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Your Ultimate Safety Guide When Visiting Cape Town

Your Ultimate Safety Guide When Visiting Cape Town

Safety (is South Africa safe to live in) is one of the biggest factors to consider when travelling to another location. You cannot overlook it since your well-being is at stake.

If you’re interested in exploring the beauty of South Africa, particularly Cape Town, you should first look into all its safety-related issues.

Although Cape Town is a stunning tourist destination, it’s been plagued with various reports of criminal activity. Learn if it’s safe to walk around Cape Town or not by reading through the details below.

Is it safe to walk around Cape Town?

Compared to other cities in South Africa, it’s generally safe to walk around Cape Town. Local police diligently oversee the safety of Cape Town’s city centre, neighbouring suburbs, and renowned tourist hotspots.

However, it’s important to note that Cape Town has a Crime Index of 73.59, according to Numbeo. Staying alert at all times is still heavily encouraged when going around the city.

A Brief Background on Cape Town

Photo by Tembela Bohle from Pexels

Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, better known as the ‘Mother City’ of the country. Its beautiful attractions made it one of the most visited areas in the entire Western Cape region.

Reaching over 2.6 million international arrivals in 2018, Cape Town is a must-visit for anyone who wants a one-of-a-kind adventure.

Apart from its breathtaking spots, Cape Town is also popular for being the hometown of former president Nelson Mandela. He was a famous political figure that made a significant contribution to the improvement of the country.

What are the 5 safest places to visit in Cape Town?

Despite security concerns in Cape Town, there are tonnes of places in the area where you won’t have to worry about your personal safety. Among them are Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Oranjezicht, Sea Point, Camps Bay and Constantia.

We discuss each of these places in detail below.

1. Victoria and Alfred Waterfront

Photo by slack12 from Flickr

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is dubbed as one of the most popular tourist destinations across Cape Town that offers affordable to luxurious accommodations.

If you stay in the area, you can get a closer look at Table Mountain which was newly crowned as one of the Seven Wonders of the world. Once you reach the peak, you’ll get a perfect panoramic view of the entire Cape Peninsula.

Apart from Table Mountain, you can explore nearby spots such as its ancient harbour and contemporary museum. Walk around the area and have a great time browsing through various shops and eating at local restaurants.

2. Oranjezicht

Photo by Hilton1949 from Wikimedia Commons

Known as one of the safest suburbs in Cape Town, Oranjezicht has lots of underrated spots that are worth checking out. This includes the Labia Theatre, De Waal Park and the Oranjezicht City Farm (OZCF) Organic Market.

It’s located at the heart of Cape Town with a modern feel. Although it’s a small village, it can offer you the peace and quiet that you need.

Aside from Oranjezicht, you can visit nearby suburbs with a round-the-clock security patrol such as the Gardens, Tamboerskloof and Vredehoek.

3. Sea Point

Sea Point
Photo by David Stanley from Flickr

Lion’s Head towers above Sea Point, an upscale bedroom community of Cape Town, South Africa. The promenade along Three Anchor Bay attracts both locals and visitors.

If you want to be closer to the majestic waters in Cape Town, you should book a stay at Sea Point. Located between Signal Hill and the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll see a beautiful coastline when you walk around the area.

Both locals and foreigners love walking around the Sea Point Promenade since there’s a marked path where you can stroll casually while breathing in that fresh ocean air.

Since it’s an affluent neighbourhood, it has a strong security system which makes you feel comfortable going around the area. It’s also the only seaside location that has lots of high-rise and modern buildings.

When you’re travelling here, make sure to drop by the most popular locations like the Mojo Market, Sea Point Pavilion and Beach Road to make the most of your visit.

4. Camps Bay

Camps Bay
Photo by serena_tang from Flickr

Camps Bay is another popular village in Cape Town that’s close to the ocean. By the balcony of your hotel, you can see the beautiful Atlantic waves and breathe in that fresh air.

Both Camps Bay Beach and Bakoven Beach are often visited by tourists because of their serene environment and stunning views. For something different, consider watching a movie at the Theatre on the Bay which is highly recommended by locals.

As for restaurants, there are lots of options available in the area which has several vegan and gluten-free menu options. Some examples are the Mantra Cafe Camps Bay and Codfather Seafood and Sushi.

