Things to do in Cape Town over Christmas, even if you’re broke or low on your own cash

Things to do in Cape Town over Christmas, even if you’re broke or low on your own cash

Cape Town is waiting with bated breath for the summer to finally arrive and dispel the cold. This cosmopolitan city, possibly the greatest city in all of Africa, although hardly ever asleep, really comes to life over the summer season.

So what can the Cape Town visitor expect to partake in over the Christmas holidays?

If you’re on a tight budget, fear not. Such is the splendour of Cape Town that even a short drive somewhere close by seems exciting.

But Capetonians won’t leave you wanting. Cape Town is famous for its buzz due in no small part to international visitors flocking to this veritable African wonderland. Because of this, the locals know how to make you feel comfortable and keep you entertained.

If the word “budget” features often in your African holiday plan, perhaps you should have a look at the following attractions or things to do, which are free or won’t cost you much. I’ll throw in some expensive options too; call it window shopping.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain is one of the most famous natural landmarks in the world. It’s a beautiful backdrop to the city and forms a base for numerous adventure activities.

Trying to ignore Table Mountain while you’re in Cape Town is like trying to ignore the ocean while you’re on a cruise ship.

Some or other time, you have to face the mountain.

But it doesn’t have to cost you all your pennies.

The really really cheap option

Catch a bus or taxi to Bloubergstrand and enjoy a beer (possibly at Doodles?) while gazing at the mountain in the distance.


What you’ll see (roughly)

Table Mountain from Doodles in Blouberg
Table Mountain from Doodles in Blouberg.
Blurred Table Mountain
Table Mountain after too many beers at Doodles in Blouberg.

Not a bad view eh?

If you have some cash, the next option might seem more enticing.

The “You saw the crescent, I saw the whole of the moon” option

Cable car Table Mountain
Cable car at Table Mountain.

Considering the weak Rand, going up Table Mountain via the Cableway is dirt cheap.

Cost (Prices might be adjusted for December)

  • Adults: R240 (return)
  • Children (aged 4 to 17): R115 (return)

Those prices are for return tickets! You could shave a few bucks off of your ticket price by hiking or climbing back down. If you choose this option, you pay roughly half of the above price. (Visit TableMountain.Net for up-to-date info.)

And getting down is as much of a challenge as you prefer. Fitness freaks can tackle the more challenging routes down, while those who prefer a walk-in-the-park type challenge can choose something less ambitious.

Just don’t “forget” your mother-in-law when up on Table Mountain. The cableway closes at nine in the evening. She’ll be all alone up there, in the dark, and it’s a far way to fall…

What you’ll see (roughly)

Cape Town aerial view
Cape Town aerial view.
Dassies on Table Mountain
Dassies chilling on Table Mountain.
Lion's Head from Table Mountain
Lion’s Head from Table Mountain.

Nice eh?

Burgers in Cape Town

OK, you’ve done the mountain, now you’re feeling slightly peckish. Or perhaps you’re starving.

Good news: Cape Town’s got your back. Or is that your stomach… I never know.

Cape Town offers some of the most delicious food on the planet.

What do you feel like having? A burger?

Great choice.

The really really cheap, familiar option

There are a number of Burger King outlets strewn throughout the peninsula for those who prefer something familiar. You might want to try Steers too. Similar taste to Burger King (Just Tastes Better; according to Steers, of course); also flame grilled.

There’re also Wimpy restaurants, which UK visitors should be familiar with. They serve a decent hamburger.

Americans should be familiar with their brainchild, McDonald’s, of which a number of outlets can be found throughout Cape Town.

Cost of burgers in Cape Town

  • Burger King Big King XXL (large meal) – R73.90.
  • Steers Mighty King Steer (meal) – R87.90.
  • Wimpy The Double Champion (with fries) – R82.00.

The “I’ve had one of Africa’s best burgers” option

But perhaps you’d like to taste a special burger. An out of the ordinary burger. Then you’d have to head to Royale Eatery, creators of gourmet hamburgers.

These okes don’t understand the concept of normal. Their menu contains items like the Ungrateful Basted burger, Fat Bastard burger and Baaa Baaa burger.

Here’s an example of the goodness that awaits you once you walk through their doors:

Their burgers are delicious. But don’t try anything straightforward. Go for something weird. If you don’t like it, just order another one.

Most expensive burger on their menu

  • Fat Bastard – R125.

They serve pizzas too, but Royale is synonymous with gourmet hamburgers.

You can view their menu online.

Coffee in Cape Town

Now it’s time to wash down that lunch with a fine coffee.

I don’t want to brag about South African stuff here or anything, but I’m going to.

We have people in this country who know how to coffee.

I’m not talking franchised coffees. I’m talking specialised coffee artists. Yes, artists. They craft their product to perfection. What they make is something spectacular, like a Mona Lisa or The Last Supper.

Cape Town, it being Africa’s largest congregation of hipsters and all, has no shortage of good coffee.

A hipster and his coffee

In fact, CT is home to an award-winning coffee blender.

But first the really really cheap stuff

Look, there are supermarket outlets all over Cape Town. Run into one of these, head for the coffee rack and grab a tin of Ricoffy or Koffiehuis, a bag of Huletts sugar and a two litre milk. Now add some hot water (unless hot water is outside of your budget) and there you go, a cuppa.

If that’s too cheap for you, Cape Town has no shortage of little coffee shops dotting street corners all over. You’re bound to pick up a decent mug just about anywhere you go.

The “Have you ever tasted an award-winning coffee in Cape Town? Oh. I have.” option

Truth Coffee.

