Our Cape Town digital nomad guide is put together after 3 months in Cape Town, both spent with a large group, Hacker Paradise, and solo, so we can share both sides of travel in Cape Town. This article should provide many of the details, including cost of living in Cape Town, the best Cape Town coworking space, Cape Town things to do, accommodations in Cape Town, Cape Town tour highlights and transportation options.

Cape Town is an amazing place for any digital nomad, as it is very affordable in comparison to the US and Europe, easy to get around, offers tons of activities and sports, a crazy good foodie scene, excellent markets and great wifi, if you know how and where to to look. All this, while having easy access to a bustling, but chill, city, beaches and wine country. Cape Town checks every box on the list for any digital nomad or traveler. At the time of this writing, a South African Rand (R), the same as ZAR, exchanges at about 100R to $7USD.

Hacker Paradise Cape Town Review

Initially I traveled with Hacker Paradise and this was not my favorite Hacker Paradise trip, as the people didn’t gel together and the party scene was pretty intense, with just about weekend every group activity involving some sort of all day drinking fest and much of the group partying around the clock. If that’s your scene, more power to you and HP may be the right choice for you. I will say the group was very generous with underserved locals, and went above and beyond to help those in the nearby townships, donating time, supplies, creativity and money.

If you are into work and health, then you might want to reconsider this type of group. I have had other great experiences with HP and you can read about them at Coliving Coworking Hacker Paradise Lesvos Greece and Split Croatia Coworking Coliving. HP is planning on returning to Cape Town in 2019 (not Greece or Croatia), so you’ll want to do your due diligence during your interviews and prior to signing up with HP. Also to note, Remote Year, Wifi Tribe and Unsettled were all here at the same time (November-December), as it is summer in Cape Town. If Cape Town with a travel group is on your bucket list, definitely interview with all the groups, as each has it’s own culture and pros and cons.

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Coworking Space Cape Town

Hacker Paradise secured us spots at Inner City Ideas Cartel on Waterkant Street, one of their two locations. The office was nice, broken up into smaller rooms that each hold about 8-10 people around conference tables, the wifi was very good and the staff was lovely. A monthly pass to Ideas Cartel starts at R2,000. They have a large auditorium for presentations and their highlight is definitely the rooftop space, which often holds events and is known throughout Cape Town as a great place to rent for business and other functions. Ideas Cartel sits in a safe neighborhood, right above a coffee shop and is walking distance to dozens of restaurants and cafes.

Coworking Space Cape Town Ideas Cartel

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Accommodation in Cape Town

As a digital nomad researching accommodations in Cape Town, you’ll want to make sure to request unlimited or uncapped fibre optic. Some of the wifi is a bit older and slower (don’t end up in a terrible AirBnb with no wifi, like I did), in which case, the purchase of a 10GB Sim Card @ Vodacom will cost you about 600R.

Safe areas in Cape Town you’ll want to explore include De Waterkant, Green Point, Mouille Point, Three Anchor Bay and Sea Point, which surround the northern part of Table Mountain from east to west. Other areas to consider are the Waterfront and Gardens. Gardens is mixed, with some parts being excellent and others less safe, so be careful when choosing your exact location. I had to move 8 times in 6 months in Cape Town, so I am quite familar with all the areas, bad Wifi, nasty AirBnb hosts as well as the great landlords and apartments.

Best AirBnbs for Digital Nomads (and all Travelers)

If I had to do it all over again, here’s how I would do it. I’d rent one of these two: AirBnb CBD (Central Business District)/Church Square or De Waterkant Airbnb @ The Rockwell. Both are absolute goldmines in Cape Town!

Best AirBnb CBD Cape Town

The apartment is gorgeous, showcases epic views, has lots of light, is very affordable, provides really solid WiFi and the hosts, Sven and Pamela, are exactly who you want as your Airbnb hosts! Plus, you get your own 6th floor balcony and some outdoor space. As very experienced travelers themselves, filmmaker Sven and urban landscaper Pamela equipped their place with everything they came to appreciate when short-term renting around the globe.

