About Cape Town

With stunning scenery, temperate climate and well-developed infrastructure, Cape Town is not only the most popular international tourist destination in South Africa, but Africa as a whole.

The city is famous for its harbour, its natural beauty, world famous winelands and landmarks like Table Mountain and Cape Point.

Cape Town is a vibrant city, alive with culture and entertainment. Further afield, the beautiful province of the Western Cape lies ready to be explored.

Cape Town and the Western Cape has four world-class universities and many other other research institutions in fields as diverse as astronomy, science, medicine and social politics

Cape Town is the second most populated city in South Africa after Johannesburg and the provincial capital and primate city of the Western Cape. As the seat of the National Parliament, it is also the legislative capital of the country.

Transport

Cape Town International Airport is served by more than 20 international airlines on a weekly basis, linking the destination to global hubs like Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Dubai, Singapore and London (and a wide variety of other connections via Johannesburg)

  • The city is an overnight flight from any European destination.
  • The airport is situated 20 minutes from the city centre.
  • On arrival, access to ground transport is simple and convenient, with taxis and coaches the most obvious options.
  • Modern public transport system conveniently connects the city with the MyCiti Bus service.

Climate

The Cape has a typical Mediterranean climate - warm summers and mild and cool, wet winters.

Summer temperatures range between 15 °C (59 °F) and 27 °C (80.6 °F)

Winter temperature ranges between 7 °C (44.6 °F) at night and 18 °C (64.4 °F) by day.

Population

The Western Cape has a population of 5.8 million.

Language

English is widely spoken and understood.

Most South Africans are bilingual; Afrikaans and Xhosa are two official languages, mostly spoken in the Western Cape.

Visas

Visas are issued by the South African missions abroad and must be affixed in the applicant’s passport before departing for South Africa.

Visas are not issued on arrival at South African ports on entry.

For an overview, please see the Visa Procedure page

For detailed information, please visit the South African Government website

Currency

Foreign currency can be exchanged at commercial banks and at various Bureaux de Change.

The Rand (ZAR) is the official currency in South Africa.

Banks are open Monday to Friday, typically opening between 9am and 3pm; on Saturday opening hours are between 9am and 11am.

Tax

The majority of goods sold in South Africa are subject to a 14% Value Added Tax (VAT). Tourists are not exempt from paying VAT. However, they can claim back the VAT portion if the value of the goods bought exceeds a certain amount – currently, R250.

To claim the VAT, the goods must be taken out of the country within 90 days from the date of purchase. The goods must be presented for inspection on departure and accompanied with a tax invoice. The invoice should contain the usual information (name of the seller, seller’s VAT registration number, description of goods, the price and the VAT amount). If the value of the goods on any single invoice exceed a certain amount (currently R2000), the buyer’s name and address should also appear on the invoice or on the credit card payment slip.

Visitors who wish to claim VAT should go to the VAT refund administration office or customs official at the port of exit. If a tourist leaves South Africa without claiming a VAT refund, it is still possible to do it, but the procedure is more involved. Such a claim must be lodged within three months from the date of export.

There is no VAT exemption on eating, drinking, or going out in South Africa; goods consumed or services rendered in the country do not qualify for VAT refunds.

Internet and Wireless Connectivity

South Africa offers a sophisticated internet network and Wireless (Wi-Fi) is readily available throughout the city. Most of the hotels will offer Wi-Fi connectivity.

Mobile Phones

A variety of mobile networks are available in South Africa and local Sim cards are available at airports and major shopping centres.

Electric Current

240 volts AC.

For small appliances, a plug adaptor may be needed for three pin sockets.

Driving

An international driver’s licence is required when driving around South Africa.

Driving is on the left and speed limits are in kilometres.

Time

South African Time is set at GMT +2. There are no time zone differences within South Africa and there is no daylight saving system in summer.

Shopping Hours

Monday to Sunday typically open between 9am – 5.30pm, although the V&A Waterfront and Canal Walk shopping centers are open until 9pm.

Your Host City: A Safe City

Cape Town is as safe as most international cities, and this is in no small measure due to the efforts of the Central City Improvement District (CCID).

One of the main drivers behind the establishment of the CCID in 2000 was to make Cape Town’s Central City the safest in the country. The vision was to set up effective preventive and reactive security measures through highly visible police officers, mobile vehicles and a bicycle squad twenty four hours a day.

This public/private partnership collects more than R27 million a year from property owners in the city, half of which pays for extra security on the streets of Cape Town’s CBD.

Altogether, 200 security officers keep the streets of the CBD safe, day and night, for all those who work in, live in or visit the city. The dedicated team of security managers and foot officers, who are highly visible, patrol the streets on a 24-hour basis.

The officers are multi-lingual officers, all fluent in English. Other languages widely spoken are Afrikaans and Xhosa.

A CCTV surveillance network, paid for by the City of Cape Town, assists in keeping crime at bay. In addition, Cape Town now also boasts a municipal police force. Three hundred and fifty officers have already been trained, 35 of whom are allocated to the central city specifically.

CCID security officers work in a close partnership with the private sector and all law enforcement agencies by communicating on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

The CCID officers work regularly with the SAPS in special operations related to illegal activities in problem buildings, illegal trading, fraud, drug trafficking and prostitution.

This unique partnership has seen a consistent decrease in the crime rate – and to date, since 2000, the CBD has experienced an astounding 85 percent decrease in crime.

A mobile Safety Kiosk, set up by the CCID Security Department, which provides visible security in a range of locations, has made a huge contribution to security in the city. The kiosk provides visible policing in key locations, events, hotspot areas and problematic locations.

Key Tourist Attractions

Cape Town has so much to offer as a tourist destination, with South Africa’s top six tourist attractions within one hour’s drive from the city centre: the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront; Table Mountain; Cape Point; the Cape Winelands; Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens; and Robben Island- a short boat trip away.

Table Mountain
South Africa’s world-renowned icon, Table Mountain, was afforded National Park status in May 1998. The mountain offers magnificent views, cable car rides, mountain-biking, hiking, serious rock climbing, cross country running, fascinating botany, birding and for the more adventurous, abseiling and paragliding. Visitors are treated to a spectacular view during the ride to the top of Table Mountain aboard a modern cable car with a revolving floor.

Cape Point
The Cape of Good Hope and Cape Point form part of the Cape Peninsula National Park and are managed by South African National Parks. Visitors can enjoy the 7,750 hectares reserve of indigenous flora and fauna and over 150 bird species and can also travel with the only funicular in Africa to the viewing platform 678 metres above the sea.

Victoria and Albert Waterfront
Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Waterfront has established itself as a leading world-class waterfront. The unique working harbour with scenic views of Table Mountain combined with entertainment options like shopping, street musicians, museums, an aquarium, boat trips and cinemas promise to make any visit an unforgettable experience.

Kirstenbosch botanical gardens
Kirstenbosch is internationally acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens of the world. Situated on the south eastern slopes of Cape Town’s magnificent Table Mountain, the estate covers 528 hectares and includes a cultivated garden and a nature reserve. Indeed the tiny Cape Peninsula has more floral diversity than the whole of Europe combined.

Robben Isand
Robben Island is one of South Africa’s four World Heritage sites. This barren windswept island was the prison home of former President Nelson Mandela for 18 years. Here you can experience the view that kept Nelson Mandela’s dream of freedom for his country alive

Constantia Winelands
South Africa and the Western Cape produce some of the world’s best wines. The first wines in South Africa were produced at Steenberg in 1695 and Groot Constantia is the oldest productive wine estate in the country situated within the city of Cape Town.