Choose accommodation in the City Bowl if you’re ready to jump right into the very centre of Cape Town and have a fabulous time discovering historical locations, exploring museums, viewing interesting landmarks and even admiring nature! Cape Town Central is the vibrant heartbeat that keeps everything going, it emits the pulse for the rest of the city and it’s where it all begins…
Cape Town Central, the CBD or the City Bowl is a whole lot of things rolled into one. It’s an amazing mixture of night-time entertainment, museums, residential areas, historical buildings and businesses that just seems to work so well together, and this is what makes it such a fine place to stay. After all, who wouldn’t want to be at the very heart of this enormously popular city, and be part of the very place that makes it ‘tick’ effectively all day and all night long?
Although many venture further out to explore the Cape Peninsula or visit the northern suburbs and the popular wineries, you can really find plenty to do and many marvellous places to visit right in the Cape Town Central. It’s a truly unique and wonderful part of the city. Lots of people also find the area easy to explore on foot by following the various walking tours or simply by wandering the city streets. Having no car to worry about and to find a parking spot for lets you simply concentrate on having a great time viewing the city. No matter the accommodation you choose, you will find plenty of entertainment nearby, and this is why we love the City Bowl!
The vibrant buzz of Cape Town is in every one of the upmarket coffee shops and restaurants in the Cape Town Centraland when the sun has fallen out of sight the bars and nightclubs get busy doing what they do best! However, if you prefer a different sort of atmosphere then try an evening out at the Fugard or Labia Theatre for one of their outstanding local performances. The Artscape Theatre is another very popular venue for ballet performances, musicals and additional show varieties. This theatre has been standing in its place on D F Malan Street for over four decades and houses the Cape Town Opera and studios for Fine Music Radio. The magnificent opera house seats well over a thousand people, while the theatre seats just over five hundred people. There is also a smaller arena and large outdoor areas (the Garden and the Piazza) that are often used for concerts. Attending a local performance is highly recommended, but at the very least, make sure you get to admire this impressive building.
In Queen Victoria Street the Company Gardens is a real treat. It has a beautiful rose garden that has existed since 1929, several historic statues and a sundial from 1781, a Japanese theme garden, a koi fishpond, herb and rockery gardens and a well with a hand pump. This interesting garden (with plenty of resident squirrels!) is a lovely patch of greenery right in the centre of Cape Town and is also nearby to many important landmarks.
From the Company Gardens you can easily reach the Houses of Parliament, St George’s Cathedral, the National Library of South Africa, the Jewish Museum, the Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium and the South African National Gallery.
The exquisite buildings of the Houses of Parliament, including the Library of Parliament are great to see. You can even arrange a guided tour to see the interior and to learn more about how they operate. The St George’s Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop in Cape Town. It was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and began its construction in 1901. It’s a wonderful example of a building from the Victorian era, with stained glass windows and a crypt. The South African National Gallery is South Africa’s premier art gallery and contains superb collections of local and international art pieces. Permanent displays include those of modern paintings, sculptures and African art, while temporary displays often showcased include beadwork, textiles, photography and other interesting articles.
The South African Museum and Planetarium are found together in Cape Town Central and receive millions of visitors every year. The entire museum is a mind-blowing journey – here are some interesting facts:
- There are over one and a half million items displayed for the public as well as thousands of articles carefully stored out of reach.
- The collections have been growing for almost 200 years.
- There are fossils that are almost 700 million years old.
- And stone tools from 120 000 years ago.
- Many modern items are also displayed.
The Iziko Planetarium has been open to the public since 1987 and features a fully-equipped audio visual studio and auditorium. For children and adults alike, the planetarium is a wonderful adventure into space and beyond.
An entrance to the South African Jewish Museum can be found at the Company Gardens. This museum focuses on the history of the South African Jewish people, their role in the community and their struggle for freedom during Apartheid times. The museum offers comprehensive audio tours that highlight 21 important parts of the museum. One of the all-time favourite exhibitions is that of the Japanese art, referred to as the Isaac Kaplan Collection. The miniature Japanese art works are simply beautiful and a must to see.
Taking the City Sightseeing buses is a great way to get around Cape Town Central and view many of the popular places of interest. There is a Red City Tour that stops at the Table Mountain Cableway, the Two Oceans Aquarium and Camps Bay, and a Yellow City Tour with stops at the South African Museum, the District Six Museum and the Castle of Good Hope. There is also the Blue Mini Peninsula Tour that takes visitors to the Kirstenbosch Gardens, the World of Birds and the Imizamo Yethu Township.
Besides the sea, Cape Town has quite a good share of man-made canals. There is the stunning Marina da Gama in Muizenberg that is just a boat-lover’s dream come true and also a short canal that runs from the Cape Town International Convention Centre to the V&A Waterfront. A number of hotels and a couple of residential complexes have been established alongside this lovely waterway, and water taxis are therefore frequently available. Some operate on a ‘hop on, hop off’ principle, similar to the tour busses. What better way to get to the marvellous shops and entertainment venues at the Waterfront than by boat?