35 Fun Things to Do in Cape Town, South Africa
Situated on South Africa’s southwest coast, Cape Town is unlike any other city in the world.
A captivating blend of cultures and cuisines makes for an exciting foodie scene, and access to both mountains and the ocean creates a perfect environment for adventure-seekers.
With close proximity to vineyards, exciting hiking trails, and scenic drives, Cape Town attracts all types of travelers. And its burgeoning scene of cafes and co-working spaces has made it a popular digital nomad destination in recent years.
Cape Town has been on our travel dream list for years, and each time we talk with people who’ve traveled to this South African city, it continues to rise higher on our list!
Our editor, Amanda, has spent a few months living in Cape Town, and says it is her favorite city in the world. She has explored its iconic sites, like Table Mountain, as well as some lesser-known places (like an alpaca farm!).
Amanda has agreed to share her favorite things to do in Cape Town as well as some super helpful tips, including where to stay, how to get around, and advice for staying safe.
In addition to Amanda’s expertise, we’ve called upon our friends, Marie and Bill, who have also called South Africa home. With insider tips from two different perspectives, this article is an information-packed roundup that goes beyond the typical tourist sites.
Tip: Be sure to bookmark or pin this article for later so you have access to it during your travels.
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What to Do in Cape Town:
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Cheap Things to Do in Cape Town
Here are some of the can’t-miss highlights and iconic experiences that come to mind when thinking of Cape Town. As a bonus, they are all either free or inexpensive to experience.
1.Make Your Way Around the V&A Waterfront
Probably one of the most visited areas of this bustling city is the seaside neighborhood known as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (V&A for short!). Wandering around this area can easily occupy the better part of a day with so much to see and do. There’s not much you can’t do here. You can eat, work, shop and socialize your way through this part of town.
The Cape Wheel (a giant ferris wheel) boasts the best bird’s eye views of the city while street performers entertain the crowds beneath. Restaurant after restaurant will be serving up freshly caught seafood and the V&A Food Market is worth a gander, even if just to get a taste of South African biltong – a local favorite!
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation: The Watershed
The waterfront district has revived aging warehouses into a gigantic space for fantastic local artisans known as the Watershed. For what it’s worth - we’re not collectors of things. Purging stuff from our home might be the second best thing to travel. But even WE vouch that there’s cool stuff worth checking out in the craft market.
2. Go Up Table Mountain
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation: The Cable Car
Whether you’re visiting Cape Town in the winter or summer, you cannot miss the iconic Table Mountain towering above the rolling hills that surround it. It dominates the skyline and demands your attention.
There are several ways to tackle this peak. We preferred the convenience and speed of the cable car. Purchase tickets online before you go and you’ll avoid the immense lines that gather during the high season (late November - late January).
A word of caution: No cable car trip up is guaranteed a trip back down. On days where high winds whip the cape, cable car service is temporarily suspended. You may have to hike back down, so keep this in mind as you plan your adventure.
Hiking Table Mountain
If you are a die-hard and want to tackle this thing head-on, you can always choose to hike Table Mountain. Before you make the trek, be aware that Table Mountain hikes require moderate to advanced level hiking and can take 4+ hours to summit the peak and return.
One of the most popular routes is Skeleton Gorge/Nursery Ravine, both of which begin in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and run parallel to one another. The distance is just over 5 miles to the top with an elevation gain of 2,100 ft. This means stairs - lots and lots of stairs! The Skeleton Gorge trail even has ladders you need to climb at certain parts.
It is recommended to bring plenty of water - 2 liters per person minimum - and sun protection as there isn’t much shade in certain areas. Never hike alone as the terrain can be tough and tourists do, unfortunately, at times attract crime.
3. Signal Hill for Sunset
If you’re visiting Cape Town, I certainly hope you like sunsets. In case it’s not already apparent, there are so many places for spectacular sunset viewing on the Cape.
Perched in front of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, nearest to the Waterfront is Signal Hill. Unlike its neighbors, you can actually drive to the top, which makes this a perfect place to enjoy the sunset with panoramic views of the city and sea below.
Pack a picnic or a bottle of South African wine to take in the sights as the sun sets over the ocean and sky is painted in hues of orange and pink. You won’t be the only one up there at sunset, so be sure to go early and sort out your transportation home before you get dropped off, or you will be waiting well after dark for your ride to make it through the downward stream of traffic.
