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10 ways to have budget-friendly fun in Cape Town’s CBD

Cape Town CBD. Picture: ltennis88 from Pixabay

Cape Town CBD. Picture: ltennis88 from Pixabay

Published Jul 27, 2022


The Google search for “Things to do in Cape Town for under R200” has seen a 350% increase over the past 12 months.

As July is officially Savings Month in South Africa, now’s the time to live your best life on a budget.

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Tasso Evangelinos, CEO of the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID), said: “As Capetonians increasingly feel the pinch, there’s a lot to see and do in the Cape Town CBD that is either free or budget-friendly. We invite you to come into town to enjoy our vibrant downtown, and to support the inner-city economy without breaking the bank.”

Here’s the CCID’s guide to 10 budget-beating venues or experiences in downtown Cape Town:

1. The Company’s Garden

Beautiful, historic, child-friendly and known for its resident pigeons, squirrels and trees, the Company’s Garden is a wonderful space.

It was originally used by the Dutch East India Company as a refreshment station on its trade route from Europe to the east to replenish fleets that had been away for months at sea.

Today the Company’s Garden – a national monument (and treasure) – is the green lung of the Cape Town CBD, a favourite among residents and local and international visitors alike. Take yourself on a tour of the trees, some of which are 200 years old or more.

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Address: Queen Victoria St

Cost: Free

2. First Thursdays

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Come into town on the first Thursday of every month when art galleries, retail venues and restaurants, bars and clubs stay open to welcome visitors with open arms.

It’s the perfect kick-start to a great weekend …even though it is a Thursday.

The monthly initiative started in Cape Town in 2012, inspired by similar initiatives around the world.

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The official organisers put out a programme that includes all the fun things to experience, including galleries and other cultural attractions, as well as retail stores, restaurants and bars.

Promote the CBD’s night-time economy and enjoy the unique downtown vibe.

Where: Cape Town CBD

When: 5.30pm until late (first Thursday of every month)

Cost: Free


3. Sky-Hi Ride

Experience some of the best views of the city and a mighty adrenalin rush. An eye-catching feature on the 28th floor of Hotel Sky, Sky-Hi Ride is a 35m thrill ride that takes you up in a chair lift, giving you a bird's-eye view of Cape Town.

Weather permitting, the Sky-Hi Ride is open to hotel guests and outside visitors from Tuesday to Sunday from noon until 8pm. You can purchase a ride or observer ticket.

Address: 28th Floor, Hotel Sky, 9 Lower Long St

Cost: R200 per person (Webtickets)


4. Iziko South African Museum

Since 1825, the Iziko South African Museum, located in the Company's Garden, has captivated millions of visitors with its vast historical collections, ranging from fossils to ancient insects and historical tools.

Little ones will love the whale display, not to mention some of the temporary exhibitions on right now, from JellyWorld (meet the Medusozoa) to an augmented reality experience of Ancient Egypt.

Address: 25 Queen Victoria Street

Cost: R30 (adults); R15 (children aged 6–18); free (children aged 5 and under)


5. Nelson Mandela legacy exhibition

Cape Town’s majestic City Hall boasts a permanent Nelson Mandela legacy exhibition that’s accessible to the public on weekdays.

The installation, with interpretive panels, audio-visual and interactive displays, honours Madiba’s history and the country’s long struggle for liberation.

One can either do a guided tour to see the various phases covered including an early life timeline, the 1940s and 1950s in Cape Town, 1960s events leading to imprisonment, prison years on Robben Island, Struggle protests, 1980s negotiations, his release, 1994 democratic elections and presidency and legacy.

To book a 45-minute viewing slot, email [email protected] The exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Friday.

Address: Darling St

Cost: Free


6. Rethinking the William Fehr Collection

People should not take things at face value and challenge themselves to grow and see the world differently.

That’s the aim of this exhibition at the Castle of Good Hope, curated by Esther Esmyol. It has extensive historical art and decorative objects, including furniture, collected by Cape Town businessman Dr William Fehr, which first went on public display in the 1950s.

The core of the collection comprises artworks dating from the country’s colonial past. Iziko Museums, the custodian of the collection, urges viewers to look at the stories behind what’s presented and see multiple meanings.

Open from 9.30am to 3.30pm from Monday to Sunday.

Address: Castle of Good Hope

Cost: R25 for children, R50 for adults


7. Clay Café in the City

Creativity and cake – a match made in heaven! This is a craft-focused space where you can paint pottery and enjoy tasty treats with friends. It’s also a renowned spot for kids’ birthday parties.

When budgeted correctly, Clay Café in the City can come in under R250, which includes the studio fee of R40, painting a mug which starts at R55, and a small meal and drink.

Address: 199 Bree Street

Cost: Under R250 depending on painted item and meal


8. Friday Night Live at The Royal Oyster Bar

Catch live music at The Royal Oyster Bar on Friday Night Live. Diarise it so you can ease yourself into the weekend with good music, a selection of oyster and cocktail specials, and good food. To book, call 071 490 2834.

Where: 17 Bree St

Cost: Free


9. Story time for children at the Book Lounge

This downtown gem is an all-time favourite with bookish people, but did you know that you can treat your children to story time every week and allow them to become part of the magic world of storytelling every week?

Where: 71 Roeland St

When: 11am (all kids are welcome and there’s no need to RSVP)

Cost: Free


10. Fruit of the vine tastings

Let your weekend begin with a complimentary wine tasting at Divine Wine Boutique every Friday.

The aim is to alert customers to the interesting offerings on the boutique wine store’s shelves (they focus on small, family-owned vineyards) and the details are always posted on social media.

It’s not necessary to book, and entry is on a first-come, first-served basis, but space fills up fast and you can reserve a table if you plan to linger longer and place a food (quality cheese and charcuterie boards, tapas, oysters, etc.) and drink order after the tasting.

Where: 35 Lower Long St

When: 5pm to 7pm every Friday

Cost: Free

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