Visiting South Africa and wondering where to stay in Cape Town? Arriving in a new city is exciting, exhilarating, and at times confusing. How do you make the best of what the city has to offer? Are you looking for adventure? A quiet beach getaway of rest and relaxation? Are you on the hunt to discover a cities heart and soul, and submerge yourself into the life of the people?
Cape Town is one of South Africa's most popular cities. The vibrant cosmopolitan vibe attracts all manner of travellers seeking city getaways, beach breaks, and South African culture. Cape Town is bursting with natural beauty. From the majesty of Table mountain defining the skyline, the dramatic Twelve Apostles, and the allure of flawless coastlines. The year-round fabulous weather makes for a perfect beach break, and the proudly blended culture of ethnicity creates a colourful city of culinary greatness and charming hospitality. Coincidentally, the nearby Cape Winelands are world renowned and should not be missed.
Where to stay in Cape Town [2020 Guide For First Time Visitors] - Contents
Where to stay in Cape Town
When it comes to accommodation in Cape Town, the possibilities are endless. Each diverse neighbourhood boasts unique sights and attractions. Whether it be the exploring the colourful neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap, topping up your tan on the glorious beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard, or witnessing a piece of history on Robben Island. Helpfully, the city is divided into two main sections separated by Table Mountain in the centre: City Bowl, and the Atlantic Seaboard.
City bowl features Woodstock, Vredehoek, Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof, Gardens, the CBD, Bo-Kaap, the V&A Waterfront and De Waterkant.
The Atlantic Seaboard is comprised of Mouille Point, Green Point, Sea Point / Three Anchor Bay, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, Bakoven, and Llandudno.
City Bowl Neighbourhoods
The city Bowl features the North side of Table Mountain, stretching inland towards the East.
City Bowl / CBD - Clubs, Bars & Restaurants at your fingertips
Why stay in City Bowl / CBD
The CBD is at the heart of it all. Staying here will have you close to clubs, bars, and delectable restaurants on every corner. The accommodation on offer is supremely varied, from low budget hostels and cosy guesthouses to boutique stays and luxury hotels. There's something to suit everyone and you'll be right at the centre of public transport with easy access to the whole city. Bee Street is a must-visit destination for foodies, and open galleries and street food fairs burst into action on the first Thursday of every month.
Why avoid City Bowl / CBD
As in most city centres, it can get seriously busy and accommodation in the very centre is sparse.
Where to stay in City Bowl / CBD
Woodstock - Best for creatives
Why stay in Woodstock
Woodstock is a bursting hub of creatives, dreamers, and passion chasers the likes you'd find in Brooklyn, New York. Still considered an up and coming area, it's affordable, cheap to get around and only 10 minutes from the City Bowl. Woodstock is an interesting area to take refuge if you're a fan of festivals, farm stalls, and internationally recognised street art. Many young business entrepreneurs and startups have adopted the area as a base and so an eclectic mix of people have begun to bloom in the area.
Why avoid Woodstock
Gritty, artsy, and full of passion. Woodstock is a dreamers paradise, but as it's still a little rough around the edges in certain areas there are safer places to choose.
Where to stay in Woodstock
Gardens - Best for living like a local
Why stay in Gardens
If you seek to discover the secrets of the locals and stay somewhere less touristy, Gardens is a perfect choice. Kloof Street is within walking distance, full of local restaurants and a variety of local shops, including the famous Mabu Vinyl from the movie 'Searching for Sugar Man.' Guest House accommodation in Gardens, is great for couples, families, and travellers coveting a more relaxed vibe in the city. If you're looking for the party scene, Gardens has that too. Staying in Long Street is convenient to stagger back to your hostel after a night on the town.
Why avoid Gardens
The Gardens area is generally safe all around but take caution wandering around in the early hours. Take an Uber if you venture too far from your place.
Where to stay in Gardens
Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof - Best harbour views
Why stay in Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof
Another couple of areas set to make you feel like a local are Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof. Affluent residential areas on the surroundings of the City Bowl. Sloping on the banks of Lion's Head and Table Mountain, they each offer great views across both the city and the stunning harbour. Kloof street and Gardens are also in walking distance.
Why avoid Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof
Accommodation in these neighbourhoods can get relatively expensive but the views are worth the cost.