Related reading: If you're visiting South Africa with your family, check out this list of things to do in Cape Town with kids.
4. Get Lost in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Located at the foot of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens is a can’t-miss for anyone who loves exotic plant life, beautiful landscapes or simply the outdoors. Open 365 days a year, the entrance fee is only R40 for adults. With an array of African plant life intermixed with walking paths, you can easily get lost in the gardens for an afternoon.
If you are visiting Cape Town during the summertime (November - March), be sure to catch a show as part of Kirstenbosch Summer Concert Series. Even if you don’t know the music, the experience is totally worth it! Pack a picnic (BYOB!) and arrive early to stake out your space in the grass to enjoy the concert.
5. Head to the Beach
When visiting a city by the ocean, heading to the beach is a no-brainer! But there is something extra special about the beaches in Cape Town… Shh! Don’t tell anyone, but the chilly temperatures of the Atlantic scare away beach-loving tourists, so the spectacular beaches here are never too crowded. And if you’re brave, you can still go for a dip!
Camps Bay and the Clifton Beaches are my go-tos when it comes to posting up in the sand. Each of the Clifton Beaches are small stretches of sandy beach separated by giant boulders. You can walk between them, but you may need to get your toes wet!
Camps Bay Beach may seem like your typical stretch of sandy beach complete with colorful umbrellas. That is until you turn your back to the ocean and take in the majesty of the 12 Apostles, a range of mountain peaks that stretch down the coastline, behind you.
Insider Tip: Pack a picnic and stay for the sunset. Call ahead to order pizza from Col'Cocchio across the street, which will be hand-delivered to your spot in the sand.
6. See the Penguins Up Close at Boulder Beach in Simon’s Town
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation:
Simon's Town is a great base for several breathtaking sights along the cape, but it’s best known for a set of residents that seem just a bit out of place on the African continent. Penguins!
To see Simon's Town’s African penguin colony up close, skip the overcrowded boardwalk area and head down to the free parking lot at Boulder’s Beach. You can purchase tickets at the park entrance adjacent to the parking area, and literally swim with the penguins while you avoid the selfie stick sword fight at the main entrance location.
Responsible Travel Note: As with any wild animal encounter, always keep your distance and respect the space of the animals. Remember this is their home you are entering and you want to make sure you are not causing any harm during your “visit.” Never, ever try to touch, pet or hold a wild animal.
7. Check Out the Surf (or just the surfers) at Muizenberg Beach
If you came to the Cape Peninsula to surf, then chances are you’re heading to Muizenberg Beach at some point. Just a short drive from Cape Town, this is where all of the best surfers like to catch waves.
Don’t worry if you’re not into surfing though, there is plenty of people watching to do from the sand. This is also where you’ll find the colorful beach huts you see in photos all over Instagram, so bring your camera and get ready to have a photo sess!
8. Chapman’s Peak Drive
The Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most scenic drives I have ever taken and well-worth the R10 or so it costs per car. If you’re driving the Cape Peninsula, you can enter the route from the north at Hout Bay, or south at Noordhoek.
The pinnacle of the drive is Chapman’s Point, where you’ll find a small parking lot (get there early or you won’t get a spot!) and viewing platform perched on a cliff overlooking the sandy bay to the right and breath-taking views of the ocean to the left. You can imagine why everyone tries to get here for sunset!
9. Sea Point Public Swimming Pool
If you’re not willing to brave the chilly Atlantic waters, the neighborhood of Sea Point has a giant public swimming pool that sits so close to the coast, you almost feel like you’re swimming in the ocean. The entrance fee is only about R2 for the day, but try to avoid weekends as the place gets a bit crowded and go during the week instead.
10. Stroll the Ocean-side Promenade
Beginning at the Sea Point public pool and winding its way down the coast is a promenade popular with joggers, bikers and dog-walkers alike. Stroll down the walkway, breathing the fresh ocean air and people watching as you go. If you’re lucky, you might catch some of the paragliders swooping overhead before landing in the grassy park adjacent to the walking path.
If road trips are your thing and you have the time to explore more of South Africa, I recommend driving the Garden Route across the southern coast of the continent. With so much to see and do on this drive, you’ll want to be sure you have more than a few days to dedicate to this trip. Get yourself a camper van and follow along on this itinerary for 7 days on the Garden Route.
