Where to stay in Cape Town

Written by Maria Aardal

June 18, 2019

Cape Town is a city of many names, one being the Mother City, it is the oldest city in all of South Africa and it is a place you will never forget if you visit. While Cape Town is nothing short of amazing, breathtaking, gorgeous and every other cliche word I can think of it is really huge and a planning a trip there can seem daunting to anyone. The Cape Town metropolitan area covers over 2 400 square km and has a population of over 4.5 million. Finding out where to stay in Cape Town is a challenge, between towns, townships, areas, and suburbs anyone can get confused and stressed.

There is just so much to think about and I am guessing that is why you are here. So let me get to the point. I am going to try to decomplicate Cape Town for you as short and sweet as I can.

City bowl

The city bowl is the heart of Cape Town. It is the area located in the characteristic «bowl» that is formed by Table Mountain, Lions Head, Signal Hill, and Devils Peak. The City Bowl also borders the harbor. The area is made up of a multitude of different suburbs, all with their unique atmosphere. 

If you love the big city and you love being in the middle of everything this is the perfect place for you. Staying in the City Bowl gives you proximity to everything you might need. You are close to nature, tourist attractions, beaches, shopping, clubs and much more. From the City Bowl, you can also easily access the other areas of Cape Town, via bus, train, uber, car or taxi. If you stay in the City Bowl you can go lay on the beach in the sun, eat dinner at a great restaurant, hike Table Mountain, watch the sunset from Signal Hill then go out partying all night, all in the same day.

If you are staying in the City Bowl I have two personal recommendations for places to eat. The first is a Mexican restaurant called Fat Cactus. Their food is just amazing as well as the staff. They also have a great selection of tequilas and margaritas if that is to your liking. The second place is the Reverie Social Table. This restaurant in the Observatory is truly unique. The idea behind the restaurant is that all the guests sit at one big table and enjoy the food together while being social. So while you meet new people you will enjoy dish after dish of perfect, freshly prepared food. This place is really worth a visit.

What to do

Where to stay

If you are on a budget Longstreet Backpackers is a popular choice for a good reason. Located right in the middle of everything and with the characteristic backpacker vibe. It is perfect for those who want to get to know other travelers. Many of those who want to stay in the city center are backpackers who want to experience a lot, not spend too much and meet other people and Longstreet Backpackers is perfect for this.

Who does it fit for

  • Those who love to party
  • Big city lovers
  • Those who don’t mind a busy and loud city
  • Backpackers
  • Those who want to be in the middle of everything

 Safety

The City Bowl is not the safest area of Cape Town. It is a big city, and this area is in the middle of it, which of course makes it a bit more unsafe. I am not telling you this to advise against going here or staying here, just so that you can make an informed decision. Personally, I love the City Bowl, I have been there numerous times, both day and night and I have never felt unsafe. I would say that the biggest risk here is pickpocketing, so make sure to take some precautions. These would be the same precautions that are valid for almost everywhere, no not flash around expensive items like clocks, phones, computers, and stuff, no not bring lots of cash and just be aware of your surroundings. 

West Coast

The West Coast is the area along the coast to the north of the City Bowl. It is the west coast of the Cape Town peninsula. Is stretches from Milnerton in the south all the way to Darling in the north, so it is a long-stretched area, with a huge variety in suburbs.

As the area is along the west coast and experiences quite a lot of strong wind it creates perfect conditions for water sports like surfing and wind-surfing. You cannot experience Cape Town without having a go in the waves if you’re lucky you might even spot a seal. The West Coast is still close to the City Bowl and you can easily travel to the city center, the MyCity buses are easy, practice and reliable. The West Coast is kind of the perfect mix between the cool, relaxed beach vibes and the vibrant city atmosphere. There are plenty of bars, clubs, restaurants and everything else you might need.

I personally highly recommend staying in Table View. It has great beaches and the characteristic view of Table Mountain is an amazing added bonus. It is close to the city center, yet just far enough away. The suburbs also has many great restaurants, clubs and bars. In Table View you can also find one restaurant that I really love, News Cafe. That was actually the first place I ate at when I arrived in South Africa and it became somewhere I would visit all the time from then on. They have a wide selection of food, my favorite is the cheesy fries, and great cocktails for a good price. Not to mention the beautiful view of the ocean and table mountain.

What to do

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Where to stay

If you are a backpacker on a budget I highly recommend Table View and The Surf Hostel. The hostel has a very relaxed vibe, and the property is very cozy. It has its own kitchen and living room, as well as an outside area with a pool, garden, and a BBQ area. You also have options for both dorms and private rooms.

