The Essential Guide to Cape Town
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
Cape Town, spectacularly placed between Table Mountain and the churning sea of the cape, is simultaneously an international city and a place where time moves at a leisurely pace. The seat of the country's National Parliament, it's large and culturally diverse, and a hub for modern design as well as a destination for those looking to taste wines and world-class cuisine at the nearby vineyards. At every turn, locals offer a warm welcome and an eagerness to share their home with visitors.
71 Wale St, Schotsche Kloof, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
The Bo-Kaap was one of the few Cape Town neighborhoods to escape apartheid's bulldozers—the cluster of bright buildings, once known as the Malay Quarter, housed many of the slaves who worked for the 17th-century Dutch colonialists. In this...
Cape Point, Cape Peninsula, Cape Town, South Africa
While Cape Point is not, in fact, the southernmost tip of Africa—as is often claimed—it is generally accepted that the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet somewhere between here and the real tip, Cape Agulhas. Still, Cape Point is about as dramatic as...
Darling St & Buitenkant St, Foreshore, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Fearing a British takeover of its ill-gotten trading post, the Dutch East India Company built this star-shaped castle (known as Kasteel de Goede Hoop) between 1666 and 1679 to defend its territory. Now the oldest building in South Africa, the...
25A Buitenkant St, Zonnebloem, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
District Six was originally a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers, and immigrants. Marginalization and forced removal of the residents began early in the last century and, in 1966, the neighborhood was declared a white...
Kalk Bay, Cape Town, 7990, South Africa
One of Cape Town’s most picturesque corners, this small fishing harbor sees boats sail in daily with their catches (often trailed by hungry seals waiting for tidbits). Recently, however, the area has also become known for its antique...
Rhodes Dr, Newlands, Cape Town, 7735, South Africa
Founded in 1913, this famous botanical garden was the first in the world dedicated to its country’s own flora. The spectacular, 90-acre plant haven forms part of a nature reserve that borders Table Mountain National Park. Besides numerous...
Lion's Head, Signal Hill, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
The hike up Lion’s Head affords incredible views. Since the trail winds around the mountain, you’ll have the unique opportunity to see every side of Cape Town from above. When you start, the ever-stunning Table Mountain will be just to...
Robben Island, Cape Town, 7400, South Africa
One of South Africa’s most famous sights, Robben Island is located four miles to the west of Cape Town. Its history as a prison is almost as old as the first Dutch settlement on the cape, dating all the way back to the 17th century. Today,...
Tafelberg Rd, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
Cape Town’s Table Mountain National Park, which hugs the perimeter of the city, is so popular that the line for the cable car to the top can be longer than a queue for a Disneyland ride. But why stand in line when you can put your feet to...
67 Fourth Beach Promenade, Clifton, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
Cape Town is blessed with numerous beaches at its doorstep. The most famous ones are in the suburbs of Camps Bay and Clifton, both on the Atlantic side of the city. Camps Bay feels like a compact Copacabana in summer (the water is pretty cold,...
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Probably the most visited attraction in the city, the V&A combines many elements of the greatest commercial waterfront projects around the world. There are plenty of draws for tourists (the Cape Wheel, helicopter rides, boat trips to Robben...
15 Brickfield Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7925, South Africa
A colorful working-class neighborhood near downtown that had fallen on hard times, Woodstock has been revitalized with a mix of galleries, artists’ studios, boutiques, and restaurants. Much of the area’s original vibe remains, however,...
93 Brommersvlei Rd, Constantia Heights, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa
Surrounded by the manicured gardens of the Cellars-Hohenort Hotel, on the back slopes of Table Mountain, the award-winning Greenhouse packs tons of flavor onto each plate, no matter how small the dish. A good way to sample the deceivingly simply...
71 Waterkant St, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Hemelhuijs is a stylish and intimate oasis in downtown Cape Town, perfect for a leisurely breakfast or lunch. The menus here are seasonal, featuring modern South African dishes made with fresh ingredients. Diners can look forward to...
Noordhoek Farm Village, Village Ln, Goedehoop Estate, Cape Town, 7979, South Africa
Chef Franck Dangereux (formerly of La Colombe, a celebrated Cape Town institution) runs the Foodbarn Restaurant out of a lovely old barn in the village of Noordhoek. Here, you’ll get all the flavors of a fancy restaurant, without the fuss. You may...
111 Sir Lowry Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa
On a visit to Cape Town in 2011, Michelle Obama made quite an impression at The Kitchen, a local eatery in Woodstock. It’s easy to see why she—or her staffers—chose this homey spot, stylishly cluttered with an array of retro...
88 Shortmarket St, Cape Town City Centre, Cape Town, 8000, South Africa
Located just off Bree Street in a heritage building, chef Luke Dale-Roberts’s latest venture is all about the “wow factor.” The menu upends traditional bistro fare, transforming dishes into culinary works of art. Locals...
7 Weltevreden St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Located in the 160-year-old Leinster Hall, The Stack has to be seen to be believed. Its recently refurbished interiors are both outrageous and sublime, with emerald and sapphire walls, a leopard-print couch, and a rainbow of velvet chairs....
The Old Biscuit Mill, 375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915, South Africa
As soon as you've booked your flight to Cape Town, you'll also want to book your lunch or dinner reservation at the Test Kitchen. The restaurant was named to the “World’s 50 Best” list in both 2015 and 2016, making it one of...
Shop 6132, 19 Dock Rd, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
While South Africa isn’t known for its sushi, you can easily satisfy your craving in Cape Town at Willoughby & Co. The menu at this waterfront restaurant is encyclopedic—there’s everything from Boston clam chowder and...
76 Orange St, Gardens, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
The Belmond Mount Nelson is a window back to South Africa’s colonial era, but only its finer aspects. A statue of Mahatma Gandhi presides over the entrance; the service is oh-so-proper; and guests enjoy a lavish, quintessentially English...
W Quay Rd, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8002, South Africa
There’s a reason Cape Grace always tops the list of Cape Town’s best hotels. Everyone loves a classic, particularly the kind where the service might lull you into thinking you’re the only one at the hotel. That’s no small...
232 Kloof Rd, Clifton, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
This exclusive hotel perched high above popular Clifton Beach sits on some of the country’s best real estate, nestled between mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Part of Rare Earth’s Beach Portfolio of properties, it’s an airy...
180 Kloof Rd, Bantry Bay, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa
Surrounded by bold artwork inside and magnificent ocean views outside, guests are never quite sure where to direct their gaze when they arrive at Ellerman House. A stay here is a bit like visiting an elegant and attentive friend, starting with the...
Dock Road, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8001, South Africa
Hands down, this is Cape Town’s most glamorous hotel. The Adam Tihany–designed interiors were unveiled just in time for the 2010 World Cup, and the celebrities haven’t stopped coming since. The rooms are spacious and mellow,...
-34.088639, 18.359575, Noordhoek, Cape Town, 7979, South Africa
Cape Town already feels like it’s at the tip of the world, but the sensation is magnified at Tintswalo Atlantic, where guests get cozy in suites just a few feet from the ocean. Park in the lot just off famed Chapman’s Peak Drive and...
Silo Square, V & A Waterfront, Cape Town, 8801, South Africa
The new crown jewel of the Cape Town hotel scene, The Silo is housed in an old grain elevator, perched above 42 cement silos on the V&A Waterfront. The silos, which extend outward below the hotel, are home to the world-class Zeitz Museum of...
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