Is Cape Town safe? That’s the question every solo traveler asks themselves when flying to South Africa. What is it like? Are the fears justified? It is well known that South Africa is a dangerous country: the statistics on violent crime, robberies, and burglaries are among the highest in the world. It is only natural that those who want to move here ask the question: what effect will crime have on my daily life? You should be cautious as a solo traveler.
Violent crime is more concentrated in poorer urban areas such as townships, but in reality, robberies – violent or not – can occur anywhere.
Among the major South African cities, Johannesburg is the most dangerous, while Cape Town is one of the least risky, and according to statistics, crime is declining.
The international press tends to dramatize the situation. Still, wealth disparity is indeed the direct cause of crime, and if you live in South Africa, you must be vigilant and take precautions.
Security measures Cape Town
Houses usually have gates around the garden, or fencing walls, sometimes electric fences. The alarm systems are controlled by security companies (armed response), with patrols that intervene in an emergency.
The apartments generally do not have alarms, and only in some cases do they have access control.
Gated villages or gated communities are enclosed neighborhoods with guards at the entrance. They can be found in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban, while they are relatively rare in Cape Town.
Other security measures
The front door of houses and apartments almost always has a security gate. That serves as an additional security feature when you open the door to a stranger, but it comes from the South African habit of leaving the door wide open in summer.
Also, the burglar bars protect the open windows, while the fixed glass panels are not equipped with bars or shutters.
That said, although thieves are more amateurs in South Africa, they are often willing to take more risks and tend to be more violent, so it is good to be vigilant.
By car: precautions and common sense
It’s a good idea to take these simple precautions when driving: activate the central locking system and never leave a purse or computer in the passenger seat. At night be doubly careful, and if you have just arrived in town, make sure you know the route to avoid getting lost in a bad neighborhood. In less safe areas like Cape Flats, it is quite common for drivers to fail to stop at red lights.
When you park, don’t leave anything in sight in the car, not even a pair of sunglasses.
Most cars are equipped with an anti-theft system, and it is advisable to have insurance.
As the city is large and public transport is not yet well developed, people usually travel by car, so the streets are empty after the close of business. Therefore, walking around after dark is not advisable unless you know the area well, particularly if you are solo traveler.
If you want to walk in the evening without risk, go to the Waterfront, a pedestrian port area with bars and restaurants open late at night, where the stores close at 9 pm. It also has some neighborhoods or streets busy at night, such as Kloof Street in the center and some roads in Greenpoint and Sea Point. Long Street has become a bit dangerous at night, as many pickpockets exist.
Is Cape Town dangerous for tourists?
As in Johannesburg, tourists arriving in Cape Town can be targeted by criminal gangs. Dangerous neighborhoods surround Cape Town airport. Upon arrival, travelers are advised to:
- use a secure app to order a cab;
- Do not take cabs parked in front of the airport, especially those to which people are trying to guide them around the terminal with signs indicating the name of a secure cab app.
- When renting a car, it is recommended to plan your route. The N2 highway is safe to get downtown, but no stops are allowed. Signs indicate “High crime area. Danger zone. Do not stop”.
- It is advisable not to be guided by the GPS, which can take you on secondary roads.
Cape town dangerous areas
Where are the dangerous safe areas in Cape Town? Cape Town has 120 neighborhoods divided into several major areas:
City Bowl Area
The City Bowl is the historic center of Cape Town, located between Table Bay, Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, and Devil’s Peak. Surrounding the City Bowl are the Gardens, Cape Town City Center, the Port, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Fort of Good Hope, Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant, Higgovale, Oranjezicht, Salt River, Schotsche Kloof, Tamboerskloof, University Estate, Vredehoek, Walmer Estate, Woodstock and Zonnebloem.
Southern and Atlantic suburbs of Cape Town
Cape Town also includes municipalities and seaside resorts:
To the southwest of the Atlantic coast: Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Clifton, Fresnaye, Green Point, Mouille Point, Sea Point, Three Anchor Bay, Hout Bay, Llandudno. Southeast Cape Town: Rondebosch, Claremont, Plumstead, Mowbray, Observatory, Ottery, Pinelands, Wynberg, Newlands, Bergvliet, Constantia, and Bishopscourt.
