Many people often complain that it is expensive to live in Cape Town. Yet it is still one of the cheaper cities to live in the world and i a budget friendly destination. Luckily there are many things to do for free in Cape Town. I will keep adding my new finds to the top of the list. That way you don’t have to re-read older information. This list of 53 things will help you have fun in Cape Town whilst taking care of your wallet.
International Public Art Festival
I’m shocked that I didn’t know about this festival. It started 2 years ago. It seeks to promote and display legal street art. A set list of street arts will be spraying walls hias part of the fest. Onlookers get to interact with artists and see bold murals being created right in front of them. This year the Salt river street art festival will run from the 9th till the 17th of February.
Address: 8 Shelley Road, Salt River, Cape Town, 7925
Museum Night at the City Centre
Oops I forgot to add this event the last time I typed up this rambling list. It’s similar to the V& A museum night which you can read about if you scroll way down this list. Basically museums in the city centre of Cape Town will be free to enter. At some venues free music will be playing and wine will be served. Lines get long at these events so get there early. It’s happening on the 21st of February 2019 which is around the corner. Don’t worry if you aren’t in Cape Town then as this event ran last year as well. And chances are it will be held annually. For a list of all participating museums click: http://museum-night.co.za/
Kalk Bay books
Located in the main road this store sells a wide variety of books. It happens to host various book related events. Dress up a bit, get wine and snack whilt listening to book readings, launches and more.
124 Main Road, Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7975
The Book Lounge
Books galore are at this store. In the city centre this shop looks more like a lounge. It plays hosts to book related events too. Poetry readings, book launches and here you may get a glass of wine and finger food as well. It’s a book lovers dream.
71 Roeland Street, Cape Town, 8001
A Touch of Madness
This old Victorian home is now a fantastic restaurant. The different rooms of the house all have a different feel. The Lounge has been turned into a sports viewing room which looks like an actual living room. There’s a area with German styled wooden benches similar to the ones I sat on at Oktoberfest. A plant filled backyard seating area complete with fair lights. And the front yard also has a breezy open air setting section. Every Monday you can listen to poetry for free, you will have to buy a drink but there’s no cover charge for the event.
12 Nuttall Road, Observatory, Cape Town, 7925
Visit the flower selling market in Adderly Street. You can always take a photo from a distance. I do recommend that you buy at least one flower. That way the ladies selling their flowers will be happier to pose with you. Take your flower or bunch of flowers with you to the Bo-Kaap and use it as a photo prop.
Adderly Street, Cape Town, 8001
Visit the Bo-Kaap
This one slipped my mind wow! The Bo-Kaap is a major tourist hotspot in Cape Town. Once a community for slaves to live in, this colourful community on the slopes of Signal Hill is vibrant. Lately gentrification threatens to take over and once again oppress residents. The homes are all painted in bright, bold, colours and it looks like a rainbow. Budget travellers can simply take photos. But, do remember these are people’s homes. Respect that and don’t take photos of people without asking. If you have cash to spend visit the Bo-Kaap museum it’s rather cheap. However cash strapped visitor can enter the museum for free on any South African public holiday. I have added a full list of public holidays further down in this post.
71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, 8001
Just nuisance monument
Just nuisance was a loyal and loved service dog during World War II. After he died a monument was erected so that he will be remembered. The statue is close to the Naval Base in Simons Town. I adore Simons Town if I won the jackpot it’s where I would want to live. Close to the sea and mountains with a long history. Don’t forget to take a photo of the pooch who kept up the spirits of South Africa’s soldiers.
113 St Georges Street, Simons Town, Cape Town, 7995
Cape Town City Hall
The façade of Cape Town’s City Hall in Darling Street now includes a statue of Nelson Mandela. His statue is smiling down on to the city from a little balcony. The statue was erected last year to honour Madiba. I think it’s one of the best statues of this great man who tirelessly fought for South Africa’s liberation. Take photos as locals regularly do so. Just be careful to hold on to your camera and pack it away safely as the city does have a pick pocketing issue.
