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Here's our gay Cape Town guide, with all the best places to stay, drink, eat, and what to do.
Gorgeous beaches. Wild gay nights out. Fantastic food. There is much to love about Cape Town.
Africa has always been on our bucket list of places to visit – and we finally decided to check it off!
The city of Cape Town is known for its amazing natural scenery, with the massive Table Mountain that serves as a dramatic backdrop to the city. We hiked up the mountain the same day that we danced our hearts out in a sweaty gay nightclub. So, it’s truly a city of two worlds…
South Africa is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world and Cape Town is considered the most gay-friendly city in Africa along with gay Johannesburg to a lesser degree. The South African government legalized equal marriage in 2006, becoming the first African country (and fifth in the world) to do so.
We spent most of our time in Cape Town around the De Waterkant district, a hotspot for gay travelers. It’s a vibrant neighborhood, with many gay bars, clubs, and hotels. Lots of shops and restaurants sport the rainbow flag in their front windows – wandering around feels like exploring a rainbow paradise. It’s even considered to be the second-largest gay capital in the world! Here is our gay guide to Cape Town with all the best spots to check out.
Go wild in South Africa
Check out this South Africa gay tour by Out Adventures. It begins in Zimbabwe where you'll witness the power and beauty of Victoria Falls. Then it's off to Botswana and South Africa for authentic safaris in private game reserves. Finally, you'll spend four full days soaking up the culture and cuisine of gorgeous gay Cape Town.
Is Cape Town safe for gay travelers?
There is a good reason why Cape Town is frequently lauded as THE gay capital of Africa! The legislative capital of South Africa is famous for welcoming LGBTQ tourists with a warm cozy hug – and why we rate it as one of the most gay friendly places in the world. There is a large gay community here not to mention a whole bunch of gay bars and clubs like The Pink Candy.
We felt totally safe in Cape Town as a gay couple, but as with all big cities, you should be careful with full-on PDAs, reserving them for queer-friendly spaces – there's always bound to be a few bad eggs in the mix who look for an excuse to cause trouble. This applies whether you're in New York, London, or Cape Town!
Whilst Cape Town has a bad rep for safety, as a tourist you're unlikely to encounter any problems. We were advised to take Ubers everywhere and avoid the townships unless visiting with a reliable tour operator. Common sense applies – that nice-looking watch? Best leave it locked away in the hotel safe to avoid attracting unwanted attention.
The gay area of Cape Town
The bulk of the gay bars and clubs of Cape Town can be found in the De Waterkant enclave of Green Point. De Waterkant – try to say that name without giggling…
In all seriousness, De Waterkant is so gay, it's nicknamed “The Pink Strip” by gay locals. This is where you'll find places like Café Manhattan, Beefcakes, and The Pink Candy. De Waterkant is also considered one of Cape Town's trendiest districts, full of historic buildings, boutique shops, and highly-rated restaurants. By day it has the buzz of a small village. By night it becomes the beating pulse of the city's LGBTQ community – to us, it felt like a mix of San Francisco and Mykonos.
When we say historic, we're not kidding – some of the buildings in De Waterkant date back to the late 1700s when families moved here from Northern Europe, most of them from artisan backgrounds. These families inspired the Georgian and Cape Dutch architecture that is so prominent across the area today.
Gay hotels in Cape Town
In Cape Town, there are several gay hotels that we're dying to tell you about. Our list covers a broad range of budgets, sizes, and styles. Each place we visited had such a homely vibe to it and the hosts were always welcoming. We mostly loved the social aspect of each hotel, as every place we stayed had amazing areas to hang out, get a drink, and chat with fellow guests.
Here are the best gay hotels in Cape Town…
Gorgeous George by Design Hotels
In a nutshell
- Super sleek gay friendly boutique hotel
- 32 luxurious rooms
- Well located in downtown Cape Town
- Lovely rooftop pool and restaurant
Gorgeous George! The name alone was enough to pique our interest…images of a butch Tom of Finland-style 90s gay man clad with mustache came to mind… Gorgeous George is in fact a very stunning gay friendly boutique hotel that welcomes everyone, particularly LGBTQ travelers.