Where to stay in Oranjezicht and Tamboerskloof
Observatory Neighborhood - Best for backpackers
Why stay in the Observatory Neighborhood
Locally known as Obs and bustling with an eclectic array of people. A mecca for backpackers filled with affordable hostel accommodation. As well as restaurants, shops, and bars catering for all tastes. Nightlife here is a constant buzz and the neighbourhood is on the main transport link, or a mere 10 minutes drive from the City Bowl.
Why avoid the Observatory Neighborhood
Observatory is the main hub for backpackers visiting Cape Town, so if partying until the wee hours isn't your thing there are much quieter neighbourhoods to choose from.
Where to stay in the Observatory Neighborhood
Bo-Kaap - Best for history
Why stay in Bo-Kaap
The colourful neighbourhood of Bo-Kaap has a rich history and gives a real authentic look at the cultural landscape of Cape Town. Featuring iconic, vibrant houses of baby pink and blue, lime green, turquoise, lilac, orange and all colours of the rainbow that date back to the 1750s. The residents that call the colourful houses along the cobbled streets home are the descendants of the freed slaves. African, Indian, Sri Lankan, Malaysian and inhabitants of the Indonesian Archipelago who first communised the area and began their lives in Cape Town. The varied history of Cape Malay cuisine can be tasted in many restaurants in the area.
Why avoid Bo-Kaap
Bo-Kaap can be a little unsafe in the evening and it is not advised to walk around at night.
Where to stay in Bo-Kaap
V&A Waterfront - Best access to Robben Island & Whale watching tours
Why stay in V&A Waterfront
The working harbour of V&A Waterfront is one of the most popular places to visit in South Africa. It offers fantastic views, with the glistening water of the harbour packed with colourful vessels out front and Table Mountain looming at its back. Views, seaside dining, luxury shopping and ocean activities are just some of the opportunities on offer. As a place to stay, this is where you'll find your high-end luxury accommodation. V&A Waterfront is the main stop for the City Sightseeing bus routes. It's not cheap, but is well connected and has everything you need right on the doorstep. Including Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
Why avoid V&A Waterfront
If you're on a budget it's not the cheapest place to base yourself.
Where to stay in V&A Waterfront
De Waterkant - Best for LGBTQ community
Why stay in De Waterkant
De Waterkant is a busy quarter on the shoulder of the city that has evolved into Cape Town's gay and lesbian capital. The little-cobbled square is surrounded by restaurants, bars, and clubs and has a friendly atmosphere.
Why avoid De Waterkant
A tiny area, it lacks accommodation and has a heavy party scene.
Where to stay in De Waterkant
Atlantic Seaboard Neighbourhoods
Stretching across the Northern and Western coasts around Table Mountain. The Atlantic Seaboard area consists of upmarket neighbourhoods and some of South Africas best beaches.
The sister neighbourhoods of Clifton and Camps Bay are an opulent coastal hub of mansions and posh homes overlooking the Atlantic. Though these areas often attract the likes of celebrities, they still offer a range of affordable accommodation for those seeking fresh air and encapsulating sea views.
Clifton - Best for beach variety
Why stay in Clifton
Clifton has four beaches, which are regarded as some of the most beautiful in the world. Soft, pristine sand dappled with many boulders to shelter from the breeze. At each beach, you'll discover a different crowd. Clifton 1st beach is number one for sports lovers. It also welcomes travellers of the furry kind! 2nd beach is for everyone else, LGBTQ friendly and perfect for topping up your tan, as is the 3rd beach. The 4th beach is the best for families. With plenty of space, fabulous facilities and lifeguards. Each beach provides fantastic views of the mountain ranges.
Why avoid Clifton
The beaches are naturally pretty busy but make for a great spot for people watching, a bit of volleyball or a crisp dip in the cool ocean.
Where to stay in Clifton
Camps Bay - Best views of the Apostles mountain range
Why stay in Camps Bay
Camps Bay Beach is pure drama. A wide vista of white sand blessed with the breathtaking backdrop of the Twelve Apostles mountain range. Swim, surf, shop and admire the incredible sunsets that burst across the beach each evening.
Why avoid Camps Bay
In the summer months (Nov-Jan) Camps Bay can be hectic! Less of an ideal summer break and more of a constant traffic jam.