Address: Darling Street, City Bowl District, Cape Town, 8001
An audio tour of Muizenberg
Download the VoiceMap app and take the free audio tour of Muizenberg. It has a public library close to the beach, restaurants along the beach a catwalk, train station, park and shops. There’s a lot to explore and you can learn more about the history if you take yourself on this tour. The link to download the app can be found below.
Click here for more information: www.voicemap.me
Explore Rhodes sites
Cecil John Rhodes was a colonialist, industrialist, mining magnate, politician and humanitarian (depending on who you ask). He is a controversial figure given that he was a British. He served as the Prime Minister of the then Cape Colony and played a critical part in colonizing Zambia and Zimbabwe which was named Rhodesia at the time. The DeBeers diamond mining company was co-founded by him. He donated the land to the University of Cape Town upon which the university is built today and started a scholarship fund which still exists today. However, the land he donated was taken from the indigenous people of Cape Town and the scholarship was originally created to fund white males only. Women and people of colour were never supposed to be granted the scholarship. Despite this learning about history for me is always interesting even the bad parts. And Rhodes’s legacy remains forms part of South Africa’s history. There are a few free sites dedicated to Rhodes which you can see in Cape Town.
This includes Rhodes memorial which is free to see. The view of Cape Town from Rhodes is lovely, you can also see exquisite views of the Hottentot Hollands mountain range and it’s very close to the bottom of Devils Peak making it simple to walk up to. You can also go see the abandoned zoo which is close by whilst you are at the memorial. It’s next to the University of Cape Town (UCT) and you can get there if you travel from Residence Road towards Rhodes Drive.
If you happen to be in Muizenberg you can go see the Rhodes Cottage. It used to be the holiday house of Cecil John Rhodes. Today it is a museum which is operated by volunteers. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 14:00 pm. You have to check if it is open since volunteers are manning the museum. Admission is free but donations are appreciated.
Rhodes Memorial details:
Click here for more information click: www.rhodesmemorial.co.za
Rhodes Cottage details:
Call to see if they are open: 082 425 3092
Phone: 021788 1816
Address: 246 Main Road, Muizenberg
Mondays at the Promenade
Start off your week by skating, rollerblading, rollerskating or BMXing along the Seapoint Promenade. At 6pm every Monday night, you can embrace all things skate and hang out with like-minded people. The event started to celebrate the City’s decision to unban skating and rollerblading in the area. It starts at Queens Bay parking lot and the Seapoint Promenade is gorgeous. This event allows you to marvel at the views, get fitter and meet some new people all at once. And on top of it, it’s free. So why not tick this off your free things to do in Cape Town list? But do follow the Facebook page because the event is cancelled when it rains. Cape Tonians are allergic to rain ha ha ha.
Self-guided tour of the Waterfront
Grab a map at the information centre at the V&A Waterfront and then take a self-guided tour. The Waterfront has a long history starting from 1654 and there are 22 landmarks along this tour. So put on comfortable shoes and be your own tour guide. Alternatively, you could take yourself on an audio tour using The VoiceMap App again. Select and download the free tour Reinventing the Tavern of the Seas. Once the tour has finished downloading, plug in your headphones and tap Start. VoiceMap works offline and uses GPS to play audio automatically, at the right time and place. So, you can put your phone or tablet away and focus on your free tour. The Waterfront is a popular attraction in Cape Town so don’t miss out.
Click here for more information: www.voicemap.me
In Simon’s Town is the less known Smitswinkelbaai and within it a small little beach. It can only be accessed via foot and is secluded. There are only a few houses and it is surrounded by the mountain that leads into Cape Point Nature Reserve. The beach itself is beautiful and far less crowded than the popular Boulders beach. The best time for watching in South Africa is from June to November. So get your binoculars ready and you just might have a whale of a time.
