A Guide to the Stops on Cape Town’s Hop-on Hop-off Bus

by - May 11, 2021

I have the worst case of FOMO ever! In my travels, I have taken many a hop-on hop-off bus tour and every time I overthink where I should be hopping off. It’s hard to know looking at the brochure or listening to that somewhat awkward audio guide, which stops or attractions are really all that attractive, especially if you have limited time. 

When it comes to the City Sightseeing Red Bus Tour in Cape Town, even the official website is a little vague about the specifics of what you can expect to see so, as a local who has done the tour, I thought I would help you to prioritise attractions and plan your day or days. Gosh, I'm nice!

A Guide to the Stops on Cape Town’s Hop-on Hop-off Bus

Here is a brief overview of each of the stops on Cape Town’s CitySightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Red Bus Tours:


The Red Route

1. V&A Waterfront & Aquarium

The first stop on both the Red and the Blues routes is the V&A Waterfront. If this is where you are joining the bus you’re probably already aware of its many many attractions. 

Here you will find: 

  • The 2 Ocean’s Aquarium
  • The V&A Food Market
  • The Watershed (a craft market) 
  • The Cape Wheel (a Ferris wheel with a view), 
  • Numerous boat tour operators (Including those of City Sightseeing if your ticket includes a harbour tour)
  • Waterfront Helicopter Tours.
  • A vast array of local and international shops and restaurants.
If you joined the bus tour elsewhere, I would suggest that you bypass this stop and come back on another day. You’re unlikely to scratch the surface of all that the waterfront has to offer in a short stopover. 

V&A Waterfront opening hours:
Monday - Thursday: 9:00am - 7:00pm
Friday - Sunday: 9:00am - 9:00pm

More information can be found at the V&A Waterfront's website
and more info about the Two Ocean's Aquarium can be found at their website or on my recent post: Finding Nemo in the Time of Corona.


The V&A Waterfront


2. The Clock Tower (Also technically part of the V&A Waterfront)

The Clock Tower is also part of the V&A Waterfront precinct.

Built in 1882 (that’s really old for any manmade structure in South Africa), it is the original Port Captain's Office, bearing a clock imported from Edinburgh. While the Clock Tower is impressive, I have walked past it many times and never thought to try to go inside it. Entrance is apparently free. (I will visit it the next time I go and I’ll be sure to update this post.) As much of the Foreshore area is built on reclaimed land, when it was first built, it may have been surrounded by water. 

Clock Tower opening hours: 
Monday - Thursday: 9:00am - 4:00pm
Friday - Sunday: 9:00am - 7:00pm

More info can be found on the Clock Tower's website


Some of the other attractions in its vicinity include:

  • The Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island. A tour that will take you by boat to Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many of his 27 years behind bars. Though I strongly recommend this tour, it is time-consuming so I suggest you come back on a day when you are not on a bus tour. 
  • The Zeitz MOCAA (Or Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) is an impressive architectural structure that contains some impressive art from the continent. 
  • The Chavonnes Battery Museum contains the ruins of a fort built to protect the peninsula in the early 1700s. It was partially demolished in the mid-1800s and only rediscovered in 1999. It is probably one of Cape Town’s lesser-known but underrated attractions.  
  • There’s also a Lindt shop. It is in no way unique to South Africa (seriously, it’s Swiss), but I just really like chocolate!
  • More shops and restaurants can also be found here. 
The V&A Waterfront clocktower


3. The Cape Town International Convention Centre

Is a great convention centre, however, unless you’re visiting a convention or event, there’s no need to get off the bus here.  

4. Foreshore

I’m not really sure what the point of this stop is except it seems to be a pick-up point for people staying at the hotels in the vicinity.

5. 81 Long Street (The Tour office)  

The tour office is in the centre of the Cape Town CBD.  From here you can switch to the Yellow Line and do the downtown tour. 

The Yellow Route

I believe it used to be a bus tour (based on this page of their website), but these days it's a ‘free’ walking tour - in exchange for tips! 

(This might explain why there seems to be a number of stops missing on the map.)