Where to stay in Camps Bay
Mouille Point - Best for relaxation
Why stay in Mouille Point
Sitting between the V&A Waterfront and Sea Point, Mouille Point on the on the beachfront promenade is mostly high rise apartments, restaurants and food delis. Visitors are attracted by the kitsch candy-striped Green Point lighthouse which is an iconic landmark in the area. It's a quiet and laid back area good for families and travellers seeking a quieter part of town.
Why avoid Mouille Point
Not a party scene by any means. Best for renting a quiet apartment away from the bustling city.
Where to stay in Mouille Point
Sea Point / Three Anchor Bay - Best for activities and families
Why stay in Sea Point / Three Anchor Bay
Sea Point is famed for the charming sea point promenade. A place to enjoy a spot of cycling, jogging, walking, or just sitting and watching everyone else do it. It stretches the entirety of the Sea Point’s beachfront, from Bantry Bay to Mouille Point. It's a wonderful choice for families as there are lots of parks, outdoor gyms, art spaces and a public outdoor swimming pool on the Bantry Bay side on offer in the summer. There's plenty of accommodation to choose from including hotels, guest houses and apartments. Sea Point is close to the other beaches and it's well connected to the rest of the city.
Why avoid Sea Point / Three Anchor Bay
Sea Point is a great all-rounder with a relaxed vibe. Considered one of the safest areas but caution should always be made at late hours.
Where to stay in Sea Point / Three Anchor Bay
Green Point - Best for sports fans
Why stay in Green Point
Green Point is Sea Point's more obtuse neighbour. Made up of apartment blocks that line the beachfront around the Cape Town Stadium. It looks a bit like a UFO and is an iconic part of the Cape town skyline. There are heaps of guesthouses on offer in the neighbourhood and it's conveniently located close to the Sea Point promenade and some of Cape Town's fantastic beaches on the Atlantic Seaboard.
Why avoid Green Point
When sports events are held it can get super congested, so unless you're there to join the fray avoid Green Point at these times.
Where to stay in Green Point
Fresnaye - Best climate
Why stay in Fresnaye
Fresnaye has the best of everything, and here you'll certainly pay for it. Home to some of the most expensive real estate in the city, it boasts incredible views of the Atlantic, Robben Island, and Table Bay. It's also generously sheltered from the often devilish South Easterly wind that teases Clifton and Camps Bay beaches.
Why avoid Fresnaye
A little way out of town, it's best to rent a car or take an Uber into the city. But most of the beaches along the Atlantic Seaboard are in walking distance.
Where to stay in Fresnaye
Bantry Bay - Best Atlantic views
Why stay in Bantry Bay
Sheltered from the wind and providing unbelievable views. Bantry Bay is a popular place to stay to take in the grand landscapes around Cape Town.
Why avoid Bantry Bay
Bantry Bay doesn't have its own beach. The rugged, rocky coastline is beautiful but less ideal for sunbathing.
Where to stay in Bantry Bay
Bakoven - Best for a local experience
Why stay in Bakoven
Hidden between Camps Bay and Llandudno Beach is Bakoven. An intimate beach haven protected by the locals. The exclusive beach is sometimes known as Camps Bay's baby sister. It lacks the crowds and public facilities but offers more privacy that's still close to all the activity.
Why avoid Bakoven
Above Victoria road, the accommodation is trendy and luxurious, the area below is mainly bungalows and quaint sea cottages. Avoid sticking out as a tourist around here as the locals will not thank you for bad etiquette.
Where to stay in Bakoven
Llandudno - Best for coastal drives
Why stay in Llandudno
Llandudno (pronounced with a Cl), named after its Welsh counterpart is a crescent-shaped beach forming the bottom of a steep slope at the base of the twelfth Apostle. Great for beach sport and family picnics, it's also one of the most picturesque parts of Cape Town. Featuring an 18-kilometre coastal drive. The beach is an intimate spot free of facilities, but the quaint fishing town of Hout Bay is only 5 minutes away by car. Filled with restaurants serving the freshest catches, and offering a plethora of fun activities.
Why avoid Llandudno
The area is fabulous as a beach getaway, but perhaps a little too tame and out of the city for travellers seeking to go go go.
Where to stay in Llandudno
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