December 23, 2013

A day on Cape Town’s Hop On-Hop Off blue sightseeing tour

For someone that has lived in Cape Town for about 4 years now, it’s quite shocking that until this weekend I hadn’t done the Hop On-Hop Off city sightseeing tours. So with the family visiting for Christmas, it was the perfect time to hop on board and be a tourist in my city.

You can win a city sightseeing ticket! Enter here.

We chose to do the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour which departs from the Two Oceans Aquarium at the Waterfront and then winds on a scenic route to Kirstenbosch, the Constantia Wine Valley, Hout Bay and then along the Atlantic Seaboard and back to the Waterfront. Tickets can be bought at the tour office in front of the Aquarium (online discounted tickets are usually available for sale but this facility is closed during the busy Christmas season). Please note that although this is the “Blue Tour”, the buses are still the usual red double decker ones – the route name will be on the front and sides of the bus.

Read more about the City Sightseeing buses in Cape Town and Johannesburg here

I have done various Hop On-Hop Off city sightseeing bus tours in the UK and Europe so was curious to see how our Cape Town version fared. I am pleased to report that they certainly lived up to their international counterparts – the experience was fun and informative and the staff were very helpful and professional as one would expect from a tourist-focused operation.

If you were a tourist visiting our shores the commentary would have given a good overview of the life and history of the areas of Cape Town we passed through. Even for a seasoned local, the bus is a great way to take in your city from a different perspective – it’s amazing how much more you can see from the top of a double decker bus! And I’m sure you will learn at least one historical snippet you didn’t know.

The bus stops at Gate 2 at Kirstenbosch.

One of the highlights of the Blue Tour seems to be the Constantia Wine Bus. A free extension, you can change buses at Constantia Nek and get on a bus that takes you to Groot Constantia, Eagles Nest and Beau Constantia. You need to pay to do any wine tastings, etc although you  get a discount when presenting your bus ticket at some of the estates. Groot Constantia is one of my favourite places in Cape Town so I’m so glad they included a stop there. For history buffs like myself, the Groot Constantia Manor House and Museum is a must-see. The manor house is furnished as the home of an affluent farmer in the 18th to early 19th century would have been.  The Wine Museum, in the historic wine cellar, has a display of storage and wine vessels as well as a carriage collection. The Jonkershuis Restaurant is a perfect place to enjoy some delicious food under the trees while taking in the view - on a clear day you can see the sea in the distance
(and the cheesecake is to die-for!)

The back view of the Groot Constantia Manor House

Another great place to stop for lunch would be Mariner's Wharf in Hout Bay (the bus stops right there) and then hopping off for a lazy sundowner drink in Camps Bay would be a fantastic way to end the day.

It got too hot sitting in the open so these photos were taken through the bus windows.

So if you haven’t spent a day being a tourist in your city on a sightseeing bus, definitely give it a try. Fun for the whole family! I’m already planning when I’m going to do the Red City Tour and Night Tour…

A tip if you’re doing the bus in summer: take lots of sunscreen. If you sit at the top of the bus, only the front part is shaded and the sun seems particularly fierce up there. Also, remember a hat or light scarf – it can get rather windy on the top deck.

It all began when a 16-year-old Jenna got on a plane for the first time and headed to Lüneburg, Germany, for 2 weeks. Returning well and truly bitten by the travel bug, after finishing school she hopped on a plane and headed off to London. Since then, she has eaten her way through Eastern Europe, dozed in a hammock on a tiny island dotted in Lake Malawi, tracked Wild Dogs through the hills of Zululand, and explored the major sights of her first love – Europe.


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