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Cape Town Travel Guide

An Art Oasis in a Grain Silo, 150 Surfer’s Paradises, and Majestic Elephants and Rhinos in Nature Reserves

Snow-white beaches on the Atlantic Ocean — for surfing and swimming, green mountains and animals in reserves, street art and revitalized spaces, exotic cuisine, and dozens of cool wineries. All in our guide.

Founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1652, Cape Town became the first modern metropolis of South Africa, earning it the nickname “Mother City”. Thanks to its location at the southern tip of the continent, the city has played an important role in global trade for many centuries. Today, this city of four million is one of the three capitals of South Africa. Cape Town hosted the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and since then, the number of tourists has only been increasing. However, crime and corruption still remain issues.

Cape Town is located on a picturesque coastline in the shadow of Table Mountain National Park. Thus, the urban environment is inextricably linked with nature. You can go on small hikes, surf, visit wineries and reserves where zebras, lions, antelopes, and other animals live.

In Cape Town’s architecture, glass and steel skyscrapers coexist with two-hundred-year-old buildings constructed by the English and Dutch. Active urban development began in the 1960s, when whole hectares were reclaimed from the ocean to erect high-rise buildings where there used to be water. Therefore, the city is divided into two parts: the old, built up by the English from 1806, and the modern — from the 1960s. In recent years, Cape Town has also been revitalizing various spaces, with one of the coolest examples being the Museum of Contemporary African Art in an old elevator building.

All of this, but ten times more detailed — in our Cape Town guide.

History

The indigenous population of South Africa dates back about two million years, but significant events in this area only began to occur in the 17th century. On April 7, 1652, Jan van Riebeeck landed on the shores of Cape Town: his team was sent to find a layover base for ships of the Dutch East India Company. They became the first settlers in this territory.

The Dutch began constructing the Castle of Good Hope at the foot of Table Mountain, which shelters ships from wind and storms. Initially, it was a wooden defensive structure. Only at the end of the 17th century was a substantial building in the shape of a pentagonal star erected, which was partially destroyed during various wars. From this fort, the city of Cape Town began, strategically located midway on the maritime trade route from Europe to India, a journey of about 12 months. It was used to transport spices, pearls, and silk.

The Dutch began the construction of the Castle of Good Hope at the foot of Table Mountain, which protects ships from wind and storms. Photo: John O’Nolan / Unsplash.com
The Dutch began the construction of the Castle of Good Hope at the foot of Table Mountain, which protects ships from wind and storms. Photo: John O’Nolan / Unsplash.com

Later, the Cape of Good Hope in the south of South Africa became a refuge for European Protestants who began to settle these territories and discovered diamond and gold deposits. Subsequently, this led to apartheid (racial segregation): the country’s white inhabitants deprived the local black population of all rights. In the mid-20th century, black Africans began to actively protest against apartheid. A significant role in this fight for freedom was played by politician Nelson Mandela. As a result of a state coup, he became the president of South Africa and remained in power from 1994 to 1999. However, the abolition of apartheid has not yet had a significant impact — the majority of South Africa’s population still live in poverty, although it is the country with the highest GDP on the continent.

Interesting in the City

Castle of Good Hope

This pentagonal-shaped castle served as a base for the Dutch East India Company on the way to India and simultaneously as a defensive fort. It now houses the headquarters of the South African Armed Forces and a museum with a collection of antiques and paintings. Entrance to the castle: 50 rand (2.42 euros) for adults and 25 rand (1.21 euros) for children.

Castle of Good Hope — a pentagonal-shaped castle that served as a base for the Dutch East India Company on the way to India and also as a defensive fort. Photo: Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia.org
Castle of Good Hope — a pentagonal-shaped castle that served as a base for the Dutch East India Company on the way to India and also as a defensive fort. Photo: Bernard Gagnon / Wikimedia.org

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

The center of tourism and a favorite relaxation spot for Capetonians is concentrated in the Waterfront area near Table Bay, a few kilometers from the city center. From here, you can embark on a romantic sunset cruise, take a sea trip to Robben Island, or visit 450 shops in the Victoria Wharf shopping center and 80 restaurants with a diverse cuisine: European, Indian, African. In the neighboring mall, The Watershed, products made in South Africa are sold — a great option for those who want to support local business.

If you have spare time, you can take a ride on the Ferris wheel, visit art galleries of local masters, the Diamond and Gemstone Museum, or the Two Oceans Aquarium, where fish and animals from the Atlantic and Indian Oceans live. A ticket to the aquarium costs 220 rand (10.65 euros).

The Waterfront area is one of the most popular places for strolls, and it is also from here that ships depart for Robben Island. Photo: South African Tourism / Wikimedia.org
The Waterfront area is one of the most popular places for strolls, and it is also from here that ships depart for Robben Island. Photo: South African Tourism / Wikimedia.org

Once a district exclusively inhabited by whites, it is now a beautiful place to observe the life of the locals. On the Sea Point Promenade, there are children’s playgrounds, a well-maintained outdoor gym, and several art installations. The coastline here is rocky, and swimming is dangerous, although at Rocklands Beach you can enter the water and dip your feet. However, swimming will be much more comfortable in the pools of the Sea Point Pavilion in the southern part of the promenade.

Green Point Area

Once Green Point was a district inhabited only by whites, now it is a beautiful place to observe the life of the locals. Photo: David Stanley / Wikimedia.org
Once Green Point was a district inhabited only by whites, now it is a beautiful place to observe the life of the locals. Photo: David Stanley / Wikimedia.org

Malay Quarter

The Bo-Kaap area is known for its brightly painted houses situated on narrow cobblestone streets. In the 1760s, it was developed by the Dutch colonizer Jan de Waal. Initially, he built a row of small rental houses for Malay slaves. Originally, these were white buildings. When slavery was abolished in 1834, and the former slaves bought their homes, they painted them in bright colors as a sign of their newfound freedom. Bo-Kaap became known as the Malay Quarter, and Islamic traditions have become an integral part of the heritage of this area. A small museum located right in the middle of Wale Street excellently tells the history of the neighborhood. The most picturesque streets are Chiappini, Rose, and Wale.

Originally, the buildings in the Bo-Kaap area were white, but when slavery was abolished in 1834, the former slaves bought their homes and painted them in bright colors as a symbol of their newfound freedom. Photo: Claudio Fonte / Unsplash.com
Originally, the buildings in the Bo-Kaap area were white, but when slavery was abolished in 1834, the former slaves bought their homes and painted them in bright colors as a symbol of their newfound freedom. Photo: Claudio Fonte / Unsplash.com

Long Street

Long Street is a bustling shopping street, partially lined with Victorian-era buildings featuring beautiful wrought-iron balconies. It once marked the boundary of the Muslim Bo-Kaap district. The most attractive stretch runs from the intersection with Buitensingel Street in the north to Strand Street.

Long Street ist eine lebhafte Einkaufsstraße, teilweise mit Gebäuden aus der viktorianischen Ära mit schönen schmiedeeisernen Balkonen. Foto: Ossewa / Wikimedia.org
Long Street ist eine lebhafte Einkaufsstraße, teilweise mit Gebäuden aus der viktorianischen Ära mit schönen schmiedeeisernen Balkonen. Foto: Ossewa / Wikimedia.org

At the southern end of the street, in addition to numerous bars and restaurants, you will find several bookstores and boutiques of fashionable clothing. Here you will also find the Palm Tree Mosque, built in 1780, the Sendinggestig Museum in a church building, telling the story of slavery, and the Open House art installation. You can also visit the oldest cathedral in South Africa and the small The Company’s Garden park.

