Cape Town - Budget vs Blowout
See South Africa's best city on budgets ranging from 'broke af' to 'Kardashian Level'...
Cape Town is bad-ass.
If our feature on 9 Mind-Blowing Things You HAVE To Do didn't persuade you, then (a) your happiness goals are bewilderingly high, and (b) ssh you're being silly it really is the best.
Luckily, there are accomodation options and amazing activities you're guaranteed to enjoy, no matter your budget. Join us as we run through the most expensive and cheapest things to do and see in South Africa's most beautiful city.
MTV Travelled With... Cape Town Tourism. Just hop on the Twitter hashtag #lovecapetown to see other people sharing their Cape Town moments (and to add your own). Flights from London Heathrow to Cape Town are regular with South African Airways.
Where To Stay: Tintswalo Atlantic
Think of Cape Town, and you immediately think of Table Mountain. One of the world’s most iconic, breathtaking natural monuments is understandably a sacred piece of land for South Africa, but you may not realise that there’s a whole national park attached to the big ol’ lump of table-y hillage we all know and love.
Within the national park there is just one hotel you can stay at - the Tintswalo Atlantic; accommodation as breathtaking, monumental and singularly unique as the scenery that surrounds it.
There are just 11 Island Suites at the hotel; not that you’d see them from (a) your own room (every lodge is positioned to give you utmost privacy, with mind-melting views of Hout Bay and its jawdropping Sentinel rock formation), or (b) the main road (the hotel sits at the very water’s edge, perched on a cliffside basin a whopping 100m descent from the main road).
The ambience is refined, relaxed luxury, with a tasteful, Hamptons-esque decor in the main reception and dining area, and individual, uniquely charming themes in each of the rooms. We stayed in the 'Robben Island Suite', which boasted art inspired by (or featuring) Mandela in every room, and a prison theme for the finishings throughout (the sliding doors through to the bathroom had their own prison bars).
The dining options, outdoor extras (swimming pool and hammock-laden private beach as standard), and welcoming staff are as five star as they come, but it’s the scenery that will truly blow you away, with decks opening up onto the Hout Bay from both the main reception area, and each of the rooms. Watching the sun set over The Sentinel with a cocktail in hand as sea lions frolic in the bay is an experience that screams ‘once in a lifetime’.
Cost: From £480 a night.
What To Do: Private Tour
While there are guided tours aplenty, there’s something uniquely celebrity-ish about bagging a car and driver just for yourself (and up to three other friends/relatives/lovers). Sure, there are itineraries you can follow, but with an informed, local guide at your disposal, your day is yours to control.
We heartily suggest hitting up the Cape Peninsula for stunning views, actual penguins, fine dining (Two Oceans, perched on the edge of the world down at Cape Point had food to match the view - check out the pic above), and informed, culturally fascinating commentary along the way.
Cost: From £265 for a two person private tour around the Cape Peninsula with African Eagle Tours.
Where To Stay: Bliss Boutique Hotel
You’d be forgiven that you’d have to check into a multi-starred hotel behemoth to get world-class service. But Bliss Boutique Hotel is here to prove you all kinds of wrong.
Situated just 14km outside of the hustle and bustle of the city centre, it’s a unique haven full of surprises, superb service, and character-stuffed charm.
While it may boast only eight rooms, it has the services of a five star stay, with a pool, delicious dining area, and gobsmacking views of Table Mountain all to hand.
Even better, the beach is a mere two minutes’ walk away. Getting up and going for a morning run has never seemed so appealing.
Cost: From £120 a night.
What To Do: Skydive Cape Town
Incredible views of not only Table Mountain but literally everything in and around Cape Town, an adrenaline rush of a lifetime AND super-adorable dogs on hand to sooth your pre-jump nerves/post-jump congratulation cuddles. One of the best skydives in the world.
Cost: From £136 for a tandem jump.
Where To Stay: Airbnb
We all know that Airbnb’s changed the accommodation game, but even so, Cape Town has a wealth of incredible flats and houses to rent out - from the Swank-at-a-Average-Joe-price delirium of this penthouse (from £112 a night) to the bargain basement OH GOD I JUST NEED TO CRASH opportunity like this £8 room for the night near the airport.
Cape Town rewards the traveller who embraces the local life - getting a first-hand account (both in accommodation and the handy notes that steer you towards local hangouts) is the best way to experience its hidden gems on a relative budget.
Cost: From £8 a night (all the way up to £2000+ a night).
What To Do: Cable Car Table Mountain / Hike Lion’s Head
It’s nigh-on sacrilege to visit Cape Town without venturing to the top of the big ol’ hill slap bang in its centre. No matter where you are in the CBD, Table Mountain can be seen at every turn. The view is somehow even more incredible from the top, with a 360° panorama across the city centre, the Atlantic ocean, numerous beaches, and down towards the edge of the Cape Peninsula, too.
If you don’t fancy the crowds, 2-4 hour one-way hike (depending on your fitness) or cable car up to the top, a jaunt up the adjacent Lion’s Head mountain is a calf-strengthening next best thing, with a fraction of the crowds and frankly breathtaking views of the city AND back onto Table Mountain.
Cost: £15 for a return cable car to the top of Table Mountain / Free for a hike up Table Mountain or Lion's Head.
Where To Stay: Atlantic Point Backpackers
Situated slap-bang in the middle of the city, with an equal(ish) distance between the waterfront and Table Mountain, and just a short distance to Camps Bay, it's as homely and welcoming as you'd hope for a hostel that's been voted HostelWorld's best backpackers in both Africa and South Africa in 2012 & 2015. Throw in free internet, wi-fi, a BBQ area, super-helpful travel desk and an awesome 40" flat-screen TV in the lounge area, and you're set for a memorable stay.
Cost: From £18 a night, sharing a six bed dorm.
What To Do: Robben Island
Yes, it’s a museum but WAIT COME BACK. A trip to Robben Island is near-mandatory for holidayers visiting Cape Town for the first place. Not only is it culturally fascinating and historically invaluable, but it’s also cheap (woo) AND you get a free return ferry ride with beautiful bay views back on the city, too.
Each tour is actually led by an ex-inmate, which adds a sobering, electrifying twist to stories of what it was like to live through Apartheid, and first-hand stories of what it was like to be incarcerated with and inspired by none other than Nelson Mandela himself.
Cost: From £19 for a return ferry and tour on the island.