Backpacking Cape Town is one of the best decisions I have made in my entire life. And this is not an exaggeration. Cape Town is absolutely stunning and a world-class cosmopolitan city. It is a city that will surprise you everywhere you go. And for a good reason. From amazing landscapes, beaches, stunning coastlines, endless list of things to do, adventures, world class restaurants and wines – the list is simply endless when it comes to Cape Town. And one of the things I love about this city is the fact that you can travel here on a budget. You just need to know where to go! And this is why I wrote this ultimate budget travel guide for Cape Town to help you out.
VISA POLICY OF SOUTH AFRICA
CURRENCY OF SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa uses Rand. See below conversion rate as of January, 2018.
1 USD – 12.6-13 ZAR
1 Euro – around 15 ZAR
1 Php – .25 ZAR
HOW TO GET AROUND CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is a compact city and you can easily reach most places within 30 minutes. Traffic is also mostly concentrated in the Central Business District and during rush hours. Otherwise it is easy to get to just anywhere in the city. Below are the most convenient ways to travel around Cape Town.
- MyCiti is a bus rapid transit in Cape Town. It is modern, safe and very convenient way to get around Cape Town. Connecting the entire city of Cape Town with only few exceptions to some suburb areas, MyCiti is a cheap alternative for rental car or Uber. As a visitor who hates taking a bus and who had been to a fair number of Western countries, I can personally vouch that MyCiti is a world-class transportation system. Each trip cost me between ZAR6-10 (US$.50-.80).
- Uber is another way of travelling in Cape Town. It is cheap and efficient. On average, I was paying between ZAR25-40 (US$2-3.5) for short rides and paid up to ZAR120 ($10) for long rides (e.g. Blouberg to CBD which is over 8km in distance)
- Rental cars are surprisingly cheap in Cape Town. So if driving your own car is more convenient for you, you can rent sedans for US$20-50/ day, SUVs from US$70 onwards and luxury cars like BMW series and Audi from US$80 onwards.
THINGS TO DO IN CAPE TOWN
You won’t run out of things to do in Cape Town. And the best things about these places are most of them are free! Probably, the most expensive activity in Cape Town is the safari. Although, I did this for free because of my colleague (who is a popular vlogger in Cape Town) tagged me along in one of his free trips. But otherwise, most of the fun things to do in Cape Town are free. To check out these popular places in Cape Town, click on the links of the cool activities in Cape Town I have personally done.
- 10 Cool Things To Do In Cape Town
- The Most Scenic Drives In Cape Town
- The Best Beaches In Cape Town
- Wild Flower Reserves Near Cape Town
- African Best Sunset Spots
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK IN CAPE TOWN
Cape Town is well-known for world-class restaurants, wine and coffee. The good thing about Cape Town is that you don’t need big budget in order to enjoy eating and drinking in this city. So here are the list of best restaurants, coffee shops and wine farms that suit your budget.
Affordable Restaurants In Cape Town
- Simply Asia serves Thai and Japanese food mostly. This chain is scattered across South Africa and serves one of the most authentic Thai food I have tried outside of Thailand. From between ZAR30-100 (US$2.4-$8), you will have an amazing Asian meal to enjoy in one of the cheap restaurants in Cape Town.
- Ocean Basket is a seafood restaurant chain in South Africa. Between ZAR60-150 (US$5-$12), you’ll get to enjoy tasty seafood meals. The restaurant chain is also known for their delicious calamari.
- Narona is casual restaurant known for good but affordable food. They both serve vegetarian and meat lovers meals. For ZAR40-80 (US$3-$6.5), you get to enjoy tasty pizzas and breakfast meals accompanied by good music and the locals of Cape Town. They only have 2 branches located in Gardens and Observatory.
- Nandos is probably the most popular South Africa’s export. Known for their peri-peri chicken, this fast food chain has branches in around 30 countries. I don’t personally like fast-food but their grilled chicken is one of the best I have ever tried. If you ever find yourself in Nando’s, try their chicken in lemon and herb and you will know what I’m talking about. Meal prices is from ZAR40-130 (US$3-$10) depending on your appetite.
Best Coffee Shops In Cape Town
- Truth Coffee Shop is considered as one of the world’s best coffee shops by Telegraph. Known for their artisan and quirky shop, this cafe is well-known for their hand-roasted coffee that they supply coffee beans to majority of the top hotels in South Africa. For ZAR15-30 (US$1.2-$2.5), you get to enjoy one of the world’s best coffees. Truth is located at 36 Buitenkant St, Cape Town City Centre and open between 7am-6pm during weekdays, 8am-6pm on Saturday and 8am-2pm on Sunday.
