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Is Cape Town Safe for American Tourists?

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Is Cape Town safe for tourists to visit in 2023? Yes! Like any major city in the United States, Cape Town has crime.

But, if you follow my simple rules chances are you will find that South Africa is safe but specifically Cape Town is as safe as most popular tourist destinations.

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Cape Town, the second-largest city in South Africa and the capital of the Western Cape Province is a very important city: it is the legislative capital of South Africa, containing the Houses of Parliament.

Cape Town is also home to Stellenbosch which is a cozy university town and the center of the wine region.

White Cape homes, ancient trees, cozy restaurants, wineries, exquisite wine tours, and cafés make the Stellenbosch wine region the perfect place to store your tent for a few days.

It is located in the southwest corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope and is the most southern city in Africa and a short two-hour flight from Kruger National Park.

Though some may think of typical stereotypes when hearing the words “South Africa”, Cape Town is completely different than people imagine.

The major cities of South Africa like Cape Town and Johannesburg are, without exaggeration, cities you would expect in a first-world state.

However, this does not mean that it is safe like a city of a first-world state would be.

The level of serious crime is high and personal security is the main priority in the country.

After all, if Cape Town was so dangerous, travel experts and travel writers like myself wouldn’t continue to recommend it, year after year, as one of the world’s top cities to visit

Cape Town is a busy city. Like many world cities and popular holiday destinations, there are safe areas for tourists and then there are areas that tourists should avoid.

Keep reading for Cape Town safety tips.

Is Cape town safe

Cape Town vs. Johannesburg: Which City Do People Feel Safest in?

Citizens have been asked about 12 areas of concern, and rated their feelings from 1-to-100, with the latter figure being the worst-possible experience. The average total acts as the official “crime index number”. Here’s how the Mother City and Jozi fared:

City Cape Town Johannesburg
Level of crime 83.65 89.26
Feeling of “increased crime” since 2017 81.29 81.00
Fears of home burglaries 70.67 79.85
Fears of being mugged 73.27 81.36
Concerns of car being stolen 65.36 77.79
Concerns about being attacked 65.88 76.12
Worried about being verbally abused 56.24 64.04
Worried about being a “hate crime” victim 52.00 66.68
Problems with drug users / dealers 74.89 71.62
Problems with vandalism 76.28 82.83
Issues with violent crimes 79.84 88.85
Issues with bribery and corruption 83.94 91.82
Overall “crime index” score 72.98 80.74

How to Stay Safe in Cape Town​

South Africa’s crime statistics certainly do nothing to put tourists at ease. However, these stats are often viewed out of context. We believe Cape Town – one of the most beautiful cities in the world – has a lot to offer tourists.

Yes, crime exists. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you may be affected by crime. Tourists sometimes, unfortunately, are mugged in the city and it happens that valuables are stolen. But this can happen anywhere in the world.

If Cape Town were a no-go holiday destination due to crime, it would not continue taking a place on listings of the best cities around the world and receive noteworthy accolades and awards every year.

Serious crimes such as murder and rape are usually restricted to the poverty-stricken areas around Cape Town, which are best avoided by tourists.

Most tourists never get exposed to dangerous areas, which are nowhere near the popular holidaymakers’ spots, such as the Atlantic Seaboard.

Your streetwise attitude will go a long way to ensure your safety in Cape Town. This, along with what you carry on you while sightseeing will play an important role in your experience of how safe Cape Town is.

Stick to a few simple rules as discussed in this guide and chances are you will find Cape Town as safe as most popular tourist destinations.

 Is Cape Town Safe for Female Travelers

This is the number one thing I was asked when I told people I was traveling to Cape Town solo.  Are you sure South Africa is safe specifically is Cape Town safe?

Cape Town does have a high crime rate, so you definably need to be aware of your surroundings at ALL times. Muggings, pickpockets, scams, and robberies do happen so it’s right that you need to be as prepared as possible before your trip.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t travel to Cape Town.

Cape Town is a vibrant and beautiful city and you should not allow misconceptions to prevent you from traveling to South Africa.

Researching the destination and I also suggest joining Facebook groups that are dedicated to both South Africa and Cape Town to learn from other travelers is also another way you can protect yourself.

Safety in Cape Town is a valid concern.

Although most of the violent crimes happen in isolated areas.

