Where To Stay In Cape Town

where to stay in cape town

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We’ve all been there: Gazing at the office walls, yearning for the vibrant hues of a holiday destination. Trust me, you’re not alone. Many travellers, myself included, look to escape this rut by making a trip to Cape Town. The only problem with that is the numerous stay options in Cape Town and choosing the one that works best for you.

From the rhythmic beats of Bo-Kaap to the serene shores of Camps Bay, ‘The Mother City’ is a mosaic of experiences. But where to stay in Cape Town? As someone who’s navigated the city’s nooks and crannies, I’m here to guide you. Before I go into detail, here’s a summary of the areas in Cape Town that you could consider:

  • Sea Point & Green Point
  • Gardens
  • Bo-Kaap
  • V&A Waterfront
  • City Bowl
  • De Waterkant
  • Camps Bay
  • Constantia
  • Observatory
  • Kalk Bay

Why Choose Cape Town

Honestly, once you touch down in Cape Town, it’ll be easy to see why it’s considered the ‘fairest Cape.’ It’s where the icy Atlantic meets the warmer Indian Ocean, creating a paradise of exquisite scenery and golden beaches. Picture waking up in Cape Town, with the majestic Table Mountain as your backdrop, and the promise of adventure in the air. Much like me, you probably won’t want to leave.

From the colourful beach huts of Muizenberg to the penguins reigning supreme at Boulders Beach, every corner of the city offers a unique charm. And then there’s the fashion, especially in free-spirited areas like Observatory. I’m not very big on fashion but you’ll see some super interesting looks that make you feel like you’re on a movie set.

Plus, there’s the culinary delights. Cape Town’s cuisine is a tantalizing fusion of flavours, reflecting its rich cultural heritage. The city has plenty of vibrant food markets, like the incredibly noisy Mojo Market and Oranjezicht City Farm Market with its rustic appeal. You’ll be able to indulge in traditional Cape Malay curries or savour fresh seafood, the culinary choices are boundless.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a place to stay in Cape Town permanently, planning a bucket-list adventure, or simply seeking the ultimate gastronomic experience, this magical city promises memories that’ll last a lifetime. And trust me, as someone who’s been enchanted by its allure, you can expect nothing short of extraordinary.

10 Areas To Stay In Cape Town

Stop scratching your head about where to stay in The Mother City, I’ve got you! Here’s a breakdown of not only the most popular areas but areas that can appeal to a wide variety of tastes.

1. Sea Point & Green Point

Sea Point, Cape Town

I’ve paired Sea Point and Green Point together because they seamlessly blend into one another, offering a vibrant coastal experience that’s hard to beat. They’re also quite similar in terms of their offerings. From the bustling promenades to the trendy eateries, Sea Point and Green Point are undoubtedly among the best places to stay in Cape Town.

Vibe & Attractions: These suburbs are a hive of activity, with their famous promenades attracting joggers, families, and those just wanting to soak in the ocean views. I always enjoy visiting The Green Point Urban Park. It’s a green oasis in the city where you can have a laid-back picnic or leisurely stroll.

Both areas have way more cafes, restaurants, and bars than you need, making them perfect for foodies and night owls alike. Plus, the proximity to the V&A Waterfront and the beautiful DHL Stadium adds to their appeal. You can also find decently priced self-catering accommodation in both areas.

Potential Issues: As you’d expect with popular areas, they can get crowded, especially during summer. It’s advisable to be cautious at night, especially in Sea Point.

Ideal For: Those who want a mix of beach vibes and city life. If you’re looking for a lively atmosphere, stunning sea views, and a central location, this is where to stay in Cape Town.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – never@home Green Point

Mid-range – ANEW Hotel Green Point

Luxury – The Winchester Hotel by NEWMARK

2. Gardens

Gardens, Cape Town

Situated beneath the majestic Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, Gardens is a vibrant inner-city suburb that’s a favourite among young professionals. This part of Cape Town boasts a rich history, with its roots tracing back to the earliest settlements in the Cape.

Named after the historic Company Gardens, this area has evolved from a fresh food supply stop for ships to a bustling hub filled with chic restaurants, boutique shops, and the world-renowned Mount Nelson Hotel.

