The heart of the Mother City beats strong from the vibrant Cape Town city bowl – in fact you can often hear the literal rhythm of the African Djembe drums being played as you trawl through the craft stands at historic Greenmarket Square in the CBD. One of Cape Town’s logos is One City, Many Cultures, and as you encounter the different faces of the city you can see why – this Mother’s children come from a cross-section of backgrounds. Discover cobbled streets, busy shopping precincts, a variety of restaurants and all the sites, smells and sounds of the city, from Green Point to Gardens, Oranjezicht to Woodstock, Bo-Kaap to Fresnaye. And when you want a change of scenery, head for the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront for unlimited shopping, dining, browsing, sight seeing and entertainment possibilities.
Use our Cape Town CBD Map to plan your exploration of this vibrant eclectic city at the foot of Africa.
Formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap is immediately recognisable thanks to its steep cobbled streets and colourfully painted houses, set on Signal Hill with Lion’s Head a scenic backdrop. The Bo-Kaap is the historical centre of the Cape Malay Culture in Cape Town. Look out for the Bo-Kaap museum, dating back to the 1760s and the oldest original house in the area. Here you can learn about the early Muslim settlers that brought their skills as tailors, carpenters, shoe makers and builders with them.
Cape Town Castle
The oldest surviving building in South Africa, the Cape Town Castle was built in the latter half of the 1600s. It is pentagonal in shape and replaced the earlier fort built by Jan van Riebeeck in 1652. Take a tour which explores the eerie dungeons below the Castle.
Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC)
A state of the art Convention Centre in the heart of Cape Town CBD, the Cape Town International Convention Centre is perfectly situated to provide easy access to the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town International Airport and trendy De Waterkant and Long Street.
Vibey Café e Vida on Kloof Street makes classic foamy cappuccinos and yummy muffins, it’s a trendy and central spot to meet a friend. Long Street is a legend, Cape Town’s own bohemian quarter, packed with shops, bookstores cafés and clubs and famous for its night life. Visit the historic Long Street Baths for an original Turkish steam bath.
Stroll through these lush green gardens with views onto Table Mountain, feed nuts to the cheeky squirrels, watch artists at work and wind up at the SA National Art Gallery or the South Africa Museum and Planetarium.
Fast becoming known as Cape Town’s Décor District, with shops selling everything from antiques to traditional, shabby chic, ethnic and Bauhaus. Trendy alfresco cafés and bistros. Bordering Green Point’s Somerset Road, it is the city’s welcoming gay nightlife district.
Capetonians know that Greenmarket Square is the place to buy clothing, beadwork, traditional African crafts and curios from all over the continent. Bartering is encouraged and you can pick up some excellent bargains especially compared to the glossy tourist trap shops elsewhere. Plus, shopping at Greenmarket Square with its cobbles underfoot and pavement cafés around the edges is an experience every visitor to Cape Town should have. The square dates back to 1696 when the first burgher watch house was built, later to be replaced by the old town house / City Hall in 1761.
Excellent coffee and deli delights at Giovanni’s - for a great local vibe and good food. Treat yourself to the fabulous bakes, cakes and light lunches at Miss K in Somerset Road, and nearby Manos restaurant is a must. The Sunday open-air market on Green Point Common sells everything!
Houses of Parliament
Cape Town is the legislative capital of SA and the imposing Houses of Parliament, opposite the Cape Town City Library, is where today’s Parliament meet twice a year (in January and June, usually with much pomp, ceremony and road closures) – the rest of the year it meets in Pretoria. You can take a tour of the buildings where parliamentary sittings were first held in 1814.
This collection of African museums includes the South African Museum & Planetarium, the SA National Art Gallery and a selection of Social History sites including the Bo-Kaap Museum, Groot Constantia, the Castel of Good Hope and the Slave Lodge. Iziko Museums of Cape Town offer locals and visitors many ways to experience the life, history and culture of this city.
This historical square of elegant 18 Centaury houses was almost lost when plans were proposed for a massive ring road system for the city of Cape Town. Even though many of the buildings were at the time in a state of ill-repair, those who cared enough were able to stop the proposed plans under the Cape Town Heritage Trust and today Heritage Square is a beautifully preserved combination of historical houses, excellent restaurants and luxury Cape Town accommodation.
People have congregated at the Grand Parade in the heart of the Cape Town city for the past 300 + years. It has been a place to buy and sell goods, celebrate, protest, pray and meet. It is even the site of a royal wedding (Prince Albert’s, back in 1963 – roast ox was on the menu, braaied by the then British Governor).
Site of Nelson Mandela and other struggle heroes’ incarceration, Robben Island is well worth the visit by ferry from the V&A Waterfront. Tours are conducted daily by ex-prisoners who tell from first hand experience what life was like on the Island when it was used for political prisoners.
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront
Join the relaxed crowds at Cape Town’s working harbour which boasts a plethora of shopping, dining and entertainment venues. Take a ferry to Robben Island.
Portfolio offers a selection of fine Cape Town CBD accommodation options including B&Bs, guest houses and boutique hotels, offering easy access to the Cape Town International Convention Centre, the V&A Waterfront, the Cape Town International Airport and the beaches of the Atlantic Seaboard. Contact us for all your Cape Town city bowl accommodation needs.