AS with all major cities, Cape Town is a mixed bag. The food is superb, there is great surfing, a strange abundance of penguins, and watching the city’s epic sunsets from Table Mountain is a bucket list worthy occupation.
Sadly, this is not the whole picture.
Cape Town’s reputation is one marred by accounts of theft, muggings, assaults, car jackings and gang violence – often fuelled by poverty. Years of Apartheid have contributed to current social issues, which haven’t gone anywhere since…
So it is super reasonable to be asking yourself “Is Cape Town safe?”
Luckily for you, I have created this top tier guide to staying safe when you visit Cape Town, filled to the brim with safety tips, tricks, and informative stats. There is no better weapon against danger than knowledge, and this guide will certainly give you that!
Let’s jump into this brilliant South African city!
There is no such thing as a perfect safety guide, and this article is no different. The question of “Is Cape Town Safe?” will ALWAYS have a different answer depending on the parties involved. But this article is written for savvy travellers from the perspective of savvy travellers.
The information present in this safety guide was accurate at the time of writing, however, the world is a changeable place, now more than ever. Between the pandemic, ever-worsening cultural division, and a click-hungry media, it can be hard to maintain what is truth and what is sensationalism.
Here, you will find safety knowledge and advice for travelling Cape Town. It won’t be down to the wire cutting edge info on the most current events, but it is layered in the expertise of veteran travellers. If you use our guide, do your own research, and practise common sense, you will have a safe trip to Cape Town.
If you see any outdated information in this guide, we would really appreciate it if you could reach out in the comments below. We strive to provide the most relevant travel information on the web and always appreciate input from our readers (nicely, please!). Otherwise, thanks for your ear and stay safe!
It’s a wild world out there. But it’s pretty damn special too. 🙂
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- Is it Safe to Visit Cape Town Right Now?
- Safest Places to Visit in Cape Town
- 21 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Cape Town
- Is Cape Town safe to travel alone?
- Is Cape Town safe for solo female travellers?
- Is Cape Town Safe for Families?
- Getting Around Cape Town Safely
- Crime in Cape Town
- FAQs on Staying Safe in Cape Town
- So, is Cape Town Safe for Travel?
Is it Safe to Visit Cape Town Right Now?
Begrudgingly, yes, visiting Cape Town is safe right now. However, travellers should exercise heightened caution due to high levels of crime.
As a tourist, the level of risk that you expose yourself to is low, thanks to the South African tourist police. Spots that are regularly visited by tourists (and there are a great number of cool places to go) are well guarded, but that does not mean that they can’t be dangerous, especially at night!
Theft, in the form of muggings, scams, and pickpocketing, remains part of the scenery as it would be in any developing city. Because of these occurrences, among others, you can’t really wander around the city too much – it is a little dangerous to do so. Thankfully, the city is safe enough to tick off a great Cape Town itinerary!
Carjackings are a particular issue in South Africa in general, and it is wise to double-check that you locked your doors before driving. When visiting Cape Town, it is always a great idea to take that extra level of precaution!
Cape Town suffered a bad water shortage in 2017/2018, so pay attention to local water regulations and rules.
There is some confusion regarding the safety of central business districts and the city centre. Some reports indicate that due to a strong police presence, the CBDs are quite safe. Others (including the UK government’s own) show that crime levels are actually unreasonably high here, especially at night.
At the end of the day, you should be cautious and take note of any travel safety tips you can get your mitts on. Talk to someone who lives here if you can!
Safest Places to Visit in Cape Town
Cape Town is a large city with two main areas: the Atlantic Seaboard and the City Bowl. Divided by the iconic Table Mountain, these areas are subdivided into different neighbourhoods and areas. If you’re worried about your safety, stay in one of the following areas.
- V&A Waterfront: Waterfront is a contained area with limited road access and plenty of CCTV cameras and security patrols. It’s home to the Aquarium, the Robben Island Museum, and is the main stop on the City Sightseeing bus routes. If you can put up with loads of tourists, this will be a great place to stay!
- Clifton and Camps Bay: These two sister neighbourhoods are an amazing option for families that want to enjoy the beauty of Cape Town while staying safe. You can find flashy houses and mansions overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and, if you’re lucky, one or the other celebrity. The area has good transportation links to other parts of the city and it’s home to some of the best guesthouses in Cape Town.
