The Complete Guide to Cape Town

Urban Adventures guide showing travellers murals at Salt River, Cape Town

Welcome to Cape Town – a colourful and diverse blend of cosmopolitan culture, rich history and spectacular scenery. The compact city centre is ideally situated between a bustling harbour and the iconic Table Mountain which provides a breath-taking backdrop wherever your standing!  There’s something for everyone here – from unique shops, street vendors, cafés and restaurants to exciting architecture, street art, craft markets, theatres and museums.

Getting to and from CPT airport

CPT is the second-busiest airport in South Africa, so be organised and plan your onward route!  Depending on your budget (and how long you’re spending here) there are a few options to get to the city centre.  The MyCiTi Airport station is located in the main Airport terminal and has level access into the arrivals and departures hall for domestic and international flights. The MyCiTi A01 bus departs the Airport every 30 minutes (on the hour and at 30 minutes past the hour) and costs R100 for a one-way ticket.

If you’re taking a taxi, be sure to choose a branded, metered one (such as Unicab) which will cost around R200.

You could also use the Uber app to book a car to take you to your destination; this will allow you to agree a fare in advance, find out the name of your driver and pay by either cash or card.

Getting Around the City

Urban Adventures Guide waiting to get on Metro train

Taking the Metro. Photo credit: Cape Town Urban Adventures

Cape Town is pretty compact, so walking from place to place is easy here, as long as you take the necessary safety precautions – be warned, drivers often don’t follow the rules here and the ‘green men’ on pedestrian crossings don’t always work as they should!

If you’d rather use the MyCiTi buses, you can buy a myconnect card for R35 from a MyCiTi station kiosk.  You can top-up your myconnect card and use it to tap in and out of any journeys you take.  If you decide to use the MyCiTi buses during your stay, it’s a good idea to do a little research on the routes available – sometimes it can be quicker to walk! Buses run between 0500hrs and 1900hrs, so it’s best to use taxis or Ubers for afternoon/evening journeys.

Taxis within the city centre will cost roughly R50 to R150 – make sure you choose a branded one.  Alternatively, book an Uber to get from place to place.

A “hop on – hop off” bus is available and costs between R200 and R400 per adult, depending on the package you choose.

For a truly local experience (or should that say white-knuckle ride!) try a minibus taxi – these are cheap – a bit cramped and crazy, but very original and fun!

Things to do in the City

Urban Adventures guide showing travellers murals at Salt River, Cape Town

Check out the murals at Salt River with Urban Adventures. Photo credit: Cape Town Urban Adventures

Visit the Newlands Stadium for a classic sport experience in (arguably!) the most beautiful sports ground in the world.  See the Cape Cobras cricket team in action during the summer months or the Western Province rugby team in winter.  Boasting magnificent views of Table Mountain and an electric atmosphere, it’s a fantastic place to visit – whether you’re a sports enthusiast or not!  Buy tickets online or at the stadium.

Find the Fugard Theatre in the historic Sacks Futeran building in District 6. There’s a wide variety of productions  to choose from throughout the year, including theatre plays, music events and cinema events in the bioscope.  Tickets typically cost between R150 and R300 and can be booked via the website.

Visiting in March? Don’t miss the glamorous Cape Town Carnival, a colourful annual celebration of local customs.  Seated tickets cost R350 and give you a spectacular bird’s eye view from a bleacher-style terraced platform.  Grab the opportunity to experience “a jolt of energy, a call to action and a celebration of human potential” at this dazzling event!

Discover some of the city’s best street art in the Salt River Area. Here you’ll find a large collection of murals sponsored by  Baz Art, a non-profit organization who are highlighting the power of street art to bring positive change to a community. Discover the story behind this street art revolution on Urban Adventures’ Salt River Art tour.

For more ideas on how to get the best from your visit to Cape Town, take a look at What’s on in Cape Town or Cape Town magazine.

Movies set in Cape Town

Safe House movie poster featuring Ryan Reynolds

Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington shot the movie Safe House in Cape Town. Reynolds said in an interview that he loved the city and especially missed dining out at Mzoli’s, a legendary street food vendor. Photo credit: Universal Pictures

Action thriller Safe House (2012) features Ryan Reynolds as a CIA agent looking after a fugitive (Denzel Washington) in a Cape Town safe house.  When the safe house is compromised he finds himself on the run with his charge.  It took nearly three months to build the safe house used in the film on a makeshift soundstage at the former 3 Arts Theatre.  There’s plenty of Cape Town’s signature scenery on offer in this movie, from Table Mountain to Langa and the city centre.

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013) explores Nelson Mandela’s life from his childhood in the tiny village of Mvezo to his democratic election as president of South Africa.  See Mandela (Idris Elba) walk on the balcony of Cape Town’s City Hall and scenes of Robben Island where Mandela spent 18 of his 27 years imprisoned.

Music

Get into the Cape Town spirit with local band Freshlyground’s catchy, toe-tapping tracks – guaranteed to get you in the mood for your visit to the Mother City!  Following the release of their debut album Jika Jika in 2003, Freshlyground have enjoyed continuing success with tours across the globe and seven more popular albums.  Former US President Barack Obama described them as an example of South Africa’s contributions to the world – Barack’s clearly got great taste in music as this band offers positive, uplifting sounds to reflect eclectic Cape Town (plus a very amusing tongue-in-cheek video to their song “Chicken to Change”, which, believe it or not, has a serious political message!)