John O' Nolan

The Mother City: Best Areas, Hotels and Places to Visit in Cape Town

Vianca Meyer

Cape Town, a city that boasts the Indian and Atlantic Ocean colliding on its doorstep, backgrounded by the awe-inspiring Table Mountain and serving an extraordinary National Park within its heart.

Amidst all this, those travelling to this South African city will find a buzzing cityscape that combines so much diversity and culture that it would make one’s head spin: as Mandela once said, this is the land where “the fateful convergence of the peoples of Africa, Europe and Asia” began.

In this article, we invite you to explore the best neighbourhoods, discover the best hotels and places to visit the unparalleled Mother City.

Key-Areas in Cape Town

Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

Situated right in the heart of Cape Town’s thriving harbour town, The V&A Waterfront is perhaps the city’s most visited destination and sports a wide range of exhilarating activities to take part in. Here travellers will find a diversity of cuisines to tuck in to – particularly at The Cape Town Fish Market and V&A Food Market, high-end boutique and designer shopping at The Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre, trendy bars and cafés to recharge at and an awesome amount attractions (such as the Two Ocean Aquarium and The Cape Wheel) to visit. From its stunning harbour and Table Mountain views, 5-star accommodations and captivating history, travellers will adore the beauty that this top destination in Cape Town so pridefully shows off.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Victoria & Alfred Waterfront

The Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town offers an opulent, vintage decór and dazzling views across the V&A Waterfront, working harbour and Table Mountain from selected rooms. Enjoy the locally inspired gourmet meals at their on-site restaurant, Camissa Brasserie, while The Atlantic Grill offers delicious breakfasts and high-tea in the afternoons. Pamper yourself in the Camelot Spa, situated within the hotel, and take advantage of the complimentary shuttle service that will carter you to any landmark within a 5km radius of the hotel. Some of the main attractions to be found within arms reach of The Table Bay Hotel include The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island, Two Oceans Aquarium and the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.

 

Situated in a renovated dock building, backdropped immaculately by Table Mountain, the Queen Victoria Hotel offers world-class services and a team of friendly staff to cater to your every need. The gorgeous, modern interiors create an interesting (yet beautiful) contrast with the richly historic outer structure of the building. Guests can enjoy stunning views either across the V&A Waterfront or Table Mountain, depending on which rooms they book into. The Queen Victoria Hotel offers state-of-the-art facilities, ranging from a luxurious in-house spa, fitness centre and gym accompanied by a personal trainer. Additionally, the hotel offers child-care services for those nights where couples would like to spend a romantic night on the town, as well as secretarial services for business-types on-the-go. Indulge in the delectable breakfasts served outdoors and overlooking the tranquil waters of the harbour on Portswood Road before heading out on a day filled with adventures. Some of the main attractions found within the hotel’s vicinity are The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island, The Cape Wheel and the Cape Town Diamond Museum.

 

Located just a 5-minute drive away from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, The Silo Hotel offers an industrial and modern design that stands out from the traditional structures that dot around it. Sporting a genuinely unique experience, guests will be met with breathtaking views across the V&A Waterfront, Table Mountain and the gorgeous Cape Town cityscape. The on-site restaurant serves superb English Breakfasts along with various American and International cuisines. Lounge away at the relaxing outdoor pool and soak up the warm South African sun on those lazy days and find pleasure in the fact that you are quite literally staying in what is considered to be a magnificent, architectural work of art. There are fantastic dining and shopping experiences surrounding The Silo Hotel, while some of the most iconic attractions (namely the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, Cape Town Diamond Museum, The Nelson Mandela Gateway To Robben Island) can be found. When venturing further in-land, travellers will find the renowned Grand Parade and Signal Hill to explore and for those looking to spend their days on a warm, sandy beach? Head over to the massively popular Clifton Beach, Camps Bay Beach or Queens Beach where a multitude of fun outdoor activities awaits your arrival.