Cape Town Cathedral — the oldest in South Africa. Photo: Magemu / Wikimedia.org
Cape Town Cathedral — the oldest in South Africa. Photo: Magemu / Wikimedia.org

Museums

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA)

Zeitz MOCAA is one of the most important new museums in the world of art. It is the first major institution in history dedicated exclusively to artists from the African continent. The museum’s founder is German businessman and Harley Davidson CEO, Jochen Zeitz. The museum is housed in an abandoned grain elevator from 1921, which has been significantly reconstructed, yet preserving its recognizable shapes and the rawness of the grain storage. Therefore, even if you are not interested in art, the museum building is interesting in itself as an example of cool redevelopment and contemporary design.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is housed in an abandoned grain elevator from 1921, which has been significantly reconstructed, yet preserving its recognizable shapes and the rawness of the grain storage facility. Photo: Zeitz MOCAA
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is housed in an abandoned grain elevator from 1921, which has been significantly reconstructed, yet preserving its recognizable shapes and the rawness of the grain storage facility. Photo: Zeitz MOCAA

Apartheid Museum

The District Six Museum is dedicated to apartheid and tells the story of how in 1966, a lively and multicultural district, where people of different races and religions lived, was forcibly resettled to build homes for privileged citizens. As a result, 60,000 residents of the sixth district lost their homes. The museum is located in a former church building. An entrance ticket costs 50 rand (2.42 euros), and can also be purchased at quicket.co.za.

National Gallery

The Iziko Gallery is located in a majestic white building and houses a collection of South African, Dutch, French, Flemish, and British works, ranging from the 17th century to contemporary art.

The Iziko Gallery houses a collection of South African, Dutch, French, Flemish, and British works, ranging from the 17th century to contemporary art
The Iziko Gallery houses a collection of South African, Dutch, French, Flemish, and British works, ranging from the 17th century to contemporary art

Cultural-Historical Museum

The Iziko Slave Lodge Museum is housed in a building constructed in 1679. Initially, it served as a residence for slaves, and later, it housed Cape Town’s first post office and library. It also served as the Supreme Court. The museum displays ceramics, toys, silver, and textiles; artifacts from Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; a collection of prehistoric excavations, Bushman rock paintings, and everyday items from various African cultures.

Nature near Cape Town

Table Mountain and Others

Table Mountain, one of the Seven New Wonders of Nature, dominates Cape Town’s cityscape and is a backdrop for almost any photo. The mountain is part of a national park with endemic plants and animals of the fynbos. Fynbos is a unique type of shrubland vegetation.

Table Mountain dominates Cape Town's cityscape and is a backdrop for almost any photo. Photo: Tobias Reich / Unsplash.com
Table Mountain dominates Cape Town’s cityscape and is a backdrop for almost any photo. Photo: Tobias Reich / Unsplash.com

You can ascend the 1,086-meter-high mountain in various ways: by one of the hiking trails, for example, the Platteklip Gorge Trail (about two hours), or by cable car in about five minutes. A round-trip adult ticket costs 395 rand (19.12 euros). From here, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city center, Table Bay, and the beaches.

You can ascend Table Mountain, which is 1,086 meters high, in various ways: by one of the pedestrian trails or by cable car in about five minutes
You can ascend Table Mountain, which is 1,086 meters high, in various ways: by one of the pedestrian trails or by cable car in about five minutes

Table Mountain serves as a kind of barometer. By the clouds hanging over it, you can easily predict the weather for the next two to three hours.

Alternatively, you can climb the neighboring Signal Hill, which is 350 meters lower than Table Mountain. From there, you can enjoy equally stunning views of the city and the ocean.

Lion’s Head is a neighbor of the more majestic Table Mountain. The climb to it is much quicker and easier than to Table Mountain. Along the way to the summit, the trail winds and the views constantly change.

The climb to Lion's Head is much quicker and easier than to Table Mountain. Along the way to the summit, the trail winds and the views constantly change. Photo: Leo Moko / Unsplash.com
The climb to Lion’s Head is much quicker and easier than to Table Mountain. Along the way to the summit, the trail winds and the views constantly change. Photo: Leo Moko / Unsplash.com

Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Its location and unique flora make these botanical gardens one of the most beautiful in the world. Fynbos, the smallest of the six floral kingdoms, is a prominent feature here. The park is home to more than 9,600 plant species, 70% of which are endemic to this area and found nowhere else: restios, ericas, proteas (one of South Africa’s national symbols), and various succulents. For the garden’s centenary in 2013, a winding bridge made of steel and wood was built, traversing through the trees and offering astonishing views. The gardens offer free guided walks, and you can also rent an electronic guide, MyGuide, for 40 rand (1.94 euros).

Gate 3 is the first entrance you will encounter if you approach the gardens via Rhodes Drive from the south. Here, there are three cafes, including the excellent Kirstenbosch Tea Room. On Sundays from November to April, the botanical garden hosts musical concerts. An entrance ticket to the garden costs 210 rand (10.17 euros).

For the centenary of the botanical garden in 2013, a winding bridge made of steel and wood was built, which passes through the trees and offers amazing views
For the centenary of the botanical garden in 2013, a winding bridge made of steel and wood was built, which passes through the trees and offers amazing views

Robben Island

The island is located 15 kilometers off the coast of Table Bay and was used as a prison until 1996. It was here that a settlement for political prisoners was located, including leaders of Muslim parties and opponents of the apartheid regime, among them Nelson Mandela. The politician was imprisoned on Robben for 18 years. Since 1997, the island has been a National Historical Monument of South Africa, and since December 1, 1999, it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The entire island can be explored in about two hours. The area is small, but here you can encounter seals, colonies of African penguins, cormorants, turtles. You can tour the island with a guide or visit it independently; ferries depart from the pier at Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

Robben Island is located 15 kilometers off the coast of Table Bay and was used as a prison until 1996. Photo: Grant Durr, Tasneem Jhetam / Unsplash.com
Robben Island is located 15 kilometers off the coast of Table Bay and was used as a prison until 1996. Photo: Grant Durr, Tasneem Jhetam / Unsplash.com

Markets

The Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock is the first market of its kind in South Africa. Since its inception in 2006, there has been a boom in markets occupying abandoned spaces in busy urban areas across the country. But Neighbourgoods remains one of the best. Here, kiosks offer cuisines from different countries, serving everything from ostrich burgers to paella and dim sum, while local artisans sell fresh jams, cheeses, and biltong (dried meat).

The Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock is the first market of its kind in South Africa. Since its establishment in 2006, there has been a nationwide boom in markets occupying abandoned spaces in busy urban areas. Photo: Neighbourgoods Market
The Neighbourgoods Market in Woodstock is the first market of its kind in South Africa. Since its establishment in 2006, there has been a nationwide boom in markets occupying abandoned spaces in busy urban areas. Photo: Neighbourgoods Market

The Oranjezicht City Farm Market comes alive on Saturday mornings and transforms the open space near the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront into Cape Town’s most buzzing spot.