- City Bowl: You’ll find plenty of artists, small businesses, and young entrepreneurs in the City Bowl vicinity. Garden and Woodstock, two uprising and popular neighbourhoods, are situated in City Bowl as well. Staying here means a great mix between nature, culture and lots of creativity. Great hostels too!
- False Bay: While the name belies trickery, False Bay is actually an ex-pat hub. Lots of people move here for the fantastic watersports in the area, especially in Muizenberg and Fish Hoek. Known as Cape Town’s deep south, this is a super safe place to be.
Places in Cape Town to Avoid
Unfortunately, not all of Cape Town is safe. The general rule of thumb is: the poorer the neighbourhood, the more dangerous it is. We’ve listed the main no-go areas that you should avoid during your trip.
- Cape Flats: Cape Flats is known for high crime rates and should definitely be avoided. It’s situated to the southeast of the CBD area and is ruled by gangs. Since 2019, the government has stepped in and the crime statistics have improved, however, it’s still considered a no-go area for tourists.
- Langa and Nyanga: These two areas are the oldest townships in Cape Town, but also one of the poorest. Therefore, crime rates are relatively high and it’s not a safe area for tourists.
- Kraaifontein: Kraaifontein has an extraordinarily high crime rate, and is best missed if possible. Over 10000 crimes were committed here in 2020.
- Other Township Areas: These areas are on the outside of Cape Town’s popular neighbourhoods. While they offer an incredible culture, they’re not the safest place for tourists. Exploring these areas alone is not recommended. Instead, opt for having a local guide or friend show you around.
The best way to avoid crime is to be cautious, stay vigilant, be aware of your surroundings – and to keep in mind our insider tips for staying safe in Cape Town.
- Don’t walk around at night – crime rates are significantly higher after dark. Don’t even think about wandering around during this time. Take a taxi (more on that later).
- Don’t travel on the trains (especially at night) – Rent a car to get or use Uber.
- Avoid certain districts – do your research when visiting Cape Town and make sure your walking routes don’t take you through dodgy neighbourhoods.
- Be aware of your surroundings – for instance, wearing headphones isn’t smart. You’ll want ALL your senses to stay safe.
- Don’t walk around looking super rich – jewels, expensive clothes, looking like a celebrity. It’s an advert for thieves.
- Be alert at all times – don’t wear your headsets or walk around holding electronics like cameras or phones.
- Swim between flags and in nets at beaches – because of dangerous currents, and also sharks. Swim close to the shore and keep an eye out for red flags (these mean don’t swim). But enjoy!
- Be careful if you’re out hiking – Attacks do happen on the trails. Always share your location with someone you trust. Travel with a group and check to see if certain areas have higher rates of muggings.
- If you’re approached by ‘tourist police’ ignore them – these people are nine times out of ten fake and just looking to extort you. Ask for identification if you are unsure.
- Don’t leave things lying around unattended – bags, phones, wallets. These can disappear easily. Keep them on you. A large proportion of crime in Cape Town is opportunistic, so don’t give ’em a reason!
- Use ATMs inside – The only currency accepted in South Africa is the Rand (ZAR). Avoid carrying a lot of cash and try to pay by card. It’s just safer to do so. When withdrawing cash, go inside a mall or bank.
- Secure your belongings at your hotel – If someone rifles through your stuff, it’s best to have valuables hidden or in a safe.
- Don’t open the door to just anybody – check to make sure you know who’s knocking at your door – it may be a potential thief.
- Keep your credit cards in sight – even when they’re in use as fraud is rampant here. Hide them in a money belt.
- Similarly, don’t give your details to anyone – again, fraud.
- Practice safe sex – HIV/AIDS is a genuine issue in South Africa that affects lives daily.
- If you’re being robbed, don’t resist – most fatalities occur when people struggle too much.
- Decline if someone offers to help you with your luggage at airports – they’ll most likely just be after your luggage itself.
- If you’re heading out at night, do your research and go with people – a ‘nice’ area + more people around you = preferable.
