How to Enjoy a Cape Town Summer on a Budget

Words: Stéphanie Pereira

December has arrived! Cape Town Summer is here but it really doesn’t have to slurp up every last penny. With a city as beautiful, vibrant and culturally rich as Cape Town, it is very easy to enjoy and fulfil yourself at minimal cost.

I’ve put together a little itinerary for you and your friends/family to spend your precious off-time without spending your precious earnings. If you prefer the material side of life then perhaps skip this one, but if you’re here for a good time and are fuelled by those ‘moments’ in life (I know you know what I mean) then take a gander and keep that calendar schedule close by. If you’re wanting date ideas for a special someone, then this just might be your guide.

Zeitz MOCAA

Every Wednesday, from 10h00-13h00, African citizens can take it all in at the world’s largest museum of contemporary African art for free. And on the first Friday of every month, visitors get 50% off the entrance fee from 16h00-21h00.

zeits mocaa museum

Silo Concert Series

On the first Friday of every Cape Town Summer month, The V&A Waterfront’s vibrant Silo District hosts a free concert with live performances as part of the Silo Concert Series. The sunset concerts are from 19h00-24h00 and are FREE.

3 January: This Thing Called Swing

  • ‘Jive’, ‘jitterbug’, ‘swing’ or ‘hop’…apparently these are dance moves. If these are your kind of moves then this is your night! An evening of dancing and big band music of the 30s and 40s will take you back in time.

7 February: Anecnote and The Soil

  • Multi-platinum-selling Kasi-soul band, The Soil, joins up with SA’s Got Talent 2018 winners, Anecnote, for a night of acapella music. Experience melodic harmonies, powerful sounds and goosebumps from this fusion’s collective voice.
Cape Town Summer Silo Concert Series

From V&A Waterfront Facebook page

The Labia

Netflix and Chill? Nah. Cinema and wine? Yes, please! For the past 4 decades, The Labia has been operating as a cinema appealing mainly to the more ‘artsy’ or discerning viewer. But to be honest, the quality and range of movies, the charm of the old-world ambience, and the cinema’s bar (yes, that’s right) can’t not be appreciated.

Especially with the specials they have running in conjunction with various restaurants, you and a partner can marvel at a new release or romanticise with an alternative classic after a meal at these restaurants on selected days:

  • Monday & Tuesday: Societi bistro  R110 (2x pastas and 2x movie tickets)
  • Wednesday & Saturday: Diva Cafė Ristorante  R110 (only after 16h00 on Sun) (2x pizzas and 2x movie tickets)
  • Thursday: Knead (Kloof St) R160 (2x burgers and 2x movie tickets)
  • Sunday (only after 16h00):  Diva Cafė Ristorante  R110 (2x pizzas and 2x movie tickets)

Alternatively, individual shows cost R50 or R40 for Student/Fanatics/Seniors/Children.

View the schedule for current movie times with movie reviews.

The Labia Theatre

From The Labia Theatre Facebook cover photo

First Thursdays

The first Thursday of every month sees Cape Town CBD in all its artistic and cultural beauty. Art galleries are open until late and are free of charge! Experience the talent of the city and immerse yourself in creative enlightenment. And what goes better with art than wine? Cape Town nightlife thrives on First Thursdays, especially during Cape Town summer months, so be sure to visit a few bars along the way.

art exhibition

Iziko Museums of South Africa

Before you skip this point, hear me out; our country is so interesting! And learning is cool – always has been and always will be. Give it a chance and learn about the rich history of this country and city by visiting the different museums. There really is so much to see from priceless and provocative art to exhibits that tell stories of so many pasts, to the coolest of them – in my opinion – the Planetarium. Immerse yourself in the richness and wonderment of it all.

Prices range between R5-R60 and include children, students, scholars, and pensioner discounts with further discounts on Fridays and commemorative days at selected museums. Keep an eye out for ‘Museum night’ where participating museums are free of charge with extended visiting hours.