Tim Johnson

Central Business District, City Bowl

The Cape Town City Centre runs along the borders of the Cape Town “City Bowl”, which is framed by the two main traffic arteries, Adderley Street and Buitengracht Street. Locals refer to this bustling part of town as the CBD and it is here where travellers will find a marriage of beautiful, historic buildings, on-trend eateries, upscale accommodations and utterly vibrant arts and culture scenes. From shopping at interesting market stalls on Greenmarket Square to bar-hopping and dining in uniquely themed nightclubs or restaurants in Long Street, and admiring the stunning natural landscapes of Cape Town’s Company Gardens to marveling at some of the most prominent historic sites scattered throughout the district, Cape Town’s CBD will woo just about any who wander its ever-expanding streets.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Central Business District, City Bowl

The Taj Cape Town hotel is situated within arms reach of many of the city’s most famous tourist attractions and businesses. Offering a classic, vintage interior design that just screams “old-school luxury”, guests will feel as if they have just stepped onto cloud nine. Most rooms and suites feature a balcony overlooking the majestic waters of the V&A Waterfront and Table Mountain. With several dining options available on-site, visitors can indulge in the 3-Level Mint Restaurant that serves a wide range of international cuisines, the Bombay Brasserie which provides Indian specialities and The Twankey Bar that offers a range of cocktails, tapas and snacks. Some perks of booking into the Taj Cape Town include relaxing treatments in their Jiva Grande Spa and complimentary shuttles to the V&A Waterfront daily. The iconic Long Street is but a 1-minute walk away from the Taj Cape Town, while Koopmans de-Wet House, Bo-Kaap Museum and the District Six Museum are all nearby must-see attractions.

 

The Capital Mirage Hotel stands proudly Corner Strand & Chiappini Street, featuring both a modern interior and exterior design that will leave guests swooning. The views from the selected top floor suites and terrace with pool are something that must be seen – particularly as the sun sets over the Cape Town cityscape and the twinkling lights start to dot below the mighty Table Mountain and along the glistening waters of the Atlantic Ocean. The Capital Mirage Hotel’s prime located puts it smack-bang in the middle of Cape Town’s bustling city centre and the trendy De Waterkant district. Guests have a choice of three in-house restaurants to spend their breakfast, lunch or dinner times in, while the renowned Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village is just a 2-minute walk away and features some of the most popular restaurants and coffee shops within the district.  Here, guests can enjoy the perks of free airport transfers, complimentary scheduled shuttle services to the V&A Waterfront and the Cape Town Convention Centre. Some of the closest landmarks to The Capital Mirage Hotel include the Grand Parade, Signal Hill, and Queens Beach.

Agnieszka Kowalczyk

Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant

Situated just atop the hill from Cape Town’s City Bowl, is the ever beautiful district of the Bo-Kaap and De Waterkant. The area pays homage to a quilted array of colourful, traditional Muslim houses, a vibrant nightlife scene and a thriving LGBTQ+ community. Bo-Kaap is often referred to as the Malay Quarter and walking along the cobblestoned paths lined with historic residential areas that date back to the 1760s, travellers will be reminded of the rich history from which it first stemmed.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Bo-Kaap, De Waterkant

The Hilton Cape Town City Centre hotel is just what guests would imagine it to be. Modern/contemporary designs, breathtaking views of Lions Head and a prime location to all the best hot-spots that the city has to offer. The Hilton Cape Town City Centre offers guests a great selection of cuisines to sink their teeth into, ranging from traditional South African to northern Indian. For business travellers, the hotel offers not only a business centre within its walls but secretarial services for their convenience. For those booking in for leisure, guests can enjoy the in-house spa, fitness centre and outdoor pool that offers panoramic views across Signal Hill and the pretty Cape Town cityscape. A few of the nearest attractions include Greenmarket Square, the Bo-Kaap Museum, and the Artscape Theatre.

Green Point, Sea Point

Thanks to the booming nightlife scene, Green Point is known to be the “SoHo” of Cape Town. The fast-paced (or as fast-paced as Cape Town can be) lifestyle that features here casts a striking contrast with the old, charming Victorian houses and laid-back beachfront living that can be found in its neighbouring district of Sea Point. Green Point is a massively popular leisure district that encompasses everything from walks through its gorgeous park, jogging trails, crystal-clear lakes, a hedge maze and a biodiverse garden featuring indigenous fauna and flora. Additionally, Green Point is also home to some of Cape Town’s most coveted attractions, namely the Cape Town Stadium, famous concert venues, Italian eateries and numerous espresso bars. So whether you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast or looking to tackle a night out on the town, Green Point is sure to show you one heck of a time.

