPA was created for the British to drink in India, but of course South Africa was a warm climate British colony as well, so the British brought their IPA to Cape Town too. Never say you can’t try a little history with your beer!
24 Hours in Cape Town
Evening: Jazz Safari
I’ve taken tours all over the world, so please believe me when I say the Jazz Safari is one of the best tours out there. If you only take one tour in South Africa, let it be this one because you’ll see such a fascinating side of the city.
You’ll meet your driver at a hotel in Cape Town, and he’ll take you off to your first of two concerts for the evening. Cape Town is one of the most famous cities in the world for jazz, and The Crypt is the best known club in the city. But many music journalists will actually tell you that this tour is really the best jazz club in Cape Town.
That’s because you get to visit the homes of two different professional jazz musicians, where you can dine on their food, get to know them, and hear a private concert.
My first concert was at the home of Mark and his wife, which was charming because Mark wrote many of his songs for his lovely lady. He plays a grillion instruments including the piano, the guitar, and a foot tambourine, and I was lucky enough to hear them all. (Lucky for me, I brought some extra cash so I could also buy one of his CDs.)
My second concert was in the home of a bass player named Eldridge, who had traveled all over the world playing his music. He and his wife offered me some yummy snacks, which I gladly scarfed even though I was already full from Mark’s dinner.
Eldridge played everything from his original compositions to “America the Beautiful” and the South African National Anthem. Where else can you get two professional quality private concerts in one evening, along with a home-cooked meal? This is an evening that will truly stay with you for the rest of your life.
That’s a Perfect 24 Hours in Cape Town!
What would you do with 24 hours in Cape Town? Have you ever had two private concerts in one evening? And do you like chasing gin with beer, or is Jagermeister classier? Please leave your thoughts below!
Note: If you want to know how I put my travel itineraries together, just click here. Keep in mind that while each article is about how to spend 24 hours in a place, that doesn’t mean you should ONLY spend 24 hours in Cape Town or ONLY do the best Cape Town Wine Tour when you are in Cape Town.This post contains affiliate links. That means if you purchase something using one of the links on this post, I may earn a small commission. But I would never recommend anything unless I loved it, dahlink!