Gorgeous George has 32 luxurious and unique rooms available to book all decorated with industrial tones of raw, exposed concrete and steelwork, blended with modern Victorian design elements. We love this unique design element, which is so prominent throughout the hotel, from the artwork in the reception area to the eclectic mix of handpicked treasures and custom pieces dotted around the place!
We also love the rooftop. It has a pool, a really good restaurant, and a bar for obligatory Nomadic Boys sunset cocktail Insta snaps!
Prices at Gorgeous George start from $175 per night:
The Grand Daddy
In a nutshell
- Stay in the Sugar Daddy Suite!
- Rooftop restaurant and bar
- Cool trailers to book on the rooftop
- Well located in downtown Cape Town
Ever stayed in a trailer on a rooftop before? Or a lush “Sugar Daddy Suite”? The name alone caught our attention when we were looking for a base in downtown Cape Town!
The Grand Daddy is actually a very classy place, with super friendly staff, and is very open to LGBTQ travelers, especially gay couples. We certainly felt that way from the moment we sashayed our way in.
The restaurant on the rooftop makes for the ideal burger dinner. For breakfast, brunch, or coffee we recommend checking out the Trailer 38 Cafe on the ground level – the staff is so sweet and smiley here that we just didn't want to leave.
The Grand Daddy is located centrally in the heart of downtown and around 10-15 mins walking distance to the De Waterkant gay bars and clubs. But unless you're in a group or with locals, we'd suggest taking a cab everywhere as Long Street is an area notorious for petty crime. Leave all your valuables locked in the hotel safe provided in each room.
Prices at The Grand Daddy start from $70 per night:
STAY WITH A GAY LOCAL
Misterb&b is the Airbnb equivalent for the LGBTQ community. Unlike on Airbnb, you know your host is gay, voiding any nasty surprises when you check-in. It is also a great way to meet gay locals and discover the underground gay scene. Click below to get 10 € (or $10) off our first booking.
The Grey Hotel
In a nutshell
- Gorgeous gay friendly boutique hotel
- Located in the heart of the Cape Town gay area of De Waterkant
- Rooftop pool and bar
- Cool piano bar
The Grey Hotel is way more colorful and vibrant than it sounds, trust us! In fact, the interior is very quirky and cool throughout the whole hotel.
There are only 13 rooms, each decorated with beautiful African artwork.
Breakfast lasts until 12 pm, so no having to set an alarm just to grab all the good stuff. This breakfast is served in our favorite part of the hotel – its resident piano bar. The old-timey vibe combined with its later menu of burgers and tapas provided a fabulous start to our nights out. Jazz music and African folk music was played live, creating this perfectly romantic atmosphere fit for a cheesy rom-com film.
Guests can also socialize and have a drink on the rooftop Skybar, which includes a small swimming pool, where you can observe the busy De Waterkant neighborhood in all its gay glory. Did we mention that the backdrop to all of this is the epic Table Mountain?
Prices at The Grey Hotel start from $57 per night:
Greenhouse Boutique Hotel
In a nutshell
- Good budget option for LGBTQ travelers
- Beautiful Victorian-style guesthouse
- Homely rooms with a private en suite
- Walking distance to the gay nightlife of De Waterkant
Within the bustling De Waterkant district, full of trendy restaurants, noisy bars, and high fashion stores, is the peaceful oasis of the gay friendly Greenhouse Boutique Hotel.
This is our top pick for LGBTQ travelers looking for something more affordable in the heart of Cape Town.
Its massive rooms, high ceilings, and white décor create a tranquil atmosphere for guests to settle in. Bedrooms contain queen-sized beds and private ensuites. While they are modestly decorated and a bit tight for space, they suited our needs perfectly.
The staff is very friendly and clearly used to welcoming LGBTQ travelers. Each time we came back after a trip or day out, it felt like we were returning to our home – they would chat with us about our experience with genuine interest. Then we'd sit on the charming terrace to watch the sunset, before heading out for a night at the local gay bars and clubs!
