Sun, sand, sea and glitz – the weekend isn’t over until you’re relaxing at Shimmy Beach Club
Met eish*: Sizzling Cape Town Sundowner Hotspots
A selection of the scenic Mother City’s top hangouts for sipping on sundowners
As glorious warm weather descends on Cape Town, locals and tourists alike tend to descend on the city’s many scenic summer sundowner spots. For let’s face it, there’s little more satisfying at the end of a frantic day than sipping on some colourful, cool concoction while a magnificent sunset vista unravels before you. Not to mention, there are few better ways to simply soak in the breathtaking beauty of the Mother City or the unparalleled sight of the sun slowly dipping below a glistening ocean or behind the towering silhouette of a mountain.
And while ‘sundowners’ has become a word used somewhat loosely in South Africa to simply refer to that well-deserved drink that caps off the workday or that heady brew that punctuates the weekend, there are still a number of quintessential places in this pretty city to actually watch the sun go down, refreshing beverage in hand. So, to help you locate them, what follows is an overview of Cape Town’s top spots for sundowners, from Sea Point to Camps Bay and further, including striking natural sites, seaside eateries, beach bars and cocktail lounges that, as a rule, boast not only great drinks and a vibrant ambience, but, of course, spectacular views too.
TOP SUNDOWNER SPOTS IN CAPE TOWN
Take one beauteous balcony decked out in low-hanging lights, with retro furnishings and a view of vibey Long Street. Add to this live music, friendly staff, a selection of top-notch shots and daily specials and you have yourself a good time. When a purple haze seeps into the sky, the moon rises and the mountain falls into shadow, it’s time to head to the balcony for a final salute to the sun. Sgt Pepper has one of the best cocktail selections in the Mother City – plus a sneaky all-day cocktail special on Sundays – so it’s the perfect place for sundowners with mates. Raised on pizza and rock ‘n roll, there’s a great food selection to accompany the beverages. If you’re unsure what you’re in the mood for, take a risk and roll the dice. They’ll decide what you should drink. Read more about Sgt Pepper on Long Street to find out about their daily specials.
Opening hours: Monday – Sunday: 12pm – 2am
194 Long Street | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 424 5608 | [email protected]
Shimmy Beach Club
Watch the sun sink into the Atlantic Ocean from Shimmy Beach Club. Not only is this award-winning venue right at water’s edge, but the man-made beach is the perfect place to spend sunny days lounging around one of the swimming pools. Sip on a Frosé, which is rosé, strawberries and grenadine, or try the Shimmy Blood and Sand cocktail that combines Glenlivet 12 year, vermouth, Chambord and orange juice. Pair your refreshing cocktail with one of their dishes for a delicious dining experience at dusk.
Opening Times: Monday–Friday: 11am–11pm, Saturday: 11am–4am. Sunday: 11am–2am
12 South Arm Rd | V&A Waterfront | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 200 7778
Read more about Shimmy Beach Club
Strolla Restaurant and Bar
If you’re looking for a laidback but stylish summer sundowner spot, Strolla is the perfect place for you. Situated in Sea Point, this seaside eatery features a sun deck that is perfect for a cool evening of cocktails and good company. Guests can expect beer on tap or they can peruse the extensive wine list before settling back with a glass of vino. As for the cocktails - a must try is the Strolla signature Apple Cognac or the Salted Caramel Old Fashioned. Located just off Sea Point Promenade, you won’t be able to resist the hotspot’s chic pink gates and flirty, summery atmosphere.
Opening Hours: 7am–11pm
313 Beach Rd | Sea Point | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 430 7778
Read more about Strolla Restaurant and Bar
In addition to its spectacular beach view, this special spot is the perfect sundowner hangout for all Mother City wine-lovers. Featuring wine-themed decor and views of the Mouille Point lighthouse, Sotano is known for its chilled atmosphere and scenery. On Wednesdays, expect a two-for-one lamb burger special that begins at 5pm and Fridays are all about sweet sounds and sunsets with Abbott Nu Jazz from 7pm until 9pm. That’s not all - Sundays feature Cape Town Reggae band The Rivertones from 4pm until 7pm for the perfect end to a phenomenal weekend! There is always something to keep your entertained at Sotano!