 

Tracking back towards Signal Hill and just a few short minutes from Cape Town’s city centre sits the pristine beach-fronts of Sea Point, which shows off a colourful history and dazzling beaches to lounge on. The Sea Point promenade, which is perhaps the districts’ most popular attraction, spans 7kms along the Atlantic Ocean and features a public swimming pool at Bantry Bay end. Dining and outdoor activities are endless in Sea Point and travellers will adore spending time in its chilled out atmosphere.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Green Point, Sea Point

The Treehouse Boutique Hotel in Green Point offers a truly beachy and tropical look and feel, giving guests a chance to relax and feel as if they’ve just entered an exotic paradise. Featuring an outdoor terrace with a pool and spa, The Treehouse Boutique Hotel serves delicious breakfasts a la carte and is situated mere minutes from some of Cape Town’s top attractions and landmarks. Some of which include The Cape Medical Museum, Signal Hill, the Kruger National Park Guide and the Two Oceans Aquarium.

 

Found in the laid-back lands of Sea Point, sits the totally modern and opulent The Glen Boutique Hotel & Spa. The rooms are luxurious and cater to guests’ every comfort, while selected rooms feature balconies overlooking the rolling hills of Table Mountain or the Atlantic Ocean. Indulge in the expertly prepared continental or English breakfasts and round-the-clock dining overlooking the pool and terrace and find blissful relaxation in the hotel’s Swedish sauna and hot tub. If you manage to peel yourself away from this stunning accommodation, be sure to check out the nearby attractions of the Sea Point Promenade or spend the day lounging on the warm, golden sands of Queens Beach.

Woodstock, Observatory

For locals, Woodstock has become one of the coolest and trendiest suburbs in the whole of Cape Town. Situated just 10-minutes from the CBD, Woodstock takes claim to being one of the oldest of its kind and shows travellers a side of Cape Town’s culture so unlike most of the other districts. This creative epicentre has undergone a massive regeneration over the last several years and has since become one of the top design and contemporary art hubs in the city. With an abundance of awesome coffee-houses, breweries, boutiques, art galleries and gorgeous street art, Woodstock will knock your socks off with things to do and see.

 

There is no doubt that Observatory is the beating bohemian heart of Cape Town and here, each street features its own, unique personality. Where Kloof Street is sophisticated and family-friendly and Bree Street is known for its incredible dining experiences and artsy student vibes, down the road on Main Street, travellers will find Observatory to be the alternative underbelly of Cape Town. A place that hosts a number of grungy live music venues and bars, where youngsters find solace in the unusual and where the true local youth of Cape Town come out to play. If jamming out to local rock shows and drinking cheap beer is your thing, then Observatory is certainly the place for you.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Woodstock, Observatory

DoubleTree by Hilton Cape Town Upper Eastside hotel is situated just 20-minutes away from the Cape Town International Convention Centre and is the perfect base for those wanting to be within close proximity of the bustle of Woodstock and Observatory. The rooms are comfortable and warm, while the in-house Liberty’s Restaurant serves modern, international cuisines. Complimentary shuttle services to the V&A Waterfront are offered four times a day and is a mere 5-minute drive from the hotel. Some of the top attractions surrounding the DoubleTree By Hilton Cape Town Upper East Side hotel include the Cape Town Science Centre, Salt River and  Main Road that offers a great selection of shopping, dining and nightlife experiences.

Overberg

Few travellers of Cape Town ever venture as far as Overberg, where they will find a seemingly endless natural landscape of wetlands, ever-changing sands and a jaw-dropping variety of wildlife to admire. It is a picturesque part of Cape Town where vast, grassy plains meet the feet of the fierce Table Mountain ranges, which is now much more easily accessible via the scenic Sir Lowry’s and Houwhoek passes on the N2 highway. Overberg extends from the apple-orchid filled farms to the beautiful, historic town of Swellendam to the east, while venturing further south will bring you to Cape Agulhas, the official meeting-point of the Indian and Atlantic ocean. The area is mostly taken up by charming country towns and farms, while the picturesque bordering coastlines and bays of Walker Bay, Hermanus and Gansbaai have become major hot-spots for diving, sailing and whale watching. Overberg is without a doubt one of the most romantic spots in Cape Town and has become increasingly popular amongst honeymooners, while outdoor enthusiasts revel in the number of recreational activities found here – all ranging from thrilling hiking trails, river rafting, canoeing, mountain biking and snorkelling. Additionally, the abundance of vineyards found in Overberg presents winetastings aplenty while those who are more culturally inclined will adore spending time in the mission villages of Genadendal and Elim, which feature a handful of captivating museums and an utterly rich heritage.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Overberg

