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Cape Town, South Africa

Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa and is the capital of the Western Cape Province, as well as being the legislative capital of South Africa (the Houses of Parliament are here). It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope and is the most southern city in Africa. It is a stone's throw from South Africa's world-famous Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek.

Cape Town is nicknamed the Mother City within South Africa. Compared to the more business-oriented Johannesburg it is known for its relaxed and leisurely atmosphere. Some jokingly claim that the reason it is called the Mother City is that it takes at least 9 months to get anything done in Cape Town! Compared to other parts of South Africa Cape Town is also distinctly more "western", and South Africans from other provinces sometimes... Read more

Cape Town, South Africa

Destination:

Cape Town is the second-most populous city in South Africa and is the capital of the Western Cape Province, as well as being the legislative capital of South Africa (the Houses of Parliament are here). It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope and is the most southern city in Africa. It is a stone's throw from South Africa's world-famous Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Franschhoek.

Cape Town is nicknamed the Mother City within South Africa. Compared to the more business-oriented Johannesburg it is known for its relaxed and leisurely atmosphere. Some jokingly claim that the reason it is called the Mother City is that it takes at least 9 months to get anything done in Cape Town! Compared to other parts of South Africa Cape Town is also distinctly more "western", and South Africans from other provinces sometimes jokingly say they are traveling to Europe when visiting Cape Town.

Geography

The metropolis of Cape Town is spread over a wide area, from Somerset West and Durbanville in the east to Atlantis in the north and Cape Point in the south. The city center is situated in a fairly small area between Table Bay and Table Mountain.

The original Dutch settlement, and the heart of the current city, is located southwest of Strand St. In Afrikaans the name means "Beach street" since it followed the original waterfront during the 17th. Since then, centuries of landfills has successively moved the beach some 1,200 m (3,900 ft) northeast to its current position. The old city center is intersected by avenues like Long St, St Georges Mall, and Adderley St, and is approximately bounded by the Company Gardens in the southwest, the Castle of Good Hope in the east, and the slopes of Signal Hill in the northwest. During the 19th century, these slopes were settled by Cape Towns Muslim population, creating the area Bo-Kaap, which translates into "Above the Cape".

History

Before the European colonial era what is now the Western Cape was inhabited by Khoikhoi and San groups, whom the Dutch called "Hottentots", "Strandlopers" and "Bushmen" (note that these terms are now considered racist and offensive). From the late 15th century, European ships (primarily Portuguese) started to visit the area, firstly for fresh food and water, then later for whaling and trading with the locals. Cape Town's colonial history started in 1652, when founder Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post there for the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC), as a stopping point on the Cape Route. Even though South Africa is the part of Africa located furthest from Europe, it was the first, and up until the 19th century only place which was substantially colonized by Europeans. The reason is that the Cape, while being furthest from Europe, also is relatively far from the equator. The Europeans, therefore, found the climate temperate enough to grow European crops.

The earliest European settlers were predominantly Dutch along with some Protestant Huguenots from northern France fleeing from being persecuted by the Catholics. These settlers over time explored the adjacent hinterland and founded the cities of Paarl and Stellenbosch in what is today the Cape Winelands. They were known as Voortrekkers ("Pioneers"), and they ventured from the Cape region to explore, conquer and settle other parts of Southern Africa. The first people from Asia to arrive in Cape Town were the Malays from Java and other islands of the Dutch East Indies brought in by the Dutch as slaves in 1654. Their descendants are today known as the Cape Malays. Soon the various ethnic groups intermingled leading to the emergence of the unique, mixed-race Cape Coloured community.

Political control of Cape Town ping-ponged between the Dutch and British during the late 18th and early 19th centuries until 1814 when it was ceded to the British for good.

Cape Town, as the seat of parliament, is South Africa's legislative capital. The city was ahead of its time as it developed into a global, multicultural metropolis much earlier than most other major cities of the world. Cape Town has many fascinating points of interest, a thriving nightlife, and a sizable LGBT presence.

Climate

  • The months of summer are from December to February. The days are mostly hot but low in humidity, so you shouldn't feel uncomfortable. Stay indoors or at least in the shade during the midday heat and use adequate sunblock. International tourists jostle for space on the beach with the domestic beach-goers around the holiday period. However, it is still an exciting and eventful time to be in Cape Town.
  • The months of winter from June to August are rather wet. It does not rain every single day though it can sometimes rain for two weeks straight. It can also get very chilly at night, with the mercury dropping to as low as 2–3 °C (36–37 °F) (this temperature is comparable to the sea so it should not get any colder unless you head inland) but 5–7 °C (41–45 °F) is more typical. It warms during the day, with typical temperatures between 9–15 °C (48–59 °F). The winters tend to be overcast with not as much sunshine.
  • The ideal times to see the city are:
  •        October and November: Winter is over and the temperature is warming up. Spring has arrived, but it is not yet as warm as the middle of summer. This period is often windy too. The Southeaster is also called the Cape Doctor because a significant chunk of pollution gets blown away.
  •        December to February: These are the prime summer months with long, sunny and hot days. The sunsets late in the evening (staying bright up til 20:30 in December) with a lot usually happening. February is the most reliable month for weather, with day after day of warmth and sunshine.
  •        March to May: While this varies every year, it generally starts raining during the autumn period and the temperature starts to become cooler. The number of tourists around the city drops, giving you an opportunity to get great deals on travel services, including accommodation, activities, and food.

Wildfire

During the dry summer months, especially when the winds are strong, wildfires pose a grave threat to the animals and vegetation of the Cape region. In particular, the fynbos in the national parks can become very dry and burn rapidly. Wildfires are a concern, and previous fires have damaged the slopes of Table Mountain. If you notice any fires in the Cape area please report them to the Western Cape Umbrella Fire Protection Association on +27 21 6897438 or the after-hours emergency hotline on +27 21 9574700.

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Cape Town, South Africa: Port Information


Your cruise ship will dock at Duncan Dock.
Free shuttle buses are available. Besides, you can catch a taxi or rent a car. The city center is about a 10-minute drive. 

Get around Cape Town, South Africa


By foot

Cape Town is not the most pedestrian-friendly city in the world. There are areas that are ideal for walking, such as the St George's Mall and Greenmarket Square areas in the city center, the V&A Waterfront or some beach areas.

Care needs to be taken when walking in other parts of the city, as the roads can be busy, and having the pedestrian right of way does not necessarily mean that vehicles will cede to you. Pedestrians normally cross when the road is clear, regardless of red pedestrian lights.

Outside of a few areas, there is very little pedestrian signage.

By bicycle

It is possible to get around by bicycle. There are some bike lanes in the center.

By car

Many car hire companies are based in the airport, as well as being found all over town. Note that South Africa is a left-hand traffic country. Visitors from countries where traffic moves on the right-hand side may need to take some time to get familiar with the different road rules. Getting a car with automatic transmission at some rental services is not always easy so try to reserve a car in advance if you prefer an automatic.

Cape Town has some of the worst traffic jams in South Africa. During peak-hours traffic can grind to a total stand-still. Use an app like Waze or Google Maps to guide you around the worst spots.

All fuel stations accept international credit and debit cards using chip and PIN. US and other cardholders not yet converted to chip cards may find their cards not accepted.

When you refuel your car you need to let the station attendants do it for you. You can just stay inside your car and they will ask you which type and how much fuel you want to put in your car. They will probably also wash your windscreen for you whether you need it or not, and it is also common to ask petrol attendants to check tires and oil. In return, a small tip is appreciated so it is advisable to collect a few of the low denomination coins you will receive elsewhere during your trip as change.

Cape Town has several luxury chauffeur companies that do a variety of services including transfer to and from the airport, taking you to exclusive events and becoming VIP bodyguards.

By metered taxi

Metered taxis are controlled by the city council and can be considered safe and reliable. You can set a fixed price with the driver, especially when going to a faraway destination such as the airport which is about 21 km from the city center and the fare can be bargained down.
Please note that there is only one official taxi company at the airport: Touchdown Taxis and to avoid the touts walk through the terminal until you find their specific desk. You can also ask your hotel to pick you up, as pick up service is provided by many hotels, guest houses and so on.
Elsewhere look for the specific taxi ranks which usually have a marshall who will ask where you want to go and then instruct one of the taxis for you - always ask up front how much and they will either indicate that it is on the meter or advise a fixed amount on which you can haggle. Compared with European and American prices they are cheap even if you also include a tip.

