An immaculate urban city set in the backdrop of open sea and the sprawling Table Mountain range, Cape Town is a wondrous city. And the astonishing geographic setting is just the tip of the iceberg; look a little and you'll be surprised by the sheer number of prospects. Whether you're looking for a lazy beachside holiday, a high-on-adrenaline mountain expedition, a party weekend or even a few off days in a quaint South African village setting, the country's capital city has got you covered.
Cape Town has a compact downtown centre, which offers easy connectivity to most of the city's suburbs. There's plenty of options to choose from in terms of basing yourself in during your stay, and arriving at the right decision can start to feel like a lot of work. But we are here to help. Here, we have listed some of the best neighbourhoods of Cape Town and what they might have in store for you traveller!
If you're heading to Cape Town looking to make the best of its cosmopolitan side, then City Centre is the place for you. Be it the bustling shopping avenues, top gourmet restaurants and vibrant nightlife options, the compact City Centre is the hub of all activities. Some of the major streets here are extremely walkable; make sure you try out the Kloof and Long streets eateries, serving eclectic cuisine featuring some local highlights!
The City Centre is also home to some of the most iconic landmarks of Cape Town. The South African Parliament Building, the National Library and the St. George's Cathedral are all centred around the 16th century Company's Garden, a 17th century heritage park. The Castle of Good Hope, a colonial complex housing a military and arts museum only accentuates the sightseeing appeal. To cut it short, you will probably never run out of interesting places to visit in the vicinity.
The City Centre has a few great luxury hotels options, but finding decent budget hotels should not be too difficult either. Centrally located, the neighborhood gives easy access to major landmarks including the sprawling Table Mountain National Park, which is only a 15 minute ride away.
Perched at the foothills of the Signal mount, just outside of City Centre is the village suburb of Bo-Kaap. Historically, this part of Cape Town has been the hub of Malaysian, Indian and South Asian cultures, with a large immigration population having inhabited it's colourful quarters. A walking tour of the narrow cobblestone streets and stone staircases meandering up the hill is the best way to explore their quaint neighborhood.
You will come across several obscure cafes and restaurants, with a definitive flair for vibrant decor and South-Asian cuisine. The Malay delicacies and the roti and curries at one of the home-grown eateries will make you want to keep coming back for more. The Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum and the 18th century Auwal Mosque are must-visit spots for history buffs, while such mixed-use spaces and craft stores as Marco’s African Place and Monkeybiz should be on the top of your to-do lists as well!
The neighborhood is only about 10 minutes from City Centre; it has direct access by road and should be fairly easy to reach by a taxi or bus service. While in Bo-Kaap, try to look for a nice homestay or rental apartment at one of the lovely townhouses.
De Waterkant, a compact neighborhood adjacent to Bo-Kaap is one of the most vibrant parts of Cape Town. It is largely centred around the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village, an upscale shopping centre with several top merchandise brands, gourmet restaurants and top-notch bistros. The surrounding streets are lined with shady trees, stone arcades, bright housing and independent art galleries—lending the neighborhood a chic urban village vibe.
De Waterkant has the liveliest nightlife in all of Cape Town as most bars and pubs stay open till late. The neighborhood also has a number of straight and gay-friendly nightclubs; these loud retro music playing establishments, added with a variety of drinking holes, karaoke bars and late-night partying infuse a sense of dynamism into the streets of De Waterkant that remains unmatched in Cape Town.
The neighborhood is at a stone's throw from City Centre as well as the waterfront districts, making it an ideal place to stay for people looking to stay in the mix of things. De Waterkant offers many great lodging options ranging from decent hotels to rental apartments.
Onto the city's most famed beach locations then! Camps Bay, a small waterfront district situated a little south of the city centre is a dream getaway vacation in the waiting. The neighborhood is anchored by the serene Camps Bay beach, a vast sandy sitting in the foreground of the sprawling Table Mountain range. Travellers from all across the globe throng the beach—cut-off from the urban landscape—to enjoy lazy days on the white sand in the midst of a lush setting.
The beachfront here is lined with an endless number of restaurants, seafood shacks and open-air bars. You can enjoy a divine meal or evening drinks with your friends right there, with sweeping views of the open sea and the vast mountains still in the offing. Further inland, you will come across a few nice beachwear shopping options as well as the Theatre on The Bay, a performing arts venue hosting musicals and comics during the evenings.
