Driving the Cape Peninsula loop

The Cape Peninsula is a spectacular region in South Africa that stretches from Cape Town to the Cape of Good Hope. Hemmed in by the Atlantic Ocean and False Bay, the Cape Peninsula boasts magnificent scenery, quaint towns, beautiful beaches and lovely vineyards. It’s easy to explore the Cape Peninsula from Cape Town as a day trip (either in a tour group or on your own). I would recommend hiring a car in Cape Town as this will allow you to determine your own pace – you’ll want to take your time for one of the most breathtaking drives you’ll ever experience!

One of the most breathtaking drives in the world


View cape peninsula loop in a larger map

Constantia to False Bay

From Cape Town, drive around the Table Mountain, past the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (you can choose to stop here or save the gardens for another day as there’s a lot more to see and do along the Loop) in the direction of the upmarket suburb of Constantia. There are several wineries in this neighbourhood which are absolutely worth a visit. The oldest and one of the most beautiful wineries is Groot Constantia.

From Constantia, head towards Muizenberg. At Muizenberg, continue along False Bay, with its gorgeous sandy beaches and colourful changing rooms, past Fish Hoek to Simon’s Town.

If you see groups of people standing along the roadside staring at the water, chances are, they’ve spotted some whales. False Bay is an excellent place to spot whales close to the shoreline in the spring and early-summer months. Simon’s Town is a great place to stop for a drink or lunch while you gaze across the bay. There are also many quaint, beautifully-restored cottages, lovely cobblestone streets, shops and interesting art galleries to explore.

Cape of Good Hope

From Simon’s Town, drive southwards to Miller’s Point (the coastal scenery here is just staggering). Stop along the way at Boulder’s Beach, the site of a large penguin colony. It’s a stunning spot for a leisurely walk to visit the penguins. From here, head towards the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve (watch out for the baboons which frequently hang out along the main road – they can be quite vicious).

At Cape Point, it’s easier to take the funicular railway to the top (though you’ll have to climb the stairs on the last stretch to the lighthouse) for some astounding views of the cape. Contrary to popular belief, Cape Point is not the southernmost point of the African continent – that distinction goes to Cape Agulhas, further up the Western Cape coast, which is also the dividing point between the Indian and the Atlantic Oceans.

Back at the nature reserve’s exit, you can choose two routes back to Cape Town: a pretty straightforward drive to Scarborough or the same coastal road back to Simon’s Town. I prefer the latter as the scenery across False Bay is really spectacular and now you get to enjoy it again, this time from a different angle.

Just after Simon’s Town, turn left up to Red Hill/Scarborough. It’s quite a steep climb with a few hairpin bends but you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of False Bay and Simon’s Town. Get your binoculars and scan the bay for whales (in the spring and early-summer) – the water is crystal clear so it’s not too difficult to spot them from this vantage point. Once you cross the ridge, be prepared for a possible temperature drop (it can be a lot cooler on the ocean-facing side). At the junction where the road forks – one goes to Scarborough, the other back to the Cape of Good Hope – stop to admire the open-air exhibition of stone sculptures. Then continue in the direction of Scarborough.

There’s a beautiful beach at Scarborough but don’t venture into the water. Instead, have your picture taken at one of the shark warning signs! Continue along the coast in the direction of Kommetjie. Take a moment to inspect the shoreline along the Witsand road with your binoculars. You might spot some Great Whites as they float on the waves just off the beach. You’ll see the full length of them as the waves roll in.

Chapman’s Peak Drive

From Kommetjie, drive in the direction of Sunnydale, then Chapman’s Peak. The Chapman’s Peak Drive along Hout Bay is undoubtedly the highlight of this loop. If I were to move to Cape Town, I would live here, at Hout Bay. The bay is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, with majestic rocky mountains on two sides, the deep blue water and the magnificent Sentinel (mountain) guarding its entrance. The Chapman’s Peak Drive is a spectacular route that offers unforgettable views of the bay.