Makers Landing (formerly V&A Market) is a large food market with stalls where food is also prepared. There’s a lot of baked goods, fresh juices, and burgers for every taste. But I highly recommend trying the oysters, local ice cream, and coffee.

The Blue Bird Garage Market is located in Muizenberg, a surfer’s haven. It’s quite far from the center of Cape Town and is mostly frequented by locals. As a result, prices are lower and the market maintains maximum authenticity. The market operates on Thursdays and Fridays.

The Blue Bird Garage Market is located in Muizenberg, a haven for surfers. It's quite far from the center of Cape Town, and is mostly frequented by locals. Photo: Blue Bird Garage
The Blue Bird Garage Market is located in Muizenberg, a haven for surfers. It’s quite far from the center of Cape Town, and is mostly frequented by locals. Photo: Blue Bird Garage

The Earth Fair Market operates on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Occupying a pedestrian street in the center of Cape Town, it resembles the quintessence of a European food market, selling fresh produce, flowers, and lunchtime snacks. Due to its central location, it’s convenient to stop by for a bite during a walk around the city.

Bay Harbour Market is an indoor market (busy during rainy days), located right on the waterfront in Hout Bay. Here you can find food products, folk crafts, and live music performances.

Greenmarket Square is one of the oldest markets in South Africa, established in the late 1600s on a cobbled square. Today, Greenmarket is a bustling flea market, where you can buy everything from colorful paintings to necklaces and toys. It’s a great place to haggle and buy an unusual souvenir, and then visit one of the many charming cafes in the old buildings to enjoy a flat white.

Greenmarket Square — one of the oldest markets in South Africa, established in the late 1600s on a cobbled square. Photo: South African Tourism / Wikimedia.org
Greenmarket Square — one of the oldest markets in South Africa, established in the late 1600s on a cobbled square. Photo: South African Tourism / Wikimedia.org

Noordhoek Farm Village — about 30–40 minutes drive from Cape Town, it offers a relaxed farm atmosphere, amazing restaurants, and plenty of entertainment. Open every Wednesday from 16:00 to 20:00, weather permitting.

Blaauwklippen — a family market with organic products, mainly open in the summer. Open from 10:00 to 16:00 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Jamestown Flower Farm — a small flower market where you can pick your own bouquet or buy a ready-made one, stroll through the garden or have a picnic by the river.

Beaches

Cape Town is home to some of the most picturesque beaches in the world. The beaches along False Bay have warmer water and are good for swimming. The beaches on the Atlantic coast have much colder water, but they are almost always very beautiful — with a bright turquoise hue.

Atlantic Ocean

The four Clifton beaches — from 1st to 4th on the Atlantic coast — are incredibly beautiful. Most people can only withstand a few minutes in the cold water, but for sitting in a beautiful place by the water, these are ideal beaches.

Camps Bay Beach is just a few minutes walk from the bars and hotels area. It’s worth visiting for the views of the mountains — Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles. However, it has its downsides: it’s one of the windiest beaches, crowded, especially on weekends, and has strong surf. Be careful if you decide to swim.

Camps Bay Beach is just a few minutes' walk from the bars and hotels area. It's worth visiting for the views of the mountains – Lion's Head and the Twelve Apostles
Camps Bay Beach is just a few minutes’ walk from the bars and hotels area. It’s worth visiting for the views of the mountains – Lion’s Head and the Twelve Apostles

Bloubergstrand. This is the site where the English won the battle for Cape Town against the Dutch in 1806. From the beach, there is a stunning view of Table Mountain across Table Bay and Robben Island is visible. This beach is also popular among kitesurfers and windsurfers. Even if you don’t participate, it’s a great spot to come and watch the athletes.

From Bloubergstrand beach, there is a stunning view of Table Mountain across Table Bay and Robben Island is visible. Photo: Danie van der Merwe / Wikimedia.org
From Bloubergstrand beach, there is a stunning view of Table Mountain across Table Bay and Robben Island is visible. Photo: Danie van der Merwe / Wikimedia.org

Bakoven Beach, located closer to Camps Bay, is ideal for swimming. Despite the cold water, there are few waves here and large boulders from which you can jump into the calm, clear water.

Sandy Bay is an especially beautiful stretch of sandy beach, located about a 15-minute walk south from the Sunset Rocks parking area in Llandudno. It is Cape Town’s unofficial nudist beach. The area features beautiful rock formations and paths through the fynbos shrubbery.

Llandudno Beach is further south, towards Hout Bay. It’s a popular spot for family picnics.

Llandudno Beach is a popular spot for family picnics. Photo: Gorillabutter / Wikimedia.org
Llandudno Beach is a popular spot for family picnics. Photo: Gorillabutter / Wikimedia.org

False Bay

The coastline of False Bay stretches from Cape Point to the village of Pringle Bay on the opposite side of the Cape Peninsula.

Muizenberg is a popular beach for surfing, famous for its colorfully painted Victorian bathing houses. Here, you can rent surfboards and book lessons in several shops along Beach Road. The beach is gentle, and the entry into the sea here is generally safer than in other areas of the peninsula.

Muizenberg is a popular beach for surfing, famous for its colorfully painted Victorian bathing houses. Photo: Arno Smit / Unsplash.com
Muizenberg is a popular beach for surfing, famous for its colorfully painted Victorian bathing houses. Photo: Arno Smit / Unsplash.com

The small beach at St James, located next to the railway station of the same name, also has colorful bathing houses and a tidal pool for safe swimming. From Muizenberg beach, there is a two-kilometer coastal trail to St James, offering views over the bay and, with luck, you might see seals and whales.

Boulders Beach, also along the coastline of False Bay, is most famous for its population of resident penguins. You can even swim close to the penguins. However, remember that they are quite skittish and should not be fed or approached too closely.

Boulders Beach is also located along the coastline of False Bay and is most famous for its resident penguin population
Boulders Beach is also located along the coastline of False Bay and is most famous for its resident penguin population

Just a ten-minute walk away is the small Windmill Beach. It’s a magnificent hidden gem with warm water and a small colony of penguins.

Noordhoek is a five-kilometer-long beach favored by surfers and horseback riding enthusiasts. It can be windy here and dangerous for swimmers. There have also been instances of robberies, so it’s better not to walk alone.

In the middle of the beach, the rusty remains of the ship Kakapo protrude from the sand, resembling a strange sculpture. It ran aground in 1900 during its maiden voyage from Swansea (Wales) to Sydney (Australia).

In the center of Noordhoek beach, the rusty hull of the steamship Kakapo protrudes from the sand, resembling a strange sculpture. Photo: Joshua Kettle / Unsplash.com, Olga Ernst / Wikimedia.org
In the center of Noordhoek beach, the rusty hull of the steamship Kakapo protrudes from the sand, resembling a strange sculpture. Photo: Joshua Kettle / Unsplash.com, Olga Ernst / Wikimedia.org

Wineries

Stellenbosch and Franschhoek

The areas around the towns of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek are known as the Cape Winelands — one of the most important wine regions in the world. Here, there are hundreds of wineries with tasting rooms, restaurants, and spa centers. The wineries and vineyards are just a 30–40 minute drive from the center of Cape Town.

