Cape Town, the capital of the Western Cape province in South Africa, has a diverse culture and equally diverse people. It is known for Table Mountain, Penguin Beach, and beautiful wine farms. The city is also a hub for artists and digital nomads alike.
But is Cape Town safe? While many tourists and locals love the Mother City, serious concerns about safety related to gangs and violent crime exist. This article gives you advice on where to stay in Cape Town and how to stay safe. It also gives you some top tips on being safety savvy while you’re out and about in the city.
Why Visit Cape Town
Cape Town, South Africa’s oldest city, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652. South Africa has had a long history that’s created one of the world’s most resilient and creative nations. Today, Cape Town is one of the most popular travel destinations in South Africa and is known for its beautiful scenery, upmarket service scene, and booming tourist industry.
There is so much to do in Cape Town. From hiking up Table Mountain to enjoying fabulous food at top restaurants, there are plenty of activities to choose from. If you’re looking for an adventure, you can also venture just outside of the city to see famous vineyards and beaches.
Is Cape Town Dangerous
Like many major cities, Cape Town has a high crime rate exacerbated by gangs and violent crimes. In all honesty, certain areas in the city are just not safe to be in for locals and tourists alike. Due to unemployment and poverty, South Africa faces high rates of violent crime, murder, and rape.
However, most areas have security measures in place. If you practice basic safety techniques such as hiding your valuables, locking your car, and blending in, you should be fine. The more populated and affluent areas that cater to tourists tend to be safer as well. All in all, keeping your wits about you is your best option in the city.
Dangerous Areas in Cape Town
Nyanga is one of the oldest established townships in Cape Town and is known for being the murder capital of South Africa. It is also one of the poorest areas in the city, with a 50%+ unemployment rate. Nyanga faces high rates of HIV/AIDS, sexual assault, and murder.
Gang violence is a significant threat in Nyanga, too, with drive-by shootings being a common occurrence. While gangs have taken control of the area, police are unable to help as their families could be threatened. It is advisable you avoid the area entirely for your own safety.
Manenberg is a township in Cape Town known for the highest concentration of gang violence in the city. The impoverished area faces gang-related crime between gangs known as the Americans, the Hard Livings, and many more. Murder, gun violence, robbery, and sexual assault are just some of the issues Manenberg faces.
While visiting townships is something some tourists like to do, it is not advisable to visit the area as the innocent people living there are unsafe themselves. While it is important to acknowledge the heart-breaking realities of areas like Manenberg, it is important to avoid the area for your own safety.
Is it Safe to Live in Cape Town
Cape Town doesn’t rank as one of the safer places to live in the world, but people still manage to live happily in the province by following safety precautions. Homes usually have high walls, electric fencing, and security teams that can be alerted 24/7.
There are also many safe coliving and coworking areas in Cape Town and around South Africa that digital nomads and travelers can enjoy. The cost of living, while high for locals, is generally affordable for tourists. You will also meet friendly locals and find a lot of fun things to do. But ultimately, the decision to live in Cape Town is yours.
Safe Areas in Cape Town
Just outside of the city center, Camps Bay is a favorite destination for beach lovers. With its white sand, rock pools, and clear water, you’ll find yourself there all day. The conveniently located suburb is not far from a wide selection of restaurants and cafés with both local and international influence.
The area is also one of the most affluent, with celebrities choosing to stay there in upmarket hotels and apartments. Camps Bay is near plenty of fun activities and has great nightlife. You can head to the sunset strip, where you can let loose at any of the trendy cocktail bars.
This area sits between Table Bay and the foot of Table Mountain and is the cultural center of Cape Town. Young artists, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads can be found enjoying the bustling atmosphere there. The City Bowl is a must-visit for tourists who want to enjoy the rich cultural heritage of Cape Town.
Travelers can also enjoy a number of activities, like visiting the Castle of Good Hope or touring the city in an open-top red bus. There are also outdoor activities such as hiking, and you can relax at the Company Gardens heritage site afterwards.
Constantia is an affluent area known for having some of the oldest vineyards in South Africa. This peaceful, wine-producing suburb is about nine miles (15km) from the center of Cape Town. If you’re visiting the area, you can embark on the Constantia Wine Route and see some of the oldest wine farms in South Africa.
The Constantia Wine Route features the Groot Constantia Homestead and Wine Museum, where you can view the 18th- and 19th-century furnishings. If you don’t spend the day tasting wine, you can also go horse riding at Chart Farm or visit the Constantia Shopping Village and market.
Where to Stay in Cape Town
There are a number of great hotels for tourists and digital nomads in Cape Town. From luxury hotels to budget-friendly guesthouses, there are endless options to choose from. Here are the top picks for hotels in the city that you might consider for your stay.
