Skip to content

6 things to do in the Mother City

Travelling to Cape Town? Why not venture out to its city centre where a range of experiences awaits

Bookmark article to read later

By Travel Reporter | December 3, 2020 | Travel Leisure

Picture: Unsplash

Here are six ways to get the most out of Cape Town’s city centre these holidays:

Hop on the Red Bus

If you’re new to the CBD, hop on board the double-decker Red Bus. These hop-on, hop-off excursions allow travellers to get closer to iconic monuments and famous landmarks. Locals get a special rate of R179 (usually R245), R120 for pensioners and R90 for a child.

Travel by foot

Another popular way to enjoy the city’s many treasures is on foot. The CBD’s streets are as easy to navigate as they are charming, and if it is almost impossible to get lost with the majestic Table Mountain visible at every turn.

Start at the Heerengracht Fountain, meander up through Adderley Street past the kaleidoscope of flowers at the Adderley Street Flower Market and up to the Arch for Arch.

The Arch for Arch is a beautiful wooden structure created and installed to celebrate the life and work of one of South Africa’s greatest heroes, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu.

Then, stroll up Government Lane in the Company’s Garden, stopping for refreshments at The Heritage Shop and its café.

Take a stroll down memory lane

You can combine a walk past the Houses of Parliament with a visit to the city’s famous squares. Among them are Church Square, on the corner of Parliament and Spin streets.

The cobbled square offers a quiet space away from the otherwise busy streets. It is also a former slave market site. Connected to the Slave Lodge, it is an important part of the Cape’s history. If you’d prefer to have a guide, join a walking tour.

These free 90-minute excursions leave at 11am daily from Greenmarket Square - home to a craft market where you can buy traditional African souvenirs, curios and crafts.

If a self-guided walking tour is more your scene, why not explore the city’s original shoreline from the Castle of Good Hope, through the Cape Town CBD, to the V&A Waterfront.

The 4.5 km tour retraces the original shoreline, from the first making of the land to the present day bustling commercial city.

Food central

For foodies, there are walking culinary tours that explore the Central City’s epicurean delights.

Eat like a local, sampling Cape Malay curries and traditional African foods while taking in historic sights. For those with a sweet tooth, there is even a stop at an artisanal chocolatier, Honest Chocolate.

There is no shortage of eateries that cater to every culinary taste. For authentic Indian, Chinese, Malay and Turkish street food, head for the Eastern Food Bazaar on Longmarket Street.

If fine dining is your flavour visit FYN on Speakers Corner. With visionaries, Peter Tempelhoff, Ashley Moss and Jennifer Hugé behind the award-winning restaurant, its selection of menus and use of unusual ingredients will pleasure your palate.

For something a little more every day, there’s Burger & Lobster, the ever-popular Clarke’s, or La Parada, all on Bree Street.


Bookworms and art lovers are also well looked after in the CBD with stores such as The Book Lounge, a gem that boasts two floors of novels and nonfiction and iconic Clarke’s (no relation to the café).

If you have children, pop into The Book Lounge on Saturday morning at 11 am for storytime or see if a book launch evening is planned during your stay.

Visitors will be spoilt for choice with the world-class galleries dotted around the Central City. Meander through the streets to enjoy public art including Ralph Borlands’ ghost shark sculptures on Jetty Square and pop into spaces such as Michael Chandler’s Voorkamer Gallery of StateoftheART.

Or visit the popular Iziko Museums, an amalgamation of 14 national museums located in and around the CBD.

Among them is the Iziko Planetarium while the South African Jewish Museum is Africa’s first Holocaust Centre. It mixes interpretive panels and archival photos with recreated environments and multimedia display.

Stay in the city

The CBD offers world-class hotels, from the signature Southern Sun The Cullinan or one of downtown Cape Town’s new boutique hotels like Gorgeous George in St Georges Mall or Labotessa on Church Square.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit more casual, try 91 Loop Hostel, the CBD’s first boutique backpackers’ lodge, or Urban Hive, which is housed inside one of the City’s historic Victorian buildings.