Opening Hours: 7am–11pm
121 Beach Rd | Mouille Point | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 433 1757
Read more about Sotano in Cape Town
Camps Bay’s Seaside Strip
The iconic palm-lined beachside stretch of Cape Town’s Camps Bay is, arguably, the Mother City’s finest and most well-frequented (especially among the attractive, eminent and affluent) location for a leisurely summer sundowner. Situated below the towering Twelve Apostles Mountain Range just metres away from shimmering sand and lapping waves, the trendy seaside strip features countless well-stocked cocktail bars and lounges with tables that spill out onto the street under open summer skies. Hands down one of the most ideal spots on the strip to drink up cooling concoctions while drinking in the magnificence of the sun setting into the sea is the slick Café Caprice (we recommend ordering the signature Granadilla Lolly), but other must-visit venues include swanky meze and wine bar Mezepoli, upmarket eatery Paranga and Clifton’s plush Bungalow restaurant and lounge (formerly La Med).
Headquarters (HQ) Restaurant in Heritage Square, Cape Town
If a chic, sophisticated Europe-in-Mzansi experience is what you’re in the mood for, then look no further. HQ is a swanky steakhouse that boasts some of the most extravagant and indulgent cocktails in the city. Located in the heart of the CBD, you can enjoy carefully crafted mixologist creations while sampling some of the tapas dishes on the menu. With an impressive bar, fully stocked with everything from Absinthe, Hennessy Paradis and Dom Perignon to Castle Lite, Jack Black and Johnnie Walker you will be spoilt for choice. Be daring and try the Partridge in a Pear Tree cocktail, which is a vanilla-infused spiced rum and goji pear pulp - served with caramel and lemon foam, or a Signal Hill Sunset, which is bourbon shaken with burnt orange cheeks, orange bitters and cinnamon infused vermouth. If, however, you’re a creature of habit you could always stick to a classic Margarita or Pimms cocktail. Treat yourself to drinks at dusk at this inner-city haunt and in no time it’ll become your regular rendezvous venue.
Opening Hours: 12pm–12am
Heritage Square | Shortmarket Street | Cape Town | +27 (0) 21 424 6373
Read more about Headquarters Restaurant
Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge at Hilton Cape Town City Centre
Located at the luxury Hilton Cape Town City Centre, Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge sits pretty on the hotel’s pool deck on the mezzanine level. As much an ideal location for lunch with friends as it is for after-work cocktails or a casual business meeting, this outdoor restaurant and bar boasts a trendy yet laid-back atmosphere. With an extensive cocktail menu, patrons can expect a wide variety of fruity concoctions including classics like the Long Island Ice Tea and Cosmopolitan, as well as specialty drinks like Sex on the Hill, all ideal for scenic poolside sundowners. To complement the bevvies, the restaurant and bar has a lunch, dinner and tapas menu where guests can order anything from hot and cold mezze platters to burgers and line fish. Don’t forget to try an authentic Middle Eastern shisha pipe (tobacco flavours include strawberry, apple and orange).
NOTE: While Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge is open to the public, the pool is strictly reserved for Hilton Cape Town City Centre guests only.
Opening Hours: Daily: 10am–11pm
Hilton Cape Town City Centre | 126 Buitengracht Street | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 481 3700
Read more about Signal Hill Terrace and Lounge at Hilton Cape Town City Centre
Located along Cape Town’s Sea Point promenade at luxurious historic hotel Winchester Mansions, this welcoming, elegant eatery claims a sea-facing terrace apt for savouring sundowners while watching the horizon turn spectacular shades of pink and orange. In addition to an assortment of sweet and savoury snacks (think nachos, potato wedges and spicy chicken wings), the bar serves up a mouth-watering medley of unique cocktails. What’s more, on Wednesdays from 6pm onwards, the bar runs a ladies’ night special offering all members of the fairer sex a complimentary cocktail and rose on arrival – certainly enough to inspire a midweek sundowner session.
Opening Hours: Daily: 10am–late
Winchester Mansions | 221 Beach Road | Sea Point | +27 (0)21 434 2351
Read more about Harveys Restaurant at the Winchester Mansions.
Tobago’s Bar and Terrace
Tobago’s is, unquestionably, one of Cape Town’s finest spots to sip on sundowners. This trendy restaurant boasts a panoramic view of the glistening ocean shoreline and an impressive selection of cocktails, wine and MCC. Soak up the sun on the eatery’s expansive terrace, and even take a dip in the rim-flow pool on hot summer days, or dine indoors when the weather dips. Favourites on the drinks menu include the Passionate Mojito (with passion fruit) and the Watermelon Cosmopolitan – or a glass of red or white from their well-considered, locally-focused wine list.