Drive slowly and stop at the various viewpoints for some magnificent scenery. If you’re lucky (like I was), you might spot some Southern Right whales (the best time for this is October/November). Plan a meal at Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay on your way back to Cape Town to enjoy the views and the mouth-watering garlic butter prawns and calamari. Upon reaching Hout Bay, head towards Llandudno and along Victoria Drive, past the Twelve Apostles, back to Cape Town. The whole experience of this daytrip is truly inspiring.

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Read other Velvet Escape posts on South Africa:

In the post above, I’ve included a number of links to related articles by SA Venues, an online tourism resource. With its countless articles and gorgeous photos, SA Venues truly is a treasure trove of information on South Africa.

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19 Responses to “Driving the Cape Peninsula loop”

  1. velvet 02/03/2011 1:47 am
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    Thanks Mark! You won’t regret it. The drive is absolutely stunning and the calamari….. yum, yum, yum! :-)

  2. Mark 02/03/2011 1:18 am
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    What an amazing part of our planet! Would love to experience this drive someday, and of course, indulge in the “mouth-watering” garlic butter prawns & calamari you mention…yum! Nice post Keith!

  3. Lisa Bergren 04/11/2010 6:06 pm
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    Looks marvelous! Someday…

  4. Dorothee 21/08/2010 1:07 pm
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    This is definitely one of the most beautiful drives in the world :)
    Absolutely love it!
    If people plan on driving the Chapman’s Peak Drive, this website is quite useful to check if it’s open and how the road conditions are: http://www.chapmanspeakdrive.co.za/

  5. Gail Walter 09/06/2010 9:32 pm
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    Fabulous. Just did this a week ago. Done it several times, it just never gets old! Nice coverage.

  6. Life for Beginners 03/06/2010 12:12 pm
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    What a drive! What a view! Utterly captivating… :)

  7. Caz Makepeace 30/05/2010 6:14 pm
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    I love this part of the world. Chapman’s Peak drive is especially beautiful. I love Simon’s Town as well. Hanging out with the penguins on Boulders Beach is a highlight

  8. velvet 30/05/2010 5:28 pm
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    Hi Suzy,
    I love, love, love this drive. The scenery is truly astounding and I would recommend it to everyone. Wish I could go back to Cape Town soon. Love it there! :-)
    ps/ Absolutely loved your ‘4 things travel taught me…’ post yesterday.

    Cheers,
    Keith

  9. Suzy 30/05/2010 5:25 pm
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    It looks like one of those drives to end all drives. I would love to do this someday. I can’t believe the variety of nature across such a small area, penguins, sharks, whales. Gorgeous photos as well.

  10. Matt 26/05/2010 11:17 am
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    Excellent photos. I saw penguins here in NZ recently, but it was right at dusk. I’d love to see them in the daylight. South Africa is on my list – would love to get there sometime soon. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Capetown Holidays 26/05/2010 3:33 am
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    Hi Nancy
    You certainly have done a great job of describing this wonderful drive around the Cape peninsula. The people who live in Cape Town often take a drive on a Sunday just to admire the beautiful city in which they live, unlike other major cities in southern Africa. allow me to add that any visitor would be advised to stop at Noordhoek Farm village just before the start of Chapman’s Peak scenic drive to enjoy a cup of tea or other refreshment at this wonderful yesteryear cluster of restaurants, galleries and shops to attract the browser. Noordhoek is like a country village, it close to the city and is often called Cape Town’s secret destination.

  12. velvet 25/05/2010 11:15 pm
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    Hi Nancie,
    It really is an amazing drive – I’m convinced that it’s safe to say that it’s one of the most stunning drives in the world. I’ve done it 3 times now and I still can’t get over how awesome the scenery is and how much there is to see and do along the way. The little painted huts are along the beaches between Muizenberg and Fish Hoek – I love the vivid colours.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Best regards,
    Keith

  13. Nancie (Ladyexpat) 25/05/2010 11:11 pm
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    This looks like an amazing drive. I love the photo with the painted huts by the shore side.

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