11 free things to do in Cape Town

Posted by Nandi Majola on 4 September 2017

With budgets as tight as ever, we figured you could use a guide to the best free things to do in Cape Town – explore the spectacular outdoors, soak up some art and even find free beer.

Also read: 21 different things to do in Cape Town


1. Take a hike

Overlooking Camp’s Bay for sunset from the peak of Lions Head. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

It’s one of the most refreshing ways to encounter the natural environment and, let’s be real, snap some awesome Instagram pictures. Swap leg day at the gym for a hike or make it a part of your regular fitness regime. We highly recommend one of these free options: a do it yourself multi-day hike on Table Mountain or this weekend Cape Town city climb up Devil’s Peak

Otherwise, why not try the 3 Peaks Fun Challenge? The fourth edition takes place on 8, 9 and 10 September 2017 and you hike Lion’s Head, Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain on each day. The emphasis is on having fun and there’s great accomplishment in conquering each peak three days in a row. Register for the 3 Peaks Fun Challenge online or call 0713701246.


2. Tour the city

The beautiful colours of the Bo Kaap district. Photo by Melanie van Zyl,

Cape Town Free Walking Tours offers four different tours across the city and each one takes just 90 minutes. It’s a great way to rediscover Cape Town if you’re a local and touring by foot gives you a closer look at the place you call home. The history of the different areas is fascinating and you might even discover something new. Although it’s free, tipping the tour guide is expected so do bring a little cash. The first tour starts at 11:00 and at Green Market Square.

Also read: 3 days trips from Cape Town under R500


3. Visit this emerald urban gem

Ducks enjoy the waters below Cape Town’s iconic mountain. Photo by Terae De Cou

Getaway contributor, Rachel Robinson calls Green Point Park an ‘urban gem’ and by the time you’re finished reading about her experience, you’ll want to make it your happy place too. Read how to discover Green Point Park. For an extra R35, you can arrange to go on a guided tour of the park – arrange this with the Cape Town Stadium. Tel 0214170120.


4. Discover diamonds

Image by Diamond Works

Don’t let your savings account stop you from diving into the world of diamonds. It might be a random addition to the list, but the Sparkling Tour is free and educational with demonstrations on diamond cutting and a lesson on the history of SA’s diamond and gold trade. There’s also a complimentary glass of wine in the package…


5. See the stars

The Gamkeberg starscape. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe

Learn about the mysterious night sky on the second or fourth Saturday of every month when the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) in Observatory opens their doors to the public. Starting at 20:00 visitors sit down for a 45-minute presentation and an introduction to the notable McClean telescope. Weather permitting, there’s also a chance to observe the sky through the McClean and other telescopes.

Also find free Astronomy Outreach from now until 23 December 2017. Telescopes provided by the Cape Centre of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa mean you can take a closer look at the sun, moon and other interstellar objects at the V&A Waterfront Pierhead. Available from 15:00 to 21:30. Tel 0823354851 or 0828981057.

Tip: If you’re planning a weekend camping escape to the Cederberg, be sure to include a visit to the Cederberg Observatory. Open every Saturday (except around full moon), the privately run observatory in the Cederberg Mountains opens to the public for a presentation and telescope viewings. Free entry, but do make a donation.

Also read: Where to go stargazing in South Africa


 6. Go wine tasting

Is the sound of clinking glasses music to your ears? Are you well on your way to becoming a wine connoisseur? If your answer is ‘yes!’, then you’re in the right city. Wine Concepts in Newlands Village and Kloof Street offer free daily tastings tastings from participating wineries. The tastings are weekdays from 16:00 to 19:00 and 11:00 to 15:00 on Saturdays.

Also read: 20 things to do in the Winelands for under R100


7. Start the weekend with #FreeBeerFriday

Photo from Beerhouse on Long website

Get an early start to your weekend at Beerhouse in Long Street. A secret passphrase gets you a free beer between 16:00 and 17:00 on Friday. All you need to do is keep an eye on their Facebook or Twitter pages for the passphrase and repeat it at the door.

Also read: Winter restaurant specials in Cape Town


8. Cycle at full moon

Bikes in San Francisco. Image by Asher Isbrucker

Once a month, bicycle spokes glimmer in the moonlight as cyclists and bike-lovers ride casually through the streets. You can be a part of the Critical Mass event for free while making a statement about the benefits of using environmentally friendly transportation. It’s also a great way to have fun while admiring Cape Town’s beauty at dusk. The starting point is Green Point Circle and the cycle event is from 20:00 to 23:00. Here are the night cycle dates for the rest of 2017: 6 September, 5 October, 4 November and 3 December.


9. Take back the streets

On 1 October 2017, five kilometres of Main Road will be closed to cars as people come together in the spirit of community. Open Streets is an initiative encouraging pedestrians, wheelchair-users, skateboarders and cyclists to reclaim the streets as a public space. It will be happening for the first time on Main Road and along sections of Darling Street, Sir Lowry and Victoria Road. There will also be activities such as street performances, games, sports and street art. From 09:00 to 17:00. Tel 0212860823.


10. Get arty in the evening

Street art in Observatory. Image by Geraldine Schelin

There’s an air of creativity as you walk along Lower Main Road in Observatory and you can experience it best in an evening devoted to celebrating artistic expression. ART Thursdays shines the light on galleries, musicians, artists, establishments and entrepreneurs in Observatory every second Thursday of the month from 18:00 to 22:00.


11. Soak up some serious culture

For the last five years, Cape Town’s edition of First Thursdays has been a popular choice for mid-week recreation. You don’t have to wait until the weekend to get to an art gallery because on the first Thursday of each month they’re open until the late. This means you can catch some of the latest exhibitions and attend other cultural events and performances. It’s a creative way to explore the city and you can download a self-guided map to get around. There might even be freebies along the way. First Thursdays mainly happens along Bree and Church Street between 17:00 and 21:00. The next one is on 7 September 2017.

If we’ve missed anything out, do let us know in the comments!

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