Things to Know Before You Go to Cape Town

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While the language and road rules are familiar, Cape Town still promises a few culture clashes and lost in translation moments. To help you best prepare for your trip, we recommend taking in the following things to know before you go. And when in doubt, be sure to ask your Expert or Travel Butler for advice.

Quick facts about Cape Town

Population: 3.7 million
Currency: South African rand
Opening hours: Most shops are open 09:00-17:00 on weekdays, while shopping malls stay open until 21:00 on weekdays and weekends.
Emergency numbers: Emergency services including ambulance call be contacted from a mobile on 112, Police can be called on 10111
Language: English and Afrikaans
Plug type: Round three-prong plug
Voltage: 220 volts/50 cycles
Visa requirements: British citizens do not require a visa when visiting South Africa for less than 90 days.

Arriving in Cape Town

Cape Town Airport is located 12 miles from the city centre which usually takes around a 20-minute drive to reach. If you book one of our tailor-made Cape Town holidays your transfers or car hire will already be included. If you prefer public transport, there’s a shuttle service which runs from the airport to the Civic Centre in Central Cape Town, every 20 to 55 minutes, depending on the time of day and traffic conditions.

Practical tips

Getting around: Cape Town does offer various bus and railway systems, however they’re not the most convenient or reliable way of reaching the city’s tourist spots. It’s for this reason that we highly recommend having a hire car or joining day tours to see the sights of Cape Town. Like most main cities, Cape Town also offers a city sightseeing bus which tours the main highlights numerous times a day. Alternatively, Cape Town is a very walkable city, particularly around the central area and City Bowl.

If you do opt to ride a public bus or train, to stay safe we recommend travelling in the commuting hours of 7am to 9am and 4pm to 6pm, and travelling in first class.

Be sun-smart: The UV rating in South Africa can catch most travellers out and leave them with painful sunburn. Be sure to apply factor 30 and above (even when it’s cloudy) and avoid the midday sun on hot days. 

Tipping: A 10% tip is standard in restaurants and R5 – R10 for a porter in a hotel or airport

Safety: Like most big cities, Cape Town is susceptible to crime. While most of this activity happens away from the typical tourist spots, it’s important to be vigilant and avoid carrying large sums of cash or expensive items in plain site. When withdrawing money from a cash machine, be wary of nearby strangers and also keep to well-lit areas at night.

We’re here if you need us

Book your Cape Town holiday with Flight Centre and you’ll benefit by having access to a dedicated Travel Butler and our 24/7 Emergency Assist service. To contact our 24/7 Emergency Assist service from outside of the UK please call +44 203 056 7993.

Keep in touch

We’d love to see how you’re enjoying your Cape Town holiday. Share your holiday snaps with us on InstagramTwitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #openmyworld.