1000 USD Budget Travel in Cape Town: Astounding 9 Day Itinerary

Feature Page for budget travel in cape town

Penguin encounter, the supreme landscape of Table Mountain, safari experience, beautiful houses, beaches, etc. Cape Town has so many to offer for travelers. Is budget travel in Cape Town possible?

Of course, Yes!

In this blog post, I will show you the itinerary with a budget for my 9 days in Cape Town.

We had a wonderful journey with fascinating scenes in the city center, near the coast, at a UNESCO heritage site, at the beach, and on the mountain. Furthermore, we enjoyed bunch of water-mouthing cuisines and even had a meal at LookOut Hout Bay with 30 oysters. On top of that, we lived in a super spacious high quality inn, cottage, apartment, and hotel.

This wonderful trip only cost us less than USD 1,000 per head. I want you to have as much fun as we had in Cape Town. Thus, I will show you our 9 day itinerary for budget travel in Cape Town, for you to have the same (or better) high-valued trip.

Flying to Cape Town via Ethiopian Airline
Flying to Cape Town via Ethiopian Airline

Is traveling in Cape Town expensive?

Definitely not! Compared to the price level in the US, Cape Town is 2.5 times cheaper. To be more specific, you have many high-quality options in Cape Town. For example, for each ride of MyCitibus, the most (if not only) safe public local transport is around 9 ZAR (~ 0.5 USD). A 20km Uber ride from Cape Town International Airport to Cape Town City Center is around 240 ZAR (~ 13.5 USD).

For accommodations, a 26-meter room in an inn with a common kitchen and FREE laundry was only USD 26 per night.  An apartment near the Boulders beach (the African penguin colony) was around USD 65 per night. A cottage at the game reserve with 3 buffets, 2 game drives, and complimentary activities was only USD 405 for two persons.

For attractions, usual museums like Six District Museum and Castle of Good Hope costs around 50 ZAR (~ 3 USD). Even for the most expensive one – Robben Island, the ticket price was only 600 ZAR (~33 USD) covering a half-day journey. For food, all the restaurants are amazing with handsome offers. If you are looking for game meats, you can also buy them from supermarkets like Woolworths for cooking.

In short, depending on your preference, you can definitely structure a super high-quality budget travel in Cape Town (one of the best destinations in Africa).

Photo frame at Capetown City Center
Photo frame at Capetown City Center

How many days should I stay in Cape Town?

The number of days you should stay in Cape Town depends on your personal preferences, interests, and the activities you wish to do. For example, in our 9-day itinerary it did not cover the winery but included a safari experience.

In general, you need to be highly selective if you are only staying 3 days in Cape Town or just a weekend. However, you shall have sufficient time to cover all major must-go, see, or eat in around 9 days.

Budget Travel in Cape Town : 9-day itinerary

First thing first, before we go deep into the itinerary, let’s check out the summary first.

Budget Travel in Cape TownItineraryExpense for two persons in total in USD
Day 1Arrival and settle down at Cape Town City CenterAccommodation: 34
Transportation: 17
Food, Beverage & Others: 37
Day 2Local walking tour, Robben Island, and dinner at V&A waterfrontAccommodation: 34
Transportation: 17
Food, Beverage & Others: 217
Day 3Staying overnight at Aquila Private Game ReserveAccommodation: 405
Transportation: 86
Food, Beverage & Others: 5
Day 4Company Garden & V&A after the morning game driveAccommodation: 43
Transportation: 86
Food, Beverage & Others: 5
Day 5Full-day tour of Cape PeninsulaAccommodation: 68
Transportation: 14
Food, Beverage & Others: 228
Day 6Full day for the South African Penguin Colony (Boulders Beach)Accommodation: 68
Transportation: 0
Food, Beverage & Others: 22
Day 7Table Mountain HikingAccommodation: 69
Transportation: 27
Food, Beverage & Others: 46
Day 8Museums visit and chilling at V&AAccommodation: 69
Transportation: 1
Food, Beverage & Others: 142
Day 9Souvenir at Greenmarket Square & departureAccommodation: 0
Transportation: 13
Food, Beverage & Others: 48
Total9 Days in Cape TownAccommodation: 790
Transportation: 261
Food, Beverage & Others: 790

==> 1,841 USD (~ 921 USD per person)
V&A Waterfront which you will go several times in the itinerary
V&A Waterfront which you will go several times in the itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and settle down at Cape Town City Center

The best way to get to the city center from Cape Town International Airport is via Uber. It is the cheapest way and costs for around 240 ZAR (~ 13 USD). MyCiti bus was available in the past and most recommended. However, the airport route has been suspended since 2022.

