Cape Town

Cape Town and Table Mountain viewed from Bloubergstrand across Table Bay.

Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa and is the capital of the Western Cape Province, as well as being the legislative capital of South Africa (the Houses of Parliament are here). It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope, and is the most southern city in Africa. It is a stone's throw from South Africa's world-famous Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek.

Understand

Cape Town is also known as the Mother City in South Africa. It is also one of the most iconic cities in the world.

Geography

Cape Town seen from space: Most of the urban area visible in this NASA Astronaut photo is part of the greater Cape Town metropolitan area. Also visible are Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Fransch Hoek to the north east, and Rooi-els and Pringle Bay to the south east

The Cape Town metropolitan area covers a large area, from Durbanville and Somerset West in the east to Cape Point in the south and Atlantis in the north. The city centre is located in a relatively small area between Table Mountain and Table Bay.

History

Heart Transplant

The first human heart transplant was performed on the 3rd December 1967 by Dr. Christiaan Barnard at the Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town

For thousands of years, Cape Town was inhabited by the Strandloper (ancestors of Kalahari Bushmen). Cape Town's European history began in 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post there on behalf of the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company). The first European settlers were mainly Dutch, with some French Huguenots that had to flee from religious persecution in their home country. The first settlers soon explored the adjacent hinterland and founded the cities of Stellenbosch and Paarl in today's Cape Winelands. The Voortrekkers (Pioneers of European descent) started from here to explore and settle the rest of South Africa.

Today Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. It is a world-class cosmopolitan city with numerous sites of historical significance, and a lively night-life, as well as a large gay community.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 25 26 25 22 20 18 17 17 18 21 23 24
Nightly lows (°C) 15 15 14 12 10 9 9 8 9 11 13 14

Fire

During the dry summer months (even more so when there is strong wind) fire poses a serious threat to the flora and fauna of the region, especially the National Parks. The fynbos in particular can become very dry and burn easily. Over the last couple of years a number of fires have damaged the slopes of Table Mountain. Please take care not to be the cause of any runaway fire and report any fires that you might see to Table Mountain National Park Fire Management on +27 (0)21 689-7438 or +27 (0)21 957-4700 outside office hours.

Get in

By plane

Cape Town International Airport (CPT)

Central Terminal Building at Cape Town International Airport

  Cape Town International Airport,  +27 21 937-1200. Cape Town, International Port of Entry is the second largest airport in South Africa (the largest being the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg), located around 20 km east of the city centre of Cape Town. It can easily reached by all National Roads and situated directly at the N2 near Bellville.

The MyCiti rapid transit operates from 04:30 to 22:00 between the airport and the centre of Cape Town with connections to the Atlantic coastal suburbs and to the MetroRail commuter train service.

There are multiple direct flights daily to Johannesburg, Durban and all other major South African cities, as well as Windhoek and Walvis Bay in Namibia, and Gaborone and Maun in Botswana.

Local airlines include South African Airways, British Airways franchise Comair Airlink, South African express, and low-cost airlines Kulula.com and Mango FlySafair, Skywise airlines.

International Airlines operating routes to Cape Town include:

South African Airways no longer operates inter-continental routes direct from Cape Town International, only via OR Tambo in Johannesburg. Services from the United States also connect via OR Tambo in Johannesburg from/to New York City, Washington DC or Atlanta. In the summer, (October–March) several charter airlines operate direct flights from all over Europe to Cape Town. Spare seats are sold with substantial discounts but during Christmas time and New Year prices rise significantly.

The Antarctic Company operates 3-day excursions from Cape Town to Queen Maud Land in Antarctica.

Facilities
Sleep
Connect

See also Discount airlines in Africa for further information.

By train

The Muizenberg to Simon's Town Metrorail tracks run right along the ocean. Great views.

All scheduled South African passenger trains are run by PRASA (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), which has different divisions for long-distance (inter-city) trains and commuter (suburban) trains. Shosholoza Meyl operates inter-city trains and MetroRail operates commuter trains in major cities.