By ride-hailing service

Ride-hailing services are widely available across Cape Town, in particular, Uber and Taxify. Taxify's prices are comparable to Uber's, but they pay their drivers slightly more.

By minibus taxi

Minibus taxis are used widely by locals but tourists are usually discouraged from using them, except for the Green Point - Sea Point - Clifton - Camps Bay route that is frequently used by tourists. They cover most of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area and are very cheap, however, they can get very crowded and are definitely less safe than metered taxis due to their dangerous driver behavior.
Some minibus taxi operators have seen the value in the tourist market and are starting to provide safe and legal alternatives to the traditional minibus taxis. They are more expensive than the traditional minibus taxis, but still far cheaper than metered taxis. No guarantee you'll get to your destination directly, but it is safe, fun, and all the drivers are characters. You may even meet supermodels going to their photo shoots or artists going to their studios. During busy times of day (or year) you may have to wait a while and unfortunately, they do not take reservations.

By bus

An international standard rapid transit service in Cape Town, known as MyCiTi, runs from Cape Town Airport to the Cape Town CBD (City Bowl) and the Atlantic coastal suburbs.

  • MyCiTi. 04:30 to 22:00. This is the recommended service for tourists to the City and is comparable with the London Transport system in England.
  • Golden Arrow Bus Services. This is a network of public buses that offers cheap connections (e.g. from the city center to the Cape Flats). They run mostly during the day. It is better to ask the driver where the bus is going to make sure you don’t end up somewhere else.

By motorcycle or scooter

There are a number of motorbike and scooter hire services throughout Cape Town. Motobikes and scooters are agile forms of transportation and will save you some coin compared to renting a car. However, unless you enjoy cycling on very mountainous terrain, tiny alleys, and roads with high levels of traffic, it is not advisable to ride a bicycle to get around.

  • Cape Sidecar Adventures, 1 Dickens Road, Salt River, +27 21 4349855, fax: +27 21 4349860, info@sidecars.co.za. M-F 09:00-17:00, Sa 09:00-13:00. Sit in a personalized guided sidecar as you explore the sites of Cape Town. Caters to disabled passengers by attaching collapsible wheelchairs onto their sidecar.
  • Harley-Davidson Cape Town, Harbour Edge Building, 2 Hospital St, Green Point, +27 79 377 4464, +27 21 401 4260, trevor@hdcapetown.co.za. Riding a Harley is another great way of exploring the Cape.
  • Yamaha Adventures, 36 Marine Drive, Paarden Eiland, +27 74 190 9977. Take a tour of the rugged Cape and the rest of Southern Africa on a Yamaha. Gear and accessories hire also available.

By train

There is a system of public train transport, although it is mainly used by locals. Operator Metrorail has done a lot to increase safety and comfort onboard the trains, but they still do not live up to European standards. So make sure to buy a first-class ticket. Cape Town station is situated in the city center on the corner of Adderley Street and Strand Street and there is a reasonable suburban network of lines with more than 80 stations. A nice scenic ride can be done south to Simon's Town, all along the east coast of the Cape Peninsula. Stick to Simon's Town line and make sure you are not on the train after 6:30 PM or when it is dark.
Make sure you do not carry anything expensive on the train as this is an invitation to thieves. If you must carry a camera, make sure it is well out of sight (preferably a small wallet-sized camera). Earrings, necklaces and any form of visible jewelry are not recommended as these can be ripped (rather painfully) from one's person by an enterprising thief. Keep your wits about you and it will make for a pleasant and safe journey.

What to see in Cape Town, South Africa


  • Bo-Kaap. This neighborhood, located on a hill south-west of downtown, is the area historically inhabited by mainly Muslim descendants of slaves from South-East Asia (hence an older term for the area - 'Malay Quarter'. It's a common location for film shoots, as there are some very colorful buildings, quaint streets, mosques. views over Cape Town and some great food sold on the side of the street. It's well worth wandering around for an hour or so, as well as visiting the Bo-Kaap Museum (a view of a prosperous Muslim family from the 19th Century).
Atlas Trading is an old fashioned shop where you can buy spices for any dish. Ask the proprietor to mix you the necessary spices for the meal you intend on making.
Approximately 1km from the Bo-Kaap is the Noon Gun which is fired every day at noon - from Monday to Saturday. You can go and view the short ceremony that takes place before the actual shooting, as well as the shooting itself.
  • The Castle of Good Hope

    , Buitenkant Street, ☎ +27 21 787-1260. The Castle of Good Hope is South Africa's oldest surviving building. It was built between 1666 and 1679. It is popularly called 'The Castle' by locals. It has extensive displays of historical military paraphernalia, a history of the castle, an art collection and the William Fehr Collection (including old Cape Dutch furniture). You can eat and buy wine inside the Castle at the restaurant or café.
Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 11 AM, 12 PM, and 2 PM.
Horse and carriage rides are offered daily at 10:30 AM, 12:45 PM and 2:45 PM. Booking is necessary. 
  • Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

    , Rhodes Drive, Newlands, ☎ +27 21 799-8899, +27 21 799-8783. Open daily 8 AM-6 PM (7 PM September to March). View the hugely diverse and beautiful plants and flowers of the Cape flora in one of the most stunning botanical gardens in the world. Plants from all of the regions of South Africa are on display, including rare succulents from the Richtersveld, a giant baobab tree, and interesting medicinal plants. Numerous paths wander through the grounds situated on the backside of Table Mountain. Several restaurants, a gift shop, and indigenous nursery are also available. At various times of the year, concerts are performed in the open-air amphitheater. Art is frequently on display, including large Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. The gardens are also home to the National Biodiversity Institute.
What makes the garden so special, is that every season gives you something new to see - new flowers, different birds, etc.
During the summer months, sunset concerts feature excellent local and international music acts in diverse genres. Get there early to get a good spot on the grass amphitheater. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, local rock bands, and popular artists like Freshlyground and Goldfish.
  • Robben Island, ☎ +27 21 413-4200. Robben Island is located just off the coast from Cape Town, this was the location used during the apartheid days to hold political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and the late Walter Sisulu. The tour consists of a guided bus tour around the island, before meeting a former political prisoner for a tour of the prison area. The island itself is quite scenic, with African penguins usually seen on the tour. The bus tour stops to allow you to take in the view, and buy a snack. Tours run several times per day, seven days a week from the Nelson Mandela Gateway near the clock tower at the V&A Waterfront. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone. There are three trips a day at 9:00, 11:00, and 13:00. The tour takes 3.5 hours including the ferry ride to and from the island. 
  • Rhodes Memorial, ☎ +27 21 689-9151, e-mail: roy@rhodesmemorial.co.za. The memorial is situated in recognition of Cecil John Rhodes. It's built in his favorite spot on the lower slopes of Devil's Peak. Rhodes's own wooden bench is still located below the memorial. The memorial is part of the Table Mountain National Park which is a great spot for picnicking. The memorial is also a start for the hiking along Devil's Peak. Rhodes Memorial and the surrounding bike and hiking trails have become a very popular spot for muggers in recent months. If you just have to explore the nature in this area as it is very beautiful, make sure you are never alone and never carry valuables with you.
  • South African Parliament, ☎ +27 21 403-2266. Cape Town is the legislative seat of South Africa (the Presidential seat is in Pretoria and the Supreme Court is at Bloemfontein). A tour of this compound will acquaint you with South Africa's recent history and its political system. The tour includes visits to the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the old apartheid-era assembly which is now only used for caucus and committee meetings. Tours are offered a few times per day in various languages. Free entrance and tours.
  • Two Oceans Aquarium, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 418-3823, e-mail: aquarium@aquarium.co.za. Open 9:30 AM-6 PM. You can come and watch the sharks be fed every Sunday at 3 PM. There is an extensive series of events calendar for each month. Scuba diving with sharks is also offered. A walk around the aquarium takes about an hour. 
  • Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 408-7600. A huge shopping and entertainment area in the harbor. It is very popular with tourists, because of the high density of shops, restaurants and amusement possibilities, like the Aquarium or the Marine Museum. Harbor tours and trips to Robben Island start from here, as well as helicopter flights to the Cape Peninsula. The V&A Waterfront has more or less full wheelchair access.
  • Cape Town Science Centre, 370B Main Road, Observatory, ☎ +27 21 300-3200, e-mail: info@ctsc.org.za. A world of discovery under one roof! Expect a wide variety of interactive displays and exciting activities for your enjoyment.