5. Constantia

Photo by Clive Reid from Flickr

Situated near Table Mountain, Constantia is a posh suburb that’s safe and fun to visit. It has a wide expanse of vineyards like the Groot Constantia and Buitenverwachting where you can take a sip of lovely aged wine.

As for restaurants, the top choices include La Colombe and Greenhouse Restaurant with a serene ambience and delicious food.

Compared to other neighbourhoods, you can enjoy some quiet time when staying in Constantia. It has several tourist attractions such as the Milnerton Lagoon and Woodbridge Island.

There are many surf spots that you can explore in Constantia such as the Hoek and the Dunes with tides reaching up to 2.6 feet. Take some lessons too from the locals if you need a refresher on the basics.

What are the 5 most dangerous areas in Cape Town?

Although Cape Town is generally safe to explore, there are certain areas that you need to be careful of travelling alone. These include Cape Flats, Langa, Nyanga, Kleinvlei, and Stellenbosch.

Learn more about these places below.

1. Cape Flats

Cape Flats
Photo by Eric Baker from Flickr

Cape Flats or also known as The Flats to most locals is an area that has lots of violent and criminal activities happening. Some serious issues include mass shootings and murders due to gang-related feuds.

Located in the southeastern part of the Central Business District, many people tend to avoid Cape Flats because there is a lack of governmental support to fix the issues in the area.

Moreover, there are various economic and social concerns that have yet to be addressed, leading to the worsening of the situation.

2. Langa

Photo by Graeme Churchard from Flickr

Langa is one of the oldest and poorest townships in Cape Town. Its high murder rate contributed to over 55% of the total number of murders across the city, according to a police report by the Western Cape Community Safety Department.

Although various safety groups and law enforcement agencies have been in talks to resolve the situation, it still hasn’t improved over the last few years. There are still unexplained shootings in certain locations in the town that worry residents as of 2021.

However, the Langa Community Policing Forum (CPF) is trying to find new ways to curb the number of crimes. It encouraged all citizens to work with the police to mitigate the situation.

3. Nyanga

Photo by Discott from Wikimedia Commons

Similar to Langa, Nyanga is becoming known as one of the crime hot spots in Cape Town. It has a total of 161 cases of murder in the last quarter of the fiscal year 2021-2022.

Despite this huge number, it’s still lesser than the previous financial year. It decreased by 20.6% compared to the 2020-2021 data.

Aside from crimes, the low-income township is also going through various social challenges including the battle against rising HIV/AIDS rates and declining employment numbers. 

4. Kleinvlei

Photo by Discott from Wikimedia Commons

Found at the western tip of Cape Town, Kleinvlei is a small district that has lots of gang-related crimes. Its attempted murder rates go up to 99 cases reported between 2019 to 2020.

Since it has a high local crime rate, it’s not recommended to visit this area, especially if you’re travelling alone. It’s best to avoid it so that you won’t get in between any feuds.

5. Stellenbosch

Photo by slack12 from Flickr

Stellenbosch is a town found in the eastern part of Cape Town. With a Crime Index of 54.89, it’s unsafe to walk around the area, especially during the night.

The most common crimes in the area include getting robbed, having cars stolen and being assaulted.

However, in other aspects, the town is doing fairly well. It has a high Health Care Index of 66.67 and a low Cost of Living Index of 32.86 as found by Numbeo.

What are the different safety tips when visiting Cape Town?

Keep yourself out of harm’s way at all times when going around Cape Town by following these tips:

1. Get travel insurance

Getting travel insurance is one of the best ways to ensure your safety when going to any place, particularly in Cape Town. It should cover all possible medical expenses when the need for it arises.

There are many types of travel insurance that you can get, one of which comes with the airline that you are flying with. Another alternative is browsing through internationally acclaimed travel insurance companies.

A good example is World Nomads which is known to have the most comprehensive coverage. Their rates start from $100 to $200.

They have easy-to-understand and convenient-to-use packages that help you feel more comfortable travelling, regardless of your destination.

2. Store extra cash somewhere else

Ensuring to have extra money when travelling is an important tip to not forget when in Cape Town. Since the area has rampant cases of theft, you should have emergency funds in case of unexpected situations.