Shosholoza Meyl has three classes of inter-city trains: Economy Class, Tourist Class and Premier Classe. In economy class there are seats only (no bunk beds), tourist class provides bunk beds for overnight trips (bring a sleeping bed or buy bedding on the train) and premier classe is luxurious and comfortable, with all meals and bedding provided. Economy and tourist class trains have a buffet car for food. Prices on the three classes vary accordingly.

Cape Town's main train station is located in the city centre, on the corner of Adderley Street and Strand Street. All trains to or from Cape Town arrive and depart from here.

There are inter-city trains to

MetroRail has two classes on commuter trains in and around Cape Town: MetroPlus (also called First Class) and Metro (called Third Class). MetroPlus is more comfortable and less crowded but also more expensive. Every trainset has both MetroPlus and Metro coaches; the MetroPlus coaches are always on the end of the train nearest Cape Town. Prices are cheap so it is better to be more comfortable and use MetroPlus. Note that there are steep fines if you are caught in a MetroPlus coach with a Metro ticket (vice versa is allowed).

MetroRail commuter trains are a great way to get between Cape Town and neighbouring towns such as Stellenbosch, Strand, Paarl, Somerset West, Malmesbury, Worcester and through the Southern Suburbs (Claremont, Wynberg, Retreat) or to the beaches at Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Simon's Town. Contrary to many reports that you might read, MetroRail trains are safe, but it is probably wise to avoid avoid traveling at night if possible. If you need to use trains at night, use the most crowded first class (MetroPlus) car and don't stay alone.

The train line from Cape Town to Simon's Town is fabulous; from Muizenberg south to Simon's Town it runs right next to the sea. You can often see whales, and if it's windy you may have sea spray hitting the train windows. For the best views make sure you sit on the east side of the train (the left side as you face away from Cape Town and towards Simon's Town). This route previously boasted a moving restaurant coach (called Biggsy's) that did the return trip from Cape Town to Simon's Town between 2 and 4 times a day, every day except Monday. However, Biggsy's restaurant car was withdrawn from service on July 2007 for renovations and by June 2009 had not yet been re-introduced. You can buy a Tourist "hop on, hop off" ticket for the Cape Town-Simon's Town route that allows you to get off and on any train for the entire day.

Trains to Stellenbosch run every two hours (more or less), but this journey might take a while. Ask at the ticket counter if there is an earlier train you could use, as there are also trains to Stellenbosch starting in Bellville and Eerste River.

By car

The vast majority of roads in and around Cape Town are in a very good condition, making travelling by car an easy issue. However, please be aware of hijackers at night or at traffic lights. The danger is not as high as often emphasized by the media, but a good portion of precaution should be taken. Please ask your hotel staff or anyone familiar with the area about where it is safe and where it is not safe.

Several major highways start in Cape Town:

Hiring a car in South Africa is not as expensive as in Europe or many other countries. Petrol is also cheap compared to Europe but a bit more expensive than in the United States. The locals will tell you that the Cape Town drivers are the most courteous drivers in South Africa (except the mini bus taxi drivers who are unpredictable) and generally drive slower in comparison with other cities.

By bus

All major bus companies have Intercity connections from Cape Town, taking you to other cities in South Africa and to Namibia and Zimbabwe. There might be up to 6 buses a day to certain cities.

International bus lines

Baileys Reo Liner has a bus from Capetown to Namibia 3 times a week on wed/fri/Sun the fare is from R 500. Munenzwal Luxury Coaches and Chihwa bus lines have buses from Capetown to Zimbabwe 3 times a week. with fares from R 1000.

The starting point for the buses is the Bus station next to the main train station near the Golden Acre building.


low cost bus lines


Bus tickets can also be obtained from Computicket .

Cape Town is also on the Baz Bus route. the cost of the Baz bus from Capetown to Johannesburg is R4900. Capetown to Port Elizabeth is R2100.

By boat

Most of the larger cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises offer Cape Town as one of their destinations, but you can also try something different:

Get around

Map of Cape Town City Bowl and adjacent suburbs

By foot

Unless you are staying within walking distance of the beach in Camps Bay (or some other area where everything you want is close by) then you will find it very frustrating not to have your own transport. Even short distance walks (like from V&A Harbour to the Castle of Good Hope) are problematic by foot, in a city with dividing motorways, and little or no signage or facilities for pedestrians away from the shopping precincts.