The Historic City Walk  

According to the website, this walking tour goes to the following sites:

  • The Greenmarket Square: A 17th-century square where slaves were once sold. It was also the location of many political protests during the Apartheid Era. These days, it is the site of a market that sells local crafts and souvenirs (or at least it was before the pandemic). 
  • The Company’s Garden: Created in the mid-17th century, this is the oldest garden in South Africa. It was established by the Dutch East India Company to grow fresh produce for sailors on ships rounding the Cape on their way to India (which was also the entire purpose of the Dutch settling here in the first place).
  • City Hall: A 1905 Edwardian building where a statue of Nelson Mandela marks the spot where he made his first speech after being released from prison.
Cape Town City Hall

Looking at the route map (I have done a walking tour but not this one), it also seems to pass the following attractions:

  • The Grand Parade: Cape Town's main public square.
  • The District 6 Museum: A museum that honours District 6 and the forced removal of 60 000 people from their homes on the basis of race during the Apartheid era. 
  • The South African Museum: Founded in 1825, this is South Africa’s first museum. It is home to various zoological, paleontological and archaeological collections. 
  • The Jewish Museum & Holocaust Centre: Located in an impressive modern building, this museum pays tribute to Jewish life and the history of Judaism in South Africa. 
  • The Castle of Good Hope: A 17th-century fort and the oldest existing colonial building in South Africa.
Castle of Good Hope


What time do the walking tours leave?
Currently, the walking tours leave at 10:00 and 2:00 pm. (Correct at time of posting)
And last 90 minutes.

Is the walking tour included in your City Sightseeing Bus tour ticket?
Technically, no. Anyone can join them, even if you are not on a bus tour. 

More information can be found on the City Sightseeing website.


This stop is also within walking distance from:

  • St. Georges Cathedral:  This is an Anglican cathedral and the seat of the Archbishop of Cape Town. I am a big fan of Cathedrals so I try to visit each one I stumble upon. If you have done a lot of travelling in Europe, this face brick structure will probably disappoint you, but it is a significant church for South African Christians. Founded in the early 19th Century, its current building was designed by Sir. Herbert Baker in the early 20th Century (one of the biggest deals in South African Architecture ever!) and Arch Bishop Desmond Tutu was once the bishop here. 
  • The cathedral's crypt houses a jazz restaurant known as The Crypt. I haven’t had a chance to visit that yet but it sounds quite amazing.
St. Georges Cathedral, Cape Town

  • The Cape Gallery: A South African fine art gallery.  
  • The Iziko Old Town House Museum: This museum is based in the former City Hall, an opulent Cape Rococo style building built in the 18th century. It is now an art gallery located where you can see the Michaelis Collection consisting of Dutch Golden Age works. 
  • The Iziko Slave Lodge: A museum devoted to the history of slavery in South Africa. The upper level is home to an art gallery (not related to slavery necessarily).
  • A small easily missable segment of the Berlin Wall is located on the corner of St. Georges Mall and Wale Street. 
  • The Arch for Arch: A monument that commemorates Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

The Arch for Arch, Cape Town


Continuing with the Red Route:

6. Jewel Africa

Okay, so South Africa has both gold and diamonds, so I guess jewellery makes for a nice souvenir. If you’re like me though, and you absolutely HATE shopping stops on organized tours, give this one a skip! Based on my experiences working on cruise ships, I have learnt that some people just go on vacation to buy shiny things. So if that’s you, go for it. 


7. Table Mountain and the Aerial Cableway

Table Mountain is obviously Cape Town’s most iconic landmark and one of those things you just have to do when you visit this city. While I would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting Cape Town, it is quite a time-consuming thing to do. When I last visited (at the end of 2018), the queue to get onto the cable car was over 2 hours long. I even contemplated climbing the mountain myself (you can do that if you’re fit and you have decent footwear, but it would probably take even longer). To try to save some time you can buy tickets directly from City Sightseeing but it’s not really the ticket office queue that is the problem. 

If you’re trying to make the most of the bus tour, I would suggest skipping this step and then coming back on another day. Even though you can see it from almost everywhere, it’s easy to lose sight of just how big the mountain is. It’s not just getting onto the cable car that’s time-consuming, but you will want to spend some time up there, walk around, take in the incredible views in every direction, take an absolute poop-ton of photos, maybe stop for a refreshment (there’s a cafe up there), take another poop-ton of photos, try to spot a dassie, photograph the dassie and take a guided tour before you come back down again. I wouldn’t want to rush this, especially the dassie part if you’re lucky enough to spot one of South Africa’s most majestic and underrated creatures.

How much are the cable car ticket prices? 
Return tickets vary from R100 - R380.

Table Mountain Cableway opening hours: 
Monday - Sunday (weather permitting): 8:30am - 4:30pm (in winter) 
The opening hours are extended in the summer.

More info can be found on the Table Mountain website.

