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South Africa Tourism: Safety When Travelling To Cape Town


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Thalia O.

tim johnson g8t03pBlYCs unsplash - South Africa Tourism: Safety When Travelling To Cape Town
Photo by Tim Johnson on Unsplash

We hear that the South Africa tourism industry is booming. However, when you mention Cape Town, many different emotions run through those who have visited or are planning to visit.


Like all big cities, there is a level of safety precautions all travellers should take. However, with the crime rates and civil unrest, you may think that Cape Town is better visited when all is well. Unfortunately, that could be a way away, and if you don’t take the chance now, then you might miss all that South Africa has to offer.


Cape Town has so many options for any type of traveler. If you are an adventure traveller, South Africa offers stunning hikes and beautiful scenery. Additionally, you want some fun in the water, you can avail surfing and sailing activities. Afterward, you can hop on a safari tour and see some of the native wildlife in their natural surroundings.


South Africa Tourism, Cape Town, Safe Travel

Photo by Romaine Pontida from Flickr


If you’re a history buff, the city of Cape Town offers many tours and fascinating landmarks that walk you through this country’s amazing and unfortunately turbulent past. If you are a foodie, this city and its unique mix of cultures offer some outstanding options as well. All that is needed is a little extra precaution, and you can book that flight and begin your South African adventure.


So, in this guide, we are going to look into South Africa tourism, particularly Cape Town. We’ll talk about some things you can do to stay safe on your trip to Cape Town, South Africa and give you some idea of the safest neighbourhoods to stay as well.


Is Cape Town Safe?

South Africa Tourism, Cape Town, Safe Travel

Photo by Daniel Case (creative commons)


Like any other major city, there is always crime. However, Cape Town has been known for high levels of crime-related incidents and activities. The U.S Department of State website provides the current state of things in terms of South Africa tourism and safety. So before booking your flight, make sure to do your research!


They will have up to date travel advisory and updates so that you are aware if anything has changed. The safest places are always tourist areas but staying there will mean missing out on other amazing things. So, make sure you know which areas to stay in.


Some of the safest places are the Waterfront or De Waterkant areas of the city. The truth of the matter is that there are places that are safer than others. It is a good idea to visit sites with a local or guide to remain safe.


Things to Do to Keep Safe

There are always risks when you travel. However, that shouldn’t deter you from exploring this wonderful world we call home. Even in the least crime-ridden cities in the world, you should still exercise some care when roaming the streets. Here are some tips to use on your trip to Cape Town (or anywhere).


South Africa tourism, Cape Town, Safety Reminders

Photo by Loren Kerns @ flickr


  • Keep away from certain areas. Do a little research and ensure you know which areas within the city are the most dangerous. Also ensure that you plan your daily routes. Stay out of what they call “The Flats” is key unless you are with a guided tour.
  • Try to keep from being out past dark unless you are with a group. This is especially true for solo female travellers. If you do want to go out at night and you are travelling alone, make sure to take a taxi to avoid getting mugged.
  • Stay alert. Being aware of your surroundings can deter crime greatly and allow you to remain safe.
  • South Africa tourism has brought in a flux of wealthier tourists and criminals have noticed. So, try not to wear flashy jewellery, clothes, and/or electronics. This will lessen your risk of being victimised.
  • Make sure when you are headed out for that hike, you do so with a partner or group and check to see the crime rate of the trail you will be hiking.
  • There is also a chance of baboon attacks. Avoid them and do not feed them!
  • When you are in the water, you need to think about safety as well. Not so much from thieves and criminals but rather sharks and strong currents. Ensure you stay close to the shore and watch for red flags. These are indicators that you are not able to swim beyond that area.
  • There are people who might walk up to you claiming to be the tourist police. Most of these are fakes so the best way to handle them is to ignore them. This is a scam intended to take money from you.
  • Never walk away from your property. Always keep your bags and personal items on you.
  • Use proper precautions when using ATMs. This means using ones inside a building and be aware of people that are close to you whilst withdrawing.
  • Be cautious with your belongings left in your accommodation of choice. You should take the extra precaution and lock up any valuables. If someone does go through your stuff, at least the most expensive and important items will be in a safe.
  • Fraud is a problem in Cape Town. Ensure that you always keep your cars in sight. Also ensure that you did not share any pertinent personal information with anyone. That is unless they are able to produce documents saying they are a state or city official.
  • Ensure that you keep copies of all documents in a safe so that even if you get mugged or robbed, you still have proof of identity.
  • There may be people at the airport who will come up to you and offer to help you with your luggage. Decline politely as most of them are not there to help.
  • There is still some tension amongst the black and white communities. You may hear some conversations that might make you feel uncomfortable but that is normal. Just smile and be as polite as possible.
  • If you are renting an Airbnb or even staying a hotel, do not open the door before looking to see if you know who is there. This could be a tactic to gain access into your room. 


Other Important Reminders:

There are many tips and tricks to make your travel through Cape Town safer. There are cultural considerations to consider that can help you remain a little safer. 

  • Always carry protection. Aids and STDs are a problem.
  • Children may come up to you and beg for money. If you do decide to give them money, you may attract attention from other beggars. Stay alert. 
  • For those who are travelling from the LGBTQ+ community, you should know that it is still very taboo in black communities. So, to remain safe, be aware of your surroundings.

These are some of the best ways to stay safe on your trip to Cape Town. If you are cautious and vigilant, you will be less at risk and able to enjoy all this magnificent city has to offer.


Important Emergency Numbers

Cape Town, Emergency Numbers

Photo by Daniel Case (creativecommons)


One of the best things you can do is keep a list of important numbers in your phone as well as written in your money belt or bag. It never hurts to be prepared. We have gathered some of the most important numbers to keep handy whilst traveling through Cape Town.


Here is our list of emergency numbers you should have at hand if necessary:

  • South African Police: 10111
  • Emergencies (mobile): 112
  • Emergencies (landline): 107
  • Medical & Fire: 021 535 1100
  • Table Mountain NP: 021 480 7700
  • Mountain & Sea Rescue: 021 948 9900
  • National Sea Rescue: 082 911
  • Monitors for Baboons: 071 588 6540
  • Spotting Sharks: 078 174 4244
  • Ambulance services: 10177
  • U.S. Embassy (all hours): 021-702-7300


For more information, you can also check out the Cape Town Tourism Boards website.


South Africa tourism, Cape Town, Safe Travel

Photo by Ossewa (creative commons)


Final Thoughts

Though there are places that are more dangerous than others within the city limits and the outskirts of Cape Town, you should still make this city one of your must-see stops on your next adventure. South Africa tourism is booming for good reason.


This amazing country and its cities like Cape Town offer a wonderful mix of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and a culture unlike any other in the world. So grab your bag and head over to the Mother City – you will not be disappointed. You should remember to stay prepared!


Now that you’re aware of all the things you need to do while in South Africa, here are some sweet treats to try when you visit!