Vibe & Attractions: Gardens exudes a blend of historical charm and modern flair. Stroll down Government Avenue, lined with ancient oak trees, and you’ll find yourself amidst some of the best hotels and eateries in Cape Town. The South African Museum, the Planetarium, and the Iziko National Gallery are just a few cultural gems that make Gardens a cultural hotspot.

Potential Issues: Gardens is quite an active area, so it’s generally quite busy, especially around Kloof Street. This could be an issue for some, however, there are a number of parts in Gardens that are pretty quiet.

Who’s it for: If you’re a history buff with a penchant for modern amenities, Gardens is the place to stay in Cape Town. Its central location, combined with its rich heritage, makes it ideal for those who want a taste of both worlds.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – Ashanti Lodge Backpackers

Mid-range – Auberge Hotel Gardens

Luxury – The Capital 15 On Orange Hotel & Spa

3. Bo-Kaap

Bo-Kaap, Cape Town

Between the bustling heart of Cape Town and the slopes of Signal Hill, you’ll find Bo-Kaap; a vibrant hub of history, culture, and iconic pastel-coloured homes. This historic neighbourhood is one of the oldest in the city and is synonymous with the Cape Malay culture. As you saunter around its cobbled streets, you’re not just walking on stone but on stories of resilience, freedom, and a rich Islamic heritage.

Vibe & Attractions: Bo-Kaap is a visual treat with its brightly coloured houses and Cape Dutch architecture. It’s also a cultural hub, with the Bo-Kaap Museum offering insights into the life of early Cape Malay settlers. The area’s Muslim heritage shines through its numerous mosques, including the Auwal Mosque, South Africa’s oldest.

And if you can resist the aromatic allure of Cape Malay cuisine, with its fragrant curries and sweet koesisters, you’re stronger than most!

Potential Issues: Although Bo-Kaap is generally safe, it’s advisable to explore during daylight hours and be respectful of local customs, especially if you plan on visiting religious sites.

Ideal For: Bo-Kaap is best for history buffs, photographers, culture enthusiasts, and foodies looking to stay in Cape Town and immerse themselves in a unique cultural experience.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – Signal Hill Lodge

Mid-range – La Rose Bed & Breakfast

Luxury – Rouge on Rose Boutique Hotel

4. V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

The V&A Waterfront is an iconic mixed-use destination and an area that I fell in love with on my first visit to Cape Town. Nowadays, I generally opt for the quieter areas of Cape Town but I have to admit that V&A is still very much the beating heart of the city’s leisure and shopping scene. The views of the shimmering Atlantic Ocean are truly awe-inspiring; they make you feel like nothing else matters. And as for the harbor-front, well it’s the definition of the term ‘magnetic.’

Vibe & Attractions: The V&A Waterfront seamlessly blends Cape Town’s rich maritime history with contemporary design. Here, you can indulge in world-class shopping, dine at gourmet restaurants, or simply soak in the views from the Cape Wheel. The Zeitz MOCAA, a beacon for contemporary African art, is a must-visit.

And if you can, catch a live performance at the Amphitheatre, where local talents often serenade visitors. I should also mention that V&A has one of the best hotels in Cape Town in the form of the very exclusive One&Only.

Potential Issues: Being a popular tourist hub, it can get crowded, especially during peak seasons. Plus, the prices at some establishments can look like serial numbers sometimes.

Ideal For: Travelers looking to stay in Cape Town and enjoy a blend of luxury, entertainment, and culture, all in one vibrant locale.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – City Lodge Hotel V&A Waterfront

Mid-range – The Commodore Hotel

Luxury – One&Only Cape Town

5. City Bowl

City Bowl, Cape Town

If it were me, I wouldn’t be looking to stay in the Cape Town city centre but this isn’t just about me and maybe I’m just getting old, who knows. I say I wouldn’t stay there because it can be a bit of a sensory overload but that’s honestly something that applies to most cities. Plus, it depends on where exactly in City Bowl you plan on staying, as some areas can be quieter.

Also, if it’s your first time there and you’re constantly asking yourself ‘where to stay in Cape Town?’ then the city centre is a no-brainer in a way.

Vibe & Attractions: The City Bowl is a vibrant and dynamic area that’s a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and architectural styles. From the historic Company’s Garden to the bustling Long Street, it’s got an eclectic mix of shops, bars, and eateries, so there’s always something happening here. And it also gives you relatively easy access to Table Mountain.