Visit Iziko to find out current events, exhibitions, shows, permanent exhibitions, and information on the different museums.

Iziko Museum Planetarium

From Planetarium|Iziko.org.za

Creative Coffee Mornings

Celebrate Cape Town’s creatives with short lecture sessions and a cup of coffee on the first Friday morning of every month. The point of this meeting is to share the works and journeys of Cape Town’s creatives; to network, get support from like-minded people, and maybe even find a mentor. The idea is to get creatives to work together and not in isolation. The gathering begins at 9h30 at 6 Spin Street in the City Centre – the only thing you pay for is coffee and treats – and includes a +-30min creative story tale by a guest speaker/s, and is then followed by a Q&A. This morning ends around 10h30-11h00, and then you carry on your day, inspired.

Creative coffee mornings

Creative Mornings

Join for a cup of coffee and a refreshing 20-minute talk featuring the mother city’s most inspiring creatives. CreativeMornings has been changing the way the creative world connects with one another, by bringing together people who are driven by passion and purpose. Their monthly events are filled with big-hearted humans who support one another and are collectively raising the bar on what it means to be creative. Find out more information on the most recent speaker or view the upcoming talks.

creative mornings group

From creativemornings.com

The Drawing Room

Situated in Observatory, the coffee shop/bar/performance & event venue hosts an array of events including live performances from local talents. Creative artists and performers are known to collaborate at this very venue and feed into an energy of beauty, soul and craft. Entry fees are dependent but can be expected at +- R50. You can count on finding music, comedy, movies, coffee, a range of beers, drinks, and hearty foods and snacks.

Supplied by The Drawing Room

Live Music at Bohemia

A worn but dear treasure of Stellenbosch, Bohemia, has had many drunken festivities and celebrations on the most mundane of nights. However, Tuesdays and Thursdays, especially, will never be mundane thanks to the free live music performances the bar hosts. Every Tuesday night, the talented, crowd-pleasing Jo Martin strums out those bangers that has the whole bar sing-no, screaming the lyrics.

Bohemia is a big supporter of local, up-and-coming bands and musicians, which is why Thursday night is band night. Band night has seen the likes of Money for Bali, Matt Carstens, Boyes Drive, and so many more who have graced the stage with a performance that is free of charge and packs more students in front of the stage than I care to admit (for health and safety reasons). But it is such a vibe! And happy hour runs from 19h00-21h00 – fuelling that vibe.

Bohemia | Pierre Rommelaere

Quiz Night

Gather the troops and test your knowledge at one of the Cape’s many quiz nights at various restaurants/pubs/bars – there’s one every day of the week. Entry fees are pretty low and you stand the chance to win some serious prizes. Depending on the venue, some venues don’t charge an entry fee but in general, you can expect anything from R10-R50 fee.

Monday: Oblivion Wine Bar and Restaurant

Tuesday: The Forex in Observatory (free entry | starts at 20h00)

Wednesday: Tigers Milk Claremont (free entry | starts at 19h00)

Thursday: Aandklas in Stellenbosch (free entry | starts at 21h00)

Aandlkas quiz nights

Cape Town Markets

Who doesn’t love a good market with beautiful crafts, fresh bakes and food aromas that hit you right in the feels. With Cape Town’s gorgeous fresh-produce community, most markets are spilling with fresh and organic veg, herbs, fruit, spices, all sorts of homemade sauces, jams, and beautiful artisanal cheeses, meats and coffees.

Visit markets all around the Cape with favourites like Oranjezicht City Farm market by the V&A Waterfront, Root44 Market and Blauwklippen Family Market in Stellenbosch, The Lourensford Market in Somerset West, The Neighbourgoods Market at The Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Point Vineyards Market in Noordhoek, Elgin Railway Market, Mojo Market in Sea Point, Bay Harbour Market in Hout Bay, Blue Bird Garage Market in Muizenberg, Friday Night Market at Boschendal, Earth Fair Food Market in Tokai, and Vegan Goods Market in Constantia and Woodstock.

