5 days in Cape Town with kids
We spent 5 days with the kids in Cape Town exploring the region and enjoying the activities on offer. Cape Town is quite spread out so we hired a car in order to get around.
We arrived in Early July and the weather was wet, cold and windy – reminded me of home! But as Cape Town is suffering a severe drought the rain was welcomed! Here’s what we got up to in Cape Town’s winter with kids.
Heading to South Africa
We bid farewell to the motorhome, our security blanket for the past 9 weeks. It’s a little more daunting than I expected. As the next leg our of our journey begins I feel like we are taking our biggest leap yet. Africa, especially Namibia, is a bit of an unknown and I’m aware that I’m wary.
I know I’m being overly concerned and that we will have an amazing, but I’m so desperate that it is enjoyable for everyone!
The long-haul flight
So when it’s just you, no-one else or anything to think or worry about, then long-haul flights are a doddle. But with kids the packing and catering and checking multiplies is a chore.
Well, it did for me! I must have packed the kitchen sink preparing for every eventuality. From sleeping comforts to eating to entertainment to hygiene… you’d think I’d never taken a long-haul before! However, the boys were fabulous and managed to get quite a few hours sleep (more than mummy did!!) Give me COFFEE!!!
We’ve got another long haul flight in a few weeks, so I’ll update you on lessons learnt as well as what went well and what didn’t!
What’s Cape Town like?
We decided to visit Cape Town as the boys had asked to visit South Africa. Keith and I had visited Cape Town through work on a couple of occasions, so knew what to expect and we also thought the boys would enjoy the challenge of climbing Table Mountain.
Now being a large city it comes with the normal caveats of ‘don’t flash your cash’, ‘keep your bags close’, ‘stick to the main roads’ etc… But when you drive around Cape Town (or other areas of South Africa) you notice the high walls, the security systems & guards, the barbed wire around all the properties!!
It doesn’t fill you with the greatest confidence about safety, but we didn’t have any issues on any of our visits. Don’t believe everything you read.
There are some areas which are recommended for you to avoid, but for the most part, V&A waterfront, Green point and Sea Point (where we stayed) are all trying to improve their security and overall friendliness.
This was the street we stayed with several banks, supermarket, restaurants etc.. all easily accessible.
It unfortunately still has a poor reputation but I walked the streets of Cape Town without an issue. Granted, this was all during the daytime – but name me a city which is safe at night!
Where we stayed in Cape Town
After 9 weeks in a motorhome I wanted some space (and a washing machine!). Plus as we were hiring a car I wanted to ensure we didn’t have any issues with parking and so booked an apartment with secure underground parking!
The Verge Aparthotel ticked all the boxes. It was above our budget price range but to be honest most hotels in the area were anyway and this gave us a little extra.
It was based in Sea point, one road back from the promenade. There was a McDonalds directly underneath (we were on the 7th floor with fabulous views so no smell issues). It is on the main high street with eateries close by, a petrol station opposite, a supermarket next door, some shops and a few banks nearby. Basically it had everything we needed close by.
The apartment was manned 24 hours a day so access was easy.
As I mentioned we were on the 7th floor and we had slightly obstructed views to the sea but we could see signal hill behind us too. It was great watching the paragliders take off most days!
Getting around Cape Town
We were only in Cape town for 5 days (the first afternoon was spent sleeping!) and so we used our Avios Points to hire a little car.
If you prefer not to drive then a great way to explore is to use the red hop-on hop-off bus. It takes you to all the main destinations and was recommended to us for getting around.
Alternatively there are a number of taxis available using Uber. We didn’t use these ourselves for I read that they are easy to use.
Things to do in Cape Town with kids
There is soooo much to do, we just couldn’t fit it all in. But our recommendations are:
Climbing Table Mountain – Definitely a highlight of our Cape Town trip. Our boys are aged 7 & 9 and go out exploring with us often so we knew they could manage 2-3 hours walking, even if they needed lots of stops.
