What To Do In Cape Town When Traveling on a Budget
I spent a little over a month in South Africa before making my way to the beautiful and colorful city of Cape Town. I was heading there from Wilderness, which is about a five-hour drive and costs about R300 organized by the backpackers. Without knowing what to do in Cape Town, I kind of wanted to experience the city day by day with no plans. I wasn't necessarily interested in doing any wine tours, attending Robben Island, Penguin beach and a few more due to having a very tight budget. I did, however, buy tickets to attend the Beer Festival which I'll talk about a bit later. As far as accommodation in Cape Town goes, hostels were the only option since I found the city to be a bit expensive. I got the opportunity to stay both in Green Point and Long Street which are both in a fun and relatively safe neighborhoods.
Getting to and around Cape Town
No doubt the easiest way to travel within South Africa is through BazBus. Which I find to be more expensive, although the convenient. I chose to fly with budget airlines like FlySafair and Mango or local buses such as Greyhound. Flights to Cape Town from Johannesburg typically range from R700 - R1000 during high season. Buses, on the other hand, can be cheaper but longer. Once in Cape Town, getting around is pretty easy through public transportation like “kombis”, buses and Uber which is what I used most of the time. A friend and I chose Uber due to its low cost plus convenience. Sure, it’s more than public trans but it’s much cheaper than taxis; almost half the price.
What To do
The Neighbourgoods Market
The first thing I did after a long/hot bus ride from Wilderness was head to Old Biscuit Mill for the Neighbourgoods Market held every Saturday, one of the places to visit in Cape Town. This market has another location in Braamfontein, Johannesburg which I loved so much that I decided to check out the one in Cape Town. A friend and I took an Uber to the market from Green Point where we were staying which cost around R50. My first initial thought was how busy this market was, it was almost impossible to walk around. With that many people, it also made it very difficult to find what you wanted to eat. Not sure if time makes a difference But I think going a bit later around noon would be less chaotic. After looking around for a some minutes, I saw some eggs and bacon going around and decided to have that. This delicious egg benny was served on potato hash with a side of bacon which cost R50. The market isn't only for food, if you turn left while you enter, you will find heaps of vendors selling anything from shoes, bags, clothes and much more. You can easily spend one-two hours here if not more and rewarded with a musical guest on either end of the market. This market is opened every Saturday during the high season, typically October till about March.
Thanks to living in Los Angeles, I've grown to love and appreciate breweries. Since I wasn't planning on going on a wine tour, what better way to substitute other than a brewery. I know, one must go to a wine tour while in the Cape Town area, but truth is, I'm a poor backpacker. I'm also very aware of how good and popular South African wine is, but I think their beer is also good. Woodstock Brewery is located in the Woodstock neighborhood, a couple of blocks away from Old Biscuit Mill, making it the perfect place to go after the market or a bit of shopping. This was a great brewery with awesome beer knowledgeable staff and of course a great selection of beer. The prices are quite reasonable, ranging from R30 for a glass also R30 for the sampler. The only negative, some days they close at 5 pm, which is a bit early.
The Cape Town Festival of Beer
I may or may not have had too much beer on this trip. I purchased my tickets online a few days before the festival for R150. This three-day festival included more than 50 breweries and ciders from South Africa located in Green Point. Breweries included Soweto Gold, Devil's Peak, Stellenbosch Brewery and much more. What I liked about this festival was how calm and quiet it was. We must have spent hours here drinking till late afternoon. While you were given samples to taste, getting a pint only cost R30. There were also tons of food available from pulled pork sandwiches, Mexican food and biltong. I mean, what's a beer festival without food.
I've seen loads of pictures of people posing on these beautiful walls, so making a trip there was a no brainer. Bo-Kaap, formerly a township is located above the city center on the slopes of Signal Hill and took about 15 minutes to walk there from Long Street where I stayed. There is a museum which closes at 5, unfortunately, I didn't get to go. Here, you will find mostly Africans, Indonesians, Indians and Sri Lankan families. A trip to this colorful neighborhood should be on your list of things to do in Cape Town.
There are a couple of beaches in Cape Town, but I chose Camps Bay. Which was about a 20 minute Uber ride from my hostel on Long St. The drive to Camps Bay starts off in the city center then turns into stunning views of the ocean from the hills. I went to Camps Bay on a Wednesday, it was a bit busy but not as busy as I had thought it would be. Camps Bay was recommended to us by the hostel staff and I'm sure you can see why. This beach is surrounded by beautiful mountains and has many big rocks, making it perfect for a walk around.
What To Eat
Royale Eatery on Long St
There's no doubt Cape Town, a city once named the best city in the world a few years back knows a thing or two about food. Exploring the food scene is always something I'm looking forward to, but as I was on a strict budget, I only got a chance to try a few places. One of those places was Royale Eatery located on the busy Long St. A burger joint serving gourmet meat, vegetarian and vegan, not to mention delicious milkshakes. I ordered an Ostrich burger, first time eating Ostrich and it was delicious, especially with the chili sauce served on the side. Aside from Royale Eatery, other places such as Inside & You're Out on Bree St got the job done. Speaking of, Bree st which is located just an avenue from Long Street is home to some of Cape Towns best eats and cafes.
Anyone who's been to Cape Town can easily agree Cape Town's nightlife can be found on long St. Although it can be quite touristic, locals party here as well. One thing you should know, partying on Long St is quite expensive, much more expensive than any other city in South Africa. Beers usually go for over R35, I once paid R45 for a corona. To make things a lot cheaper, we chose a hostel within walking distance to all bars/restaurants, which also had a rooftop bar with drinks half the price from the rest. Long St is flooded with bars, being bored isn't an option. My favorites were The Dubliner, an Irish pub that has live music and Cafe Mojito, a Caribbean restaurant/bar with great music.