- Copy important documents – rather than take your passport around with you, which could easily go missing.
- You’ll probably be approached by street children asking for money – it’s a personal choice if you give money, but you may find yourself overwhelmed if you seem to be giving a lot/all the time. Donate to a not-for-profit.
Make sure you do your homework, be aware of ‘no-go’ areas, and be conscious of your surroundings; practice these, and you’re bound to have a blast!
You’ll be pleased to know it’s safe to visit Cape Town alone. Of course, travelling by yourself anywhere in the world comes with its own problems. Solo travellers are often easier targets for thieves and can be more susceptible to attack. If you follow our Cape Town safety tips, you should be fine!
Travelling to Jamaica Alone – Tips and Pointers
- Staying in a hostel in Cape Town with great reviews, a good social atmosphere, and a good location is a good step towards staying safe as a solo traveller in Cape Town.
- Going on a well-reviewed walking tour, or any other sort of tour – maybe one put on by your hostel – is a good way of getting acquainted with the city.
- Staying with a local at a homestay or guesthouse is another good way to get some perspective. Not only will you learn about Cape Town (and South Africa) but also get a good grip on how to get around the city.
- Ultimately, do your research. Our tips are a good place to start, but the different districts of Cape Town are a sphere of knowledge that need special attention. Make sure you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there.
- Always let someone know where you are. You don’t want to go missing without anyone noticing.
Is Cape Town safe for solo female travellers?
With a high crime rate and the ever-looming threat of rape (South Africa as a country has been called the “rape capital of the world”), Cape Town might not seem like the best place to be heading as a solo female traveller.
In defiance of these dangers, there are still plenty of female travellers who go backpacking in Cape Town. Staying safe just means extra work as a female solo traveller. Lame but necessary.
Travelling to Cape Town as a Woman – Tips and Pointers
- Take taxis arranged by your hostel or through an app. It’s not worth taking the risk when it comes to walking around at night, or even just after sunset.
- Meeting other travellers is a good idea, so find a place to stay in Cape Town with good views, a good vibe and some female-only dorms (if you fancy it). Talking to other female travellers is good since you can share tips on travelling, which can only ever be a positive thing.
- When you’re walking around by yourself, be confident. Looking unsure of your surroundings makes you seem like an easy target.
- Not everywhere in the city is shady. Do your research, and get out of the main touristed areas – Bo-Kaap is a wonderful, trouble-free district full of cool, colourful houses.
- If you want to go out partying, maybe stick to your own hostel bar. If you do go out (with people and while using taxis), watch your drink and don’t take drinks offered by strangers.
- Ask the staff at your hostel about the local area. The more you know, the safer you’ll be.
- Let people know what your plans are. If you go out hiking or even just on a guided tour, having someone know your whereabouts s better than nobody knowing where you are for the day.
- Try to fit in a little more and dress like a local.
- Avoid being on isolated beaches by yourself, any time of day. Muggings – or worse – can happen.
Is Cape Town Safe for Families?
Cape Town receives all kinds of tourists, many of these being families rather than intrepid backpackers. As such, we’d say Cape Town is absolutely safe for families.
Chances are you’ll be staying in a more visited area, and will be doing more touristy things than the average backpacker. This already makes the situation much safer for you, and it should be easy to fully experience Cape Town.
With regards to specifics, you’ll want to pay extra attention to your children if you let them go swimming, due to strong currents and sharks. Normally, there will be a lifeguard or shark spotter on the beach, but don’t count on this!
Don’t let kids wander around streets themselves, and stick to the ‘good’ bits of town. Crime risks are low in large parts of Cape Town but can rise if you head into the slums or poorer parts of town. Don’t do that really uncool tourist thing of visiting one of the underprivileged parts…
Getting Around Cape Town Safely
There are a few public transport options in Cape Town. Although not as safe as Uber, they’re still a great way to get around the city.
- Minibus Taxis: Very cheap, but they also come with a lot of flaws. They’re often overcrowded, the cars themselves are not maintained, and the drivers have a tendency to disobey all traffic laws.
- MyCiTi: It’s the bus service in Cape Town, and it is much safer. As opposed to minibus taxis, these are actually like any ‘normal’ city bus that you might get in. We approve of this mode of transport.