This is by no means an easy walk as it is straight up! The usual route is to walk along the road beyond the cable car and then up the Platteklip Gorge.
However, we decided to take a slightly more scenic route from behind the cable car up to the contour path and then up Platteklip Gorge.
The boys manage absolutely fine. Make sure you take plenty of drinks and snacks as you will need to stop quite a bit along the way. As long as your kids are fit and healthy then just take it slow and steady and enjoy the amazing views!!
Kirstenbosch Gardens – a truly beautiful and well laid out garden with every conceivable African flora and fauna! It has been well thought out and you can wander at your own pace around the huge park. The park sits directly in front of table Mountain so on a clear day its one heck of a backdrop!
There is free parking at the front, a cafe at the entrance and a couple of cafes within the park. You can easily spend most of the day here, although it was wet and windy when we arrived so we only spent 3 hours wandering around!
Boulders beach – a must see visit to the local penquins! You pay the entrance fee (see link) and can climb down onto the beach to see the penquins and also Hyrax which frequent the area.
There is a boardwalk area that leads onto the main beach where most of the penquins are. It can get very busy so you’ll have to jostle for space!
Simons Town – next to Boulders beach it is a Marine base and there is a submarine if you little ones are interested in exploring. Or somewhere to stop to grab some lunch.
Cape Point & Cape of Good Hope – This is a fantastic drive along the coastline with beautiful views. There is a choice of options available but the day we travelled Chapmans Peak was closed due to extensive (and much needed) rainfall.
When you arrive at Cape Point expect to see cheeky Baboons in the car park so don’t take food with you as that’s what they want. However, we didn’t see them go near anyone – only the bins.
There is a walk up to the lighthouse if you are feeling energetic. It’s not hard but is a little steep. However, there’s a funicular if you don’t fancy the walk.
If you are feeling a little more adventurous there is another path that goes just around the the lighthouse and further out to the point. not many people seemed to walk this and it is narrow in places but absolutely fine. If you’re going to Cape Point, you may as well go all the way.
There is another option to walk to the Cape of Good hope (1 ½ hours), however after walking up and down to the lighthouse twice (note: don’t drop your car rental keys!) we opted to drive round. There’s not much there, however we did see Ostrich en route! Lots of people were just standing by the Most South Westerly point of Africa sign. So we did too!
NOTE: We managed to do Boulders Beach and Cape Point/Cape of Good Hope all in the same day.
Aquarium – We visited the V&A Aquarium in Cape Town and the boys loved it. It wasn’t overly huge but it will take around 2 hours or more of your day depending on feeding times and how much your kids are into sealife (mine LOVE it!).
We went on a Sunday and enjoyed the stingray & turtle feeding, penquin feeding and finally the divers went into the shark tank to hand feed them!! It only happens on a Sunday so time your visit if you can! Check here for current feeding times.
V&A waterfront – It’s basically a facility housing a number of shopping centres (one of which is huge), local craft shops and eateries. You can easily spend a morning or afternoon here walking around (shopaholics will spend much longer!). If you venture over to the clock tower you will see the resident seals hanging out.
Stellenbosch and surrounding wineries – It was recommended to us to visit Franschoek in the wine region, but time did not allow for us. Last time we visited Cape Town we took a day trip out to Stellenbosch. It was a very quaint town as I recall with lovely cafes and trinkety shops. I haven’t taken kids but I believe the area is very family friendly.
Ferry to Robben island
The weather wasn’t great when we were the so we didn’t get chance, or have time to visit Robben island. However, it’s only a short list ride from V&A waterfront where you will find lots of touts offering trips from Cape Town. There is also a Robben Island Museum you could visit.
Cape Town Overview
If you are considering a family adventure to Africa then Cape town is a great place to start. Maybe combine it with the garden route and Kruger national park for an all round wild experience if you have longer than 5 days.
There is lots to do for all the family and easy to get around. Not to mention the amazing food and wine on offer!!