Boschendal is one of the oldest winemaking estates in the country, operating since 1685. You can not only come here for a tour and farm-to-table dinner but also stay overnight in a cottage or villa. The rooms offer great views of the mountains, and inside, there are cozy fireplaces, swimming pools, and fully equipped kitchens.

Babylonstoren, located at the foot of the mountains, is one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa. On eight hectares of wine farm, magnificent gardens sprawl out, which can be explored both before and after the tasting. You can dine at the Babel restaurant, enjoy spa treatments, and stay overnight in the hotel.

Babylonstoren, located at the foot of the mountains, is one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa. Photo: Babylonstoren
Babylonstoren, located at the foot of the mountains, is one of the oldest wine estates in South Africa. Photo: Babylonstoren

Haute Cabriere is a winery founded in 1694 by the Frenchman Pierre Jourdan. In my opinion, it offers the best views in Franschhoek. The tasting room is like a cave, and on a sunny day, the open terrace provides a view over the entire valley.

The tasting room at Haute Cabriere is like a cave, and on a sunny day, the open terrace provides a view over the entire valley. Photo: Haute Cabrière
The tasting room at Haute Cabriere is like a cave, and on a sunny day, the open terrace provides a view over the entire valley. Photo: Haute Cabrière

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a Hop On – Hop Off tour. You can choose from one of eight different routes and spend as much time as you wish at each stop. Such a tour costs 240 rand (11.62 euros) per person, and it does not include the tasting fee at each estate
The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a Hop On – Hop Off tour. You can choose from one of eight different routes and spend as much time as you wish at each stop. Photo: Werner Bayer / Flickr.com
The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a Hop On – Hop Off tour. You can choose from one of eight different routes and spend as much time as you wish at each stop. Photo: Werner Bayer / Flickr.com

Jordan Wine Estate offers excellent cuisine, wine, and superb accommodation. The estate has been operating since 1993 and is famous for its wine safari, a tour through the vineyards in an open Land Rover with breathtaking views of False Bay and Table Bay.

Spier covers more than 2.7 hectares of pastures, vineyards, and scenic landscapes. On the estate, there is the first dated wine cellar in South Africa. In the summer months, Spier organizes picnics on its lawns and conducts tastings of several varieties of wine and chocolate.

Delaire Graff embodies luxury and is one of the most renowned wine estates in Stellenbosch. In the Delaire Graff and Indochine restaurants, you can try all the local wines and dishes of the local cuisine. After lunch, you can relax in the spa, which offers half-day or full-day services, or sunbathe by the pool.

After lunch at Delaire Graff, you can relax in the spa center, where they offer half-day or full-day services, or sunbathe by the pool. Photo: Delaire Graff
After lunch at Delaire Graff, you can relax in the spa center, where they offer half-day or full-day services, or sunbathe by the pool. Photo: Delaire Graff

Delheim Wine Estate is located high on the slopes of Simonsberg Mountain. In the Cellardoor restaurant at the winery, they conduct tastings with light snacks: charcuterie, cheese fondue, and signature cake.

House of JC le Roux is the leader in sparkling wine in South Africa. In 1982, they were the first in the country to sell sparkling red wine and the first to release a sparkling wine made exclusively from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

L’Avenir is a four-star hotel and winemaking estate. It features a pool overlooking a reservoir, home-cooked breakfast served on the terrace, mountain bike rides, jogging trails, and a fireplace to warm up in the evening (yes, it can get cold in South Africa).

Lanzerac, a winery founded in 1692, is located in the Jonkershoek Valley. From here, there are beautiful views of mountain ranges, lush vineyards, and gardens shaded by oak trees. Even a historic building from the time of construction has been preserved on the property.

From Lanzerac Wine Estate, there is a beautiful view of mountain ranges, lush vineyards, and gardens shaded by oak trees. Photo: Lanzerac Wine Estate
From Lanzerac Wine Estate, there is a beautiful view of mountain ranges, lush vineyards, and gardens shaded by oak trees. Photo: Lanzerac Wine Estate

Villiera Wines organizes open jeep tours on its 230-hectare property. Here, you can see giraffes, zebras, turtles, antelopes, and numerous birds. The two-hour safari includes a wine tasting. Such a tour costs 300 rand (14.52 euros) per person.

Canettevalle is both a winery and a lavender farm (flowering from August to the end of October). Pick your own fragrant bouquet, enjoy the landscapes, and stop by the farm shop. One bouquet costs 50 rand (2.42 euros).

Animals

At the Two Oceans Aquarium, inhabitants of the two oceans that wash the Cape Peninsula are on display. Here, you can see penguins, turtles (over 200 species), and sharks. In some of the marine animal tanks, touching is allowed. Qualified divers can swim among the fish, with the cost of diving being about 2000 rand (96.82 euros). Upon entering the aquarium, a stamp is given, and you can return any time on the same day for free.

In the Two Oceans Aquarium, inhabitants of the two oceans washing the Cape Peninsula are displayed. Here, you can see penguins, turtles (more than 200 species), and sharks. Photo: Gregoire Jeanneau / Unsplash.com
In the Two Oceans Aquarium, inhabitants of the two oceans washing the Cape Peninsula are displayed. Here, you can see penguins, turtles (more than 200 species), and sharks. Photo: Gregoire Jeanneau / Unsplash.com

Ostrich Farm (30 kilometers from Cape Town). First, you can observe and feed the ostriches. Then, in the farm’s restaurant, try dishes made from ostrich meat. In the souvenir shop, products made from ostrich leather and feathers are sold. Besides the roaming birds, there are also rabbits, goats, turtles, and numerous other birds. The entrance fee is 109 rand (5.28 euros).

At the ostrich farm, you can observe and feed the ostriches and then try dishes made from ostrich meat in the farm's restaurant
At the ostrich farm, you can observe and feed the ostriches and then try dishes made from ostrich meat in the farm’s restaurant

Grootbos (160 kilometers from Cape Town). People come here to observe the coastal flora and fauna. In the reserve, you can see more than 800 plant species. For example, proteas and other types of fynbos, which are found nowhere else on the planet. Among the animals, there are antelopes, and whales swim into nearby bays (from June to November).

Aquila Private Game Reserve (180 kilometers from Cape Town) is a private reserve where the Big Five of Africa — lions, elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffaloes — are found. Transfers from Cape Town are organized. Safari tours can be conveniently booked on the website, both for a full day and a half-day. You can observe the animals not only in jeeps but also on quad bikes and horses. The price for tours starts at 1345 rand (65.11 euros), including welcome drinks, snacks, and the tour itself. The reserve has a hotel, restaurant, bar, children’s area, spa, and souvenir shop.

Sanbona Wildlife Reserve (230 kilometers from Cape Town). In the reserve, spanning several thousand hectares at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, live white lions, cheetahs, elephants, and zebras. If you don’t want to go for just one day, you can spend the night in the Dwyka lodge, located in a rock amphitheater.

