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Top Things to See and Do in Cape Town's Waterfront

Cape Town, South Africa

If you’re headed on holiday to South Africa, you’ll no doubt want to spend some time in Cape Town – and if you do – trust us, the Waterfront is where it’s at. Situated at the foot of Signal Hill, with breathtaking Table Mountain and water-facing views across the glistening Table Bay, it’s the perfect place to enjoy an evening drink or a meal, sightsee, or do a spot of shopping. Read on for our guide to the best things to see and do in Cape Town’s pretty Waterfront...

Cape Town's Waterfront - Image: Emily Cater

Cape Town's Waterfront

Image: Emily Cater

V&A Food Hall

If you’re a bit of a foodie, you’re in luck – for a truly eclectic dining experience, with plenty of variety in cuisine, head to the V&A Food Market. Housed in the Waterfront’s Old Power Station, this bustling market sells gourmet street food from more than 40 sellers from all over the world. Think tacos, pancakes, cured meat, Turkish shawarma, burgers… you name it. There are also stalls selling handmade chocolates, local gins and liqueurs, cheese and wine, plus local gifts and trinkets. There are plenty of benches both inside and outside of the food hall, as well as regular live music, making for a fun and sociable atmosphere.

V&A Food Market

V&A Food Market

Robben Island Museum

Robben Island is an unmissable site if you’re interested in learning more about South Africa’s political history; during the sixties up until the early nineties it was a prison used by the South African government for convicted criminals and political prisoners, and is of course most commonly known for housing Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment in the sixties and seventies. Now a World Heritage site and museum on the Waterfront, here you’ll be able to explore a multimedia exhibition and museum shop, before taking a ferry over to the island itself. Once there, we’d recommend partaking in a tour of the island guided by a former political prisoner, allowing for a unique perspective on what went on at the time.

Robben Island

Robben Island

Shop Local

If you’re looking to shop for authentic local arts and crafts or pick up some souvenirs to take home, there’s no better place than the Waterfront, which is full of gorgeous little gift shops and boutiques featuring African art and design. But the real must-visit place to shop? The Waterfront’s Watershed – a huge, bright and airy warehouse-like space, filled with locally-made arts and crafts from over 150 individual vendors. Don’t expect to haggle here – everything is carefully-crafted and high quality, so the price points will match. But with everything from art to homeware, fashion and jewellery on offer, you’re bound to find something you love. If you have time, swing by the Watershed’s Jubilee Hall too for live entertainment, workshops and exhibitions.

Cape Town Local Boutiques - Image: Emily Cater

Cape Town Local Boutiques

Image: Emily Cater

Drinks on the Waterfront

I’m not sure about you, but personally I’ve always felt that cocktails by a beach or harbour overlooking the water is one of the most beautiful ways to enjoy a sundowner – and here on Cape Town’s Waterfront, you can do just that! Whether you grab a beer, glass of local wine or a cocktail at one of many nearby bars, or take a drink al fresco and watch the seals play in the dock, it’s the place you want to be come sunset. Try Bascule Whisky, Wine & Cocktail Bar for upscale drinks (particularly its rare whiskies), Dash bar in the Queen Victoria Hotel for gin cocktails in a trendy environment, or Shimmy Beach Club for beautiful sea-facing views, prosecco in hand.

Cocktails on the Waterfront

Cocktails on the Waterfront

The Zeitz MOCAA Art Museum

This architectural gem is the largest museum in Africa, and the largest museum in the world to showcase African art. Spanning 6,000sqm over nine floors, you could quite easily spend a day at the Zeitz MOCAA – a great rainy-day activity. As well as a wide collection of artworks from the likes of Mary Sibande and William Kentridge, you’ll find a bookshop, restaurant, reading rooms and pretty rooftop sculpture garden. Tickets are R180 for adults, while under 18s get in for free.

MOCAA Art Museum, Cape Town

MOCAA Art Museum, Cape Town

Take a Boat Trip

If you fancy getting out on the water and enjoying a day on a boat, there are plenty of companies offering day trips all along the V&A Waterfront. You’ll find everything from short harbour and seal cruises (these little guys are always in the area, so you’re bound to see some), to exhilarating speedboat rides and luxurious sunset Champagne cruises aboard a yacht. There’s something for every budget and taste here, so there’s really no need to miss out.

Written by Emily Rose Cater

Having studied Journalism, Film & Media at university, Emily spent the first three years of her career writing for fashion titles, before finding her niche in travel writing. Emily has been lucky enough to travel the world for both work and pleasure, with favourite destinations being Borneo, Sri Lanka and The Philippines. When she's not travelling, Emily loves to binge-watch crime documentaries, go for a hike, or (attempt) to bake.

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