The Trendiest Neighbourhoods in Cape Town, South Africa

Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, South Africa, is famous for its colourful houses
Bo-Kaap in Cape Town, South Africa, is famous for its colourful houses | © Alan Novelli / Alamy Stock Photo
Lee-Shay Collison

Over the past few decades, Cape Town has evolved into a cultural hub shaped by entrepreneurs, designers, artists and restaurateurs. While Central Cape Town is the pulse of the city, there are also a number of diverse areas to explore a short drive away. We take a tour of the best neighbourhoods in Cape Town.

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Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is one of the most visited attractions in Cape Town – and with good reason. For starters, the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre is one of the only places in South Africa where the likes of Gucci and H&M can be found alongside African design and souvenir stores, while the neighbouring Watershed and V&A Food Market are bustling hubs of street food, local design, crafts and fashion. And, if that’s not enough, a wide array of exhibitions, live shows and workshops are a regular feature on the events calendar. Make sure you stop at Zeitz MOCAA, which houses the largest collection of contemporary African art on the continent. Moreover, the Waterfront is home to top-class hotels, restaurants, an aquarium, upmarket apartments and other cultural attractions.

Situated on the slopes of Signal Hill, the historical Bo-Kaap, or former Malay Quarter, is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. Renowned for its rows of flat-roofed houses in bright colours, the area is the birthplace of Cape Town’s Muslim community. There are several attractions in the area, including a museum, centuries-old mosques and restaurants specialising in Cape Malay cuisine. On the bay-facing side of Signal Hill, De Waterkant (the Water Side) was largely renovated over the years but still retains the unique architectural style used during the 18th century. The area now boasts a variety of guest houses, restaurants and a shopping mall.

Sea Point

Located on the other side of Signal Hill, Sea Point overlooks Three Anchor Bay and has a seaside promenade. The 11-kilometre (7mi) stretch attracts families and fitness enthusiasts alike, and there are play parks, public swimming pools and a bicycle-renting facility. Running parallel to the promenade is a slew of high-rise apartment blocks and trendy restaurants, where languid lunches are the order of the day.

Camps Bay

Camps Bay is the most famous suburb of Cape Town, renowned for its palm-tree-lined beach and million-dollar mansions overlooking the Atlantic. The popular Beach Road boasts an eclectic mix of restaurants, shops, hotels and beach-side bars that turn into clubs at night. Nestled between Glen Beach and Clifton, Maiden’s Cove affords magnificent vistas of the ocean and the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range. Here, you can indulge in a braai and, on a hot summer’s day, take a dip in the tidal pool.

Gardens

The inner-city suburb of Gardens is always buzzing with activity, no matter the time of day. Its key attraction is undoubtedly Kloof Street, with a plethora of restaurants, pubs, shops and art galleries, such as Salon 91. On Orange Street, you will find the Labia Theatre, the oldest repertory movie cinema in South Africa, as well as the luxury Mount Nelson Hotel, which serves a delectable afternoon high-tea.

Hout Bay

Hout Bay’s unique location, heritage and natural beauty all add to its endearing charm as a popular seaside town. The working harbour is the central component of the area. Here, you will find the Mariner’s Wharf – a seaside emporium with seafood restaurants and maritime curio shops. On weekends, the Bay Harbour Market is a vibrant meeting place for family and friends, where delicious street food, local goods and live music can be found under one roof. Besides visiting all the cultural attractions in the area, be sure to take a drive (or cycle) along Chapman’s Peak for the most spectacular views of the bay.

Woodstock

One of the hippest neighbourhoods in Cape Town, Woodstock has become a creative hub of workshops, art galleries, co-working spaces, restaurants and breweries. Most of the activity in the area is centred around Albert Road, where places like the Woodstock Exchange and Old Biscuit Mill mall are located. On Saturdays, it plays host to the ever-popular Neighbourhoods Market, where you can find artisanal foods, craft beer and local design. Woodstock also has some of the best displays of street art in the country.

Observatory

Named after an observatory in the area, Obs is renowned for its distinctly bohemian vibe and fervent art community. The key attraction is Lower Main Road, which is a prime nightlife spot lined with laid-back restaurants, thrift shops and quirky bars. The local South African Astronomical Observatory hosts bi-monthly open nights, where you can attend intriguing talks on astronomy and tour the premises. The Observatory is also home to the Heart of Cape Town Museum at Groote Schuur Hospital, where Christiaan Barnard performed the world’s first heart transplant.

Muizenberg

Muizenberg is a relaxed seaside suburb located along the False Bay coast. It boasts one of the most famous beaches in Cape Town, known as Surfers Corner. The long, sandy beach is a popular spot for swimmers and surfers because of the gentle tides and warmer waters. Surfers Corner is instantly recognisable by its brightly coloured change rooms lined up on the beach, and there are a few cafes and surf shops adjacent to the beachfront. Aside from surfing lessons, other water sports – such as paddleboarding, scuba diving, kite-surfing and sailing – are also offered at the beach or the Greater Zandvlei Estuary Reserve close by.

Kalk Bay

The little village of Kalk Bay is situated just 7 kilometres (4mi) from Muizenberg on the False Bay coastline. The town’s main road runs parallel to the ocean and contains numerous restaurants and cafes, including Olympia Bakery, thrift shops, art stores and retailers selling quirky bohemian clothing. The working harbour is a bustling spot, characterised by colourful fishing trawlers bobbing on the water, fishmongers selling their latest catch, and the popular seafood eatery, Kalky’s. You’ll most likely see a couple of seals playing in the harbour water or relaxing on the pier, much to the delight of passersby. Kalk Bay can get very busy on weekends, especially during the summer, so it’s best to go early or make a reservation if you’re planning on dining at one of the establishments.

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