cape town tips

Budget Tips For Backpackers In Cape Town

When compared to other top destinations, Cape Town offers some of the most budget-friendly holidays in the world. Cape Town has a small town feel even though it is a relatively big city. Surrounded by magnificent nature in the form of mountains, beaches and forests, it is a nature lovers dream.  In the city itself, you will find a vibrant nightlife, cool and trendy art scene, and also a food paradise that can compete with the best in the world.   

While this city does have some expensive, five-star accommodation and travel options, you can undoubtedly take advantage of the more affordable, but still excellent, attractions.

Check our roundup of Best Hostels in Cape Town For Backpackers


Diving into the culture of a city and making fantastic new friends along the way, is the best part of a holiday. That’s why backpackers typically head to hostels, one of the best places to accomplish this. Supplying all of the essentials of a hotel without the ridiculous price.  Some great hostels include:

  • [email protected] Backpackers
  • Carnival Court Backpackers
  • 91 Loop
  • Ashanti Lodge Backpackers
  • The Backpack, Cape Town


The majority of transportation solutions targeted at tourists are costly. To travel in a more affordable way, do it the way locals do. Take advantage of the public train system (Metrorail) for the cheapest way to get around the peninsula. As an alternative, the local taxis typically charge between R5 and R10 down the main roads. You can even make use of taxi cabs or Uber, which can be a little more pricey yet still cheaper than transport organised by hotels or tour operators. The MyCiTi bus is another safe, clean and affordable method of getting around the city centre.

Another option is car hire through RentMyRide where you can expect to pay less than 40% of your typical car rental company. Hiring a car will give you the freedom to discover the city and its surrounds at your own pace and make sure you experience all the great sights and sounds that Cape Town has to offer.


Eastern Food bazaar

You don’t have to fork out a small fortune for great tasting eastern and oriental dishes. This bazaar specialises in creating flavorful foods for all preferences, including Chinese, Indian, Cape Malay, Turkish and Arabic dishes. You will never pay more than R60 for a plate, sides and a drink included.

Kalky’s Fish & Chips

Located directly on the water’s edge at Kalk Bay’s harbour, the casual Kalky’s is favoured by locals and tourists alike because of its regular offering of cheap and tasty seafood and a classically Capetonian experience. Freshly caught fish and chips for R55 and calamari and chips for R70.


With two branches in Cape Town, one in Gardens and the other Observatory, Narona stands out as the go-to place for budget travellers seeking inexpensive yet quality food. Their menu includes a varied selection of mouth-watering dishes, including pizza and pasta, burgers, and tramezzini. Prices range between R45 to R80.

V&A Food Market

A collection of street food served in an authentic market environment, with over 40 vendors to choose from. You will find anything from burgers, pizza, mussels, waffles, chocolate, African foods and much more. Prices vary widely but remain an affordable option.

Fast-food Chains

Restaurants in South Africa are pretty cheap. A meal at a fast-food chain like Nando’s, McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and Steers will cost you about R50 per person.

Grocery Stores

Eating out each meal isn’t an option if you are on a tight budget. Cape Town has many grocery chains where you’ll find ready made meals like Food Lovers Market offering dishes like fire-baked pizzas, sandwiches, sushi, sweet and savoury baked goods, salads, smoothies and local dishes.

Stores like Spar, Checkers, Pick ‘n Pay and Woolworths also offer ready made meals, but you can also buy your own ingredients and cook your own meals.


Check out some nice drone captures from Casey’s vblog in Cape town:

Table Mountain

No visit to Cape Town will be complete without a visit to the top of Table Mountain. Standard tickets will cost you R255 but if you want to save some cash, opt for hiking one of the many trails to the top and only pay R135 for your trip down. Certain times of the year they host a sunset special where you pay only R127.50 for both journeys from 6 pm.

Hiking Trails

Hiking and nature-based activities are free or close to free. If you are looking for hikes with spectacular views, here’s our pick of the best walks in and around the city:

  • Lion’s Head
  • Chapman’s Peak
  • Silvermine
  • Cape Point Nature Reserve
  • Newlands Forest

Wine tasting

With Cape Town being the main wine region in South Africa, you will find world-class wine farms practically on your doorstep. Wine tastings typically are not very expensive and can start at R20 to taste 4-5 wines. Some of the top wine farms include:

  • Signal Gun
  • Spier
  • Marianne
  • Fairview
  • D’Aria

The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley – picturesque vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300 year history.

Free walking tours

Cape Town Free Walking Tours feel that everyone should have the ability to discover the city. Their quest is to make Cape Town walkable for everyone even if you’re on a strict budget. They don’t charge any fees but run on tips alone. Tours include:

  • Bo-Kaap Walking Tour
  • District Six Tour
  • V&A Waterfront Tour
  • Historical City Tour

Backpacking is designed for a tight budget, but it doesn’t mean your trip will be less fun. It gives you the opportunity to explore and meet new people more easily than you would in standard accommodation. You can enjoy a laid-back, friendly atmosphere for a fraction of the cost, get involved in communal braais and learn about secret spots from the locals.

It’s easy to save when visiting Cape Town. Keep these suggestions in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to paying far less for your spectacular holiday!

Author: Adele Kruger is the owner of where she writes about Immigration, Travel and Food.