Known as the “Mother City” of South Africa, Cape Town easily captures the heart and soul of all who come to stay. Located on the southern tip of the African continent, the breathtaking heights of Table Mountain and the beaches lining the city’s coast encase a global city of culture, history and adventure. Truly a city of extremes, Cape Town is still plagued by the legacies of colonialism and Apartheid and this has led to incredible levels of inequality. Living in this constantly changing city gives students the opportunity to see firsthand the ever emerging new South Africa.

Photo Credit: South Africa Tourism.

Check out these great scholarships if you would like to study abroad in South Africa.

Culture and Immersion

Cape Town is home to a diverse and vibrant culture that offers many opportunities for fun and exploration. Gain perspective on the city’s long and complex history by visiting some of the museums and interesting historical landmarks. See the Mandela’s cell on Robben Island, tour the old Slave Lodge and other colonial structures in the heart of downtown, or visit the District Six Museum and learn how Apartheid pulled apart a wonderfully diverse, multicultural neighborhood. Make sure to stop by Charley’s Bakery and grab a cupcake while you’re there. They’re absolutely delicious!

And don’t forget all the rugged outdoor adventures available! All students should make it to the top of Table Mountain and look over the beautiful city and Table Bay. You can take a cable car to the top or journey up one of the many trails. The proximity to the ocean offers many great activities. Learn to surf, search for whales, go play with the penguins, visit Cape Point and see where the Atlantic meets the Indian Ocean.

At the end of your days of study, travel and activity, make sure to hit up Long Street for its famous night scene and great restaurants. Long Street caters to young adults and is perfect for students looking to have fun! The V&A Waterfront also has its share of places to gather with friends over some food or drink and it’s not uncommon to run into live music while walking along the docks. The hills surrounding Cape Town contain some of the world’s finest wineries and vineyards, so be sure to schedule a tour!


It is likely that the most pricey part of a student’s trip to Cape Town is simply getting there! Living in South Africa is reasonably inexpensive and students often find that their money goes farther than would be expected.

Make sure to check how much of your university’s financial aid and scholarships will apply to your study abroad program. Many programs will accept funding that is transferred from your school and this can make studying abroad far easier on your finances. Your university’s study abroad office can also be very helpful in identifying scholarships that you could use for your abroad experience. There are many independent study abroad scholarships, including ones offered by Go Overseas, which you should definitely look into.

Movement within the city and beyond to the rest of South Africa is very feasible. However, travel to other regions of Southern Africa can be rather expensive, due to a lack of necessary infrastructure. If it is your wish to visit neighboring countries, such as Namibia to see the beautiful dunes or Zimbabwe/Zambia for Victoria Falls, make sure to check prices ahead and work the travel costs into your budget. The InterCape bus system is a good deal, safe, convenient, and even offers a discount to students with ISIC cards (which are required by many study abroad programs).

Culture Shock and Support

Though Cape Town is a large city with a definite urban feel, be prepared to enter what is known as “African Time” as soon as you step off the plane. South Africans take a slower and more relaxed pace of life, which definitely has it’s ups and downs. This places a great emphasis on friendships, conversations and common experiences, but can often lead to frustration and confusion for students who are used to a more Western style of business and constant multitasking. Try to breath it in and relax- you’ll enjoy your time in Cape Town far more and maybe take a new laid back perspective back home at the end of your experience abroad.

Most study abroad programs offer a great deal of support for their students who are abroad in Cape Town. This can be through specific classes that serve to guide students in this new and unfamiliar city and by encouraging fieldwork and homestays to really get the students grounded in their new communities. Generally, the more involved and immersed you become in your program, your new friends, and this great city of Cape Town, the smoother the road will be through any culture shock you may encounter.

If you’re looking for a bright and colorful city that promises a rocking time full of vibrant people, beautiful views, and a history worth learning from, then definitely come study in Cape Town. But be careful, once this “Mother City” steals your heart, you’ll never get it back!

Contributed by Laurie Kenyon

Study Abroad Programs in Cape Town

Displaying 1 - 15 of 44 programs
LeadAbroad - Study Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa
10 •6 reviews

Join us on LEAD Cape Town for 5 weeks and you will get to see...

153 reviews
Semester at Sea
Semester at Sea: Study Around the World
Multiple Countries
9.75 •153 reviews

Explore multiple countries around the world while earning up to 15...

iXperience Cape Town – Learn + Intern Abroad
South Africa
9.7 •23 reviews

iXperience Cape Town is an intense six-week career-acceleration...

IES Abroad
IES Abroad Cape Town Direct Enrollment – University of Cape Town
South Africa
9.65 •26 reviews

University Of Cape Town Service learning in and around Cape Town is a...

EDU Africa
Customized Faculty-led Programs in Southern & East Africa
Multiple Countries
9.78 •9 reviews

EDU Africa develops and facilitates academic faculty-led and service...

UCLA Study Abroad
UCLA Summer Abroad in Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa
10 •1 review

Students will join UCLA to study abroad in Cape Town, South Africa and...

8 new reviews
SIT Study Abroad
IHP Health and Community: Globalization, Culture, and Care
Multiple Countries
9.5 •8 reviews

Investigate how communities can ensure the health and well-being of...

Augsburg University's Center for Global Education and Experience
Nation Building and Decolonizing the Mind
Multiple Countries
10 •6 reviews

Discover Namibia, a country with a multifaceted history not often...

IES Abroad
IES Abroad Cape Town Summer – Health Studies
South Africa
9.55 •11 reviews

Designed for students interested in health-related careers, this...

Seamester: South Africa to Caribbean - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •5 reviews

This voyage is a once in a lifetime opportunity to sail aboard S/Y...

Arcadia Abroad
Arcadia University- University of Cape Town
South Africa
9.86 •7 reviews

If you’re looking for the widest choice of courses in South Africa and...

Seamester: Australia to South Africa - 90 Days
Multiple Countries
10 •4 reviews

This voyage is a once in a lifetime opportunity to sail aboard S/Y...

SIT Study Abroad
South Africa: Human Rights and Multiculturalism
South Africa
9.14 •7 reviews

Explore issues of human rights, multiculturalism, ethnicity, and...

CIEE Arts + Sciences in Cape Town, South Africa
South Africa
8.36 •11 reviews

Take your arts and sciences studies a step further with study abroad...

SIT Study Abroad
Cities in the 21st Century Study Program
Multiple Countries
9.75 •4 reviews

Explore how geography, politics, and culture affect whether people can...

What People Are Saying

This program gave me the opportunity to meet incredible people and learn about the multicultural country of South Africa by immersing myself in the culture. All four homestays were unique and provided...

Hiking Lion's Head in Cape Town!

This program is absolutely amazing! It is focused on experiential learning which was so invaluable. We visited hospitals, clinics, and social justice organizations on a weekly basis in addition to our...

Safari in Botswana

We had a 4-wk rotation in Tanzania and we had an amazing time. We spent two a week in orientation, 2.5 weeks working in women’s health at KCMC in Moshi, and reflections following that. Our program...

Chameleon on waterfall hike

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