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Is Cape Town Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Cape Town Safe to Visit in 2024? | Safety Concerns

Is Cape Town safe to visit?

Cape Town is a stunning city but comes with a high crime rate and safety concerns, including theft and violent incidents. The city is under a Level Two travel advisory, indicating significant safety risks. Visitors should also be wary of frequent and sometimes violent protests, making vigilance and avoidance of demonstrations essential.

Cape Town, South Africa, is one of the nation’s capitals and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. Any trip to South Africa must include at least a stop in the city.

Cape Town is surrounded by natural beauty, from the pounding waves of the ocean to dramatic Table Mountain rising above the cityscape. It is also a great base for exploring the mild Cape region of South Africa, including the wineries.

The city itself has an exciting dining scene and a fun Victoria & Albert Waterfront, perfect for an evening stroll. Many South African cities unfortunately have a reputation for being dangerous, some of it based on stereotypes and some of it earned.

If you’re wondering if Cape Town is safe to visit despite the problems you may have heard about, keep reading.

Is Cape Town Safe to Visit?

Coastline of Cape Town South Africa on a sunny day for a piece on is it safe to visit


Yes and no. Cape Town is a city where you will need to take extra precautions to stay safe because it has a high crime rate. That being said, many people visit the city and stay safe each year, so it is possible to have a secure trip.

All of South Africa has a problem with high crime rates and public safety, so it makes sense that one of its biggest cities will also experience this issue. Many travel advisories for South Africa, such as the one issued by the United States, place it under a Level Two travel advfisory due to the high crime rates.

Criminal incidents that can occur in Cape Town include:

  • Theft
  • Bag snatching
  • Scams and fraud
  • Mugging
  • Armed robbery
  • Vehicle robbery
  • Assault

Unfortunately, violent crime is also common. Although most criminal incidents tend to affect locals more than tourists, there have been incidents where tourists have been targeted.

Although Cape Town is a beautiful city to visit, it isn’t a place where you can afford to be careless. Another problem the city faces is a fairly high level of civil unrest. Protests in South Africa are frequent, and it makes sense that the capital would be one of the places targeted for protests.

However, the problem is that protests in Cape Town tend to turn violent. In August 2023, a dispute between minibus drivers and the government turned into at least five days of violent protests with several people killed.

In spring 2023, the city was also rocked by student protests. Demonstrations are relatively common in Cape Town, and easily escalate.

Set up news alerts on your phone while you are there so you can get notified if demonstrations are planned. Avoid any protests that are happening while you are there since clashes with police are common, as well as random acts of violence.

Crime in Cape Town

Photo of the famous Long Street in Cape Town for a piece on whether or not the city is safe to visit

07.07.2021 Cape Town City – The famous Long Street in Cape Town is known for the party life of many/Poetry Photography/Shutterstock

Crime is a serious problem in Cape Town, whose safety statistics are troubling. Certain neighborhoods where tourists tend not to venture have disproportionately high crime rates, but even in “safe” neighborhoods bad things can occur.

The Western Cape district published crime statistics for the area, which includes Cape Town. Cape Town has the highest crime rate in the province, accounting for about 78% of total crimes committed in Western Cape.

The most common forms of violent crime were aggravated robbery (with 18,644 incidents) and common assault (with 24,512 incidents). Worryingly, violent crime, or contact crime as the South African police calls it, makes up most of the crimes committed in Cape Town.

Property crimes only make up 15.9% of total crime in the district, which means that the rest are violent crimes or misdemeanors. The most common property crimes are theft from motor vehicles and motorcycles—driving through Cape Town is not that safe.

Cape Town also reports a high total of murders, with 3,212 incidents reported in the 2022/2023 year. That works out to nearly 9 murders a day for the whole year.

More worryingly, crime is increasing across all categories. The crime statistics paint a dire picture of Cape Town, but the city actually isn’t that unsafe for tourists. It’s stratified by income (and race), and impoverished neighborhoods tend to have more crime.

These tend to be places where tourists don’t venture. Cape Town received four million tourists in just the first six months of 2023, and they wouldn’t come if the city was that unsafe.