Table Mountain, Cape Town

8. Camps Bay 

Camps Bay is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The white sand beach is lined with palm trees, bars, restaurants and hotels, against the backdrop of the mountain range known as the 12 apostles. It is very popular among the wealthy and the beautiful, and would probably be even more popular if not for the chilly Atlantic ocean. It’s the perfect place to stop for a cocktail, especially if the sun is setting at the end of the day.  

Camps Bay, Cape Town

9. The President Hotel, Bantry Bay

The president hotel is a very scenic luxury hotel. It is also home to a number of restaurants. Other cities have fancy hotels too though, so if you’re on the tour to experience Cape Town, I would give this a skip.

10. St. Johns Road Seapoint

I’m not really sure what the point of this stop is. According to the website, it brags about its location close to the Sea Point swimming pool?

Before COVID-19 they used to have Salsa dance parties on the promenade overlooking the swimming pools some Sundays in Summer.

11. Winchester Mansions

The Winchester Mansions is a seafront hotel located in a 1920s Cape Dutch building. It also has a beautiful courtyard restaurant. While architecturally it is more Capetonian than the President Hotel, if you’re on the tour to experience Cape Town, I would also give this a skip. 

What you could do though, is take a stroll along the Seapoint promenade and experience the public art like the somewhat controversial Perceiving Freedom, a pair of oversized Ray-Bans facing Robben Island created to honour Nelson Mandela.

Perceiving Freedom / 'the Mandela Glasses, Green Point

12. Green Point and Urban Park

The Green Point stop is also within walking distance of Perceiving Freedom, or 'the Mandela Glasses', but there seem to be some more exciting attractions down this side. If you don’t see enough public art pieces on this section of the promenade, you can journey a block inland and go to Green Point Park. It’s very green and scenic and a great place for a picnic. 

On the oceanfront, you will also find the Green Point Lighthouse. First lit in 1824, it was the first solid lighthouse structure on the coast of South Africa. 

Green Point Lighthouse

Nearby you will also find: 


  • The Blue Train Park (an enclosed park with a kids’ train in it) 
  • A putt-putt course 
  • Kaskazi Kayaks (where I went kayaking with dolphins
  • and the Creamery (for all your artisanal ice-cream requirements. Yum!) 
Try not to get so caught up in the people-watching on the promenade that you forget to look at the ocean. Dolphins are quite common in these waters. 


The Blue Route:

(Like I said, I believe the Yellow Route used to be a bus route which may explain the numbers jump from 13 to 15 to 20)

15. The Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel

Here we have another hotel stop but there’s more to it than just as a pick-up for guests. The Mount Nelson hotel is a luxury hotel built in the late 19th Century on a historical estate once known as the Oudtshoorn Gardens where deer roamed. It became the British military headquarters during the Second Boer War when it hosted Winston Churchill. It was later painted pink for peace in 1918. It has also hosted H.G. Wells, Lady Jenny Churchill, Rudyard Kipling, Agatha Christie and Edward, Prince of Wales. 

In keeping with its British Colonial heritage, it has a reputation as a great place for high tea. 

The Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town

20. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch is a botanical garden at the foot of table mountain and prime frolicking terrain. It’s over 100 years old, so I guess that means it's historical too. If biodiversity and indigenous flora turn you on, this is the place for you. 

Here are my top ten reasons for visiting:

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

  1. The art 
  2. Owls
  3. Restaurants 
  4. Walking trails
  5. The green lawns for frolicking 
  6. Guided tours
  7. Movies under the stars (not that that’s something you can really do on a bus tour)
  8. The Tree Canopy walkway
  9. Albino squirrels 
  10. The dinosaurs (Seriously)

Dinosaurs at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

How much are the Kirstenbosch ticket prices? 
Tickets vary from R25 - R200.

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden opening hours: 
Summer (Sept - March): Monday - Sunday: 8:00am - 7:00pm
Winter (April - Aug): Monday - Sunday: 8:00am - 6:00pm 

More info can be found on the Kirstenbosch website.

21. Constantia Nek Winestop 

Constantia Nek is a stop that I associate with two things:

  • It is near La Parada: A tapas restaurant in a century-old barn known for its live music events.
  • And the base of the Constantia Nek hiking trail, which I did with my friends, thinking it would be an uphill, but shortish, Johanessburger-friendly, manageable stroll, only to discoverer it was a multiple-hour near-vertical hike for fit Cape Tonians who do this a lot.

