10 things to do in Cape Town for under 50 bucks

Posted on 7 May 2013

Beyond what some people call ‘The Champagne Curtain’ is South Africa’s most exquisite and beautiful treasure – Cape Town. I decided to tighten up my purse strings and explore a collaboration of countryside and cosmopolitan to prove that you don’t need to be Rockefeller to rock the mother city.

1.  Cruise the coastline

Wind your windows down, plug in your iPod and prepare to be amazed – the coastline of Cape Town is littered with charming towns, picnic spots, trendy stop offs and magnificent views. Whether you chose to meander along the cliffs of Chapman’s Peak and gaze across the Atlantic Seaboard or potter through the seaside towns that hem the warmer Indian Ocean; there is no better way to embrace the Cape than to allow yourself to be swept away by its abundant and vast beauty. If you chose to head westward as I did, you’ll find the toll at Chapman’s Peak is worth every cent!

Cost: R33

Areas: Sea Point, Camps Bay, Clifton, Hout Bay, Llandudno, Noordhoek

View of Noordehoek Beach

Brilliant views of an eary Noordhoek Beach from Chapmans Peak Drive

Chapmans Peak Viewpoint

Just one of many viewpoints on Chapmans Peak Drive overlooking Hout Bay harbour

2.       Lose track of time in Simon’s Town

One of my favourite little spots is Simon’s Town, tucked away on the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula, and home to the South African Navy. The town transports you into another era with its quaint coffee shops, antique stores and historic buildings. Indulge in a delicious treat from one of the patisseries, or spend an hour looking at old Navy uniforms, antique treasures and trinkets on one of the many nostalgic shops that line the main road.

Cost: R25 for a FAB treat at The Sweetest Thing Patisserie, R15 buys you the company of a newspaper and exploring the nooks and crannies of Simons Town is mahala!

Area: Simon’s Town

Vintage signage in Simons Town

An old retro vintage sign on the main road of Simons Town for the local salon.

An old record store in Simons Town

Second hand shops and vintage stores add to the small town appeal in Simons Town

An antique shop in Simons Town

Great finds and old navy apparel at this little antique shop on the main road in Simons Town

Another great second hand store on the main road in Simons Town

A second hand store that welcomes hippies in Simons Town

Simons Town Harbour

Picturesque harbour in Simon’s Town is a hub of activity with restaurants, boat trips and shops

 3.       Paddle with the penguins

You can’t leave Simon’s Town without stopping by Boulders Beach, just a short drive away, where you will undoubtedly find yourself cooing and “ooh”-ing at a colony of penguins who have made it their home and local hangout. The rocky beach boasts shallow clear water pools where you can bask with the birds as they curiously waddle and splash, unperturbed by visitors. A short walk through lush coastal fauna and flora will take you to a private penguin paradise to watch penguin antics play out like pantomime.

Cost: R45 gets you in and includes access to a swimming beach and various viewing decks.

Area: Simon’s Town

Entrance to Boulders Beach, Simons Town

Boulders Beach entrance – just a short drive from the hub of Simons Town

Visditors Centre at Boulders Beach

Welcoming sign at the Visitors Centre at Boulders Beach

Jackass penguin at Boulders Beach

One of many Jackass penguins emerging from the sea at Boulders Beach

Penguin colony at Boulders Beach

Colony of penguins basking in the sun at Boulders Beach

Penguin familly at Boulders Beach

Penguin family perched on a dune at Boulders Beach

4.       Peak at Lions Head

Between the momentous Table Mountain and Signal Hill is a spot that locals have come to know very well, particularly when there is a full moon. Take the short hike up Lions Head and you will be rewarded with epic views, ample photo opportunities and a plethora of natural splendour. There are some tricky rocky bits as you reach the top but what’s a walk in the wild without a little adventure?

Cost: R0

Areas: Table Mountain National Park, Gardens, Bo-Kaap

Lions Head Hike Start

The starting point to an easy trek up Lions Head

Veiw of Seapoint from Lions Head

Short rest to take in the panoramic views of Seapoint from Lions Head

Small bird perched on a Protea tree

Fauna and Flora along the path up Lions Head

Summit of Lions Head

Lions Head, peak of the mountain with spectacular views of Cape Town

Small flower on the path

Small Flower growing out of a footprint on the way up to Lions Head

View of Signal Hill

Lions head view of neighbouring Signal Hill

5.       Get bike-curious

The promenade in Sea Point is reminiscent of a bustling Miami coastline with outdoor gyms, runners, landing para-gliders, rollerbladers and  Frisbee-chasing pooches. It seems like a total waste not to experience the fresh sea air and shore by bicycle. You’ll love how flat and easy it is to ride so grab a bike for an hour and be a part of the action! There are plenty of places to stop for an ice cream or a quick mouthful of sushi along the way. You may even land up in Camps Bay if your legs take you fast enough!

Cost: R40 will rent you a bike for an hour

Areas: Sea Point, Mouille Point, Green point, Clifton, Camps Bay

Bikes for Hire, Seapoint

Hire a bike and cycle the Seapoint promenade

Cycle the Sea Point shoreline

Great atmosphere along the Sea Point shoreline

6.       Swoon over the Seals of Duikereilande

Now commonly named Seal Island, Duikereilande is situated just off False Bay and is home to the puppies of the sea – a colony of around 75000 Cape Fur Seals. Boat trips depart from Hout Bay and Simons Town to visit this unbelievable community of rock-basking, game-playing, wave-cavorting mammals daily, and the short 45 minute trip through waves and currents is an exciting expedition all on its own.