In the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, spanning several thousand hectares at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, white lions, cheetahs, elephants, and zebras reside. Photo: Mike Bird / Unsplash.com
In the Sanbona Wildlife Reserve, spanning several thousand hectares at the foot of the Warmwaterberg Mountains, white lions, cheetahs, elephants, and zebras reside. Photo: Mike Bird / Unsplash.com

Activities

Flying

Cape Town has some of the cheapest helicopter tours in the world, and there are many agencies organizing flights. Sport Helicopter Rides offers various flights ranging from 12 to 56 minutes, with prices from 1900 to 7920 rand (91.98 – 383.43 euros). You can pay extra for a flight just for two.

Flying in an airplane over Cape Town is even cheaper than helicopter rides: the cost for two is 45 minutes for 4000 rand (193.65 euros) and 75 minutes for 5000 rand (242.06 euros).

Cape Town offers some of the cheapest helicopter tours in the world, and there are numerous agencies organizing flights. Photo: John O’Nolan / Unsplash.com
Cape Town offers some of the cheapest helicopter tours in the world, and there are numerous agencies organizing flights. Photo: John O’Nolan / Unsplash.com

Hiking

Lion’s Head Mountain. One of the most popular hiking trails in Cape Town. Allow four to five hours for a leisurely hike.

Skeleton Gorge. The trail to Skeleton Gorge can be completed in four to five hours, winding through wild forest and ending at the top of Table Mountain.

Newlands Forest. Several trails of varying lengths run through the forest.

Kloof Corner. In just 20 minutes, you can ascend the slope of Table Mountain — it’s one of the best short hikes in the city. Bring some drinks and enjoy the sunset with a view of Camps Bay.

On the Kloof Corner trail, you can ascend the slope of Table Mountain in just 20 minutes — it's one of the best short hikes in the city. Photo: Marlin Clark / Unsplash.com
On the Kloof Corner trail, you can ascend the slope of Table Mountain in just 20 minutes — it’s one of the best short hikes in the city. Photo: Marlin Clark / Unsplash.com

Diving

In the waters near Cape Town, you can see many sunken ships, including historical ones. They have grown over with kelp, where rare ragged-tooth sharks swim, and there are large boulders where clipfish, triplefins, and gobies dance.

Dives can be undertaken in coastal settlements near Cape Town — Hout Bay, Kommetjie, Simon’s Town, Glencairn, Fish Hoek, and Kalk Bay. Some sunken ships and reefs are reached by boat. Another option is cage diving with great white sharks.

Surfing

Muizenberg (level — beginner). The surfing spot is just a half-hour drive from the city center and is popular among those still learning to surf. The waves here are gentle. Although when the wind blows in a northwesterly direction, barrels can form — a hollow inside the wave where extreme surfers ride. It’s also a popular family beach with many cafes and restaurants where you can refuel after surfing.

The Muizenberg surf spot is just a half-hour drive from the city center and is popular among those still learning to surf. Photo: Jaman Asad / Unsplash.com
The Muizenberg surf spot is just a half-hour drive from the city center and is popular among those still learning to surf. Photo: Jaman Asad / Unsplash.com

Derdesteen (intermediate). This lesser-known surfing spot is best visited in autumn and winter, when the strong summer winds calm down.

Long Beach (intermediate to experienced). This is probably one of the best surfing spots in Cape Town. When the south-west wind blows, it creates perfect waves.

Big Bay (beginner to experienced). A beach strip located between Melkbos and Bloubergstrand beaches. Big Bay is ideal for surfers of all levels depending on the wind strength. Nearby, there is a park surrounded by numerous cafes.

Scarborough (intermediate to experienced). It offers beautiful views and secluded spots, as the spot is located about 50 kilometers from Cape Town.

Glen Beach (experienced). Located in a picturesque spot under the Twelve Apostles mountain, between Camps Bay and Clifton beaches.

Llandudno (intermediate to experienced). This beach is not only for surfing but also for swimming and sunbathing. The water here is crystal blue, and the sand is white as snow. There are many granite boulders emerging from the water, so caution is needed.

Dungeons (experienced). This spot can be reached in just 15 minutes by boat from Hout Bay harbor. It is here that the Red Bull Big Wave Africa competitions are held, and the waves at Dungeons sometimes reach several meters.

The Hoek (experienced). You can surf here only three months a year with a south-easterly wind.

Crayfish Factory (experienced). One of the most powerful spots. It’s best to surf here when the north or north-east wind blows. Epic waves combined with a great location make it one of the most challenging surfing spots in Cape Town.

In the vicinity of Cape Town, there are about 150 diverse surfing spots, suitable for any level of expertise. Photo: Ante Hamersmit / Unsplash.com
In the vicinity of Cape Town, there are about 150 diverse surfing spots, suitable for any level of expertise. Photo: Ante Hamersmit / Unsplash.com

Surrounding Areas

Seal Bay and Bird Sanctuary

30 kilometers from Cape Town

In Hout Bay, in the eponymous area, lives a large colony of seals and is home to the largest bird sanctuary in Africa — World of Birds. About four thousand birds reside here, from flamingos to penguins. The bay is accessible via the very scenic mountain road Chapman’s Peak Drive.

In Hout Bay, in the namesake area, lives a large colony of seals. Photo: Joshua Kettle / Unsplash.com
In Hout Bay, in the namesake area, lives a large colony of seals. Photo: Joshua Kettle / Unsplash.com

Along the shores of Hout Bay stretches a small sandy beach, and nearby there are several restaurants serving dishes made from the freshest seafood. The small port of Hout Bay serves as the main harbor for fishing, shrimp, crabs, and mussels. From here, cruises and tours to Duiker Island for snorkeling and diving are launched.

The small port of Hout Bay serves as the main harbor for fishing, shrimp, crabs, and mussels. From here, cruises and tours to Duiker Island for snorkeling and diving depart.
The small port of Hout Bay serves as the main harbor for fishing, shrimp, crabs, and mussels. From here, cruises and tours to Duiker Island for snorkeling and diving depart

Chapman’s Peak

Drive Beyond Hout Bay runs Chapman’s Peak Drive, stretching along the Atlantic coast. Here, panoramic views of the bay, ocean, and mountains open up. It is one of the most beautiful places in the vicinity of Cape Town. The length of this highway, connecting Hout Bay with the town of Noordhoek, is only nine kilometers, and the toll for the road is 40 rand (1.94 euros). There are several different trails from the ocean and highway towards the mountains, and you can walk from Hout Bay to Noordhoek.

Beyond Hout Bay runs Chapman's Peak Drive, stretching along the Atlantic coast. Here, panoramic views of the bay, ocean, and mountains open up. Photo: Sebastian Staines / Unsplash.com
Beyond Hout Bay runs Chapman’s Peak Drive, stretching along the Atlantic coast. Here, panoramic views of the bay, ocean, and mountains open up. Photo: Sebastian Staines / Unsplash.com

Silvermine Nature Reserve

30 kilometers from Cape Town

The Silvermine Reservoir is a wonderful place for a picnic or leisurely walk. The area was named after the fruitless attempts by the Dutch to find silver here at the end of the 17th century. Several excellent hiking trails lead from the city into the mountains, suitable for a half-day trip.

On the south-eastern outskirts of the reserve lies the ancient burial site in Peers Cave, accessible by a trail. The cave offers an impressive view of the town of Noordhoek towards the sea.