By car

There are numerous car rental companies located at the airport and throughout town. Remember that you drive on the left here which may take some getting used to if you've never done it. It may be difficult to come by an automatic transmission at the rental company so reserve your car ahead of time if an automatic is what you prefer.

Contrary to what has been published elsewhere and in some guidebooks, all fuel stations accept international credit/debit cards using chip and PIN - US and other card holders not yet converted to chip cards may find their cards not accepted.

When you need to refuel your car you need to let the station attendants do it for you. You can just stay in your car and they will ask you which fuel type and how much you want to put in - they will probably also wash your windscreen for you whether it needs it or not - their expectation is a small tip (a rand or two apiece seems to suffice = about 10p British or about a quarter American) so it is advisable to collect some of the low denomination coins you will get elsewhere in your change.

Fuel is astonishingly cheap compared to European prices.

Cape Town also has a number of luxury chauffeur companies available that perform various services such as airport transfers, transport to corporate events as well as VIP bodyguards.

By metered taxi

Metered taxis are controlled by the city council and can be considered safe and reliable. The price per kilometer is around R8-R10 and can often be read at the taxis side door. You can also set a fixed price with the driver, especially when going to a far away destination such as the airport which is about 21 km from city center and the fare can be bargained down to R180.

Please note that there is only one official taxi company at the airport: Touchdown Taxis and to avoid the touts walk through the terminal until you find their specific desk. You can also ask your hotel to pick you up, as pick up service are provided by many hotels, guest houses and so on.

Elsewhere look for the specific taxi ranks which usually have a marshall who will ask where you want to go and then instruct one of the taxis for you - always ask up front how much and they will either indicate that it is on the meter or advise a fixed amount on which you can haggle. Compared with European and American prices they are cheap even if you also include a tip.

By minibus taxi

Minibus taxis are used widely by locals but tourists are usually discouraged from using them, except for the Green Point - Sea Point - Clifton - Camps Bay route that is frequently used by tourists. They cover most of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area and are very cheap, however they can get very crowded and are definitely less safe than metered taxis due to their dangerous driver behavior.

Some minibus taxi operators have seen the value in the tourist market and are starting to provide safe and legal alternatives to the traditional minibus taxis. They are more expensive than the traditional minibus taxis, but still far cheaper than metered taxis. No guarantee you'll get to your destination directly, but it is safe, fun, and all the drivers are characters. You may even meet supermodels going to their photo shoots or artists going to their studios. During busy times of day (or year) you may have to wait a while and unfortunately, they do not take reservations.

By bus

Recently a brand new, international standard rapid transit service has started in Cape Town, known as MyCiTi, that runs from Cape Town Airport to the Cape Town CBD (City Bowl) and the Atlantic coastal suburbs.

By scooter or cycle

You can also hire a scooter or a small motorbike. A number of places in the city offer this service and it is a great way to be mobile and save over hiring a car; however, unless you love the pain of cycling up and down mountains while dodging city traffic on narrow streets, cycling for transportation is not recommended.

By train

There is a system of public train transport, although it is mainly used by locals. Operator Metrorail has done a lot to increase safety and comfort on board the trains, but they still do not live up to European standards. So make sure to buy a first-class ticket. Cape Town station is situated in the city centre on the corner of Adderley Street and Strand Street and there is a reasonable suburban network of lines with more than 80 stations. A nice scenic ride can be done south to Simon's Town, all along the east coast of the Cape Peninsula. Stick to the Simon's Town line and make sure you are not on the train after 6:30PM or when it is dark.

Make sure you do not carry anything expensive on the train as this is an invitation to thieves. If you must carry a camera, make sure it is well out of sight (preferably a small wallet sized camera). Ear rings, necklaces and any form of visible jewellery are not recommended as these can be ripped (rather painfully) from one's person by an enterprising thief. Keep your wits about you and it will make for a pleasant and safe journey.

