Cape Town

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Western Cape Cape Town



Bo Kaap Neighbourhood, Cape Town

Bo Kaap Neighbourhood, Cape Town

© Utrecht

Cape Town is the second largest and southernmost city in South Africa and capital of the Western Cape province. It is also arguably one of the most beautiful cities in world. With the Table Mountain providing a backdrop to the city and mountains, beaches and wineries lining the landscape, it's not hard to understand why Capetonians are so proud of their home. And it's not just the scenery which has made Cape Town such a popular travel destination in recent years. The friendliness and diversity of the Capetonians themselves accounts for much of the attraction of the city. A former major trading port, Cape Town has become a cultural melting pot of British, Dutch, French & German settlers and the local Khoisan and Bantu tribes. As home to the World Cup in soccer in 2010, Cape Town has become even more popular as a destination during recent years.




Cape Town can roughly be divided into 8 main areas, with dozens of separate neighbourhoods. The main ones include:

City BowlCBD, Harbour, Company's Garden, De Waterkant, Devil's Peak, District Six, Zonnebloem, Gardens, Bo-Kaap, Higgovale, Oranjezicht, Schotsche Kloof, Tamboerskloof, University Estate, Vredehoek, Walmer Estate, Woodstock
Northern SuburbsBellville, Bothasig, Brooklyn, Burgundy Estate, Durbanville, Edgemead, Elsie's River, Facreton, Goodwood, Kensington, Maitland, Monte Vista, Panorama, Parow, Richwood, Thornton, Table View, Welgemoed
Eastern SuburbsFairdale, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein, Kuils River, Blue Downs, Belhar, Protea Hoogte
Atlantic SeaboardBantry Bay, Camps Bay, Clifton, Fresnaye, Green Point, Hout Bay, Llandudno, Mouille Point, Sea Point, Three Anchor Bay
Southern SuburbsRondebosch, Claremont, Plumstead, Ottery, Pinelands, Wynberg, Newlands, Bergvliet, Constantia, Bishopscourt, Observatory
South PeninsulaCapri Village, Clovelly, Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Masiphumelele, Muizenberg, Noordhoek, Ocean View, Scarborough, Simon's Town, St James, Sunnydale, Sun Valley
Cape FlatsAthlone, Belhar, Bontehuewel, Manenburg, Heideveld, Hanover Park, Mitchell's Plain, Lavender Hill, Vrygrond, Capricorn
Overcome Heights, Sea Winds, Retreat, Grassy Park
West CoastBloubergstrand, Milnerton, Tableview, West Beach, Atlantis, Melkbosstrand, Big Bay, Sunset Beach, Sunningdale, Parklands



Sights and Activities

Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island where he spent 17 years.

Nelson Mandela's cell on Robben Island where he spent 17 years.

© Yacca

Boulders Beach

Boulders Beach is a sheltered sandy beach with large granite boulders that forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. The real pulling point however is the population of penguins that wander the beach and paths. The sea is a bit cool even in summer, but it's worth donning some goggles and jumping in for the opportunity of seeing these graceful swimmers in their natural environment. Access to Boulders Beach is from the town of Simon's Town, about one hour south of Cape Town and costs R45 (price November 2011) per adult. Swimming is an extra R45. The swimming is on Boulders Beach, but the boardwalks leading to most of the penguins is actually on Foxy Beach.

Chapman's Peak Drive

The Chapman's Peak Drive is amongst the most beautiful coastal drives anywhere in the world and certainly can compete with Big Sur in California and the Great Ocean Road in Australia.

Chapman's Peak Drive

Chapman's Peak Drive

© soupatrvlr

The Chapman's Peak Drive itself is just about 9 kilometres long and is located southwest of Cape Town. It connects the two coastal communities of Hout Bay and Noordhoek. It is part of a much longer and impressive route that winds its way down from Cape Town past the suburbs of Sea Point and Fresnaye to the popular beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay and further down to Llandudno and into Hout Bay. From there the most spectactular part is a 2-3-kilometre-long part past rocky cliffs and beautiful ocean vistas. The road was closed from 1999 to 2003 after a deadly accident and other serious problems. Even nowadays, sometimes the road can be closed, which is signposted well before the drive actually starts and there is an inland detour if you want to avoid paying R31 (about €3 or US$4), which you would spend on fuel instead. The Chapman's Peak Drive is along the M6 which, after Noordhoek, traverses the Cape Peninsula to connect with the M4 south to Simon's Town and the Cape of Good Hope National Park.

