Red bus diaries

It probably won’t take you too long after your arrival in the Mother City to spot a jolly, red open-top bus navigating Cape Town’s highways and byways. A ticket for these City Sightseeing tour buses allows you to hop on and hop off at over 30 stops at your leisure, making it the best way to see over 50 of Cape Town’s top attractions.

Fill your lungs while bracing sea air at the top, or head down below to stay cosy. Contact holidays@kulula.com and explore more of Cape Town from an unbelievable R1 899 per person sharing, including 2 nights’ stay at SunSquare Cape Town City Bowl, flights, breakfast and car hire.

Colour wheels

The current City Sightseeing hop on hop off bus routes are colour coded; red (the City Tour, which includes the cableway stop at Table Mountain), blue (the Mini Peninsula Tour, on which you cover the most ground), and purple (the Wine Tour which branches off from the blue route). Expect scenic splendour on whichever one you choose.

Get ready to roll

You may start your hopping at any one of the stops on these routes. The City Sightseeing tour office at 81 Long Street, a stone’s throw from historic Greenmarket Square, is the perfect place from which to kick off if you are staying in the Cape Town CBD.

Grab a route map followed by a delicious coffee and pastry at the adjacent Kamili coffee shop, or browse the lovely local gift selection downstairs. Once you are ready to board, plug in the earphones that you receive, as the audio (offered in 16 languages) will provide some really interesting facts about the city, as well as the odd nifty tune.

The wheels on the bus go round and round

Even Cape Town locals love the red bus, especially those with kids, and here’s why. Their annual special running from 1 May to 8 October in 2018 (valid on weekends, school holidays and public holidays), allows two kids under 18 to hop on for free with every adult classic ticket.

You can sing “The Wheels on the Bus” on a loop as you try out the tour loops and let your kids decide where to hop off, although just being on the bus is fun in itself.

Great stops for little travellers include the V&A Waterfront (for Scratch Patch and Cave Golf, the Two Oceans Aquarium or the Cape Wheel), Green Point (for a miniature train ride at the Blue Train Park or to explore Green Point Park), Camps Bay (for a walk on the beautiful beach), Constantia Nek (to zipline at Acrobranch) and World of Birds in Hout Bay.

Padkos

There are lots of great options to keep fuelled with refreshments near stops on the red bus routes. Follow the scent of salt and vinegar to Mariner’s Wharf at Hout Bay harbour for fish and chips, try tapas at La Parada on Constantia Nek, or see and be seen at one of the many restaurants along the Camps Bay strip.

Park off

If you are staying in the southern suburbs of Cape Town with hired wheels, consider the following to take advantage of the bus without racking up parking fees. Head off early and park for free at the naturally beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (Blue Mini Peninsula Tour stop). Catch the bus from the main entrance (buy discounted tickets online, or from the bus driver).

You can then really make a day of it, hopping on and off or changing tours at the stations that service both. Just remember to check the timetable! You don’t want to miss the last bus back to your car at Kirstenbosch. For those oenophiles catching the bus on the Purple Wine Tour loop, perhaps Uber will be your best bet after visiting three of the Constantia Valley’s finest wine farms; Groot Constantia, Eagle’s Nest and Beau Constantia.

Bonus walking tours

Your hop on hop off bus ticket also entitles you to join one of the free live guided walking tours leaving from the tour office at 81 Long Street. The two routes take you either to vibrant Bo-Kaap (known for its colourful houses, cobbled streets and Cape Malay heritage) or on a historic city tour.

For a fee you can also explore Imizamo Yethu in Hout Bay on a walking tour from stop 23 on the Mini Peninsula Tour. Besides their hop on hop off buses, City Sightseeing also offer guided day tours to Cape Point or the Cape Winelands, township tours to Langa and Gugulethu, as well as harbour and canal cruises from the V&A Waterfront.