If you’re going to explore the Western Cape then you need to start your adventure by immersing yourself in the heart of the Mother City – The Cape Town City Bowl. Named for its natural amphitheatre shaped, The Cape Town City Bowl is bordered by Table Bay and demarcated by the mountains of Signal Hill, Lion's Head, Table Mountain and Devil's Peak. This dynamic CBD pulsates with a South African rhythm created by the diverse cultures, historical relics, inspired architecture, incredible food and breath-taking natural scenery.
For out-of-towners, the Cape Town City Bowl is overflowing with exciting things to see and do. Take a stroll along the vibrant Long Street, cobbled with restaurants, pubs, lounges and clubs housed in iconic Victorian architecture. Head over to the oldest public space in the area – Greenmarket Square – entrenched in more than 300 years of history. Today it’s a trendy market place with an abundance of retail and dining options.
The wining and dining selections continue to flow into the Cape Quarter located in the former District 5 of Cape Town. Steeped in history, this intimate square has evolved into an upmarket establishment that encourages you to enjoy quality cuisine and unique lifestyle stores. And no visit to the Cape Town City Bowl is complete without a visit to The V & A Waterfront. Without a doubt, one of the world’s most scenic venues, the extensive mall and entertainment centre boasts a range of artisanal products and wholesome fare.
Another picturesque venue is the high-end Cape establishment - Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel -located at the foot of Table Mountain. This century-old hotel serves delicious high tea while those looking for a great night out would do well to visit the Mount Nelson Planet Bar – a chic, elegant venue set in stylish décor.
Don’t miss out on the hidden gem that is Oranjezicht City Farm. A non-profit, neighbourhood-run farm, Oranjezicht provides organic food for local residents with tourists offered a glimpse into the many community-based projects at the farm. Keeping with the outdoors, The Company’s Garden is a beautiful spot to connect with nature. This green oasis breathes life into the city and offers visitors a lush space to wander around the fountains and immaculate lawns, check out the Japanese rose garden, lively aviary and sun dial, while staring in awe at a selection of the country’s oldest cultivated trees. Just watch out for those hungry squirrels!
Keep the heart rate up by hiking up the iconic Signal Hill – essentially the back of Lion’s Head. Named for the historical use of signal flags to communicate directly with ships, Signal Hill offers truly spectacular views of the Mother City with many well-spaced picnic spots around. It’s from Signal Hill that the historic Noon Gun is fired every day (except Sundays and public holidays) at midday. The two cannons were introduced in 1902, to signal the correct time for ships at anchor, and are the oldest guns in daily use worldwide.
And there is no end to cultural satisfaction within The Cape Town City Bowl. First stop is the Iziko South African National Gallery, home to some of the most exquisite art collections. Then there’s the South African Museum, established in 1825, housing more than one-and-a-half million scientific specimens. Within the museum is the Iziko Planetarium, a circular celestial theatre which uses a Minolta star machine and projectors to transport the audience on a mind-blowing cosmic journey. And do not miss a visit to District Six Museum – a reminder of the forceful removal of 60 000 residents under the Group Areas Act.
This is just a taster of the abundant sites found within the Cape Town City Bowl. Fortunately, there is a City Sightseeing Cape Town tour bus which is probably the best way to get the most out of your visit. The two-hour guided, open-top bus trip includes a glimpse of the V & A Waterfront and city centre, with the hop-on, hop-off option.