Unique Things to Do in Cape Town
Looking for some more unique or off the beaten path experiences in Cape Town. Here are some of our favorites!
11. Zeitz Contemporary Art Museum
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation:
Want to see the coolest repurposed building EVER? The Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) is an awe-inspiring transformation of a series of grain silos into a massive art museum. Even it’s windows and staircases are works of art.
It hosts collections from artists from all over the continent and provides an easy half-day worth of sights and sounds. We think this one is a must-see. Oh and if you’re Beyoncé and you’re reading this - check out the Silo Hotel that sits atop the museum. At well over $500 a night, the rest of us will just have to read about the hotel’s spectacular diamond-shaped windows that provide 180° panoramic views.
12. Woodstock Street Art Tour
Woodstock is a hip and edgy neighborhood where hipster cafes and art galleries have taken over repurposed factories. At the center of it, an old biscuit mill has been transformed and is now home to some of the most popular restaurants in Cape Town.
A neighborhood this hip wouldn’t be complete without colorful murals lining the streets, and Woodstock has plenty of it. Peep the street art as you browse the vintage shops and antique furniture stores, or book yourself a guided street art tour to get the full story behind the symbolic art.
13. Take a Sunset Cruise of the Bay on a Pirate Ship
One of the best views of Table Mountain is undoubtedly from the water and what better way to take to the sea than on a pirate ship??
The Jolly Roger Party Boat Cruise departs from the V&A Waterfront every Friday and Saturday night for a 2-hour sunset booze cruise. Complete with live music, free welcome drinks + a cash bar and a real pirate captain. If you really want to get into the spirit, dress up and go in character as a pirate!
To keep the party going after the cruise, head over to Ferrymans Tavern for a pint and some more live music.
14. Visit an Alpaca Farm
Just an hour drive from Cape Town in the heart of the Cape Winelands is the picturesque town of Paarl. At the Alpaca Loom & Coffee Shop you can enjoy a coffee or a light breakfast in the cafe overlooking the farm surrounded by miles of vineyards with the mountain range on the horizon.
Take a bucket of feed down to the pen where you can feed alpacas right out of the palm of your hand. This interactive experience makes for some great photo ops, just be sure to watch out for the spitting! (Yes, as a show of dominance, alpacas may split at or near you… it’s actually quite funny.)
After indulging in some playtime with alpacas, stick around for the barn tour when employees of the farm will escort you through the property, explaining the history of their operation. If you time it right, you’ll have the chance to meet the baby alpacas on the tour!
How to get there: There are a few options for getting to Paarl from Cape Town.
Uber is widely used in Cape Town and drivers don’t mind the longer trips out to wine country. However, it’s hard to say how many Uber drivers are around Paarl. So that is something to keep in mind for your return trip.
You can hire a driver for the day, or a half-day, for a reasonable amount if you split the cost between a full car.
Renting a car is probably going to be your cheapest option as car rentals are quite affordable in South Africa.
15. Take Flight in a Helicopter
If you’re looking for a real treat (and by that I mean splurge!) there are several companies that offer scenic tours of the Cape Peninsula. Imagine the photos you’d get while flying above the city with aerial views of Table Mountain and the Cape of Good Hope.
16. All Aboard the Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek Wine Tram Hop-On-Hop-Off Tour is a unique way to discover the Cape Winelands and sample some of the world-renowned wines that come from this region. Choose your route on the tram, which makes a loop, allowing passengers to hop on and hop off as they please to experience the activities offered at each of the vineyard stops.
Plan to spend a day sampling local wines, strolling the vineyards, taking a cellar tour or two and enjoying world-class cuisine. The best part is, you won’t need to worry about having a sober driver as the open-air tram will take you everywhere you need to go!
How to get there:
The best way to experience the Franschhoek Wine Tram is by booking a tour that provides round trip transportation from Cape Town. Uber is available in the area, and hiring a driver or renting a car are other options depending on how much you want to spend and the size of your party.
Historical & Cultural Experiences in Cape Town
It’s important when visiting any new place not to overlook the history that defines the culture, and there are many places of historical and cultural significance to visit in and around Cape Town.