Remote areas should definitely be avoided if you are alone but also be aware that there is a higher crime rate in the big cities.  Your Gov website will have up-to-date info as well.

ATMs and banking

Do not draw money at ATMs at night, especially not on a deserted street. Visit one of the many upmarket shopping centers and draw cash where there are security guards on duty.

Never allow a stranger to “assist” you at an ATM. If you need assistance, wait for banking hours and do your business inside the bank.

If you need to visit a bank or foreign exchange counter, go to a shopping complex such as the V&A Waterfront or Gardens Centre to do your banking business.

Once you have withdrawn cash, do not flaunt it but put it away safely before leaving the ATM machine. Keep an eye on any suspicious-looking individuals.

Driving a car

It is generally safe to drive in Cape Town. A few common sense rules apply, such as keeping the car windows rolled up while driving in the City Centre and making sure the car doors are locked before setting off on your journey.

Do not display handbags, cell phones, and wallets on the passenger seat or anywhere that it is in the eye of passers-by. Rather lock your valuables in the car’s boot.


Cape Town has a lively nightlife. When you go out, it is always best to buddy up and have a friend at your side.

Party streets such as Kloof Street, Long Street, Loop Street, and Bree Street in the city center, as well as De Waterkant and Sea Point, are popular, but always exercise caution, especially after dark in busy streets such as Long Street.

Make sure you stay in well-lit areas and avoid dark alleyways and deserted places.

If you want to partake in a Lion’s Head full moon hike, don’t do it by yourself but book with an organized group or a guide to ensure your personal safety.

Do not dwell around the beaches, mountainsides, or any other isolated areas at night.

Public transportation In Cape Town

Cape Town has a fair number of taxi services, which are safe to use, such as Intercab, Unicab, and Rikkis Taxis. Many tourists also make use of Uber.
As a word of caution, only get into a car, taxi, or bus when you are feeling a hundred percent safe. If you have doubts about the intention of the driver and/or other passengers, trust your instinct and do not get into the vehicle.
Cape Town’s Metrorail train is generally not recommended as a means of transport for tourists. The MyCiti bus service is safe and reliable. However, as in any other city in the world, be aware of who is on the bus with you and make sure to keep your belongings close to you.

Sightseeing in Cape Town

When you are sightseeing, stay safe on the streets of Cape Town by dressing casually, and do not advertise the fact that you are carrying electronic equipment, your cellular phone, tablet, or wallet.

Pickpockets can lift your wallet or phone out of your pocket without you realizing that you have been targeted, so a money pouch tied around your waist is recommended.

It is best to leave expensive jewelry at home. Capetonians generally sport a very relaxed dress code and you can rather invest in some inexpensive craft jewelry to wear when on vacation in Cape Town than wear expensive jewelry.

Every person on the street knows you have a cellular phone. If you are also carrying a camera around your neck, you have been earmarked as a tourist. Wait until you are in a shopping complex or coffee shop before putting your electronics on display.

If you take pictures with your cellular phone, get a handy grasp attachment that you can wrap around your wrist to keep your phone safe.

Travel documents

Protect your travel documents by locking them in your room’s safe before you venture out. Carry a certified copy of your passport in case you need it on your travels.

Keep a spare set of certified copies in your suitcase to ensure you have identification in case your passport is lost or stolen.

South Africa Visa Requirements for U.S. Citizens

At present, American citizens can visit South Africa visa-free for up to 3 months. US citizens are visa-exempt for South Africa for the following purposes:

US Citizens who plan to visit South Africa should first check if they require a South African visa. While a visa for South Africa for US nationals is not necessary in all cases, some American travelers will be required to obtain a travel document.

The government of South Africa recently introduced a new visa process for 14 different nationalities. It is designed to speed up the visa system for South Africa and remove the need to apply from an embassy or consulate.

While a South African eVisa application for US citizens is not yet available, the online visa program may be expanded to Americans in the future. However, at the moment, there are several other types of South African visas for US passport holders.

Water consumption

Cape Town’s tap water is safe to drink. But, we do not recommend that tourists drink water from natural water sources, such as mountain streams and rivers, unless you are in the company of a qualified guide who confirms that the water is safe for drinking.

Tourists are requested to be mindful of the continued water crisis facing Cape Town and other parts of South Africa. The southern tip of Africa is a drought-stricken area and as such, great care should be taken to conserve water.

