Cape Town’s coolest
Whether you’re an avid traveller looking for the perfect vacation, or you’d like to settle in Cape Town for a bit longer, the city has a diverse range of neighborhoods which are certain to impress you in their own way.
With Table Mountain as the backdrop, Cape Town boasts beautiful beaches, an attractive city center, and a very vivid, cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Learn about the history of the slave trade and colonisation, hike up Table Mountain and take in the view, head out of town on a safari, meet some penguins, or enjoy some of the finest South African wines at any one of the bars and restaurants with magnificent views over the bay. If you are in Cape Town on the first Thursday of every month then you are in luck, as galleries and boutiques open their doors until late.
TripHappy’s Angelina Smith gives us the low down on some of Cape Town’s coolest hoods.
City Bowl is the perfect name for the city centre’s physiology. Encompassed between the harbour and the mountain, City Bowl is both as lively during the day as it is at night. Bree Street, is a hip area with great restaurants and fine dining as well as art galleries and boutiques. Shopping for gifts or souvenirs is perfect in this area. Missibaba has South African leather handbags and prints, whilst Avoova has typically South African styled gifts. The Youngblood Africa gallery showcases a wide variety of entertainment, if you are after a rather more cultured afternoon.
In the center lies The Company’s Garden, a beautiful park and heritage site that was created in the 17th century. It’s filled with beautiful towering trees, monuments, and a rose garden. Museums are abundant in the area. Iziko South African Museum, South African National Gallery, South African Jewish Museum, Iziko Slave Lodge and the Cape Town Holocaust Center are all within a five-minute walking distance. Over on the other side of the park sits District Six, which has a vivacious history of mixed cultures and offers a melting pot of cuisines. Truth Coffee Roasting and City Bowl Health Kitchen are popular hangouts for the locals. Just around the corner is the independent bookstore The Book Lounge. The Castle of Good Hope is the oldest building in South Africa; since its creation it has been the civilian, political and military center. To end your sightseeing tour around the center of the city is the City Hall and Central Library.
De Waterkant is a gay friendly neighbourhood with The Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village being the centrepiece. The neighbourhood has a village feel with cobbled, tree-lined streets with shops, entertainment and restaurants. Considered to be a rather bohemian area with fashionable cottages, there are plenty of cafes, namely Origin Coffee Roasting, Hard Pressed Cafe and Take Time With the Times. De Waterkant is also renowned for its popularity with gay travellers who crawl from bar to club, especially at Beulah Bar and Café Manhattan, which has a great terrace for enjoying sunsets. This neighbourhood is well located and is walking distance from both the V&A Waterfront and the city center.
A wealthy beach suburb located on the south western coast of Cape Town, Camps Bay is a youth friendly neighbourhood that is a paradise in the summer for locals and foreigners. However, the nightlife here is quite exciting. Beach bars are always packed with younger patrons from the afternoon to late at night. Sunsets and cocktails go together here very well and make the Camps Bay Beach a perfect spot to bring a date, or people watch. Sandbar is frequently visited by locals for their fresh lunches and happy hour cocktails.
There are plenty of hikes you can enjoy like the 360 degree views at Lion’s Head. This hike isn’t as long or strenuous like other ones which are a part of the notorious Table Mountain, however, but is rather calming and easy to get to. The view is well worth the climb and it’s a great way to see breathtaking sunrises. The Pipe Track Walk is almost flat enough for a stroll in the park, but still a challenge that will be worth the prize at the end of the line. The views are stunning through the trees and the trail isn’t usually as crowded as the other more popular Table Mountain trails.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is right in the heart of the city’s working harbour. The Waterfront is also very popular with tourists and families due to its abundance of bars, restaurants and bistros, as well as a wealth of craft markets, galleries, and recreational parks. The Two Oceans Aquarium is an extremely popular hit with families as kids love this underwater world. Another good outing for the kids is the AfriSam Children’s Play Centre, which is an excellent educational venue with a wealth of kid-oriented activities, shows and family-friendly eateries. You can even get up high in the Cape Wheel and enjoy the views over the waterfront. The Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre is popular with shopaholics and those interested in diamonds should not miss the Cape Town Diamond Museum.
Another tourist favourite is taking the ferry to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Robben Island from the Nelson Mandela Gateway. The island has a dark history, acting as a prison for politicians as well as a mental institution, and Nelson Mandela was exiled here for 27 years.
Sea Point is another Cape Town suburb filled with an energetic vibe but also happens to run 11 kilometres along the beautiful coast. This is a great neighbourhood for athletic and sporty tourists or locals, with open-air gyms and long runs on the beach. There are plenty of water activities too, such as kayaking, surfing, paddle boarding and scuba diving. The Blue Dive Centre offers scuba diving courses as well as underwater photography lessons or take a dive with seals and swim with seven gill cow sharks or blue sharks. Skateboarding, cycling and dining are popular activities in this area as well, or if you want to mix it up, take a vintage sidecar out for a spin! Popular eateries are Boheme Bistro, Mouette Restaurant, and Buzbey’s Grill where you must try the freshly caught fish.
Bo-Kaap, also known as the Malay Quarter, is located above the city center of Cape Town on the slope of Signal Hill. Interesting fact, ‘Bo-Kaap’ in Afrikaans means ‘Above the Cape’, and above the cape is where history and architecture fans will thrive. Bo-Kaap is an explosion of history, culture and color and one of the main attractions is the Bo-Kaap Museum, which reveals lots of interesting information about the Malay culture of Cape Town. The blend of Cape Georgian and Cape Dutch architectural styles make Bo-Kaap truly unique, and above everything else, living here can be extremely convenient. Take the Bo-Kaap free walking tour that will enlighten you about the area’s history and culture of the area as well as show you the hidden gems. •
Cape Town is a fantastic city on the water with a plethora of activities and wonders that cater to every type of traveller. If you love being surrounded by a majestic nature scene with wild animals, or you just want to taste the wine, Cape Town will exceed all your expectations. South Africa is well known for its sunshine – summer lasts from mid-October to mid-February, so expect a warm Christmas and New Year. South Africans know how to ring in the new year, so go ahead and book your New Year’s vacation today! If you’re looking for a more in depth guide to the best neighbourhoods in Cape Town, check out this guide from TripHappy.