If you are on a higher budget and looking for something more luxurious there are plenty of great hotels along the coast. Aquarius Luxury Suites is a perfect choice for you. The hotels here probably have the most beautiful view you will ever experience, the view of the beach, horizon, and Table Mountain.

For who

  • Surfers
  • Backpackers
  • Families
  • Couples

Safety

As with most of Cape Town, you should take precautions when it comes to your safety. Personally, I have stayed at the West Coast for a long time, Table View specifically, and I have never experienced anything “unsafe” here. As the area is a bit outside of the main city center, it is also a bit safer, but you should still take the same precautions, keep your valuables close and protected, don’t carry a lot of valuables and cash, don’t walk alone in the dark, don’t go to the beach at night and stuff like that. These are not hard rules, just things you should be aware of.

Further up the Westcoast

If you keep driving north past the West Coast, then you leave Cape Town behind and hit a whole new experience. This reaches from the suburbs of Grotto Bay and all the way up to Langebaan, 120km north of Cape Town city.

If you love the beach feel, beautiful scenery and you are looking for an authentic countryside experience. Then you can make the trip further up the west coast, leaving the city life of Cape Town behind. Here you can find quiet beaches, breathtaking nature and a unique experience. There are plenty of nature reserves on this stretch, they make for many scenic walks, and you can see fauna and flora that you have never seen before. You can also experience a lot of different small towns, all with their own culture and social life. Stop by a local small bar and talk to local people.

Things to do

  • Surf
  • Hike in nature reserves
  • Visit Club Mykanos
  • Windsurf
  • Go wine tasting
  • Go sailing

Where to stay

If you are traveling up the Western Cape accommodation can be a bit pricey. If you are okay with that I suggest you stay at Club Mykonos in Langebaan. The resort is inspired by Greece and it is like its own little city complete with roads, houses, a pier, a spa, pools, a casino, restaurants and so much more. A stay here will not be forgotten, you will really feel like you are staying in Greece. If you are on a tighter budget Airbnb is your best friend.

For who

  • Families
  • Couples
  • People who love nature and quiet

Safety

The further out of the city you get the less petty crime there is. Most of the western cape is calm and quiet which means that you do not have to be as concerned about safety as you should be in the city center. This doesn’t mean that there is no crime of course and you should always be aware of your surroundings and listen to advise from your accommodation and the locals.

Atlantic Seaboard

The Atlantic Seaboard is the area that stretches south along the west coast from the Waterfront to Hout Bay. The area lies beneath the «twelve apostles» which is the name of the mountain-chain that makes up the «back» of Table Mountain. 

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Most of the suburbs located here are known as some of the most «high end» and luxurious suburbs in all of Cape Town. They are characterized by large, beautiful houses and boutique hotels. The view is priceless with the Twelve Apostles as a backdrop and the ocean straight ahead. Here you can find lots of beaches and some of the hotels even have private beaches. The sand is white and the ocean is blue. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to be close to the action, yet live peacefully in luxury. From here you can both explore the rest of Cape Town, or you can just stay in the area, relax, eat and enjoy. 

Here I found two restaurants that I really loved and would recommend without a doubt, that is Goloso and Sundoo. Goloso is an Italian restaurant that has, I swear, the best pizza I have ever eaten in my whole life. It was a truffle pizza and I cannot even explain to you how they made pizza so good. The other is Sundoo which is an Indian restaurant right across the road from Goloso. I had a selection of their starters and it was so delicious. I can honestly say that I have not eaten that much Indian food in my life because, honestly, I’m scared it will be spicy (yes I am a wuss when it comes to spicy stuff), but I really loved the food there.

Things to do

  • Explore the beaches
  • Bike along the promenade
  • Hike
  • Go on a boat trip
  • Eat good food

Where to stay

My personal recommendation for staying on the Atlantic Seaboard is the Grande Kloof Boutique Hotel in Seapoint. This is a mid-range priced hotel, yet it feels luxurious, the hotel itself is beautiful, intimate and relaxing and the area around it is just as magnificent. You are within a close range of both the mountains and the beach. You are also close to many of the tourist attractions in the city center as well as shopping opportunities, restaurants and everything else you might need.

For who

  • Luxury lovers
  • Honeymooners
  • Couples
  • Families

Safety

The Atlantic Seaboard is actually one of the safest areas in all of Cape Town, which is one of the reasons why it is so popular among families. The area is known as a rich area, there are not many “bad” areas here and safety is a focus here.

