Cape Town, being the second largest city in South Africa and the capital of the Western Cape Province, is a very important city: it is the legislative capital of South Africa, containing the Houses of Parliament.
It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope, and is the most southern city in Africa.
Though some may think of typical stereotypes when hearing the words “South Africa”, Cape Town is actually completely different than people imagine.
The major cities of South Africa like Cape Town and Johannesburg are, without exaggeration, cities you would expect in a first world state.
However, this does not mean that it is safe like a city of a first world state would be. The level of serious crime is high and personal security is the main priority in the country.
Warnings & Dangers in Cape Town
OVERALL RISK : HIGH
As amazingly fun and exciting Cape Town might be, you should be aware of the many dangers that await the unsuspecting tourists. This city has relatively high rates of crime. You should be vigilant and take all possible precaution measures in order to minimize the risk of something going wrong.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Public transport in South Africa is the scene of many criminal activities. Be aware of criminals waiting around at Cape Town airports and then following tourists to their accommodation with a goal to rob them. There have also been reports of luggage thefts at the airports. Rails and metro trains are also the locations where assaults and robberies have occurred. If you plan to take the train in Cape Town, always opt for the 1st Class, travel during the day and in a cabin with people. Avoid traveling to Cape Flats altogether.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Pickpocketing was once a serious problem in this city, but it has been on a decline during the past couple of years. Still, the most risky locations where you may encounter petty theft are crowded places such as markets, public transport and bus and train stations.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Cape Town may become a victim of occasional tsunamis coming from the Indian Ocean. Another danger are floods. One of the bigger floods in South Africa occurred in 2011 killing 91 people.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Mugging and robberies are a much bigger issue here than petty theft. And though usually the motive of these incidents is theft, rape is sadly not uncommon at all, so female tourists should be particularly cautious.
TERRORISM RISK : MEDIUM
There are threats coming from extremists linked to Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), as well as threats from individuals inspired by terrorist groups, including Daesh, who might try to carry out so called ‘lone actor’ attacks targeting public places.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
There are a couple of popular scams, one of them involving criminals posing as "tourist police" with a goal to rob visitors. They are known to stop tourist buses, saying that they're checking identification and searching luggage. However there's no such thing as "tourist police" in South Africa, so be on the lookout. Then there are so-called "strollers", and they can be anyone from children to junkies. Their only goal is to rob you blind so keep your valuables well hidden.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Though many female travelers went to Cape Town and had no problems at all, this country might not be the safest choice for female solo travelers. Be very careful at night and avoid risky situations such as winding up in deserted and poorly lit streets or finding yourself in an unknown area with strange people.
So... How Safe Is Cape Town Really?
Though this is a city where there’s so much to see and do, that it’s impossible to fit it all in during one trip, with rich and luxurious parts, exciting night life and incredible culture, it is a country with a serious rate of crime to watch out for.
Though it’s a rather rich city, it is not at all uncommon to hear about muggings and armed robberies here.
However, what is more important than knowing what kind of crimes tend to occur in Cape Town, is knowing the areas and hotspots where they’re more likely to occur.
Such areas in Cape Town are Salt River, Seapoint, Observatory, Mowbray, and the Cape Flats, where the crime rates are very high.
The area at the bottom of Main Road near Prestwitch Memorial is infamous for robberies and assaults, both during daylight and after dark.
Be very careful on Long Street and surrounding roads at night.
As for Long Street, drug dealers are aplenty there, and you’ll probably be offered drugs about multiple times if you are out clubbing on a busy night. At night, make sure you stay on well-lit and crowded streets.
- Visas - While U.S. citizens visiting Cape Town for tourism purposes do not need a visa for any stays shorter than ninety days, along with many other countries, there are some nationals that do need a visa in order to enter Cape Town. Make sure your passports are valid for at least 30 days past your planned date of return from South Africa. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - South African rand is the official currency in Cape Town. ATMs can be found throughout the country and credit cards are widely accepted.
- Weather - The summer months are from December to February which is the best time to visit Cape Town. Though days are hot, the humidity is low, so it is not uncomfortable. The winter months that last from June to August can be wet, but it doesn't mean that it rains every day during this period.
- Airports - Cape Town International Airport is the busiest and biggest airport serving the city of Cape Town. It is also the second-busiest airport in South Africa and third-busiest in Africa. It is located approximately 20 km from the city centre.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Cape Town, since it covers not only the costs medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.