IS CAPE TOWN SAFE FOR TOURISTS?
Cape Town is a major, modern cosmopolitan South African city. As such, we would advise travellers to exercise the same level of vigilance they would exercise when visiting any major city in the world.
This includes ensuring you follow basic safety tips such as keeping emergency numbers on hand, avoiding carrying large sums of cash and keeping your valuables safe at all times. For the overwhelming majority of the 1,7 million foreign visitors to the Western Cape in 2018, a visit to Cape Town and the Western Cape was a positive, memorable experience.
Cape Town has also been awarded the Safe Travels stamp by the World Travel & Tourism Council for its adherence to internationally-recognised Covid-19 protocols. Read more here for answers to your Covid-19 questions.
The destination is frequently cited as among the world’s best holiday destinations and has a high return visitor rate, proving that those who visit our destination once, fall in love with it, and want to discover it again.
WHAT PRECAUTIONS SHOULD A VISITOR TO CAPE TOWN TAKE TO STAY SAFE?
The same precautions travellers would take to secure their safety in any major city in the world, apply when visiting Cape Town, a growing city of nearly four million people.
WILL I BE SAFE IN MY HOTEL OR ACCOMMODATION ESTABLISHMENT?
Cape Town offers a range of tourism accommodation options catering to all markets. These include luxury hotels, budget establishments, guesthouses and Airbnb accommodation. Tourism is one of the major industries of Cape Town and the Western Cape. As such, formal tourism establishments largely take the safety and comfort of their guests very seriously.
When deciding on an accommodation option, use the same vigilance you would when selecting accommodation elsewhere in the world. Should you be concerned about the property’s safety measures or the location of the property, do not hesitate to contact them for further details, check whether they are a member of a tourism association or organisation and make your enquiries there.
CAN I WALK AROUND CENTRAL CAPE TOWN SAFELY?
We encourage visitors to be mindful at all times of their surroundings when walking around any major city. The Cape Town Business Community and local authorities have taken numerous proactive initiatives to ensure the safety and upkeep of central Cape Town. As a result, this area – where most tourism establishments are located – has grown to be one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country.
Visible safety officers have been deployed and the city centre is kept clean. Major restaurants, shops, and galleries line the streets and many offices, apartment buildings and hotels are located Downtown. A variety of walking tours are available to suit different interests and you’ll share the pavements with locals walking to work, businesspeople rushing between meetings and other tourists who, like you, are exploring all the city has to offer.
CAN I TRAVEL ALONE WHEN VISITING CAPE TOWN?
Cape Town and the Western Cape is a popular solo-travel destination, with a variety of activities and experiences on offer for the solo adventurer. Solo travellers are encouraged to exercise the same vigilance and safety measures to ensure they are not soft targets as they would anywhere else in the world.
DO I HAVE AN ALTERNATIVE TO WALKING?
Cape Town is one of the most well-connected cities in South Africa when it comes to transport options. While travellers often choose to walk around the Downtown or Central Business District area because distances are short, you have the option to use Uber, Taxify, metered taxis and the MyCiti bus system, which can also connect you to points within the central district of Cape Town and surrounding tourism must-sees like Camps Bay, Sea Point and Hout Bay. The MyCiti bus also connects you directly to Cape Town International Airport through a direct shuttle. There is also a City Sightseeing hop-on-hop-off red bus service with a variety of tourist routes on offer. Safe travels and see you in Cape Town. There is truly nowhere better!
WHERE CAN I FIND AN ACCREDITED TOUR GUIDE?
The Western Cape has many accredited and well-trained tour guides. For me information and help in selecting a tour guide, please visit https://www.ctga.org.za
For more detailed information, see the sections below:
Here are our top tips for keeping safe in the city.
- Avoid carrying large sums of cash, don’t carry cameras in plain sight and do not leave belongings unattended.
- Heed the advice of your hosts, Cape Town Tourism Visitor Centre staff, or locals on where to go after dusk. Avoid walking in deserted and dark places at night. Park in a secure, well-lit area with street guards.
- Never allow strangers to assist you in any way at ATMs or cash points.
- Street children and beggars may approach you for a handout. If you wish to help, consider giving food, donating to a registered charity or contact Cape Town Tourism for advice.
- Keep copies of all valuable documents in a safe place.
- When exploring Table Mountain National Park, take a map, comfortable walking shoes, a few friends and a charged mobile phone.
- When hiking, be prepared for weather that can change rapidly, even in summer. Bring along enough water and sunblock, as well as something warm to wear. Start heading back well before dark and don’t venture away from the demarcated paths. Tell a friend or your host where you are going and when you expect to be back.