South Peninsula

The southern peninsula, also known as the Cape Peninsula, is the «tip» that stretches from Noordhoek and Muizenberg all the way to the Cape Point. While the point is not the southernmost point of Africa as many believe, it is still amazing and worth the trip.

If you are in Cape Town to surf and chill, yet you also love nature, then this is the place for you. You can explore some of the most popular spots in all of South Africa like Cape Point, Boulders Beach and Cape of Good Hope nature reserve. You can also spend countless hours enjoying the many beaches, both tanning and trying out the waves. The Cape Peninsula is known for its many smaller towns, they give you a more authentic view of Cape Town. You will truly feel like a local.

What to do

Where to stay

If you truly want to experience the smaller towns around Cape Town like Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Simons Town I recommend trying Coach-surfing, Home-stays, Airbnb and other types of accommodation like that. That is accommodation where you really get to meet locals, make friends for life and experience places in a way you never have before.

For who

  • Chill backpackers
  • Nature and animal lovers
  • Families
  • Surfers

Safety

When it comes to safety in the Southern Peninsula it can be compared to the safety in places like the western coast. It is out of the main city center and the area is high/middle class. While this means a safer area you should still be aware and take precautions against pickpocketing, robberies and dangers like that.

Winelands

The Cape Winelands are the suburbs that are most known for their wine farms. While you can find wine farms pretty much all over Cape Town, the Cape Winelands specifically is located inland to the east past the northern and southern suburbs.

The scenery of the Cape Winelands is enough to make anyone speechless. They are characterized by vast, lush valleys that lie in the shadows of the Cape Fold mountains. The valleys are green, with grape plants as far as you can see, and the mountains create the perfect backdrop. You will fall in love with this area as soon as you see it. The wine farms as also made up of beautiful dutch inspired buildings. Now, let me get to the best part, the WINE. So not only do you get spectacular scenery, but you also get to enjoy it while drinking wine. Each farm has its own wines, and you can even go on organized tours that take you from farm to farm and you can just relax, drink wine and enjoy.

If you are staying in Stellenbosch specifically and you are looking for great food you should stop by Oppie Dorp. It is located right at the Stellenbosch central street. The restaurant has an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere and the food is mind-blowing. The food is just perfect and what really puts them over the edge is how amazing the staff and service is.

What to do

  • Go on a wine tour
  • Go on a wine tour by bike
  • Hike
  • Drink WINE
  • Enjoy the view
  • Sit back and relax

Where to stay

Luxury is what you will get in the Cape Winelands. There are plenty of different options, from staying right at the wine farms where you can enjoy the view of the grape-plants right outside your window, to staying in the surrounding towns. In Stellenbosch there are plenty of options. I have stayed at the Caledon Villa in Stellenbosch and it was amazing, it is small and intimate accommodation with very kind staff. It was close to the center of Stellenbosch yet in a quiet area. It was also easy to get from there and around to experience the rest of the Winelands.

For who

  • Wine enthusiasts
  • Couples
  • Honeymooners
  • Luxury lovers
  • Those who just want to get away and relax

Safety

When staying in the Winelands safety does not have to be on your mind. I don’t want to say that there is no crime, of course, it happens, but you should feel relatively safe here. I have walked around in Stellenbosch at night and felt perfectly safe. The area is quite far from the “sketchier” areas of Cape Town and this is the perfect place to relax and not worry too much.

Southern suburbs

The Southern Suburbs are located just at the base of Table Mountain national park. It reaches from the Observatory close to the city center all the way south towards Muizenberg. 

Compared to the neighboring Northern Suburbs, the Southern are much more popular among tourists. Many of the suburbs here are known to be exclusive, high end and luxurious. This is emphasized by the scenery which creates nothing short of a luxurious, relaxing environment. The scenery is the backdrop of Table Mountain, lush hills and nature reserves filled with beautiful flowers and plants. All the suburbs have their own unique feel and atmosphere, from the suburbs by the University of Cape Town which of course is filled with students and has a student environment to Constantia Valley where you find a luxurious wine farm. The Southern suburbs offer a lot for many different people.

What to do

Where to stay

If you are on a higher budget and you are looking for luxury accommodation, the southern suburbs is definitely a great place for you. There are a ton of options, from hotels and guesthouses to wine farms. For those on a higher budget, I would specifically suggest staying at the Steenberg Farm. This wine farm is located in its own suburb to the southeast of the southern suburbs. It is secluded and offers some of the most amazing scenery of the southern suburbs as it borders the Constantiaberg Mountains. If you stay here the hotel itself offers everything you need, including luxury rooms, wine tasting, a spa, a golf course, and amazing food. The location is also great because you are quite close to the city center, while you feel like you are nowhere near it.