Opening Hours: Daily: 6:30am–10:30pm
Radisson Blu Waterfront Hotel | V&A Waterfront | Beach Road | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 441 3414
Read more about Tobago’s Restaurant at the Radisson Blu.
Harald's Bar and Terrace at Park Inn by Radisson Foreshore
A veritable oasis in the middle of Cape Town’s bustling city centre, the eleventh-floor alfresco lounge and bar at the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore is proof that a stunning sundowner spot doesn’t always require a sea view; rather, here, from a splendid sky-high vantage point, guests can watch the glowing sun sink below the city skyline with the impressive silhouette of Table Mountain as a backdrop. To complete the experience, colourful cocktails – there’s even one called Table Mountain Sunset (an innovative blend of white and dark rum, blood orange extracts, cranberry and orange juice) – are available from the bar, along with non-alcoholic mixes for those who prefer to go virgin. To line the stomach, a selection of salads, starters, sandwiches and mezze snacks are also on offer.
Opening Hours: Daily: 11am–10:30pm
29 Heerengracht Street | City Centre | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 427 4800
Read more about the Park Inn by Radisson Cape Town Foreshore.
TOP SUNDOWNER SPOTS IN CAPE TOWN AND SURROUNDS
On the Rocks
As the name suggests, this elegant, upmarket restaurant is found nestled right on the water’s edge along the Bloubergstrand shoreline, promising postcard panoramas of the Table Mountain outline, Robben Island, the endless ocean and the occasional passing dolphin or whale. Needless to say, then, the sunsets from the terrace here are simply superb and best enjoyed drink in hand. In addition to a diverse selection of cocktails (including their signature ‘On the Rocks’, which combines Malibu, Blue Curacao, pineapple juice, fresh lemon and lemonade), guests can sip on one of their many quality, carefully-selected wines and champagnes, or perhaps savour a cognac or single malt whiskey in the cigar lounge. Whatever the preferred poison, though, this quaint spot certainly offers a sophisticated and memorable sundowner alternative.
Opening Hours: Daily: 9am–10pm
45 Stadler Road | Bloubergstrand | +27 (0) 21 554 1988
Maestro’s on the Beach
A laidback favourite amongst locals and foreigners alike, this Italian-inspired, family-friendly eatery is not only perfectly located on the wide-open dunes of Milnerton Beach, but also sports an alfresco terraced deck that maximises the splendid scenery, West Coast and Table Mountain views, and soft evening summer light. A wide range of standard cocktails – from pina coladas, strawberry daiquiris and caipirinhas to tequila sunrises, Singapore slings and Long Island iced teas – are available to wash down the sun and the busy week, as are an assortment of well-sourced reds and whites (guests can also bring their own for a small corkage fee). What’s more, for those less inclined to merry tipsiness, they also serve non-alcoholic creations (such as the ‘Nojito’ or the ‘Safe Sex on the Beach’) that are equally refreshing but lack the kick.
Opening Hours: Monday–Friday: 10am–11pm, Saturday–Sunday: 9am–11pm
Bridge Road | Woodbridge Island | Milnerton | Cape Town | +27 (0)21 551 4992
Pakalolo Cocktail Bar Table View
Located right on Table View’s beautiful beach front overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and boasting one of the most spectacular views of Table Mountain and Cape Town, Pakalolo Cocktail Bar provides a chilled-out, no-fuss venue for people of all ages and walks of life. Not to mention, the bar hosts two flat-screen televisions, making it the perfect space for watching big sporting events. If you should you get a little peckish while sipping on mouthwatering cocktails, Pakalolo also has a great variety of wraps and quesadillas on offer as well as yummy burgers and an array of Mexican options. Doors open at 9am, seven days a week and stay open until late (they say around 2am).
Opening Hours: Daily: 9am–2am
14 Beach Boulevard | Table View | +27 (0) 21 557 8508
TOP SUNDOWNER SPOTS IN CAPE TOWN’S CAPE PENINSULA
Brass Bell Restaurants and Pubs
A well-loved, world-renowned Kalk Bay institution, the Brass Bell and its assortment of relaxed dining spaces and bars are situated on the shore’s edge (so close you can taste the sea salt), affording unsurpassed panoramic views over the harbour and across False Bay. While all spaces boast breathtaking vistas and a jovial atmosphere, the Water’s Edge restaurant and Bikini Deck – waves that crash against the windows – are most ideal for that long, languishing sundowners session. Patrons can toast to the setting sun with a classic pina colada or strawberry daiquiri cocktail – they also offer sizeable jam jars for the thirsty – while listening to animated live music, snacking on fresh seafood and wood-fired pizzas, and simply relishing the sweetness of summer.