Prices at the Greenhouse start from $35 per night:
Pink Rose Guesthouse & Spa
In a nutshell
- Delightful gay retreat in Somerset West
- Gay male-only guesthouse with 4 rooms
- Stunning clothing-optional terrace with pool and hot tub
- Delightful massages on offer by hosts
The Pink Rose Guesthouse makes for the ideal gay retreat. It's a bit far out from Cape Town – around 30 mins by cab, but close to the airport.
For us, it was the perfect start to our South Africa trip as we wanted a break from the jet lag before hitting the big city.
Pink Rose is perched atop a hill, surrounded by mountainous scenery in a quiet and safe neighborhood. Our favorite thing here was the peace and tranquility. The views from the terrace are something else, particularly at sunset. We always aimed to get back here in time for a drink on their terrace. The common area also has a pool, hot tub, and sauna.
Pink Rose is owned and run by a charming and friendly gay German couple who also live on-site. They offer everything from massage services to a bountiful and super generous breakfast. They also helped us plan our tours to the wineries, Boulders Beach to see the penguins, and Cape of Good Hope.
Prices at Pink Rose Guesthouse start from $57 per night:
Gay bars in Cape Town
You don’t have to try too hard to convince us on going out to a gay bar. As long as we get a sweet-flavored cocktail and some good music, we are putty in your hands. And it doesn’t hurt if the wait staff are fine as hell… luckily that was a common thing in Cape Town! Most of the gay bars we came across were in the De Waterkant area, a thriving neighborhood full of LGBTQ hangouts.
The gay bar scene of Cape Town has sadly declined a lot over the past decade, with a whole bunch of places including Crew Bar having to close down due to Covid. However, a few survivors still stand strong, which we've listed below.
With a rainbow of colors, fruity cocktails, and perky wait staff, Café Manhattan is a lively and effervescent start to your night out. Lots of people come here for a laidback meal/drink, to enjoy chats with friends, and soak up the artistic aesthetic. From the funky décor, with neon signs and eclectic furniture, to the delicious quick bites, it’s perfect for popping in before heading off to a club. We tried the jalapeno poppers, which were surprisingly filling. Their cocktail menu is impressive, especially the long island iced teas.
Open: Café Manhattan is open from 3-10pm Monday – Friday and from midday-10pm on weekends
Location: It can be found at 74 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant
Home to great music, beautiful drag artists, and amazing shows, Zer021 is a must-stop on your Cape Town gay bar/club circuit. It’s especially popular for its cocktail hours when drinks become super cheap. The drag acts draw most people into the bar, with tournaments and lip sync battles to decide who the ultimate queen on the scene is. These nights really get the crowd going and create an exceptional atmosphere. In the past, iconic ex-Drag Race contestants have even performed there, like Mayhem Miller!
Open: Zer021 is open from midday to 11pm on weekdays, from 1pm to 11am on Saturday night/Sunday morning and from 1pm to 11pm on Sunday
Location: It's located at 160 Sir Lowry Road, Buchanan Square, Foreshore
Take a bunch of hot, muscly waiters, throw in some pink flamingo décor, add in a menu of mouth-watering burgers, and you have yourself a night at Beefcakes! Owned by gay couple Roberto and Adolf Del Gall, this is a dining experience like no other. It’s most famous for its dinnertime drag queen performances, which feature local legends like Lilli Slaptsilli and Kitty De La Renza. We went on a Thursday for Bingo when the place was packed. It’s quite popular with bachelorette parties as well, so we recommend booking in advance to make sure you get a table.
Open: Beefcakes is open Tuesday to Saturday from 5pm until 2am
Location: You can find it at Sovereign Quay, 40 Somerset Road, Green Point
Gay clubs in Cape Town
As with the gay bars, the gay clubs of Cape Town have taken a beating over the past decade, but The Pink Candy and Club Stargayzers remain standing, ripe, and ready to welcome everyone under the LGBTQ umbrella. We've also included a gay friendly mixed club called Coco in our list of the best gay clubs in Cape Town:
There’ll be no sneaking around this gay club like the iconic cartoon pink candy – you’ll be free to be as open and catty as you like! Inner-city clubs can often feel cramped, but in The Pink Candy, there was lots of space to dance, sit down to enjoy a drink, and move around. The staff was very welcoming to us, making us feel perfectly at ease. Drinks are reasonably priced, considering the popularity of the club. They host themed events to add even more fun to the mix. In the past, they’ve held slumber-party-themed parties where everyone showed up in PJs and slippers. Beats deciding what outfit to wear!