Markets in Cape town

Although markets are notoriously pricey, it doesn’t cost a thing to walk around and smell the delights, taste the free samples some stalls have and spend max 30 bucks on a coffee. What better way to spend a Cape Town summer weekend.

Free Daily Wine Tastings at Wine Concepts

Yes, that’s right, free wine tasting. From 16h00-19h00 on Mondays-Fridays and on Saturdays from 12h00-15h00, Wine Concepts on Kloof offers free wine tasting of scheduled wines each day. And from 16h00-19h00 on Mondays to Fridays and on Saturdays from 11h00-14h00, Wine Concepts at Newlands offers free wine tasting of scheduled wines each day.

Wine pour

Kleine Zalze Wine & Bubbly Tasting

Would you believe me if I told you that you could do a tasting of 5 wines (3 of which could be MCC) for R25? Well, believe it or not, at Kleine Zalze in Stellenbosch, you can. A little Stellenbosch secret but it is well worth the trek and it is exactly what you need to do on a Cape Town summer afternoon.

Wine Tasting

Strawberry Picking

And while you’re out Stellenbosch way, you might as well pop in by the Polkadraai Farm for some Strawberry picking (and eating). Strawberry picking season at Polkadraai Farm is from September to January, open from 9h00-16h00. From as little as R40, you can buy your bucket size of choice and pick as many strawberries as it can hold. This is definitely a must-do and the goal is to not shove every ruby strawberry in your mouth – even though some of them basically scream at you to do it.

If you do manage to keep some for when you get home, try one of these divine strawberry recipes –  Strawberry Thyme Tart or Ricotta Pancakes with Strawberry and Lemon Curd.

Strawberry Picking

Muizenberg Moonlight Meander

The public is invited to walk together along Muizenberg Blue Flag beach in the light of the full moon on the Saturday closest to the Full Moon each month. Everyone meets at Safe Together table in front of Knead Bakery at Surfer’s Corner at 18h00 to enjoy the energy and moonlight magic, as a group, until 20h00. Knead Bakery stays open especially for this gathering and, while alcohol is not permitted on the public beach, furry friends with leashes are very welcome (actually, urged).

moonlight beach walk

Lion’s Head Full Moon Hike

First off, if you haven’t yet hiked up Lion’s Head – do it, and if you have done the hike (sunrise is always recommended in the Cape Town summer), then add Full Moon Hike to the to-do list. The hike takes roughly an hour to reach the top, so depending on the time of sunset, I would recommend starting your hike late afternoon to give yourself enough leigh-way to reach the top before the sun begins to set.

Once at the top, I firmly suggest some celebratory drinks – even if it’s just a bottle of beer/cider… but remember, you have to still climb down, so be smart about it! Watch the sun set over the Mother City before commencing your descent in the light of the moon – it’s one hell of an experience.

Cape Town Summer Lions head sunset

Drive-up Signal Hill

There’s just something about watching the whole city glittering from the path of Signal Hill; this has got to be one of my favourite ‘city-spotting’ sites. Take a drive up Signal Hill to watch the sunset and stay for the beauty of Cape Town at night – she truly does sparkle. It’s free and priceless at the same time.

Cape Town Summer Signal Hill view

Table Mountain

If hiking is your thing, then the famous Table Mountain hike is a must. The hike is challenging enough to get those legs burning, but not too tough to get in the way of you appreciating the summit and its views.

And if hiking isn’t your thing, The Cableway gives you one free return ticket for your birthday (valid for either the day of your birthday or 7 days thereafter) so that you can enjoy the views of our glorious Mountain at least once a year.

