Cape Town in one day
Day 3: Cape Town in one day: Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Bo-Kaap or Malay Quarter, Long Street, Green Market, and Signal Hill.
We start the first day with the planned route of Cape Town in one day, although first of all, we must check the weather forecasts, based on these, decide what will be the objectives of this first day of the trip to South Africa in 25 days.
With this firm idea, it is 7 in the morning when we go down to the breakfast room of the Circa Luxury Apartment Hotel, our accommodation in Cape Town these first nights of the trip, where we enjoy a full breakfast while we check and review the weather forecast for today, which is not exactly as good as we expected.
It seems that Cape Town in South Africa today does not want to show us its best side and the forecast for the day is quite windy and very cloudy, so after checking on the Table Mountain website that the funicular is inoperative, we decided to make a change of plans approaching the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden early this morning, one of the places on the Cape Town route on a day that we were scheduled to visit tomorrow before heading to Robben Island.
Something very common in Cape Town is the wind and with it, it often happens that the funicular that leads to Table Mountain is inoperative. That can even happen several days in a row, so it is highly recommended to always have a plan B, as we have done, with which you can combine places on the planned Cape Town route in one day and the following days waiting for the most suitable time to enjoy Table Mountain.
Another option would be to go up on foot, but the ascent takes around 3-4 hours from what we have read and is quite demanding, so we did not get to contemplate it.
That said, to check the status of the funicular and the weather, we recommend you look at the official Table Mountain page, where you will find all the updated data.
After this change of plans, when it is 7:30 in the morning, we pick up the rental car in South Africa that we picked up yesterday from the parking lot and start the journey to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, the first stop on today’s Cape Town route in one day.
The 11-kilometer journey from the area where we are staying, in the city center, to the botanical garden takes us about 30 minutes, which allows us to start to get a much clearer idea of what driving will be like in South Africa and which is much more fluid and easier than we expected or at least what we are experiencing in this first contact.
We arrive at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden a few minutes before 8 in the morning, the time they open at this time and after leaving the car in the free parking lot, we go through the ticket office where we pay R70 per person and get a map of the garden by R5 more that helps us to locate, together with the cartels, which will be the route that we will do during our visit.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.
Considered one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is undoubtedly a must on any route through Cape Town in one day, as well as being an incredible place to escape for a few hours from the city you can enjoy exceptional views of the eastern area of Table Mountain.
Although you can walk different paths, of different durations and characteristics, we recommend the following in addition to the central areas of the garden, in which you can see different spaces with different themes, all of them incredibly well integrated into the environment.
- Braille Trail (0.45km) 15 minutes: This is a short self-guided sensory trail through natural forests and wetlands.
- Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway (700m) 15-30 minutes: The ” Boomslang ” is an elevated walkway that runs through and over the Arboretum trees, with spectacular panoramic views. This walkway imitates the skeleton of a snake and is one of the best known and most visited areas of the garden.
- Heritage Trail (2km) 2 hours: This trail takes you through 2 kilometers through the history and development of the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. We did not complete it, but we did go through several of the areas that pass through the central parts of the garden and it is really very well organized and detailed.
- Arboretum: This is the area that is under the previous walkway and in which you can see more than 450 species of trees from southern Africa in a beautiful forest environment in which birds are also abundant.
In addition to seeing it from the top of the walkway, we advise you to walk through the lower part, following its trails.
- Annuals: We accessed the garden through this area and we have to confirm what they say: it is spectacular in spring, from August to October.
In addition to these that we indicate, there are many more areas, which you can see indicated on the map that we share below and in the triptych that you can buy next to the entrance. As we mentioned before, we would dedicate about 2-3 hours to this visit to be able to enjoy it calmly.
Tips for visiting the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
- The ticket price is R70 per person and R5 if you want to buy a small brochure with basic information about the garden and a map of the routes that can be done.
- The garden is open every day from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer months (September-March) and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. in winter (April-August).
- Although you can adapt the visit to the time you have, after the experience, we would not recommend less than 2 hours to get to know the garden and be able to do some of the main trails.
- As we discussed earlier, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is very well organized and you will find different cartels along the entire route, with explanations of the places you are passing through.