Open: The Pink Candy Night Club is open from 8pm to 2am on Thursday/Friday and 8pm to 4am on Saturday
Location: It's located at 120 Strand Street, De Waterkant
Club Stargayzers is a massive dance hall, with an eclectic crowd and great music. Local and international DJs turn out a mix of pop, EDM, and house, which helps create a carnival-like atmosphere. They often have great deals on drinks to make your night out more affordable. Stargayzers is usually the favorite spot for people continuing their Pride celebrations – so expect that week to be packed out. Some nights, they have karaoke sessions in the upstairs lounge for club-goers to show off their exceptional vocal prowess – or lack thereof…
Open: Club Stargayzers is open on Thursdays from 8pm until 1am and on the weekends from 9pm until 4am
Location: You can find it at 16 Caxton Street, Parow East
This isn’t technically an LGBTQ club, but it’s gay-friendly, very trendy, and generally, just a cool place to hang out. Naturally, tons of gay people flock toward it. Inside, everything feels chic and glamorous – think Upper West Side Manhattan kind of vibes. Drinks are expensive, and men are expected to dress suavely – the safest bet would be to go in a smart shirt, chinos, and nice shoes. The music covers a wide range of tastes, from deep house to commercial pop, so everyone is happy.
Open: Coco is open on weekends from 10pm until 3am
Location: It's located at 70 Loop Street, Cape Town City Center
Evol is love spelled backwards and you will definitely feel the love at this mixed club that is so popular with local queers it's often called ‘straight-friendly'! Regular events are held here on Friday and Saturday nights, with guest DJs, themed parties or live music. The staff are lovely and everyone is welcoming, with a really free vibe for dancing the night away.
Open: Evol is usually open on Friday and Saturday nights for specific events, check their FB for details of the next one!
Location: It's located at 69 Hope Street, Cape Town City Centre
Gay saunas and cruising in Cape Town
For those of you looking for Mister Right Now, your best bet is to open up Grindr and Scruff, which are Cape Town's two most popular gay dating apps. Tinder is also popular but to a lesser degree. The rise in popularity of these apps has seen a decline in good old-fashioned outdoor cruising in Cape Town. There are, however, a couple of places that still attract men looking for a quickie, in particular, the toilets in the Glen off Roundhouse Road and the shadows on the beach towards Sea Point Pool.
In terms of gay saunas and gay cruising clubs in Cape Town, the best one to check out is the Shaft Cruise Zone. It opened in April 2021 and has been going from strength to strength, offering a range of parties like “Undies Night” and themed events for Halloween and Christmas. It's open daily from 3 pm on weekdays and midday on weekends and is located at 299 Lower Main Road, Observatory. It has a strict over-18s men-only policy. Note: The Hothouse closed its doors in 2021 for good.
Gay beaches in Cape Town
There are 3 gay(ish) beaches in Cape Town – Clifton 3rd, Sandy Bay, and further afield, Muizenberg Beach. We've given a short summary of what to expect at each one, with some tips on how to reach them:
When people think about gay beaches, they imagine crystal blue waters, golden sands, and hot muscled bodies running up and down the shores. And that’s exactly what you get at Clifton 3rd. Though this technically isn’t a gay-only beach, it’s very popular with gay men. The location is perfect – with a row of shops, restaurants, and bars close by, where visitors can pop in for a bite to eat or a drink when they’re done sunbathing or splashing around in the waters. The beach is very accessible, you can walk there from the 109 bus, which drops you off right by it.
How to get to Clifton 3rd gay beach: it's located 4.5 miles (7.5km( south of downtown Cape Town and takes around 15 minutes by taxi.
Sandy Bay Beach is all-nude. Super private and discreet. Great for relaxing and sunbathing. Lots of people like to go surfing here, but we just took advantage of the smooth white sands and tranquil atmosphere. This beach isn’t too easily accessible – which is what happens with a private nude beach. You can either scramble over the rocks on the southern end of Llandudno or take a 20-minute walk from the closest car park in Hout Bay.