District Six Museum

The District Six Museum, 25A Buitenkant Street, handles the history of District Six, an area near the centre of Cape Town. This famous area remained a multiracial neighbourhood into the 1960s against all attempts by the government to declare it a "white only" area.

District Six Map

District Six Map

© flame1985

Eventually the buildings were demolished and residents replaced and as up to today, District Six is uninhabited. The museum showcases information about the area and the people who used to live there and the director of the museum is a former resident. There is a small bookstore with an excellent selection of books on South Africa's history, District Six and apartheid (the term to describe the white-black discrimination policy used in the country up until the early 1990s).

Green Point Market

Green Point Market takes place every Sunday. It's a giant open flea market adjacent to the Green Point Stadium. There are numerous stalls selling everything from African jewelry, musical instruments, pottery, sculptures, and some great homemade gadgets, made by the creative whizzes from the local townships. The Market is a great place to pick up some serious bargains, but please do respect that many of the traders derive their income solely from the market. The Green Point Market is accessible by taxi and bus, (destination- Sea Point) and is also accessible by foot from the V&A Waterfront.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town

© Utrecht

The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the world and covers a large area southeast of Cape Town, at the back of the Table Mountain. The well-kept gardens will easily occupy half a day, especially if you stay for lunch or a drink as well. The gardens open at 8:00am and are open to around 6:00pm or 7:00pm depending on the season and the entry fee is R40 per person. The gardens can be reached by driving down the M63, which connects Hout Bay with the southeastern suburbs of Cape Town.

Noon Gun

If you're around for more than a couple of days, you're bound to notice the cannon fired at noon. The Noon Gun, as it is called, can be accessed via several routes on Table Mountain, or simply by following the road up from the Muslim Section of the City. The Cannon Battery itself is an emplacement set up by the South African Navy, after the signal cannons upset nearby people at the time, so it was moved to its current location. Well worth the hike, it affords not only excellent views of the cannon's firing, but also of the city of Cape Town itself. However, make sure you take plenty of water with you, as it gets very hot. And above all, remember not to take the hike on a Sunday. Many visitors are sorely disappointed when at the end of the hike they realise that the cannons don't fire on Sundays.

Robben Island

Robben Island, located just off the coast from Cape Town, is famous for being where Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners were held during the apartheid period. Some of the tour guides were themselves political prisoners so they have plenty of insight about what went on there. Tours run several times a day, every day, from the Nelson Mandela Gateway at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront (+27 (0)21 413-4200). Tickets can be purchased online as well at the above website. Trips leave at 9:00am, 11:00am and 1:00pm and tours take 3.5 hours including the ferry ride to and from the island. The cost is a rather steep R220.

Table Mountain

Providing a stunning flat-topped backdrop to the city, Table Mountain is a 1,000-metre high plateau surrounded by steep cliffs and flanked by Lion's Head to the west and Devil's Peak to the east. The summit can be accessed either via a cable car (cost: R195 return, November 2011), or a two-hour hike for the more adventurous, and offers unparalleled views of the city and the coastline. Visitors are advised to only attempt it on a clear day however, as the mountain is often covered by a 'table cloth' of cloud. Also, the cable car will not go when it's windy, which it often is as well. You are advised to buy your ticket beforehand or online, as the waiting lines on a good day can be hours! The main vegetation is the unique Cape fynbos, with an estimated 2,200 species of plants on the mountain alone. If you have the extra cash, an abseil off of the side of the mountain offers fantastic views and palpitation! The 112-metre descent is one of the highest single drops in the world.

Two Oceans Aquarium

The Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town is so called due to the two oceans - the Atlantic and the Indian - meeting at the southern most tip of Southern Africa. This attraction has an exciting Predator Exhibit with ragged-tooth sharks, rays and loggerhead turtles. The aquarium also showcases over three thousand sea creatures such as giant spider crabs and crayfish, eels, jelly fish, penguins, an interesting frog display and many different fish. If you’ve got young children, The Two Oceans Aquarium is a great place for them to learn about the environment and all of the above-mentioned animals. There is a big, basement play area and a ‘touch and feel’ display where you can handle starfish, sea urchins, seaweed and sea sponges.

Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is located on the northern side of Cape Town and is both the harbour of Cape Town as well as a touristic place to wander around, do some shopping and visit restaurants and bars. It feels a bit crowded sometimes, especially on weekends, but it's a nice place to spend an afternoon or so. There is plenty of parking near the V&A Waterfront, or take one of the tour buses or taxis to get there. It's best not to walk between the City Bowl and the Waterfront when it's dark.



Events and Festivals

World Cup 2010

The big international event for South Africa was the FIFA World Cup on the 11th of June 2010. One of the most prestigious and popular world sporting events, the World Cup 2010 promised to bring throngs of passionate supporters from around the globe. Held once every four years, it's a football tournament (called soccer in South Africa) where 32 world nations vied for the famous golden trophy.

Games in Cape Town were played at the new Green Point Stadium, which has a capacity of almost 70,000

Cape Town Minstrel Carnival

The Kaapse Klopse or the Minstrel Carnival is an annual festival held in Cape Town. It begins on New Years Day and continues into January as thousands of people take to the streets dressed as minstrels in bright colours, spinning umbrellas and playing instruments.

Cape Town International Jazz Festival

Despite the fact that first one was held as recently as 2001, the Jazz festival has rapidly gained status with recent performers including Courtney Pine, Herbie Hancock and Youssou N'Dour.

Cape Argus Pick 'n Pay Cycle Tour

A huge event in the city, this annual 109km race follows the coastline along False Bay and then on the Atlantic Seaboard. Held in March, 30000 participants were expected in the 2009 event.

Cape Town International Comedy Festival

Held in September, it is supposedly Africa's largest comedy festival. Bringing in comedians from around the world, shows are held at different locations around the city and include street performers and more risque comedy in the Danger Zone.




The busiest time to visit Cape Town is during December and January when the local schools have their holidays and there is also a large number of tourists. This is the middle of Cape Towns summer period which ranges from the end of October to March. Average maximum temperatures range between 24 and 27 °C during this time, with nights around 14-16 °C. The winter months of June through August can be quite cold and wet, but spring and autumn are both lovely times to visit the city. Average highs during winter are still an acceptable 18 °C while nights are mostly around 8 °C.

Avg Max26.1 °C26.5 °C25.4 °C23 °C20.3 °C18.1 °C17.5 °C17.8 °C19.2 °C21.3 °C23.5 °C24.9 °C
Avg Min15.7 °C15.6 °C14.2 °C11.9 °C9.4 °C7.8 °C7 °C7.5 °C8.7 °C10.6 °C13.2 °C14.9 °C
Rainfall15 mm17 mm20 mm41 mm69 mm93 mm82 mm77 mm40 mm30 mm14 mm17 mm
Rain Days5.



Getting There

By Plane

Cape Town International Airport (CPT) about 20 kilometres from the city has recently been renovated and is a good entry point to South Africa, along with Johannesburg OR Tambo International Airport.
South African Express flies between Cape Town and Walvisbaai and Windhoek in Namibia, Gaborone in Botswana and Maputo in Mozambique. KLM flies between Amsterdam and Cape Town directly. Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines fly from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to Cape Town as well. The latter has flights onwards to Buenos Aires. Cape Town has flights to Istanbul, Düsseldorf and Munich and from June 2008 to New York as well and several African cities, mainly in the south of the continent.
South African Airways, Sout African Airlink, and Mango all fly to and from Cape Town from a number of South African cities as well, including Bloemfontein, Durban, Port Elizabeth, George and Johannesburg.

To/from the airport

  • Car: The airport is accessible from the N2 freeway, with Airport Approach Road providing a direct link between the N2 (at exit 16) and the airport. The airport can also be indirectly accessed from the R300 freeway via the M12, M10 and M22. The airport has about 1,500 parking places in the general parking area, and 1,750 parking places in the multi-storey parkade located near the domestic terminal. Rental cars are widely available at the airport, with both international and local agencies.
  • Bus: The MyCiTi bus rapid transit system provides a shuttle service connecting the airport with the Civic Centre bus station in the city centre. Buses depart every 20 minutes from 04:20am to 10:00pm.
  • Transport is also provided by metered taxis and various private shuttle companies.