Penguins at Boulders Beach in Simonstown

40 kilometers from Cape Town

At Boulders Beach in Simonstown, where huge boulders divide small sandy coves, lives a colony of three thousand charming African penguins. A wooden boardwalk leads from the Boulders tourist center to the beach, where you can descend to the sand and mingle with the waddling penguins. There are car parks at both ends of the reserve — on Seaforth Road and Bellevue Road, where there are also hotels and restaurants.

At Boulders Beach in Simonstown, where huge boulders divide small sandy coves, lives a colony of three thousand charming African penguins. Photo: Fungai Tichawangana / Unsplash.com
At Boulders Beach in Simonstown, where huge boulders divide small sandy coves, lives a colony of three thousand charming African penguins. Photo: Fungai Tichawangana / Unsplash.com

Cape Point and Cape of Good Hope

70 kilometers from Cape Town

It was Cape of Good Hope that Bartolomeu Dias rounded in the 15th century, discovering South Africa. Cape Point, located slightly further south, marks the end of the Cape Peninsula and is where the country’s tallest lighthouse was built. You can ascend to the lighthouse either by funicular or on foot in ten minutes. Today, the lighthouse is no longer operational, but serves as a lookout point: from here, there are magnificent views of the vast expanses of the ocean and False Bay, where the legend of the ghost ship the Flying Dutchman was born.

It was Cape of Good Hope that Bartolomeu Dias rounded in the 15th century, discovering South Africa. Cape Point, located slightly further south, is the end of the Cape Peninsula and is where the country's tallest lighthouse was built. Photo: Joshua Kettle / Unsplash.com
It was Cape of Good Hope that Bartolomeu Dias rounded in the 15th century, discovering South Africa. Cape Point, located slightly further south, is the end of the Cape Peninsula and is where the country’s tallest lighthouse was built. Photo: Joshua Kettle / Unsplash.com

Whales in Hermanus

120 kilometers from Cape Town

Hermanus is a resort town on the ocean coast with a small harbor for sea creature fishing. Cape Town and Hermanus are separated by two beautiful mountain passes, and it’s a two-hour car journey. People come here to escape the city hustle and see the whales that swim into the bay. These giant mammals have made this area their home, and they can be observed directly from the shore. The whale migration season lasts from June to mid-November. Several species of whales come here — humpback, blue, southern right, whale sharks, and southern orcas. Just bring binoculars and find a comfortable spot on the lookout platform.

People come to Hermanus to relax from the city bustle and to see the whales that swim into the bay. These giant mammals have made this area their home, and they can be observed directly from the shore. Photo: FedericoLukkini / Flickr.com
People come to Hermanus to relax from the city bustle and to see the whales that swim into the bay. These giant mammals have made this area their home, and they can be observed directly from the shore. Photo: FedericoLukkini / Flickr.com

During boat tours, you can get closer to the whales, and also see dolphins, seals, and white sharks. Book your tour in advance and dress warmly, even if the air temperature is plus 20 degrees Celsius. The tours cost about 1000 rand (48.41 euros) per person.

Hermanus is a resort town on the ocean coast with a small harbor for sea creature fishing. Photo: Grant Durr / Unsplash.com
Hermanus is a resort town on the ocean coast with a small harbor for sea creature fishing. Photo: Grant Durr / Unsplash.com

Cape Agulhas

220 kilometers from Cape Town

In the Cape Agulhas area, the cold Benguela current from the west meets the warm Agulhas current from the east, and two oceans — the Atlantic and the Indian. Due to the complex landscape, 26 ships have sunk here.

The cape got its name at the end of the 15th century from Portuguese sailors because, at this location, the needle or “agulha” of the compass pointed straight north. It is the southernmost point of Africa.

Cape Agulhas received its name at the end of the 15th century from Portuguese sailors because, at this place, the needle or "agulha" of the compass pointed strictly north
Cape Agulhas received its name at the end of the 15th century from Portuguese sailors because, at this place, the needle or “agulha” of the compass pointed strictly north

Food

The culinary traditions of the country were shaped by migrants from all over the world. Since the end of the 17th century, Cape-Dutch cuisine with its very simple and hearty dishes, reminiscent of rural food, became widespread. For example, a thick meat stew with vegetables and potatoes seasoned with spices and herbs. Migrants from Asia brought with them rice, noodles, and various curries. Steaks are a British legacy; in South Africa, they are prepared not only from beef but also from ostrich, crocodile, antelope, and kudu. The country offers excellent seafood and has many oyster farms.

In the areas of Sea Point, Green Point, and Gardens, there are dozens of good restaurants and cafes. Even people coming from America and Europe are surprised by the local variety, and the quality of some products, especially meat, can be significantly better. The gastronomic revolution in Cape Town began in the vineyards, where the first great restaurants started to appear. But today, the effects of this boom in unusual and quality food are noticeable even on the city streets. Local gastronomy actively borrows the international farm-to-table principle, which emphasizes buying as much produce as possible from local farmers.

Woolworth, Checkers, and Pick and Pay are the three most popular supermarket chains, and they also have food delivery apps. Alternatively, you can use the UberEats aggregator.

Restaurants

The Pot Luck Club restaurant is located in the building of an old elevator, accessed by a glass elevator, and offers a great view of the city, harbor, and Table Mountain from above. The atmosphere here is that of a New York loft, and the owner and chef Luke Dale-Roberts prepares some of the best dishes in South Africa. The restaurant is ranked third in the Michelin Guide recommendations.

The Pot Luck Club restaurant is located in an old elevator building, accessed by a glass elevator, offering a cool view of the city, the harbor, and Table Mountain. Photo: The Pot Luck Club & Gallery
The Pot Luck Club restaurant is located in an old elevator building, accessed by a glass elevator, offering a cool view of the city, the harbor, and Table Mountain. Photo: The Pot Luck Club & Gallery

Villa 47 serves panini, pasta, risotto, and other traditional Italian dishes. Col’chacio (four locations in the city) is a family restaurant that has been serving some of Cape Town’s best pizza for 26 years.

Kanéla is a great place to have breakfast with a view of the Atlantic Ocean, followed by a stroll along the promenade. Tjing Tjing occupies a 200-year-old house in the heart of Cape Town and is one of the best Japanese restaurants in the city with an amazing rooftop bar. Test Kitchen is located in an old mill building. The chefs here combine South African and Latin American cuisines. Clarke’s is known for its hamburgers, but also offers vegetarian options.

Greenhouse in Constantia is housed in a historic building surrounded by an English-style garden. Here, chef Farrel Hirsch succeeds in creating exquisite combinations, such as cornbread paired with smoked snoek (bony wild fish) emulsion and apricot glaze. Apricot jam is a typically Malay accompaniment to snoek.

Greenhouse in Constantia occupies an ancient house surrounded by an English-style garden. Photo: The Cellars-Hohenort
Greenhouse in Constantia occupies an ancient house surrounded by an English-style garden. Photo: The Cellars-Hohenort

At Chef’s Warehouse, it’s essential to try the set menu of eight plates. The tapas dishes from the chef show a love for world travel and Asian street food. At Reverie Social Table, a five-course meal with wines costs 820 rand (39.70 euros). Guests are seated at a communal table, and the evening feels like a dinner party.