Rothman Manor is a boutique hotel found in Swellendam and features a small eco-park filled with zebras, springboks and other indigenous African wildlife. The design and decór are that of a traditional African feel and gives off marvellous European-styled comforts. Views across the eco-reserve are breathtaking, while the secluded position of the hotel allows guests to truly break away from the western world and become one with the great outdoors. Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the landscaped gardens and indulge in the world-class cuisines served under the hotels’ iconic Oak Tree, after which guests can dip into the pool on a warm, African summer’s day. Some of the most popular attractions surrounding the hotel include the Sulina Fairy Sanctuary, Bontebok National Park Entrance Gate and the Drostdy Museum.  

The Auberge Provence hotel sits beautifully on the foot cliffs of Hermanus, overlooking Walker Bay. High season allows guests to spot whales from selected sea-facing rooms and from the ocean-fronted patio. The Tuscan look and feel of the Auberge Provence hotel combine well with the breathtaking natural scenery that surrounds it and guests will absolutely adore the sweeping sea views, tantalizing home-made meals, and relaxing under an umbrella alongside the pool with an expertly mixed cocktail in their hand. Packed lunches and picnic baskets are available on request and guests can enjoy a scenic drive or walk to many of the encompassing gardens that dot along the coastline. Some of the top tourist attractions are situated just a stone throw away from the hotel, some of which are The Whale Museum, the Old Harbour Museum, Wine Village and the Hermanus Cliff Path Biodiversity Walk.

Matthijs van Schuppen

Winelands, Franschhoek

Located in one of the most stunning Cape Wineland’s valley, is the ever popular, historically French town of Franschhoek. Now, the town may be small in size but packs a powerful punch when it comes to exquisite wineries, remarkable vineyards, awe-inspiring pastures and a superb selection of award-winning restaurants. It is a destination that can be visited throughout the year and still show its guests a marvellous time. The town’s irrepressible joie de vivre is celebrated whenever possible and Bastille Day events are held on weekends in July where travellers can enjoy all things French – from cuisines to delectable wines. Some of the oldest Cape Winelands are found in this blossoming valley, which sports 43 wine-farms and cellars of all sizes. Franschhoek is a dazzling little town nestled between the Table Mountain ranges and just a 1-hour drive away from Cape Town, so travellers can opt to either take a day trip or spend a few nights taking in this splendid little town. Additionally, those who choose to go on a Cape Wine Route Tour will be treated with Locavore dining, exemplary wines, scenic nature trails, mesmerizing vistas, quirky shopping opportunities, underrated arts and crafts galleries and fantastic accommodations to book into.

Where to Stay

Hotels in Winelands, Franschhoek

The Franschhoek Manor is situated just 15-minutes outside of the Franschhoek village and offers individually decorated rooms – all complete with modern finishings and rustic twists. This boutique hotel offers its guests a fabulously large pool, pretty, landscaped gardens and iron-wrought gazebos under-which guests can find ultimate relaxation while they dine on the sumptuous cuisines served while breathing in the fresh, mountain air that envelops them. The Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is easily accessed from the property, while attractions surrounding the hotel include the Franschhoek Wine Tram, the Franschhoek Monument, the Berg River Dam and Berg River Amphitheatre.

If you’re looking for a truly one of a kind experience, the La Petite Dauphine boutique hotel acts as a working fruit farm and is situated just 2km from the centre of Franschhoek village. Featuring a superb restaurant inside a 200-year old wine cellar the La Petite Dauphine serves everything from traditional South African meals to international cuisines. Each room shows off breathtaking mountain range views, while some feature a patio and fireplace. The outdoor pool beckons guests to take a dip during those warm, summer months while the tranquil landscapes offer guests a much-deserved break from their busy, daily lives. When venturing off the property, travellers should be sure to check out the nearby attractions of the Huguenot Memorial Museum, the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and the Threewaters Nature Reserve.

Close to Cape Town International Airport

There are some pretty remarkable hotels situated within close proximity to Cape Town International Airport, so whether you’re staying for a few nights, checking in for a business meeting or if time isn’t exactly on your hands, you’re sure to still find some stellar stays while you jet-set.

Where to Stay

Hotels Close to Cape Town International Airport

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