See

Colourful houses at Bo-Kaap
The Castle of Good Hope
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Robben Island prison museum
Atlas Trading is an old fashioned shop where you can buy spices for any dish. Ask the proprieter to mix you the necessary spices for the meal you intend on making.
Approximately 1km from the Bo-Kaap, is the Noon Gun which is fired every day at noon - from Monday to Saturday. You can go and view the short ceremony that takes place before the actual shooting, as well as the shooting itself.
Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 11AM, 12PM, and 2PM.
Horse and carriage rides are offered daily at 10:30AM, 12:45PM and 2:45PM. Booking is necessary. R30 entrance fee.
What makes the garden so special, is that every season gives you something new to see - new flowers, different birds, etc.
During the summer months, sunset concerts feature excellent local and international music acts in diverse genres. Get there early to get a good spot on the grass amphitheatre. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, local rock bands, and popular artists like Freshlyground and Goldfish. R50.
An aerial video of Rhodes Memorial in 2015.

Museums and Galleries

Cape-Dutch architecture at Groot Constantia
Jane Alexander Butcher Boys at the South African National Gallery

Performing arts

Do

V&A Waterfront
West coast of the Cape Peninsula.

Almost everything is possible in Cape Town, from a nice guided city tour through an adrenaline kick in an old fighter jet. The easiest way to get an overview on things to do, nice restaurants, clubs, tours etc. is to walk into one of the visitors centres which are in several areas. (V&A Waterfront, City Bowl, Green Point etc.).

An aerial view of Clifton beach.

Wine Tasting

Cape Town has some of the worlds best wine producing vineyards and arguably the worlds most scenically stunning on its doorstep. The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all with in an easy hours drive, these historic and lush regions offer stunning views and world class wine tastings. You can self-drive but this come with limitations, often the best farms are closed to the public and then there is the drinking and driving issue. The best value and safest way to see the winelands is to trust your day to a dedicated wine tour company.

Deep Sea Fishing

Shark cage diving

Diving

On the way to a dive off Cape Town
The sharks at the Two Oceans Aquarium are fed every Sunday, so visitors who take advantage of the opportunity to dive with them can do so in relative safety.

Cape Town is located near two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Because of the Benguela Current the Atlantic Ocean is relatively cold (about 8°C to 14°C). The Indian Ocean is warmer (12°C to 17°C), and here you can see the more colourful fish. The official border between the two oceans is at Cape Agulhas, but currents and eddies take the warmer water further west and these waters can reach the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula in False Bay, so from a diving point of view, the Cape Peninsula may be considered the interface between the two marine biological regions, and there is a notable difference in character between the waters of the two coasts of the peninsula. This manifests itself in the different range of marine life found on the two coasts. These regions are the South Western Cape inshore bioregion and the Agulhas inshore bioregion.

Permits:

The waters around the Cape Peninsula have been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Permits are required to Scuba dive in any Marine Protected Area. This is a politically controversial issue due to disputes on whether due process was followed and whether the government department exceeded its authority, but the consequence is that a tax is imposed on all Scuba divers who dive in an MPA. The permit (valid for 1 year) may be purchased for R75 (2009) at a some branches of the Post Office, or a temporary permit valid for 1 month may be purchased at most dive shops. Failure to present this permit when requested by an official of MCM may lead to harassment and possible arrest.

Dive Sites:

Detailed information and suggestions on local conditions, service providers and more than 100 local dive sites is provided in the guide to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay.

If the open ocean does not appeal to you, the Two Oceans Aquarium also offer diving opportunities in their 2.2 million liter tank.

Events

There are many organized events in Cape Town throughout the year. An official calendar of events is available from Cape Town Tourism.

Safari

Big Five Cape Town safaris are becoming increasingly popular. There are numerous safari game reserves with in 2 hours drive from Cape Town which is a great option if you don’t want to venture too far from the city.

Hiking

There are many hiking trails in and around the city, from short walks to multi day hikes.