- Metrorail: As we mentioned earlier, this is not the sort of thing you’ll want to be travelling around on at night (like with anything in Cape Town).
While the roads in Cape Town are generally good to drive on, carjackings and smash-and-grabs make it a bit more dangerous than other places. Since these happen almost exclusively at red lights, people often run reds to mitigate the risk. Lights don’t mean everything here!
Uber is safe in Cape Town. In fact, everybody uses Uber in Cape Town. Even if it’s a 2-minute journey on foot, even if it’s just 100 metres to the next venue, Cape Town residents do not walk – they Uber (or taxi).
Stick to reputable companies that have official methods of contact. One company that is certainly worth your time (and money) is Excite Taxis, although there are plenty of others. Even when using these legitimate services, take a photo of the driver’s ID. This helps in case you have any problems.
Crime in Cape Town
Crime in Cape Town is sadly a large problem. In 2022, the murder rate was 66.36 per 100,000 inhabitants, which is in a similar bracket to some of the most dangerous cities in South America (like Fortaleza or Belem). The U.S. government travel authority has put a level two rating on South Africa as a whole, due to the high crime rate. Thankfully, crime against tourists is pretty low, but the recent drought and water crisis have put everyone on edge, including the inevitably white middle class.
There have been increasing reports of tour guide scams, so if someone offers, don’t take them up on it unless you know they’re kosher! Try to travel with a friend if you can, and be wary of criminals posing as officials.
Laws in Cape Town
Always carry a copy of your passport and visitor permit with you. Lock the real thing up somewhere safe! The use of cannabis for private consumption is legal here, but it is illegal to buy or sell. You should watch out for current water usage regulations, which have been relaxed since 2018, but may still be present.
Cape Town Travel Insurance
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FAQs on Staying Safe in Cape Town
For a travel destination like Cape Town, there are lots of different things you have to consider when it comes to safety. We’ve listed the most common question, answers and facts to make your trip as easy as possible.
So, is Cape Town Safe for Travel?
Yes, we’d say Cape Town is safe for travel as long as you use your common sense and do your research. It is an amazing town, one that is often worth the risks. Ask any local and, regardless of statistics, they’d probably say it’s safe to live in Cape Town, at least, for people with good sense.
Bad things can happen anywhere, but when it comes to staying safe in Cape Town you can lessen your chances of being a victim by simply being vigilant. Pay attention to your surroundings – that’s our number one rule.
Follow our advice, fellow broke backpackers, and you’ll find Cape Town a much more manageable and fun place to be.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels!
And for transparency’s sake, please know that some of the links in our content are affiliate links. That means that if you book your accommodation, buy your gear, or sort your insurance through our link, we earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). That said, we only link to the gear we trust and never recommend services we don’t believe are up to scratch. Again, thank you!
Hello there. Good article. I would very much echo what you’ve said about trying to blend in – don’t dress like a tourist, don’t distract yourself with headphones, mobiles etc. and don’t have expensive jewellery and tech in plain site. I stayed for almost three weeks at the Peninsular Suites in the Queens Beach area and felt quite at ease – didn’t feel threatened or endangered. However, a female acquaintance was staying literally at the hotel next door and was the subject of an attempted abduction on Regent Road – some people tried to bundle her into the back of their car but she was able to break free and run into the garage and shop where, to be fair, the staff were very protective of her. I have one other comment, not specifically about safety: since you mention the water shortages of a few years back, you might also want to mention load shedding, i.e. the scheduled, localised power cuts that are currently currently in play.
Safe?? I suffered an attempted mugging on the platform of a bus in the centre, and saw guns and many houses with wire fencing…..Guys on horseback in the shopping area to give an impression of security… no police as such, just security people ….Loved the swimming pool alongside the sea…..but never felt safe…Capetown looked liked it had been a lovely city once, but not so now……Solution? Spend as little time as possible there…surely the rest of the country can’t be as bad??
Thank you for your great article. It’s put my mind at ease as we’ve booked 5 weeks out there starting in late November and was worried about how safe it was. But now I’m really looking forward to my holiday.
