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Is South Africa safe to visit?

Deutsche Fassung German translated articles
V & A Waterfront, Cape Town
V & A Waterfront, Cape Town

Is South Africa a safe country?

South Africa is generally safe for tourists when they follow standard safety precautions, which we discuss in detail in this article. Just like in any major European city, travellers must be vigilant and observe their environment cautiously to avoid falling prey to bag or phone snatching, pick-pocketing, and other crimes.

Knowledge is power when it comes to safety anywhere. This travel blog aims to tell you everything you need to know when visiting South Africa.

Did you know South Africa was ranked as the 17th most-watched country for travel on TikTok out of 193 countries in 2021? Moreover, South Africa received 40 million views on TikTok, more than popular destinations like Greece, which received 37,8 million, and Turkey, which received 37.6 million. 

Unfortunately, South Africa is also regularly in the news for its high crime rate, and tourists are sometimes alarmed by news headlines. We often get asked: ” How safe is South Africa?

Bernie lives in Johannesburg and has a holiday home in Cape Town. I have recently also purchased a property in Cape Town due to my love for South Africa and its people. I hope to spend much more time in this beautiful country as I grow older. I have only had good experiences in South Africa over the last 15 years. I have never been a victim of crime.

We prepared this travel blog to answer your questions about safety in South Africa.

Also, read our Travelbuddieslifestyle article, “South Africa: Travel tips and information for first-time visitors”. Click here to read the article for more general safety measures you should follow.

Helpful apps to ensure Safety in South Africa

We suggest you download the Crimespotter app from your app store. This app is ‘proudly South African’ (tongue in cheek). The Good Things Guy wrote an interesting article about it. 

Namola is another must have app when you visit South Africa. This allows you to get help fast when you need it.

The mountain range and views of Franschhoek, South Africa
Franschhoek, South Africa, is safer then 61% of South African cities according to the crime statistics

Is it safe to visit Cape Town?

Cape Town has over the last years implemented many safety measures to keep tourists and locals safe by identifying hotspots.

Moreover, Cape Town is often perceived as being safer than Johannesburg. However, according to the 2022 report released by Statista, Cape Town is ranked high among the most dangerous cities in the world, followed by Nelson Mandela Bay and Durban. Noteworthy is that Johannesburg doesn’t appear in the top 50 crime-ridden cities.

Nevertheless, you can be at ease and feel safe on the streets during the daytime or in groups; this includes major shopping centres, small towns and  popular tourist areas. 

There is a high-security presence in the following areas of Cape Town:

  • V&A Waterfront
  • Bo-Kaap
  • Sea Point
  • Green Point
  • Clifton
  • Camps Bay

You should be especially careful on Longstreet, Cape Town’s party street. Petty theft is on the order of the day there.

If you want to visit a township, we recommend doing this with a reputable tour company. Regrettably, Table Mountain has been in the news lately for the rise in hiker mugging. However, the communities are working together to eradicating crime in this area and all over Cape Town. To read more about the community actions in a recent article posted by the Good Things Guy click here.

Also, when you land at Cape Town International Airport (and you do not want to take a rental car), order an official Uber or taxi. Do not accept transport offers from drivers waiting outside the airport building. We always advise European travelers to take night flights to ensure they arrive before dark at the airport.   

Clifton, Cape Town
Clifton, Cape Town

Safety tips for Cape Town central city

Watch out for ATM fraud in South Africa

Avoid being pick-pocketed or robbed in South Africa

Emergency numbers in Cape Town

Cape Town central city is patrolled by 300 public safety officers 24/7 to ensure your safety.

Here are some emergency numbers you can use:

Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg
Nelson Mandela Square, Johannesburg

Is it safe to visit Johannesburg?

It is highly recommended in Johannesburg to take guided tours and never to walk alone at night. Guided tours have the advantage of learning a lot about the country and its people without worrying about your safety.

Like in most metro areas, there are parts of Johannesburg that you should be a bit more cautious about than in other places. 

These include:

  • Maboneng
  • Braamfontein
  • Constitution Hill

If you are traveling by car, you should be especially alert at intersections, as these are often the scene of high-jacking and smash-and-grab incidents. Criminals target the car or its.

Johannesburg airport is fairly safe, although we recommend landing here during daylight. Follow the same rules regarding Uber and taxis as for Cape Town International Airport.

Umhlanga, South Africa
Umhlanga lighthouse, South Africa

Is it safe to visit Durban?

The same safety measures apply to Durban as to Johannesburg and Cape Town. The only difference for Durban is that you should be particularly cautious when visiting the Durban Marine Parade and the harbour area. Ushaka Marine World is safe and provides a great day‘s outing. 

The Durban central beaches are very unsafe, particularly during high season, although police presence has increased over the last couple of years. 

You can safely visit the neighbouring towns of Umhlanga, Umdloti, Zimbali and Balito. Most of the North coast towns are fabulous and safe.

Tradouw Pass, South Africa
Tradouw Pass, South Africa

Is it safe to travel on the roads in South Africa?

Driving in South Africa is much easier than you think. In contrast to Europe, there is traffic on the left, but you get used to this quickly. South Africans do not always obey the rules of the road, so you must be vigilant while driving and always expect anything to happen. You cannot depend on your right of way. Be extra vigilant when driving at night! It isn’t easy to spot people or animals walking on the streets. 

Also, avoid stopping unnecessarily for long periods at stop streets and look around you at traffic lights. Keep your distance from the car before you so you can step on the gas and drive away if necessary.

If you would also like to see what other travel bloggers’ views are of safety in South Africa, you may want to check out Farirai’s travel page called Gophari. She wrote an interesting article titled “Is it safe to travel solo in South Africa?”  

Safety in your car in South Africa

General safety tip for South Africa

Conclusion

Although South Africa has a high crime rate, it is still the most beautiful country, offering you experiences like no other. From pristine soft sandy beaches to an exquisite game lodge in unprecedented locations.

These safety tips ensure you can enjoy South Africa without becoming a victim of crimes. By just being street smart, you can avoid most of the unpleasant experiences and enjoy an unforgettable time in South Africa. 

We encourage you to come and enjoy this wonderful country with its friendly and helpful people. Even though we have not fallen victim to any major crimes in South Africa, we are always alert and take precautions where possible. 

These recommendations should be followed in South Africa and in most countries and metropolises

Please check the website of the  Foreign Office of your country for the latest safety information before you travel.

We hope to hear about your amazing trip to South Africa and that this article helped you prepare for an unforgettable South African holiday. We wish you a wonderful time.

Your travel buddies

Petra and Bernie

Last updated 30/06/2023

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Did you find the information in this travel blog helpful? Please leave a comment below. Your comments ensure that we give you all the information you need to know before visiting a destination.

Your feedback helps us to improve the quality of the travel blog.

Until Next time, Bernie and Petra

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