Alternatively, you can also drive or take a taxi from the airport, but it does not fit our 9-day itinerary. After settling down, you could take advantage of the remaining time for dinner at Long Street.

Long Street is a vibrant and iconic street located in the heart of Cape Town’s city center. It is also famous for its night activities including bars, music performances, and lots of restaurants. You could find different kinds of beers, wines, and spirits during the night.

There are a lot of local security on duty even at night on Long Street. However, you should still watch out for your valuables and phone against pickpocketing.

Beerhouse at Long Street
Beerhouse at Long Street

Day 2: Local walking tour, Robben Island, and dinner at V&A waterfront

Beginning on day 2, you can start discovering the city center more. There are a lot of iconic areas in the city such as Bo-Kaap, Company’s Garden, City Hall, Greenmarket Square, different museums, and churches with history. I recommend you to book a free walking tour in advance for the day.

Most of the walking tours in Cape Town would start from Greenmarket Square near a beautiful church. From there, they will take you to maim icons of the city such as Old Newspaper House, Berlin Wall, St George’s Cathedral, Company Garden, Slave Lodge, District Six, City Hall, etc.

Comparing to walking to each icon yourself, you can learn some history and background behind each of them. I joined a 3-hour walking tour by Guruwalk (Best of Cape Town: Free Tour – GuruWalk ) and found it very worthwhile.

City Hall photo with Nelson Mandela Statue
City Hall photo with Nelson Mandela Statue

Robben Island Tour

After the walking tour, make your way to the V&A Waterfront to catch a ferry to Robben Island after lunch. Robben Island is a UNESCO World Heritage. It has a long history even dating back to the 1600s and is notorious for its usage as political prison for holding Nelson Mandela for 18 years in recent history.

You shall purchase a ticket online beforehand to secure your seat. There are several timeslots available on the official website. You may also want to get to the ferry terminal at Clock Tower District of V&A Waterfront at least 30 minutes earlier before the boarding time. This is to ensure you do not miss the ferry and also have enough time to visit the exhibition center at the terminal after clearing the security check.

Robben Island exhibition at ferry terminal
Robben Island exhibition at ferry terminal

A ferry will take around an hour from V&A to Robben Island. The tour package will include a tour-guided bus ride on the island with introductions to the island’s history. There will be several bus stops for photo taking of the beautiful views of the coastline. Amongst that, you will also have a chance to visit the prison cell that used to hold Nelson Mandela. During the visit, you will also have a chance to get first-hand stories led by former political prisoners.

Tour to the prison led by a former political prisoner
Tour to the prison led by a former political prisoner

After the whole visit, you can visit the souvenir shop near the pier while waiting for the return trip. The whole Robben Island tour is around 3 to 4 hours. After landing at V&A Waterfront, you could have your dinner at Quays District of V&A Waterfront by crossing the bridge from the Clock Tower District.

There are plenty of dining options in Quays District from fast-food, to mid-range restaurants to fine dining. We picked a seafood restaurant called Knysna Oyster Company which offers a variety of oysters and other seafood at a reasonable price.

Dinner at Knysna Oyster Company
Dinner at Knysna Oyster Company

Day 3: Staying overnight at Aquila Private Game Reserve

If you have never been to any Safari in Africa, I would recommend you use day 3 for that. The closest safari to Cape Town is the Aquila Private Game Reserve. I did an overnight there at the Karoo Cottage for 7,542 ZAR (~ 405 USD) for two persons during Christmas.

By staying overnight, you will be entitled to two game drives, a breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, and other activities such as complimentary drinks, swimming pool access, and stargazing at night. The only difference between different types of rooms is mainly the size.