It’s also the stop where you can switch over to the purple route and do the wine tour.

The Purple Route:

25. Groot Constantia

Groot Constantia is South Africa’s oldest wine farm. It was established in 1685. According to its website, its wine is mentioned in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, Charles Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood and it may have been served to Napoleon during his exile on the island of Saint Helena. 

The historical estate is a wine farm, a museum, a great place to go for a long walk and it is also the site of two restaurants, one of which serves possibly the world’s greatest cheesecake.  (Soon it will get a post of its own.) 

More information can be found on the Groot Constantia website.

Groot Constantia, Cape Town

26. Eagles Nest Wine Farm

As a teetotaler, I visit wine farms for reasons that obviously don’t include the wine. Eagles Nest I have not yet had the pleasure of visiting.  I believe they do not have a restaurant but do serve cheese platters to complement the wines. Well, that's half a reason to visit.

More information can be found on the Eagles Nest website.

27. Beau Constantia Wine Estate

Beau Constantia I also have not yet visited. From what I understand though, it seems to be as modern as Groot Constantia is historical. Instead of Cape Dutch architecture, here you'll find vast glass facades. It is known for farming proteas in addition to wine (South Africa's national flower) and its beautiful panoramic views of the mountains and False Bay. Yes, but does it serve cheesecake? 

More information can be found on the Beau Constantia website.

22. World of Birds and Monkey Jungle

I have not yet taken Rodrigo to visit his cousins at the World of Birds, but it is on the list. The World of Birds is the largest bird sanctuary in Africa, with over 400 different species including eagles, falcons and flamingos (the living kind). The Monkey Jungle part is home to squirrel monkeys. If you need to see some wildlife to feel like you’ve visited Africa, this is a great place to hop off.

How much are the World of Birds ticket prices? 
Tickets vary from R40 - R85. (To the best of my understanding)

World of Birds & Monkey Jungle opening hours: 
Monday - Sunday: 9:00am - 5:00pm

More info can be found on the World of Birds website.



Hop-on Hop-off bus, Cape Town

23. Imizamo Yethu Township 

This is an authentic township of 30,000 inhabitants. At this stop, you can have a 40-minute guided tour of the neighbourhood by a local resident. It’s a great way to experience modern-day township life. South Africa is number one in the world for inequality, after passing the luxurious homes of Camps Bay (or before), this will give you a look at how the other half live (well more than half).

24. Mariner’s Wharf in Hout Bay

Hout Bay is a small fishing village. It is known for its beautiful beach and fresh seafood. It’s also a 15-minute walk from the Bay Harbour Market, which sells artisanal food, crafts and curios. In the other direction, is the Mainstream Village and Malls, a beautiful outdoor retail centre with an amphitheatre located in an 800-year-old Milkwood forest, and a themed village Fisherman’s World, complete with a 19th-century corrugated-iron Boatshed. 

Mariner’s wharf itself is home to seafood restaurants and shops that sell pearls, antiques, marine artefacts and souvenirs. Harbour Boat Trips are available on local charter boats. If you time your visit right you may even see whales from the wharf itself.


More info can be found on the Mariner's Wharf website.


From here, the blue route joins up with the red route at stop 8 and continues through from stop 8 to 12 and then back to stop 1 at the waterfront. 


Other useful information:

How Much are the Ticket Prices for the City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus?

Tickets range in prices from R100 for a child or R199 for an adult for a one day ticket, to R320 for a child or R399 for an adult for a three-day ticket. (Correct at time of posting, i.e. Pandemic rates.) 



How long is the red bus tour in Cape Town?

Each route takes a different length of time: 
  • The Red route:  90 minutes 
  • The Yellow walking tour: 90 minutes 
  • The Blue route: 140 minutes
  • The Purple Wine Route: 30 minutes
(If you don't hop off the bus)


How often do the hop-on-hop-off buses come?

  • The Red route:  Every 45 minutes 
  • The Blue route: Every 60 minutes 
The timetable can be found here.


Can you buy your ticket on the City Sightseeing bus itself?
Yes, at any stop but it's cheaper to buy it online.


Closing Tips:


  • Buy your ticket online: it's cheaper. 
  • Don't forget your sunscreen. 
  • Don’t lose your ticket.
  • Sit upstairs: Not only is the open-air most social distancing friendly, but it’s easier to take pictures. 
  • Sit on the left-hand side of the bus when going along the coastal part of the route. 
  • Bring a jacket. (Never trust any weather report for Cape Town. Ever.)
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