Now that I’ve lived through load shedding in Cape Town (rolling blackouts up to 6 hours a day), you definitely want to make sure to get a place near the government buildings, such as this apartment, because they never lose their power! Add to the mix the current ‘hipsterfication’ of the neighbourhood immediately around the apartment, such as coffee shops, poke bars, shops and galleries within a short walk, and its easy to see why this place achieves 95% occupancy year round.

So check out Sven and Pamela’s place @ AirBnb and definitely let them know Melissa sent you!

Best Cape Town AirBnb

Best Cape Town AirBnb Views

Best Cape Town AirBnb Kitchen

Best De Waterkant Airbnb @ The Rockwell

This De Waterkant Airbnb @ The Rockwell is just gorgeous and had everything you need for a comfortable stay. The apartment has air conditioning, full kitchen, washer and dryer and all the amenities, including a large balcony – with these sunset views! The building has a small gym, indoor pool, day spa, restaurant, theater, wine store and more, plus it’s a 1 minute walk to Cape Quarter, which has all the stores and shops one might want. Jenny is the ultimate AirBnb hostess, who lives a digital nomad lifestyle herself and the management company has been fabulous. They even brought me a battery operated portable lamp during load shedding, and while the power does go out during load shedding, the building elevators still work, so you will never be trapped like you can in other buildings.

De Waterkant AirBnB Living Room

De Waterkant AirBnB Bedroom

De Waterkant AirBnB Balcony Sunset

De Waterkant AirBnB Kitchen

More Accommodation in Cape Town

For my first two months, I lived in the Hacker Paradise housing in De Waterkant, which was amazing! It might be one of the nicest apartments in which I’ve ever lived, sporting a private bed and bathroom (a paid ugrade), roof deck, huge open kitchen and beautiful decor. The apartment was rented through Cape Life (capelife.co.za) and very well managed.

Cape Town Vacation Rental Apartment

I then moved to a nightmare AirBnb in Sea Point, which had NO Wifi and a real you-know-what as the host! Seriously, do not ever rent this apartment https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20686069.

Review of the Verge ApartHotel in Cape Town

***Update to Below – While I did enjoy my stay at the Aparthotel, the staff has changed since I made my reservation and they hired a THE DEVIL to work for them. Her name is Danielle Van Rensburg. We miscommunicated about my reservation (I thought I had one based on prior emails and she thought I did not). Danielle threw me out of the hotel with one hour’s notice, knowing full well I had traveled with all my luggage and had no reservations or plan to go elsewhere. The hotel also made it very clear they are no longer interested in any long term stays or digital nomads.***

Cape Town Verge ApartHotel Digital Nomad Housing

As I write this, I’m sitting in my favorite rental of all, The Verge Aparthotel, which is less money (about $1200 USD per month) than any other comparable AirBnb or vacation rental I researched, in a gorgeous 1 BR in Sea Point, with mountain views on the fifth floor, great wifi, daily housekeeping and 3 blocks from the ocean. You can see the rooms and reviews online, but for a long term rental rate, definitely contact totalstay.co.za directly. (***Update – don’t bother contacting them).

I found all the local vacation rental companies had far lower long term rates than any of the AirBnbs, so in addition to capelife.co.za and totalstay.co.za, check out holidayapartments.co.za. Steer clear of longliferentals.co.za. I found only one coliving space in Cape Town and they were far more expensive than any AirBnb or vacation rental.

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Cape Town Things to Do and Tours

No joke, Cape Town offers just about everything!!!!! Hiking, penguins, dolphins, kayaking, surfing, tennis, biking, walking, bus tours, wine country, beaches, city, museums and so much more! If you can’t find something amazing to do in Cape Town, there’s something seriously wrong. Here are some activity highlights for a digital nomad in Cape Town.

1) Kayaking with Dolphins and Whales

This was one of our absolute favorite things to do in Cape Town! I even invited some locals to join and they loved the tour so much, they have now referred all their local friends. Leave from the V&A Waterfront and head out to sea to explore whales and dolphins with an amazing guide. The dolphins swam right under our kayaks and we were so close to the whales (but not too close:).