Thus, I highly recommend you go for the standard lodge for the best value option. The price is around 5,500 ZAR (~ 305 USD) for two persons, but the room is not usually available. The reserve has a detailed itinerary and all other information online which are very transparent. For, transfer to and return to Cape Town from Aquila safari. You will need to email them directly at  res@aquilasafari.com and it will cost around 1,550 ZAR (~86 USD) per person.

You can also call their hotline for any enquiry at 021 430 7260. I have tried a few times and they are very helpful.

Want to know the exact experience? Check out my dedicated post for the Aquila reserve.

If you have visited other safaris before, you may use this day for a trip to winery. It would not affect (or even lower) your plan for budget travel in cape town.

Game drive at Aquila Safari
Game drive at Aquila Safari

Day 4:  Company Garden & V&A after the morning game drive

If you are staying at Aquila Game Reserve like us, you will be spending your time on the buffet and game drive in the morning. By the time you get back to Cape Town city center, it would be around 2 or 3 PM.

You can use the remaining afternoon session for a walk in the Company’s Garden. The entrance of the Garden is free and it has a rich history since foundation in the 1650s by the Dutch East India Company. Over time, it has become a popular recreational space for the locals and tourists with walkways, ponds, and beautiful landscaping.

There are a few museums in the Company’s Garden such as Iziko South African Museum, South African Jewish Museum, and South African National Gallery. You could pay a visit based on your interest but please be aware of the opening hours.

Iziko South African Museum at Company's Gardens
Iziko South African Museum at Company’s Gardens

At night, you could have dinner at the city center V&A Waterfront. Noting that there are 9 districts at V&A Waterfront with unique attractions each. You will probably need several visits during your trip to Cape Town to cover the most.

Day 5: Full-day tour of Cape Peninsula

Having spent 2 days for the city center and 2 days for the Safari, the 5th day will focus on the Cape Peninsula. There are multiple must-go icons in the Cape Peninsula at the South of Cape Town city center.

The most efficient and budget-friendly way is to book a local tour online for that. Despite some variations, most tours will depart early in the morning and end at around 6 PM after visiting most of the attractions at the Cape Peninsula.

They tend to stuff everything in the itinerary but the schedule or actual attractions may vary depending on the road conditions. Sometimes they have to give up small attractions on the day to make time for the main ones. I have included all the main attractions below which most local tours would cover.

I booked my tour “Cape of Good Hope and Penguins Full-Day Tour From Cape Town “ via Agoda (Cape of Good Hope and Penguins Full-Day Tour From Cape Town (agoda.com)

) online given it seems to be the cheapest. Also, I picked this because it ends at Boulders Beach where I choose to stay for another full day.

I highly recommend you stay at Boulders Beach or Hout Bay (then take an Uber back to Boulders Beach) after the tour. Spending only 20 minutes at Boulders Beach is definitely not enough.

Some of my friends joke by saying those packed itinerariea are the tours about “what I could have seen”. Still, I suppose it fits our budget travel plan and most of the attractions in the Cape Peninsula only require less than 15 minutes.

EXCEPT for the Boulders Beach!

Main attractions in the Cape Peninsula Tour

Duiker Island & Hout Bay – The Seal Colony Island near Hout Bay. The boat ticket for a ride passing by is around ZAR 110 (~ 14 USD) per person. The boat ride is around 40 minutes starting from the Hout Bay pier. During the ride, you will have plenty of time to take photos of the seal-crowded island from the boat. Please note the seals may smell due to their density and numbers.

After the boat ride, there are famous restaurants like The Lookout Hout Bay and Fish Market Kout Bay at the Hout Bay.

Seals on the Duiker Island
Seals on the Duiker Island

Chapman’s Peak Drive – The drive onto Chapman’s Peak Drive. It is the best 9km long side road landscape for the view of the Atlantic Ocean and cliffs with a long beach. It is very amazing, especially during sunset.

Landscape of Chapman’s Peak Drive
Landscape of Chapman’s Peak Drive

Cape of Good Hope – Located at the merge of the cold Atlantic and the Indian Oceans. It is a must-go point for every first-time visitor to Cape Town. It belongs to part of Cape Point Nature Reserve, renowned for its hiking trails, and lighthouses, and even more renowned for the Cape of Good Hope sign. You can expect a queue for the photo of the sign when you arrive there. Please note that you will need to reserve 400 ZAR ( ~ 22 USD) for the entry ticket which can only be paid by card for the entry of the Reserve park.