Wild animals

Forget about getting face-to-face with a lion or elephant in Cape Town. You will only find these animals in conservation areas and nature reserves.

Creepy crawlies also abound (Cape Town is in Africa, after all!) and you may encounter insects and spiders. When hiking, check that you do not become host to a tick, which attaches itself to your skin.

You may find mosquitoes in Cape Town, but apart from being a nuisance, they are not carriers of malaria in the Western Cape. Spiders and scorpions also do occur in natural environments so if you are camping or picnicking, shake out shoes and clothing as a precaution.

The Western Cape is also home to a variety of snake species. While the chances are quite slim that you would encounter any of them, take care not to step on a snake when hiking in the mountains and never try to catch them.


Cape Town has abundant natural beauty and hiking in the mountains is a popular and highly recommended activity. It is safe to hike on the main mountain trails in a group of at least four people.

As a tourist, we recommend you join a guided hike with a reputable guide. The mountains can be treacherous and what looks like a beautiful day from the city can easily turn into an icy cold windstorm on Table Mountain.

Always carry water, snacks, and a warm jacket on a hike.

Informal settlements

Township tours are a popular tourist activity, but how safe is it to venture into informal settlements?

Be cautioned that it is not safe at all to venture into a township by yourself on a DIY or self-drive township tour.

Informal settlements can be confusing and apart from getting lost, you may stumble upon the wrong company and put yourself in danger’s way.

If you are keen to experience everyday life in an informal settlement, book a township tour with a reputable operator such as Camissa and ensure your safety while you are sightseeing in these areas.

Illicit drugs

Marijuana has recently received a lot of media attention in South Africa since it is no longer against the law to consume it in your own private space. However, buying drugs off the street remains an illegal activity.
The South African Police Services takes a hard line against the buying, possession, and selling of narcotics in the city. So in case you were wondering, it is not safe to buy or use illicit drugs while on holiday in Cape Town and I highly recommend you avoid any drug-related activities.

Additional Safety for Visiting Cape Town

No matter the destination it is a good idea to always follow these basic travel safety tips.  Follow these tips while traveling to South Africa along with the following Cape Town travel warning:

  • Steer clear of spots with a bad reputation, known gang activity, or places that give you bad vibes. Stick to well-traveled places.
  • Check-in with friends and family back home as often as you can. Make sure someone knows where you’re at and when you expect to check in next.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. This is a good rule of thumb in general, but it’s especially important when traveling alone.
  • Don’t drink too much. Make sure you know your limits. Don’t put yourself in a vulnerable position.
  • Only use ATM machines that are found at reputable local banks or those at your resort.  
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry or watches that might attract unwanted attention.
  • Avoid taking excessive amounts of cash out and about with you.

Stick together with your travel companions rather than splitting up, especially when out late at night. If you plan to drive, make it a point to travel during daylight hours.

Choosing to take a taxi at night is always a great idea, just to be on the safe side and know which areas to avoid in Cape Town

South Africa Travel Advisory

Travel Advisory
October 5, 2022

South Africa – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.

Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest.

Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery, rape, carjacking, mugging, and “smash-and-grab” attacks on vehicles, is common.  There is a higher risk of violent crime in the central business districts of major cities after dark.

Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently.  These can develop quickly without prior notification, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services; such events have the potential to turn violent.

Please see our Alerts for up-to-date information.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to South Africa.

If you decide to travel to South Africa:

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg
1 Sandton Drive (opposite
Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg 2196
South Africa
+(27)(11) 290-3000 (from South Africa 011-290-3000)
+(27) 79-111-1684 / 079-111-1684 (from within South Africa)
+(27)(11) 884-0396 / 011-884-0396 (from within South Africa)

The Best Luxury Hotels in Captivating Cape Town for Safety

From lavish accommodations to unparalleled service and awe-inspiring views, these hotels offer an unforgettable experience for discerning travelers. Join us as we embark on a journey to discover the crème de la crème of luxury hotels in Cape Town.