In the air

Kayaking

Sunset cruises

Townships tours

The townships are the places where people were forced to live (based on race) under the apartheid regime. To some extent townships continue to retain their apartheid-era racial make-up, for a variety of reasons. Townships have also grown to cover far larger areas of land than in the apartheid days. This is a result of urbanization, especially over the past 10–15 years. Touring a township may seem strange, even inappropriate, but it is a good way to learn about South Africa's history, and the poverty that many people continue to live in. People in the townships are friendly and the children love visitors. Some townships however can be dangerous (see the warning on the South Africa page) so don't go alone unless you know what you're doing. The townships tours are safe. If you want to bring sweets or gifts for the children, it is best not to give it directly to them, but to give it to the tour guide who will distribute them later.

Tours can be booked directly or through one of Cape Town's many booking agencies. Tours run once or twice per day. Be aware that if you're given the chance to try some township food, that a 'walkie-talkie' is often made from the feet and beaks of poultry. The very best way to see a township is by foot and to stay overnight at one of the many township B&Bs.

There are several tour companies which offer tours.

Wildlife

There are a number of small nature reserves in and around Cape Town.

Wine tours

With South African wines becoming more and more popular worldwide, the number of tourists who visit Cape Town to learn more about the local wines is growing. The impressive variety of vineyards in Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands make the choice which one to visit and which wine to taste very difficult. It is always a good idea to rely on one of the established wine tour operators. Guests should insist on a specialised guide with a thorough knowledge of South African wines.

Whale watching

Mostly you will see Southern right whales, but on occasion you might also spot humpback and killer whales. Bottlenose and dusky dolphins also frequent False Bay. The Southern Right wales visit each year between June & November to mate and calve.

From viewpoints next to the coastal road between Fishhoek- Sunny Cove railway station through Glen Cairn to Simon's Town one can often spot whales less than 100m from shore. At Cape Point whales can often be seen passing below.

A number of operators also offer Whale Watching Cruises.

Learn

Cape Town's medical research is world-renowned, and Groote Schuur hospital is where Christiaan Barnard and Hamilton Naki performed the world's first heart transplant.

Schools

There are several language schools in the greater Cape Town area. Schools provide a very rigorous schedule of intense study (typically 20 lessons per week or more). Shop around before you make your choice. Choose a school which is part of accreditation associations like IALC (International Association of Language Centres) or other certificate that ensure quality.

Universities

Other nearby universities.

Learn to sail

Cape Town is an excellent place to learn to sail, with courses completed here recognized internationally and costs far lower than what you can expect to pay in more developed countries.

Learn to dance

Cape Town is a hub for all forms of dancing, from African dance to ballroom & Latin American to modern dancing, ballet and swing. There is a school of dance at the University of Cape Town, where you can obtain an international dance qualification at a relatively affordable price.

Work

There are various volunteering opportunities in Cape Town.

Buy

V&A Waterfront.

The V&A Waterfront is the prime tourist destination for souvenirs, though these tend to be typically touristy (i.e. expensive and not necessarily authentic). More authentic curios for better prices can be found every Sunday at the Green Point market outside the Green Point Stadium on Sundays, in walking distance from the V & A Waterfront. Many of these same curios can be purchased during the week in the several multi-story shops at the lower end of Long Street. For the real deal with authentic artifacts complete with provenance and ethnographic background, go to Church Street where there are a couple of shops but be prepared for sticker shock. When buying African Curio, the price at open markets are almost always very negotiable and seldom does the item have a price sticker attached. People with foreign accents are often quoted twice to three times the price they sell to locals, so do negotiate.

Cinema

Wine

If you like South African wine, buy it here (or anywhere in South Africa) before you leave, because it is much cheaper and there is more availability than overseas. Top guide to wines is the John Platter's Guide, with a few others around too, and with thousands of wines available from the region, you will need a guide (see below for shops that have knowledgeable staff). Read Wine magazine (or the iconoclastic Grape) for the latest information.

