One of the best ways to really explore Cape Town is by car. The city has some of the most amazing roads, which wind around the mountains and offer stunning sea views. Here are a few drives you can take to really soak up the splendour of Cape Town.
1. Chapman’s Peak
Caption: Chapman’s Peak Drive cuts into an impossible cliff face
Chappies is the classic Cape Town scenic drive. In fact, it’s been used in dozens of car commercials, so look out for it next time you read a magazine or watch TV. The drive winds around the mountains above the Atlantic, with endless ocean views. There are places to stop and check the view too. End the drive in Hout Bay with fish ‘n chips at Mariner’s Wharf.
Signal Hill is a quick drive and it’s close to the city centre. Make your way up to the top where you’ll find panoramic views of the whole city. It’s one of the best places in town to watch the sun go down, and on clear summer evenings, you’ll find it packed with sunset-seekers.
This one’s a little longer and will take a minimum of 30 minutes, but allow at least an hour so that you can stop off at one of the amazing beaches along the way. The road hugs the back of Table Mountain, passing quiet stretches of the coast as well as bustling cosmopolitan beaches. In this part of Cape Town, the sun sets over the sea, so it’s a fantastic place to drive just before sunset. Stop in Camps Bay for a delicious cocktail and snack while the sun goes down.
Boyes Drive is one of the less popular routes in Cape Town, but it shouldn’t be. This stunning drive traces mountains behind False Bay, with views over the harbour below, before finally winding down and ending at the lively and bustling Kalk Bay Harbour. During whale season, between June and November, you may spot whales frolicking in the bay below, and there’s always a chance to spot the majestic great white sharks from high above. In fact, the shark-spotters are located up there, so stop off to read about these incredible sharks and see if you can spot one.
Caption: The road to Cape Point offers dramatic views
Simon’s Town is a great place to start many a drive, but our favourite is the route from here to Cape Point. Stop just outside Simon’s Town to visit the penguins at Boulder’s Beach, before you wind your way along the quiet, largely untouched coastline to the majestic promontory of Cape Point. When you arrive, you can take the Flying Dutchman Funicular to the lighthouse at the top, where you will find some of the most spectacular views in town. There are great cliffs that rise from the crashing waves, and seemingly endless blue sea and skies stretching out to the horizon.
Gordon’s Bay is an off-the-beaten-track haven, where you can enjoy quiet beaches, cocktails, seafood, and some of the best sunsets in the country. Drive along the edge of the water through Strand, and stop to enjoy shopping, food (pro-tip: Belgian waffles), or just enjoy the views.
Further afield, but no less dramatic, is the incredible drive along the R44. It hugs the mountain from Gordon’s Bay and winds its way along the coastline all the way to popular holiday destination Hermanus. The ocean here just seems bluer and wilder, and the views across False Bay towards Table Mountain are worth the extra time you’ll spend on the road over the more sanitised detour.
Caption: Iconic views of Table Mountain on the drive back to Cape Town
The drive from Cape Town to the quiet west-coast suburb of Melkbos may not be all that dramatic, but when you turn around and realise that you’ll have unsurpassed views of Table Mountain’s most photographed face all the way back into town, you’ll see why this is such a special scenic drive. Keep to the M14 coastal road and you’ll also catch sight of surfers and kite surfers and get as close as you can get to Robben Island on the mainland.
It may not be the product of a focused marketing campaign like its nearby sibling of Route 62, but the drive between Worcester and Swellendam delivers some of the best mountain scenery imaginable. You’ll travel between pristine nature reserves and the towering Matroosberg Mountains, until eventually you pull up alongside the Bree River. At this point you could easily detour onto Route 62, or pull over at a lush vineyard in this unspoilt valley.