As a South African, I have been fortunate enough to visit Cape Town, also known as the Mother City, several times. From my experience, I have found that this city is expensive as a tourist destination, compared to other cities in the country.
Although, I simply can’t deny that Cape town is unbelievably breathtaking. It is surrounded by perfect nature in the form of mountains as well as a beautiful beach-lined sea. In the city itself, there is a bustling nightlife, trendy art world, and a foodie scene.
I am constantly seeking for low costs when I am travelling which is why in this post I will be sharing a list of 20 affordable things to do in Cape Town.
1. Strawberry picking at Polkadraai farm
In the lovely town of Stellenbosch, which is about 50km from Cape Town, you’ll find Polkadraai farm. Here, you can enjoy picking strawberries as a family and with friends. Depending on the size of the bucket you choose, prices vary, starting from as low as R40 and the largest bucket is R190. This activity is fun and takes about 30 minutes. The season for strawberry picking is from September to January. It is advised to bring the following with you – comfortable shoes, sunscreen, a hat and a big smile for a truly unforgettable picking experience!
2. Explore the vibrant neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap
This area is formally known as the Malay Quater because it accommodated slaves from Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of Africa in the 1970’s. Bo-Kaap is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Cape Town because it bursts with colour which puts a huge smile on my face.
I highly recommend that you try out a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the restaurants, or a Cape Malay cooking course with one of the expert locals. Recipes date back centuries and are a spicy mix of Middle Eastern and Dutch styles of cooking, usually consisting of fruit, spices, vegetables and meat.
3. Visit the District 6 Museum
When the apartheid government swooped on District Six in 1965, forcibly removing its residents and declaring the area a “whites-only” zone, the rich fabric of a disadvantaged but vibrant community was torn apart. In an effort to preserve the memories of District Six and create a monument to the thousands of people around the country, the District Six Museum Foundation was established in 1989.
The museum is open from 09:00 to 13:00 on Mondays and 09:00 to 16:00 from Tuesdays to Saturdays. Cost: R40 per person for self-guided visits. R55 with an ex-resident/guide.
4. Join a Free Walking Tour
If you are looking to have a fun walk within the city centre and to meet travellers from all over the world, join the Cape Town Free Walking Tour. There are the 3 tours offered which are each a duration of 1.5 hours long – the Historic City Tour, Apartheid to Freedom Tour or the Bo-Kaap Tour.
5. Explore Newlands forest
This picturesque forest is located about 20 minutes from Cape Town city centre and is ideal for a hike or walk with family and friends. You can choose to do one of the 4 hiking routes available here.
6. Explore The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront on a self guided tour
You could easily spend a few hours here, walking around the harbour, looking for seals, enjoying street buskers, or perhaps a free concert in the ampitheatre.
The Cape Wheel is a giant observation wheel that offers a spectacular 360-degree panoramic view of Cape Town.
7. Hiking up Lions head and Table Mountain
Lions Head: Join locals and travellers on the evening of a full moon, to hike up Lion’s Head. You could also take an early morning hike on a Saturday or Sunday, to enjoy the best views around, at no charge whatsoever. Make sure that you go in a group, with at least one person who knows the route well. You don’t want to get lost here, or take a wrong turn! An experienced hiker will know where the best viewing spots are, too.
Table Mountain: There’s more than one way to ascend Cape’s most iconic landmark. No doubt the views from its top are spectacular, but as the saying goes – “the journey is the destination” and it certainly applies here. The quickest and easiest route up Table Mountain takes the average person between 1.5 and 2 hours. The Kasteelspoort Hiking Trail is an easy access to the mountain, and suitability to all fitness levels and takes about 4-5 hours to hike.
Points 8 to 12 will highlight some of the beaches that you can visit in and around Cape Town.
8. Boulders beach
Meet the penguins at Boulders Beach. This is the most visited beach in Cape Town and the only place in the world where you get close to African Penguins. Boulders Beach isn’t just a great place for penguins, it’s also a popular family-friendly swimming beach where kids can climb over the boulders, explore the rock pools, or swim in the cool, clear False Bay water. It’s also a great place for a leisurely picnic. Due to the R65 conservation fee, the beach is rarely packed.
9. Camps Bay beach
Camps Bay is one of the most well-known beaches in the city, and for good reason. The beach is large, with numerous boulders that separate various sections while providing just the right amount of shade. Restaurants and sidewalk cafes are just over the road, while views are simply amazing.
10. Hout Bay Beach
This is a wonderful white sand beach and generally not too busy. Although, the water can be a little too cold to swim in, you can take a relaxing stroll and enjoy the views.
11. Clifton Beaches
There are four Clifton beaches to explore – each offering its own unique benefits. The most popular of all these beaches is Clifton Fourth, but Clifton Second and First can be great for a quieter day out on the beach with your love. You could also head there in the late afternoon to enjoy the sun going down over the Atlantic Ocean.
12. Bloubergstrand Beach
Bloubergstrand is a suburb about 15km for the city centre, which basically means “blue mountain beach” in Afrikaans. The name comes also comes from Blaauwberg, which is a nearby mountain. The beach here offers the postcard perfect views below of the iconic Table mountain and Lions head.
13. Feed the birds and squirrels at Company’s Garden
Company’s Garden is a wonderful little place to just take a break, have a picnic, and play with squirrels which you can feed by purchasing bags of nuts.
14. Parliament Tours
Head on down to Plein Street in the City Centre, and you will find the Houses of Parliament. You can visit Parliament for free to take tours only from Monday to Friday. But take note – you will need to book in order to enjoy this free experience. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the ID or passport numbers, names and surnames of everyone who will be in your group, then wait for your booking to be confirmed.
15. Cecilia Forest
Cecilia forest is named after Cecil John Rhodes and is situated in Constantia. There are a number of routes to hike which begin at the car park where Rhodes and Hohenhort Drives meet, and provide a few enchanting hours out in nature.
16. Wine Tasting at Tokara wine estate
You can’t go to Cape Town without visiting a wine estate in Stellenbosch. Tokara wine estate has one of the most spectacular locations and views in the winelands. Situated on the crest of the Helshoogte Pass, about 5km from Stellenbosch, this estate is home to award winning wines, brandy and olive oils, and has an art gallery. The cost for wine tasting is R120 for 3 different types of wine.
17. City Sightseeing Tour
The best way to see the Mother city, especially if you only have a a few days in the here is to join one of the City Sightseeing Tours. The classic Hop On-Hop Off open top bus tour allows you to explore the city at your own pace. Cost: R179 for adults and R99 for children.
18. Chapman’s Peak Drive
Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most spectacular marine drives in the world and is definitely not to be missed when you are in Cape Town. This drive winds its way between Noordhoek and Hout Bay on the Atlantic Coast.
19. Cycle your way through Cape Town
Rent a bicycle at the Sea Point Pavilion and explore Cape Town at your own pace. Pedal along the Promenade and make your way to the CBD or Camps Bay for a refreshing drink. You’ll get to have fun while exercising and take in the Mother City’s beautiful attractions, including Green Point Park and Cape Town stadium. You can return the bike to any Up Cycles station. Cost: R70 for 1 hour. R100 for 2 hours. R200 for half day cycle.
20. Kirstenbosch Gardens
Situated on the slopes of Table Mountain, just 13km from the city centre, Kirstenbosch gardens is perfect for a picnic and the best time to visit is in spring (September to November). Cost: R75 for adults and R20 for students.
Please note: The City Sightseeing Bus, mini peninsula tour, stops at this garden.
Please share some of your favourite affordable activities to do in Cape Town with me in the comments.
Thank you for reading,