Insider Tip: If you want to pack your day with active Cape Town explorations, you can do the Kayaking early (7-9am) and the Cape Town City Bicycle Tour (below) at 10am as they are right near each other at the V&A Waterfront.

Read More: atlanticoutlook.com

Cape Town Kayaking with Dolphins and Whales

2) Franschhoek Wine Tram

As I mentioned above, weekend activities with Hacker Paradise were mainly all day drink-fests and this was definitely one of them! The Franschhoek Wine Tram offers hop-on hop-off wine trams all day long and you can choose which vineyards you visit. Lesson learned – don’t make your schedule too aggressive or you will feel rushed all day. The wine tram offers far more than you’ll actually be able to see in one day, so make sure to leave yourself at least one hour per vineyard and about 10 minutes travel between them. We did the purple line and visited Boschendal, Babylonstoren and two others (I wish I could remember!) that were all lovely.

More Info: winetram.co.za

Franschhoek Wine Tram

3) Grape Stomping @ Darling Cellars

If you’ve ever wanted to crush grapes "I Love Lucy" style, Darling Cellars is the place to go! This was such a fun day for all ages! We started early with breakfast, then hopped on tractors to head out and pick grapes for an hour or so. Then we had lunch and stomped the grapes with our feet for a full minute – which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it definitely is! No, we didn’t drink the wine we stomped and yes, we were offered plenty of wine from Darling Cellars. If you can check out a Darling Cellars Crush Day, I highly recommend it! http://www.darlingcellars.co.za

Grape Stomping @ Darling Cellars

4) Cape Town First Thursdays

The first Thursday of every month, art galleries and stores around Cape Town city central stay open late (at least 9pm) and it’s a great time to walk around, check out some art and sample either free or discounted cocktails, wine, clothing, beauty services and more.

More Info: first-thursdays.co.za

Cape Town First Thursdays Art Gallery

5) Robben Island Museum Tour

Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, is a must-see for any Cape Town visitor. Take the ferry about 15 minutes and then tour the island and prison, often times with an ex-prisoner as your guide. How they go back there every day to give these tours, I’ll never understand. The conditions they lived in are heartbreaking and it would be nice if the ferry allowed some views of Cape Town from the water. But, overall, this was a very impactful and educational experience you should add to your list.

More Info: robben-island.org.za

Robben Island Museum Tour

6) Walk with Penguins – The African Penguin Story

Another absolute favorite tour and AirBnb’s #1 "social impact" experience globally, meaning 100% of what you pay for this experience goes to AfriOceans conservation Alliance. Jon was an amazing guide and our 2 hour tour took us through several areas and breeds of penguins (not just Boulder Beach). We learned a ton, got super close to the penguins and definitely got to explore secret areas with penguins you either couldn’t find or wouldn’t be allowed to visit without a knowledgeable guide. You may also want to tack on a visit to Cape of Good Hope after Boulder Beach. We loved this tour so much, we also did the Paddle with Penguins tour with Terry.

More Info: airbnb.com.mt/experiences/103116 (Waddle with Penguins ) or .airbnb.ae/experiences/112515 (Paddle with the Penguins).

Cape Town Kayak with Penguins

Cape Town Penguins Tour

7) Cape Town City Bicycle Tour

I try and do a bike tour in every city I visit because I think you get to see more of the city you could not see on foot or in a vehicle. This Cape Town biking tour was no exception and it was very well done. Our guide was lovely, we learned a lot about Cape Town’s history – politics, architecture, culture and more. Plus, we definitely got to explore areas we would never have found on our own. Some highlights include: Adderley Street, Bo-Kaap, The Company Gardens, Green Point Stadium and Eco-Park.