Address: Smitswinkel Bay
Free ballet show
At the Artscape free lunchtime shows are sometimes held. You need to follow their website to know about it. In the Chandelier Foyer at 13h00 on Tuesday the 5th of June 2018 there will be a ballet show which features divertissements from many different ballets, including Giselle and The Nutcracker to name a few.
Click here for more information:http://www.artscape.co.za/event/lunch-hour-concert-with-cape-town-city-ballet/
Many hiking trails in Cape Town are free. They offer memorable panoramic views. Lion’s Head is very popular but, there’s so much more to see. Be sure to go with at least one other person and notify someone you can trust about your route. Wear good shoes, carry some supplies and stick to your planned route. The trails vary by difficulty a quick Google search will provide you with all the info you need.
Life’s a Beach
There are many beaches in Cape Town both the Atlantic Seaboard and False Bay coast are host to dazzling beaches. You can even spot Penguins at some of them. If you want to see penguins for free you can skip Boulders Beach and head to Seaforth or Windmill Beach. There are a few penguins which can be spotted. Boulders Beach entry fee is super cheap and contributes to conserving the penguin colony. The African Penguin is endangered so every bit helps but if you are on a tight budget you can see penguins for free at Seaforth.
Address: Seaforth beach
There are free screenings at the cinema at times. They aren’t regular so be sure to follow the Labia Cinemas Facebook page to find out about this. There were two free screenings this year that I know of so it is possible to go watch a film for free if you are lucky. The room was screened for free it stars James Franco as the lead character. I found it laugh out loud funny. It’s a crazy film about a crazy film.
Click here for more information:https://www.thelabia.co.za/
Address: 68 Orange Street, CBD
Cape Town holds free outdoor concerts during summer months. The V&A Waterfront’s Amphitheatre hosts music acts and there is all year round marimba players who are part of the Waterfront. The Silo district in the Waterfront now also holds free events, swing dance demonstrations; jazz and classical musicians also perform. There’s also an annual free concert hosted by the same people who bring Cape Town the Jazz Festival (Esp Afrika), the free concert usually takes place in March so follow Facebook updates and posters around the city advertise this popular event. It’s normally held outside in Shortmarket Square in the CBD. There’s also the switching of the Christmas lights concert which takes place at the Grand Parade, just take note of the Posters all around the city for this one.
Every Wednesday until 1pm all African citizens with a valid ID can enter this art museum for free, the building is huge with many floors and features African art. I loved Zietz and the building’s design is very modern. If you are an art lover go have a look, the exhibits also change from time to time so it’s good to visit more than once. I went to the Grand opening event and will be posting more about Zietz Mocca soon.
Click here for more information: https://zeitzmocaa.museum/
There’s a free walking tour every day in Cape Town so go walk and explore the city. The tours start at 11am at Green Market Square and last for 90 minutes. The walk isn’t strenuous, and going on a walking tour is a great way to get a feel for the city. You also get to get a sense of direction and can return to interesting stops after the tour is done. Tipping the tour Guide is kind so bring a bit of cash it’s not compulsory though.
Click here for more information:http://www.nielsentours.co.za/capetown-2/
Address: Motherland Coffee Company Mandela Rhodes Place, St Georges Mall, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000
The First Thursday of every month in Cape Town is when First Thursdays happen. Art galleries and certain shops are open later. There are also many different cultural events. You might get to drink free wine and beer etc which can be found at some of the venues. The event now also includes restaurant specials, art exhibitions, live music… Check out the Facebook page to follow the event and download the digital map. I attended twice and loved every minute of First Thursdays. It’s open to all and people from different walks of life come together to enjoy what Cape Town has to offer.
Click here for more information: https://first-thursdays.co.za/cape-town/
Go for a drive
Chapman’s Peak is world class and boats world-famous views. You can also drive up to Signal Hill and take photos of the night lights of the city below whilst having a picnic. I will be posting on scenic drives around Cape Town a bit later. For now, have a look at this stunning video.
