When planning any trip, transport is one of the major considerations. It all starts with how you get there. Should you fly or could you drive, for example? (Luckily, Cheapflights.co.za allows you to search for both flights and car hire, so you’re sorted whatever you decide). Planning how to get around a place can also be daunting. Each city is different. Some have excellent public transport that can get you anywhere quickly and economically. Other cities will require you to hire a car to get where you need to go.
Cape Town sits somewhere in the middle. It has good public transport for some areas but other parts of the city are further away and hiring a car is the best option to avoid the cost of taxis. Many people choose to use public transport for the first few days while they get to know the city and enjoy the attractions that are centrally located. Then they hire a car for a few days to wander further afield. However, Cape Town has more to offer (transport-wise) than many people realise. In fact, sometimes the transport itself can become the attraction; a novel and fun way to experience the beauty of Cape Town. Here are some suggestions for alternative transport in the Mother City.
The Cape Town rail system is designed mainly to service commuters, but it can provide a quick and inexpensive way to reach the popular areas of the False Bay coastline like Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fishhoek and Simon’s Town. For those wanting to visit the penguins, Boulder’s Beach is a lovely 3km walk along the coast from Simon’s Town.
The train departs from the main train station on the corner of Stand and Adderley Streets downtown. Be aware that the service is more limited over weekends. You can find the full schedule of departure and arrival times at the Metro Rail website.
Cost: R13.50 for a one-way ticket to Simon’s Town, First Class (Metro Plus)
Recommended Stop: Visit Sirocco in Kalk Bay for an al fresco breakfast or lunch. They are only open in the summer months and don’t take bookings, but it’s worth checking if there is a table available at harbourhousegroup.co.za/sirocco
Bike and sidecar
This must be the most novel and fun way to see Cape Town. Cape Sidecar Adventures get you into the spirit of the ride by providing vintage helmets and leather riding jackets. All the bikes provided are decommissioned military bikes used by the People’s Liberation Army of China in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s – so they are classics!
Enjoy a short two-hour ride, a half day jaunt or a full day adventure. The drivers travel fairly slowly so you get to relax and enjoy the scenery and they will stop and let you take pictures along the way. But bring your GoPro because your friends won’t believe you without video proof.
Cost: From R1,900 for a 2-hour trip
The most convenient way to see the best of Cape Town is on the City Sightseeing Bus. These doubledecker, open-topped buses visit many of the most popular sites around the city and passengers can hop off and on again at their leisure.
The Blue route takes you past the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, through the Constantia wine region and Hout Bay, before returning along the Atlantic seaboard. Stop in Constantia and enjoy the included wine tour, or stop in Hout Bay and experience township life with a walking tour (additional fee per person).
The Red route covers major sights around the centre of Cape Town, including Table Mountain and the Waterfront. But that is just the basics of the CitySightseeing offering. Check their website to find out more about the Yellow downtown tour, the harbour cruise and various walking tours.
Cost: R170 for a 1-day ticket and R270 for a 2-day ticket
Nothing beats the romance of a bicycle ride and the Sea Point promenade is the perfect place for a beautiful ride along the ocean’s edge. Hire a bicycle from UpCycles and make your way through Sea Point and Mouille Point until you reach the bike station in the Waterfront, approximately 5km away.
Stop along the way for an ice cream at The Creamery, or a cocktail at Grand Beach, then take a small detour to get a close-up view of the Cape Town Stadium.
Cape Town is a stunningly beautiful city and seeing her from the air is a special treat. A helicopter trip is not inexpensive but it is likely less costly than you would think. NAC Helicopters is based in the Waterfront and offer trips of various lengths and to a variety of destinations. If you really want to spoil that special someone, book a helicopter trip out to the winelands for lunch.
Cost: From R1,080 per person
Being on the water is good for the soul and there are plenty of options for boat cruises in Cape Town. From short Waterfront harbour cruises, where you can spot seals, to cruises along the Atlantic coastline where you can admire the Clifton beaches from a different vantage point or trade friendly waves with the patrons of Grand Beach as you each sip your cocktails. If you’re really lucky there will be whales or dolphins about.
For a romantic slant, book a spot with Waterfront Charters for their sunset champagne cruise. Watching the sun set into the ocean is guaranteed to generate positive vibes.
Cost: R80 for a harbour cruise, R280 for a cruise along the coast
There is no better way to get to know any city than by foot. There are numerous walking tours of Cape Town city centre and the Waterfront. Walk the streets of Bo-Kaap with its colourful houses and equally colourful residents or visit the famous District Six and learn about the tragic history of this area.
Each walking tour is 90 minutes long and is jam-packed with interesting information and sights filled with beauty, emotion and history.
Cost: Free (but tips are appreciated)
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