- Bean There is among the first specialty coffee roasters in South Africa. Known for being the first to roast fair trade coffee in the country, this coffee shop is also known for great customer service and excellent selections of coffee. Their coffee and drinks start at ZAR15 (US$1.2). This roastery is located at 58 Wale Street, Cape Town and open between 7am-4pm during weekdays only.
- Origin Coffee Roasting is known as the artisan coffee shop in South Africa and as the pioneer of gourmet coffee in Cape Town. It is popular among digital nomads as the coffee shop interior design is conducive for networking and socialising. Open on Weekdays between 7am-5pm and Weekends at 9am-2pm. This coffee shop is located at 28 Hudson St, De Waterkant, Cape Town.
Wine Tasting in Cape Town
South Africa is also known for its world-class wine without the hefty price tag. There are lots of wine tours from Cape Town that goes to Cape Winelands (Stellenbosch, Paarl, Somerset and other wine districts) for reasonable price but since they are between 1 hour to 2.5 hours from Cape Town, I will focus on the vineyards in Constantia which is closer to the city center.
From CBD, you can either take Uber or the tourist red bus that does the Constantia Wine Valley tour. It is not recommended to bring your own car if you’re planning to get drunk. Although they only serve 4-5 glasses for the wine tasting, you’ll be surprise how big those glasses are. So save yourself from worrying how you can drive back (and trying to find parking as well) to your hotel in the city!
Also, it is not required to buy bottles of wine in the vineyards but somehow it is expected for guests to buy a bottle or two, as the sales from the wine help offset the cost of the cheap wine tasting.
- Beau Constantia is a boutique vineyard in Constantia. Another suburb in Cape Town that’s famous for its wine and about 20 minutes away from CBD. Located in the Constantia Nek, it is overlooking the beautiful vineyard and False Bay. Their wine tasting starts at ZAR45(US$3.7) with 4 glasses of different wines produced locally and which you can match with tapas and other meals in their highly rated restaurant. They accept walk in although calling for reservation might be needed for busy days. Address: 1043 Constantia Main Rd, Glen Alpine, Constantia. Operation hours: 11am to 6pm from Tuesday to Sunday. Telephone numbers: +27 21 794 8632 ext.2 | Cell: +27 (0)82 459 0966.
- Eagles’ Nest is another boutique vineyard located in Constantia Nek pass. It is also nestled at the foot of Table Mountain. Wine tasting in Eagle’s Nest is ZAR60 (US$5) per person for 5 glasses of different wines. They are open for Wine Tasting and Sales from Mondays – Sundays from 10h00 – 16h30. For reservation, you can call +27 21 794 4095 and for the coordinates of the farm, click here.
- Groot Constantia is the oldest wine estate in Constantia. Nestled in Constantia Valley, this heritage site is known for its great wine, amazing view and food. For ZAR95 per person, one can enjoy wine tasting, a tour in the winery and their museum. Located at Groot Constantia Road, Constantia, Cape Town, they are open daily from 10am to 5pm. You can call +27 21 794-5128 for inquiries and reservation.
WHERE TO STAY IN CAPE TOWN
There are several affordable accommodations in Cape Town. It is just up to you which area of Cape Town you want to stay. If you want to stay close to the main action, then I’d recommend staying on there areas: Sea Point, Green Point, Camps Bay and CBD. These areas are the more affluent side and the generally safe areas so expect to pay a little more.
If you want to stay away from the chaos and near the beach areas, then I’d recommend staying in Blouberg beach. I personally stayed in Blouberg and enjoyed it. It’s a bit far from the center (about 15-20 minutes drive) but I got everything I needed there.
- Urban Hive Backpackers is a hostel at the center of Cape Town’s CBD. It is inside a heritage building with Victorian style along the famed Long Street known for variety of dining and bars options. They offer dorms (starts at US$17) and private rooms (starts at US$38) which makes it affordable accommodation in Cape Town. To check their latest rates, click here.
- Green Elephant Backpackers is a good hostel located at the Observatory – a well-known area for students and near CBD. The place has pool, wifi and barbecue facilities. They also both offer dorms that starts at US$19 and private rooms for US$40+. To check their latest rates, click here.
- Once in Cape Town features a bar and a garden. This highly rated hostel is located at the center of the Gardens – another affluent area in CBD. If you want to be in a nice location, then this hostel is for you. They also offer dorms starting at US$28 and privates rooms at US$100+. To check their latest rates, click here.
If a hostel is not for you and want self-catering budget accommodations, then you can check Airbnb. I stayed in Airbnb for the 4 months I was in Cape Town and enjoyed amenities of a real apartment. To get a discount of US$22, you can sign up using my referral link. This is no extra cost to you and both of us will get travel credit.
Have you been to Cape Town? Tell us your budget travel tips for Cape Town in the comments below!
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