Vehicle Robbery

One of the most dangerous places to be as a tourist in Cape Town is actually on the road. Vehicle robberies and carjackings are common and often target tourists. The roads to and from Cape Town Airport are hotspots for crime.

The Canadian government warns about the roads around Cape Town Airport in its travel advisory for South Africa. If you’re driving yourself, stick to the main roads such as N2 Highway and Airport Approach Road.

Don’t take side streets, even if GPS tells you it’s faster. When taking taxis, only use established ridesharing or taxi companies that know which roads to take.

Underground taxi companies are sometimes in cahoots with robbers and may set you up in a dangerous situation. If you rent a car, always lock your doors and roll up windows while driving. Don’t have bags in full view because criminals sometimes carry out smash-and-grabs.


Robbery and theft are the most common crimes affecting tourists in Cape Town. You can minimize your risk of this crime by knowing where to walk around in town, and where to avoid (more on that later).

At night, even some places that are safe during the day, such as the downtown business district and the waterfront, become more dangerous. Avoid walking alone after dark. Take precautions to keep your valuables safe.

Use a money belt or secure cross-body bag. Never leave your bags unattended or somewhere where someone can casually grab them. Look around and see what the locals do—if all the people in a restaurant have their bags in their laps, there’s usually a reason.

Avoiding Bad Areas

Khayelitsha pictured with huts on the hillside for a piece titled Is Cape Town Safe to Visit

cape town, south africa, february, 10, 2020: shacks in informal settlement in khayelitsha township/Nikolai Link/Shutterstock

Cape Town has several neighborhoods that have quite high crime rates, most of them townships towards the edge of the city. East Metro has more dangerous areas than West Metro.

Some bad areas include:

  • Cape Flats
  • Langa
  • Nyanga
  • Kraaifontein

Things to Consider

Gorgeous day in Camps Bay pictured from above with blue water below blue sky for a guide to whether or not Cape Town is safe to visit


These additional tips can help you stay safe in Cape Town:

  • Be careful of blackouts. South Africa has periodic “load-shedding” periods, when the electric system schedules blackouts to deal with power shortages. Crime tends to increase during these periods. Look up when they are so you can be prepared for power losses and know not to wander around at dark.
  • If you want to visit a township, go on an organized tour. Many companies offer organized visits where you can also support the local economy. Just research the company to make sure it’s a safe one.
  • Ask a local for a reputable taxi recommendation. By taxi is the safest way to get around Cape Town, but you want to make sure you only do business with a reliable company.

Frequently Asked Questions

Woodstock district pictured on a cloudy day, one of the safest neighborhoods in Cape Town

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – March, 16 2019:Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town, South Africa/Finn Stock/Shutterstock

These most common questions can help you when preparing to visit Cape Town with safety in mind:

Is it safe to walk around in Cape Town?

During the day, it’s safe to walk around Cape Town as long as you stick to safe neighborhoods. At night, you should probably take a taxi or stick to your hotel room.

Is Cape Town or Johannesburg safer?

Cape Town is safer than Johannesburg. Although it has a high crime rate compared to global cities, Cape Town actually has a moderate crime rate by South African standards. Johannesburg has a much higher crime rate, and most people think it is more dangerous.

Is Cape Town the safest city in South Africa?

Cape Town is the safest big city in South Africa as it has the lowest crime rate when compared to its peers. It also has more neighborhoods that are safe and where you can reasonably expect not to meet a criminal.

Is Cape Town, South Africa, worth visiting?

If you are in South Africa, Cape Town is absolutely worth visiting. The city is mostly worth visiting for its scenery, such as the tidal pools, Table Mountain, and stunning coast along the ocean. The natural beauty makes the moderate risk of crime worth taking.

Which areas should tourists avoid in Cape Town?

As a tourist, avoid townships and areas near the edge of town as they tend to have higher crime rates. A local can tell you which neighborhood to avoid, but you can also feel by instinct when a neighborhood is less safe or looks more run-down.

So, Is Cape Town Safe to Visit?

Cape Town is possible to visit safely, but it is not a safe city per se. It’s important to be realistic about the risks—the city has a high crime rate which can affect tourists.

The roads around the airport are particular crime hotspots. As long as you stick to main roads, safe neighborhoods, and don’t wander around at night, you should have a great time. Happy travels!