Museums and Galleries

  • Bo-Kaap Museum, 71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap, ☎ +27 21 481-3939, e-mail: info@iziko.org.za. Open 9:30 AM-4:30 PM Monday to Saturday. Located in a home dating from the 1760s, the museum offers an insight into the cultural life of the Muslim community of the Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town. 
  • District Six Museum, 25A Buitenkant St, ☎ +27 21 466-7200, e-mail: info@districtsix.co.za. Open 9 AM-4 PM Monday to Saturday. District Six is an area near downtown Cape Town which remained multiracial well into the 1960s against all attempts by the government to declare it a "white only" area. Eventually, the residents were all evicted and the buildings were bulldozed. The area remains uninhabited. The museum provides information about the area, the eviction, the Group Areas Act, and the people who used to live there. The director of the museum is a former resident. There is a small bookstore with an excellent selection of books on South Africa's history, District Six and apartheid.
  • Groot Constantia, Groot Constantia Estate, Constantia, ☎ +27 21 795-5140, e-mail: info@iziko.org.za. Open daily 10 AM-5 PM. One of the oldest wine estates in South Africa and well worth the fee for the internal tour and wine tasting. 
  • Slave Lodge, cnr Adderley and Wale Streets, ☎ +27 21 460-8240, e-mail: info@iziko.org.za. open 8:30 AM-4:30 PM Monday to Friday and 9 AM-1 PM on Sunday. One of the oldest buildings in Cape Town. 
  • South African Jewish Museum, 88 Hatfield Street, ☎ +27 21 464-1267, e-mail: info@sajewishmuseum.co.za. Open Sunday-Thursday 10 AM-5 PM and Friday 10 AM-2 PM. Closed Saturday. The Museum about this small community that has made large contributions in South African society and bringing down Apartheid. The museum is about Jews but Non-Jews will find it very interesting and informative. 
  • South African Maritime Museum, Union Castle Building, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 465-1546, e-mail: jboshoff@iziko.org.za. This Museum displays include evidence of the early seafarers round the Cape Of Good Hope. Small craft, locally made and a wide variety of maritime artifacts displays are also offered.
  • South African National Gallery, Government Avenue, Gardens, ☎ +27 21 467-4660, e-mail: info@iziko.org.za. 10 AM-5 PM Tuesday to Sunday. Located in the Gardens area of Cape Town off Government Ave (about a 20-minute walk from downtown). Contains extensive displays of South African art, as well as information on the history of censorship of art during apartheid. 
  • Galleria Gibello, 67 Rose Street, Bo Kaap, ☎ +27 21 422-1144, e-mail: caro@carolinegibello. Open 10 AM-5 PM Monday to Friday. Galleria Gibello is a photo gallery that is filled with visually captivating moments of life on the African continent. 
  • Maritime Centre, Union Castle Building, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 405 2880, jboshoff@iziko.org.za. Daily 10:00-17:00. The museum documents the lives of the early seafarers voyaging around the Cape of Good Hope. Small craft, locally made and various maritime artifacts are also showcased. The huge model ships are the highlight of the museum.
  • Zeitz Museum of Contemporary African Art (MOCAA), V&A Waterfront, +27 87 350 4777, info@zeitzmocaa.museum. 10.00-18.00 daily, last admission 17.30. Established in 2017 as the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world. Built out of an old grain silo that was decommissioned in 2001.

Performing arts

  • Artscape Theatre, D F Malan Street, Foreshore, Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 421-7695, e-mail: artscape@artscape.co.za.
  • Baxter Theatre, Baxter Theatre Centre, Main Road, Rondebosch, ☎ +27 21 685-7880, e-mail: linda.louw@uct.ac.za. Theatre performances, comedy, jazz and others.
  • Labia Theatre, 68 Orange Street, Gardens, ☎ +27 21 424-5927, e-mail: labiatheatre@labia.co.za. Has an African Screen showing African-made and African-oriented films all year round.

What to do in Cape Town, South Africa


Almost everything is possible in Cape Town, from a nice guided city tour through an adrenaline kick in an old fighter jet. The easiest way to get an overview of things to do, nice restaurants, clubs, tours, etc. is to walk into one of the visitors' centers which are in several areas. (V&A Waterfront, City Bowl, Green Point, etc.).

  • Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain, Lower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road, ☎ +27 21 424-8181. Open between 8 AM-10 PM (usually 8:30), last car down is at 9 PM. Both the cable car and the pathways on top of the mountain are wheelchair accessible. Always take something warm to wear when going up the mountain, even if it is a nice toasty 30C at the bottom of the mountain. Weather conditions at the top of the mountain are not the same as at the bottom. There is a cafe with a limited range of snacks, coffee, beer and wine at the top. Table Mountain is the home of a small animal, the rock rabbit (known locally as the 'Dassie') whose closest relative, DNA-wise, is the elephant, and you can see them running around on the rocks at the top of the mountain. 
  • Climbing Table Mountain - Platteklip Gorge is the most accessible and therefore the most popular route for climbing up Table Mountain. You start from Tafelberg Road and proceed up a steep gully to the top of Table Mountain. It's a steep 2 hours but well worth the effort and you can jump in the cable car back down to spare your knees. Be cautioned that the cable car does not operate in strong winds so you need to check before departing. Take water, sunblock, hat, and jacket. The cloud comes down unannounced and the temperature could plummet. Poorly equipped hikers often have to be rescued. Although it is very steep this route is extremely popular and you are guaranteed to meet many people on the way up and down. The gorge is shaded in the afternoon but earlier in the day it can be extremely hot with very little shade. Most of the route involves rock steps which can be challenging and many people find coming down even harder than going up. Don't underestimate the time and energy required for the downward section of this hike. Remember to take lots of water - this climb can be hot! Wear appropriate hiking shoes. Leave plenty of time to get down before dark. As this is a well-known route and easy accessible, many inexperienced hikers attempt the climb. Take care, or consider a guide. Meridian Hiking Club welcomes visitors on its organized hikes led by experienced climbers.
  • Cape Peninsula— Go to the Cape of Good Hope via Simon's Town and the African penguin colony at Boulders. Visit Cape Point in the Table Mountain National Park, maybe have lunch there before taking a hike in a quieter part of the reserve to immerse yourself in the essence of the landscape. Then take Chapman's Peak Drive (if it is open) through Hout Bay and along the Atlantic seaboard via Llandudno and Camps Bay, stopping off at one of Clifton's famous four beaches.
  • Ratanga Junction, ☎ +27 21 550-8504, e-mail: info@ratanga.co.za. Open 10 AM-5 PM, but not open all year round. Usually open during summer, Easter and winter holiday periods. Enjoy a day with your kids at this theme park.
  • Swimming. Beaches on the False Bay side of the peninsula are the most popular with swimmers as the water is warmer. St James has the most picturesque tidal pool on the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, while Clovelly and Fish Hoek beaches wrap around a sheltered bay with soft, white sands. Fishing boats, hobie cats and kayaks launch from here too. Brave hearts can sun-worship and swim naked in the freezing water of the isolated and breathtaking nudist beach Sandy Bay near Llandudno. Major spot for gay tourists as well. There's a 1.5 km walk down from the parking lot. Camps Bay and Clifton also have great beaches to visit if you want to try the chillier waters of the west coast.
  • Surfing— Cape Town is one of the best places to surf. Muizenberg is a good place for beginners to learn to surf, Gary offers reasonably priced lessons from a shop facing the beach. Don't forget that the False Bay area (where Muizenberg is located in addition to Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek) is known for its sharks! If you're an experienced surfer, try the reef break at Kalk Bay, Outer Kom near Kommetjie or Misty Cliffs on the coast road near Scarborough. You could head up the west coast and sample Milnerton, Table View or Big Bay, although Big Bay is often crowded with people kitesurfing due to the windy conditions. When the swell is really cranking, the big wave surfers gather at Dungeons, near Hout Bay, for some of the biggest surfable waves in the world.
  • Kite Surfing— Cape Town is one of the most favorite Kite Surfing destinations in the world. The two oceans combined with the windy conditions make for a great Kite Surfing experience. Some of the most popular Kite surfing hot spots are Dolphin Beach in Blouberg Strand, Muizenberg, and Langebaan Lagoon.
  • Winelands— Tour the beautiful Constantia Valley wine estates Groot Constantia, Buitenverwagting, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig before checking out the Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Stellenbosch has the added attraction of being a historical university town and Franschhoek, well established as the food capital of the Cape, is home to three of the country's top ten restaurants. The views are extraordinary. Have a drink and a snack at Dieu Donne estate for an unsurpassable vista of the entire valley, or take your own picnic to the top of a little hill they have by the parking area. Most wineries charge for a tasting session but usually refund it on a purchase. It's right next to the botanical garden.
  • Sunset cruise. On visiting Cape Town take the opportunity for a sunset cruise from one of the services lined up along the V&A dockside. Well worth seeing the sunset but also the view back towards the town and Table Mountain from the sea. Some tours include free wine and drinks, so you can get your sun-downer in as well. If you're lucky you may also see dolphins.