  1. The Table Bay Hotel: Nestled at the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, The Table Bay Hotel stands as an iconic symbol of elegance. Its magnificent architecture, luxurious rooms, and personalized service make it a favorite among discerning travelers. Indulge in fine dining, rejuvenate at the spa, and relish breathtaking views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean.
  2. Cape Grace Hotel: Exuding charm and sophistication, Cape Grace Hotel overlooks the vibrant marina and offers an intimate atmosphere. Its elegantly appointed rooms, personalized butler service, and exceptional dining options ensure a memorable stay. Take a stroll along the waterfront or unwind with a cocktail while admiring the picturesque Table Mountain.
  3. The Silo Hotel: Housed in a converted grain silo with a distinctive design, The Silo Hotel is a testament to Cape Town’s artistic spirit. Offering unparalleled luxury and opulence, each room is adorned with stunning contemporary art. Enjoy panoramic views of the city and harbor, savor delectable cuisine, and unwind in the rooftop pool while being captivated by the mesmerizing sunset.
  4. One&Only Cape Town: Immerse yourself in the epitome of luxury at One&Only Cape Town. Situated amidst the cosmopolitan V&A Waterfront, this hotel boasts exquisite rooms, world-class amenities, and exceptional service. Pamper yourself at the award-winning spa, indulge in gastronomic delights, and bask in the beauty of Table Mountain from your private balcony.
  5. Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel: Steeped in history and surrounded by lush gardens, Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel exudes timeless elegance. This pink-hued oasis offers luxurious rooms, exquisite dining experiences, and a tranquil spa. Unwind by the sparkling pool, explore the vibrant city, or simply revel in the tranquility of this iconic landmark.
  6. The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa: Perched on the outskirts of Cape Town, The Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa showcases unparalleled natural beauty. Nestled between the Twelve Apostles mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, this luxurious retreat offers breathtaking views, elegant rooms, and a world-class spa. Immerse yourself in nature, enjoy gourmet cuisine, and experience ultimate relaxation.


Additional Useful Resources to Help You Stay Safe and Exploring Cape Town

  • Expedia: the best website for finding cheap flight deals and hotels to and from Cape Town.
  • Booking.com: my favorite hotel booking website, as it consistently has the best selection and prices.
  • Hotels.com: another excellent hotel booking website for finding fabulous Cape Town accommodation.
  • Tripadvisor: this famous review website now allows you to book accommodation and tours direct as well.
  • Get Your Guide: my favorite resource for finding tours and activities in Cape Town and elsewhere.
  • Viator: another great option for finding fun things to do, skip-the-line tickets, and fabulous tours in Cape Town.


I think most people have questions about where to go for medical care in an emergency. First, I should note that if you’re on spring break, chances are slim that you’ll be needing emergency care.

Still, better safe than sorry! The good news is that some of the most beautiful cities in South Africa—like Capetown and Durban —also happen to be home to some of the best hospitals and clinics in South Africa.

I can’t say this enough but please get insurance when traveling to South Africa! Even if you are only going on a short trip, you should always travel with insurance.

Have fun while visiting South Africa,  but take it from someone who has racked up thousands of bucks on an insurance claim before, you need it.

Make sure to get your insurance before you head off on an adventure!  I highly recommend Travelex Insurance.

Conclusion: Is it Safe to Travel to Cape Town, South Africa

Yes, Cape Town, South Africa is safe!

Yes, Cape Town is safe for tourists whether you are traveling solo or on a romantic getaway.  The areas in which people typically stay — Cape Town’s city center and inner suburbs, the Cape Winelands, the Garden Route, safari destinations, and yes, Cape Town— is one of the safest cities in the country.

You should take the usual safety precautions. Don’t walk around at night — use Uber. Don’t flash your valuables. Be aware of your surroundings and you will be just fine.

If you need more evidence that South Africa is safe take a look at this interactive map and you will see what other popular countries have the same travel advisory level as South Africa. 

The countries below have the same South Africa travel advisory and most people don’t think twice about visiting these destinations so why are you asking is South Africa safe?

Ready to plan your trip, grab my FREE  Vacation Planner to help you plan your trip in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show!

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Travel Guide


Is Johannesburg Safe for American Tourists

Ultimate Safari Packing List

Is South Africa Safe

Have you allowed the misconceptions around visiting the continent of Africa to prohibit you from exploring Cape Town? Are you still wondering is Cape Town safe for American Tourists?

I would love to hear your thoughts on whether is it safe to travel to Cape Town and how you feel about the South Africa travel warning so leave me a comment on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.

Are you traveling to South Africa anytime soon? Leave a comment and let me know!


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