17. Tour Robben Island
During the moving Robben Island experience, former inmates of the infamous prison help visitors to understand the struggle against apartheid.
Take a ferry from the V&A Waterfront to the island where you will be ushered onto tour buses. On the air conditioned bus ride, your English speaking guide will explain the history of the island, pointing out some significant sites along the way.
You will then be dropped off at the entrance to the prison, where a former inmate will take over as your guide and walk you through the prison-turned-museum where Nelson Mandela spent many years of his life. Enter the cells and read personal stories from each of the individual inmates that once slept there as you make your way through the prison.
18. Visit Colorful Bo-Kaap Neighborhood & Museum
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation:
After checking out the waterfront, it’s totally worth the short Uber ride to catch a glimpse of the Bo Kaap with it’s brightly colored houses and rolling streets.
Walking up and down the streets of the small neighborhood made us feel like we had stepped into a movie set, and the vivid colors can’t help but make you smile and dream. Every home in this neighborhood is considered a historical monument and their care is a serious matter for the local Cape Malay residents that still call it home.
The neighborhood is also home to the Bo Kaap Museum if you want to learn more about the birthplace of the Afrikaans language and the fascinating cultural crossroads that still resides among the cobblestone streets.
Related reading: Planning to explore more countries in Africa? Check out this list of Best Places to Visit in Africa.
19. Visit a Township
Open your eyes to a different side of South Africa when you join your guide on a tour of Cape Town’s Townships. Take the opportunity to meet and interact with the local community, walk the streets, learn about their history and visit the local school.
While townships may offer tours to outsiders, it is important to remember that this is still someone’s home and to respect the property and privacy of the residents. Act like a guest and not a voyeur. And always ask permission before taking someone’s photo or a photo of their property.
20. District 6 Museum
District 6 is a former residential area of Cape Town that was destroyed by the Apartheid Nationalist Government in the 1970’s after forcefully removing over 60,000 of its residents. The memorial museum celebrates the once lively multiracial neighborhood and it’s former inhabitants.
21. Table Mountain National Park: Cape Point & the Cape of Good Hope
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation:
If you’ve got the time and spirit for adventure, visiting Table Mountain National Park on the tip of the Cape Peninsula is an absolute MUST. The national park, which was previously known as “Cape Peninsula National Park” is not to be confused with the actual mountain of the same name.
Within the large park, you can hike their trails and take advantage of their trail hut network for a unique, and breathtakingly beautiful experience. We only had the time and gear to brave a day’s adventure each time we visited. Make sure follow this South Africa packing list so you are fully prepared for a day of adventuring.
We consider Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope as the two critical elements of the park. At Cape Point you can stand on the edge of the African continent with your face in the wind as you survey the vast ocean and craggy cliffs.
Then venture a bit further to the Cape of Good Hope, which marks the point where a ship begins to travel more eastward than south when following the African coast down from the equator. You’ll probably have to stand in line to get your short in front of the park sign for the ‘gram. If you want a reprieve from the crowds, take a short hike up the cliff where you can lounge at cliff’s edge overlooking the continent’s most southwestern point.
How to get there: The easiest and most affordable way to visit the national park is to rent a car and drive south from Cape Town, down the cape peninsula. You can do the whole thing in a day, including stops at Muizenberg Beach and Simon’s Town, then take the Chapman’s Peak Drive to catch the sunset on your return.
Active Things to Do in Cape Town
It doesn’t take long to notice what an active and outdoor city Cape Town is. With the mountains on one side and the sea on the other, there are plenty of outdoor activities and adventures to be had. Get moving with these suggestions for active things to do in Cape Town.
22. Hike Lion’s Head
Table Mountain’s next-door neighbor is considerably more beginner-friendly for hikers. At just over 3 miles long with a 1,600 ft elevation gain this hike will take you about 1.5 hours to get to the top and another hour to descend back down to sea level.
There are plenty of benches to rest along the way for those that want to take their time, and 2 routes to the top – one for the more advanced hikers that includes a series of ladders, and one that takes a bit longer, but makes for an easier climb (no ladders necessary!)
Oh yeah...and did I mentioned the views!? Just because it’s an easier hike does not mean you will be missing out on the views. Lion’s Head is a true peak with 360° views of endless ocean and the beaches below and Table Mountain as your backdrop.
