5 tips for being a tourist in Cape Town
Each city has its unique character that sets it apart from the rest. Cape Town is no exception.
If you’re planning on visiting South Africa’s ‘Mother City’ soon, here are few useful insider travel tips to help you navigate it with ease:
- Find accommodation as close to the CBD as possible
Whether you’re looking to rent a fabulous Airbnb apartment, book into a chic hotel or chill out with fellow backpackers, finding accommodation as close to the city centre as possible comes highly recommended. Apart from the fact that the CBD is particularly visitor friendly, it’s also the heartbeat of the city and the most important hub for all public transport.
While outlying areas, such as Constantia, Hout Bay and the False Bay coastline may offer beautiful and unusual accommodation options, if you’re going to be relying heavily on your feet and public transport such as the MyCiti bus system, you’re going to want to look in these suburbs: Tamboerskloof, Gardens, Vredehoek, Bo-Kaap, Green Point, Sea Point, Bantry Bay, Clifton and Camps Bay.
- Book activities in advance
While you’re bound to embark on spontaneous adventures during your stay, be sure to book your ‘bucket list’ activities well in advance. Do your research beforehand, check out TripAdvisor reviews for different operators and then decide on the most suitable option for your needs.
By booking in advance, you secure your spot and don’t have to worry about losing out at the last minute. There is, however, a chance that activities may be cancelled due to Cape Town’s unpredictable weather. Do get in touch with your operator a day or two before your booked trip to find out whether everything is still on track, so that you can adjust plans early on if necessary.
- Familiarise yourself with public transport
In all honesty, Cape Town’s public transport system is not quite on par with its first world counterparts just yet. It’s getting there slowly but surely, but in the mean time you may find that buses, trains and taxis do not necessarily stick to the expected time schedules.
If you are catching any form of public transport to get to a time-sensitive activity, allow yourself at least an hour more than the suggested travel time. Just to be safe.
- Pack for all sorts of weather
As mentioned above, Cape Town is known to be rather moody when it comes to weather. Even if you’ve booked your trip for mid-December (the height of summer), you could find yourself shivering in a week-long rainstorm, while your June holiday may bring the most unexpectedly beautiful beach days.
A good rule to go by is to pack both a swimming costume and a rain coat, no matter the time of year.
- Safety first
Like all other cities in the world, Cape Town has its fair share of crime. The best way to deal with this is to avoid being a victim at all costs.
As far as you can, move around in a group – especially at night or when taking on a hiking trail like Lion’s Head.
Look alert – be aware of your surroundings at all times and look as though you know where you’re going, even when you don’t.
Avoid consulting your phone while walking – check the route to your destination beforehand and draw a map or make notes on a piece of paper to take with you. Don’t carry your phone in your pocket and if you do, don’t fall for anyone complimenting you on your shoes – this is a common trick used among pickpockets in long street and surrounds to steal phones off unsuspecting victims.
Keep your money and passport in a safe place – if you travel often, you should have your chosen method. If not, ask a well-travelled friend for advice on the best pouches, purses and secret pockets to invest in before you head off on your holiday.