A Cape Town Honeymoon With Gorgeous Views and Unforgettable Experiences
For newlyweds, a Cape Town honeymoon offers a chance to truly escape. You get to explore a city that's anything but a concrete jungle. The scenery is drop-dead gorgeous and completely diverse. Expect to take in stunning vistas of both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, mountains and acres of vineyards.
Also known as The Mother City, Cape Town is the largest city in the Western Cape province. The South African town is rich in experiences: Sip world-class wine during a day trip to Cape Winelands or spot a penguin while visiting Boulder's Beach. Newlyweds can take a history lesson during a trip to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was once imprisoned.
As of now, travelers will need to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours upon arrival and fill out a screening form.
Is Cape Town Good for a Honeymoon?
Since this South African city is such a great escape, getting there takes a while. New Yorkers can book a 15-hour nonstop flight. One with layovers will likely take around 30 hours or more. Expect at least one layover and 20 hours of total travel time if flying in from Atlanta. People coming from California typically have the most considerable trek—about 30 hours with a connecting flight.
Pros of a Cape Town Honeymoon
Couples with two or more weeks to travel will often make Cape Town a stop on a South Africa honeymoon that also includes Johannesburg and Kruger National Park. But The Mother City is a honeymoon destination on its own, too. Posh neighborhoods like Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront offer harbor views, fine dining and chic shops. Outdoorsy types will adore sightseeing at Table Mountain National Park, and oenophiles can savor crisp whites and bold reds during wine-tasting day trips.
Cons of a Cape Town Honeymoon
Some couples expect a safari honeymoon when traveling to South Africa. But Cape Town's Mediterranean climate isn't the best for lions, leopards, rhinos or elephants. Couples looking to go on game drives and stay at safari lodges will want to stay closer to Kruger National Park—about two hours away by plane. It's also a long trip from the US to Cape Town, so couples who have less time to spend or who crave a quicker flight will want to look elsewhere.
The Best Times of Year to Go on a Cape Town Honeymoon for Good Weather
Cape Town's seasons are opposite of those in the US, so summer is in December, January and February. June, July and August mark the winter season. Fall (March to May) and spring (September to November) tend to be the best times to visit. Expect temperatures in the 70s and 80s.
Places to Visit in Cape Town on a Honeymoon
A Cape Town honeymoon gives couples a chance to do a little bit of a lot. You can work with a travel agent to create a comprehensive honeymoon package or book adventures a la carte from sites like Viator and TripAdvisor. If you want a taste of everything the area has to offer, from seaside shopping to world-class wineries, consider putting these spots on your itinerary.
Table Mountain National Park
This flat-topped peak is one of the most photographed spots in all of South Africa. Catch a glimpse of Table Mountain yourself, and you'll see why. Even when clouds cover its flat peak, Table Mountain is still impressive. At 3,500 feet high, it towers over the neighboring mountains of Lion's Head and Devil's Peak. Guests can hike the trails or fly high through the clouds in a cable car, taking in sweeping views of cliffs and the city of Cape Town below on the way to the summit. Table Mountain National Park is also home to the Cape of Good Hope, where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Couples who loved picking out florals for their wedding will be in absolute heaven at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. It sits at the eastern foot of Table Mountain and is considered one of the world's seven most magnificent botanical gardens. Walk the grounds of the 528-hectare estate and see seasonal blooms, like dainty pink Nerine in the fall and beautiful blue Felicias in the spring. It's also home to a permanent but always-changing sculpture garden that displays African stone sculptures.
Situated along the Atlantic coast and South Africa's oldest working harbor, the V&A Waterfront is lined with shops, fine-dining restaurants and approachable cafés. Couples can indulge in waterfront shopping and dining at the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, home to hundreds of shops and several restaurants. Hop on the Cape Wheel for 360-degree views of Table Mountain, Robben Island and the city. Two Oceans Aquarium gives guests an up-close look at animals found in and near the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, including a penguin encounter and a touch pool with starfish.
Camps Bay Beach
Camps Bay is a must-stop for couples who want to keep the party going after their wedding reception ends. The white-sand beach has its share of boisterous bars, restaurants and nightclubs. Café Caprice's sunset views, craft cocktails and weekend visits from DJs draw a trendy bunch. Dizzys Café is a longstanding home away from home for US travelers—think pizza and burgers, live music and karaoke nights.
Boulders Beach is a sheltered inlet located in Simon's Town, a Cape Town suburb in the province of Western Cape. It's perhaps best known for its penguin colonies. Couples get their best chance of having a real-life penguin encounter by taking a guided tour. But it's possible to see them lazing about on granite boulders and sand without a local expert. (It's also a seven-minute walk from Foxy Beach, arguably an even better place to spot penguins.)
