One Week in South Africa | Travel Itinerary and Guide
The 7 Day South Africa Travel Itinerary
South Africa is a big country and thus difficult to travel all over the country in one week. I’d suggest focusing on one region instead of trying to visit many places that are far apart. One week is a perfect time for visiting the Western Cape and Cape Town. In this 7 day South Africa Travel Itinerary and Guide, you’ll be able to explore the most beautiful city in Africa, see African animals on a safari drive, visit some of the finest wine estates in the country and admire the diverse marine life of the Pacific Ocean. The Western Cape is a great place to visit for culture lovers, food and wine connoisseurs, adventure junkies and wildlife admirers.
However, before proceeding further, its a good idea to check out where to stay in Cape Town, as you’ll be spending 3 nights out of 7 Nights of your Trip to South Africa in Cape Town.
If you are visiting South Africa with kids and wondering, What to do, be assured that there are tons of things to do with kids in Johannesburg, and in South Africa in general.
Best areas to stay in Cape Town
Staying close to the City Bowl is the best option for short-time visitors, V&A Waterfront and Green Point are our top picks here. Both areas are pretty safe, close to the city center and several routes of the Cape Town Red Bus start and end here.
Luxury Accommodation in Cape Town – Protea Hotel by Marriott Cape Town Waterfront Breakwater Lodge | Victoria & Alfred Hotel
Day 1 – Cape Town
Morning – Take a tour to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Madela spent 18 of 27 years in prison. It’s definitely the place to include in your Cape Town itinerary. The tour includes a 30-minute boat ride from V&A Harbour to the island and back and a 2-hour prison tour. On the way you’ll get a chance to see Cape Fur seals swimming in the shallow waters of the harbor. The views of the Waterfront with Table Mountain and Lion’s Head on the background from the boat are spectacular.
Afternoon – To continue learning about the history of South Africa visit The Castle of Good Hope, the birthplace of Cape Town and District Six Museum where you can find out more about the life in South Africa during the Apparteid.
As an option instead of visiting the Castle you can spend a couple of hours at Two Ocean Aquarium where you can see the marine fauna and flora native to the region. The Aquarium is a great place to visit for travelers with children, they’ll enjoy watching the daily feeding of penguins, sea turtles and sharks.
Evening – Watching the sunset from the top of Lion’s Head is a must-do in Cape Town. Joining a sunset Red Bus tour is probably the easiest way you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot and making it in time for the sunset. You can finish the day with dinner at one of the restaurants close to your hotel.
Pro Tip – Renting a car is the best and the easiest way to explore the surroundings, and cover all the destinations, recommended in this 7 Day South Africa Travel Itinerary.
However, in Cape Town – rush hours traffic in the city centre is quite hectic and finding a parking spot sometimes is hard even for locals. To move around the city the Cape Town Red Bus is a good and comfortable option. These busses have several routes that take tourists to the city’s main sights and attractions.
Travelers who don’t want to rent a car will be able to visit Cape Town’s surrounding areas with tours. There are many day tours from the city e.g. safari drives, wine tasting, scenic drives, etc.
Day 2 – Cape Town
Morning – It’s time to visit the most iconic attraction in Cape Town, i.e – Table Mountain. To get to the top of Table Mountain you can walk along Platteklip Gorge (the most popular hiking route) or take a cable car. The walk up is quite tough – steep rock stairs all the way. It takes 1 – 1 hour and 30min to hike to the top. The cable car ride is only 15 minutes. You can buy tickets online or at the Cable Car station. The views from the top of the Mountain are spectacular, the best views of Cape Town and its surroundings. The surface area of Table Mountain is quite big; you can spend a couple of hours walking on the top and taking photos.
PS – Make sure to take a jacket, as sometimes it gets very chilly up there.
Afternoon – On the way from Table Mountain to the City Bowl stop at Bo Kaap, the most colorful of Cape Town’s neighbourhoods. This Malay district became one of the tourists’ favorite attractions in the city. Every house here is painted in bright colors; green, red, orange, blue, yellow, purple are just some of them. Bo Kaap is another awesome spot for Instagram photos.
From Bo Kaap head to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden – a green paradise within the city limits. You can set a picnic on the grass in the shade of massive trees. You can bring a picnic basket with you or buy it at Moyo Restaurant inside the Garden where there are basket sets for vegetarians, gluten free and pescaterians. The Tree Canopy Walkway is not to miss in the Garden, as you can get amazing views from up there.
Evening – Taking a Sunset Champagne cruise from the Waterfront is a perfect way to finish the day 2 of this 7 day South Africa Travel Itinerary.