Wine Tasting

Cape Town has some of the worlds best wine-producing vineyards and arguably the worlds most scenically stunning on its doorstep. The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all within an easy hours drive, these historic and lush regions offer stunning views and world-class wine tastings. You can self-drive but this comes with limitations, often the best farms are closed to the public and then there is the drinking and driving issue. The best value and safest way to see the winelands is to trust your day to a dedicated wine tour company.

Deep Sea Fishing

  • Ama Feesh Charters, ☎ +27 21 788-9689, e-mail: info@amafeesh.co.za. At the time of writing, the telephone number and web site were not available. 
  • Cape Charters, 31 Antigua, The Water Club, Granger Bay, ☎ +27 21 418-0782, e-mail: info@capecharters.co.za.
  • Hooked on Africa, ☎ +27 21 790-5332, e-mail: sean@hookedonafrica.co.za.
  • Millers Point & Simonstown - on the way to Cape Point, ☎ +27 83 235 9550, e-mail: rob@sportfishing.co.za. contact Rob Naysmith.

Shark cage diving

  • SABP Tours, ☎ +27 21 426-2838, fax: +27 21 426-0201, e-mail: info@sabptours.com. SABP Tours offers a diving opportunity to witness the great white shark.
  • UnrealDive Expeditions, ☎ +27 71 684-7136, fax: +27 86 617-8334, e-mail: bookings@unrealdive.com. Get up close and personal with the Great White Shark.

Diving

Cape Town is located near two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Because of the Benguela Current the Atlantic Ocean is relatively cold (about 8°C to 14°C). The Indian Ocean is warmer (12°C to 17°C), and here you can see the more colorful fish. The official border between the two oceans is at Cape Agulhas, but currents and eddies take the warmer water further west and these waters can reach the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula in False Bay, so from a diving point of view, the Cape Peninsula may be considered the interface between the two marine biological regions, and there is a notable difference in character between the waters of the two coasts of the peninsula. This manifests itself in the different range of marine life found on the two coasts. These regions are the South Western Cape inshore bioregion and the Agulhas inshore bioregion.

Permits:

The waters around the Cape Peninsula have been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Permits are required to Scuba dive in any Marine Protected Area. This is a politically controversial issue due to disputes on whether due process was followed and whether the government department exceeded its authority, but the consequence is that a tax is imposed on all Scuba divers who dive in an MPA. The permit (valid for 1 year) may be purchased at some branches of the Post Office, or a temporary permit valid for 1 month may be purchased at most dive shops. Failure to present this permit when requested by an official of MCM may lead to harassment and possible arrest.

Dive Sites:

Detailed information and suggestions on local conditions, service providers and more than 100 local dive sites is provided in the guide to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay.

If the open ocean does not appeal to you, the Two Oceans Aquarium also offer diving opportunities in their 2.2 million liter tank.

  • Diving at Two Oceans Aquarium, ☎ +27 21 418-3823, e-mail: info@aquarium.co.za. 9 AM, 11 AM, and 1 PM daily. You need to be in possession of a valid diving license (PADI, CMAS, NAUI, BSAC, etc.). Swim along with the Ragged-tooth sharks, Yellowtail, Kob, Musselcracker, Bull rays, and a lonely turtle. The divemaster Iain, a barrel-shaped bearded little man with a distinct Scottish accent, is both nice and knowledgeable and accompanies you into the aquarium ready to fend off the sharks with his broomstick should they become cuddly. Dive time is around 30 minutes. For advanced divers, the Kelp forest tank puts you into the water with more and bigger local reef fish than you will see in the sea. 

Events

There are many organized events in Cape Town throughout the year. An official calendar of events is available from Cape Town Tourism.

  • Cape Argus Cycle Tour, ☎ +27 21 685-6551, e-mail: info@cycletour.co.za. March every year. Total distance is 109 km. Start in downtown, cycle down the eastern side of the peninsula, past Simon's Town and back up the western side of the peninsula. If you are not involved in or interested in cycling, avoid Cape Town this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
  • Two Oceans Marathon, ☎ +27 21 671-9407, e-mail: entries@twooceansmarathon.org.za. On Easter Saturday each year. An Ultra marathon (56 km), a half marathon (21 km) and a number of fun runs ranging from a 56m Nappy Dash to an 8 km walk or run. Maximum 10 000 entrance accepted per year per race distance (fun runs excluded). There is a pricing scale for each of the runs. If you are not involved in or interested in the runs, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
  • Cape Town Jazz Festival, Cape Town International Convention Centre, ☎ +27 21 422-5651. Normally held during late March.
  • Cape Town Minstrel Carnival, Marches throughout the city ending at Green Point Stadium. Usually New Year's day and a couple of days later during January. Also known as the Kaapse Klopse, these brightly dressed singers and dancers spend months preparing for this annual event.
  • Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset Concerts, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, ☎ +27 21 799-8783. 5:30 PM-6:30 PM every Sun, late Nov to early April.
  • Mother City Queer Project, e-mail: info@mcqp.co.za. Sometime during December each year. Biggest gay and lesbian party of the year. The sooner you buy a ticket the cheaper it is.
  • Spiers Summer Arts Festival, ☎ +27 21 809-1111, e-mail: boxoffice@spierarts.org.za. From October to March.
  • City Harvest Festival, ☎ +27 21 422-1418, e-mail: angela@phoenixpartnership.co.za. April 20th 12 PM-10 PM and 21st 9 AM-6 PM. The City Harvest Festival exhibits the Cape’s finest wines, food, with live entertainment including bands. Talks by Cape winemakers on the winemaking process. Chocolate feature planned. Host venues include Signal Hill Winery, Café Mao, Riboville, WineSense, and Sundance Café.

Safari

Big Five Cape Town safaris are becoming increasingly popular. There are numerous safari game reserves within 2 hours drive from Cape Town which is a great option if you don’t want to venture too far from the city.

Hiking

There are many hiking trails in and around the city, from short walks to multi-day hikes.