Luxury Hotels in Cape Town
The Alphen Boutique Hotel & Spa
This luxury hotel is located 30 minutes away from Cape Town city center in Constantia near the Alphen trail. At the Alphen Boutique Hotel & Spa, you will be delighted by the stunning views of the Winelands on a manicured lawn.
The hotel offers celebrity treatment with accommodating staff and five-star service. Among amenities such as the outdoor pool, onsite restaurant, and onsite spa, guests can expect elegant and comfortable rooms.
One&Only Cape Town
If you’re looking for true luxury while you’re staying at the V&A Waterfront, look no further than One&Only Cape Town. This 5-star hotel has everything you may need, from a movies and games lounge to a sauna and gym.
There is a spa that offers a range of massages, temporary art galleries, the famous Nobu restaurant, and much, much more. The hotel is quite pricey, but for the immense luxury, it is worth it.
Mid-Range Hotels in Cape Town
NOAH House hotel is a stunning four-star hotel located in Tamboerskloof in the City Bowl. The hotel is designed in an old colonial-Cape style and is roughly 15 minutes from the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain.
After sitting down to a fabulous breakfast at NOAH Café, you can drive about two miles out and find the Two Oceans Aquarium and the Broken Bath Beach. The hotel also offers free Wi-Fi and housekeeping services.
Sea Mount (Apartment)
Maybe you want to switch things up on your holiday and stay in your very own apartment. Well, the Sea Mount apartment in Camps Bay is the perfect choice for a workcation or vacation.
The apartment comes with free Wi-Fi, free parking, and an airport shuttle that will fetch you. It also has a solar panel heated swimming pool and a fitness center, all only a mile away from Camps Bay Beach.
Budget-Friendly Hotels in Cape Town
Protea Hotel Fire & Ice by Marriott
The Protea Hotel is a well-loved establishment for local and international guests. This hotel is located in Gardens in the City Bowl and has free Wi-Fi, breakfast, and daily housekeeping.
It is less than a mile away from Cape Town’s famous Long Street as well as the South African Museum and Planetarium. The hotel also offers amenities such as a spa, fitness center, and an outdoor swimming pool.
Holiday Inn Express Cape Town City Centre
This hotel is located right in the heart of the City Bowl and is just a 15-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport. You can enjoy a daily breakfast buffet in the Green Room before heading out to the Three Anchor Bay Beach and Greenmarket Square.
The hotel is close to the downtown area, where you can find restaurants, cafés, and markets.
Amenities include free Wi-Fi, facilities for disabled guests, private parking, and much more.
Tips for Staying Safe in Cape Town
Now that you know the possible dangers in Cape Town, here are some useful safety tips while you’re visiting the city.
- Don’t leave your belongings unattended — It is crucial that you keep your belongings on you or locked away in your hotel safe while you’re in Cape Town.
- Don’t walk alone at night — If you have to be out at night, make sure you walk in a group or in a well-lit, busy area. It is important that you are aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Don’t try to stand out — It’s not a good idea to wear expensive jewelry and flashy clothing as this can make you a target for criminals.
- Don’t let anyone help you at an ATM — It is very possible they may rob you.
- Make copies of your ID and passport — If your important documents go missing, you will have a lot of trouble getting them back.
Is Cape Town Safe | Frequently Asked Questions
Is Cape Town Safe for Female Solo Travelers?
This is a tough question to answer because it depends on many factors. It can be safe for female solo travelers who stay in busy areas, hide their belongings, and don’t go out at night.
It won’t be safe for those who end up in bad areas or hike alone. The answer really depends on how much research you do before coming to Cape Town, where you stay, and the safety precautions you use.
Are The Water and Food Safe in Cape Town?
Yes! Cape Town has some of the cleanest running water in Africa. Although Cape Town is prone to droughts, locals buy water in times of crisis.
Food is also of high quality in Cape Town, and it’s not common to get ill from the food bought at restaurants. However, if you plan on eating at markets or from street vendors, see if there is a generator to refrigerate the food during load shedding. You should also check whether or not many people are buying from the vendor.
Should I Rent a Car?
If you have an international license, it is a great idea to rent a car while in Cape Town. Having a car gives you the freedom to explore and can be cheaper than Ubering long distances.
On the other hand, Uber is a safe and accessible choice for shorter trips in and around Cape Town. It is not recommended that you use other forms of public transport like taxi buses, the train, or standard buses as they are notoriously unsafe.
Is Cape Town LGBT Friendly?
Yes, Cape Town is one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in South Africa, with a large queer community and its very own yearly pride parade. However, that does not mean everyone shares the same tolerant viewpoint.
As with many places in the world, homophobia will still be a relevant concern for LGBT travelers. Using your discretion, you should aim to be in areas where you can be yourself and safe at the same time.