Day 3 – Cape Winelands: Stellenbosch & Franschhoek
Distance (Cape Town City Bowl – Stellenbosch) – 55km
Driving time – 1 hour
There are two ways of visiting the Winelands from Cape Town; first, renting a car and second, joining a tour. If you want to have more flexibility and stay overnight in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek, renting a car is the way to go. If renting a car and driving around sounds like too much of a mission then joining a tour with a transfer from your hotel in Cape Town is a perfect option for you. The tour will take you to several wine farms where you can do tasting and have lunch or snacks.
If you decide to rent a car, the best way of visiting the Winelands is staying for the night at one of the wine estates in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. It’s a much better option than driving back to Cape Town, especially after visiting a couple of wine farms.
Morning – I’d recommend having breakfast in Stellenbosch downtown at one of the arty coffee shops. There are many interesting places to visit in Stellenbosch. After breakfast, spend some time walking around the town; stroll along Dorp Street, visit the University and the Botanical Garden.
Afternoon – It’s time to do wine tasting! There are many beautiful wine estates around Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. I’d suggest starting with a wine and chocolate pairing at Spier Wine Estate, it’s a very special experience. Every chocolate is made to complement a specifique wine. In between to clean the palate you are offered Spier’s Méthode Cap Classique.
Another estate I definitely recommend visiting is Waterford, a little corner of Italy in Africa. The scenery and the main farm building reminds of a wine farm somewhere in Tuscany. The wines here are great, definitely try the local Cabernet Sauvignon.
To continue the day head to Tokara Wine Estate, one of the most beautiful farms around Stellenbosch. The scenery here is truly breathtaking and their wines are top quality. There is a restaurant at the estate where you can combine wine tasting with lunch. Tokara has a couple of luxurious bungalows that you can rent for a night.
From Tokara you drive to Franschhoek (French Corner in Afrikaans) a small town that is famous for its exquisite cuisine and fine wines. Before visiting one of the estates in Franschhoek do a scenic drive over The Franschhoek Pass for some breathtaking views of the valley. On the way down from the Pass stop at Haute Cabriere estate to continue with wine tasting.
From there drive to Dieu Donne Vineyards, our favorite wine farm in Franschhoek. Every time we are in the area we come here for tasting. For white wine lovers the local Wooded Chardonnay is a must-try. The estate has a great outside tasting area with some stunning views. If all these driving and tasting made you a bit hungry you can complement the wine tasting with a cheese platter.
As an option after driving over the Pass you can park your car in the town and jump on a wine tram that will take you to several wine farms where you can continue the tasting. An advantage of this is that you don’t have to drive so you can just relax and enjoy the wine.
There are many accommodation options in Franschhoek. I’d recommend staying at one of the farms, in a rustic cottage in the vineyards.
Evening – Don’t forget to book your dinner beforehand there are many first-class restaurants in the town and many of them require advanced booking. I can recommend Grande Provence Estate a beautiful venue with delicious food, a perfect place for a romantic dinner.
Accommodation Recommendations in Franschhoek
Day 4 – Safari drive in Aquila Private Game Reserve
Distance (Franschhoek – Aquila Game Reserve) – 150km
Driving time – 1h30min.
On the way out of Franschhoek, stop for breakfast at Big Dog Cafe, a great place with a beautiful garden and the best coffee in the town.
To make the most out of your day 4 of this One Week South Africa Travel Itinerary, I’d suggest staying at Aquila for the night this way you’ll get to do a day and a night drive in the Reserve. The Reserve has rooms and cottages for rent, the complex includes a spa center, a restaurant, an infinity pool and a bar.
Aquila is a 10 000 hectares reserve where African animals roam freely in their natural habitat. The Reserve is a home for many animals including the famous African Big 5; elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard. If you’re lucky you might see all of them and many other animals in one day. You can do a morning, an afternoon, a sunset or a night safari drive.
For those who decide not to rent a car and rather be based in Cape Town for the entire duration of the 7 Day Trip to South Africa, it’s possible to visit the Game Reserve as a day tour from the city.
Day 5 – Cape Agulhas
Distance (Aquila Game Reserve – Cape Agulhas) – 230km
Driving time – 3h.
Morning – In the spring, October – December, the route is especially beautiful. Many Blue Jacaranda trees in blossom along the road make you want to stop at every corner for taking photos. The route goes through the vineyards and the wheat fields back to the coast. In a couple of hours you get to see the green hills covered in vineyards, the rolling wheat fields and the ocean.
Cape Agulhas is famous for being the Southernmost point of the African continent. The town itself is small and quiet, mostly holiday houses and small hotels. At the Cape there is a monument – a big metal map of Africa with its main natural attractions. The Agulhas Lighthouse at the Cape is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the country.