The views from the top of Table Mountain are breathtaking, and you’ll be in close proximity to attractions like the V&A Waterfront and Bo-Kaap makes it a prime location.

Potential Issues: Like I said, City Bowl is in the centre of it all, so it can get quite busy, especially during peak tourist seasons. Noise levels might be higher, especially in areas close to nightlife spots. Another major issue in City Bowl is petty crime, with pickpocketing being an incredibly common occurrence on Long Street in particular.

Ideal For: The City Bowl is the perfect place to stay for urban explorers and those who want to be in the thick of the action. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, or a family, there’s something for everyone.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – 91 Loop Boutique Hostel

Mid-range – NOAH House

Luxury – Labotessa Luxury Boutique Hotel

6. De Waterkant

De Waterkant, Cape Town

De Waterkant is easily one of Cape Town’s trendiest districts. I like De Waterkant and most of its offerings. The way I see it, it’s a nice alternative to the Waterfront, as it doesn’t have the same brand of busyness.

Vibe & Attractions:De Waterkant is mainly known for its open-minded attitude, making it a hotspot for diverse nightlife, including gay clubs and bars. The Cape Quarter, its main shopping centre, offers a mix of upmarket boutiques and essential stores, surrounded by international brands scattered along the charming streets. The area also boasts vibrant restaurants, yoga studios, and buzzing nightclubs.

Potential Issues: Like most of the city centre, De Waterkant is centrally located, so it can get quite busy, especially during festive seasons.

Ideal For: People who are looking for a lively, inclusive neighbourhood with a European village feel and contemporary amenities.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – The Grey Hotel

Mid-range – Old Foundry Hotel

Luxury – The Capital Mirage

7. Camps Bay

Camps Bay, Cape Town

If you’ve got cash to splash and like living in the lap of luxury then Camps Bay is your go-to. Located between the Twelve Apostles mountain range and the Atlantic Ocean, this upscale suburb is one of Cape Town’s premier tourist destinations. I must admit, this area is definitely not to my taste, too many influencers and noisy rich kids but it still has its upside.

Vibe & Attractions: Camps Bay boasts a cosmopolitan atmosphere that’ll remind you of California’s elite beach towns. The palm-fringed Camps Bay beachfront is a hub of activity, with sun-seekers, volleyball players, and sundowners. More than 20 restaurants, some internationally acclaimed, line the promenade, offering a gastronomic journey with spectacular ocean views.

The area is also a stone’s throw away from iconic landmarks like Table Mountain.

Potential Issues: Much like V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay can get super crowded, annoyingly so. My advice, avoid it during peak seasons and Uber around the area as much as possible, as parking there can be an absolute nightmare. It’s worth noting that Camps Bay is around 20 minutes out of the city centre.

Ideal For: Camps Bay is best for those who love a blend of beach and mountain views, food enthusiasts, and anyone looking to stay in one of the most upscale parts of the city. You’ll likely feel like a celebrity there, so if that’s what you’re after then it’s the area for you.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – Camps Bay Forest Pods

Mid-range – Blue Views Studio Apartments

Luxury – South Beach Camps Bay Boutique Hotel

8. Constantia

Constantia, Cape Town

If you like luxury and comfort but Camps Bay is a bit too lively for your liking, then Constantia is a nice alternative. I love the balance that this leafy suburb provides. Even just driving through its winding roads is an amazing experience, you honestly feel like you’re in a luxury car commercial. Do bear in mind that it’s a fair drive out of the city.

Vibe & Attractions: Constantia is an area that just exudes an air of sophistication and tranquillity. It’s renowned for its historic wine estates, including the Groot Constantia, South Africa’s oldest wine-producing estate. The Constantia Wine Route is a must for wine enthusiasts, offering a chance to sample some of the region’s finest vintages.

The area is also home to lush greenbelts, perfect for leisurely strolls or horseback rides.

Potential Issues: Being one of the more upscale neighbourhoods, accommodation and dining in Constantia might lean towards the pricier side. But trust me, forking out a little extra cash for a luxury wine-tasting experience is worth it. Also, Constantia is about 30 minutes out of the city.

