Is Cape Town Safe? – The Complete Guide by Remote Year
3. Jan. 2023
Cape Town, South Africa, is a great destination with crime and safety concerns like other major cities.
Safety concerns have done nothing to deter visitors; millions of tourists visit Cape Town each year. And it's one of the most popular to work remotely worldwide, a growing digital nomad hub.
Crime rates differ by neighborhood; it’s safer to stay in the city suburbs and business districts like Victoria Waterfront…
As a female solo traveler, it’s recommended to take extra safety measures when in Cape Town.
You’ll be safe in Cape Town, provided you maintain a level of awareness and keep to standard security guidelines.
Cape Town is South Africa’s port city, located on the Atlantic coast. The city has so much to offer, from enjoying Boulders' Beach with some African penguins, going to amazing award-winning restaurants, enjoying the Cape Winelands with friends and having unforgettable adventures like hiking Table Mountain. Cape Town is South Africa’s most popular city, welcoming up to three million tourists every year.
“Is Cape Town safe?” That’s one question most tourists will likely ponder when they consider visiting Cape Town. There’s every chance you’ll get multiple answers when you ask about the safety of a city. Each answer depends on the experience of the person offering it. In this guide we will help you understand everythingl you need to know about safety and how to stay safe whenever you're in Cape Town.
Is Cape Town a Safe Place to Visit?
Cape Town is a generally safe place for a holiday or a workation. However, like several cities in South Africa, it has its fair share of crime, especially gang-related activity. Cape Town is also home to the South African parliament, so political demonstrations and rallies are also common.
The good news from the last few years, however, has been that Cape Town has witnessed a steady decline in violent crimes. But non-violent crimes like petty theft, impersonation, credit card fraud, and tour guide scams happen often. Nonetheless, this side of Cape Town’s reputation has done little to dampen its tourist appeal.
The city suburbs and business districts of Cape Town have a higher security presence and are as safe as anywhere else in the world, as long as you don’t consider enthusiastic vendors a security concern. Locals have been known to target tourists for muggings and petty theft, especially in public areas and popular sightseeing destinations. But you’ll be generally safe in the city once you maintain a level of awareness and adhere to regular personal security protocols.
Is Cape Town Safe at Night?
Walking around at night in Cape Town is only advisable if you are in a resort or a place full of tourists. Go in groups if you have to go out after dark; otherwise, avoid going out in the city once the sun sets.
“My general safety tip to travelers in Cape Town is that it's safe to walk around the city during the day, but when the sun goes down be sure to catch an Uber. Like any other city, always be aware, don't carry large sums of cash, and trust your instincts.” Natalie C. - Remote Year City Manager, Cape Town
Safe Areas to Stay in Cape Town
The sights and sounds of Cape Town are found in two main areas: City Bowl and the Atlantic Seaboard. They are on either side of the famous Table Mountain and are subdivided into areas and neighborhoods.
Here’s a list of the safest places to stay when you visit Cape Town:
City Bowl is a safe haven for creatives, adventurers, and young entrepreneurs who want to enjoy a city that appreciates art and brims with outlets for it. Nestled between Table Bay and a beautiful mountain range, City Bowl is safe and perfectly blends nature, art, and creativity.
V&A Waterfront is one of Cape Town’s most popular and safest places. The area is home to high-end restaurants, hotels, and clubs with a heavy security presence. Though a bit expensive, V&A Waterfront is one place you can rest easy in Cape Town.
3.Clifton and Camps Bay
Clifton and Camps Bay are two neighborhoods with beautiful apartments, guesthouses, and an efficient transport network. These neighborhoods are safe and great for families who want to explore Cape Town and every lively experience it offers.
Areas To Be Conscious About In Cape Town
As with all cities, there are some areas that are best to check out with a local or avoid if you can’t go in a group. Township areas are an important place to visit to understand the history and impacts of apartheid, but it’s best to visit them in the company of a local or a local guide. Unfortunately, townships such as Langa and Nyanga record more crimes than rest of Cape Town. Also be careful around Cape Flats, an expansive area southeast of Cape Town’s central business district, where gang violence is common
It’s also advisable to avoid township areas on the outskirts of popular cities. If you decide to visit these places, it’s best to go in a group or in the company of a local guide.
Is It Safe to Travel Alone in Cape Town?
Cape Town is one of the most appealing destinations for solo travelers and those who favor a nomadic lifestyle. Traveling alone in Cape Town is relatively safe, provided you take basic precautions. Going in a group when you move around the city reduces your chances of being attacked or robbed. Cape Town welcomes millions of tourists and adventurers each year, so it’s easy to find buddies to move around together. Here at Remote Year, our travelers enjoy being able to explore the city as a group. We recommend our travelers stick together at night.
If you want to wander alone, it’s best to travel smartly.. Keep your valuables in your hotel room and keep an eye on items you need to move about with, such as your wallet and phones.
