Visitor guide

Image Title
Visitor guide
Get In TouchAdded to bucket list
Visitor guide
Get In TouchAdded to bucket list

Wonderful and once-in-a-lifetime experiences await you in Cape Town and the Western Cape. But before you get to the fun part, you need to know what to expect from the weather, how our currency works and what local phrases you should learn to make a good impression. Here's some useful information to keep in in mind for your trip:

Population

More than six-million people call Cape Town and the Western Cape their home (6 166 324, to be exact).

Climate

We have a year-round mild Mediterranean climate, with temperatures averaging between 15°C and 27°C. Have a look at the video below for a crash course on what you need to know about weather in Cape Town and the Western Cape:

Currency

We use the South African rand – and no, you won't be able to use your dollars here. But with a favourable exchange rate, you'll get more than enough bang for your buck. How far does the rand stretch? Take a look:

Foreign exchange

As we’ve mentioned, you can only pay in rands in South Africa. But it’s super easy to swap your dollars for rands. Money can be exchanged at the airport, commercial banks, Rennies Travel and American Express. These can be found in most shopping centres in Cape Town and the Western Cape. You may also find exchange facilities in some hotels.

Banking hours are 9am to 3.30pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to 11am on Saturdays (closed on Sundays and public holidays).

If you don’t have any cash on you, no worries – all major credit cards are accepted at most establishments.

Safety

Keeping you safe in Cape Town and the Western Cape is a top priority for us. Unfortunately, like many other places in the world some areas grapple with the unacceptable impact of crime.

To counteract this sad occurrence, we continually invest in and work with initiatives such as increased law enforcement deployment, technology expansion and safety awareness at work to provide a safe environment for all.

We want you to leave our beautiful region with nothing but happy memories. To ensure a pleasurable trip, please keep in mind a few precautions that you can employ on all your travels across the world:

  • Avoid walking in deserted and dark places at night
  • Never allow strangers to assist you in any way at ATMs
  • At night, park in a secure and well-lit area with street guards.
  • Keep photocopies and all valuable documents in a safe place

For more information about safety and our initiatives in Cape Town and the Western Cape, visit the Nowhere Better website.

Water

You have undoubtedly heard of the Cape Town water crisis and Day Zero, the day that taps in the city would have run dry. Don’t panic. We have water.

We have overcome great challenges and have become a much greater city for it. We also have a much healthier relationship with natural resources. On your visit you’ll probably notice water-saving tips and initiatives in hotels and restaurants.

Take a look at the Nowhere Better website to learn more about our dam levels and water-saving initiatives.

Emergency numbers

Accidents do happen – it’s part of life. But be prepared for any scenario by saving these numbers on your phone before your trip:

  • For all emergency services from your mobile, dial 112
  • For all emergencies from a landline, dial 107
  • To call the South African Police Service, dial 10111

Duty-free shopping

All stores charge a value-added tax (VAT) of 15% levied on the purchase of most goods in South Africa. As a foreign visitor you may apply for a refund of the VAT you pay while in the country provided you apply before you depart.

Ensure that you keep your tax receipts for all purchases made. To claim your VAT refund, present all your tax receipts to the VAT administrator at your point of departure.

FAQs

The MyCiTi bus rapid transit system offers regular shuttle services to and from the airport. The service operates from the Civic Centre bus station in the city centre on weekdays, weekends and public holidays. Travel on the service requires a myconnect card, which can be purchased from MyCiTi station kiosks and participating retailers.

Metered taxis, car rentals and ride-hailing services (such as Uber) are also available at the airport.

Money can be exchanged at the airport, commercial banks, Rennies Travel and American Express. These can be found in most shopping centres in Cape Town and the Western Cape. You may also find exchange facilities in some hotels.

Banking hours are 9am to 3.30pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to 11am on Saturdays (closed on Sundays and public holidays).

Drinking water in South Africa is safe to drink and cook with when taken from taps in urban areas. This means you can save on plastic and just fill up your water bottle each day!

If you are visiting a rural area you need to be careful as the water may not be safe for consumption, so you may need to take extra precautions. Simply check with locals or a guide to find out if the water there is safe or not.