Arts and Crafts

Distinctively Capetonian in character—are everywhere, from chickens made of plastic bags to bead and wire work to pottery, glass and embroidery. If you don't buy a chicken from a Rastafarian at a street corner (the authentic experience—about 30 rand depending on the size), then try Heartworks (Kloof Street or in Gardens Centre mall) or the Red Shed at the V & A Waterfront. There is also a high-end craft boutique in the Cape Quarter in De Waterkant.

Contemporary South African art has been riding a big wave in the international art world. It is on par with the best in the world and undervalued (unless you buy a William Kentridge). If you like real art as opposed to curios, crafts or posters, and you have the budget for it, there are several serious galleries in town. Try Michael Stevenson Gallery first, then Joao Ferreira Gallery, AVA Gallery or Bell-Roberts Gallery, and there are several others worth seeing. Art South Africa is the art magazine to read if you want to know about the artists, and the adverts list the shows and the galleries.

Shopping malls

As in any large city you will find a number of major shopping malls with the requisite department sized stores and chain labels:

Supermarkets

Eat

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under R60
Mid-range R60 to R120
Splurge Over R120
View over Greenpoint from the Revolving Restaurant in the Ritz Hotel.

Food in Cape Town is generally of high quality. The wines are much celebrated, but the surrounding region is also a major fruit producer, and the Karoo lamb is widely regarded. Seafood caught locally is superlative, but ironically much of it goes internationally (e.g., tuna for sushi) because of the prices that can be achieved. Ask about the local linefish—yellowtail, cape salmon, kingklip, kabeljou and others are great eating. Oysters in season are also exceptional, farmed and wild from Knysna or wild flown in from Namibia.

As one of the main tourist spots is the V&A Waterfront, you will find a broad range of restaurants, but they are often crowded and expensive. The area around Kloof St has many cafés and restaurants, as well as Long Street (frequented by a multi-ethnic clientèle), while the trendy area of De Waterkant between Bo Kaap and Green Point above Somerset Road also boasts good food and a great vibe. Dine with supermodels and other beautiful people in Camps Bay, which has many hip eateries and nightspots overlooking the beach along Victoria Road.

Farther afield, Hout Bay on the west side of the Cape Peninsula is very good for fresh crayfish (lobsters - they have become quite expensive, around R300, though). Kalk Bay on the east side of the peninsula offers a big variety of fresh fish, do check out The Brass Bell. The restaurants in nearby Simon's Town are also good.

Do not neglect the Cape Winelands for food if you have a car. In Stellenbosch, Spier has several restaurants, including the fun, afro-chic Moyo, and many wine estates offer food of different types and quality. The village of Franschhoek is the culinary navel of the wine region, with Le Quartier Francais a perennial five-star winner, but only one of many excellent restaurants. In the Constantia Valley there are number of great restaurants including Pastis Brasserie, Wasabi, The River Cafe, La Colombe and the Constantia Uitsig Restaurant.

NB: Make sure you know what the price is before you order rare delicacies in restaurants as there have been a few rare but high-profile cases of heinous overcharging where the price is not on the menu, particularly for perlemoen (abalone) and crayfish (similar to lobster).

Budget

(served with toasted white or whole wheat bread) 1 Egg, rasher bacon, sausage, fried tomato and sauté mushrooms.

Mid-range

Splurge

Drink

Long Street, which can be easily reached from St. George's Cathedral and the Greenmarket Square, is famous for its bars, restaurants and clubs. This is the ideal place if you want to end the day with a drink. It is also one of the few truly multi-ethnic, multi-racial nightspots in the city. See the new South Africa, not just other tourists.

You will have live entertainment (normally something like jazz or kwaito music) in many bars and sometimes you will have to pay to get in.

Observatory or better known as Obz is just north of Rondebosch (Southern Suburbs). There are several student residences of the UCT and Obz main street (Lower Main Road) has a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, bar, pool halls and pubs. Almost daily there is something going on.

A popular destination with locals is Camps Bay, which offers a vibrant night-life and many bars, restaurants and clubs.

Clubs

Sleep

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R200
Mid-range R200 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000

Accommodation in Cape Town ranges from hostels (of which there are many) to luxury accommodation. Actually, there are so many hotels, B&Bs and guest houses that it can be difficult to decide where to stay!