Cape of Good Hope sign
Cape of Good Hope sign

Boulders Beach Penguin Colony & Simon’s Town – Boulders Beach Penguin Colony is probably the only place on earth, where you can get super close to wild South African penguins. If I am only staying a weekend in Cape Town, I would just go there. The entry price of 190 ZAR (~ 10.5 USD) is unbelievably cheap compared to the uniqueness and value of this attraction. I dedicated my whole day 6 and early morning of day 7 for the Boulders beach only.

The local tour would usually include other 5 – 10-minute icons such as Muizenberg Beach, Camps Bay Beach, or Clifton. Most of those beaches are nice with colored houses there for one or two photos. Some tours may also include some city center attractions like Bo-kaap which you can visit by yourself via walking.

Color houses on Muizenberg Beach
Colorful houses on Muizenberg Beach

Day 6: Full day for the South African Penguin Colony (Boulders Beach)

This is the best day of the whole budget travel in Cape Town’s 9-day itinerary. On this day, you will have unlimited time to photos with the cute penguins. Also, you can enjoy cooking at your apartment or having seafood at some of the restaurants near Boulders Beach or Simon’s Town.

If you are looking for cooking, you may want to purchase the ingredients at the Woolworths or Pick n’ Pay near Hout Bay the day before. You know cooking red steak on trip is a great adventure experience.

Or else you would have to visit the local convenience or grocery shop nearby which has only limited options.

For a complete guide to getting the most from Boulders Beach, you may refer to our post dedicated to the cute penguins.

Chilling with South African Penguins at Boulders Beach
Chilling with South African Penguins at Boulders Beach

Day 7: Table Mountain Hiking

If you love your penguin experience on day 6, I strongly suggest you visit them again in the morning. After going back to the Cape Town city center and settling down, you can visit another most represented icon–Table Mountain.

You can either hike your way up to the top of Table Mountain or take the cable car. For a cable car, it would cost around 220 ZAR (~ 12 USD) for one way and 340 (~ 19 USD) both ways, depending on the timeslot. Please note that the cable card could be suspended due to strong wind. So please check beforehand.

The recommended way is via hiking especially since we are looking to maximize the experience and minimize the expense. There are multiple hiking routes available. I have searched multiple blogs online and found the blog post from Stingynomads with the best guides on the major trails. Suggest you take a look before hiking.

I picked the Platteklip Gorge route to the top which is around 2 hours on the way. The path is actually quite well-established. However, you need to be aware of the slippery rocks, and weather forecasts and bring at least 1 liter of water. You can refill your water at the top of Table Mountain or go to the restaurants there.

The view is astounding for the trail where you can see the city and the landscape on the way up. Furthermore, the route is extremely convenient for first-time tourists like me. I just searched for “Platteklip George Starting Point” on Google Maps and then plotted it to the upper cable car station of Table Mountain. I also took Uber from the city center to the starting point and Uber my way back after hiking back.

The Platteklip George route
The Platteklip George route

What to expect on Table Mountain Summit

Once you reach the summit of Table Mountain, take in the panoramic views of Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding landscapes. There is a restaurant, café, and souvenir shop near the upper cable car station. Find a suitable spot to rest and drink from the restaurant there while basking in the beauty of your surroundings.

Remember to bring a coat or sweater for the Table Mountain trip, as the weather and temperature change quite fast there. One moment you have all the visibility and sunshine, another meeting the summit would be covered by the cloak (frog) you would feel cold.

After spending some time there for chilling and photos, you can descend from the summit via the same trail or with the cable car. I did the same trail due to the long queue for the cable car. However, I would have taken the cable car as descending through the slippery rocks was harder than I thought.

Getting back to the city center for dinner, we complete all the major attractions of our budget travel in Cape Town.

Scenic view on top of Table Mountain
Scenic view on top of Table Mountain

Day 8: Museums visit and chilling at V&A

As we approach the final part of the Cape Town trip, you would like to have a relatively relaxing day. In that, I recommend you to check out the museums in the City center or other icons that you have yet to visit.

For the museums, I would recommend you to go to the District Six Museum and Castle of Good Hope. Both of them are good choices for budget travel in Cape Town.