  • The Cape of Good Hope Trail, Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 780-9204, e-mail: reservations@sanparks.org. Cape of Good Hope in the Table Mountain National Park, 34 km, 2 Days. 
  • Hoerikwaggo Table Mountain Trail, Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 465-8515, e-mail: reservations@sanparks.org. 3 Day, non-strenuous, luxury trail through the city, botanical gardens, and Table Mountain National Park. 
  • The Orangekloof Hiking Trail, Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 465-8515, e-mail: reservations@sanparks.org. 6 Days, Cape Point to Table Mountain. 
  • Table Mountain (Starting point is 1.5 km past the Lower Cable Station on Tafelberg Road). Always open, but you might want to start early enough to catch the last cable car down. 3 km (all uphill), 1 to 3 hours, Platteklip Gorge to the Upper Cable Station. No fees are charged.
  • Chapman's Peak. 2–3 hours, non-strenuous with breathtaking views of Hout Bay and Noordhoek and rich flora, especially proteas. The trail begins on the Hout Bay side of the peak about 750 m from the main view-point on scenic Chapman's Peak Drive. Park by the trailhead and follow the path out of the picnic area. It soon forks but both routes take you to the same place. Turn right at the next junction, from where the path is clear. Return same route. No permit required.
  • The Amphitheatre in the Kalk Bay mountains. 3 hours. Start at the sign on scenic Boyes Drive and climb up towards the rocks above which are peppered with scores of caves, many of which are not recommended for novice cavers so be careful. Take a torch. Follow the right forks in the trail and you'll be rewarded with increasingly spectacular views of False Bay. Head straight up through Echo Valley and through an ancient milkwood grove. Come back the same way if you don't have detailed directions. No permit required.
  • Cape Town has a very good network of trails to suit every level of fitness. Many of these trace the contours of the mountain and wander through the protea bushes and fynbos, often with breathtaking views. Many require no permit, although most of Cape Town's reserves have entrance fees. Hiking in a group is strongly recommended. The outdoor store Cape Union Mart has a hiking club with organized group hikes most weekends. Pick up a programme at one of their stores. You must phone the hike-leader first and pay 
  • Paradise Touring, ☎ +27 21 713-1020, e-mail: info@paratour.co.za. For guided walks up the mountain with a botanical guide.
  • Cape Eco-Tours, ☎ +27 82 460-4847, e-mail: info@cape-ecotours.co.za. A good one for twitchers to use and is a member of Bird Life South Africa.
  • Trax Tours, ☎ +27 73 495-6115, e-mail: taynetrax@gmail.com. Guided hiking and cycle tours in Franschoek and Stellenbosch, including wine tasting.
  • Meridian Hiking Club, ☎ +27 82 498-0361, e-mail: meridian@meridian.org.za. This club organizes hikes ranging from easy day walks to strenuous rock scrambles on the mountain and multi-day hikes. Look up the calendar on the web site for details of current hikes. It is very popular with tourists. 

In the air

  • Heli, Cape Town International Airport and V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 935-1619, e-mail: info@heli.co.za. Go on an exciting charter, or fly with an instructor and take control on an intro flight. Heli offers the premium helicopter experience in Cape Town. Scenic flights, airport transfers, wine tours, flight training
  • Cape Town Helicopter Tours, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 72 327-2840, e-mail: info@cape-town-helicopter-tours.com. Helicopter Wine Tours Western Cape, visit Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl from Cape Town.
  • See the cape from above with a scenic helicopter flight, East Pier Road, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 425-3868, e-mail: info@nacmakana.com. 
  • Sport Helicopters, ☎ +27 21 434-4444, e-mail: info@sport-helicopters.co.za. For scenic flights or the quick way to get to Robben Island.
  • ThunderCity, Cape Town International Airport, ☎ +27 21 934-8007, e-mail: info@thundercity.com. Go supersonic in a fighter jet. You need endless pockets.
  • Skydive Cape Town, Cape Town, ☎ +27 82 800-6290, e-mail: bookings@skydivecapetown.za.net. One of the most scenic dropzones in the world.
  • Para Taxi (Tandem Paraglide), 16 Pebbles Crescent, Coral Grove, Royal Ascott, Milnerton, ☎ +27 82 966-2047, e-mail: info@para-taxi.com. 

Kayaking

  • Gravity Adventure Group, ☎ +27 21 683-3698, e-mail: adventure@gravity.co.za. Provides training (African Paddling Association approved) as well as sea kayaking in the West Coast National Park.

Sunset cruises

  • Waterfront Boat Company, Quay 4, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 418-5806, e-mail: glynis@waterfrontboats.co.za. Take a relaxing sunset cruise on the Condor to Greenpoint and back or do the champagne cruise. One to one and a half hours.
  • Tigger 2 Charters, ☎ +27 21 418-0241, e-mail: tigger@netactive.co.za.

Townships tours

The townships are the places where people were forced to live (based on race) under the apartheid regime. To some extent, townships continue to retain their apartheid-era racial make-up, for a variety of reasons. Townships have also grown to cover far larger areas of land than in the apartheid days. This is a result of urbanization, especially over the past 10–15 years. Touring a township may seem strange, even inappropriate, but it is a good way to learn about South Africa's history and the poverty that many people continue to live in. People in the townships are friendly and the children love visitors. Some townships, however, can be dangerous (see the warning on the South Africa page) so don't go alone unless you know what you're doing. The townships tours are safe. If you want to bring sweets or gifts for the children, it is best not to give it directly to them, but to give it to the tour guide who will distribute them later.
Tours can be booked directly or through one of Cape Town's many booking agencies. Tours run once or twice per day. Be aware that if you're given the chance to try some township food, that a 'walkie-talkie' is often made from the feet and beaks of poultry. The very best way to see a township is by foot and to stay overnight at one of the many township B&Bs.

There are several tour companies which offer tours.

  • African Experience, 70 Loyolo Street, Kayamandi, ☎ +27 21 889-5562, e-mail: awaa@webmail.co.za.
  • Andulela Tours, ☎ +27 21-790-2592, e-mail: info@andulela.com. Offers a variety of different tours, including jazz, soccer, poetry, and culinary tours. Their emphasis is on meeting people, not looking at them.
  • Cape Fusion Tours, Oranjezicht Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 461-2437, e-mail: info@capefusion.co.za. Offers hands-on African cooking experiences in Langa at a local cooking school. This gives you an insight into the culture, the people and their cuisine.
  • Kwathabeng Tours, 1 Mocke St Dieprivier, ☎ +27 21 829-6166, e-mail: alex@kwathabeng.co.za. Township Tavern Tours
  • Langa Heritage Walk, Lenotholi Avenue, Langa, ☎ +27 21 695-0093, e-mail: khanyisok@yahoo.com.
  • Luhambo Tours, Cape Town, Milnerton, ☎ +27 21 551-0467, e-mail: info@luhambotours.com. Specialized in township tours (Gugulethu and Khayelitsha) and wine tours
  • Sam's Cultural Tours, 45 Mshumpela Way, Langa, ☎ +27 21 694-6370, e-mail: ntimba@telkomsa.net.
  • Sipunzi's Black Cultural Township Tours, 1818 Makhaza Khayelitsha, ☎ +27 82 769-7072, e-mail: khayelitsha@tourismcapetown.co.za.
  • Daytrippers, cape town, ☎ +27 21 511-4766, e-mail: info@daytrippers.co.za.

Wildlife

There are a number of small nature reserves in and around Cape Town.

  • Koeberg Nuclear Power Station and Nature Reserve, ☎ +27 21 550-4667. The 3000-hectare buffer zone around the power station has been converted to a nature reserve with Bontebok, Genet, Steenbok and many other antelope.
  • Table Mountain National Park, ☎ +27 21 701-8692, e-mail: tablemountain@sanparks.org. Table Mountain National Park forms part of the Cape Floristic Region UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park covers a large area of the Cape and incorporates a number of park areas. Most of it is free to access; the only places you need to pay are at the Cape of Good Hope, Silvermine, and Boulders.

Wine tours

With South African wines becoming more and more popular worldwide, the number of tourists who visit Cape Town to learn more about the local wines is growing. The impressive variety of vineyards in Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands make the choice which one to visit and which wine to taste very difficult. It is always a good idea to rely on one of the established wine tour operators. Guests should insist on a specialized guide with a thorough knowledge of South African wines.

  • Taste the Cape Travel and Tours cc, Kirstenhof, Cape Town, ☎ +27 798 120 220, e-mail: info@tastethecape.co.za. A tour company specializing in wine and food tours with a registered tour guide.

Whale watching

Mostly you will see Southern right whales, but on occasion, you might also spot humpback and killer whales. Bottlenose and dusky dolphins also frequent False Bay. The Southern Right whales visit each year between June & November to mate and calve.

From viewpoints next to the coastal road between Fishhoek - Sunny Cove railway station through Glen Cairn to Simon's Town one can often spot whales less than 100m from shore. At Cape Point, whales can often be seen passing below.

A number of operators also offer Whale Watching Cruises.

  • Simon's Town Boat Company (from the town pier), ☎ +27 83 257-7760. The sole permit holder for boat-based whale watching in False Bay (Permit No. 0806336).
  • Waterfront Boat Company, Shop 5 Quay, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 418-5806, e-mail: glynis@waterfrontboats.co.za. 3 to 4-hour cruise in the bay and you are almost guaranteed to spot whales.
  • Dyer Island Cruises, Gansbaai, ☎ +27 28 384-0406, e-mail: info@adventureticket.co.za. 