I have been to 140 countries and Cape Town was probably one of the most beautiful cities I have ever been…! And never had a single problem while roaming around, including at night.
I really wish the city can get much safer, and should it be the case, I would seriously consider moving there.
Re blaming the apartheid for the current problems I think it’s “too easy”: the ANC has long been recognized as a highly corrupted political machine, and several of its leaders are currently serving time for this. It’s just too convenient to use the apartheid as a scapegoat for everything bad. The apartheid belongs to the past and ended almost 30 years ago. That’s history. The mis management of SA can only be imputable to those that have ruled it for the last few decades, and so, the ANC. Period.
I really hope the country can move forward, looking at the future, as Mandela wanted, follow a path to prosperity, and show the way to the entire continent, instead of conveniently blaming something that ended more than a generation ago.
Hopefully, this is useful to those asking about travel there. I am from the US and married a Captonien. This article is good but a bit general. Yes, it says to stay away from the cape flats for example. However, the cape flats are huge and some areas have lower crime than the so-called “safe” areas mentioned. We have stayed with family there and were just as safe if not more in their home in the cape flats. The neighbors all know each other and everyone welcomed us, had briaas (BBQs) with us, etc. A lot of unique places to eat or order out, great food for great prices. Try a Gatsby Sandwich. That said, perhaps tourists not knowing the area well should avoid it, as it’s mainly locals and not a lot of tourist stuff to do. If you are spending some time, go to Stellenbosch. We got married in Stellenbosch back in 1999-which is lovely. We have gone back at least 4 times since. It just gets better each time. Franshoek is another must-see town. Our favorite place in the wine route is Fairview wine farm. Wine tasting is relaxing and fun. In the city, Camps Bay is excellent as well. We stayed there on several visits. We always felt safe in Camps bay. Surprised the article did not mention the Northern Suburbs? I guess it’s not touristy, but we have lots of family and friends in that area of Durbanville, Tygervalley, etc. Personally, I love it there. I ran every morning up down the tree-lined streets with lots of big hills. There are lots of places to go out for drinks and great food and shopping. Add to that, out of the city we went to Ceres on a few trips, the drive is beautiful. We once stayed at a campground/lodge there near Du Tuits Cliff. Fishing, outdoors, fresh air….so worth it. Finally, the west coast was great. I make sure to visit Laangaban every time we go as I have a friend there. If my wife ever follows through on her threat and forces me to move “back home” with her, I told her that we are going to live in Laangaban on the golf course. Very close to the sea and not a far drive to Capetown. Just my ‘merican perspective. Enjoy your trip. You will love it and its very safe, if you travel smart.
I actually wonder…if you live in south Africa or in cape Town self, seems to me you don’t have a damn CLUE as to the “apartheid” side! What on EARTH has “APARTHEID” got to do with safety, if its to do with because people were so badly done by because of their circumstances what then has 25 years now brought them, hmm? So DON’T GIVE ME THAT BS! i am a south African and definitely not proud of it. A LOT of people here say that the apartheid years were better off than what we now face. At LEAST we had continued ELECTRICITY! So your article makes absolutely no sense because of your attitude around apartheid. Absolute bs. Oh, its taken so long to get people out of “poverty” because apartheid was so “bad”, oh REALLY now????? I wonder if you have checked lately the latest on cape Town hmm? Its one of the best cities…IN THE WORLD (NOT in south Africa or even Africa), who the hell MADE it one of the best, ever thought of that? Ever since “your beloved ANC (who so pushes the apartheid agenda because its the best and ONLY ticket they have…to stay in power) lost power in cape Town to the DA that city has now flourished, it took them under 10 years to do this. Geesh, i wonder WHY…your beloved ANC has taken so long???? Oh, sorry, its apartheid, hmm, yeah, and there was no apartheid in cape Town right???? You APPAUL me with your attitude towards apartheid. Yes, theres crime there, but its not just there, the whole of South Africa is riddled with it! NOT just cape Town so don’t give me your bs…everywhere you go in south Africa is crime so you need to be vigilant EVERYWHERE, not just cape Town. Your article just sickens me
Go fuck yourself (learn to spell whilst you’re at it)
You are wrong about apartheid being cause of crime in South Africa! Totally the opposite. It was a a very economically sound economy and MUCH safer under apartheid. Since the ANC took over total mess. Rampant corruption and crime.
