It only took a week in South Africa before I started saying “Ja” and getting used to the whole driving on the left side of the road thing. 🙂
All in all, I will join in the chorus of people who love Cape Town. It is a great city, which is arguably rather Westernized.
Here are a few things I care about:
Can you use credit cards? Yes. The currency is the Rand, but many of the places I went also took card and it didn’t seem to be too much of a problem (I have a chip card).
Can you drink the water? Yes! Actually, the tap water in South Africa is safe to drink unless you are in a small, rural place. I drank the water for a week without getting sick.
Is it safe? Generally, yes. As a rule, it is okay to walk around during the day, but you should not walk at night unless you are in a large group and you don’t have far to go. During the day when I was walking around people mostly left me alone as well.
Can you smoke inside? No! This made me very happy. I hate visiting countries where people can still smoke inside.
How is the winter in Cape Town? Of course if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, our summer is Cape Town winter. Part of the reason I am doing this big Southern Hemisphere trip is because it is so inconvenient to go south when we have opposite seasons. However, I found the weather to be totally fine! It was usually sunny during the day and a bit chilly at night. Overall, if you’re from a cold place, you’re going to be fine. (I was there June 28-July 3rd)
*Bonus: Since it’s a former British colony, I didn’t find anyone who couldn’t speak English.
Where to Stay
This is a great place. I booked it because it has a 9.4 rating on Booking.com and it deserves it. The staff here are incredibly helpful, especially Daph, Milou, and Ivor. They will book all the tours you need to do (all the things I mention below) and more. The pictures on the site are accurate.
The good thing about this place is that they also have private ensuite rooms, so if you’re a flashpacker like me, it’s a nice place to have privacy, but also be social. They really try to create a friendly atmosphere and I recently finished an overland tour in Botswana with a girl I met at the hostel (I invited her to join the tour I booked).
Also, there were not just 21-year old party people here, which is also a major plus. Most guests were in their 20s and 30s, but there were also a few older people in their 50s, a young married couple, and a mother/daughter pair as well.
Uber is really the best way to get around in both Cape Town and in Joburg. Even when I needed one in Joburg at 4am to join my tour, one came in 10 minutes.
It is a good idea to invest in a South African SIM card and then you can order Uber cars even when you do not have wifi. I got one for free from the hostel and then paid 99R for 500mb of data.
It is cheaper and perfectly safe to use Uber. All of the cars I got into were very clean and nice and the drivers were all friendly. I had no problems whatsoever and I used it a lot.
* For the tours I did, they came and picked me up from the hostel.
What to Do
(I will update with links to more detailed posts on the activities below as I post them)
- Paragliding. It was awesome and here is my full post about that: Paragliding in Cape Town, SA
- Robben Island, 320R. Order tickets in advance or they will be sold out.
- A Wine Tasting Tour to Stellenbosch. I went with Wine Flies and had a great day.
- Day tour to The Cape of Good Hope and Boulders Beach. I went with Day Trippers.
- Table Mountain:
You can either hike up the mountain or, if you are a bit pressed for time like I was, you can take the cable car. However, be warned that you will basically be in a cloud, so the view of Cape Town may not be as good as you would have hoped. You have to go when it is completely clear up there. Even if the rest of town is clear, look up and most of the time there are clouds up at Table Mountain.
You should also be warned that, at least during Cape Town winter, it is very cold at the top, so dress accordingly. (Just because it is Africa, do not be fooled into thinking it doesn’t get cold)
The cable car to get up costs 240R. The inside part rotates around, so that no matter where you end up, you get a 360 degree view, which is a nice touch. However, it was difficult to take good pictures in the cable car because there were only 2 open windows on the way up and the rest of the glass is quite dirty. On my way down, no windows were open at all.
*Note: After I gave a “meh” 3 review on TripAdvisor, the cable car company contacted me to ask if I wanted a free ticket to try again. I thought this was commendable of them, but I had already left Cape Town when I saw the message.
Here are some more pictures from the top of Table Mountain because I am not going to write a separate post about it:
6. Local markets. There are a lot of good local markets in Cape Town that you can visit on different days.
On Thursday nights, go to Hope Street Market. I wished I wasn’t already full from lunch at The Test Kitchen because it looked like there were some good options. I did, however, eat some brownies, and red wine. It was pretty busy!
On Fridays, there is a market at Hout Bay. This one is quite large and has many places to eat and also shop. However, it is quite a bit out of the city center, so it is best if you share an Uber to get there. There were loads of people eating and drinking, but unfortunately I felt quite ill after what I ate, so I went back to the city.
On Saturdays, they have a good market at the Old Biscuit Mill. I didn’t go to it when there was the market, but I was there when I went to The Test Kitchen and there are always a lot of cute little shops there. I bought a purse made of dyed springbok because I just couldn’t help myself. Where else are you gonna get a springbok purse??
Where to Eat
I ate at some other places that were fine, but the one you can’t miss is The Test Kitchen! You can read my full post on it here: Cape Town: The Test Kitchen
All in all, I really liked Cape Town and I would highly recommend it. It was a great start to my round-the-world journey. I hope you found this helpful and if you have any questions, let me know. 🙂