It is recommended to bring your own water, sun protection and try to avoid the midday sun as there isn’t much shade on the trail. The trail is popular for sunset-goers so you can expect a bit of a crowd during those hours. Bonus points if you get to the top to watch the sunrise or make it out for a full moon hike!
A word of caution: The winds can pick up fast in Cape Town and it is not safe to be on the peak during those conditions. If you are on the trail and it starts to get considerably windy, it is best to turn around and try the hike again on another day, not to risk your safety.
How to get there: Just a short drive up Signal Hill Road, you will come to a point where the trailhead begins. There is a small parking area for scooters on one side of the road and a small cafe in a food-truck on the other side where the trail begins.
23. Paragliding off Signal Hill
A popular activity for adrenaline junkies is paragliding off Signal Hill and out over the Atlantic. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before! Your guide will be right behind you in a tandem paraglide and will make sure you land safely in the park below, near the shore.
24. Take a Kayak Tour of the Bay
I’ve already mentioned that one of the best ways to see Cape Town is from the sea. If you’re looking for an active adventure in Cape Town, a kayak tour of the bay may be the perfect addition to your itinerary. If you’re lucky you’ll see dolphins frolicking in the waves and depending on the time of year, you might even encounter a humpback whale up close (like I did!).
25. Go Surfing
Part of the draw to this coastal city is the access to so waves. There are plenty of surfing beaches in and around Cape Town for beginners all the way up to die-hard surfers. While Muizenberg is probably the most popular, other beaches such as Lluandudno, Big Bay, and Dungeons make for good surf spots as well.
If you’re new to surfing and want to give it a try, there are plenty of shops that offer lessons at Muizenberg. If the waves are too intimidating for you, perhaps a stand up paddle board tour of the V&A Waterfront is more your speed.
26. Cycling in the Winelands
Take on the Cape Winelands with a little bit of speed! A cycling tour through the Cape Winelands region will get your blood pumping and prepare you for all the wine tasting to come.
This is no leisurely ride through vineyards (although you will do some of that!). The Cape’s historic wine route runs through the towns of Franschhoek, Paarl, and Stellenbosch. You can cycle as much or as little as you please while taking in the scenery and enjoying samples of the local wine along the way. The entire route is about 24 miles long and a tour from Cape Town will last all day.
Related reading: Planning to explore more countries in Africa? Check out this list of Best Places to Visit in Africa.
Culinary Experiences to Have in Cape Town
Once named “The Best Food City in the World” by Conde Nast, Cape Town definitely lives up to the name. Here are a few culinary experiences you can’t miss while traveling there.
27. Get Your Grub on at Mojo Market
This giant indoor food hall in Sea Point will become your best friend. With 30 food stalls serving up cuisines from all over the world, there is surely something to please everyone here. And the center bar boasts “the widest selection of beverages on tap in the Southern Hemisphere”.
Catch live music daily or join a crew to watch a screening of a popular sporting event. Some of my favorite food stalls are: Salad Bae, Sha Sha Warma, Hokey Poke and Philly Rock n Ramen.
Insider Tip: While the space is large with plenty of seating indoors, there is actually a rooftop area that most people don’t know about.
To get there: Follow the hallway out of the main area, past the bathrooms and through the door on your left with a small sign that says “rooftop”. You’ll have to climb a few flights of stairs and when you can’t go any higher, you’ll exit the stairwell onto the rooftop where you’ll find picnic tables and some breathtaking views of the ocean and Sea Point Pool below.
28. Head to a Rooftop Bar for Sundowners
With all these epic sunset viewing spots, you may not want to spend the occasion at a place as basic as a rooftop bar. But if you do find yourself in the mood for a sundowner (it’s what the locals call sunset cocktails!), head to one of Cape Town’s many rooftop bars.
29. Hit up a Farmer’s Market on the Weekends
The most popular farmer’s markets in Cape Town are the Orangezicht City and Neighbourgoods Markets.
Oranjezicht City Farmer’s Market:
Located by the V&A Waterfront (contrary to its name)
Open: Saturdays 9am - 2pm & Sundays 9am - 3pm
Located at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock
Open: Saturdays 9am - 4pm
At both markets you will find an array of food stalls (perfect for brunch!), fresh produce, breads, meats, artisan crafts, and locally made products for sale.