What to eat and drink in Cape Town, South Africa


Eat

Food in Cape Town is generally of high quality. The wines are much celebrated, but the surrounding region is also a major fruit producer, and the Karoo lamb is widely regarded. Seafood caught locally is superlative, but ironically much of it goes internationally (e.g., tuna for sushi) because of the prices that can be achieved. Ask about the local linefish—yellowtail, cape salmon, kingklip, kabeljou, and others are great eating. Oysters in season are also exceptional, farmed and wild from Knysna or wild flown in from Namibia.
As one of the main tourist spots is the V&A Waterfront, you will find a broad range of restaurants, but they are often crowded and expensive. The area around Kloof St has many cafés and restaurants, as well as Long Street (frequented by a multi-ethnic clientèle), while the trendy area of De Waterkant between Bo Kaap and Green Point above Somerset Road also boasts good food and a great vibe. Dine with supermodels and other beautiful people in Camps Bay, which has many hip eateries and nightspots overlooking the beach along Victoria Road.
Farther afield, Hout Bay on the west side of the Cape Peninsula is very good for fresh crayfish (lobsters - they have become quite expensive, though). Kalk Bay on the east side of the peninsula offers a big variety of fresh fish, do check out The Brass Bell. The restaurants in nearby Simon's Town are also good.
Do not neglect the Cape Winelands for food if you have a car. In Stellenbosch, Spier has several restaurants, including the fun, afro-chic Moyo, and many wine estates offer food of different types and quality. The village of Franschhoek is the culinary navel of the wine region, with Le Quartier Francais a perennial five-star winner, but only one of many excellent restaurants. In the Constantia Valley, there is a number of great restaurants including Pastis Brasserie, Wasabi, The River Cafe, La Colombe, and the Constantia Uitsig Restaurant.
Make sure you know what the price is before you order rare delicacies in restaurants as there have been a few rare but high-profile cases of heinous overcharging where the price is not on the menu, particularly for perlemoen (abalone) and crayfish (similar to lobster).
Cape Town is a notably vegan and vegetarian-friendly city. Most restaurants in Cape Town have some vegetarian item on the menu, many of them also offering vegan options. Even those without vegan options on the menu are usually happy to serve something vegan if you ask the waiter.

Budget

  • Bakoven, Southern Life Building, 14 Riebeek St, +27 21 419-1937. Coffee shop and light meals.
  • Eastern Food Bazaar, 96 Longmarket Street, Cape Town, +27 21 461 2458. South Asian food court offering high-quality meals for a fair price. 100% Halaal.
  • Table Mountain Restaurant, On top of Table Mountain, close to the Upper Cable Station. 08:30 to 18:30, with extended hours during December and January. A 120 seat, self-service restaurant. No booking required. Quality is variable.
  • The Charles, 137 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant, +27 21 409 2500. 07:00 to 17:00. The Charles can accommodate 25–30 people seated.
  • The Kind Kitchen, 252 Albert Rd, 7925 Woodstock, +27 61 526 1358. Brunch Tu-Sa 10:00-15:00, Dinner Tu-F 17:00-20:00. Vegan deli in the Woodstock Brewery.

Mid-range

  • Africa Café, 108 Shortmarket Street, +27 21 422-0221, africafe@iafrica.com. Affordable and very good. Maybe the best restaurant in Cape Town for African cuisine. Lower to medium price range. Serves fixed menu, all you can eat of 12-15 different dishes.
  • Biesmiellah, Corner Upper Wale/Pentz Street, +27 21 423-0850. One of the oldest restaurants around, known for its Malay kitchen. No alcoholic drinks are available.
  • Col'Cacchio Pizzeria, 42 Hans Strijdom Avenue Foreshore (also at Eden on the Bay in Bloubergstrand) (Take N1 on M18, take right into River Rd and left into Hans), +27 21 419-4848. Italian dishes made to order. Mid-range.
  • 95 Keerom, 95 Keerom Street, +27 21 422 0765. A top-class Italian restaurant with modern décor and a trendy atmosphere.
  • Lolas, 228 Long St (Across from Long Street Café), +27 21 423 0885. Vegetarian food with local color and a great karma. Good conversation and even better meals. Mingle with dreadlocks, artsy types and brooding poets.
  • Long Street Café, 259 Long Street, +27 21 424 2464. Very popular, European kitchen, which serves up tasty drinks.
  • Mama Africa, 178 Long Street, +27 21 426-1017. Open Monday to Saturday. The restaurant is open 7 PM till late, the bar is open 4:30 PM till late. African style tourist restaurant offering local and African meals, like Bobotie and Potjiekos, but also springbok, kudu, and crocodile steak. Good range of wines at affordable prices. Live marimba music some nights.
  • Rhodes Memorial Restaurant, Rhodes Memorial, +27 21 689-9151, roy@rhodesmemorial.co.za. Situated in the Table Mountain National Park directly behind the famous Rhodes Memorial. The restaurant has stunning views over the northern and eastern Cape Town suburbs and the Hottentots Holland mountain range. The menu is diverse and caters to all tastes, but it's the desserts that really rate a mention, be sure to tuck into some scones!
  • The Ritz Hotel, cnr. Camberwell and Main Roads, Sea Point, +27 21 439-6010. Has a revolving restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. Good food, good views, soft background live piano. A bar and smoking room is available one floor below the restaurant. You do not have to be a resident at the hotel to get a booking at the restaurant. NB(The floor has a small nonrevolving ledge next to the wall. Do not put your valuables on it as your table will be halfway around the building before you realize that you have been separated from your belongings.)
  • Willoughby's, Victoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront, +27 21 418 6115. Has some of the best seafood including excellent sushi at very good prices.

Splurge

  • Tide, 69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, +27 21 437-9701, fax: +27 21 438-4433, res@thebayhotel.com. daily. Serving with Steamed Seasonal Vegetables, New Potatoes, and Lemon Butter. 
  • Stardust Theatrical Dining, 118 Sir Lowry Rd (Directions on Website), +27 21 686-6280, fax: +27 21 686-0674. Tu-Sa 16:00-late. While eating delicious Mediterranean cuisine, customers are entertained by their talented waitrons who perform throughout the evening between serving tables.
  • Greek Fisherman, 261, Breakwater Blvd (V & A Waterfront), +27 21 418-5411. Choose from authentic Mediterranean tapas and a wide range of seafood and meat from the open-flame grill.
  • City Grill Steakhouse, Shop 155, Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, +27 21 421-9820. Enjoy a delicious selection of traditional South African steaks, grills, and venison.
  • Meloncino, 259 Upper Level (Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre), +27 21 419-5558. Choose from a variety of homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and various other authentic dishes.
  • La Colombe, Spaanschemat Street, +27 21 794-2390, lacolombe@uitsig.co.za. daily 12:30-14:00, 19:00-20:45. La Colombe, one of Cape Town's most well-loved and awarded restaurants, achieved an impressive 12th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants of the World Awards 2010. Having moved up 26 places and into the hallowed Top 20, this bastion of contemporary French-meets-Asian fine dining thereby also clinched the Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Africa and Middle East Award. Winner of Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Prudential Eat Out Awards 2008, and again honored with the prestigious Restaurant of the Year title in 2009, La Colombe has also achieved the highest three-star rating in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 issue of the acclaimed Rossouw’s Restaurants guide. Book months in advance!
  • The Test Kitchen, The Old Biscuit Mill 375 Albert Road Woodstock, +27 21 447-2337, reservations@thetestkitchen.co.za. daily 12:30-14:00, 19:00-21:00. Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen, which opened in November 2010, has the celebrated chef cooking at his most creative in a distinctive contemporary space. At the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2013, The Test Kitchen made an impressive leap to No. 61 on the list, climbing up 13 places from no.74 in 2012. More significantly, The Test Kitchen was singled out as the winner of the “Cacao Barry One To Watch Award” 2013. Book months in advance!