Also, ensure someone knows where you are and can contact you if necessary. You do not want to go missing without anyone being aware. Traveling alone safely in Cape Town or anywhere else has a lot to do with having the right information. So do your research and ask as many questions as you need to.
Is it Safe in Cape Town for Female Solo Travelers?
Thousands of female solo travelers visit Cape Town each year, but it's advisable to be extra cautious whenever visiting such a large major city, especially as a woman.
As a female solo traveler, do your best to be more cautious when traveling in Cape Town. Do not walk alone at night for any reason. Connect with other female travelers so you can explore the city in groups. Being isolated can make you a target. Try to fit in as much as possible; dress like a local and walk confidently.
Only take transportation arranged by your community or via an app. Watch your drink if you’re at a bar or party, and do not accept food or drinks from strangers. Let someone know where you are, even if you only go for a short walk. Ask the staff at the hotel or hostel where you’re staying for extra tips on navigating the city safely.
If you feel more comfortable traveling with a group, remote work and travel options like our Cape Town programs at Remote Year may be perfect for you. We arrange accommodations, helpful local guides and staff, and a community of like-minded travelers, so you don’t have to explore solo.
15 Tips for Traveling Safe in Cape Town
Staying alert and proactive when in Cape Town or any other global destination is the most effective way to avoid crime. Here are our top 15 Cape Town safety tips for whenever you visit.
1. Stay vigilant when hiking
Crimes have been known to occur on Cape Town’s hiking trails. Avoid areas with higher cases of muggings and walk in groups whenever possible.
2. Avoid walking at night
Crime rates are higher at night, so unless it is necessary, you should try to avoid wandering around Cape Town after dark.
3. `Be aware which districts are more prone to crime.
You are more likely to witness a crime in the township areas or the outskirts of the affluent neighborhoods. Move around with an experienced local.
4. Do not allow anyone to help you with your luggage at the airport
Unless it’s someone you know, you’re better off carrying your luggage yourself when you arrive at the airport.
5. Do your best to fit in
We recommend not wearing expensive clothing or jewelry when walking around in Cape Town - this will help you avoid unwanted attention.
6. Watch out for apartment or tour guide scams
Be vigilant when seeking accommodation or local guides. Scammers trying to rip you off may pretend to be agents or tour guides.
7. Do not leave your belongings unattended
Always keep your phones, wallets, and credit cards on you. They can easily be stolen or compromised if you leave them unattended.
8. Avoid ATMs in open places
Most places accept payment card payments, so you should avoid carrying a lot of cash around. Only use ATMs in banks or malls when you need to withdraw money.
9. Do not disclose your card details to anyone
Credit card fraud is common in South Africa, and you should not share confidential details with anyone for any reason.
10. Ignore the “tourist police”
If you encounter anyone claiming to be the “tourist police,” chances are they are not real, so it’s best to ignore them.
11. Secure the valuables in your hotel room
On the off chance that someone breaks into your room and goes through your stuff, you want to have your valuables properly concealed or stored in a safe. Never put your money at the top of your bag, including in hotel storage, in any country.
12. Make copies of your important documents
Do not walk around with original copies of your passport, visa, and other vital documents. Make copies that you can present for identification if the need arises.
13. Do not open your door to anyone
When you’re in your room, ensure you know who is knocking before opening the door. This can protect you from losing your valuables to thieves.
14. Keep an eye out for street beggars
It’s not uncommon to see children and even adults asking tourists for money. It’s up to you to give or not, but you may become overwhelmed if you try to give money to every person that asks you.
15. Do not struggle if you’re being robbed
Unless you possess impressive boxing or martial art skills, it is best not to struggle if you’re being robbed. Most fatalities happen when the victims try to resist their attackers. It’s far better to lose your valuables than your life.
A trip to Cape Town always promises to be a fantastic experience; the beauty and warmth of the city make it worth the risks. If you plan to visit anytime soon, you will be pretty much safe as long as you watch out for your personal security and abide by the safety tips we’ve discussed. Be on your best behavior, and you’ll be guaranteed a swell time when you visit.
Is public transport safe in Cape Town?
Public transport in Cape Town is relatively safe and convenient to move around when you’re in the city. The public transportation options include the city bus service, minibus taxis, and the metro rail. These options may not be as safe as booking an Uber, but they suffice for the most part – just ensure you avoid them at night.
Is Cape Town safe for solo female travelers?
Rape is an issue in Cape Town, so female solo travelers must take extra precautions when visiting the city. Many criminals target women, especially when they are alone, so female travelers should move in groups to reduce the possibility of rape or robbery.
Is it safe to drive in Cape Town?
It is quite safe to drive around Cape Town if you consider the ease of rentals, quality of roads, and road safety. The city’s scenic view makes a road trip among the most exciting and memorable things to do in Cape Town. However, carjackings and muggings occur, especially at red lights.
Should you drink the water in Cape Town?
Yes. Cape Town is one of the few places in Africa where you can drink tap water. However, South Africans regularly encounter water shortages, so you have to be responsible and not waste water. Come with a water bottle, or buy one as soon as you arrive.