30. Try the Tasting Menu at a World-Class Restaurant
South Africa may fall outside of the territory covered by the famed Michelin Guide, but it has no shortage of world-class restaurants and Cape Town is home to some of the best restaurants in the country. Here are a few of our recommendations for trendy places to eat in Cape Town.
The Test Kitchen: The only South African restaurant to be featured in the World’s Best Restaurants Awards. Dining here is more of an experience than a meal. It’s reputation precedes it and the waitlist to get in here is long, so be sure to book your reservations well (I’m talking months!) in advance.
The Pot Luck Club: Sister restaurant to TTK above, The Pot Luck Club, which is located at the top of the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock, features a tapas menu designed to showcase the 5 flavor profiles. Sharing is encouraged here and I found that with 5 people it was perfectly reasonable to order one of every single thing on the menu… and go back for seconds of your favorites.
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation:
Rust en Vrede: If you have something to celebrate or some money to splurge, make sure to add this restaurant in nearby Stellenbosch to your Cape Town itinerary. Get reservations well in advance; they seat each table only once every night.
Before you head to dinner, make sure you’ve gotten a good nap, that you’re well hydrated, and prepared for all six courses of their tasting menu. They offer smaller options, but you’re not at Rust en Vrede for that! The ambiance, the well considered wine pairings, and the exceptional cuisine made for a dinner experience that’s as-of-yet unparalleled.
Tip: If fancy dining isn’t your thing, have a go at finding the best street foods to try in South Africa.
31. Take Your Afternoon Tea Like a Royal
The Granary Cafe at the Silo Hotel offers a “Royal Tea Experience” that would make the royals in London jealous. With an incredible spread of pastries and small “tea” bites from the pastry chef, they can cater to any dietary needs (including sugar-free!).
A booking is essential to take part in the experience as the kitchen needs a minimum of 24 hours to make preparations for the event.
32. Jazzy Brunch at The Kloof Street House
The magnificent Kloof Street House is a dining staple when visiting Cape Town. Settle in for brunch in the Victorian house-turned-restaurant while you enjoy live jazz music every Sunday from 1pm - 3pm. Reservations are required to get a table during this time.
33. Satisfy Your Tex-Mex Cravings at El Burro Taqueria
Bill & Marie’s Recommendation:
No question about it, El Burro will stack up against your “go-to” Tex-Mex spot.
The owners spent about ten years living in Mexico before they returned to their home in Cape Town. They brought with them high-end tequila and some of the best taco recipes around. They use their established supply chain to bring in everything from the corn flour to their cheese FRESH from Mexico.
34. Post-up in a Hipster Cafe
A favorite city among digital nomads, Cape Town has its share of hipster cafes serving up some delicious lattes alongside their WiFi. Here are some noteworthy cafes to check out:
35. Self-guided Wine Tasting Tour
It’s no secret that South Africa produces some world-class wines. A combination of the terrain, special weather patterns and exceptional grapes make the Cape Winelands an ideal place to harvest and one of the best wine regions in the world.
As an added bonus, South African wine is completely approachable. Tastings are inexpensive, vineyards are gracious hosts, and the pours are generous.
Between Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franchhoek, there are some extraordinary vineyards attracting wine-loving tourists from around the globe. Spend the day (or a weekend!) exploring the wine region and indulging in as many tastings as you can fit into your schedule. Don’t miss out on tasting the Pinotage – a cross between the Pinot Noir grapes and native cinsaut grapes, that is only found in South Africa.
Some of my favorite vineyards worth mentioning are:
Babylonstoren in Paarl
Fairview Wine & Cheese Estate in Paarl
Delaire Graff Estate in Stellenbosch
Rickety Bridge Winery in Franschhoek
Holden Manz Wine Estate in Franschhoek
If a self-guided tour sounds like too much planning for your liking, Bill & Marie recommend Elle, who gladly hand-curates a tasting experience based on your interests.
Where to Stay in Cape Town
Craigrownie Guest House This cozy little guest house has just 8 rooms and comes at a steal for your budget accommodations. The location is great, right on the edge of Sea Point and Bantry Bay, which means you can walk to the Clifton Beaches and Mojo Market.
Mojo Hotel The location really doesn’t get better than this! You can stay on top of your favorite food hall, just a block from the Sea Point public pool and promenade. This quirky combination hotel/hostel offers rooms for a range of budgets.