Northern Cape Suburbs
This area includes the neighborhoods and suburbs of Bellville, Bothasig, Brooklyn, Burgundy Estate, Durbanville, Edgemead, Elsie’s River, Factreton, Goodwood, Monte Vista, Panorama, Parow, Richwood, Thornton, Table View, and Welgemoed.
West Coast of Cape Town
That’s the area to the west beyond the northern suburbs on the Atlantic coast. It includes Bloubergstrand, Milnerton, Tableview, West Beach, Atlantis, Melkbosstrand, Big Bay, Sunset Beach, Sunningdale, and Parklands.
Eastern Cape Suburbs
Cape Town’s eastern suburbs include Fairdale, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein, Kuils River, Blue Downs, Belhar, and Protea Hoogte.
Helderberg is a suburb of the Eastern Cape located in a wine-growing area and includes the seaside resorts of Somerset West, Strand, and Gordons Bay.
Cape Town South
Area of seaside resorts and fishing ports: Hout Bay, Muizenberg, Noordhoek, Fish Hoek, Kommetjie, Scarborough, Simon’s Town, St James, Sun Valley and Steenberg.
Cape Town Cape Flats
The Cape Flats is an area southeast of the Cape Town central business district. That’s where Cape Town’s slums and the city’s poorest people live.
The most dangerous neighborhoods in Cape Town
In South Africa, during apartheid, a township was a neighborhood reserved for the black population. It was forbidden for blacks to live in a community where whites lived. South African cities were divided into townships, areas reserved for people according to their skin color. Despite the end of apartheid, the existence of townships is still deplored today, which are real shanty towns of extreme poverty.
In Cape Town, these townships (listed below) are primarily located in the Cape Flats (Die Kaapse Vlakte). That’s a vast area that lies to the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town. You should not, as a solo traveler, visit these places.
Areas to avoid in Cape Town (townships)
Here is the list of townships that are the most dangerous areas in Cape Town:
- Nyanga (which is one of the most hazardous areas in the world)
- Khayelitsha (2nd largest township in South Africa after Soweto)
- Mitchell’s Plain
- Bishop Lavis
- Hanover Park
Areas to avoid in Cape Town
In Cape Town, in all neighborhoods, you should remain very careful by avoiding all outings at night, moving only in official cabs, by avoiding all beaches and isolated places.
According to travelers’ forums, blogs, and many websites, here are the dangerous areas of Cape Town, especially at night (in addition to the most hazardous areas listed below)
- Areas to avoid in Cape Town: Woodstock
- Places to avoid in Cape Town: Observatory
- Areas to avoid in Cape Town: Cape Town City Center (Area around Long Street)
- Areas to avoid in Cape Town: Harare + Noordhoek Beach + Tafelsig
- Kakapo shipwreck area
- Area to avoid in Cape Town: Table Mountain site
- This list of areas to avoid in Cape Town is not exhaustive and is not classified.
The safest neighborhoods to stay in Cape Town
Here are the neighborhoods that professionals and real estate agencies rank among the safest and best in Cape Town and its suburbs:
- Camps Bay
- Sea Point
Best areas to stay in Cape Town
It is challenging to choose the best neighborhood in Cape Town. Indeed, the choice of the best community is made according to your tastes, your desires, and the type of stay you are planning.
To choose a hotel in the best areas of Cape Town, here are some recommendations according to your type of stay:
- Camps Bay and Clifton: Best areas in Cape Town to enjoy the beaches of Clifton, Glenbeach, and Bakoven
- Cape Town City Center and Bo Kaap: Best areas of Cape Town for a tourist stay in the city center or for a professional trip (business district).
- Sea Point: Best area in Cape Town for a family to stay in front of the ocean
- Victoria & Alfred Waterfront: Best place in Cape Town for shopping and tourism (close to the center)
- Tamboerskloof: Best area in Cape Town to enjoy the animations of Kloof Street
Indeed, Camps Bay is a beautiful area of Cape Town, known for its large white sand beach. It is crossed by Victoria Road, lined with many bars, stores, and restaurants. Only 10 minutes from the central area of City Bowl and the Waterfront, Camps Bay is an ideal area for a solo traveler.
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