The Free Yoga in Cape Town group on Facebook also shares information on free classes. This is usually a, one class only offer. Free is free though all you need to do is bring with your own yoga mat. The Facebook group is a closed group so request to join and follow the posts because there’s nothing more relaxing than relaxing for free whilst living healthy.
Request to become a member by clicking here: https://web.facebook.com/groups/208082499210628/
Free entry to Iziko Museums on Public Holidays
In South Africa, you can enter most Iziko Museums for free on Public Holidays just bring along your ID. The Slave Lodge, The National Art Gallery and Social History Museum are just a few places which you might want to visit on International Museum day which is coming up on the 18th of May. The other free entrance days are listed below:
- Human Rights Day: 21 March
- Freedom Day: 27 April
- International Museum Day: 18 May
- Africa Day: 25 May
- Youth Day: 16 June
- National Women’s Day: 9 August
- Heritage Week: 18-24 September
- National Aids Awareness Day: 1 December
- Emancipation Day: 1 December
- Day of Reconciliation: 16 December
*Excludes Castle of Good Hope, Iziko Planetarium & Digital Dome and Groot Constantia
SA pensioners and students enter free on Fridays, upon provision of a valid student card* (Excludes Planetarium and Castle of Good Hope)
Click here for more information: http://www.iziko.org.za
Museum Night at the V&A Waterfront
This event is fairly new and takes place once or twice a year. Museums which are usually closed are open for free to the public at night from 5pm till 10pm and certain places charge half price. You need to follow the V&A’s Facebook Posts.
Click here for more information: http://www.museum-night.co.za/
Walk along the Seapoint promenade
This walk boasts sea views that are lovely. The sunset is glorious from this stretch too. It’s a favourite spot amongst both locals and tourists. There are many restaurants and shops. There are also a few benches where you can sit and watch the sunset.
Address: Seapoint Promenade
Visit the Company’s Garden
The Company’s Garden belonged to the VOC Dutch East Trading Company and was used to farm vegetables and fruit. It is the oldest public garden in South Africa. It is now home to museums and an abundance of squirrels. Take a walk, snap some photos and don’t forget to feed the squirrels.
In Tokia you will find this fairytale forest. It’s dog-friendly if you use a leash and you get to take a stroll along the trails whilst admiring the trees.
Green Point Urban Park
This park is located close to the Green Point Stadium and features 400 different kinds of plant species. You might even spot a few ducks in the pond. It’s a patch of greenery in the city’s urban surroundings and a perfect place to relax.
Click here for more information:www.capetown.gov.za/capetownstadium/green-point-park
The South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) is open to the public every 4th Saturday of every Month. This monthly event starts at 8pm with a 45-minute presentation after the presentation if the sky is clear you can look at the stars through the telescopes. If you find yourself in Cederberg visit Cederberg Observatory to star gaze. It is also open every Saturday except around the full moon entry is free and a donation is welcome.
Click here for more information: https://www.saao.ac.za
On Friday’s Beerhouse on Long street gives away free beer. You need to follow their Facebook and Twitter accounts for the “secret” phase you need to repeat to the bartender and viola free beer. This special only runs from 4pm till 5pm.
Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/BEERHOUSEsa/?_rdc=1&_rdr
Offical website: http://www.beerhouse.co.za/events/free-beer-friday/
Open streets in an initiative to make streets spaces where community bonding can occur. Streets are cordoned off to traffic, and communities get to use the street. The street itself becomes a hive of activity with musicians, dancers, face painters, and several other acts participating to make it a fun filled family friendly event. In Cape Town, there are even demonstrations on how to save water which aim to help educate people about our ongoing drought. You have to follow Open Streets on their Facebook page given that different streets in different parts of Cape Town at various times host this program.
