South Africa: Top Ten Free (or Cheap) Things to Do in Cape Town
From colorful suburbs and sunsets over the Atlantic, spending time in one of Africa’s most popular tourist destination does not necessarily mean spending money.
On the stormy southern tip of Africa lies a city wrapped around the rugged edge of Table Mountain, her toes seductively dipped in the icy Atlantic.
Cape Town or, the Mother City, lives up to almost all expectations: From soft, white beaches to all-night parties and world-class art exhibitions.
However, resembling many famous women, this lady wears a hefty price tag. With guests like Victoria and David Beckham calling the city home during 2010 FIFA World Cup, a red card for spending, or splurging, seems unlikely. Nonetheless, some of the best things in life, and even in Cape Town, are still free…
1. Full moon on Lion's Head
Armed with torches and tinkling glasses, they ascend to watch the sun set over the Atlantic shoreline. A toast then goes to the full moon that rises over the City Bowl on the other side. The stiff walk from Signal Hill Road is not for the faint hearted, and includes two chains to pull yourself up two vertical rock-faces.
2. Slowing down on the seashore
A more relaxed atmosphere prevails at the southern suburbs’ sandy strips of Muizenberg and Fishhoek, where you’ll find ample opportunity for that embarrassing first surfing lesson. Pros at this sport should head to Noordhoek to compare skills on the waves.
3. The fans go wild for the city's wines
The vineyard-lined freeway towards the southern suburb of Constantia from the City Bowl clearly marks this as wine country. The first Governor of the Cape Colony, Simon van der Stel, claimed his territory here and is regarded by some as the granddaddy of South African wines.
Today a sip of Chardonnay or sultry Shiraz does not need to cost you an arm at a leg. Groot Constantia, the country’s oldest wine estate is a national monument and the finest surviving example of Cape Dutch architecture, dating back to 1685.
To taste five of their world-renowned wines will cost you R25, including a souvenir tasting glass. A listing of all the Constantia Wine Farms can be found at constantiavalley.com.
4. The Company garden
Today, visitors can take their shoes off to saunter through the rose garden or hug the oldest cultivated Pear Tree in South Africa. Downloaded brochures can be found at capetown.gov.za
5. A colorful look at the past
Descendants of slaves that were imported from, among other places, Malaysia and Indonesia, the residents are famously proud of their heritage. A walk around the suburb will reveal cravats and mosques, but you will be hard pressed to resist dishing out Rands to tuck into the aromatic Malaysian cuisine. More information may be found a bokaap.co.za
6. The Waterfront
But the out-of-pocket also benefit. Visitors can see dove-like yachts and visiting navy ships while ambling down the harbor, which is lined with outstanding heritage buildings of Victorian industrial architecture.
The amphitheater at the shopping center regularly sends (free) music drifting over the waters. Traditional African dancers and weathered old men performing Cape Malay songs often entertain the crowds. More information at waterfront.co.za
7. The Biscuit Mill
Some weekends see things liven-up even more with music performances. Part of the city's oldest suburb, Woodstock, the old mill is surrounded by semi-detached, Victorian houses. Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.; theoldbiscuitmill.co.za
8. Long Street
At night, the street lights up with restaurants and bars vying for attention. Keep your ears on the ground for free blues bands and other acts scattered up and down the road.
9. The road-trip
Cuddle close to the cliffs towards Kommetjie and Noordhoek before hitting Chapman's Peak drive (a toll-fee applies) and then take half-time on Hout Bay beach. Swing back to Constantia, head straight for Kirstenbosch and hit home-ground on the M3, back to the buzz of the city centre.
Paid-for outings at The Backpackers include historical tours (R600). If dribbling is not your thing, pass on other skills: Visitors can also knit blankets. “A wonderful way to meet the locals,” says manager Brendan Tinsley. backpackers.co.za or capetown.travel.co.za
Eight games will take place in Cape Town, including one of the semi-finals. Teams from, among others, England, Italy, France, Cameroon and the Netherlands will play their hearts out at the Green Point stadium to be crowned the ultimate champions.
Savvy travelers, who spend wisely are sure to get the best out of their trip, and emerge victorious in the battle to beat the splurge.
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