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1. Put yourself out there

Cape Town is notorious for being the most cliquey place in South Africa. It’s hard to argue against that, however much of why Cape Town is cliquey is to do with the fact that many people are actually introverted. 

At times it comes across as people being unfriendly but in reality many people want to make more friends. They are just shy. 

Our number 1 tip for making friends is to be willing to put yourself out there. To initiate the conversation. Say hi to your neighbour, or ask the people you encounter during the day how they are doing? You could reach out to people you are studying with, get coffee with them between classes or look at starting a study group with them. If you are working, try getting to know your colleagues, going for a drink after a shift is a great way to get to know people better.

Being open and friendly yourself can make it a lot easier for others to be open and friendly to you. You may find that just going about your daily life with the right mindset can help you make friends around you.

Remember if you are struggling to find friends the chances are that the person you are thinking of talking to is struggling with the same thing. The easiest way to make friends is to be aware that others are also looking for new friends. So don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. 

That being said there are a few ways that make finding these people that little bit easier.

students chatting at university coffee shop on campus

2. Use social apps to find friends near you

Struggling to make friends is a problem the world over and as a result a few apps and websites have been developed to help people find and meet new friends.

Especially in a cliquey city like Cape Town, social apps are a great way to meet like-minded people looking for friends that you may never have met just by going about your day-to-day life.

Here are a few social apps that you could try to help you make friends in Cape Town.

Bumble BFF

Bumble, the popular dating app, has created a slightly different product Bumble BFF for making friends. The app matches people with similar interests based on location and is a great way to virtually meet and find potential friends near you. 

To start on Bumble BFF, you download the app, set up your profile based on your likes, interests, and the type of friend you are looking for. You can then start swiping to see if there are people you want to be friends with. Bumble BFF provides a safe space for you to discern if you want to be friends with someone before meeting up with them in person.


Meetup is a platform where people create events that are open for members to attend. You can find events that might interest you using different categories. It is an easy way to find events where people with similar interests will be. 

On the platform you can discover local and online events or you can start your own group and host your own events. The platform has a discussion platform for groups you are a part of to stay connected with the people you meet. 

People use meetup for professional meetings, social gatherings, online events and more. 

From there building friendships should be a lot easier.

Social media

This might come as a surprise but social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can actually be great opportunities to make friends in Cape Town.

Facebook groups are a good way to find people with similar interests and to join new communities. You can find events and connect with people near you that have similar interests.

Following some local pages and personalities on Instagram is another way to find events and people with similar interests to you.

While twitter can be a little bit more of a challenge, there are stories out there of people deciding to meet in person from Twitter and becoming friends IRL.

Social media platforms do provide a way to meet people in person if you use them well. When you’re looking to make friends in Cape Town feel free to use your socials and find friends from there.

Be aware of the risks when meeting people from social apps

With social media platforms and all social apps, you need to be discerning and conscious of the potential risks involved with meeting people from the internet.

A tip to help with safety is for your first few meetings to be in public spaces. If the other person is genuine they will probably be more comfortable that way too, so don’t feel bad for making sure that happens.

phone on table with social media apps used to meet people in Cape Town

3. Join a club

It’s fair to assume you have a few interests or hobbies. You’re more likely to make friends with people with similar interests, so why not join a club relevant to those. 

If you love sport, Cape Town has a variety of sports clubs for you to join. Getting a bit of exercise while making friends is always a plus. Enjoying being outdoors does help with making friends in Cape Town. 

However, if you don’t enjoy sport that much there are other clubs you can join from writing groups to singles wine tasting clubs or even a board game club. 

Cape Town also has a large gaming community. Joining a gaming club or meeting people through online gaming is an option. 

Whatever type of club you are looking for, you are sure to find it in a city as diverse as Cape Town. All it’ll take is a quick search on Google, Facebook, or Meetup.

students collaborating on a project at university student room on campus

4. Join a religious group

Don’t join a cult, watch out for those. However, going to a church or other religious organisation can be a great way to meet people and build a community.

Many churches have weekly cell groups and host other events for people to build relationships. If you are open to faith or have a faith this is a great way to make new friends.

Churches, Mosques and Synagogues are easy to find in Cape Town. Find one where you are comfortable and friendships should follow.

