With there being much to see and do in Cape Town, it felt like taking some of the tours from City Sightseeing Cape Town would be a great way to get an overview of the city. The company itself operates in many cities around the world and offer the ability to hop-on and hop-off the bus at their stops along the different routes. In Cape Town, there are three main routes the operate on, the Red Route is the main route that stops at the Table Mountain cable car. The Green route is the mini peninsula tour which goes around Table Mountain and along some of the coastal areas of Hout Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Then there is the Yellow Route that focuses on the downtown core of Cape Town.
The buses are double-deckers where the lower half is enclosed and provide air conditioning for passengers, while the top deck is open air, allowing for a more unobstructed view of the area. As you ride, the bus features audio connectors in which you can plus earphones to listen to a recorded narration of the driving tour. The system allows you to choose from 16 different languages, and you can either use your own earphones, or they provide you with a set when you buy your ticket. Speaking of tickets, you can purchase a ticket at one of their official ticket offices, or you can pay the driver directly at one of the tour stops.
To start, I hoped onto one of the Red Route buses at Stop #1, the V&A Waterfront. The Red Route begins going through different parts of the waterfront area before going into the core of the Central Business District. In this area, you learn about how a large portion of Cape Town sits on reclaimed land as the original shoreline was about 2 kilometers further inland. The area is known as Foreshore. From the Foreshore, you then continue into the central business district.
I hopped off of the Red Route bus at Stop #5, which was outside of their CBD Ticket Office as I decided to start on the Green Route seeing as it would take more time (somewhere between 1.5-2 hours), and I wanted to ensure I could take the downtown route a bit later, and then I would continue on the Red Route so as to visit Table Mountain. After the switch, we would head out from the main part of Cape Town to begin our drive around Table Mountain in a clock-wise direction heading to the East first. As we made our way out, we passed by one of the more lavish hotels called the Mount Nelson that is a popular place for celebrities, and we also drove along the South side of District Six, a neighborhood that had been the site of one of the largest forced removals of people from their homes due to the laws of Apartheid.
One of the highlights of this route was that ability to see more of Table Mountain as you rode. You were able to see it from various angles and locations, giving you plenty of opportunities to appreciate it’s majesty.
Alongside Table Mountain on it’s east side, you see one of the oldest windmills in South Africa that was built by early Dutch settlers, the memorial of Cecil Rhodes (who was influential to South Africa, yet is a rather unpopular guy), and pass along the campus of the University of Cape Town.
One of the first places that many passengers hopped off the bus on this route was Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, which features many species of plants that are staples to the South African region, including some of the oldest species of trees in the world.
The next part of the drive went into Costantia. This area is known for some of it’s large homes, along with being the heart of the oldest vineyards of South Africa, where some of their most popular wines are produced. City Sightseeing offers a wine tasting tour in this area where they’ll take you into some of the vineyards, and allow you to try some of the most popular wine varieties they produce.
From Costantia, you go into the area known as Hout Bay. In the area immediately after you go through a mountain pass, this takes you to an area where you see one of the sharpest contrasts of economic well-being as there are larger and more lavish homes of the wealthy, and then you could look in the other direction and find one of the townships where people have made their homes out of where ever they are able to find. I had seen a few townships before when I was in Durban, but there seemed to be a bit more distance to the more affluent areas than there was here. It was really eye-opening to see that this is still a significant part of the South African economic landscape.
Further along, you come to the sandy shores of Hout Bay, and pass by Mariner’s Wharf. This area is popular for the beach goers and recreational boaters, offering calmer waters from the Atlantic Ocean. There was a definite temperature drop when arriving to this side of Table Mountain thanks to the cool winds off of the ocean. The surrounding mountains really add to the view of the area as well.
From Hout Bay, the bus heads back North on the M6, offering an incredibly scenic drive along the Atlantic Coastline. Much of it involved winding roads along the rocky coast, although there were areas with sandy beaches. You also see the other side of Table Mountain, which includes points that are called the Twelve Apostles (The origin of the name is not known, and if you count them all, there are more than 12). You also can get a glimpse of the Table Mountain Cable Car, which I’d head to later in the day.
The bus makes stops at several locations along this stretch for those wanting to enjoy their time at the beaches and nearby restaurants and clubs. One of the first areas you can stop in is Camps Bay. This beach has served as a filming location for several movies as it offers a similar appearance to some of the beaches of California or the French Riviera according to the tour narration.
Further to the north, you pass through the town of Clifton, which also features a sandy beach, but also offers a unique aspect to the housing as many of the condominiums are built into the side of the hill, and requires the use of special built stairs or funiculars in order to go up or down the steep hillsides.
Then the bus heads into the town of Sea Point, home to one of the largest Jewish communities in Cape Town. This area features many large condominium buildings, and it sits more on a rocky shore than the previous two locations, but it does offer some stunning views.
Before returning to the V&A Waterfront stop, the Green Route finishes the loop through Green Point, where you pass by one of the oldest standing lighthouses in Cape Town, see Robben Island off in the distance, and view Cape Town Stadium, which was built to host matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in Cape Town.
From the V&A Waterfront stop, the green route follows a similar, but shorter path as the Red Route to come back to the CBD Stop. So if you ride both routes from the V&A Waterfront to the CBD Station, you do get a different experience.
Next, it was time to switch buses for the Downtown loop, which took about 30 minutes to ride all the way through. Many of the sites we passed by, I would have a chance to see again and learn more about a couple days later with Cape Town Free Walking Tours. The first locations we passed by included St. George’s Cathedral, the Anglican church that Archbishop Desmond Tutu served in during the era of Apartheid, as well as the Company Gardens, where produce was grown for the ships of the East Indian Trading Company.
We also passed by several museums and libraries including the National Library of South Africa, the South African Museum and Planetarium, The South African Jewish Museum and the District Six Museum.
The last major landmark before returning to the CDB Station is the Castle of Good Hope, which was one of the original fortifications built in the area, back when the coast was further inland.
After the downtown loop, it was time for a lunch break, which would be enjoyed at Tiger’s Milk, a restaurant that features many different steak and beef options. I had myself another Castle Lager, chose the filet, which was excellent, and quite a deal when compared to how much it would have cost back at home, as it was somewhere about $13 after the conversion to USD.
Next, it’s time to hop back on the Red Route to head up to take in the views of Table Mountain.
See more of 2018 South Africa Trip:
1: Flight to Atlanta & Delta Flight Museum / 2: Arrival to South Africa / 3: First Day in Durban /
4: Second Day in Durban / 5: Last Day in Durban / 6: V&A Waterfront / 7: Cape Town City Sightseeing Tours /
8: Table Mountain / 9: Ratanga Junction / 10: Rugby at Newlands Rugby Stadium / 11: Cape Town Walking Tours /
12: Cape of Good Hope / 13: Boulders Beach Penguins / 14: The Last of Cape Town / 15: Cape Town Water Shortage /
16: Sightseeing Around Johannesburg / 17: More Johannesburg Sightseeing / 18: Botswana Day Trip /
19: Kruger National Park, Day 1 / 20: Kruger National Park, Day 2 / 21: Kruger National Park, Day 3 /
22: Gold Reef City Resort & Amenities / 23: Apartheid Museum & Rand Show / 24: Gold Reef City Theme Park /
25: The Return Home