- Load the Table Mountain National Park emergency number +27(0)861 106 417 into your mobile phone before departing on a hike. Cape Town Tourism and Protection and Emergency Services run a Visitor Support Programme to assist you, should you be involved in any incident during your stay.
- Emergencies from a mobile: 112
- Emergencies from a landline: 107
- South African Police Service: 10111
- Medical & Fire Emergencies: 021 535 1100
- Table Mountain NP Emergencies: 021 480 7700
- Sea & Mountain Rescue: 021 948 9900
- National Sea Rescue Institute: 082 911
- Baboon Monitors: 071 588 6540
- Shark Spotters: 078 174 4244
- Ambulance: 10177
Safety when booking online
- As with any large city, there are instances of accommodation fraud – where visitors are duped into paying for accommodation online that is not available for rental.
- Use our accommodation member listings to contact an accommodation partner directly.
- Check with Cape Town Tourism if you are unsure if an online listing or website is legitimate
Safety in hotels
- Place your valuables/passport in a hotel safe.
- Never leave your personal property unattended.
- Close and lock the door when you are in your room.
- Don’t open the door without first checking who’s asking to come in.
- Use registered, qualified tour guides.
Safety in your car
- Have your keys ready as you approach your car.
- Always lock your doors. u Park in well-lit areas at night.
- Keep enough distance between your car and the one in front to enable you to change lanes and drive away in a hurry.
- Don’t give lifts to strangers.
- Look around before entering your driveway.
- Be aware of strangers begging at intersections and avoid giving them money – rather give responsibly by donating to a known charity.
- Never open your window when approached by a stranger.
- If you think you are being followed drive to a busy place or a police station.
- Keep your valuables out of sight – ie Stash it, don’t flash it.
- After you’ve parked your car, make sure it is properly locked before you walk away, to ensure you don’t become a victim of thieves who use “remote jamming” devices.
Safety on the street
- Don’t walk in deserted or dark areas.
- Keep all possessions close to your body and in sight.
- Don’t use your cellphone while walking, and keep it—and your wallet—safely tucked away.
- The use of headphones may distract you from what’s happening around you.
- Plan your route beforehand.
- Avoid the obvious visibility of valuables such as jewellery, cameras, laptops and tablets.
- Don’t carry large sums of money and avoid counting it in the open.
- Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
Safety out and about
- Stay in a group and on lit paths.
- Don’t keep all your money in one pocket.
- Use accredited taxis and cabs.
- Don’t leave handbags under tables, on the backs of chairs or on restroom hooks.
- Don’t leave cellphones or wallets on restaurant tables.
- Keep your credit card in sight all the time.
- Don’t leave drinks unattended.
Safety at ATMs
- Use ATMs in well-lit and safe places.
- Don’t allow your card to be removed from your sight.
- Don’t accept help from strangers or give out your pin number, not even to persons claiming to be bank officials.
- Watch out for the people standing very close to you and looking over your shoulder as you type in your pin.
- Never leave your card in the ATM. If it gets stuck or swallowed, follow instructions provided on the ATM machine.
- Make sure you are not followed after a transaction.
Street children and beggars may approach you for a handout. If you wish to help, consider giving food, donating to a registered charity or contact Cape Town Tourism for advice. You may also encounter aggressive begging in the CBD. This is intimidating behaviour that can make you feel threatened. You may also be followed around persistently despite your having said “no”. The CCID, which provides security in the city area, is available to help.
How to deal with it:
- Make eye contact and say “No, please leave me alone” firmly and clearly.
- If you feel threatened or uncomfortable in any way within the CBD, find a CCID Public Safety Officer and ask for assistance.
- Alternatively, walk into the first open venue and call one of the emergency numbers on this page.
High-quality tap (faucet) water is available across the city and it is both palatable and safe to drink straight from the tap. The quality of the food is excellent, and Cape Town has some of the top restaurants in the world. We have a warm sunny climate and you should wear sunscreen and a hat whenever you are out of doors during the day, particularly between 10am and 4pm.
Medical facilities in Cape Town are world-class. There is an excellent network of both state and private hospitals.
If you’re an adult, you won’t need any inoculations unless you’re travelling from a yellow-fever endemic area (the yellow fever belt of Africa or South America), in which case you will need certification to prove your inoculation status when you arrive in the country. However, travellers going to or coming from Zambia, Tanzania, Eritrea, Somalia, Sao Tome and Principe as well as Rwanda will no longer be required to produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate when in South Africa as these countries have been included on the World Health Organization list of countries with low potential for exposure to yellow fever virus. Read more here
Hepatitis B inoculations are recommended for children up to the age of 12 who have not completed the series of injections as infants. Cape Town is a malaria-free area.