People sitting in Church with open notebooks

5. Volunteer at an NGO

Cape Town being in South Africa has multiple socio-economic issues that NGOs are trying to fight. For this reason they are always looking for volunteers.

If you are passionate about a specific issue you can find an NGO that addresses that issue and volunteer. That way you will find people who are passionate about the same issues and from there build a friendship.

Volunteering is great because you get to genuinely give back to the community while building relationships. Those friendships can also end up being with people from a completely different background to you.

Here are a few NGOs you could volunteer for in Cape Town:

  • Etafeni – It is a care centre that provides for children and caregivers affected by AIDS.
  • The Haven Night Shelter – A shelter for Cape Town’s homeless community. 
  • iKhaya le themba –  Based in Hout Bay they offer holistic care and family support for orphaned and vulnerable children. 
  • DARG – They rescue and rehome previously abused, neglected and abandoned cats and dogs.
  • SANCCOB – They rescue, rehabilitate and release ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds.
  • White Shark Diving Company (WSDC) – If you are rather brave and want to meet like-minded people. They aim to help conserve the Great White Shark.
volunteering for an organisation during your studies abroad

6. Get involved on Campus

If you are moving to Cape Town for your tertiary education there isn’t a much better place to look for friends than your campus. 

Similar to joining a club or volunteering at an NGO your campus will probably have clubs or groups for various interests. Getting involved and joining those clubs is an easy way to make new friends. 

UCT and CPUT for example have a wide variety of sports clubs, societies and events that you can join to meet people.

AFDA for example hosts events throughout the year with key creatives as speakers who you can learn from while connecting with fellow students. If you attend Vega, they have a calendar for what takes place throughout the year. Red and Yellow also have a calendar you can follow to see what events are taking place. 

Every institution that you might attend will have events and clubs that you can get involved in. These are great opportunities to learn more, while building new relationships and connections. 

Building friendships with others on campus is great as you will meet people from different backgrounds that are going through a similar experience and have similar interests to you.

People walking on the UCT campus

7. Go to free events

Being the beautiful city that Cape Town is, there are tons of events that take place throughout the year that are free to attend. 

Some of these events like First Thursdays span most of the CBD and can be difficult to meet people. There are, however, smaller events that could make it easier to make friends. 

You can check events on Facebook, or follow sites like Quicket, Eventbrite, What’s on in Cape Town to find free events. 

Going to events will help put you in the same room as people, but it will be up to you to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to talk to someone or make a comment if you notice something. It is possible that someone else noticed the same thing, and if you can both laugh about it, you then have an opportunity to build a friendship.

8. Get to know your neighbours

Our last tip is to get to know your neighbours. If you are living in student accommodation, you are fortunate to have other students in close proximity.

Your neighbours can help you navigate living in a new city and everything you might need to know about where you live.

Building a relationship with your neighbours can help develop a sense of community for you and them.

There are a few things you can do to make getting to know your neighbours a bit easier. The first one is to go knock on their door and introduce yourself when you move in. On the opposite side of that coin, when you see a new neighbour move in why not go and introduce yourself or cook them a meal to say welcome. Moving is never easy and providing a new neighbour with a meal after their hard work will be a treat for them.

If you see one of your neighbours doing something that you really enjoy like playing a boardgame or kicking a soccer ball around, ask if you could join them. Otherwise, host a board game night yourself.

Another easy way to get to know your neighbours is to find a neighbour that has the same classes or is in the same club as you. Ask them if they want someone to walk with them to class or to drive with. Walking to class or an event with someone is a great way to get to know them better.

Make sure to not be overbearing with your neighbours though. Everyone is different, so some neighbours will love you putting yourself out there while others will want to be left alone. Respecting that is a good way to help make friends as people will see that you respect them.

students walking in a hallway on university campus

Make friends in our Cape Town student accommodation

Making friends in Cape Town can be challenging but there are various ways that you can make friends. The key is to be willing to put yourself out there and don’t get stuck on the idea of Cape Town being cliquey. Other people want to make friends just like you do. 

If you are new to or moving to Cape Town and looking for student accommodation in a friendly environment, look no further than NEST.  We provide a braai area, outside gym, and courtyard where you can meet new people and build friendships with your neighbours. Check out our room options and book a viewing today!

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