This Cape Town hotspot’s a whole different sort of animal
Hop On Hop Off Bus Sightseeing Tours in Cape Town
Experience the Mother City at your own pace
Conquering Cape Town is a mammoth task; with a seemingly infinite collection of tourist attractions, iconic sightseeing options and bucket list boxes to tick, the Mother City can prove an intimidating venture for those visiting from both near and far.
Though, even in light of the monstrous tourist to-do list that comes with a visit to the Western Cape’s cosmopolitan seat, an easy and convenient way to take in all the sights and sounds of the city and surrounds is to jump on a Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Tour. Conducted aboard a fire engine-red, double-decker bus, the open-air guided tours traverse the city centre and beyond, both orienting newbies and re-introducing even seasoned tourists and locals to Cape Town’s most-loved highlights.
The two main scenic routes – there’s a heritage-rich city centre route (red route) and a breathtakingly beautiful mini-peninsula route (blue route) – include 17 stops, and riders are free to hop off the open-top bus at each stopping point to explore attractions at their own pace. Depending on the circuit, buses arrive at each stop every 20 to 35 minutes, so once you’ve taken in the view from Table Mountain, had your fill of beautiful people on Camps Bay beach or traipsed through all of the flora-rich paths and trails of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, you can simply board the bus again and carry on to your next destination.
Aside from the primary tours, passengers can also opt for an add-on Winelands tour through the vineyards of Constantia or a Hop On Hop Off boat tour through the city’s interconnected Waterfront canals.
Not to mention, during summer time – from September to May – it’s possible to take a city sightseeing night tour aboard the open-top double decker, under the stars. Though this particular trip doesn’t allow riders to hop on and off, it does stop atop one of Cape Town’s highest points to allow visitors to watch the sun dip below the horizon.
Each guided bus tour includes insightful commentary – told in 16 different languages – about the city, its history and its culture, and the vehicles are wheelchair friendly. Tours run 7 days a week, 365 days a year (rain or shine), and start and end at the V&A Waterfront. Tickets can be purchased online at Citysightseeing.co.za or at the City Sightseeing ticket office at the V&A Waterfront. They range in price depending on each individual tour: the cheapest option is the canal tour (R20 p/p) and the most expensive is the Cape Point Sidecar Tour (R950 p/p).
Red City Sightseeing Bus Tour Cape Town
A whirlwind way to get acquainted with Cape Town’s city centre, the red route tour starts at the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront and winds its way through the heart of the Mother City’s CBD, up to the Table Mountain cable car, down into the politically-famous District Six area, on to beachy Camps Bay, along the Atlantic coastline through Sea Point, and back to the starting point. On the way, visitors have the opportunity to not only mount Cape Town’s most formidable natural wonder (Table Mountain), but also to familiarise themselves with the city’s rich history and heritage via stops at various museums and architectural talking points: the District Six Museum, Castle of Good Hope, South African Museum and St George’s Cathedral, to name a few.
Intervals: Buses come past each stop every 20 minutes.
Blue Mini-Peninsula Sightseeing Bus Tour Cape Town
A lightning-fast introduction to what lies beyond Cape Town’s CBD, the blue route tour whisks visitors from the Mother City’s commercial Waterfront area to its world-famous botanical gardens; into an authentic local township; onward to Hout Bay’s beloved fish n’ chips destination, Mariner’s Wharf; and back to the starting point via the vibrant beachside suburbs of Camps Bay and Sea Point. Along the way, riders can hop off and explore the Constantia Valley vineyards and the World of Birds, have high tea at the legendary Mount Nelson Hotel or enjoy an afternoon cocktail and a panoramic ocean view from the terrace of Sea Point’s Winchester Mansions.
Intervals: Buses come past each stop every 35 minutes.
Winelands Bus Tour Cape Town
A free add-on to the Blue Mini-Peninsula Sightseeing Tour, the Winelands route ushers visitors through the sloping vineyards of the lush Constantia Valley. The trip includes stops at three wine farms, one of which is the oldest and most historic winery in South Africa: Groot Constantia. While wine tasting, lunch and a private group cellar tour are not included in the price of the general ticket, they are, nonetheless, recommended, and are available at an additional cost.
Intervals: Buses come past each stop every 35 minutes.
Note: The Winelands Tour cannot be booked separately. It is an automatic inclusion in the Blue Mini-Peninsula Sightseeing Tour.
Canal Tour Cape Town
Tourists are invited to exchange the open-top double-decker bus for a more modest, canal-savvy boat, and to explore the interconnected waterways that once formed a vibrant part of Cape Town’s past. Encouraging discovery of the V&A Waterfront from a slightly different angle, the canal tour also treats passengers to an insightful slice of city lore, as well as an opportunity to cruise by the luxurious apartments and hotel rooms of some of the world’s rich and famous. This boat trip is short and sweet; it starts at the Two Oceans Aquarium and concludes four stops later at the Cape Town International Convention Centre, at which point it’s possible to link up with the red or blue route bus tours.
Intervals: Boats come past each stop every 30 minutes.
Cape Town Sightseeing Night Tour
Coinciding with the arrival of warmer weather and longer days, the Cape Town Sightseeing Night Tour re-opens in September each year and concludes at the beginning of May. Though this route doesn’t give riders the opportunity to hop on and off as they see fit, the tour does treat passengers to a taste of the Mother City after the salt-licked afternoon has passed and the evening has come to settle. The double-decker open-air bus winds its way along the Atlantic Seaboard, and ultimately stops atop either Signal Hill or the lower Table Mountain cable car station to afford passengers the chance to watch the stunning Cape Town sunset (so don’t forget your picnics). After nightfall, the tour continues down along one of the main arteries of the bustling CBD, Adderley Street, and back to the V&A Waterfront.
Note: Even the warmest of Cape Town’s summer days can descend into a cool night, so be sure to bring a light sweater or cardigan on this tour.
Cape Point Sidecar Tour
Feel the pulse of the Mother City and its surrounds with your ear (well, rear) to the ground as you cruise the city’s streets and curving coastline in a vintage World War II sidecar (a one-wheeled and one-seater device attached to the side of a motorcycle). This exhilarating tour takes the form of a private five-hour excursion during which travellers are guided by an experienced, knowledgeable chauffer. Departing from outside the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V&A Waterfront, the motorcycle and its sidecar snake through the scenic Southern Suburbs, journey over the spectacular Ou Kaapse Weg, and wind their way down through the Silvermine Nature Reserve to ultimately come to rest at Cape Point, the most southwesterly tip of Africa . Stop off at the popular Boulders Beach on the way to catch sight of penguins sunning themselves on the sand and wallowing in the waves before having lunch amidst the riot of fynbos at Cape Point’s top-notch Two Oceans Restaurant. The tour returns along the rugged Cape Peninsula coast, rounding famous Chapman’s Peak Drive and hugging the seaside contours of Camps Bay before ending back at the V&A Waterfront.
Check out our Cape Town Bucket List to find out which sightseeing and tourist attractions are definite must-sees.