Cape Town’s City Bowl gets its name from the natural amphitheatre shape created by the slopes of Table Mountain and the towering peaks on its flanks, called Devils Peak and Lions Head. In other words, the City Bowl is the city center and as any local will tell you, it is where you feel the beating pulse of Cape Town the strongest.
Apart from housing the city’s financial hub, the houses of parliament and one of Africa’s busiest harbors, the City Bowl is home to a diverse set of suburbs that each provide its own flair. The inner city is stacked with top restaurants, rooftop bars and local hangouts with some of the best found in Bree Street and Kloof Streets. Long Street in the heart of the city has a long standing reputation for being the heart of the party at night, but it also has a great variety of shops offering locally produced clothing, souvenirs and art.
The cobbled streets and colourful houses of Bo-Kaap are a popular photographic destination. District Six, a suburb that suffered forced the removal of residents during Apartheid, has seen a revival in recent years and now boasts a collection of trendy eateries, coffee shops, dive bars and artisan shops in streets favoured by graffiti artists. This street artform extends into the adjacent suburb of Woodstock, a neighbourhood synonymous with entrepreneurs, artisanal craft makers, designers and artists.
The City Bowl is home to some of the country’s top contemporary African and international art galleries and museums, all within walking distance from one another. For the history buff, the City Bowl offers a host of historical sites and museums such as the Zeitz Mocca, Castle of Good Hope, the Company Gardens, the District Six museum, the Isiko Slave Lodge and the Bo-Kaap museum that tell the tale of South Africa’s oldest city and its people.
The City Bowl offers an exceptional array of accommodation options suited to all budgets, ranging from 5-star luxury hotels and villas to intimate boutique hotels, B&B’s, self-catering apartments and backpacker hostels. The area is mostly favoured by urbanite couples, individuals and groups of friends who enjoy the bustle of inner city life.
• While a visit to the top of Table Mountain via the scenic cable car is a must, there aren’t many major cities in the world that can boast with such an array of scenic hiking trails at its core than Cape Town. The curve of surrounding peaks – Signal Hill, Lions Head, Devils Peak and Table Mountain – all contain hikes of varying difficulty and each offers a different yet exceptional view of the cityscape below.
• On the first Thursday of every month the art galleries in the City Bowl stay open until late for an event called First Thursdays. Bars and restaurants join in by opening up onto the sidewalk, often with live music performances and outdoor bars and food stalls, effectively turning the City Bowl into one big street party.
• Cape Town’s very best gastronomic experiences can be found in the City Bowl. Whether you fancy a quick snack, pub grub and craft beer or the pinnacle of fine dining with a local twist, you’ll find it all and more here.
• Night life in the City Bowl is exceptional with a vibrant collection of performance arts and movie theatres, live music lounges, dance clubs and boutique bars.
• Cape Town city’s central district, known as the City Bowl, is only 25 minutes by car from Cape Town International Airport. Regular taxi and shuttle services connect to the city, while all major car rental companies have offices at the airport as well as in the City Bowl.
• You do not necessarily need a vehicle to explore the City Bowl. In fact, navigating traffic and finding parking is a headache best avoided. Instead make use of the MyCity public bus network, hail a taxi or explore on foot.