Travelling on a budget does not mean you need to forfeit on experiences. In fact, in a city such as Cape Town you get some of the best experiences by exploring the city on sidewalk level. And the Mother City on a budget is totally do-able, with loads of things to do and to see.
One of the best places to visit in Cape Town is the Company’s Garden. When Jan van Riebeeck arrived in Cape Town in 1652, his top priority was to establish a half-way station where passing ships could stock up on fresh produce. Van Riebeeck’s gardener, Hendrik Boom, also established a herb and medicinal garden, as well as roses. It’s reported that the first roses bloomed here in 1659. By the time Simon van der Stel became governor of the Cape, the garden was turned into an ornamental showcase with canals and water furrows. When the British arrived, the public garden became a botanical garden. Today the Company’s Garden reflects the diversity of Cape Town. You can still find examples and reminders of the garden’s history, but you can also picnic in the garden, feed the squirrels, listen to buskers, visit street vendors who sell art and food, drop in at the restaurant or visit any of the many establishments around the garden. These include Iziko South African Museum, the Planetarium, the Slave Lodge, South African Jewish Museum, the South African Art Gallery, Tuynhuys, parliament and the National Library. The Bo Kaap and District 6 Museums are also within walking distance of the Company’s Garden.
Cape Town has more than just a few major tourist sites to visit. No Mother City visit is complete without interacting with its rainbow people. Street music is a big part of Cape Town culture and you can find buskers at several spots in the city centre. Take a walk up Government Avenue pass parliament and the Company’s Garden, and you’ll see several musicians, from all over Africa, entertaining small crowds. Arch for Arch, the entrance to Government Avenue is not only popular because it offers free Wi-Fi, it’s also the stage for several traditional African dance groups and choirs, especially on weekends. Street musicians also hang out on Green Market Square, as well as along St George’s Mall. During the warmer months, which is most of the time, you can also expect to see acrobats building human pyramids.
One of the most popular things to do in the Mother City is a free walking tour. You cannot go wrong in joining the safety of a group of like-minded travellers out to experience the local culture on foot with a qualified and knowledgeable guide. Cape Town Free Walking Tours takes you on a historic city tour, where you can relive the city’s history from the Khoisan, through the colonial periods and see some of the oldest buildings and attractions in South Africa. The Apartheid to Freedom tour narrates the roll this city played in South Africa’s apartheid history, and you can stop at the exact spot where Nelson Mandela first appeared as a free man. The Bo Kaap tour doesn’t only give you the opportunity to take stunning photos of the colourful houses on the hill, you’ll be fascinated by the history of the oldest neighbourhood in South Africa. All this whilst also experiencing the many facets of Cape Town’s grass root culture and getting a host of recommendations at the same time. Tours are tip-based, which means the power is in your hands, and you can pay as much as you think it was worth. And even if your tip is generous, it’s still likely to cost much less than any other 90-minute booked tour.
So next time you find yourself in the magical Mother City do come and join Cape Town Free Walking Tours and allow yourself to experience the city’s very real amazing street-level culture in the safe hands of a qualified local guide.
Satisfaction is guaranteed and if you are not happy, we promise a full refund… wink, wink, nudge, nudge