Capetonians love Table Mountain and there are many ways you can enjoy it, too. You can:

  • Take the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway to the top of the famous mountain. It’s the quickest and easiest way to get to the top. Along the way you’ll be treated to panoramic views of the city. The view at the top is nothing short of spectacular. Book your tickets online to skip queues
  • Take the scenic route to the top with a hike. There are many routes starting in and around the city varying in difficulty and time. Research your route in advance, always pack a jacket and let friends or your hotel know about your trip. Learn more on Sanparks’ safe hiking guide
  • Enjoy the view from afar. You’ll quickly realise that at most places in Cape Town you’ll be treated to a beautiful view of the mountain. For a leisurely experience, head to the V&A Waterfront and enjoy a meal or drink at one of the waterside restaurants. The view is worth it, we promise!

It really depends on how much time you have. In and around Cape Town the most famous wine routes are the Constantia Wine Route, Franschhoek Wine Route and Stellenbosch Wine Route. Looking further into the province we have about 20 wine routes.

If you're looking for an in-depth wine experience, take a look at the Visit Winelands website to learn more about our wine routes and what you can do on each.

If you only have a short time, hop on the Franschhoek Wine Tram or pop in for a tasting at Groot Constantia Wine Estate.

That's up to you. Car guards work long hours day and night to look after your vehicle and will also help you in and out of your parking space if you're on a busy street. If you use these services, you should definitely reward the guard.

You can decide the amount to tip, unless you have made an arrangement with the guard beforehand. If you request the assistance of a guard, always ask their name so that you can ensure you pay the correct person upon your return.

In certain areas in Cape Town you need to pay for street parking, even if it's only for five minutes. This is not optional, nor negotiable. A uniformed parking attendant with a mobile parking meter will assist you in doing this. You can pay beforehand or upon your return with cash or the mobile payment service SnapScan. Always request a receipt upon payment.

Although most people employed in the service industry will receive a base salary, tips generally form part of the bulk that they take home each day. If you’ve experienced excellent service, show your appreciation with a tip.

The general minimum tipping rate in South Africa is 10%.

Personally we love Cape Town all-year round. But it’s good to keep in mind that our winters (June to August) are generally cold and rainy, with summers (December to February) being warm and dry. Temperatures average between 15°C and 27°C.

Summer is also peak season in the province, meaning it’s very busy and you will encounter crowds at the main attractions.

Cape Town and the Western Cape are home to excellent healthcare staff and hospitals. Depending on your healthcare plan, you can visit a private or public hospital. If it's an emergency, don't waste time – call these numbers for urgent assistance:

  • For all emergency services from your mobile, dial 112
  • For all emergencies from a landline, dial 107
  • To call the South African Police Service, dial 10111

Shops at major malls such as the V&A Waterfront and Canal Walk are open until 9pm every day, while shops in shopping centres close at 7pm. Informal traders and flea markets generally trade from 9pm to 4pm. Muslim-owned businesses are closed between 12pm and 2pm on Fridays.

Different regions in the province have varying laws when it comes to buying alcohol from shops or a liquor store. Generally liquor stores will open at 11am and close at 8pm each day. You can also order alcohol from restaurants and bars after 11am.

The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works continually works to upgrade roads in Cape Town and the Western Cape. All highways and main roads are thus in a good condition.

If you’re asking because you want to hire a car, a normal sedan will do for most of the province. If you’re looking for an adventure, we also have many great 4x4 trails in nature reserves – but don't forget to upgrade your car!

You’ll find most major car-rental agencies at Cape Town International Airport, so you can book a vehicle as you arrive. It’s best to book your rental beforehand, especially if you’re travelling in peak season, to ensure your booking.

Keep in mind that you will need a driver’s licence that is valid in South Africa, or an international driver’s license.

Indeed it does! Uber operates in Cape Town and most of the province (except for rural areas). You can also use Cape Town as a base and Uber to your destination, even if it’s a longer distance, such as going to the Cape Winelands.

Top tip: Uber Eats also operates in Cape Town, so try some of our delicious food while you’re here!

South Africa has 11 official languages – yes, we really do! In the Western Province, English, Xhosa and Afrikaans are the most commonly spoken languages.

Want to make some local friends? Here are a few handy phrases:

Afrikaans

  • Goeiemore: Good morning
  • Totsiens: Goodbye
  • Dankie: Thank you

Xhosa

  • Molo
Bhota
Sala: Hello
  • Kakuhle: Goodbye
  • Enkosi: Thank you

It depends on where you’re from. Please visit the Department of Home Affairs website to see if you need a visa, as well as the process for obtaining one.