Ideal For: Constantia is the ideal place to stay in Cape Town for those seeking a serene environment, with a touch of luxury. It’s perfect for couples on a romantic getaway or families wanting a peaceful retreat.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – Bloom Guest House

Mid-range – Last Word Constantia

Luxury – The Alphen Boutique Hotel & Spa

9. Observatory

Observatory, Cape Town

I know a guy who used to stay in Observatory, he always said that it was a comfortable, laid-back neighbourhood but always complained about the noisy students who ‘practically owned the area.’ He wasn’t wrong. But this isn’t to say that Observatory or ‘Obz’ as the locals call it, is a bad area, it just appeals to a certain crowd.

Vibe & Attractions: ‘Obz’ is a vibrant and diverse suburb that has a rich history of defying apartheid norms. Nowadays, it’s a melting pot of cultures, boasting a Bohemian flair. The area is home to the South African Astronomical Observatory, a must-visit for stargazers.

And along Lower Main Road, you’ll find a bunch of artsy shops, vintage boutiques, and health food stores. At night, the streets come alive with a bustling nightlife scene, with bars and restaurants catering to all tastes.

Potential Issues: Although Obz has had a pretty low crime rate over the last five or so years, recent years, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, have sadly seen a rise in vagrancy. Mind you, from my experience, the destitute individuals in Obz are typically friendly and helpful but I’m bringing this up as it can be a concern for some and you can’t always assume everyone will be that way.

Ideal For: If you’re a traveller seeking a mix of history, culture, and nightlife, Observatory is the place to stay in Cape Town. It’s perfect for those who love a lively atmosphere and want to immerse themselves in a local experience. Just be prepared to compete with all the students for a pool table if you end up paying Stones a visit.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – Green Elephant Backpackers

Mid-range – Obz Hotel

Luxury – Protea by Marriott Hotel Cape Town Mowbray

10. Kalk Bay

Kalk Bay, Cape Town

And to top off my look at where to stay in Cape Town, I present to you Kalk Bay. As far as areas in Cape Town are concerned, Kalk Bay can be relatively deceptive. When you first arrive in Kalk Bay you’ll think that there’s not much going on and that’s somewhat true, but don’t let the area’s laid-back nature fool you.

Vibe & Attractions: Kalk Bay has a busy working harbour and happens to be one of the best places to buy fresh fish straight off the boat. You’ll find loads of quirky shops, antiques, crafts, and superb restaurants in the harbour area. But if you can pull yourself away from the harbour’s allure, the Kalk Bay caves can be perfect for the adventurous.

The famous surf spot, ‘Kalk Bay Reef,’ is well known for its heavy barrels, making it a must-visit for surf enthusiasts. One thing I’d recommend doing is making your way over to the False Bay Firearm Training Academy to destress at the gun range. A colleague and I did exactly that and had an absolute blast, pardon the pun.

Potential Issues: I said it once and I’ll say it again: Kalk Bay can be deceptive. Although it’s a pretty chilled area, it can get crowded during peak tourist seasons. It’s also not one of the ideal places to stay if you’re looking for a party scene, but you’ll probably quickly work that out once you visit. Do note that Kalk Bay is located around 35 minutes out of the city centre.

Ideal For: Those seeking a simple experience and who love the smell of the ocean and the harbour. If you’re a foodie, an art lover, or someone who just wants to soak in the local culture, Kalk Bay is the place to be.

Top Three Stays:

Budget – Cottage, Nine on Windsor

Mid-range – Chartfield Guesthouse

Luxury – St James Guest Houses

Practical Tips for Staying in Cape Town

  • Safety first: Always prioritize your safety in Cape Town. Avoid flashing valuables and keep your eyes open when withdrawing cash. Stick to well-lit ATMs and decline assistance from strangers. Remember that although most of the city centre is safe during the day, it’s wise to be more alert after dark.
  • Weather whims: Cape Town’s weather can be super unpredictable. The number of times I’ve left my hotel thinking it’s scorcher only to find out it’s freezing cold is crazy. Honestly, it’s not uncommon to experience all four seasons in a single day.If you can, pack a change of clothes, sunscreen, sunglasses, and something with sleeves when heading out, especially if you’re going to be in Cape Town for a considerable amount of time.
  • Stay central: If it’s your first visit, stay close to the city centre. The City Bowl area is central and offers easy access to major attractions. This ensures you’re in the heart of the action and can easily get around the city.
  • Transportation tips: While public transport is limited, the MyCiti bus is reliable for most attractions, in addition to being very affordable. But for convenience and safety, consider using Uber or Bolt, especially if you’re not renting a vehicle. If you rent a vehicle, be prepared to do a lot of parallel parking!
  • Mountain manners: If you’re hiking Table Mountain, always inform someone of your route. Despite its proximity to the city, the mountain’s weather can change rapidly. Ensure you’re adequately prepared with the right gear. It’s also advisable to avoid hiking trails where there have been reports of robberies. As I said earlier, Cape Town isn’t without its problems.
  • Baboon alert: If you’re in areas with baboons, like Cape Point, keep your food concealed. These curious creatures are known to snatch food from unsuspecting tourists. And trust me when I say that these guys are not little, I found this out very quickly.
  • Stay hydrated: The tap water in Cape Town is drinkable. So, refill your bottles without worry and stay hydrated as you explore.
  • TippingcCulture: In Cape Town, tipping is generally customary. In restaurants and bars, a tip of 10 to 15% is standard. Also, consider tipping petrol pump attendants and parking guards.
  • Shop at the robots: Don’t be surprised if you find vendors selling goods at traffic lights, locally known as ‘robots.’ It’s a unique Cape Town experience, but always have cash ready if you’re keen to purchase on the go.
  • Transport: While Ubers are readily available for short visits, we would recommend hiring a car for long-term stays. Unfortunately public transport is not a reliable way to get around Cape Town. The MyCity Bus is the best of the public transport options available in Cape Town but it does not cover the entire city and you would need to plan around the bus schedule.

FAQs

Is Cape Town safe for tourists?

Cape Town’s mesmerizing beauty can be deceptive, as it, like many global cities, isn’t without its flaws. It has areas that tourists should approach with caution. The central tourist spots are generally safe, but areas like Manenberg, Hanover Park, and parts of Mitchells Plain can be risky, especially after dark.

Just ask the locals who will generally tell you to avoid isolated areas and be vigilant in the city centre at night. Thankfully, a dedicated South African tourism police force works diligently to ensure visitors’ safety in Cape Town.

How many days should I spend in Cape Town?

In Cape Town for a short trip? Then it might be wise to set aside four or five days. This duration allows you to explore major attractions, indulge in local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture. But, the way I see it, with Cape Town’s many activities and sights, even staying in Cape Town for a week might work, either way, you’ll be left yearning for more.

What are the must-visit attractions in Cape Town?

As you’ll soon discover, Cape Town is a treasure trove of attractions. One of the city’s crown jewels is the iconic Table Mountain, which offers amazing panoramic views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. The V&A Waterfront is a bustling hub of shopping, dining, and entertainment. Don’t miss the historic Bo- Kaap, the serene Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, and the historically rich Robben Island.

What’s the best area in Cape Town for first-time visitors?

For first-timers, the heart of Cape Town, which is often called City Bowl, is an ideal choice. It’s nestled between the slopes of Table Mountain and the shimmering waters of the harbour, so it gives you lots of options. Plus, it’s a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and experiences. From the city, you’re just a stone’s throw away from major attractions, vibrant nightlife, and a whole lot of dining options.

Are there family-friendly accommodations in Cape Town?

Definitely! Cape Town has a bunch of family-friendly hotels. From the luxurious Tsogo Sun Hotels scattered across prime locations to the cosy Protea Hotel in Sea Point, families have lots of options. Many of these hotels in Cape Town cater specifically to families, offering amenities like family rooms, kids’ activities, and proximity to family-friendly attractions.

So, pack your bags and head to the Mother City for a memorable family getaway!

Conclusion

And so ends my look at where to stay in Cape Town. Reflecting on my journey, my memories from Cape Town are the best I’ve ever collected. From the majestic views at the V&A Waterfront to the vibrant hues of Bo-Kaap, it’s a city that’s just full of experiences waiting to be explored.

If you’re on the fence about where to venture next, just surrender yourself to Cape Town’s allure. With an abundance of places to stay in Cape Town, each offering its unique charm, you’re bound to find a nook that feels just like home. And while the city’s beauty is undeniable, it’s the warmth of its people that truly leaves a long-lasting mark.

So, pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and head to The Mother City to let its magic envelop you. I promise you’ll leave with a heart full of stories and a soul yearning to return.


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