Cost: R45 for your ticket

Areas: False Bay, Hout Bay

Glass Bottom Boat, Hout Bay

Glass bottom boat departing daily to Seal Island from Hout Bay harbour

Seals sitting on the rocks at Seal Island

Cape Fur Seals soaking up the sun on the rocks of Seal Island

Cape Fur Seals swimming Seal Island

Cape Fur Seals ducking and diving into the waves around Seal Island

7.       Get your kicks at Green Point Stadium

An impressive modern piece of architecture looms over Green Point like a piece of South African history and a reminder of cascading celebrations and festivities from three years ago. You can now take an informative tour of Green Point Stadium daily to have a look at where international sports super stars once wowed our country with victories and vendettas. Run your hands along the green carpeted field or hang out in the locker room where the greats have washed off their soccer boots.

Cost: R45

Towns: Sea Point, Green Point

Greenpoint Soccer Stadium

The mighty stadium proudly stands in Green Point

Inside Greenpoint_Stadium_

A first glance at a bright and welcoming stadium in Green Point

Greenpoint Stadium Field

Soft green carpet of grass on the Green Point Stadium field

8.       Chow Down at Kalkies

There is no doubt that Cape Town hosts an insurmountable spread of exquisite restaurants and café’s where you will get impeccable seafood and elegant service. However, if you are in the business of a good old fashioned fish and chips – then, like me, you want authenticity and above all local flavour. Kalkies, in the harbour of Kalk Bay has an out-of-this-world menu of seafood that’s been caught only a few meters away and deep fried to crispy perfection. The tartar on top (if I may) is the unapologetically genuine service and atmosphere. Orders being called out from the kitchen, seagulls snarking with envy at the massive portions of hake, and barrels of laughter from every corner of the small rusty shop.

Cost: R45 buys you the chef’s recommendation: a massive portion of fried hake and chips

Area: Kalk Bay

Kalkies Restaurant in the Kalk Bay Harbour

Kalkies Restaurant situated amongst a hum of activity in Kalk Bay harbour

Lunch time at Kalkies

Fried Hake and Chips washed down with a cold beer at Kalkies Restaurant in Kalk Bay

Generous helpings of the most delicious local seafood at Kalkies, Kalk Bay

9.       Laze under a tree in Kirstenbosch Gardens

I can only describe it as what I imagine opening the door to Narnia must feel like – a kind of wonderland with forests, lush lawns, exploding Protea gardens, thickets of bright blossoms, wise old trees outstretched over rocky water ponds and an endless sea of green at the foot of Table Mountain. I can’t picture a better way to spend a few hours on a sunny day than lying under the shade of a tree, counting clouds or catching up on a good book. The smile factor is huge with families of guinea fowl scurrying past, or the sight of a small mongoose making its escape across an open grassy plain.

Cost: R45 for adults, but they have student and pensioner discounts as well.

Area: Kirstenbosch Gardens

Foot of Table Mountain at Kirctenbosch Gardens

Sunlight cascading down Table Mountain onto Kirstenbosch Gardens

Flowers at Kirstenbosch Gardens

A colourful burst of flowers at Kirstenbosch Gardens

Nature at its best at Kirstenbosch

Nature up close at Kirstenbosch Gardens

3 Trees on a hill Kirstenbosch Gardens

3 Trees on a rolling lawn at Kirstenbosch Gardens

Guinea Fowl walking the grass at Kirstenbosch Gardens

Guinea Fowl headed for higher pastures at Kirstenbosch Gardens

Mongoose crossing Kirstenbosch Gardens

Mongoose about to make his escape across the greens at Kirstenbosch Gardens

Under the Trees at Kirstenbosch Gardens

A view from a lazy spot under a tree at Kirstenbosch Gardens

10.   Sip on a cocktail as you watch the sun set

The Bungalow in Clifton gives you the feeling that you may be on some exotic island, about to embark on an evening of stories. Well, that was most certainly the effect that the signature Banana and Coconut Daiquiri had on me as I watched the sun disappear behind a blackening blue horizon. In summer you’ll be able to enjoy the vibe from inside a small pool where you can cool off from a crazy day in the city bowl or lounging on Clifton 4th. Cocktails are very reasonably priced considering that they are all very tasty with a real kick that’ll send you straight to paradise… if you haven’t settled in already.

Cost: You can order a great cocktail for under R50, I also really enjoyed the Mellow Yellow – a mush of Mango and Mint, truly yummy!

The pool bar at The Bungalow

A spot to sit and sip in summer at The Bungalow, Clifton

Trendy bar at The Bungalow

Trendy casual bar overlooking the sea at The Bungalow, Clifton

Banana Coconut Daqueri at The Bungalow

Smooth and sweet Banana and Coconut Daiquiri makes you feel like you are on a tropical island at The Bungalow, Clifton

If you think Cape Town is only for larneys and the loaded, you are unequivocally and most certainly wrong. There is so much to see and do for next to nothing that I assure you, you won’t ever have to worry about FOMO. Pack your sense of adventure and prepare to have your perspective turned upside down – not your wallet.

*Prices are subject to change at time of publication


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