- If you don’t have a rental car, you can get to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on the Multi- Stop Hop-On, Hop-Off Tour, which stops at all locations on this Cape Town route in one day.
- Another option is to opt for this full-day tour of the Cape Peninsula and penguin colony or this tour that arrives at Cape of Good Hope. Both include a visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.
Map of the route to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
It is 10 in the morning when we finish the 2-hour visit to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and after looking at the weather forecast and checking again that Table Mountain is still closed, we decided to continue with the route we had marked for today, returning to Circa Luxury Apartment Hotel, where we left the rental car and from where we began to visit the most central area of the city now on foot, which will take us to know the rest of the places that we had marked for this Cape Town in one day.
The first of the places on this part of the route that we will pass through is District Six, where the famous District Six Museum is located, located practically 1 kilometer from the place where we are staying and that allows us to start to know a little more The city closely, this time on foot, something that allows us a much more real and direct contact than doing it by car.
And although we cannot say that this is precisely an unsafe area, we find some streets that do not have all the charm we expected and that as we see later, we only find in certain of the city such as Long Street or Bo-Kaap.
This makes us confirm something that we expected and that is that Cape Town is a city in which you could not say where you are, since it seems a mixture of Europe and Africa, with small Asian and American nuances, which they do together. a puzzle with pieces that sometimes do not quite fit together and in which extreme poverty continues to be observed, which in small strokes, is shown to tourists that we arrived in Cape Town.
After abolishing slavery in 1838, many black slaves as well as Muslims and Jews settled in this area of the city, gradually turning it into one of the most social places and the sixth district of Cape Town.
This was truncated by apartheid, which in 1965 declared the area a ” white area ” causing the neighborhood to be demolished and throwing all the rubble into the sea.
To this day you can still see samples of this destruction in Richmond Street as well as in two churches in the area, which its inhabitants did not allow to demolish to show the unity that for years had existed in this multicultural neighborhood.
It is in this neighborhood where the famous District Six Museum is located that we do not visit since today we are somewhat tight on time due to the change of plans, but that we leave pending to be able to know it in the next few days.
Taking advantage of the fact that we are in this area of Cape Town, when it is 11 in the morning we decided to go to Charly’s Bakery, a well-known pastry shop that became famous for the television series and that has become a reference in the city. Logically and how could it be otherwise, we are not satisfied with just seeing her from the outside and having a chat for a few minutes with the owner, so we sat down in one of her months to enjoy a caramel cheesecake, a cookie Traditional, coffee and latte for 9.81 euros at the exchange rate, which we have to say makes us feel great and gives us the strength to continue with the Cape Town route in one day.
After this stop, we get back on track heading to the most central area of Cape Town, passing by the Cathedral of St. George, a neo-Gothic building that during the era of racial segregation welcomed people of any race until we reached Bo -Kaap or Malaysian neighborhood, one of the essentials in any tour of Cape Town in one day.
Also known as the Muslim or Malay quarter of Cape Town, this place is currently one of the most visited after the power of Instagram has put it in the window for its charming colored houses, which have made it one of the most photographed places in the city.
Its best-known street is Wale Street, where the houses with the most striking colors are located and even if you are lucky enough to have a parked car that seems to be part of a movie set, we advise you to get lost in the streets parallel to it, such as Chiaponi Street, where there are also many colorful houses, which will allow you to see another area of the neighborhood, less crowded but as much or more charming than the main one.
Although the area to visit is quite small, if you want to take photos we recommend spending about an hour to visit it, since as we mentioned, this is not only the main street but also the parallel streets.
It takes a few minutes after 12:30 noon when we leave the Malay neighborhood of Cape Town to head to Long Street, very close to the latter, and one of the most charming and atmospheric places in the city.
Long Street in Cape Town
The main artery of the city center, also known as City Bowl because it is located in the hole left by the mountains that surround it, this is one of the streets that you cannot miss in Cape Town since as we mentioned, it is one of the liveliest places in Cape Town.
In addition to its atmosphere, this is where many of the most recommended restaurants in the city are found, as well as shops, which mostly occupy the northern part of the street and many of the most remarkable historical buildings.