District Six Museum

The District Six Museum focuses on the history and legacy of the forced removal and displacement of residents during the apartheid era. It is a very good short journey for the daily life of South Africans in recent history. The District Six Museum is around 5-minute walk from the city town hall and the ticket is only for 60 ZAR (~3 USD) for international adults.

Inside the District Six Museum
Inside the District Six Museum

The Castle of Good Hope

The Castle of Good Hope is another historic landmark (which contains several museums inside and no additional ticket required) most underrated. Built between 1666 and 1679 by the Dutch East India Company, it used to serve as a military base and replenishment station throughout the centuries. Now it is a live museum with the most exhibition content in Cape Town from clothing, weapons, craftsmen, and other artifacts.

It could take you hours to browse through the whole infrastructure. On top of that, its pentagonal fortress structure is great for photos. Most importantly, the ticket is only 50 ZAR per person (less than 3 USD) and it even offers scheduled free guided tours.

Inside the Castle of Good Hope
Inside the Castle of Good Hope

Other than museums, if you have yet to visit the colorful houses at Bo-Kaap earlier, you could also take advantage of the free day to go. Bo-Kapp also known as Cape Malay Quarter has a long history of Malay culture during the salve period. Nowadays, it is famous for IGable photos because of its various paintings and colors of houses in the areas. You may want to visit the area in the morning which should be safer.

Colorful houses at Bo-Kaap
Colorful houses at Bo-Kaap

If you would like to grab a drink and chill out, you should go for the V&A Waterfront again. You can either explore the remaining parts of V&A. There is a Time Out Market . In the market, you can buy a drink or coffee and enjoy the live band music on the second floor.

Live Music at Time Out Market V&A Waterfront
Live Music at Time Out Market V&A Waterfront

After that, you can have a final dinner at V&A for your Cape Town journey.

Alternatively, for day 8 you can also visit some of the local wineries like Constantia in Cape Town, and leave the rest of the Museums for day 9 morning. Again for a winery tour, there are a lot of available options online with pick-up. Our budget travel plan for Cape Town would not shoot up a lot given the tours are not very expensive.

Day 9: Souvenir at Greenmarket Square & departure

On your final day in Cape Town, you can visit Greenmarket Square for souvenir shopping before your departure. Depending on your flight schedule, you can take a leisurely final walk in the city center. Or even a final rush to the V&A waterfront or other unvisited museums.

Greenmarket pop-up shops for souvenirs
Greenmarket pop-up shops for souvenirs

Transportation, Safety, and Others in Cape Town:

As we completed our 9-day Cape Town trip planning, you should know that budget travel in Cape Town is possible and fun. Before you depart, just some final points for your wonderful journey.

First, for transportation as mentioned you could solely use Uber. On top of that, you may also try out the MyCiti bus service locally. You will need to buy a Master debit card at main stations like Adderley Street Station.

MyConnect Transport Card for MyCiti-bus
MyConnect Transport Card for MyCiti-bus

Second, for safety, you may want to avoid walking at night in areas without security coverage. Given the high crime rate locally, the government has security companies to cover popular points like Long Street even at night. Beware of pocket-picking and local scams. There are a lot of homeless people due to the Covid. It is unfortunate but we shall also be aware of our valuables and personal safety.

In general, wealthier areas such as Simon’s Time and V&A waterfront are a lot safer than the city centers like Long Street, especially at night. Apart from popular tourist areas, you should refrain from dangerous areas like Nyanga. In general, you would not be even close to those areas based on our itinerary but you should be aware in case you choose to drive.

Check out our Cape Town safety guide before you start traveling.

V&A area is in general the safest area
V&A area is in general the safest area

Lastly, most of the museums, attractions, and even the MyConnect Transport card accept card payment only. So 90% of the time in your journey you can settle your transaction with a card. I suppose a cash of 500 ZAR should be more than enough.

You may also check out here for alternative recommendations for Cape Town icons.

Do you find the 9-day itinerary for budget travel in Cape Town useful?

If so, please leave a comment about any inquiry and your trip experience below.

It just took less than 1,000 USD per person !

I wish you had a wonderful trip in Cape Town!

Regulus K

A budget travel blogger passionate about exploring different destinations worldwide, while balancing a regular 9-to-5 job.


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