Cod Father is one of the main seafood experts in Cape Town. There’s no menu; instead, the staff talks about the catch of the day, thoroughly explaining how each dish is prepared and what it will taste like. At The Bungalow, you must try the delicious seafood, drink local wine, and enjoy the sunset. The high-cuisine restaurant Sevruga offers an incredible view of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.

Coffee

The city has many specialty coffee shops and roasters, so it’s no wonder locals are so particular about their coffee. Many coffee shops unusually close early — at 5–6 pm on weekdays and at 3 pm on weekends.

The roasting house and coffee shop Origin was opened by Canadian Joel Singer. Origin occupies a historic brick warehouse in the trendy De Waterkant area. Here, they prepare a minimum of eight different types of coffee and always have a seasonal blend available.

Origin occupies a historic brick warehouse in the trendy De Waterkant area. Photo: Origin
Origin occupies a historic brick warehouse in the trendy De Waterkant area. Photo: Origin

Also in De Waterkant is Loading Bay — a space featuring ethical and eco-oriented businesses. Among its tenants are a healthy eating cafe, a clothing store, and the Aēsop skincare shop. Nearby is the espresso bar Shift.

Heaven Coffee Shop is located in a cathedral in the city center. Dapper offers breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a space filled with classic cars. But it is primarily a coffee shop, though their kitchen is very cool too. Bootlegger has several locations throughout the city. Be careful: the kitchen in some of them operates all day, while others specialize only in breakfast and lunch.

On weekdays, Bean There is a favorite gathering spot for freelancers with laptops. The roastery cafe Espresso Lab is open from Monday to Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, but their beans can be tried in other establishments, as well as ordered for delivery. Jarryds specializes in dishes made from local products and Fair Trade coffee supplied by roasters from Espresso Lab.

On weekdays, freelancers with laptops love to gather at Bean There. Photo: Bean There
On weekdays, freelancers with laptops love to gather at Bean There. Photo: Bean There

Truth Coffee Roasting features a steampunk style with gilded industrial-chic interiors, a vintage roaster with copper dispensers, sensors, and hissing devices. The coffee shop is located in an old warehouse space. The coffee is hand-selected by Truth founder David Donde, and each blend is designed for a specific drink: an acidic blend for flat whites, a rich nutty one for Americanos. You can snack on rum baba, chocolate eclairs, and lemon meringue pie.

Rosetta Roastery offers three daily blends and two special cold brew blends, which pair excellently with baked goods from the nearby Jason bakery and the background melody of reggae. Honest Chocolate Cafe specializes in chocolate — here you’ll find excellent brownies, hot chocolate, and chocolate candies.

Safety

Cape Town is indeed not the safest city on the planet. In terms of murder rate, the city ranks 12th in the world — 63 per 100,000 people, compared to Moscow’s 4.2 per hundred thousand, and the city doesn’t even make the top 50. In terms of the overall level of crime in the world, Cape Town ranks 16th, with the nearest Russian city being Novosibirsk (154th). Overall, crime is directed and primarily affects local residents. Robberies, shootings, or attacks on tourists most often occur in troubled areas, not in the city center. The safety level in tourist areas has significantly increased after the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

But even in the city center, it’s important to remain vigilant: there are many homeless people and marginalized individuals on the streets. Therefore, it’s better to adhere to basic safety rules:

  • Do not leave valuables in the car, especially in plain sight.
  • Be cautious when withdrawing money from ATMs, especially at night. Prefer using ATMs inside bank branches.
  • Do not hail taxis on the street, but order through an app. Do not agree to a taxi driver’s suggestion to cancel the order and pay in cash.
  • Do not pay for accommodation by following external links or bank details sent by landlords – do everything only through the website itself.
  • Avoid walking in unsafe peripheral areas, and some roads should not even be traveled in the evening.

Avoid attracting unwanted attention by holding a phone, expensive items, or cash in hand. Unsafe areas of Cape Town:

  • Bishop Lavis – top for robberies.
  • Delft – where shootings often occur.
  • Gugulethu – high levels of crime related to drugs.
  • Hanover Park – near the city center.
  • Khayelitsha and Masiphumelele – among the largest townships (settlements with a black population).
  • Mitchells Plain – the largest area. Robberies, drugs, and violence.
  • Manenberg, Nyanga, Philippi – many murders and robberies.
  • Woodstock – the least dangerous on our list, but it’s still better to avoid unnecessary visits.
Bishop Lavis is one of the unsafe areas in Cape Town, ranking at the top for robberies. Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development / Wikimedia.org
Bishop Lavis is one of the unsafe areas in Cape Town, ranking at the top for robberies. Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development / Wikimedia.org

Where to Stay

Vacation

In Cape Town, there is a vast array of accommodation options: from budget hostels to luxurious five-star hotels. On the coast, you can find elite villas and expensive hotels with magnificent ocean views, such as Ellerman House. Also popular are the lively Sea Point area with its restaurants, shops, and waterfront access, and the affluent Camps Bay with its beach and tidal pools (it can be very windy here in summer).

In the city center, there are more business hotels, coworking spaces, and restaurants. In the quieter residential area of Gardens, there are boutique hotels and many Airbnb rental options. One of South Africa’s most famous and oldest hotels, The Mount Nelson, is located here. Woodstock is a hipster area with street art, craft beer bars, and the Old Biscuit Mill market.

The vicinity of False Bay will be comfortable for those who want to spend time on the water. You can stay in the small town of Kalk Bay or in the larger suburb of Simonstown, where the infrastructure is slightly better.

In the tranquil residential area of Gardens, there are boutique hotels and many Airbnb rental options. It is also home to one of South Africa's most famous and oldest hotels — The Mount Nelson
In the tranquil residential area of Gardens, there are boutique hotels and many Airbnb rental options. It is also home to one of South Africa’s most famous and oldest hotels — The Mount Nelson

Long-term Stay

If you plan to live in Cape Town for a few months, in addition to Airbnb and Facebook marketplace, accommodation can be rented through websites like property24.com and lekkeslaap.co.za. Apartments are often rented out completely unfurnished — not a suitable option for nomads.

Renting long-term can be quite challenging: it requires interviews, a lot of bureaucracy, and usually, there’s a queue of several people interested in good accommodation. One advantage is that you don’t have to pay realtors — the apartment owner pays the commission. This leads to a downside: most realtors are passive, and you need to remind them of yourself.

For instance, an apartment in the Sea Point area on the oceanfront off-season will cost around 1000 euros, while in the season, the price can increase significantly — about 4100 euros. Also, some budget hotels offer discounts for stays from one week to a month.

An apartment in the Sea Point area on the oceanfront off-season will cost around 1100 dollars, while in the season, it will be significantly more expensive — about 4500 dollars. Photo: Tim Johnson / Unsplash.com
An apartment in the Sea Point area on the oceanfront off-season will cost around 1000 euros, while in the season, it will be significantly more expensive — about 4100 euros. Photo: Tim Johnson / Unsplash.com

Transportation in the City

Bus. This is the main city transport. Specifically for tourists, there are buses from MyCiTiBus company. They travel to the airport and make scheduled stops in tourist areas. Another option is the city sightseeing bus. These buses also stop at popular tourist spots and are equipped with audio guides in 15 languages. The red line covers the northern part of Cape Town, while the blue line goes to Hout Bay in the south.

