Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape…
The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is an iconic 123-hectare neighbourhood and is one of Cape Town’s oldest historic attractions with millions of people visiting from all over the continent and world.
After spending the morning visiting Table Mountain we climbed aboard the City Sightseeing Bus which headed out to Camp’s Bay, a community on the southeast side of Cape Town, close to the Lion’s Head peak. The weather was still sunny, although the sea mist was starting to build. As we headed further around the peninsula through the trendy areas of Cape Town, we were blanketed by mist and the temperature dropped – it was downright chilly. Luckily, as the journey continued the weather improved, and by the time we reached the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront the skies were clear and sunny again, so we jumped off the bus to explore.
The V&A Waterfront is one of Africa’s most visited destinations with more than 24 million visitors annually. Situated in the oldest working harbour in South Africa, with the iconic Table Mountain as its backdrop, makes the V&A Waterfront is a favourite for local and international visitors. There are dozens and dozens of shops, 80 restaurants, half a dozen hotels and museums all squashed into the area.
The old warehouse buildings have been converted into mini-shopping malls full of boutique shops, cute cafes, food stands and restaurants. We spent time visiting some of the shops – purely window shopping – before stopping to watch some street performers with steel drums playing songs from the 1980s, our era of music! We were getting hungry now, so we found a food stand selling vegan food and sat down to relax and soak in the atmosphere.
The original plan had been to catch the bus back to Long Street and walk home from there, but we decided that we would explore the V&A Waterfront a bit more and then walk back to the apartment from here, giving us the opportunity to explore a bit more Cape Town.
We strolled down towards the dockside, stopping briefly at the large frame on the waterfront, which is a great place to take a picture, with Table Mountain in the background. As we later discovered you find these frames all over South Africa, so they became a staple of our photographs over the next month.
I have a penchant for street art and there were some interesting pieces spread around the V&A Waterfront that I enjoyed checking out.
One of the most eye-catching buildings on the Waterfront is the Gothic-style clock tower. It was the original Port Captain’s Office built in 1882. The pointed Gothic windows surround the structure with a clock, imported from Edinburgh, as a main feature. The red walls are the same colour as they were in the 1800s, having been carefully matched to scrapings of the original paint.
There are a few museums to visit in the V&A Waterfront, as well as an aquarium, the Two Oceans Aquarium. Sadly, we did not have enough time to visit the museums or the aquarium.
The V&A Waterfront is also the launching point for the ferries across to Robben Island, which is where we’d be heading the following day.
It took about an hour to walk back to our flat, with plenty of stops to look at things, including a display of posters telling the story of those, both people of colour and white South Africans who journeyed through the end of Apartheid. It was a fascinating read.
Planning your visit to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront
How to get to the Waterfront:
You can easily jump on the City Sightseeing Bus and enjoy a scenic route to the V&A Waterfront. Make sure to jump on the red line and hop off at stop 2.
Best time to visit Cape Town
The best times to visit Cape Town are from March to May and from September to November. These shoulder seasons boast enviable weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. When planning your trip, it’s important to note that the seasons here are reversed: South Africa’s summer corresponds with America’s winter, and vice versa. That said, Cape Town’s summer is the most popular (and most expensive) time to visit. Hotels and attractions are usually overflowing with travellers. Meanwhile, the Mother City clears out between June and August when chilly weather and frequent rainfall put a damper on tourist activities.
Other places to visit while in Cape Town
1. TABLE MOUNTAIN
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top.
2. ROBBEN ISLAND
Robben Island was used at various times between the 17th and 20th centuries as a prison, a hospital for socially unacceptable groups and a military base. Its buildings, particularly those of the late 20th century such as the maximum security prison for political prisoners, witness the triumph of democracy and freedom over oppression and racism.
The Bo-Kaap is an area of Cape Town, South Africa formerly known as the Malay Quarter. It is a former racially segregated area, situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city centre and is a historical centre of Cape Malay culture in Cape Town.
3. KIRSTENBOSCH BOTANICAL GARDENS
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is acclaimed as one of the great botanic gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of the setting of Kirstenbosch, against the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain.
Where to stay Cape Town
1. LUXURY – ATLANTIC VIEW CAPE TOWN BOUTIQUE HOTEL
Atlanticview Cape Town is a privately owned intimate 5-Star Boutique Hotel. It’s perfectly located close to all the main tourist attractions, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain in Fashionable Camps Bay, “The South African Corniche”, packed with world-class restaurants, bars and beaches. The hotel is accessible to the Beaches (2 min), Table Mountain (5 min) Down Town or V+A Waterfront shopping Centre (10 min) and Cape Town International Airport (20 min). The Cape of Good Hope, Penguin Colony and Cape Winelands are less than an hour away.
The hotel has commanding 180-degree magnificent views sweeping from the top of Table Mountain and The Twelve Apostles range that disappears into the sea. It is truly the perfect place to holiday, honeymoon or simply take a break for a romantic weekend. This beautiful property is situated alongside a greenbelt/nature reserve in very quiet surroundings. It is far enough from the noisy crowds of the promenade but close enough to enjoy the beaches, bars and restaurants with spectacular views in all directions.
2. MID RANGE – ANCHOR BAY GUEST HOUSE
Anchor Bay Guest House is nestled on the slopes of Table Mountain within walking distance from the famous restaurants and nightlife of Sea Point. Less than 3.5 km away is the CBD of Cape Town, Cape Town Stadium, and of course, the extraordinary V&A Waterfront – a world-famous working harbour with many speciality restaurants, shops, boutiques, boat cruises, ferries to Robben Island, an aquarium and much more.
3. UNIQUE – THE GRAND DADDY
The Mother City’s most original, convenient and fun place to stay! The luxurious Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel on Long Street bustles with energy.
As well as standard rooms the Grand Daddy has an airstream trailer park on its rooftop. The seven original Airstream trailers each have their own decor theme and collectively reflect a typical South African road trip. Authentic Airstream trailers are incredible works of craftsmanship and their classic shape is unforgettably iconic.
4. BUDGET – LONG STREET BACKPACKERS
Accurately described as “The Soul of Long Street” (Lonely Planet, 2011), this famous hostel is the epicentre of action on Cape Town’s most vibrant street. There are literally hundreds of eating, drinking and entertainment options right on the doorstep.
Sleeping up to 80 guests, this hostel features a lush internal courtyard that’s perfect for braais, ping-pong, chilling, and meeting fellow travellers. The iconic brick building also boasts two large, sun-drenched balconies, with views of Long Street and Signal Hill. There are dormitory-style accommodations, as well as single, twin, and double private rooms, all with shared bathrooms. There is a TV room with satellite TV, a pool table, a well-stocked communal kitchen, and fibre-speed WIFI.