Drink

Long Street, which can be easily reached from St. George's Cathedral and the Greenmarket Square, is famous for its bars, restaurants, and clubs. This is the ideal place if you want to end the day with a drink. It is also one of the few truly multi-ethnic, multi-racial nightspots in the city. See the new South Africa, not just other tourists.
You will have live entertainment (normally something like jazz or kwaito music) in many bars and sometimes you will have to pay to get in.
Observatory or better known as Obz is just north of Rondebosch (Southern Suburbs). There are several student residences of the UCT and Obz main street (Lower Main Road) has a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, bar, pool halls, and pubs. Almost daily there is something going on.
A popular destination with locals is Camps Bay, which offers a vibrant night-life and many bars, restaurants, and clubs.

  • 169 on Long, 169 Long Street, ☎ +27 21 426-1107. This place is a local legend, pumping out a range of jazzy retro beats between Wednesday and Saturday nights. There's also a nice restaurant attached that serves Mediterranean cuisines, so you can line your stomach before you hit the dance floor
  • Blushlounge, 43 Somerset Road, Greenpoint. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 5 PM to late. Blush Lounge is a bar lounge and nightclub that caters for the young professional. Quality service by well-trained bar staff and efficient and stylish door and security staff, patrons can relax into an evening of wellness brought on by a socially accessible environment.
  • Caveau Wine Bar & Deli, 92 Bree Street, Heritage Square, ☎ +27 21 422-1367, e-mail: info@caveau.co.za. Has over 300 wines by the glass and an award-winning wine list at that. In Heritage Square, the city center.
  • Club Georgia, 30 Georgia Street (offside the Buitensingel), ☎ +27 21 422-0261. 9:30 PM till late. Popular with over 25-year olds. Music from all over Africa is played, especially Kwassa-kwassa, Kwaito, Ndombolo, and Rai.
  • Mannenbergs Jazz Café, Shop 102, Clock Tower Centre, Clock Tower Precinct, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 421-5639, e-mail: manenberg@mynet.co.za. Popular jazz café specializing in distinctive Cape Jazz. Snacks and coffee during the day and live jazz every evening. Bookings/reservations essential. Many famous jazz musicians have already played here.
  • Marco's African Place, 15 Rose Street, Bo Kaap, ☎ +27 21 423-5412. Popular gay bar which serves up specialties such as Ulwimi (steamed ox tongue with mustard sauce) along with live African music.
  • Sandy B, 69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 437-9701, e-mail: res@thebayhotel.com. Open to the public at The Bay Hotel over summer, Sandy B is a unique cocktail venue, accentuated by its glorious views of Camps Bay beachfront.
  • The Green Dolphin, Shop 2A, Alfred Mall, Pierhead, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 421-7471, e-mail: green-dolphin@mweb.co.za. Locals tout it as the best jazz club in the city, with soothing beats playing every night.
  • The Nose Wine Bar, Cape Quarter, 72 Waterkant Street, Green Point, ☎ +27 21 425-2200, e-mail: info@thenose.co.za. Has many wines by the glass, but pricey.
  • Zanzi-Bar, 255 Long Street (above Long Street Café.), ☎ +27 21 4232-9003. 5 PM-2 AM. Good meeting place for other travelers visiting Cape Town. Live jazz on Sundays, DJ's on Friday & Saturday nights. Free entry most nights.
  • Mitchells Ale House (Mitchells Brewery), Cnr East Pier & Dock Road V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 419-5074, e-mail: toni@mitchellsbreweries.co.za. Great location, fun atmosphere, friendly staff, and famous craft beers, amazing views of the Cape Town harbor and Table Mountain, and karaoke.
  • Foresters Arms (Forries), 52 Newlands Ave, Newlands, ☎ +21 21 689-5949, e-mail: admin@forries.co.za. Nestled at the foot of our majestic mountains, in the leafy suburb of Newlands, Cape Town, Foresters Arms Restaurant and Pub (fondly referred to by the locals as Forries), is one of the oldest pubs in South Africa and provides a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. They have a good selection of draught beers.
  • The Royal Oak, Marine Circle, Table View, ☎ +27 21 557-0354. A friendly traditional British pub, frequented by British expatriates.
  • Bobs Bar, 187 Long street, ☎ 021-4243584. 7.30 AM-4 AM. 

Clubs

  • Fiction Bar, 226 Long Street, ☎ +27 21 424-5709. Renowned club with weekly indie-, drum'n'bass- and minimal-electro-nights.
  • Mercury Live & Lounge, 43 De Villiers Street (Zonnebloem). World-class live music, with students nights.

Shopping in Cape Town, South Africa


The V&A Waterfront is the prime tourist destination for souvenirs, though these tend to be typically touristy (i.e. expensive and not necessarily authentic). More authentic curios for better prices can be found every Sunday at the Green Point market outside the Green Point Stadium on Sundays, in walking distance from the V & A Waterfront. Many of these same curios can be purchased during the week in the several multi-story shops at the lower end of Long Street. For the real deal with authentic artifacts complete with provenance and ethnographic background, go to Church Street where there are a couple of shops but be prepared for sticker shock. When buying African Curio, the price at open markets are almost always very negotiable and seldom does the item have a price sticker attached. People with foreign accents are often quoted twice to three times the price they sell to locals, so do negotiate.

  • Green Market Square, 54 Shortmarket Street. Originally a Farmers' Market dating back to 1710, Green Market is today one of the city's best flea markets. There's a range of local arts, craft and curios on offer and the vendors expect to bargain for their wares.

Cinema

  • Labia Theatre, 65 Orange street Gardens, ☎ 021-4245927 An old school cinema which has been open for more than 65 years.

Wine

If you like South African wine, buy it here (or anywhere in South Africa) before you leave because it is much cheaper and there is more availability than overseas. Top guide to wines is the John Platter's Guide, with a few others around too, and with thousands of wines available from the region, you will need a guide (see below for shops that have knowledgeable staff). Read Wine magazine (or the iconoclastic Grape) for the latest information.

  • Caroline's Fine Wines, V&A Waterfront and 15 Long Street in the City Centre, ☎ +27 21 419-8984. Better selection and more knowledgeable staff. City Centre location recommended, but both are excellent. Foam inserts and boxes for international shipping or for checking with your luggage (safe!). Not cheap though, compared to supermarkets and wineries.
  • Vaughan Johnson's Wine Shop, Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, ☎ +27 21 419-2121, e-mail: vjohnson@mweb.co.za. Quality selection but not exhaustive. Knowledgeable staff. Generally substantial (10-20%) markup over winery prices but of course more convenient.
  • Wine Concepts, Cardiff Castle Building, cnr Main Street & Kildare Road, Newlands (Southern Suburbs), ☎ +27 21 671-9030, e-mail: sales@wineconcepts.co.za. Another great wine shop, certainly the best outside the City Bowl. A franchised location is on Kloof Street in the Lifestyle Centre.
  • Ultra. A large South African liquor chain. Several locations around the city, the one in Green Point is the most accessible to tourists. A warehouse bottle store but with a remarkable wine selection across all price ranges. Case discount (even on mixed cases). Good if you want to stock up for a road trip. Stash a bottle of Amarula Cream in your backpack while you're at it. Great prices - in fact, often cheaper than at the wine farms themselves.

Arts and Crafts

Distinctively Capetonian in character—are everywhere, from chickens made of plastic bags to bead and wirework to pottery, glass, and embroidery. If you don't buy a chicken from a Rastafarian at a street corner (the authentic experience), then try Heartworks (Kloof Street or in Gardens Centre mall) or the Red Shed at the V & A Waterfront. There is also a high-end craft boutique in the Cape Quarter in De Waterkant.
Contemporary South African art has been riding a big wave in the international art world. It is on par with the best in the world and undervalued (unless you buy a William Kentridge). If you like real art as opposed to curios, crafts or posters, and you have the budget for it, there are several serious galleries in town. Try Michael Stevenson Gallery first, then Joao Ferreira Gallery, AVA Gallery or Bell-Roberts Gallery, and there are several others worth seeing. Art South Africa is the art magazine to read if you want to know about the artists, and the adverts list the shows and the galleries.