The scenic Camps Bay Drive connects the smaller hamlet to the city centre; the neighborhood is a short 20 minute drive from there. Hotels and resorts are in plenty, but you would want to spend some extra time looking for a nice sea-facing room to make the best of your stay in this beautiful neighborhood.
Another beach-heavy neighborhood that is frequented by travellers is the renowned and upscale suburb of Clifton. The pristine white sandy strip here has been divided into four beaches—named chronologically from 1-4, with each having its own unique vibe and appeal. The 1st beach is popular with watersports enthusiasts including surfers who come looking for the strong waves; it is also one the more scenic coves and great for a quite romantic evening.
The 2nd beach is the go-to choice for families, who look to make the best use of the soft white sand while hosting picnics and steak lunches. This beach also has a few great eateries (with nice patio seating) and a variety of food vendors, serving great seafood as well as local snacks. And if you're a party animal, the 3rd and the 4th beaches are the place for you; the latter, with its beach volleyball courts and nightclubs, remains especially busy.
Clifton is fairly close to Camps Bay, the last neighborhood in the list and is fairly easy to access through the same route. It is home to some of the best boutique hotels and bed and breakfast rentals in all of Cape Town; the ones sitting at the foothills of Lion's Head mountain are especially exquisite.
Sea Point, one of the biggest suburbs of Cape Town is a top choice for travellers looking for an outdoorsy vacation. The extensive coastline and mountainous backdrop offers cycling tracks and a few exciting hikes, to keep the adrenaline pumping. You can relax around the neighborhood's sandy beaches and spend your afternoons at one of the many sea-facing pools. Head over to one of the lesser crowded rocky beaches later in the day, for lovely sunset viewing.
That's not to say that Sea Point lacks modern entertainment options though. The affluent suburb's business centre, the Sea Point Promenade is lined with burger joints, pizzerias and trendy beach bars that are great for socialising. Residents and travellers throng the nearby Mojo Market, a popular indoor market; the venue has several African craft stores and designer boutiques, a handful of nightclubs and many food stalls offering local delights.
The neighborhood is situated just south of the Green Point and is a short car ride away from there. Renting a bike is the best option for short commutes; that way, you can also head out for morning rides along the seafront. Hotels and resorts are in plenty in this part of the city.
And for the last two neighbourhoods on the list, we bring you back to the central quarters. Tucked away into the northwestern corner of Cape Town, Green Point is the city's major leisure district. To kick things off, take a tour of the mammoth Cape Town stadium and its nearby grounds; the lush surroundings and the fresh breeze here are just the perfect way to start off your day. From there, you can head over to the harbour—where local service providers offer exciting boat tours.
The other major draw of Green Point is the eponymous urban park; at the centre of it is biodiversity park and a teahouse with panoramic views of the surrounding hills. You can later grab an ice cream or take-out coffee from one of the nearby creameries and walk up to the Green Point Lighthouse, a splendid spot to enjoy the sunset from. Or even better so, arrive a little early and save yourself a nice seat at one of the many waterfront cafes.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
The harbour district of Cape Town, also known as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is the last neighborhood on the list. V&A borrows name from its central mixed-use space venue. Several top retail stores, gourmet bakeries and patisseries dominate the indoor space; there are also plenty of waterfront restaurants with great rooftop seating dotting the rest of the harbour. And like any great waterfront district, V&A also has a 40 feet-high ferris wheel offering unparalleled views of the city.
The city's busy harbour has itself been a major attraction for as long as one can recall; if you are looking to hail a boat to the historic Robben Island or thinking of going on a cruise over the Atlantic, this is where you get to explore all your options. The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (both located in the immaculate Clock Tower Precinct) showcase the region's political history and modern art exhibits by African artists respectively.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a short ride away from downtown neighborhoods. It is also directly connected with the city's waterfront suburb by two major highways: the Beach and Main roads. Hotels in the vicinity include some of the top names in the hospitality business, making it a great choice for a luxury stay.
That's our complete list of neighbourhoods from Cape Town then. Take your pick and get packing for your next trip; the South African capital awaits traveller!