Afternoon – Arniston, a small fishermen’s village 45km from Cape Agulhas is another interesting place to visit. It’s more off the beaten track place that not many tourists know about. Arniston is famous for its traditional white fishermen cottages and the Waenhuiskrans Cave. The Cave is quite big and impressive, it can be visited only at low tide, at high tide the entrance to the cave is under water.
Evening – Watch the sunset at the beach in Cape Agulhas and enjoy dinner at one of the small local restaurants.
Accommodation Recommendations in Cape Agulhas
Day 6 – Hermanus
Distance (Cape Agulhas – Hermanus) – 130km
Driving time – 2h.
Morning – It’s time to observe some gracious and scary marine animals like whales, sharks, dolphins and seals. August to October is the best time to see Southern Right Whales in the waters near Hermanus. Other marine animals like Great White Sharks, Bryde’s Whales, dolphins, Cape Fur seals, African penguins are here all year round. If you’re very lucky you might see the Marine Big 5; three different species of whales (the Southern Right, Humpback and Bryde’s Whales), the Great White shark and the Cape fur seal.
If you like adventurous activities try shark cage diving, where you get a chance of a close-up meeting with the Great White shark or the Bronze Whaler shark.
Afternoon – Hermanus is famous for its wine farms and seafood restaurants. After the marine adventure you can spend the second half of the day relaxing and enjoying great wine and delicious food. In the peak season you can see Southern Right Whales from one of the seaside restaurants.
Evening – Go for a refreshing walk along the sea, enjoy the sunset, have a glass of wine and a nice dinner at one of the restaurants.
Accommodation Recommendations in Hermanus
Day 7 – The scenic drive along the coast
Distance (Hermanus – Cape Point – Cape Town) – 250km
Driving time – 6-8 hours including stops on the way
I’d definitely recommend driving all the way along the coast. The parts from Hermanus to Strand, from Muizenberg to Cape Point National Park and Chapman’s Peak Drive are truly spectacular. Chapman’s Peak drive is considered to be one of the most scenic drives in the country; rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, huge boulders, the road waving along the ocean.
Must-stop places along the route –
Betty’s Bay – Beautiful white-sand beaches and Stony Point Penguins Colony with thousands of cute African penguins.
Muizenberg – The most popular surfing spot in Cape Town. Check out the colorful beach cabins, one of the popular Instagram spots; bright wooden cabins, white sand, blue waters.
Simon’s Town – Another spot to see African penguins on a small beautiful white-sand beach surrounded by the huge boulders.
Cape Point National Park – The stunning scenery, dramatic cliffs, hidden beaches, two lighthouses, many hiking trails and a popular spot marking one of the southernmost points of the African continent. You can spend hours exploring the Park, make sure to visit Dias Beach, to take the funicular to the Old Lighthouse, to walk to Cape of Good Hope and to the Tip of Africa.
Kommetjie – a small surf town with long sandy beaches and great waves.
Chapman’s Peak drive – there are several amazing look-outs along the route.
Camps Bay – The most expensive neighbourhood in Cape Town, with perfect white-sand beaches and ice-cold waters of the Pacific Ocean.
Evening – Have dinner at one of the restaurants at V&A Waterfront and enjoy another sunset in Cape Town. If you want something more unusual you can arrange a romantic dinner at The Cape Wheel. A 30-minute ride with stunning 360° panoramic views of the night city and a picnic basket – a very special way to spend the last night, of this 7 Day Trip to South Africa, in Cape Town.
Safety Tips for Travellers planning a Trip To South Africa
When visiting South Africa it’s important to remember about following simple rules to stay safe. It doesn’t mean you have to be scared or worried all the time, just take some precautions to make sure nothing will spoil your perfect holiday.
- If you want to go hiking do it in Cape Point Nature Reserve or on Table Mountain always during the day not after the sunset and don’t hike alone.
- Lock the car doors immediately after getting in.
- Don’t leave anything (not even a jacket or a book) in your car when you leave it, put things in the boot or hide under the seat.
- If you return late to your hotel from a bar or a restaurant ask them to call you a taxi, don’t walk at night around the city.
- Don’t stop to pick up passengers.
The 7 Day South Africa Travel Itinerary – Summarised
Day 1 – 2 – Cape Town Exploration
Day 3 – Cape Winelands – Stellenbosch & Franschhoek
Day 4 – Safari drive in Aquila Private Game Reserve
Day 5 – Cape Agulhas
Day 6 – Hermanus
Day 7 – Drive Along The Coast | Hermanus to Cape Town
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An adventurous travel couple based in Cape Town where they spend three to four months every year. The rest of the time they travel the world seeking for new adventures. Hiking, long-distance walking and diving are their favourite activities.