Cape Town is a diverse city, incorporating a multitude of cultures, lifestyles, religions and ethnicities. You can’t put Capetonians in a box, but there are a few recognised traits you could look out for.
South Africans talk about the laid-back and relaxed atmosphere of Cape Town and its residents. This is usually in comparison to so-called “uptight” Johannesburgers.
Capetonians love their food and good wine! Long, lazy lunches at open-air cafés, preferably with a sea view, are the Capetonians’ favourite way to while away afternoon hours.
Capetonians are also outdoor people, who enjoy fresh air and exercise. Hiking, biking, surfing, and jogging are all popular sporting activities.
The local currency is the South African rand, represented by a capital “R” before an amount, or “ZAR” after it.
Foreign exchange facilities are widely available and can be found at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town International Airport and at bureaux de change in major shopping centres. Automated teller machines (ATMs) accept most international bank and credit cards.
Credit cards: South Africa has a modern and sophisticated banking and commercial system, and most shops and hotels accept all major credit cards.
A local beer (500ml) should cost roughly R20 and bottled water about R12.
A 10% tip is suggested in restaurants if you receive good service, and for great service a little bit extra is appreciated. In some restaurants, tables of over eight people can have an automatic service charge added to the bill.
Feel free to tip porters who help you in airports and hotels. A small tip per piece of luggage is standard. In some shopping areas, uniformed attendants will either take a fee or offer to mind your car for a tip. The same goes for informal car guards, but only tip after you return to your car and all is safe and well. In these cases small change like R2 or R5 is enough.
Cape Town, as a coastal city in the temperate band of the Southern Hemisphere, enjoys mild and sunny weather almost all year round.
The average temperature in Cape Town during spring is a mild 18.5°C (65°F).
Afrikaans, a local language similar to Dutch, is the most commonly spoken in Cape Town, but English is probably the most commonly understood. Most signs and official communication are in English or English and Afrikaans side-by-side.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa. Yes, 11! Because of this, most people are bilingual or even trilingual, and happy to help you feel understood.
A fun local lingo has developed because of the multitude of languages, so even when someone is speaking English, their sentences may be peppered with strange words you don’t understand. We’re a friendly bunch, so if you’re not sure, just ask!
For some basic translations and slang explanations, see Cape Town Tourism’s language page.
Health and safety
Like any major city, Cape Town has its safe and less safe areas. Ask Cape Town Tourism, your concierge or guesthouse owner for some tips on which areas to avoid.
In general, we advise tourists not to walk alone – especially after dark – and to stick to the major routes. Be extra vigilant when using an ATM and don’t ever accept help from a stranger while using them.
Don’t carry large sums of money and don’t leave your possessions unattended.
If hiking, surfing or walking, always carry plenty of water and make sure someone knows where you are and when you are expected to return.
More advice and top tips are available here.
Flights to Cape Town
Cape Town International Airport is a busy, world-class airport.
International flights arrive daily from continental Africa, the UK, Europe, Asia and North America. You can catch direct flights to Cape Town from London, Frankfurt, Atlanta, and many other major cities. Some airlines offer a short connection through Johannesburg, which adds about two hours to your travel time.
Most international flights land first thing in the morning or in the early evening, but this is not a strict rule.
Once you arrive, private charters and metered taxis are available to take you to your next stop. Better yet, pop by the Cape Town Tourism information desk and let us take care of everything for you.
What to bring
The IAC will take place during South Africa’s spring – so don’t forget your umbrella and something warm to layer over your warm-day clothes. Cape Town’s spring weather is not without its warm, sunny days, though, so make sure you pack a sunhat and sun cream too.
Bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes as you are likely to be doing quite a lot of walking, seeing the sites around the Mother City between matches.
Above all, don’t forget your camera to capture fantastic memories as you are guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime.
Lastly, make sure you leave some space in your luggage for all the mementos that you’ll be taking back from Cape Town. You know you’ll be fitting some shopping into your fun-filled Congress schedule – you’d be crazy not to!
Most of South Africa uses a 220/240 volt alternating current (AC), and the sockets are either three-prong or two-prong configurations. The three-prong plugs have large round pins, and the two-prong plugs have smaller pins similar to the common European plugs.
You can buy a universal adapter, or specific South African adapter, in airports and good travel shops. Many hotels and guesthouses will even have these behind the desk for you to borrow, or the concierge should be able to help you buy one.
Because the voltage is likely to be different from your home, always use an appropriate adapter, even if it looks like your plugs will fit.
Food & drink
There are some South African specialities that visitors to our shores won’t find anywhere else in the world. Here’s a taste of what to expect:
Kingklip – no other country consumes as much kingklip as South Africans do. A sturdy fish with beautiful flakes, it absorbs flavours well and is a local delicacy.
Karoo lamb – by all accounts most chefs agree that we have something special in Karoo lamb. The animals feed on fragrant shrubs and wild herbs that lend the meat its unique flavour. Grilled, gourmet-style, barbequed or basted, it’s a sure-fire winner.
