Cape Town’s City Bowl gets its name from the natural amphitheater 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’s 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 on Bree Street and Kloof Street. 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 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 favored by graffiti artists. This street art form extends into the adjacent suburb of Woodstock, a neighborhood 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. The City Bowl offers a host of historical sites and museums for the history buff, such as the Zeitz Mocaa, Castle of Good Hope, the Company Gardens, the District Six museum, Isiko Slave Lodge, and the Bo-Kaap museum.
The City Bowl offers exceptional accommodation options for all budgets, ranging from 5-star luxury hotels and villas to intimate boutique hotels, B&Bs, self-catering apartments, and backpacker hostels. The area is favored mainly 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 such an array of scenic hiking trails. The curve of surrounding peaks – Signal Hill, Lions Head, Devil’s 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 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 best gastronomic experiences can be found in the City Bowl. Whether you fancy a quick snack, pub grub, craft beer, or the pinnacle of fine dining with a local twist, you’ll find it all and more here.
- Nightlife in the City Bowl is exceptional, with a vibrant collection of performance arts and movie theaters, 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 and in the City Bowl.
- You don’t necessarily need a vehicle to explore the City Bowl. Navigating traffic and finding parking is a headache best avoided. Instead, use the MyCity public bus network, hail a taxi, or explore on foot.