By Train

Shosholoza Meyl is the national railway, with services between Cape Town and several major South African cities. Most of the connections are budget, but there is a Premier Class train between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
The main routes are:

  • Cape Town - Durban via Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Kroonstad and Ladysmith, 36 hours, tourist and economy class both once weekly
  • Cape Town - East London via Matjiesfontein, De Aar and Queenstown, 28 hours, economy class only, once weekly
  • Cape Town - Port Elizabeth via Oudtshoorn, 24 hours, premier class only, once weekly
  • Cape Town - Johannesburg via Matjiesfontein and Kimberley and Matjiesfontein, 27 hours, premier class twice weekly, tourist 4 weekly and economy daily.

By Car

If you are coming from Johannesburg or Bloemfontein, take the N1 all the way, those coming from Port Elizabeth along the Garden Route will probably be on the N2. If you are coming down from Namibia, you should take the N7 southbound.
Distances (on main N routes) to other cities to/from Cape Town include:

Once you've reached Cape Town, a car is probably the best way to explore the city and its surrounding environment, and it affords more freedom than a guided tour will give you. The city's public transport system is pretty sub-standard and generally not to be relied upon, while you can get to most of the main sites of interest within a couple of hours in a private vehicle.

By Bus

There are many companies offering services to and from Cape Town, but the main operators are Greyhound South Africa, Intercape and Translux. They serve both several international as well as many domestic destinations.

The Baz Bus is a bus where you can hop on and of and is mostly used by backpackers travelling on a budget. They are dropped off at hostels. There are three routes. One is running between Cape Town and Durban.

By Boat

Arriving by Boat into Cape Town HArbour

Arriving by Boat into Cape Town HArbour

© Taffski

The Royal Mail Ship "Saint Helena" travels regularly between Saint Helena and Ascension Island, Walvis Bay and Cape Town. The schedule is primarily designed to meet the needs of locals and cargo for St. Helena, and thus follows a timetable but not a consistent routing. In general terms, the ship leaves Cape Town once a month, before heading to St. Helena, sometimes via Walvis Bay. From St. Helena it will then run 1 or 2 shuttles to Ascension Island, before returning to Cape Town, again sometimes via Walvis Bay. Occasionally, Cape Town is omitted, and the ship returns to St. Helena directly from Walvis Bay.

For travelling directly to Tristan da Cunha, there are only a few boats a year from Cape Town (and sometimes Namibia). If you are lucky enough though, the trip takes 5 or 6 days and will mean you have to spend months on the island. Tickets roughly cost about 1000 to 1200 for a return trip. It's best to check the Tristan da Cunha website for details.

Boats also go to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was jailed for 20 years from 1964 to 1984.



Getting Around

By Car

Several car rental agencies operate in the city. International companies such as Avis, Value Car Hire, Hertz and Budget Rent-a-Car and national branches including First Car Rental and Tempest Car Hire have branches at Cape Town International Airport.

For those who like to travel in style, companies like Q Drive offer luxury chauffeur services which include airport pick-ups and drop-offs, general transport and even VIP protection.

By Public Transport

Cape Metro Rail offers transport around Cape Town, its suburbs and neighbouring towns like Stellenbosch and Paarl in the wine region.

By Foot

Downtown Cape Town can easily be explored on foot. You need a car or public transport to get to the Table Mountain area though, if just for safety. You can walk between central Cape Town and the V&A Waterfront, but there is plenty of parking space over there as well and walking can be problematic with dividing motorways, and little or no signage or facilities for pedestrians.

By Bike

Few people use bicycles and it's not recommend in Cape Town for safety reasons, except a few isolated locations.




Whether you're traveling on US$10 a day or a hundred, Cape Town has affordable and luxurious eating options for everyone. From a backpacker's budget on Long Street to fine dining in Camps Bay, you will find everything from traditional African fare and Cape Cuisine to Mexican, Italian, or Portuguese. And don't forget the fresh seafood! As a city on the water's edge, fresh linefish and oysters are popular menus options.

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

For the greatest diversity of eating establishments in one location, start at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. With over eating 70 options to choose from, the V & A Waterfront offers everything from casual, cafe culture to pub style eating. You can enjoy a lazy afternoon at Quay Four for fish and chips, or rub elbows with celebrities at Balducci's. There are several national restaurant chains represented like Ocean Basket, Mug and Bean and Steers. Several cafe-style establishments offer limited, free wireless internet connections which can be extended for a small fee.

