Rich in history, tradition, culture and natural wonders, Cape Town offers a vast number of dining options in a diverse number of settings. Interactions between the city’s black, white, Indian and mixed race communities allows the South African Mother City benefit from a fascinating cocktail of culture and cuisine.
Renowned for its white sandy beaches and swaying palm trees, Camps Bay is Cape Town’s most affluent dining and nightlife precinct. Bars and restaurants line the oceanfront promenade – often frequented by celebrities – flanked by the city’s most luxurious houses. While the atmosphere is casual and laid-back, Camps Bay prices are up there with the most expensive in the city.
Downtown, the City Bowl fosters vibrant dining opportunities. Long Street is the area’s most famous dining street, renowned for its bohemian hangouts, ethnic restaurants and hip bars. Once considered Long Street’s ugly little sister, Loop Street has grown into one of the city’s most frequented and lively dining areas – a series of urban renewals have seen Loop Street’s upper edges foster an environment where both bohemians and business folk peacefully co-exist. Lined with a large assortment of restaurants, bars, cafes, coffee houses and interesting shops, Kloof Street is another of the City Bowl’s favourite eat streets.
Situated at the foot of Table Mountain, at the heart of Cape Town’s working harbour, the Victorian and Alfred (V&A) Waterfront offers an impressive array of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences. More than 80 restaurants serve a fusion of international foods – including Italian, Asian, Portuguese, Japanese, Spanish and local cuisine – with ocean or mountain vistas and cosmopolitan atmospheres.
A short distance from the city, the winelands region is one of the Western Cape’s most picturesque areas. Major wine routes pass through the historical towns of Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek and offer a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the Cape's history and traditions. Outside the winelands district, on the fringe of the inner city, South Africa’s fastest growing export can also be experienced at the country’s oldest wine estate, Groot Constantia.
To taste the true essence of Cape Town it’s hard to go past a South African ‘braai’ – more commonly known as a barbeque. Braais are generally enjoyed outdoors in a park or at a beach; however several restaurants do their own modern takes on the national treasure. Other South African specialities, like Cape Malay style cooking, dishes such as bobotie and breedies and treats like koeksisters, can also be found at a number of eateries throughout the city.
Cape Town brims with shopping opportunities. Creativity seems to spring naturally from the city's multi-cultural and multi-ethnic population to provide a multi-faceted and exciting retail scene. Galleries and artist workshops proudly display a stunning array of arts and crafts, while the city itself is quickly gaining a reputation as South Africa’s fashion hub.
Typically touristy, V&A Waterfront holds a prime oceanfront location on Cape Town’s working harbour. Hosting everything from supermarkets to food stalls and African curios to clothing boutiques, the Waterfront has something for all tastes – including The Red Shed Art and Craft Market, Southern Africa’s largest indoor craft market.
Not far from V&A Waterfront, in the Green Point sub-district of De Waterkant, Cape Quarter offers a relaxed retail environment with a large range of shopping outlets and boutiques set amongst unique Cape Malay architecture. Green Point is also home to Cape Town Stadium, which serves as the site for a Sunday morning flea market that hawks traditional African art, music and crafts.
Other open-air craft markets are held on most weekends in various neighbourhoods throughout Cape Town. Situated on the famous Long Street, The Pan African Market showcases arts, crafts, jewellery, and artefacts from virtually every country in Africa. In the centre of town, the cobble-stoned Greenmarket Square is a must visit to the experience the pulse of Cape Town. The vibrant craft market sells African carvings, masks and drums, beadwork, jewellery, clothing, leatherwork and ceramics. Neighbourhoods such as Hout Bay, Constantia, Kirstenbosch and Rondebosch also host weekly markets that are worth visiting.
North of the city centre, in Century City, Canal Walk is Africa's leading super-regional retail mall. Home to over 400 stores, numerous restaurants, cinemas and a game arcade, the centre was built around a series of canals – the architecture is referred to as “Cape Venetian” – and stocks the world's most desirable brands. While just south of the city centre, in the upmarket suburb of Claremont, the award-winning Cavendish Square house over 250 of the country’s most elite stores, as well as an abundance of restaurants and cafes.
For a different and more traditional shopping experience, several roadside stalls dot Cape Town’s main roads, selling South African knick-knacks, arts and craft. Bartering at these stalls is often welcomed.