How to Connect with Expat Communities in Cape Town

Moving to another country can be a pretty daunting experience, even more so when you are moving to a place where the only ‘person’ you know is the ginger cat from down the road.

Luckily for you, most South Africans are extremely hospitable and friendly. In fact, so much so that Cape Town is one of the only places in the world where daily “chit chat” with strangers in a thing.

So from one friendly South African to you, here are a couple of gems spots to help out when meeting fellow expats in Cape Town:

Cape Town Expat Hang out spots

If you’re into the art scene, head to the Labia Theatre in the heart of the city

Next time you find yourself telling Garfield about your latest Netflix binge, consider going out to some local expat areas instead. Put the laptop down and head to the Labia theatre to enjoy the comforting sounds of banter from expats from all over the world. It’s the oldest cinema in South Africa, and the locals know it well for artsy and alternative foreign films. The vibe is very casual, so it’s a good place to meet people.

Fancy some wine with your popcorn to build up the courage to speak to others? Well, then this is the perfect place for you. There’s a bar if you’re thirsty and even a quirky little bakery if you’re looking for a nibble. They have weekly food and ticket combo specials, too!

  • The times change accordingly, so best check their website for updates:

The Foreign Exchange in the bustling ‘boho-chick’ area of Observatory

Take a bite out of the bustling boho-chick area of Observatory and find yourself fully entranced by all its character and charm. Best known as ‘Forex,’ in ‘Obs,’ this is both a bar and a restaurant which effortlessly lives up to its name. Here you can expect to find expats, both young and old, from all over the world.

Still in the mood for making friends after the doors close? Obs is a great spot for poets, musicians, actors and everything rustic and artsy. So, just enter any cute bar and trust us you’ll leave smiling with plenty of like-minded friends in no time.  

  • Opening Hours: Mon – Wed: 4pm – 11pm; Thurs: 4pm – 12am; Fri & Sat: 4pm – 1am

Adventurous, adrenaline type? Be a good sport and try your hand at some rock-climbing

City Rock in Paarden Island is an indoor climbing gym which hosts a huge array of climbing activities. Newbie? Nothing quite like bonding over some broken bones and a beer. Okay, so I’m only pulling your leg, however, there really is a bar and it serves both beer and snacks.

Another great climbing gym is Bloc11. Both City Rock and Bloc11 are pretty down to earth, however, Bloc11 is a lot more intimate than City Rock. It attracts expat climbers from all over the world, and one can expect to feel like a part of the family fairly quickly.

  • City Rock
  • Opening Hours: Mon & Wed: 9am – 9pm, Tues & Thurs: 9am – 10pm, Fri & Sat: 9am – 6pm
  • Bloc11:
  • Opening hours: Sat & Sun, 9am – 7pm, Mon – Thurs 10am – 10pm, Fri 12-10pm

Less a climber, more of a swimmer?

A lot of expat beach-bums, especially those into wind sports and surfing, are naturally attracted to areas like Big Bay, Muizenberg and Hout Bay. You’ll be surprised at how many foreigners you’ll run into, especially through organised group activities.

There are loads more expat hangouts in Cape Town, so make sure to join online Facebook groups for expats in South Africa and ask your new friends to keep you posted on upcoming events. Cheers to being cheerful with many friends and fortunes to come!

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