How to get to Sandy Bay gay beach: it's a bit of a schlep – located 12.5 miles (20km) south of downtown Cape Town and takes around 30 minutes by taxi.
Muizenberg Beach is quite far out from the main area of Cape Town, but it’s this remoteness that adds to its overall charm and appeal. You will likely need a car to get there or fetch an Uber, as we couldn’t find any direct links via public transport. It’s popular with surfers and people looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the main city. You’ll know you’ve made it to the right place when you spot the multi-colored huts that line the shore. The only drawback of visiting here is the population of sharks in the waters, though there are always shark watchers present to make sure everyone is safe. It's gay friendly rather than a ‘gay beach' but definitely worth visiting.
How to get to Muizenberg gay beach: like Sandy Bay, it's quite far out, 18 miles (29km) south of downtown Cape Town and takes around 40 minutes by taxi.
Are there any gay events in Cape Town?
There sure are! This is the LGBTQ heart of Africa after all! The main gay event in Cape Town is Cape Town Pride in Feb/March. But if you're there in October, be sure to also look out for the Rocking The Daisys music festival along with a whole bunch of other queer events – October is South Africa's official Pride month.
Cape Town Pride (February/March)
Cape Town Pride usually takes place at the end of February/beginning of March – coinciding with Mardi Gras celebrations. Cape Town Pride works to celebrate the entire LGBTQ spectrum, celebrate the gay community, uplift queer youth, and spread awareness of ongoing issues that challenge equality. Pride events take place across 10 days, including club nights, dance parties, talks, and concert gigs. It all wraps up with the epic parade, featuring dancers in exotic costumes, grand floats, musicians, and performance artists. The parade is attended by thousands of people, from across South Africa and beyond, all rejoicing in bountiful energy. In recent years, the parade finishes up in Green Point Urban Park for a Mardi Gras celebration, where is dancing, music, snogging, and unabashed euphoria!
Rocking the Daisies (October)
This super cool Rocking the Daisies festival takes place in both Cape Town and Johannesburg, usually over the first or second weekend of October. It's not a gay festival per se, but, similar to Coachella, it is very popular with the cool queer kids of South Africa who descend on it en mass religiously every year. We love their bi-line: “You know the pure, simplistic joy of finding a forgotten loose R100 in the pocket of your old jeans while doing your laundry? Yeah, that feeling is Daisies; but with a lot less detergent, plenty of sun, and the best live soundtrack you have ever heard”...
October Pride Month in Cape Town
October is the official Pride Month in South Africa. Whilst they also celebrate international Pride day in late June, South Africans also celebrate it locally in October. This is because the first LGBT Pride march (in the whole of Africa!) took place on 13 October 1990 in Johannesburg, which acted both as a gay Pride event as well as an anti-Apartheid march. Therefore, look out for different gay events happening across Cape Town in October ranging from LGBTQ museum exhibitions to more party-focused events like the Mr. Gay World competition and of course, many different Halloween parties toward the end of the month.
Where to eat in Cape Town
When traveling, we like to expand our horizons and sample the best of local cuisine. Luckily, lots of restaurants in Cape Town have curated their menu to celebrate the traditions and culture of their townships/suburbs – particularly in the non-white areas. It means we were exposed to a brand-new palate that we had never tried before – and we were more than impressed. Here are the best places to eat in Cape Town:
Fyn is one of the best restaurants we experienced in Cape Town, a very swanky establishment serving up a delicious fusion of Japanese and African foods! This ‘Africanese experience' is best enjoyed by ordering the taster menu, which features incredible combinations like abalone braaied in kelp and Hokkaido milk bun with burnt mushroom custard. It's a very romantic spot for a date night too, with stunning views out the triple-height windows of Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.
In the middle of busy Cape Town, Madam Taitou is a delightfully relaxing spot for a break and some mouth-watering Ethiopian cuisine. One of the best parts is that there is a wide range of vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer, which are just as tempting as anything with meat! The restaurant is beautiful, with lots of plants, colorful throws and decor featuring African animals with other sculptures. The staff here are also so lovely and happy to help guide you if it's your first time trying Ethiopian food.
