One of the oldest settlements of South Africa, the country’s capital Cape Town was founded as a waystation in 1652 by the Dutch East India Company. Through the centuries from that point the town has grown up into a bustling and cosmopolitan city – the 10th most populous on the African continent, it is also one of the world’s most multicultural cities.
Map of Cape Town
1. City Bowl · 2. Bo-Kaap · 3. De Waterkant · 4. Green Point · 5. Mouille Point · 6. Sea Point · 7. V&A Waterfront · 8. Camps Bay · 9. Bantry Bay · 10. Clifton
Take a stroll through the old streets, past its jigsaw of traditional buildings painted in pops of pink and yellow, admire the Cape Dutch architecture mixed with Victorian styles, nestled between the skyscrapers that make up this modern city; located on the West Coast of South Africa, visitors can also enjoy what the sea has to offer – and with the imposing table mountain towering as an icon of the city at 1,084 meters (330 feet) above sea-level, you can see why visitors flock to this metropolis year on year.
But as a city as defined by its different districts as many others around the world, where should you choose to stay in Cape Town that will most suit you? That’s where this list comes in handy.
The natural amphitheater that creates the City Bowl area is made up of a magnificent sculpted dome that is nestled in the middle of Table Mountain and Table Bay edged by the waterfront. Staying in City Bowl is the perfect choice if you want a mix of everything Cape Town has to offer: it has a range of accommodation options right at the foot of Table Mountain and easy to use public transport connections – you can even rent a bicycle and see the sights on two wheels!
The area is where the Central Business District is located and is packed full of dynamic culture with lively bars, some of the best restaurants in the city and late night clubs. The City Bowl district is also home to various interesting sites – explore streets with lines of pretty colonial buildings, art galleries and the oldest building in South Africa: the Castle of Good Hope.
Colorful Bo-Kaap is bursting with culture. Packed full of cafes, bars and restaurants, the multicultural district is also known as the Malay Quarter, after the large Malay population which has settled there. The quarter is a network of charming streets, each revealing a mix of architecture and culture that makes the area unique. Take a walk around the area’s cobbled streets and discover interesting attractions such as the Bo-Kaap Museum and delve into delicious curries that are served up in simple Malay eateries.
Stay in one of the mid-range, old colonial buildings that have been converted into hotels or a more modern hotel that has a roof terrace with views of the city. Traveling around the rest of the city is straightforward by the bus network that connects to all of the city’s top tourist destinations.
Trendy, upmarket De Waterkant is a fashionable area, crammed full of bars and restaurants that are all centred around the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village. The area’s cobbled streets are lined with trees and cafes serving single origin coffee and boutiques selling the latest fashion. De Waterkant has a bohemian atmosphere and is known for being a gay-friendly neighborhood. It’s easy to walk from here to the iconic V&A Waterfront and also the dynamic center of the city.
Stay in one of the quaint mid-range cottages with modernized interiors and flowers under the window sills, beautiful balconies and roof top terraces. Take the bus to other parts of the city or you can rent a bicycle and cycle though the old streets in the sunshine.
The trendy suburb of Green Point is where you will find the Cape Town Stadium which was built for the World Cup in 2010. The area’s central location, just outside the city center, means that it is close to Cape Town’s big attractions, such as Sea Point and the beaches in Clifton. Green Point is made up of narrow lanes and old Victorian villas which create a welcoming, safe atmosphere. Nightlife is a big draw to the district with its liberal, gay-friendly social scene which welcomes everyone into the area’s bars and clubs.
Accommodation in Green Point is made up of low-priced guest houses and mid-range villas, with a selection of luxury hotels also available. The area has seen a lot of improvements in recent years and has become a trendy quarter to hangout for locals and visitors alike. It’s easy to walk to the city centre from Green Point and, of course, to the stadium which often hosts local markets selling African goods.
Cradling the Atlantic Ocean, Mouille Point boasts stunning views of both Robben Island and Table Mountain. Stay in a beachside hotel or a villa with sea views in Mouille Point and enjoy laid back life just outside of the city centre. Find yourself among the city’s joggers, dog walkers and young families as they stroll along the seaside promenade that begins in Mouille Point and extends around the bay to Sea Point. The area is well known for its standout lighthouse which, with its red and white stripes, is an iconic landmark.
It’s easy to travel on foot into the center of the city or to discover the area’s plentiful restaurants and local cafes. If you fancy travelling further afield then you can hop on the affordable bus service.
Sociable Sea Point is an area full of energy, nestled between Mouille Point and Bantry Bay. Take a walk along its beachside promenade and watch the active locals skate, run and cycle in the sunshine – you can even try out the watersports on offer along the beach. The perfect area for foodies, Sea Point is where you will find various types of cuisine along the beachfront, especially freshly caught grilled fish served alongside a glass of South African wine.
As a cosmopolitan suburb, Sea Point is home to a multitude of people and religions and has some of the most expensive homes in the city. Along the beachfront are upper-end, luxury hotels and apartments which offer a great location and easy transport links into the city center.
Named after Queen Victoria and her son Alfred, the V&A Waterfront is right in middle of Cape Town’s harbor, set against the magnificent backdrop that is Table Mountain. The V&A Waterfront is a big attraction for locals and tourists alike, drawn there for the world famous view and the social buzz of the cafes and restaurants. The area is full of fun, family friendly attractions such as an aquarium, a maritime museum and cinemas.
Hotels along the waterfront are luxury and in a prime location, each offering up stunning views of the city and bay. From this coastal district, it’s an easy and safe walk to the centre of the city and other surrounding districts, where you can discover for yourself what Cape Town has to offer.
Set on a swathe of a white sandy beach and with a wide choice of hotels, guest houses and B&Bs, Camps Bay is an attractive location to stay during a visit to the South African capital. Camps Bay is a fantastic spot for a refreshing ocean swim – or for a more relaxing dip try swimming at the seawater pool at the end of the beach.
The area has a friendly, fun-loving young atmosphere and is home to welcoming locals who like the laid back lifestyle of the coastal district. If you choose to stay in Camps Bay, you will be in walking distance to many of Cape Town’s other top waterfronts and popular tourist attractions.
This where you will find the high-end, luxury apartments and villas where the elite of Cape Town live. These extravagant villas are set in the city’s mountainous landscape and look out across the ocean. Just a few minutes from the city centre, the area is also near to the V&A Waterfront and the famous Table Mountain Cable Car which, apart from being a fantastic mode of transport, has stunning views of the cityscape.
The sunsets across Bantry Bay are unimaginably beautiful, lighting up the bay and the surrounding area. Bantry Bay is ideal for couples and families, as there is a choice of accommodation – it is more expensive than other districts, but visitors do have a choice of mid-range to luxury hotels.
Stay in a luxury beachfront apartment or spend days in your very own beach bungalow in this very popular area. Clifton is a top location for people who love to spend their holiday on the beach, in the sunshine with their friends and family as there are easily accessible facilities and a clean environment.
As there are only a couple of restaurants and shops in Clifton, once evening falls the daytime’s visitors drift away leaving people who stay on the beach with serene surroundings. It is easy to get to nearby resorts by driving, or catching the bus for a spot of dinner at Camps Bay, and the vibrant nightlife and restaurants of Sea Point – all with the looming backdrop of Table Mountain for shelter.