Where did you get your info or education!?
You sound almost nostalgic for Apartheid.
We’re going to have to agree to disagree with you on this.
Thanks for commenting though.
Just to add to all the useful comments, I was born in Cape Town, I live and work here all my life. For the visitor, and in addition to all said so far, I’d love to encourage any visitor to consider doing route 62, and visit towns like Robertson, Montagu and it’s Avalon Hot water Springs, ( wine tasting, tractor trips up the Mountain with Potjiekos, Barrydale and Oudtshoorn, where there is so much to see ( animals, cango caves) and do. Montagu, e.g. is 180 km from Cape Town, less than 2 hours drive. Safe travel and enjoy.
It wrong to say apartheid is somewhat to blame for somethings that going wrong it the politicians that causing this poverty and let the crime get out of control so they can Blame apartheid… I’m a cape coloured I’m proud of it..and proud Southern African
Thanks for sharing your perspective. All the best.
Great Information. Love the detailed explanation. It feels the author has done a lot of research of the city and has experienced it to the fullest. Way to go.
useful tips here. thank you for it all.
Just a quick fix – there’s no such thing as Afrikaan. It’s Afrikaans.
I would also recommend basic Xhosa phrases – Xhosa, Afrikaans and English being the big three in the city.
Corrected! Thanks Jc!
Hey Lerato my name is Connor Auten and I just read your article on Cape Town and got a ton of value from it as I’m looking to go in February! I run a travel company called Perfect Voyage and we strive to connect the world through providing cheap flights and help members travel affordably 🙂 From your writing you seem very knowledgeable about the travel industry and I wanted to see if we could give you a free membership through Perfect Voyage and get some honest feedback from your standpoint on things you like and things we can improve. We’re taking on a huge expansion going into 2020 as we re-vamp our site & service to improve everything, and would love to hear your expert opinion as we grow. If this isn’t something you have time for we completely understand, but we believe we can provide you great value through Perfect Voyage as we do for our members. We would love you to experience the service and believe your feedback would really sharpen our service! Our website is http://www.perfectvoyage.co but thanks again for the tips on Cape Town and we look forward to hearing back from you!
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This is extremely helpful, thank you so much for the detailed information on safety. I’m traveling to Cape Town for work in 2 weeks by myself. Is the area around the Convention Centre safe to walk? I’m staying at the Onyx which should only be a few minute walk to the Convention Centre. I’ve also heard great things about Clifton Beach 3 and Sandy Bay, but hear it’s not too safe. Any advice on visiting those beaches during the day by myself? Or should I avoid?
Wow, thanks so much for this great article. I’ve been to SA approx. 13 times now and felt safe all the time. Next year I’m doing a roadtrip throughout SA again with a friend that hasn’t been there before and who is a bit worried about safety. I will make sure that she’s reading your article. It’ll help for sure! Thanks again!!!
I read your blog it’s a very useful for the reader. Thanks for sharing useful information with us.
hi thanks for this great overview of Cape Town. I’m thinking of doing a group trip there as part of the Unsettled travel experiences for 2 weeks in November but haven’t been able to find much information about the reality of it and you’re article is factual and unbiased. Very helpful!
I’ll be in Cape Town in November (last week) with wife and 8 year old child. Where do you recommend we stay?
We think the Bay Hotel is great with kids, but you can check all our favorites here!
I plan on holidaying in Cape Town in February 2020.
Just wanted to know if Camps Bay is safe and how much Rand is recommended for 10 nights?
Camps Bay is definitely one of the safer parts of Cape Town; just remember to be smart and aware during vulnerable situations, like when you’re out at night or alone at the beach.
Budget-wise, I’d say about 8000-10000 rand for 10 days should be enough for Camps Bay. Just know that it is a bit more expensive than the rest of Cape Town.
Thanks very much for writing this absolutely great article. I’m visiting South Africa for the second time and was thinking of a 3-day stopover in Cape Town (which would be my first). This article really helps keep things in perspective for me and know what to expect. Great job!
Thank you very much! We hope you have a safe trip in Cape Town!