Long Street

On a budget? Head over to Long Street, the backpacker's district of Cape Town. With a myriad of bars, cafes, restaurants, and clubs, you can't go wrong. Try Mamma Africa for traditional African and Cape cuisine. Be sure to call ahead to reserve a table. Mamma Africa's also offers great live African music, however be ready to pay a small cover charge to listen at the bar. Ready to venture out of the city bowl?

Ocean Views

Want to watch the sunset from your table? For a beachfront setting, head to the neighborhoods of Camp's Bay, Clifton or Bantry Bay. Le Med is a local favorite for sundowners. With such a wide range of restaurants to choose from, there is no excuse for leaving Cape Town without several exceptional, dining experiences.

Other Places to Eat

Try the neighborhoods of Green Point, Observatory, and Sea Point. All offer several dining options. At Tank, in Green Point, a 20,000 liter salt-water, fish tank separates the cocktail lounge from the dining room.




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





There are many cheap B&Bs and hostels in around the city. Some recommendations:

  • 33 South Boutique Backpackers
  • Ashanti Lodge
  • The Green Elephant (Observatory)
  • Long Street Backpackers (right on the strip)
  • Aardvark Backpackers

All offer dorm beds or private rooms, from about US$10 a night.

More option in the budget range in Cape Town include:


Both offer off-street parking, breakfast, honesty bar


You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)




Working in Cape Town is a considerable step back from the rat race in Johannesburg. Capetonians will contend there's too many other wonderful ways to be spending time, and those that have relocated here will be hard-pressed to hang onto the ladder of ambition for too long. On the downside, employers are fully aware that beautiful beaches beckon qualified workers to the metropolis and lower wages reflect the high demand of both locals and foreigners to call Cape Town home. It follows that fewer job opportunities exist in the city, and smaller salaries accompany those positions that do become available; especially compared with the likes of Johannesburg. The media and advertising industry, IT sector and asset management businesses are well represented and a relatively high-proportion of expats working in Cape Town can be found in one of these disciplines. The city is also a bastion of creativity.

Tourism and hospitality services are also thriving industries, and many expats from abroad can find employment in positions where knowledge of a second-language, apart from English, is a necessity. Foreign nationals will need a work permit to be legally employed.

Cape Town follows an 8-hour per day, 5-day working week. The work culture is relaxed, and few companies require that employees where formal business wear in the office.

For jobs in Cape Town it is suggested to consider the following job boards:

For multilingual careers and jobs in foreign languages the following are options:




  • University of Cape Town is one of the best universities in the country and is considered the best school in all of Africa. The campus is beautiful and has stunning views of the mountains. It has excellent hard and biological science programs.
  • Stellenbosch University is also one of the best universities in the country and in Africa. Its most recent claim to fame was designing and building Africa's first microsatellite the SUNSAT, which was launched in 1999. This school also has a stunning campus with great views of the mountains all around.
  • University of the Western Cape originally founded in 1960 as a Coloured people only school. It was hot bed for resistance against the apartheid starting in the mid 70s. Today it is an integrated school located in the suburbs.
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology is the only technology school in the Western Cape province. The school was founded in 2005 with the merger of Cape Technikon and Peninsula Technikon. The school is the largest in the area with over 29,000 students and students can take classes in any of South Africa's official languages.



Keep Connected


Internet is available throughout Cape Town. Other internet cafes can be found all over the city and suburbs, with many coffee shops offering internet access. Charges per hour ranges from R5 (in town) to R50 (V&A waterfront). Many places in Cape Town provide WiFi free for their guests


See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.


The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: -33.91975
  • Longitude: 18.42566

Accommodation in Cape Town

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cape Town searchable right here on Travellerspoint.


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Cape Town Travel Helpers

  • Anja Fourie

    Capetonian born and bred. I know the ins and outs of the city, suburbs, Stellenbosch and other nearby towns. Contact me if you are planning a trip to South Africa!

    Ask Anja Fourie a question about Cape Town

This is version 138. Last edited at 20:28 on Nov 15, 17 by Utrecht. 81 articles link to this page.

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