Here are 10 budget activities in Cape Town that are not only inexpensive but also fun and will teach you a lot about the history, and the fauna and flora of Cape Town.
KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is said to be the most beautiful in the world. The experience of rolling greens, splashes of floral colour, shaded streams and the multitude of paths can only really be done justice with a visit of at least half a day. Take a walk long the treetop “boomslang” (Tree Snake) canopy walkway, picnic under a shady tree, pay a visit to the exquisite Sculpture Garden and look out for the dinosaurs dotted here and there. Don’t forget to visit the Conservatory with its displays of very unusual plants from various southern African regions. The annual Sunday evening concerts between November and April are incredibly popular. Cost for the Garden: R55 entry for adults / R15 for kids under 18.
The Company’s Garden is situated right in the city centre of Cape Town. It was planted by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 to produce fresh fruit and vegetables for the ships sailing along the spice trade route between Europe and the East Indies, via Cape Town. Today it is home to the oldest cultivated pear tree in South Africa, said to have been planted in 1652; a rose garden planted in 1929;
an aviary with a variety of birds and many other interesting landmarks. It’s also well-known for the resident and perpetually hungry squirrels, so buy some peanuts at the entrance to feed to them, and then feed yourself at the restaurant with its fabulous setting. What’s more, the garden offers free wireless. Cost: It’s free!
Read more here about the trees, the memorials, and the buildings in and around the Garden. Cost: It’s free!
The V&A Waterfront, situated at the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, has a rich and varied history that can be traced back as far as 1652. A great way to discover the stories of this iconic site’s past and its many landmarks is to do a self-guided historic walk. Simply grab a map at the Information Centre and off you go. And if you get hungry or thirsty along the way, there are plenty of food and drink places to choose from, especially the Market on the Wharf where you’ll be spoilt for choice from all the yummy stalls. Be sure to visit the new craft market, the Watershed – an award winning craft market with many souvenirs and gifts for
yourself. More things to do here. Cost: Free!
Did you know that almost half of the world’s gemstones can be found in South Africa? Did you know that you could scratch for these gems yourself right here in Cape Town? The Scratch Patch and Mineral World at both the V&A Waterfront and in Simonstown is a cool way to dig for your own beautiful gems. You get to immerse yourself in all the stones that quite literally cover the floor, then visit the gem exhibitions and shops afterwards. This is a delight for kids and keeps them busy for hours. Cost: From R17 per bag.
Enjoy the views of Signal Hill and Lion’s Head from Mouille Point while playing a round of putt-putt. It’s an entertaining way to get the competitive spirit going and to have some fun with friends and family. From here, you can take the kids on the mini Blue Train, to a maze, and the oldest lighthouse in South Africa. The putt-putt course is located along Beach Road. There are two courses so queues will be short! Cost: R20.00 per person.
GREEN POINT URBAN PARK
A unique space in the middle of an urban environment, the Green Point Urban Park is a fantastic, family-friendly place for a picnic, walk, run or for simply lazing around. There is an outdoor gym, a play park, adventure park and outdoor labyrinth. There are different plant species within the area as well as information about them – be sure to walk through the Biodiversity Garden. Access to the park is via Bill Peters drive, Bay Road or Helen Suzman Boulevard. Cost: Free!
The oldest wine producing farm in the Cape, Groot Constantia is steeped in history. This farm boasts one of the best examples of Cape Dutch architecture and has been producing wine without interruption since 1685 when Commander Simon van der Stel of the Dutch East India Company was originally granted the land. You can amble around the leafy grounds, do some trail running or take in some wine tasting. There’s an Iziko Museum on site and if you get hungry, the farm has two restaurants to choose from – we recommend Jonkershuis for their delicious Cape dishes and lovely outdoor setting.Cost: Free to enter, R45 to taste five wines.
This 16 hectare wetland is a unique example of nature conservation and property development co-existing in harmony. Apart from the sprawling wetlands, rare and popular birds and exquisite flora, Intaka Island offers solace to take a stroll, relax, get in touch with nature and get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Take a guided walk or a guided boat ride around the canal. Cost: Boat ride: R40 adults / R30 children under 12.
Outdoor lovers are spoilt for choice in Cape Town. Within minutes of any residential area is a mountain or hiking trail. For the very fit there are strenuous overnight hikes, for the less fit there are short easy hikes. The most popular hikes are to the summit of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Always make sure you follow all safety guidelines because hiking conditions and weather in these mountains can take you by surprise.
On the first Thursday of every month the city centre comes alive as various art galleries and other cultural attractions stay open late. Start your evening by getting a map of the city at your first stop, which is any one of the participating galleries, so that you can plot out your route. Look here for participating venues. There are loads of bars and eateries along the way for nourishment during or after your walk.