Click here for more information: https://openstreets.org.za/
Centre of the book
If you are a bibliophile (the person who loves books) like me the Centre of the book is the place to be. The Centre regularly opens its door to the public to hold book launches, debates and poetry readings.
Phone: 021 423 2669
Central library on Parade Street also offers a range of free events. This includes book launches, poetry readings, poetry slams, live music, talks etc….. You can also join the Central Library book club all you need to do is like their Facebook page to stay updated. All these activities are free to pop in and fall in love with the Central Library.
Groot Constantia is one of the oldest wine producers in the Western Cape. “Join Groot Constantia’s wine club (for free, mahala, gratis) and enjoy free tastings at the farm! There are often discounts featured in Groot Constantia newsletter too” (Groot Constantia).
Click here for more information: https://www.grootconstantia.co.za
If you want to learn more about South African Politics and history take the Parliament tour. This guided tour takes place from Monday to Friday from 9am till 12pm in the afternoon. You need to have your ID or passport with you for this one. Unfortunately, the tour doesn’t run on public holidays. I have gone on this tour several times and have enjoyed it every single time. It could be because I’m a politics graduate the tour does, however, also allow you to see the historic architecture of the city given that parts of Parliament have retained its architectural roots.
Address: 120 Plein Street, Cape Town
Click here for more information: https://www.parliament.gov.za/visiting-parliament
Noon gun shooting
At Signal Hill which is right next to Lion’s Head, you can see the spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also where the Signal Hill canon is housed. The canon was historically used to notify people about a ship which was in danger. Sailors called Cape Town the Cape of Storms because the sea around the city can be rough. The firing of the noon gun at em noon, to state the obvious which is 12pm is still practised today. Below Signal Hill you can witness it with your eyes and ears.
Cape Town has a few Carnivals which are free to attend my favourites include Cape Town Carnival held on the 17th of March every year. And the New Years Carnival held on the end of January every year. I will be writing more about these carnivals soon so keep on reading if you want to know more.
Click here for more information: capetowncarnival.com/
Park run is where you can run with a group of runners in public parks across the city. All you have to do is join up online and participating is free.
Click here for more information: www.parkrun.co.za/events/
Free Courses at the American Corner
The American Corner which is part of Cape Town Central library offers free courses to the public. This includes a coding course and you can also use equipment which they have. The American Corner is also a permanent stop along the First Thursdays Route and hosts some exciting events.
Address: Inside of Cape Town Central Library, 1 Parade St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000
Free wine tasting
At wine concepts in Kloof Street, there’s free wine tasting. If you happen to buy a bottle of wine which was part of the tasting of the day you get a 10 percent discount on your purchase too. Wine tastings start at 4pm until 7pm on weekdays. On weekends they start at noon and end at 3pm; free wine tasting every day. They also have a branch in Newlands that offers free wine tasting now that’s incredible.
Address: 50 Kloof Street, Cape Town
Click here for more information:http://wineconcepts.co.za/stores/kloof-street/
Once a month on a Friday morning a group of creative people get together to talk and network at various locations in Cape Town. Creative Mornings includes a 20-30 min presentation, free coffee and snacks. To become part of the community find them @CreativeMorningsCapeTown on Facebook like the page and presto.
Argentine tango takes place outside in Seapoint. You can participate if you know how to tango or watch the dancers. The dance is dependent on weather conditions and takes place at Sea Point Pavillion, next to the swimming pools, Beach Road, Seapoint. Follow the event at Sunset Tango Cape Town Summer Series on Facebook.
There are some things I chose not to list, things I didn’t like or that I haven’t heard good things about. So this list isn’t exhaustive there’s still more to add. If you know of more things please let me know so that I can update this list. If you’ve tried some of these things let me know what it was like.
Thank you so much for reading my blog and your comments truly make my day. If you want to direct message me, email me etc. just drop me a line. I’m still new to blogging so any advice or criticism will be appreciated.
Wishing you many happy travels!
xxx Nikki xxxx