Practically an hour is the time that we are on Long Street, walking the street a couple of times in each direction, delighting ourselves with the charm of many of its buildings, some of them even picturesque, among which we find that atmosphere that we had read so much about. and that we had not found it until now. And it is that although we stay in the center, we must bear in mind that it is the financial area, a place that from 6 in the afternoon is practically empty, just like on weekends, so if you want to enjoy the atmosphere, this area of the city we believe is perfect to stay.
It is practically 2 in the afternoon when we decide that the time has come to start looking for somewhere to eat and thanks to Claudia’s recommendation, we went to Raw and Roxy, a raw vegan restaurant located next to Green Market Square where we ordered an assortment of dishes plus lasagna and two juices for R330.
Really spectacular! Super recommended!
From here when it is practically 3:30 in the afternoon we continue with the City City route in 1 day and we go to a cafeteria that is right next to it where we order a couple of coffees for R21 Runs each that give us enough energy to continue with the day, now approaching the Green Market, very close to here, where we lose ourselves for a few minutes among the dozens of small craft shops that invade the square every day of the week except Sunday.
Although we had read that it was a good place to buy souvenirs, we have to say that they did not convince us, perhaps also because we only arrived a day ago and did not have the idea of shopping yet in mind.
Green Market Square
Between Burg Street and Longmarket Street is this square well known for the craft market that takes place every day except Sunday, where you can find almost any souvenir you want to take with you. Of course, it should be borne in mind that both the quality and the origin are not entirely clear, so although it is a very lively place, it may not be the best option for your purchases.
More remarkable are the buildings that surround it, of different styles, which give the square a special charm and make it a place to visit in Cape Town.
After this walk and take a walk around this area of Cape Town, a few minutes pass at 4 in the afternoon when we return to the Circa Luxury Apartment Hotel to take the rental car and head to Signal Hill, one of the most recommended city tours that will become the last point on today’s Cape Town in one day tour.
Located 7 kilometers from the most central area of Cape Town this is, without a doubt, one of the best views of both Cape Town and the surrounding area, including Table Mountain and Lio’s Head, two of the most famous icons. from the city.
As you go up with the car, you will see that the views are incredible and although you can stop in the area of the shoulder, we recommend you be careful since the road is not very wide and from the highest area, the 360º views are spectacular.
Keep in mind that access is free and there is a car park enabled in the highest area where you can leave your car safely.
Another thing to assess is that if the day is cold or there is a lot of wind, as has happened to us, because of the height where it is much more noticeable, so it is advisable to come prepared with some warm clothing.
Signal Hill is one of the most famous sunset spots in Cape Town. Although that is our intention as the afternoon progresses, the sky is covering and seeing that the forecast is not too favorable when it is a little after 6 in the afternoon, we decided to end the route of the City of Cabo in 1 day, returning to the Circa Luxury Apartment Hotel where we fell asleep giving thanks for the incredible start of South Africa on our own.
Map to get to Signal Hill by car
Safety in Cape Town
Something we want to comment on before concluding this post refers to safety in Cape Town, one of the things you have asked us the most about. Although we have only been in the city for a couple of days and therefore we do not believe that we have enough information, we do want to record the feelings we have had in the city regarding safety.
- Despite the fact that nothing has happened to us at any time, at dusk, we have not felt safe in the city, so most of the days we have eaten early and have chosen to go to the hotel before the sun goes down.
- When we stayed in the financial area, it was empty in the afternoon, and on the weekend, something that we believe has added insecurity to that feeling.
- We advise you that if you are going to move by car, do it with the latches closed and avoiding moving at night. Although it is true that as we have said before nothing has happened to us, we believe that it is best to take some precautions to avoid unpleasant moments.
- In the same way, we have to say that in all the tourist places of Cape Town we have felt totally safe.
Map of the route through Cape Town in one day
Today’s route through Cape Town in one day has taken us to know the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, where we arrived by car, and then we went to the Museum Quarter, Long Street, Green Market, Bo-Kaap or Malay neighborhood and Signal Hill.