Thinking of visiting Cape Town? What a great idea! Your first visit to Africa might be a bit intimidating, but Cape Town is the kind of place you can’t help but fall in love with. So take the plunge and book your flight. This concise practical guide will help you orientate yourself and soon you will feel right at home in the Mother City.
The easiest way to get to Cape Paradise from the Airport is still in a taxi. The price should be about R100, so try to fix the price before you get taken on the scenic route.
If you like travelling independently, the MyCiTi Bus runs between the Airport and the Civic Centre every 20 minutes from 04:20 to 22:00. The Airport shuttle is R53 one way. The orange F1 route can get you as far as Buitensingel, but after that you will have to walk or take a cab.
If you are renting a car you will be able to pick your vehicle up at the Airport.
Cape Town is becoming increasingly accessible by public transport. The MyCiTi Bus services the V&A Waterfront and Gardens and is a very affordable option. The train from Cape Town to Simon’s Town is not only convenient, but a tourist attraction in itself. Relax as the Metrorail takes your past the back slopes of Table Mountain and along the coast of False Bay for less than R20.
The red double-story sightseeing buses offer a convenient hop on – hop off service that will get you to many of Cape Town’s attractions including Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Camps Bay, Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront and the Winelands of Constantia. The sightseeing bus offers great views en route and provides a full day of fun for only R110 if you book online.
Of course public transport has its limitations. A rental car will open up untouched destinations such as Cape Point and the beautiful beaches and pristine mountains of the Southern Peninsula. Destinations such as Stellenbosch or Hermanus are also within a short drive from the Mother City. Having your own vehicle is also necessary if you want to explore Cape Town’s nightlife without relying on taxis. Please have a look at the options in our car rental section!
Banks, ATMs and money changers are readily available in Cape Town and most shops except debit and credit cards. It is always a good idea to mix your means of payment and to separate them for safety purposes.
Drawing money at an ATM is a very convenient way to acquire Rands. However, most machines will have a maximum withdrawal of R2000 to R3000. If you want to draw large amounts with your credit card you will have to do so in a bank. Be sure to never let a stranger assist you at an ATM and always keep your PIN number secret.
Changing cash is a bit of a lengthy procedure in South Africa, but if you need larger amounts of South African currency this is one way to do it. Remember to take your passport if you are converting foreign exchange.
Traveller’s cheques are a good option because you will be reimbursed if they are lost or stolen. Just remember to write down the serial number and keep copies separate from the actual cheques.
Cape Town is not nearly as unsafe as many people say it is. The vast majority of travellers return from Cape Town completely unharmed. Especially the area surrounding Cape Paradise is completely safe and many of the guests walk to the surrounding restaurants even at night.
Most crime in Cape Town is opportunistic and it only takes some common sense to avoid it:
- Avoid displays of wealth such as expensive jewellery, large amounts of cash and fancy technology.
- If you have a rental car don’t leave any valuables in it. You could even open the glove box and rear luggage cover to show that the vehicle is empty as smash and grab is a problem.
- There is safety in numbers, so avoid empty streets, especially at night.
- Keep valuables such as wallets, cell phones and cameras close to you at all times.
- Be wary of strangers, who offer unasked help, especially when it comes to money.
A good way to get your bearings is to chat with your hosts at Cape Paradise. Lena and Marco have helped many first-timers with their stay in Cape Town. Just approach one of them during breakfast or at the reception with any questions you may have.
The Cape Town Tourism Centres are always a helpful stop for enquiries, maps and bookings. You can find information centres in Cape Town Central, at the Waterfront, at the Lower Cableway and at many other locations throughout the city.
If you have any questions or if you would like to add anything to this guide please use the comment section below!