December is an expensive time of year, with adults and children on leave from work and school, various festive activities, and everyone trying to upsell something in the festive consumer frenzy.
People come out in droves, with markets, events and fun activities on offer everywhere. With all this variety, sunshine and spectacular scenery in abundance, domestic and international tourists flock to Cape Town for the end-of-year holidays.
It may seem safer to just stay at home, but there are ways to have an affordable holiday in Cape Town − even during the busy summer season. Whether you’re a visitor or a local enjoying a staycation playing tourist at home, here’s how you can enjoy a holiday in Cape Town without breaking the bank.
Get your fill of freebie fun
There is plenty to do in the city that allows you to take in the natural beauty and scenery without spending a cent.
Walking is good for the whole family’s health ‒ and budget! There are many free hiking and walking trails in Cape Town’s forests and mountains. If you’d prefer to stay on flat ground, a walk on the Sea Point promenade is a must-do experience in the city and offers playgrounds, ice creams, people watching (even spotting the occasional politician or celebrity), and the opportunity to dip your toes in the sand and sea. You can also walk through local parks or on beaches. When it comes to exploring the city by foot, you’re spoiled for choice and can always pack a picnic to enjoy wherever you go.
There are also a number of walking tours of historical sites and attractions, some of which are free. Try the aptly named “Cape Town Free Walking Tours”, starting at 11am, 2pm, or 4.20pm daily from Motherland Coffee Company at St George’s Mall. The Woodstock Street Art Walking Tour runs daily at 10am, 12pm and 4pm from the Woodstock Exchange. The tour is free (though tips are welcome) and explores murals, installations, graffiti and galleries.
Take advantage of discounts
Many of Cape Town’s biggest attractions offer special prices and deals for locals. In fact, from 1 November SANParks is reducing fees to Cape Point and Boulders Beach for South Africans.
At Cape Point, locals now pay R76 for adults and R39 for children (almost half the standard rate). The Flying Dutchman Funicular remains affordable at R70 for adults and R30 for children. There are also braai facilities and picnic areas on site, so you can bring your own food.
Entrance to Boulders Beach, to visit the African penguins, will now cost local adults R39 and children just R29.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway also has a summer sunset special that’s half price for locals from 6pm daily from 1 November to 19 December and 3 January to 28 February.
To take advantage of all of these specials, you’ll need proof of identity (and don’t forget you can save time by booking in advance online).
Cheap and cheerful
If you have a car, take a drive to the Cape Winelands and explore Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Many of the wine estates offer affordable wine tasting experiences (with the price waived in some instances if you purchase a bottle of the estate’s wine).
You can also drive to Hout Bay and enjoy a cheap and cheerful portion of fish and chips on the beach. Nearby, the iconic scenic route Chapman’s Peak Drive costs just R47 for a regular vehicle.
If you don’t have a car, the local MyCiTi bus service has 42 stations and 760 stops in many areas of Cape Town. The service is affordable, safe, and, as a bonus for parents, free for children under the age of four. The Cape Town City Sightseeing hop-on, hop-off bus is also a great way to get to major attractions (with over 50 accessible from more than 30 stops around the city). It costs just R200 per adult (or R180 if you buy in advance online) for a full day exploring Cape Town.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.