Cape Town on a Student Budget

Are you one of those travelers who like to plan ahead? Wanting to stay out of the red on your journey south? To help you, we've come up with a Cape Town price guide. So find out below what it costs to eat, sleep, drink, explore, shop, or learn, in Cape Town! Have we missed anything?

Build your own Cape Town budget

Before you get spending, how about budgeting? Cape Town is a neither-nor city when it comes to prices: your wallet won't suffer like it would in London or Paris, but you shouldn't expect to spend as little as you would in other African cities! The University of Cape Town keeps an eye on student living costs, suggesting students can expect to spend around R2,000 on food and R1,000 on transport per month. You can find the full version here! Don't forget these basic tips:

  • When budgeting, don't forget to factor in the costs of withdrawing money at local ATMs (check with your bank for information about fees) or at money exchange offices.
  • Keep a close eye on the value of the South African Rand in relation to your own currency.
  • Advise your bank of your plans to travel and protect yourself against any local bank or ATM scams.

Costs of dining out in Cape Town

Dining out in Cape Town

Cape Town is a food-junky's paradise. From European cuisine to local grub, even great sushi, the city offer something for every palate. But what does it cost to wine and dine in Cape Town? Starting with coffee, you'll pick up a barrista-made cup in places like Obs for around R10. A low-cost Indian curry lunch will cost you around R50. Dinner could set you back more – as dinners usually do – at R80, or into the hundreds for meals a touch more extravagant. For a little fun, find out how South Africa scores on the Economist's Big Mac index, or check out Expatistan's price index for specific information about the cost of meals in Cape Town!

Grocery prices in Cape Town

Supermarket products in Cape Town

Students coming for long stays, or even those who simply prefer their own cooking, will want to know the price of groceries in Cape Town. According to Numbeo, which keeps an up-to-date listing of prices in Cape Town, the average price for a liter of milk in the city is R12, while a fresh loaf of bread will set you back R11. For a kilo of tomatoes expect to pay just over R14; R15 for a kilo of oranges; R88 for a kilo of local cheese; R58 for a kilo of skinless, boneless chicken; and so on. Local and imported products vary slightly in price. For example, Numbeo indicates you'll pay around R20 for a South African beer and R30 for an imported brew.

Cape Town activity costs

Table Mountain Cableway

Cape Town's tourism sector is thriving, largely due to the variety of options and prices that lure all tastes and budgets. To give you an idea, you might pay around R250 for surf lessons at Muizenberg Bay or R500 for a wine tasting tour of Stellenbosch. (If you're looking for great prices on activities through our local contacts, don't forget Ailola Cape Town's activity options!) Set prices exist for more traditional tours – R30 for a guided tour of Cape Town's FIFA World Cup Stadium; R300 to visit Robben Island; or R225 for a return trip up the Table Mountain Cable Car.

Free activities in Cape Town? There are plenty! Try hiking up Devil's Peak or Lion's Head, or visit for free social activities in the city.

Transport costs in Cape Town

Transportation in Cape Town

Cape Town is a big city with little in the way of an integral public transport system, so chances are you'll be taking the odd taxi. How much will it cost you? We recommend you use a registered taxi service. An 8-kilometer journey on a busy work day in Cape Town will set you back R124, according to Expatistan's Cape Town Price Index. An informal and fun way to get around the city – if you're feeling up to it – is the local minivan at a cost of around R5 or R6 depending on your destination (just make sure you're getting on the right bus). Here's what the City of Cape Town has to say about the city's minivans! You can also read up on the local public transport system including train and bus services.

South Africa Travel costs

Clifton and the Twelve Apostles

You'd be crazy not to consider exploring other parts of South Africa when you visit Cape Town! Travel costs in South Africa are some of the highest in Africa. But that's not to say you'll go broke. In fact, the country has robust tourism infrastructure, offering a range of transport, accommodation and tour options. Here's a rough idea of what it might cost you to travel around South Africa:

  • Daily accommodation: From around R500 per day per person, or as low as R120 for a budget hostel.
  • Daily food costs: From around R300 per day per person, or R100 on a tight budget.
  • Intercity transportation costs: From around R400 per person by bus or train, several hundred more for flights.
  • Museum and activity fees: Free in many locations or around R200 for major local sites comparable to Robben Island or Table Mountain in Cape Town.

What about English course costs? We've saved the best 'til last! Find a breakdown of our Cape Town English course prices!

Jayson McNamara

Jayson McNamara

I'm an Australian freelance journalist, writer and a TV production fixer in Buenos Aires. I have reported for broadcast media in Australia and New Zealand. I'm passionate about travel and history.

View Comments