Specifically for tourists, there are MyCiTiBus company buses. They run to the airport and make scheduled stops in tourist areas. Photo: HelenOnline / Wikimedia.org
Specifically for tourists, there are MyCiTiBus company buses. They run to the airport and make scheduled stops in tourist areas. Photo: HelenOnline / Wikimedia.org

Trains. Many locals consider trains to be unsafe, so it’s better not to use them at night or when alone. The route from Muizenberg to Simonstown, taking almost 20 minutes along the ocean, is the most scenic. There are a total of five lines. PRASA trains depart from the airport railway station. Tickets can be purchased at stations or from Metrorail staff with portable machines.

Many locals consider trains to be unsafe, so it is better not to use them alone or at night. Photo: Nyasha Wisdom / Unsplash.com
Many locals consider trains to be unsafe, so it is better not to use them alone or at night. Photo: Nyasha Wisdom / Unsplash.com

Taxis. A taxi ride in the city starts from 50 rand (2.42 euros). From the airport to the city center, it costs about 200-300 rand (9.68 – 14.52 euros).

Car Rental. Cape Town is quite large, and considering that there is a lot to see outside the city limits, and it’s convenient to base yourself in the city, renting a car makes sense. In Cape Town, there are offices of most international companies: Avis, Europcar, Budget Car, and others. Street signs can be a bit confusing, but the city is very car-friendly: there are many parking spaces and not many traffic jams. Gas stations accept both cash and credit cards. You will also need change for toll roads.

We rented a car from Pacecar, which we found in a local Telegram chat, paying 3300 rand (159.76 euros) for a week. Also, many local offices rent scooters.

Traffic in Cape Town is left-handed. Rules and road signs generally conform to international standards. The maximum speed on highways is 120 km/h, in cities up to 80 km/h. Exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 kilometers results in license suspension. A smaller excess is fined 200–1600 rand (9.68 – 77.46 euros). Driving under the influence leads to imprisonment. Running a red light incurs a fine of at least 1000 rand (48.41 euros). International standard Russian driver’s licenses are valid.

Traffic in Cape Town is left-handed. Rules and road signs mostly conform to international standards. Photo: Leo Moko / Unsplash.com
Traffic in Cape Town is left-handed. Rules and road signs mostly conform to international standards. Photo: Leo Moko / Unsplash.com

Money

The currency in South Africa is the rand (ZAR). Currency can be exchanged at official exchange offices (e.g., in the shopping center in the Waterfront area) with a 2.5% commission, at cryptocurrency ATMs (e.g., Bitcoin ATM) with a 3% commission, at verified unofficial exchange offices (e.g., in Greenmarket or Gold Rush), or in Telegram chats. The exchange rate at the airport is not favorable.

Bank Account. Opening an account in a bank (e.g., FNB) for a non-resident, obtaining an unnamed card, and depositing money will take about an hour. This card can only be used for purchases within the country, on South African websites and apps, can be topped up at a bank counter with currency (rands, dollars, euros), and receive a SWIFT transfer via a mobile app to a local account. The account is valid as long as you are in the country, with a monthly account maintenance fee of 150 rand (7.26 euros).

Connectivity

Mobile internet is problematic: it’s patchy, expensive, and there are no unlimited plans. There are many coworking spaces, and some cafes also offer work-friendly environments. Hotel Wi-Fi is usually not very good, but rental apartments often have speeds suitable for work and video streaming.

At the airport, a Vodacom SIM card costs 100 rands (4.84 euros). In Vodacom’s city branches, it’s free. One gigabyte of data costs 150 rands (7.26 euros), plus 20 rands (0.97 euros) for calls and messages for 30 days. MTN offers a SIM card for 3.5 rands (0.17 euros) and 260 rands (12.59 euros) for two gigabytes of data, plus a bonus one gigabyte valid for a month. You can top up your balance at any kiosk, gas stations, Clicks pharmacy and cosmetic stores, and supermarkets like Pick&Pay, Checkers, and Spar.

How to get there

The main gateway to Cape Town is the Cape Town International Airport, which is well-connected to several European cities. From London, British Airways offers direct flights to Cape Town, providing a hassle-free journey with a flight time of approximately 11 hours. Similarly, Virgin Atlantic also operates direct flights from London, ensuring a comfortable and efficient travel experience. Travelers from Paris can board direct flights with Air France, known for its excellent service and comfort. The flight duration from Paris to Cape Town is roughly 12 hours, making it a relatively swift journey to the southern tip of Africa. Lufthansa is a preferred choice for those departing from Frankfurt, offering direct flights to Cape Town. These flights typically last about 11 to 12 hours, featuring Lufthansa’s renowned in-flight service and amenities. For those traveling from Amsterdam, KLM operates direct flights to Cape Town. The Dutch airline is known for its reliability and customer service, ensuring a pleasant journey of around 11 hours. In addition to these direct options, numerous airlines offer connecting flights with one or more stopovers in cities like Dubai, Doha, and Istanbul. Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Turkish Airlines are among the top choices for travelers who don’t mind a stopover, often providing competitive fares and a chance to experience their world-class transit hubs.

Bus service operates with all neighboring countries of South Africa. There are routes from Cape Town to Windhoek (Namibia), Johannesburg to Maputo (Mozambique), and between Pretoria, Durban, Port Elizabeth, and neighboring countries.

The main gateway to Cape Town is the Cape Town International Airport, which is well-connected to several European cities
The main gateway to Cape Town is the Cape Town International Airport, which is well-connected to several European cities

Visa

As of 2024, European citizens planning to visit Cape Town, South Africa, should be aware of the visa requirements that may apply. Generally, South Africa has a friendly visa policy towards many European countries, with several nations eligible for visa-free entry for short stays.

For tourists from countries like the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, among others, South Africa grants visa-free entry for stays of up to 90 days. This exemption is ideal for vacationers, business travelers, or those visiting friends and family. Travelers must have a passport valid for at least 30 days beyond their intended stay and at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps. Those who want to stay in the country for more than 90 days without any visa hassles can extend their visa through the VFS Global service. The extension cost is about 2000 rands (96.82 euros). It is advisable to obtain medical insurance or buy a policy to avoid large expenses for treatment in case of illness.

A certificate or vaccine for yellow fever is not required when entering South Africa from “clean” countries. However, if entering from countries where there is a risk of contracting yellow fever, vaccination is needed. The full list of such countries can be found on the WHO website.

Traveling with children. For minors, an individual passport is required. It is also necessary to present a translated and notarized birth certificate of the child in English and the consent of the other parent if the child is traveling with one of the parents.

When to Go

South Africa has a Mediterranean climate — a warm, dry summer from December to February (up to 35 degrees Celsius) and a cool, rainy winter from June to August (7–16 degrees Celsius). The central part of the country is characterized by temperature fluctuations, while the northwestern part experiences hot days, cold nights, and a lack of precipitation.

South Africa has a Mediterranean climate — a warm, dry summer from December to February and a cool, rainy winter from June to August. Photo: Arno Smit / Unsplash.com
South Africa has a Mediterranean climate — a warm, dry summer from December to February and a cool, rainy winter from June to August. Photo: Arno Smit / Unsplash.com

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