Biltong and boerewors – these must be our national icons in the food arena. In the days before refrigeration, the Dutch preserved left over meat from the hunt by rubbing it with salt, pepper, coriander, vinegar and saltpetre and hanging it out to dry. Meat treated in this manner lasted indefinitely, as long as it was kept dry. Boerewors is a robust farmer’s sausage sold in coiled ribbons. The meat is spicy and redolent of coriander. It sizzles and splatters companionably when slapped on the coals or dropped into a hot skillet.
Bobotie – a traditional Cape Malay dish of spiced mince.
Braaivleis – the ubiquitous barbeque, the braai, is the heart of the South African outdoor life. Try “pap and wors”, two dishes that are uniquely and quintessentially South African.
Samoosas – these triangular savoury pastries are the Indian South African answer to the English meat pie (although we have those too). The filling can be made of either chilli-laden mince or a spicy vegetable mix.
If you’re looking to find something non-alcoholic, here are a few suggestions:
Liquifruit and Ceres – these 100% fruit juices are so highly valued that delis in New York and Paris stock them. No preservatives, no added sugar – just concentrated fruit juice that tastes like the real deal. Then there are canned drinks that are unique too – for fruit juice with a sparkle, try Appletizer and Grapetizer.
Rock shandy – this is the sportsman’s thirst quencher of choice, but has proved to be equally popular in restaurants. It’s a mixture of club soda, carbonated lemonade and a splash of bitters.
On the alcoholic front you’ll find:
Cane spirits – made from distilled sugar cane, it is mixed into cocktails and combined with tropical fruit juices. South Africa’s answer to vodka...
Brandy – we make some of the best brandy (cousin to the cognacs of France) in the world – a fact not widely known. It is traditionally mixed with Coca-Cola, but should actually be enjoyed in a crystal snifter after a good meal with a cigar to match.
Beer – every country has its beers and South Africa is particularly partial to its brew in view of the warm climatic conditions that prevail here.
Wine and sparkling wines – this is where you can expect to be truly spoilt. South African wines are excellent and very, very affordable when compared with overseas products. Try the robust local reds (merlot, cabernet sauvignon and pinotage, a variety unique to this country). For something special at no price at all, order a bottle of local bubbly like Cap Classique or Krone Borealis. Fermented in the bottle in the French tradition, it makes for light, easy drinking with a festive air.
Useful facts about South Africa
South Africa has four international airports: Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and the Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport near Nelspruit. Other airports include Port Elizabeth, East London, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, George, Pilanesberg and Lanseria.
The South African currency is the rand, which is made up of 100 cents. Notes issued: R10, R20, R50, R100 and R200. Coins issued: 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, R1, R2 and R5.
Foreign currency can be exchanged at commercial banks and at various foreign exchange bureaux. Banks are open from 09h00 to 15h30 on weekdays and 08h30 to 11h00 on Saturdays. Most banks have automatic teller machines (ATMs), which are open 24 hours a day for statements, cash withdrawals and deposits.
South Africa has a modern and sophisticated banking and commercial system and most shops and hotels will accept all major international credit cards.
South Africa has adopted a value-added tax (VAT) system of 14% on purchases and services. Foreign visitors to South Africa can reclaim their VAT on purchases if they have spent more than R250.
Most shops in the city centres and suburbs are open between 09h00 and 18h00 on weekdays and until 14h00 on Saturdays and Sundays.
South African time is set at GMT +2. There are no time zone differences within South Africa and the country has not adopted daylight saving time in summer.
Blue public phones work with the use of coins, while green public phones work with local Telkom phone cards. International roaming on your cellphone (mobile phone) is possible, depending on your service provider.
Alternatively, cellphones can be rented.
An international driver’s licence is required in SA and the licence must include a photograph, as well as the signature of the holder. Cars drive on the left side of the road and speed limits are in kilometres. Cash is advised for paying for fuel, as not all filling stations accept credit cards.
There are 11 official languages in South Africa. English is the language of administration and is widely spoken. Other languages are: Afrikaans, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Southern Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa and Zulu.
Duty-free shops are situated at Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban International Airports.
When it comes to customs clearance, personal effects (used) are admitted duty free. The allowance for visitors to South Africa is as follows (free of duty per adult):
- 1 litre of spirits
- 2 litres of wine
- 400 cigarettes
- 50 cigars
- 50ml perfume, 250ml eau de toilette
- Gifts and souvenirs to the value of R3 000
- Permits are required for firearms and are available at entry points to the country.
Visas are issued by the South African missions abroad and must be affixed in the applicant’s passport before departing for South Africa. Visas are not issued on arrival at South African ports of entry.
No vaccinations are required for cholera or smallpox. If arriving from a yellow fever zone, you must have a valid international yellow fever inoculation certificate. Due to the threat of malaria, preventive medication is necessary for the provinces of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and the north of KwaZulu-Natal. Prophylaxis is obtainable from all pharmacies in South Africa on a doctor’s prescription. Preventative medication for malaria is not necessary for Cape Town and the Western Cape.
In most cities/towns/game reserves the tap water is purified and 100% safe to drink.
© Cape Town Routes Unlimited and Cape Town Tourism
Cape Town International Convention Centre
Cape Town, South Africa
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Did You Know
The IAC is held every four years and it gathers professionals from public aquariums all around the world to share and learn about new developments in research, technology, management and other related issues for the industry.