Shopping malls

As in any large city, you will find a number of major shopping malls with the requisite department sized stores and chain labels:

  • Bayside Centre, cnr Blaauwberg Road and Otto Du Plessis Drive, Tableview, ☎ +27 21 557-4350, e-mail: info@baysidecentre.com. Shops are open 9 AM-7 PM Monday to Friday, 10 AM-5 PM on Saturday and 10 AM-2 PM on Sunday.
  • Blue Route Mall, cnr Tokai and Keyser River Roads, Tokai, ☎ +27 21 713-2360, e-mail: broute@iafrica.com.
  • Canal Walk, Century Boulevard, Century City, ☎ +27 21 555-3600, e-mail: visitorinfo@canalwalk.co.za. Open 10 AM-9 PM Monday to Friday, 9 AM-9 PM on Saturday and 10 AM-9 PM on Sunday.
  • Cavendish Square, Vineyard Road, Claremont, ☎ +27 21 657-5620, e-mail: information@cavendish.co.za. Open 9 AM-7 PM Monday to Saturday and 10 AM-5 PM on Sunday.
  • Constantia Village, cnr Constantia Main and Spaanschemacht River Roads, Constantia, ☎ +27 21 794-5065, e-mail: info@constantiavillage.com.
  • Kenilworth Centre, cnr Doncaster and Chichester Roads, Kenilworth, ☎ +27 21 671-5054.
  • Longbeach Mall, cnr Buller Louw Drive and Sunnydale Road, Noordhoek, ☎ +27 21 785-5955, e-mail: longbeach@marriott.co.za.
  • Maynard Mall, cnr Main and Wetton Roads, Wynberg, ☎ +27 21 797-1714.
  • Mainstream Centre, cnr Main Road and Princess Beach, Hout Bay. Shops are open 9 AM-5 PM Monday to Friday, 9 AM-5 PM on Saturday and 10 AM-2 PM on Sunday.
  • N1 City, Louwtjie Rothman Drive (off Monte Vista Boulevard), Goodwood, ☎ +27 21 595-1170.
  • Tyger Valley, cnr Bill Bezuidenhout and Willie van Schoor Avenues, Bellville, ☎ +27 21 914-1822. Open 9 AM-7 PM Monday to Saturday and 9 AM-5 PM on Sunday.
  • Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Breakwater Road, Cape Town, ☎ +27 21 408-7600. Open 10 AM-9 PM every day.
  • Golden Acre shopping Centre, 11 Adderley Street. 9 am-6 pm. Many low prices shops and places to eat right in downtown Cape Town. Has a Pep Clothing/Shoe Store

Supermarkets

  • Pick N Pay, 58 Strand street, ☎ 021-4181118. 8 am-8 pm.
  • Shoprite, 11 Adderley Street, ☎ 021-4647160. 8 am-6 pm.
  • Spar, 27 Somerset Road Green Point, ☎ 021-4180360. 8 am-8 pm.
  • Checkers, Kloof Steet Gardens, ☎ 021-4805680. 8 am-8 pm.

Safety in Cape Town, South Africa


While Cape Town is not a dangerous place for tourists, South Africans are significantly more safety-conscious than people in most other parts of the world. While you should take some care as a tourist in any city, you should be more careful in South Africa than in many other places.

Central Cape Town is generally safe to walk around by day, though you should not take valuables with you and should avoid dressing like a tourist. You may encounter beggars and con artists, but they will usually accept a "no". Avoid "dressing like a tourist", i.e. wearing an outfit involving cameras, jewelry, and golf hats. Leave valuables in the safe in your hotel room or with staff for safekeeping. (Do not leave anything valuable in your room outside of the safe, and do not leave anything in view of an open window. If you leave valuables out in your room you may find the hotel takes them into safekeeping and leaves you note - this is to avoid their hotel getting a reputation as a place where thieves will find an easy target.)

During the evening you should take a taxi or ride-hailing service to and from your destination, rather than walking. Have the driver meet you outside the bar or restaurant (take a taxi card with you if needed). If walking at all, make sure you stay on well-lit and crowded streets. Crime is especially high in Salt River, Observatory, Mowbray, and the Cape Flats.

If visiting a township, go with one or more people who live there or know it well. Official township tours are your safest bet; revealing a very interesting lifestyle to the more curious tourists.

Foreigners should avoid hitchhiking or using local commuter and metro trains. Be aware of the automated teller machine (ATM) con artists. Under no circumstances allow a stranger to assist you in your transactions. Should your card become stuck in the ATM, call the helpline number on display at the teller machine for assistance and to cancel your card.

If driving in a car, smash-and-grab theft is a risk. Keep your doors locked, ensure your windows are wound up when you slow down (including at traffic lights) and keep an eye out for people approaching you. Keep valuables out of sight and locked away. If you are driving to or from the airport, plan your route and do not stop at unknown spots. The airport is surrounded by some very dangerous areas that should be avoided.

Watch out for the minibus taxis. They often drive like hell disobeying many traffic rules and are entirely unregulated except by organized crime. Watch out for pickpocketing.

Glue sniffing children and junkies are a minor problem, called 'strollers' by the locals: these ragamuffins will strip you bare if you do not stay alert.

Respect the mountains - dress correctly as temperatures can fall very quickly. Go in a group of at least 4 people, as robberies sometimes occur and accidents can happen.

Important telephone numbers

From a fixed line

  • 107 - Emergency.
  • 10111 - Police. 
  • 10177 - Ambulance.
  • 082911 - Netcare911

Language spoken in Cape Town, South Africa


South Africa has 11 official languages, namely Afrikaans, Southern Ndebele, Xhosa, Zulu, Swazi, Northern Sotho (Sepedi), Southern Sotho (Sesotho), Tswana, Tsonga, Venda and English. Most people other than rural black Africans speak English as a second language. Only about 8% of the population speak English as a first language, almost exclusively in the white population which is ironically declining as a first language, while it is already a lingua franca among South Africans, and about 60% of the population can understand English. South African English is heavily influenced by Afrikaans. Afrikaans is also widely spoken, especially by the majority of the white and colored population. Often Afrikaans is incorrectly called 'afrikan' or 'african' by foreigners. Note this is very incorrect as 'African' for a South African corresponds with the native-African languages: Zulu, Xhosa, Pedi, etc. (and, of course, there are thousands of languages in Africa so no single language can be called 'African') Afrikaans has roots in 17th century Dutch dialects, so it can be understood by Dutch speakers and sometimes deciphered by German speakers. Other widely spoken languages are Zulu (mainly in KwaZulu-Natal - South Africa's largest single linguistic group) and Xhosa (mainly in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape), as well as Sotho and Venda. This changes, according to the region you are in.

A few words you may encounter are:
  • eish - as in, "eish, it's hot today", "eish, that's expensive" or "eish, that's too far to drive"
  • lekker - nice, enjoyable
  • howzit - how is it? (generally a rhetorical question)
  • yebo - yes
  • boet, bru, china or ou - brother or man (equivalent to dude or bro)
  • koppie - a small hill (can also mean a cup)
  • Madiba - Nelson Mandela
  • Molo - Hello (in Xhosa)
  • robot - traffic light
  • tannie - (auntie) respectful term for an older woman
  • oom - (uncle) respectful term for an older man
  • tinkle - phone call
  • just now - sometime soon (from Afrikaans "net-nou")
  • now now - sooner than just now! (from Afrikaans "nou-nou", pronounced no-no)
  • braai - barbecue.
  • cheers - we use this for saying good-bye, as well as saying thank you and for the occasional toast.
  • heita - hello
  • sharp - (usually pronounced quickly) OK or good
  • sure-sure more pronounced like sho-sho - Correct, Agreement, Thank you
  • ayoba - something cool
  • zebra crossing - a crosswalk. named for the white & black stripes that are generally painted on crosswalks.

Spelling

In general, English spelling follows English rules rather than American; litre rather than liter, centre rather than center, etc.

LOCAL TIME

2:57 am
November 17, 2019
Africa/Johannesburg

CURRENT WEATHER

16.54 °C / 61.772 °F
broken clouds
Mon

16.76 °C/62 °F
few clouds
Tue

17.77 °C/64 °F
sky is clear
Wed

17.98 °C/64 °F
sky is clear
Thu

18.55 °C/65 °F
sky is clear

LOCAL CURRENCY

ZAR

1 USD = 0 ZAR
1 EUR = 0 ZAR
1 GBP = 0 ZAR
1 AUD = 0 ZAR
1 CAD = 0 ZAR

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