How to Plan a Trip to Cape Town

How to plan a trip to Cape Town

Cape Town was my first international trip after the pandemic in 2020, and I counted down the days until I could go. Not only was it my first time in Cape Town, South Africa, but it was my first time in Africa. While I did visit with a group that did a lot of trip preparation for me, I also did some planning of my own. This post entails everything you need to plan a trip to Cape Town.

Cape Town is one of South Africa’s three capitals, the oldest city, and the second largest (after Johannesburg). Table Mountain surrounds this port city on the southwest coast. Cape Town reminds me of California, with mountains, beaches, and good food vibes. So if you like to hike, lounge by pristine beaches, eat delicious food, enjoy the nightlife, and much more, Cape Town is perfect for you.

See below for how to start planning your Cape Town Trip!


Before planning a trip to Cape Town, determine if you need a Visa to travel there, and make sure your passport is up to date.


I typically plan an appointment at a travel clinic before traveling to certain places that may need vaccines or medicine. For example, if you’re planning to stay in Cape Town, you may not need anything. However, if you’re venturing outside Cape Town, you can make an appointment to see what you might need. 

When visiting a travel clinic, you’ll want to have a rough plan itinerary. This way, your physician or nurse practitioner you’re consulting can determine what and if you need anything based on your location and activities. Some items that may come up when you’re visiting Cape Town include (but are not limited to):

Yellow Fever 


*This information is subjective to my experience. Please consult with a physician or travel clinic for more details.

*See this link for more information.


The currency in South Africa is called Rand. Therefore, I recommend taking some cash and exchanging it at the airport. However, most retailers and restaurants accept cards, so you will not need to carry cash. 

Restaurants and ride-sharing were much cheaper than in the states, allowing us to utilize these more.

When to Visit

Cape Town is a year-round destination, with some seasons more popular than others. The best time to visit depends on what you want to do. While some activities can be done year-round, others are better during a specific time.


The summer season in Cape Town is peak season and runs from mid-December to mid-March. The warmer temperatures draw many tourists to some of the best beaches. So if you want to enjoy the beaches and outdoors, summer is a great time to go. However, you’ll find many visitors here, especially when school is off (mid-December to mid-January). 

*I visited Cape town in early/mid-December, and I loved it. The weather was excellent in the evening and got warmer during the day. While the water was still too cold for me to swim, it was still lovely to lounge by the beach and enjoy the good vibes that came with the summer season in Cape Town.


Spring and fall have fewer tourists and milder temperatures. Fall (mid-March to mid-June) is a great time to visit if you’re a fan of wine and want to visit Cape Town’s historic wine farms. Spring (mid-September to mid-December) is blooming of colors and is perfect for viewing the flowers in the gardens. 


Winter in Cape Town lasts from mid-June to mid-September. Cold fronts from the Atlantic bring cool temperatures, rain, and wind to Cape Town. This time of year is the best time to whale watch. If you want to dine, you can also check out all the delicious restaurants in Cape Town.

Flights & Accommodations

Once you know when you want to visit Cape Town, book your accommodations early. During the high season, hotels and apartments can book out very quickly as it is a popular destination. Summer (mid-December to mid-March) typically will have the most expensive flights and hotels. However, as Cape Town is a year-round destination, booking everything as soon as possible is essential to ensure your stay where you want.

Cape Town International Airport is the only airport in the Cape Town metropolitan area that offers scheduled passenger service. It’s approximately 12 miles from the city center. Therefore, this is the airport you will most likely fly into Cape Town.   

Travel Tip: Pre-plan your transit from your airport to your accommodations, and ensure not to take a ride from someone who approaches you.

Where to Stay

There are many different neighborhoods you can stay in. Where you stay is based on what you want to do and what vibe you want. For a first-time visit, I recommend staying in three neighborhoods: Sea Point, Green Point, and Camps Bay. 

Sea Point

Sea Point is a popular neighborhood nestled between Mouille Point and Bantry Bay. You’ll find the beachside promenade where you can skate, run, and cycle, along with the watersports you’ll see along the beach. This cosmopolitan suburb homes a wide range of people with some of the most expensive homes. Sea Point is an excellent place for foodies and those wanting luxury hotels along the beachfront.

Green Point

Green Point has narrow lanes and Victorian villas and provides a welcoming and safe environment. Many come for the nightlife, and the district is a liberal, gay-friendly social scene. You’ll find visitors and locals alike. You’ll discover lower-priced guest houses, mid-range villas, and luxury hotels. As a plus, it’s easy to walk to the city center. 

Camps Bay

Camps Bay has white sandy beaches and a good selection of hotels, guest houses, and B&Bs. It’s a fantastic spot for a refreshing ocean swim or sweater weather by the pool when it’s colder. This area has a friendly, fun-loving atmosphere with welcoming locals. You’ll also be within walking distance of the top waterfronts and popular tourist attractions.

How to get around

Cape Town has spread apart, and while you can walk around your neighborhood area, you will need a way to transport yourself between other neighborhoods and sites. You can rent a car or scooter or ride-share. Both options are good options for convenience and price for your stay. 

Travel Tip: There are many beautiful coastal drives you can take. I recommend hiring a driver or renting a car to see these stunning views.

What to pack

What you pack will again depend on the time of year you go, but the weather is similar to any coastal city. During summer, the weather is hot but not too muggy. During winter, the weather gets cool and can get incredibly windy by the ocean. 

You’ll want to bring beach attire if you plan to be by the ocean. In addition, Cape Town and surrounding areas have lots of outdoor activities, such as hiking, so be sure to bring appropriate clothes and shoes. 

Other than your exercise activities, Cape Town is similar to Europe in that athleisure isn’t the typical daily wear. Instead, you’ll find trendier casual pieces appropriate for the weather. Of course, always wear what you are most comfortable in, but it’s also a great place to try out coastal fashion pieces.

Travel Tip: There are many beautiful coastal drives you can take. I recommend hiring a driver or renting a car to see these stunning views.

Plugs/Load Shedding

Most plugs in South Africa are 2-prong or 3-prong, so be sure to bring both power adapters to prepare you wherever you go.

Due to an inadequate national energy supply to meet the current demand, South Africa experiences load shedding. Load shedding has been occurring since 2007 and is something to keep in mind our your visit to Cape Town. Some hotels may not have power outages, but during my stay in an apartment, my power would cut out for a couple of hours twice a day. 

Travel Tip: Sometimes, load shedding may occur while you’re eating in a restaurant, and in some cases, the restaurant will not be able to ensure items. Remember, this is out of the control of the restaurant, and they will provide alternative options for their menu!


While Cape Town is one of the safer cities in South Africa, there are still petty crimes. So be sure to lock up valuables and be aware of your surroundings.

Due to cheap ride-shares, I always recommend calling a ride-share if you’re in an unfamiliar area or are out at night. Ride-shares are easy to come by, especially in widespread neighborhoods.

I hope this helped you get started with planning your Cape Town trip!

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How to plan a trip to Cape Town
How to plan a trip to Cape Town

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