*Pause for effect*

There simply is NO better coffee than Truth Coffee, and that’s no lie.

*Pause for effect, again*

David Donde, the mack daddy behind Truth Coffee, has a moustache reminiscent of an old American cotton plantation owner. Whether this has anything to do with the success he’s enjoying with Truth is debatable.

What I do know is that Truth Coffee is something out of this world.

If coffee’s your thing, forget about Starbucks or any of the other world-famous big brands. Truth is a speciality coffee roaster with a number of roasts to tease your taste buds and your buds’ taste buds to the nth degree.

And it’s not just me that’s saying this. The Telegraph (UK magazine) rated them the world’s best coffee shop a while ago.

What more fitting way to celebrate this fact than by extracting only the most important bit from a quote by one of the 20th century’s greatest Brits, CS Lewis: “If you look for Truth, you may find comfort in the end…”

So true, CS, so true. Is that two sugars, or one?

The smell of Truth seems to have reached the farthest most outpost of the modern world indeed.

Don’t wait for another Brit to come along to make some profound remark about Truth. Visit them as soon as you get to Cape Town and enjoy a cuppa with a muffin or something. You won’t regret it.

Right, the coffee went down well and now you’re ready for a night out on the town.

Partying in Cape Town

There’s only one thing better than seeing Cape Town by day, and that’s seeing Cape Town by night.

The really really cheap option

Long Street offers you a number of places where you could sit down for a beer, cocktail or something a little heavier and listen to some good music. Entrance fees aren’t exorbitant.

In fact, Long Street’s buzz is such that just walking around makes you feel like you’re painting the town red.

Even if clubbing isn’t your scene, Long Street is worth a visit at night.

The “I rocked the party that rocked the body” option

Club 31 is a choice Capetonian nightclub. It’s situated on the 31st floor of the ABSA building in Riebeeck Street and offers a 360 degree view of Cape Town (no, you won’t be able to see Cape Point; Table Mountain is in the way).

Club 31 is where discerning locals and international visitors go for a good time. This is Gucci country. Judging from the pics, not many good photographers hang out here though. Still, it’s a hot joint for those who wish to experience the best of clubbing.

A photo posted by Kelly Jepson (@kelzjep) on

Such a beautiful view from club 31 in Cape Town! #club31 #capetown #ilovecapetown

A photo posted by Nicole louw (@nicole_louw_photography) on

The Assembly is the place to go for live music events in Cape Town.

They’ve been going strong since 2007. I suspect the reason for this is best summed up on their About page, which claims, “…consistently showcasing only the best and brightest musicians and DJ’s from all genres, be they local or international, rising stars or household names.”

See the keys there? Consistency and diversity.

What gives the Assembly its unique flavour is the fact that it used to be a warehouse. So you get this industrial feel when you walk through the door. (You don’t have to clock in or wear overalls, though; you could, but you’d probably look like a kook.)

Also, pics from The Assembly look a heck of a lot better than those taken at Club 31. (Probably one of the staff members who took a photography course.)

Here, see for yourself…

These are but two upmarket establishments in Cape Town. There are a bajillion others to visit in and around Cape Town. Once the sun has set you’ll have no want of entertainment.

Cape Town’s wine

Tiny bubbles

K, so you’re fed up of the cosmopolitan vibe. Some fresh country air is what you need. And you’ve heard whispers far and wide about Cape Town’s wine, which, if you’re from Europe, might connect you to the soil of our land in some weird airy fairy way, since the people who first planted vineyards were roughly from around where you’re from (give or take a few kays)..

Welcome home.

Seriously though, the Western Cape’s wine is tops. South Africa is 7th on the list of the world’s biggest wine producers, and Western Cape wines have plenty to do with that feat.

So when you head to Cape Town this December, you HAVE to taste some endemic wines.

The really really cheap option

Walk into a bottle store and grab a bottle of wine off the rack. If you’re really brave, ask for a cheap papsak (pronounced pupsuck). Don’t even bother getting glasses. Just get home and uncork or unscrew.

You’ll get a bottle for between R25 and R100 (and up). If you’re clever, you’ll ditch the idea of buying one bottle for R100 and get five bottles for R25 each! (Editor’s note: Author seems to have taken this route at the time of writing, as can be seen by his mathematical skills.)

Don’t forget to close the curtains though. You don’t want the sun beating on your brow the next morning cos you’ll be hungover like a Sonofagun.

That’s the cheap option out of the way.

(And you’ll never ever, ever do that again, I’m sure!)

The “You mean you do the driving, I do the drinking?” option

A Cape wine tour is one of the most popular pastimes for visitors to the Mother City.

A variety of options are available, so let’s take a look at one for the sake of this article.

For a measly R795 per person (at the time of writing this article) you and a friend (minimum two people required to make this happen) are driven to four different wine farms, in an air-conditioned car, where you get to taste some of the local vin.

The tour is focussed on Stellenbosch wines, and will have you tasting a variety of reds, whites and dessert wines.

Kanonkop Estate wine
Kanonkop Estate wine.

A lunch is available as an optional extra.

For the discerning visitor, tours can be customised to include chocolate tasting. In fact, if money is no issue, you can customise your day trip into anything you wish it to be.

Needless to say, not only will you taste fine wine, you’ll also be treated to spectacular natural scenery.

And when you get home after the tour, remember to close the curtains…

Wine bottle corks
Can you count these? Try again in the morning.

In conclusion

Cape Town is a fine city; one of the finest in the world. It’s abuzz with different cultures and activities abound.

Throw all of this into a pot with some of the most spectacular scenery in the world and you have a bucket list destination of note.

So come over and have a look for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Your thoughts?