Rockwell All Suite Hotel & Apartments This highly rated property offers modern, fully serviced apartments in a great location near the V&A Waterfront and downtown. It’s a little bit pricer than the first two options, but still won’t break the bank!
Cape Town Travel Tips
Currency in South Africa
The national currency is the South African Rand (shown like R25).
Credit Cards are widely accepted, including your American Express cards, but be sure to have your debit card with you to withdraw cash from ATMs when you need it. Never use money exchanges, especially not at airports, as these take a large cut and the exchange rates are usually outrageous.
A word of caution: As in most places, you need to be careful about credit card fraud, but in South Africa in particular. There are a lot of instances of card numbers getting stolen and used after you’ve swiped. (This happened to me on 3 separate occasions while I was traveling in South Africa.)
Transportation in Cape Town
Uber is widely used around Cape Town and is the safest and most affordable way to get around. Always check that the car number matches your app before you get in. Uber Eats is also a thing here, and with minimal delivery fees, it definitely comes in handy!
It is recommended not to hail cabs from the street as these are not as reliable as Uber.
Rental cars in Cape Town are inexpensive compared to prices in the US or Europe. Just remember the driving is on the left side of the road, and the cheapest rental options require use of a manual transmission. It’s often safest to plan where to park before you get to a destination, and don’t leave ANY belongings in the car.
If you're planning on traveling around South Africa, renting a campervan is a great way to see the country. You can pretty much go anywhere and you don't have to pay for hotels. We recommend Happy Campers because they are a family-run company with great service and awesome vans.
Water Shortage in Cape Town
You may have heard of the extreme drought that hit Cape Town and made the national news back in 2016. While ‘Day Zero’ keeps getting pushed back (that’s the day ALL of the taps in the entire city will run completely dry), and water is flowing a bit more freely as of 2019, the water shortage is still an important issue to be aware of.
As a tourist, it likely won’t affect you much, if you even notice at all, but that doesn’t mean you should be wasteful. Bottled drinking water is plentiful, but bring your own reusable bottle to reduce plastic. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth and soaping your hands. Try to limit your shower time to under 5 minutes and turn off the tap while you soap-up.
As with any trip, long or short, we recommend you never leave home without first purchasing travel insurance! Especially in a place like Cape Town where you’re likely to be having some active adventures and petty crime is also an unfortunate possibility.
Here are our complete thoughts on the matter.
Is it Safe to Travel in Cape Town?
The short answer is: yes. Of course, there is always a caveat to that.
As with any major city, there are safer areas of town and areas that you need to be more cautious in. I stayed in the Sea Point neighborhood and felt very safe walking the streets alone during the daytime and in my home at night. The downtown area where Long Street is located (the popular street for nightlife) is a bit of a different story and precautions should be taken when getting around there.
Before you ask… yes, there is crime in Cape Town, just like in any major city. Most of the crime in Cape Town is opportunistic. This means that if you make it easy for them, people will take advantage of you. As a tourist, you are already a high target.
Does that mean you should stay locked in your hotel or apartment all day and only leave home with a money belt tucked under your shirt? No.
Be sure all of your valuables are on you at all times and don’t hang your purse on the back of your chair while dining. Don’t leave your belongings unattended, especially not in a rental car.
Muggings are not unheard of in Cape Town. It is recommended not to walk alone after dark, no matter where you are staying. Always be aware of your surroundings – this includes watching your alcohol consumption. Trust your instincts and if a person or a place feels unsafe, get out without stopping to think twice.
All that being said, this city has far too much to offer to let fear discourage you from visiting. If you are smart and stay aware, you likely won’t run into any trouble, but instead return with a boatload of stories to make friends and family back home jealous of your travels.
Guest Post Contributors
Bill & Marie met and fell in love in India. There they set out on scavenger hunts to explore the city with cameras around their necks. They got married in Minneapolis, lived in South Africa for their first year of marriage, and now oscillate between travel adventures and life at home in the USA while blogging about stories and photos at Sojourn Blog and on Instagram.
We would love to hear from you!
Have you been to Cape Town? Have you tried anything of these tips? What else would you add? We want to hear it all in the comments below. We try our best to respond to everyone, comment away!