The Best of Cape Town on a Budget (4 minute read)

(Last Updated On: July 11, 2022)

Have you been planning a trip to South Africa but keep procrastinating to save a little more money? Have time to spare in Cape Town but worried about breaking the bank balance? Guest blogger Dave Dronacharya is here to help with a selection of fun and interesting things to do on your trip to Cape Town that don’t cost the world. So here’s how to do Cape Town on a budget.

Things to do in Cape Town on a budget
Take the City Sightseeing bus for a tour of the Peninsula. Photo credit: City Sightseeing

Hop On/Hop Off Bus to explore Cape Town

This is probably the best way to get acquainted with any city, in any season. The red City Sightseeing double-decker buses have built a solid reputation around the world as the go-to vehicle for easy introductions to a new city. And for doing Cape Town on a budget, it’s no different. Start day one with the red route – a seamless tour of the City Bowl and its surrounds. Then hop on the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour for sightseeing further afield. Plug in your earphones and be your own tour guide with more than 16 languages available.

Enjoy the vibrant Bay Harbour Market

With food, music, live performances, shopping, and more, the Bay Harbour Market in Cape Town is one of the most vibrant places to be. You can find all kinds of sources of entertainment in this street marketplace. Aside from having great stalls where you can buy locally made and crafted gifts and curios, the Bay Harbour Market has live music that you can enjoy for free. Local artists entertain the crowd and keep the vibe going all day and into the evening. It’s open on Fridays from 5pm to 9pm, Saturdays from 9:30am to 4pm and on Sundays from 9:30am to 4pm.

things to do on a budget in Cape Town
Take a leisurely walk around the Company’s Garden in Cape Town

Explore the historic Company’s Garden

Tracing back to the mid 17th century, the Company’s Garden is an apt place to explore the history of the city. The public section of the garden has been enjoyed by visitors for the sheer beauty of its flora and the allure of its historic setting since it was proclaimed for public use in 1848. Located at Queen Victoria street, the Garden is abutted by numerous important landmarks. These include the present-day Houses of Parliament, the Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium, St George’s Cathedral, the National Library of South Africa, the South African National Gallery and the Great Synagogue.

best of Cape Town on a budget
The vibrant V&A Waterfront enjoys a stunning backdrop

Take a walk around the V&A Waterfront

If you’re not in the mood for doing anything and prefer to simply admire the city’s ambience then the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, a.k.a V&A waterfront, is your go-to place. Located in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, this place will give you some extraordinary glimpses of the city with the beautiful Table Mountain as its backdrop. A great way to discover the stories of this iconic site’s past and its 22 landmarks is to do a self-guided historic walk. Simply grab a map at the Information Centre and off you go. And if you get hungry or thirsty along the way, there are plenty of food and drink places to choose from. A stop at The Creamery at the V&A Food Market for a scoop of their handmade peanut butter ice cream is a must!

bets of Cape Town on a budget
The mountains around Cape Town are ideal for hiking and mountain biking

Go for some adventure hiking

There are some magnificent free hiking spots in and around Cape Town. Lion’s Head is one of the more popular ones. Although it can get slightly strenuous, it rewards you with an amazing view at the top. You can also do this in the light of the full moon (a head torch is still advisable). Platteklip Gorge takes you to the top of Table Mountain. And you can either head left towards Kirstenbosch or right to the Cable Station. Newlands Forest is leafy and most of the way is shaded by the trees. This is a shorter hike and there’s a pretty stream along the way if you want to cool down. The hike to Elephant’s Eye is accessed via Silvermine and will cost a rudimentary entry fee (around R50). From here you will be able to take in the amazing False Bay views. Always follow mountain safety rules.

Ride your way to the mountains

Taking the level of adventure up a notch, Cape Town offers some really exciting mountain tracks to test your biking skills. Go for the rugged path, face the challenge, and feel the adrenaline while racing your way through the rocky trails. Great for beginners and group rides, the tracks at Meerendal are flat and easy to navigate. You start with a bit of an uphill. But get that out of the way and then it takes you to the first stretch of single track and onto a zig-zagging uphill that can prove tough on novices. There are spectacular views to take in along the way.

Cape Town may first come across as a costly venture. But if you apply some smart travelling tactics you can enjoy some of the city’s best experiences well within your budget. Enjoy!

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Dave Dronacharya works as a full-time travel writer/blogger. He writes and shares his personal experiences and facts in his articles with only one objective in mind – motivating others to travel as much as they can. His work has been published on Huffington, SocialEarth, VolunteersMagazine and Cultural Trip.

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