Cape Town Summer Table mountain

Aquarium

Another birthday gift from Cape Town is free entrance to the Two Oceans Aquarium on your birthday (or 6 days thereafter). A One-day access ticket is quite pricey, but the Aquarium actually has some decent specials like a 10% discount on a group of 10 or more, pensioners discount, and a discounted ticket if you accompany a diver. You can also get unlimited access for a year with a membership that costs less than 3 normal tickets. Get lost in the sounds of the deep blue and emerge a better person for it.

aquarium fish

Visit Darg

I can tell you now that it costs absolutely nothing to visit this animal shelter, but the love you’ll get is priceless! Darg (Domestic Animal Rescue Group) is a pro-life animal home that rescues and cares for previously abandoned, abused or neglected cats and dogs. Play with the little fluff-balls, give them love, leave a little donation if you want, and walk away feeling full and at peace – trust me.

Dogs

Feed Squirrels in Company’s Garden

The Company’s Garden in Cape Town is a lush, green break from the concrete jungle of CBD and is the home to many critters. Stroll through the beautiful garden, have a lie-down, take in the greenery, and buy a little bag of nuts from the coffee shop in the middle of the gardens to feed the squirrels. The squirrels are well accustomed to people, so they are pretty tame – or confident and cheeky, rather – and will come right up to you and might even eat out of your hand.

Feed the Squirrel

De Waal Park

De Waal Park is a big, beautiful public park and heritage site in the Oranjezicht suburb of Cape Town. Hang up a hammock and chill out with the view of Table Mountain. The De Waal Park Summer Concert Series is also expected for 2019-2020 with scheduled concerts for 15 December 2019, and 26 January, 23 February, 22 March, and 19 April in 2020.

The lineup with ticket prices is yet to be released,but past concerts this year charged only R20 entrance for a live performance from local treasures such as Freshly Ground, The Rudimentals, Grassy Spark and Jimmy Nevis.

De Waal Park Cape Town Summer Concerts

From concertsinthepark.co.za

Kirstenbosch Gardens

A classic picnic spot and a genuine pearl of Cape Town summer. Entry fee into the gardens is up to R40, with discounts for students, children, pensioners, and members. Kirstenbosch also hosts their Summer Sunset Concerts where you can expect Freshly Ground, Jeremy Loops, Goldfish, Mi Casa, Matthew Mole, and so much more.

Tickets are a bit more than 20 bucks – they range between R170-R220 which, considering, is not a lot for the performance that you’ll get. Pack a picnic with lots of wine and snacks, rally the troops and watch the sunset while grooving to some lekker local energies in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Gardens.

Cape Town Summer Sunset Concerts, Kirstenbosch

Ivan Hendricks Photography from Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts Facebook page

Green Point Urban Park

The relatively new Green Point Urban Park is big and beautiful and free! The park offers a space for many different activities. Train at the park’s outdoor gym, or make use of the facilities that include a tea garden, a biodiversity nursery, bicycle rental, flower selling and fresh produce markets. It’s a fitness park, an adventure park, a learning park for functions and seminars, a play park, and – in general – a park for the public with art exhibitions, outdoor markets and concerts from time to time. Another prime picnic spot, this park has a little something for everyone.

Greenpoint Park and Biodiversity Garden

Greenpoint Park and Biodiversity Garden cover photo from Facebook

Sea Point Putt-Putt

And while you’re out Green Point/ Sea Point/ Mouille Point side, you might as well make a ‘putt’-stop at the Putt-Putt course. The option between two 18-hole courses will be sure to keep you occupied and laughing for a Cape Town summer afternoon. It only costs R25 around, and you realise that absolutely no one is too old or too cool for a round of putt-putt.

Putt-Putt

Beach

It goes without saying that Cape Town Summers means at least a few trips to one of our many stunning beaches. I’ve added this to the bottom of the list because it really is a no-brainer, but it’s still a must and it’s still free! Check out this list of Cape Town beaches by personality.

Table Mountain from Blouberg Beach

This list wasn’t supposed to be a ‘freebie’ guide of ‘things’, but a guide to experiences and memories with those you love this festive season, and that includes yourself. If you don’t have someone to join you for an afternoon, there’s nothing stopping you from taking yourself out for the day and treating yourself with everything this city has to offer – right on your doorstep this Cape Town Summer.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to enjoy yourself, you just need to open your eyes and be present.

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