Owned by a mother and daughter, Lelapa (which translates to “the home”), was set up to give tourists a taste of the local township’s cuisine. The menu is very eclectic, featuring items we’ve never seen anywhere else. We both split a serving of the ostrich stroganoff – a fabulous salt and chili blend, with tons of vegetables. Our favorite part of the visit was how the staff shared fascinating history tales on African traditions – we learned so much and it added to our appreciation of the food.
Mzansi is one of the best places in Cape Town to visit to get a traditional African meal. It’s set up buffet-style, with the menu featuring many items that represent the country’s diverse cultures and tastes. Customers can learn local dances, whilst an African Marimba band plays a range of indigenous music. The owner happily speaks to guests about the restaurant’s story, her past, her family, and her favorite African traditions. They are happy to customize food items to suit vegetarians, vegans, and other dietary needs.
Best things to do in Cape Town
When you’re in a new city you’re going to want to see as much stuff as possible. We spent our days in Cape Town excitedly finding out the best it had to offer. From hiking up the famous mountain to exploring natural gardens, visiting significant historical sights, and shopping our @sses off, we made every second count!
We've whittled down our personal highlights into the list below. Find out the best things to get up to in Cape Town:
Hike up Table Mountain
Table Mountain is a flat-top mountain that overlooks Cape Town. It stretches 3,500 feet above sea level, giving those who reach the top a view of the surrounding cities and the Atlantic Ocean. Hiking up can take up to 2.5 hours, so pack a lunch and bring shoes with good grip – some parts can be quite steep. And if you don’t want to hike, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is great, as it takes you right to the top in minutes – without all the huffing and puffing.
Home to the prison where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of his 27-year jail sentence, Robben Island is a fascinating spot for history buffs. Regular tours are run, taking travelers around the island’s beautiful landscape and attractions. Tours start by catching a ferry from Cape Town’s waterfront. You get brought around places like the Lime and Bluestone quarries, army bunkers, plus the prison itself – including a look inside Mandela’s cell.
Located on the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, the Zeit Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is the largest museum of contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora in the whole world! Not only is the art here incredible and well worth a visit, but the museum also runs an after-school art program for children in the hours when abuse most often occurs. Art and good deeds? We love to see it! Don't forget to see the rooftop sculpture garden and restaurant while you're visiting either.
We always love taking cooking classes in new destination so we can recreate our favorite recipes back home and Cape Town was no exception. In fact, our class at Food Jams was one of the most fun things we did! Started by cookbook author Jade De Waal (from Season 1 of MasterChef South Africa) Food Jams provides cooking classes with music, wine and a distinctive party feeling while you learn to make delicious dishes. It really is like a jam session with food and we felt like we'd made friends for life with the hilarious instructors!
A Wine-Tasting Excursion
South Africa produces some excellent wines, so if you like a little tipple then you must take the opportunity to explore the local wineries! We joined a wonderful full-day tour of the Cape Winelands and had a lovely time visiting some of the best wineries. It's not all about the wine though, with tastings paired with equally divine cheese, olives or chocolate as well as a delicious lunch at one of the prettiest vineyards. And with someone else driving, you can enjoy the views along the way without worrying about how many glasses you've indulged in!
The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
A busy entertainment district, you could lose yourself for hours in The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, going between shops, restaurants, and bars. We spent our last day here, going from store to store, checking out the artisan cafes and knick-knack shops, while picking up gifts for our friends. We also went onto the Cape Wheel ride, which took us 50 meters into the air, taking in the surrounding sights, including an excellent view of Table Mountain.
For more gay travel inspiration for South African, check out our awesome #liveagain video we did with South Africa Tourism:
Plan your trip
We've put together some handy hints and tips to help you plan your own trip to Cape Town. Read on to find out everything the gay traveler should know before they go.
