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How to Save Money When You Visit Cape Town

A view overlooking the city of Cape Town, South Africa on a bright and sunny day with mountains in the distance
Posted: 5/12/2023 | May 12th, 2023

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. With its stunning beaches, towering mountains, and vibrant cultures, it should come as no surprise that it’s a popular hub for….well, everybody. It’s a place that sucks visitors in. I have tons of friends who have gone there and ended up staying for months.

And, though it’s a fairly inexpensive destination (I’m talking $2 USD cocktails), I always like to present people with tips and tricks on how to save money to eek out those extra savings.

To help you save money when you visit, here’s how to visit Cape Town on a budget (there’s only a few things you need to know as the city is already very affordable for visitors):

1. Visit during the off-season

Cape Town’s peak tourist season is December through February, when the city is filled with hordes of tourists looking escape the cold of the winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Prices for everything from activities to accommodation are notoriously high during these months. If you can, plan your trip for the shoulder season (March through May or September through November) when prices are much more reasonable. That alone will save you a fortune!
 

2. Consider staying in a hostel

Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses when traveling, and Cape Town is no exception. Thankfully, there’s a wide range of accommodation styles to choose from — from guesthouses to hotels to short-term rentals. If you’re on a tight budget, hostels are the cheapest option. However, if you’re looking for something nicer, you can still find great deals on Airbnb or Booking.com if you book at least three months in advance.

Once things sell out and there are fewer options, hotel prices skyrocket, so make sure not to leave it until the last minute.
 

3. Utilize ridesharing apps

The MyCiti bus system is a popular and inexpensive way to get around, but it’s not always the safest, especially at night. Instead, use ridesharing apps like Uber or Bolt. It’s safer, faster, and still very cheap by Western standards.

The average cost for a short ride is 30-50 ZAR ($1.65–2.75 USD), and if you’re planning on using ridesharing frequently, it might be worth getting an Uber Pass for 100 ZAR ($5 USD), which gives you a 10% discount on each ride.

If you’re staying for a month or more, renting a car for about $300–500 USD per month could be a good option — but be aware that gas and parking fees may add up to be more than it would cost to use a ridesharing app. For the best car rental prices, use Discover Cars.
 

4. Opt for do-it-yourself excursions

Penguins relaxing at Boulder Beach near Cape Town, South Africa
If you want to save some cash, rent a car and splitting the cost of visiting places with friends or other travelers. One of the most popular excursions is a Cape Peninsula tour, which starts in Cape Town and stops in various tourist destinations, like the famous penguin colony in Boulders Beach before finishing at Cape Point. These tours cost anywhere from 545 to 860 ZAR per person, not including park entrances.

Alternatively, you can get a cheap car rental for 450 ZAR per day and slash the cost substantially by splitting it between people. Not only is it cheaper to plan excursions yourself, but it gives you the flexibility of doing the trip at your leisure and stopping wherever you want, without feeling rushed.

Other popular trips, such as visiting wine country and whale watching in Hermanus, are also easily accessible on your own.

For a list of popular activities and excursions, check out Get Your Guide.
 

5. Take a free walking tour

One of the first things I do when I arrive in a new destination is take a free walking tour. It’s the best way to get the lay of the land, see the main highlights, and connect with a local guide that can share insider tips and advice.

Free Walking Tour Cape Town runs daily free tours in English — no advance booking required. (Just make sure to tip your guide at the end!)
 

6. Look for cheap eats

Eating out can be quite affordable around Cape Town. Most restaurants, even in the more tourist-centered areas, have food ranging from $5 to $10 USD per meal (and even cheaper at some places).

Vagabond Kitchens is a great spot for inexpensive wraps and quick meals, and Giovanni’s has a deli counter with delicious, home-style meals typically under $5 USD. Eastern Food Bazaar and Mojo Market (in Sea Point) are two other cheap options as well.

In addition, food delivery apps often have deals that make it even cheaper than in person. If you get Uber Pass, you’ll get a discount on Uber Eats as well, and paired with the buy-one-get-one-free promos and other meal deals that are consistently advertised at various restaurants, this can be even cheaper than cooking for yourself.
 

7. Use discount sites

In addition to food delivery discounts, websites such as Hyperli and Wikideals are popular within South Africa for discounted food, drinks, and activities.

If you are traveling in a pair, The Entertainer app is also a great way to get buy-one-get-one-free offers on food and drinks around town.

Before booking excursions or going out to eat, I’d recommend checking these sites to see if there are any deals you can get — there are some great ones!
 

8. Look for free (or cheap) activities

People hiking up Lions Head in Cape Town, South Africa on a bright and sunny day
Cape Town is home to a number of free (or cheap) activities and attractions. Here’s a list to help you have fun on a budget:

  • Hike up Table Mountain
  • Visit the District Six Museum
  • Hit the beach
  • Hike up Lion’s Head
  • Visit Slave Lodge
  • Watch the sunset from Signal Hill

For more suggestions, check out my guide to Cape Town. It has tons of budget-friendly suggestions!

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By timing your trip wisely, finding affordable accommodation, making use of safe and cheap transportation options, planning your own excursions, and being selective about your activities, you can enjoy all the wonders of this stunning city without breaking the bank.

Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks

Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left unturned.

Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:

Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.

Ready to Book Your Trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.