Set beneath Lion's Head and along the ocean, Clifton offers upscale resort accommodations and a diverse beach scene. Granite rocks separate the four beaches, and each attracts a unique crowd. The waves at 1st Beach make it popular with surfers, while 2nd Beach is tops for families who just want to sprawl out in the sand. LGBTQ+ couples flock to 3rd Beach, and 4th Beach is the largest and a favorite spot for yachters to anchor down.
A ferry ride from Cape Town's waterfront, Robben Island is a place to look back at South African history. During apartheid, its maximum-security prison held political activists, including Nelson Mandela. Guests can visit the former prison, now called Robben Island Museum, and see where prisoners performed labor. Tours may also include a stop at Nelson Mandela's former cell.
Formerly known as Malay Quarter, Bo-Kaap also gives travelers a glimpse of South Africa's racially segregated past. Many former enslaved people and Muslims called the area home after slavery was abolished in South Africa in 1834. The Bo-Kaap Museum, which has been around since the 18th century, showcases the contributions of early Muslim settlers, including carpenters and builders. Its displays include a bridal chamber decorated to match the bride's dress and drop-leaf dining tables.
South African wine is bold and crisp, and tastings make for a fun day out for novices and connoisseurs alike. Cape Winelands traditionally encompasses Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Tulbagh and Wellington, but routes of the area have expanded to include Constantia Valley. Buzz-worthy chauffeured tours take guests to wine estates and cellars, allowing them to savor the day without having to worry about driving.
Gansbaai is two hours from Cape Town in Western Cape, but makes for a worthwhile day trip for thrill-seeking couples. The fishing town is a popular spot not only for whale watching, but also shark spotting. If you dare, book a shark-cage diving experience. Though not for the faint of heart, it gives people a chance to see great white sharks up close.
Best Hotels and Resorts in Cape Town for a Honeymoon
The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa offers five-star accommodations and easy access to The Mother City's famous attractions. Set on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain, guests can book rooms and suites with sweeping views. It's driving distance from Table Mountain's hiking trails and shopping along the V&A Waterfront. Newlyweds can indulge in hot-lava-shell massages or couples massages at the on-site spa. The hotel also sends guests on unique adventures, including hot-air balloon rides over Cape Winelands and sails on a Catamaran.
This chic boutique hotel is perfect for guests who don't want to venture far from their beds to the beach chair. The Glen Boutique Hotel is less than four miles away from the beach. It boasts bright and airy rooms with private balconies, which give way to waterfront and mountain views. Relax after months of wedding planning with spa treatments like aromatherapy massages and full-body exfoliation, or take advantage of tours around Cape Town and beyond. The hotel has African safari experiences, trips to Cape Point and more.
This sophisticated five-star hotel overlooks the Grand Canal and is not far from the V&A Waterfront. Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers' rooms are modern and comfortable. The floor-to-ceiling windows offer glimpses of Table Mountain in the distance. A rooftop pool gives guests a chance to unwind from above, and the hotel spa is ideal for post-wedding TLC. Guests will be a hop, skip and jump away from shopping along Canal Walk.
The Silo Hotel was a grain elevator in the 1920s. Today, it's a luxury hotel above the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) and along the V&A Waterfront. The glass windows emphasize the beauty of Mother Nature, while the 28 individually decorated rooms with antique furnishings seamlessly blend past and present. Couples can take private tours of MOCAA, taking in art in a more intimate setting, or jet off (literally) to Franschhoek in a helicopter through the hotel.
Cape Cadogan Boutique Hotel is set in a refurbished 19th-century farmhouse. Today, it represents a retreat in the middle of the city. Some rooms feature private plunge pools, and all have plush beds made for resting weary legs after a day spent exploring. The hotel also has shuttles to nearby attractions, such as Table Mountain, Clifton Beach and Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Friendly room service and complimentary breakfast are among the other perks.
What to Pack for a Cape Town Honeymoon
Your packing list for a Cape Town honeymoon will ultimately depend on when you're visiting. Since December through March marks summer in The Mother City, you'll want to focus on adding lightweight clothing to your suitcase. Thin tees and shorts will serve you well. Pack a windbreaker and lightweight jacket, as evenings can get chilly. Bathing suits, towels, sunglasses and hats are best for beach days, and breezy dresses are perfect for waterfront meals. If hiking Table Mountain, bring sturdy boots and a backpack.
Honeymooners traveling from May through July will want to be ready for chillier temperatures. A down coat, scarf and gloves will keep you warm, as will thicker layers. Pants, waterproof boots and sweaters are all ideal for this time of year.
Shoulder-season honeymooners will want to essentially combine the two packing lists, as weather can change rapidly. There's a caveat, though: A heavy coat and scarf likely won't be necessary for mid-April or mid-August trips, but cardigans and lighter outwear will ensure you're always prepared.