Travel insurance: Cape Town is safer than you might hear on the news, with many tourists visiting each year without any problems. Even without safety concerns, travel plans can be disrupted by cancelations, illness, or injury. We never travel without the security of travel insurance and strongly recommend others do the same. We always use Heymondo Travel Insurance as their coverage is both comprehensive and affordable. We've been using them for years and have always been happy with the quality of their service. It's easy to make a claim online if something does go wrong.
How to get there: If Cape Town is your first stop in South Africa then you will most likely fly into the international airport. It's also possible that you might need to arrive in Johannesburg and then transfer to Cape Town either by domestic flight or train. Currently, you can only get to Cape Town from the airport via shuttle bus, taxi, or by private airport transfer which we strongly recommend in order to avoid queues at the airport. Heads up, when leaving, try to get to the airport sooner rather than later. Queues for check-in and/or immigration can get pretty severe when there are scheduled power cuts (“shed loading”).
Visa requirements: Residents of many countries can visit South Africa visa-free for up to 90 days; these include the USA, Canada, the UK, and Australia. You may still need to pay a visa fee though, so make sure you check your personal visa requirements well before you make any concrete plans for going to Cape Town.
Getting around: Public transport is not the best in Cape Town, and even walking can be difficult due to motorways and few facilities for pedestrians. Your best bet to get around is to get a taxi/Uber, hire your own car, or join tours to specific locations. You could also book the hop-on hop-off bus to see the main sights of the city – it includes a ticket for the Table Mountain cableway too! BIG safety tip from us: whilst Cape Town is the safest of places in South Africa, it can still get quite dodgy across the city, particularly at night. When going out, especially in the evening, take a taxi/Uber, or go with a group of people, or with locals.
Power Plugs: South Africa mainly uses the 3 pinned rounded plugs, not like any of the others we've seen elsewhere. You'll most likely need to buy a few travel adaptors with you to Cape Town.
Vaccinations: All travelers to South Africa should be vaccinated against common diseases like measles, mumps, and chickenpox, as well as Covid-19. It's also recommended that you be vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, malaria, rabies, typhoid, and yellow fever. Make sure you check with your doctor or travel nurse which vaccinations you should have before making your travel plans for Cape Town.
Currency: The currency used in Cape Town (and the rest of South Africa) is called the South African rand. The currency code is ZAR and it's usually just written as R. Currently, $1 converts to about R 14.74, €1 is worth about R 17.37, and £1 converts to around R 20.41.
Tipping culture: Tipping a small amount for good service in South Africa is customary, although it doesn't need to be a huge tip. 10-15% of the total on a restaurant bill would be considered normal, and you can give a few rands to hotel staff or taxi drivers. Many workers in Cape Town do rely on tips so they will certainly appreciate it. Check out this guide for more info on tipping in South Africa.
Internet access: Many of Cape Town's cafes and restaurants offer free WiFi, and there are also free WiFi spots in some of the public buildings – for a certain amount of data each day. If you know you will need a solid connection during your trip, then we recommend bringing a portable WiFi device with you, especially if you'll need to get some work done.
Accommodation: We always use Booking.com when looking for the best places to stay in Cape Town. They have the widest range at all the best prices, and many listings include free cancellation – perfect if you like to be spontaneous! Their online customer support is also excellent and available 24/7.
Sightseeing and adventure: For more fun things to see and do in Cape Town, check out GetYourGuide. They have lots of tours, activities, and excursions for all sorts of interests. It's really easy to book online and their wonderful online customer support is also available 24/7.
When to visit: Summer is definitely the best time to visit Cape Town, as it's hot but not too humid. Remember this is the southern hemisphere, so summer is between December-February. It tends to rain a lot during winter but the shoulder seasons of spring and fall are fairly nice in terms of weather – plus things should be slightly more affordable than during the peak summer season.
Gay map of Cape Town
We've put together this map to show you all the gay hotspots we've talked about in the guide. Use it to help plan your own fabulous gay trip to Cape Town!
For more inspiration:
- Check out our list of the gayest cities in Europe
- As well as the best gay beaches in Europe
- These are the top gay holiday destinations in Europe
- Then read our guide to the most gay friendly countries in Asia
- Find out which are the biggest and best gay pride events in the world
- Get inspired with these gay pride outfit ideas
- And don't head to pride without these fabulous gay pride accessories