Read More: awoltours.co.za

Cape Town City Bicycle Tour

8) Hiking Table Mountain and Lions Head

Hiking Table Mountain is on just about every Cape Town visitor’s bucket list, and rightfully so. The hikes are quite challenging, but for some people, the views are worth every minute. I thought Lion’s Head was a fantastic hike and just the right pace for me. One of the trails we took up Table Mountain, Platteklip Gorge, was super challenging for me, and I’m in fairly good shape. I recommend checking with the Facebook "Hiking Cape Town" group to find the best trail for you or you can check out this article: bookmundi.com/t/hiking-table-mountain-trails-facts-and-tips.

Cape Town Hiking Lions Head

9) Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Our group had a wonderful Sunday picnic at Kirstenbosch and then explored the grounds for a few more hours. Wondering why everything in Cape Town is named "protea?" Kirstenbosch is the place you’ll find out. The Garden has beautiful views of Table Mountain, live music on Sunday nights, a tree canopy walkway, art exhibitions, free guided tours, wildlife and much more.

Learn More: sanbi.org/gardens/kirstenbosch/

Kirstenbosch Gardens Tree Canopy Walkway

10) African Safari

Think Safaris are all $1,000s? I did too – and then some members of the HP group, who had learned from locals, turned me on to a secret. There are plenty of affordable safaris only the locals know about that don’t spend their money marketing to international visitors!!!!! I had the absolute BEST time at Cheetah Ridge Lodge at Nambiti Private Reserve. Take a one hour flight to Durban, then drive 3 hours to Ladysmith. A bit of a schlep, but completely worth it. I mean, a drink and a giraffe, what more could you want????? More: cheetahridge.com

Want to stay closer to Cape Town? Check out one of their local reserves, where you’ll see the "Big 5," just not quite in the wild. Think of it as a huge step up from a zoo, but the animals are fed by caretakers, so they are not quite in the wild. Aquila Private Game Reserve came highly recommended by my friends. More: aquilasafari.com

We also had friends who loved Shamwari Reserve, however, we couldn’t find anything that made them worth 3x the price of Cheetah Ridge.

Cheetah Ridge Safari Giraffe

11) More Things to Do in Cape Town

  • Cape Town Aquarium
  • Full Moon Secret Sunset – a dance-yoga-meditation retreat at Clifton Beach held a few times per month. Was a big hit with our group.
  • Sunset Champagne Cruise – an OK two hours. Not a huge hit with the group. waterfrontcharters.co.za

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Cape Town Cost of Living (for Digital Nomads)

Here is what I’ve paid as the general cost of living in Cape Town

  • 10GB Sim Card @ Vodacom about 600R ($42)
  • Very high end 1 BR apartment near the ocean, 17,000R per month ($1200)
  • Ubers – less than 50R for most city trips (about $2)
  • Meals – anywhere from 80R and upward (I eat healthy and am somewhat particular). Except for a few high end meals, like at Nobu, I have not spent more than $20 for a nice dinner and wine.

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Transportation – MyCiTi Bus and Uber Cape Town

Two great ways to get around Cape Town, besides walking, are Uber and MyCiTi Bus. I mostly use Uber (get $5 off your first Uber or uberPOOL using my link or with code uber-nycinsiderguide), and in three months of living in Cape Town, I’ve had maybe 2 Ubers that cost more than $3 when going around the city. Since I generally zig zag around areas like De Waterkant, Sea Point, Gardens and the Waterfront, most of my Ubers are under $2.

I did, however, purchase a MyCiTi Bus card to experience the bus and use it occasionally in Sea Point when I’m too lazy to walk 15 minutes to the market (please don’t judge me). The Queens Beach bus station in Sea Point was hard to find on Google Maps, so just direct yourself to Strolla Restaurant and you’ll be right there.

MyCiTi Bus Cape Town Sea Point

To ride the bus, you need to get a card for R35 from a MyCiTi station kiosk or bus station. I went to Sea Point, but you can go to https://myciti.org.za to find one nearby. You add money to the card and it debits each time you use it. Card refills are available with a Spar cashier or another of their approved locations, but not at the stops or on the bus. Swipe the card as you both enter and exit the bus. Ride costs vary, depending on the distance you’ve traveled, however the average ride is R10.

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