Staying in city centre can often work out cheaper as obviously all the attractions are to hand, but stick to one of the neighbourhoods next to the central area for better prices and a quieter nights sleep. The area around vibey Kloof Street in Gardens/Tamboerskloof with its young cafe culture and hip shopping is a good choice. You could consider sleeping in one of the suburbs. It is normally quieter and there is less traffic than in Central Cape Town. The suburbs in the south, like Muizenberg, Fish Hoek or Simon's Town, or near the winelands (see Cape Winelands)are ones to try. Areas along the western seaboard of the peninsula (such as Camps Bay) will be more expensive.

Budget dorm beds under R 200

Mid-range

Splurge

Township

Connect

Telephone

If you have a cell phone get one of the cheap prepaid sim cards from either Vodacom, MTN, Cell C or Virgin Mobile and save money on local calls.

Calling Home

Overseas calls at local rates via the Celldial service. Call 087 940 6966 and follow the voice prompts. See www.celldial.co.za for supported countries.

Internet

Internet is available throughout Cape Town and the inner city cafes always a hub of activity. Charges per hour ranges from R5 (in town) to R50 (V&A waterfront)

Other internet cafes can be found all over the city and suburbs, with many coffee shops offering internet access.

WiFi

Many Guesthouses in Cape Town provide WiFi free for their guests.

Always-On, +27 (0)11 575-2505, provides prepaid wifi access in a number of locations in Cape Town. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. Pricing starts at around R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

Coverage areas include:

Cafe Neo, located opposite the lighthouse in Mouille Point, offers an open hotspot in addition to their excellent Greek food.

Stay safe

Although Cape Town has its share of violent crime, you are safe if you keep your wits about you as you should in every large city around the world. As a visitor, you are less likely to encounter problems while visiting the townships if you are escorted by a township residentthough you should not really venture into the townships without a fairly large group of accompaniment. Official township tours are your safest bet; revealing a very interesting lifestyle to the more curious tourists. The CBD (Central Business District) has been cleaned up over the years, but some con men and cholos do still exist, although during daylight police make themselves known. Simply put, leave everything you valueespecially your papers and ticketsin your hotel room safe if you plan to stroll through Cape Town.

Foreigners should avoid hitchhiking or using local commuter and metro trains. Be aware of automated teller machine (ATM) con artists. Under no circumstances allow a stranger to assist you in your transactions. Should your card become stuck in the ATM, call the helpline number on display at the teller machine for assistance and to cancel your card.

During day time it is quite safe to walk around the city center. People and beggars are in general quite respectful and accept a "no". During the evening it is worth taking a taxi to and from your destination, rather than walking. Make sure you take a taxi card with you, so that you can have the driver meet you outside the bar or restaurant.

Watch out for the mini bus taxis. They often drive like hell disobeying many traffic rules. Watch out for pickpocketing.

At night, make sure you stay on well-lit and crowded streets. Crime is especially high in Salt River, Observatory, Mowbray, and the Cape Flats.

Glue sniffing children and junkies are a minor problem, called 'strollers' by the locals: these ragamuffins will strip you bare if you do not stay alert.

While driving in a car be more aware of people approaching the car at traffic lights for smash-and-grab theft. So don't leave valuables on the seats or your lap.

If you go to the mountains, go in a group of at least 4 people.

You should try not to appear to be a tourist, and you will not be targeted. Targeted tourists are generally spotted wearing cameras, shorts, jewellery and golf hatstry not to do this. Do what you can to blend in, and if anything happensdo not try to be a hero: rather, give them what they want

Important telephone numbers

From a fixed line

Cope

Embassies and Consulates

Go next

Cape Town is positively located for many day or two day trips, offering a variety in landscapes and cultures. Choose self-drive or guided tours.

Cape Peninsula

The Boulders penguin colony.

Along the south coast

Bontebok, seen in De Hoop.

Garden Route and further on

Up north

Go up north along the West Coast to Saldanha Bay and all the other hidden spots. Further on are Namaqualand and finally Namibia.

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