Keep the money in unexpected places like inside your shoes or in a secret pocket. Another option is to store it in a safe in your tightly secure accommodation of choice.

Although you have money in your hands, it’s crucial that you refrain from showing any signs of wealth to the people around you to avoid any unwanted scenarios.

3. Withdraw money inside secure establishments

If you’re planning to withdraw any money, do it inside secure establishments and not through automated machines that are placed outside banks. These areas are more prone to criminal activity so it’s ideal to avoid them.

It would make it easier for them to steal your money if you withdraw outside, compared to doing it inside heavily guarded locations.

4. Refrain from walking alone at night

Even though some places in Cape Town are known for their nightlife, it’s discouraged for solo travellers to walk around past sundown since it’s more dangerous.

Crimes often happen at late hours and it’s harder to call for help during this time. If possible, have a companion with you at all times to ensure your safety.

5. Avoid giving money to anyone on the streets

In Cape Town, it’s common to see many street children because of the economic issues of the city. Most of them would approach you and beg for money but it’s best to avoid them.

Refrain from handing out any amount to these people because it would only lead to a bigger problem. If you do this, you’ll most likely be targeted by thieves or get surrounded by people asking for money.

However, you can still offer help by giving them any piece of food. It’s a better alternative rather than handing out bills or coins to them.

6. Swim near the shore

When swimming on any of the beaches in Cape Town, it’s recommended to stay close to the shore for your safety so that the lifeguards can see you easily.

Remember that there are specific months of the year when the waves would get higher and more dangerous. Apart from strong currents, you also have to be on the lookout for any shark sightings in the area.

Don’t go past any spots that have red flags since these are unsafe areas that mostly have sharks nearby.

7. Keep your personal information private

Fraud is another common crime in Cape Town so it’s crucial that you stay wary of the people you talk to. Avoid giving out any of your personal information to anyone.

Even if there are people who approach you that describe themselves as the tourist police, it’s best to ignore them and get as far away as possible.

Take note that there is no such as tourist police in Cape Town so it’s most likely a kind of scam if they try to get close to you.

8. Hold your valuables closely

Some people have the tendency to put their phones in their back pockets and leave their valuables unattended. However, you should not be lenient at all when travelling in Cape Town.

Putting your stuff haphazardly anywhere could potentially lead to any case of theft. Avoid this from happening in the first place by placing your valuables in a small bag that you can hold in your front and see immediately

9. Be alert when riding public transportation

Using public transportation is the most affordable way to get around Cape Town. However, it has a higher level of risk compared to renting a car of your own.

Since it’s utilised by a big chunk of the population, these public transport are crowded such as trains and minibus taxis. In turn, it would be harder to notice if any pickpockets are around.

If budget allows, it’s best to go for Uber rides since this is the safest mode of transportation in the city. This is especially important when you’re going out at night when the level of danger is potentially higher.

10. Let go of your stuff if necessary

On the off chance that you find yourself in a dangerous situation, it’s best to let go of your stuff and not go against the person stealing your things.

Although it’s not an easy choice, it’s better to give up your things rather than put your life at stake. You will only aggravate the situation if you fight with the culprit.

After they leave you alone, you can file a police report at the nearest local station and explain to them your situation. Hopefully, they can lend you a hand and offer you all the assistance you need.

What are the different contact numbers to call in Cape Town during emergencies?

When you are in Cape Town, you may contact the following numbers for emergencies:

  • 10111: Police
  • 10177: Ambulance
  • 107: Landline for general emergencies
  • 112: Mobile number for general emergencies
  • 021 948 9900: Mountain Rescue
  • 021 449 3500: Sea Rescue

For any fire-related emergencies, you can go for the general line either 107 or 112, depending on what device you’re using.

Rest assured that if you called the wrong number, they will help direct you to the right one so the situation can be resolved immediately.

Apart from knowing emergency numbers in Cape Town, you can also consider noting down the important contacts of the embassy of your country based in South Africa.

For example, United States (U.S.) citizens can reach out to the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg in case of an emergency. 

Their telephone number is +(27) (11) 290-3000. While their emergency hotline is +(27) 79-111-1684/ 079-111-1684.

You can only use this number if you are in South Africa and if there are any problems that you need to urgently resolve.

FAQs on Safety in Cape Town

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