Visiting Table Mountain National Park is one of those things you just kinda have to do in Cape Town, South Africa. Is it crowded, yes. Is it touristy, yes. Is it worth it, hell yeah! Sure you could get there, see that line, and have second thoughts like we did. But, a little knowledge beforehand goes a long way. And that’s what I’m here for 😉
Oh and just for your reference, we visited Table Mountain during South Africa’s autumn season, at the end of April.
Watch my Table Mountain Vlog (and continue reading below):
1. BUY YOUR TICKETS ONLINE
When we got there, I’m not gonna lie. Our jaws kinda dropped when we saw the painfully long and stationary line, not to get onto the cableway, but to—wait for it— simply get a ticket…to THEN go into another line to get onto the cableway.
And then it happened. One of my smart friends who didn’t have her face buried in her Instagram app like I did, spotted the sign that saved our sanity, and quite frankly just made us feel slightly shrewder than the dozens of other tourists who waited in that long ticket queue. The sign said something along the lines of “buy your ticket online to skip the line.” I’m totally making that wording up by the way. I never did see the sign, because I continued to keep my head buried in my Instagram app and blindly followed my friends as they figured everything out (I’d truly be lost without them).
Long story short, my friend Coribbia then used her phone to go online and purchase our tickets, thus allowing us to bypass that hellish ticket line. So we happily hopped into the cableway line and before we knew it, we were sailing through the sky and up to the top of Table Mountain.
2. DON’T PARK AT TABLE MOUNTAIN
Parking at any crowded, touristy spot during peak season can be a nightmare and Table Mountain is no exception. We took the ride-sharing route, but you have other options too. Here are a few ideas on how to avoid parking trauma.
MyCiTi Bus & Free Shuttle Service
Utilize the free MyCiTi shuttle service. Go from the Lower Tafelberg Road stop, just off Kloof Nek Road, to the Upper Tafelberg Road stop at the Lower Cable station.
Take a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus
My friend Jannae did this on her last day in South Africa because she had a super late flight. So she spent the day touring Cape Town on the City Sightseeing bus. And you know what one of the stops on their route is? Yep, Table Mountain.
Taxi or Uber
Our main two methods of transportation in Cape Town were taxis and Uber rides. They were just so quick and easy to use. Taxis are no problem to find, especially in popular areas. And Uber is…I know, I know. Shady and riddled with both driver and customer complaints, but sigh…when traveling, it’s just über convenient!
3. OPT FOR THE AFTERNOON
I hate when I wake up super early to experience a popular tourist spot, thinking I’m all smart because surely the early bird gets the worm, right? Yeah I get the worm and share it with the thousands of other tourists who go through the same thought process (also that’s when the tour busses arrive). That happened to me at the Taj Mahal in India recently, and Table Mountain was no different.
Thankfully we went in the afternoon, which is the recommended time to go because it’s less crowded. Plus, we stayed just long enough to catch a killer sunset on the cableway ride back down the mountain. If you’re hiking though, that’s a different story. Obviously you don’t want to wait until the afternoon to hike. It takes about 5 hours to hike up!
4. GET AN EARLY ACCESS TICKET (MAYBE)
Table Mountain offered the option to purchase early access tickets during peak season from December to January, so maybe they will do it again. With these tickets, visitors had the opportunity to access Table Mountain at 7:30am, 30 minutes before the normal opening hours. If you plan to visit Table Mountain around that same time this December/next January, then keep a lookout for that same offer.
5. VENTURE AWAY FROM THE CROWDS
There were so many people at Table Mountain that I didn’t think there would be any quiet spots we could escape to, but I was wrong. We cut across a long path, as seen in my vlog, and ended up in a rather secluded area. We barely ran into any other people. Perhaps it was the time of day? Or maybe most people gravitated towards other areas? I’m not sure what the reason was, but if you’re willing to do some exploring, you might get lucky too.