Cape Town is unlike any city I’ve ever visited or lived in before. Situated right in between stunning mountains and breathtaking beaches, you can’t get much better! If you’re from Europe or North America, your money will go a long way in South Africa but if you plan on staying in Cape Town for a while, things can start to add up. After exhausting my 90 tourist visa upon arrival, I have a few tips and tricks for how to travel to Cape Town on a budget that I’m excited to share with you.
Let’s get into it!
1. Choose the Right Accommodation
The price of accommodation varies depending on the time of year you’re travelling through Cape Town. When I first got here in November (right before peak season), hostel dorm rooms were as low as $10 CAD but they went up to around $20 CAD as summer approached.
If you want to travel Cape Town on a budget, hostels are usually your best bet! With that being said, sometimes Airbnb can be somewhat affordable if you’re sharing a place with a few people. If you’re looking to save even more money, you can volunteer through Worldpackers! Most hostels will ask for a few hours of work a day in exchange for a free place to stay. If you don’t love the idea of working at a hostel, there are many other volunteer opportunities.
I’d suggest staying somewhere central so you don’t have to spend money on Uber as often. If you stay in Gardens, you can walk to most shops (during the day). Sea Point and Green Point are also great locations!
2. Make Your Meals
It may be tempting to order all of your food or eat at cafes and restaurants while you’re in Cape Town because it’s likely a fraction of what it would cost at home. While there’s nothing wrong with having a few meals out with new friends, you can save a LOT of money if you decide to make some meals from your hostel or Airbnb.
Making breakfast is easy and requires the least amount of effort so that’s a good place to start if you don’t cook much. Oats are a go-to of mine because they’re super easy to make in the microwave and they’ll keep you full for a while! I like to put almond milk, frozen or fresh fruit and a drizzle of almond butter and maple syrup to mine.
3. Embrace Free Activities
Cape Town is a great city to visit when you’re on a budget because there are so many free or cheap activities. For starters, the first Thursday of every month is known as ‘First Thursdays’. Everyone gathers on Bree St and Long St to have drinks and check out art galleries that are open late. Some galleries even give out free wine which is a plus! It’s definitely a must if you’re here at the start of the month. Every so often, you’ll also hear about street parties where a section of Bree St, for example, will be closed and there are different DJs, live music and food stands.
Since Cape Town is surrounded by mountains, you don’t have to go far to do spectacular hikes. Depending on where you’re staying, you can walk to some, including Lion’s Head and Kloof Corner (two of my faves). Just remember to hike with a buddy or in a group, as it’s fairly unsafe to hike alone in South Africa.
Your time in Cape Town isn’t complete until you’ve had sundowners at the beach. Clifton 2nd or Camps Bay is a great place to watch the sun go down. There are so many pristine beaches near the city that also make for excellent beach days with new friends! Llandudno is a bit further (20ish min from the city) and you’d need to get there by Uber or rent a car but it’s worth the mission.
Lastly, if you’re into skateboarding, biking, rollerblading, etc, you MUST check out Promenade Mondays. Everyone meets Monday evenings around 6 pm at the Sea Point Contact (parking lot) and then skates along the promenade until the sun goes down. It’s an incredibly inclusive group that’s open to beginners and so much fun!
4. Know How to Get Around
The easiest way to get around Cape Town is Uber. It’s much more affordable than it is in other countries and most people use it to get from place to place. Bolt is another option (that’s sometimes cheaper than Uber) but not as reliable in my opinion.
If you’re planning a road trip or need a car for the day, Rent a Cheapie is your best bet!
Ready to Explore Cape Town on a Budget?
Cape Town is a magical place and should definitely be at the top of your list of places to visit. If you’re looking for other budget destinations, head over to my budget itineraries and I’ll see you shortly with another blog. Oh and don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and TikTok while you’re at it!