For who

  • Couples
  • People who enjoy nature, and unique fauna and flora
  • Those who want to be close to the action, yet far enough away that you can enjoy some peace and quiet.

Safety

The Southern Suburbs is a residential area only which makes it safer, the fact that it is mostly higher class also has its impact on making it safer. Between the City Bowl to the west and the Northern Suburbs to the east, the Southern Suburbs is the safer option. Yet you should of course sill (as will all the others) be aware and take precautions. You can ask at your accommodation about specific recommendations for the area you are staying in.

Northern suburbs

The Northern suburbs is the area that is pretty much directly west from the City Bowl, reaching inland toward the Winelands. All the way from Century City, close to the harbor, to Durbanville Wine Valley. These suburbs are perhaps the least «popular» among tourists visiting Cape Town, however, they have in recent years experienced huge growth.

As these suburbs stretch all the way from the City Bowl to the Winelands, there is a lot of diversity between the different suburbs. These suburbs might not be the most popular for staying in, however, there are multiple good reasons why you should visit. One is the Grand West Casino, where you can come not only to gamble, but for the arcade, ice skating, games or just to feel the unique vibe. You must also make a trip to Durbanville where you can experience a taste of the Cape Town Winelands closer to the city. There are also beautiful hiking trails, nature reserves and just breathtaking scenery for you to explore.

What to do   

Safety

As mentioned above the Northern Suburbs have experienced much growth in the last years and with that, the safety has also improved substantially. While there is still some crime, the rate has dropped and more and more people are starting to enjoy this part of Cape Town. The area is also becoming more and more diverse and international. You should take about the same precautions as in the City Bowl when it comes to safety and as the Northern Suburbs is so large the safety concerns will vary a lot from suburb to suburb and you should listen to what your accommodation will tell you about your specific location.

Cape Flats

The Cape Flats is located just to the northeast of Cape Town city center. This is one of the most underestimated areas of Cape Town. This is where you can find a lot of the townships. A Township is an area that was built for segregating during apartheid, they are known for being underdeveloped. After apartheid, many of the townships kept developing. Because of this, the area is often overlooked by tourists, however, if you are really interested in seeing the authentic Cape Town and you want to learn more about the history of the city and the darker side of South Africa’s history.

As someone who has the possibility and privilege to travel, we should also be aware that not everyone has those opportunities and we should make sure to learn about not just the positives, but all sides of the counties we visit. The townships are a very visual reminder of the Apartheid and the hardships that many faced. We should visit and not distance our selves from it, learn that the people who live there are just people like us.

The Cape Flats is a unique area, it is vibrant with tons of exciting culture. There are multiple travel agencies that offer tours of different townships if you just want to visit and not stay there. Langa which is the oldest township in Cape Town is a popular choice for these tours. What you get to see varies from tour to tour, but they usually happen by walking and with an English speaking guide. You usually get to see different types of housing and usually a taste of the culture like a bbq with locals, traditional dancing and things like that.

What to do

Where to stay

There are multiple townships in the area including the largest township in Cape Town, Khayelitsha. The township has a population of almost 400 000 (as of 2011) and covers 38.71 square km. Other townships in Cape Town are Mitchells Plain, Langa, and Guguletu.

If you want to stay in a township, Airbnbs and B&Bs are perfect for you. There are multiple great options for each and you just have to decide which township is right for you. By staying like that you have a much bigger opportunity to get to know your hosts and really experience Cape Town from a more local point of view. My suggestion here is to use Airbnb and search for the township you want to stay. Also remember to read the reviews from previous visitors.

For who

  • Culture lovers
  • Those who want a more authentic visit
  • Music and art lovers
  • Those on a budget
  • Backpackers

Safety

As the townships are the “poorer” areas of Cape Town there is no hiding that these areas are less safe than others, yet DO NOT let this scare you away from visiting. While they are less safe that does not mean that all townships are dangerous at all times. If you are staying in a township you should perhaps take some extra precautions, but the most important is listening to the people who know it. Ask your host, ask the locals, ask your guide. They will tell you what areas you should perhaps stay clear of and when. You also need to remember that with all other suburbs all townships are different.

I have personally stayed in Soweto which is a township in Johannesburg. I felt completely safe staying there and visiting the township.

Do you want more details about what to do during your time in Cape Town? Check out this itinerary

Welcome!

I am Maria, a 20 year old student. I am here to show you that traveling is possible for everyone, including you. I belive that traveling can be done in a lot of different ways and that you never have to limit.

Read More…

Subscribe!



0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.