Opening Hours: Monday–Friday: 8am–late, Saturday–Sunday: 9am–late
Main Road | Kalk Bay | Kalk Bay Station | +27 (0) 21 788 5455
Cape to Cuba
Set on the waters of Kalk Bay, this iconic Cuban-themed restaurant and bar offers a wide mix of innovative drinks to match its offbeat decor and laidback Caribbean-inspired ambience. Though sundowners can also be enjoyed in the more formal main restaurant (along with mouth-watering traditional cuisine), the colourful adjacent Che bar, which boasts sea views, was designed specifically for sitting and sipping on their truly comprehensive array of cocktails. Cuban classics are the order of the day here, such as the Cuba Libre (a dark rum, lime and coke mix) and the Cuban Sunrise (a blend of Bacardi, tequila, Triple Sec, orange juice and grenadine); of course, they’re also renowned for their mojitos, and currently hold the record as the bar to sell the most in Cape Town.
Opening Hours: Daily: 10am–10pm
165 Main Road | Kalk Bay | +27 (0)21 788 1566
TOP SUNDOWNER SPOTS IN CAPE TOWN’S WINELANDS
Glen Carlou Wine Farm
Nestled at the foot of the grand Simonsberg Mountains in southern Paarl, this world-class winery boasts – in addition to its award-winning collection of reds and whites, of course – splendid sweeping vistas over the vineyards and valley below. In addition to indulging in Glen Carlou’s premium Chardonnays (their flagship varietal), Pinot Noirs, Cabernet Sauvignons and red blends, guests can also spice up the sundowner session with international wines from the private cellar’s sister and brother estates in Argentina, Australia and Napa Valley. For a refined and worldly way to toast the close of day, this special spot is a unique alternative.
Opening Hours: Daily: 11am–3pm
Simondium Road | Klapmuts |Western Cape | +27 (0)21 875 5528
Read more about Glen Carlou Wine Farm.
Mont Rochelle Hotel and Mountain Vineyards
There are few more spectacular sights in the Cape region than the sprawling, mountain-wrapped Franschhoek Valley, a panorama made even more magnificent by the soft light of the sinking sun. And the spacious outdoor terrace and indoor bar of elegant Cape Dutch establishment Mont Rochelle are perfectly placed for taking in such glorious vineyard-lined vistas, crisp martini, mojito or margarita in hand. While an array of the farm’s own wines are, of course, on offer for easy drinking, guests can also sample world-class vintages and champagnes from a number of local, surrounding estates or order a cocktail or two – they make most of the classics – off the carefully-crafted list (non-alcoholic versions are also served on request). For the peckish, bar chips and nuts are available to accompany the beverages, but if group bookings are made in advance, tasty canapés can also be arranged. In addition to their bar, there are two restaurants on site; Miko for a more elegant dining experience and the Country Kitchen for a more informal venue leading on to their wine cellar.
Opening Hours: Miko: Monday–Saturday: 7am–10pm, Country Kitchen: Monday–Friday: 10am–7pm, Friday–Sunday (dinner): 7pm–10pm
Mont Rochelle Wine Farm | Dassenberg Road | Franschhoek | +27 (0)21 876 2770
Peter Falke Wines
A captivating blend of dream-like decor and stunning natural scenery, this boutique winery – which sits on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains in Stellenbosch – is a rare treat in the Cape Winelands, staying open late enough in the evenings (7pm) to make it a model site for casual summer sundowners. A sumptuous outdoor lounge on the estate’s lush green lawns invites guests to unwind at dusk with a glass of wine – Peter Falke produces two ranges, which includes delicious Sauvignon Blancs, Blanc de Noirs, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignons and Pinot Noirs – overlooking bright bougainvilleas, manicured rose and herb gardens, and wide stretches of verdant vegetation. To pair with the flavourful vintages, a decadent cheese platter with cold meats, figs, olives, fruit and bread is also available (at extra cost) for two to four people.
Opening Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 11am–7pm
Annandale Road | Stellenbosch | +27 (0)21 881 3677
Read more about Peter Falke Wines.
GENERAL, AFFORDABLE SUNDOWNER SPOTS IN CAPE TOWN
Cape Town’s Breathtaking Beaches
From Noordhoek, Hout Bay, Kalk Bay and Kommetjie to Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno, the Mother City is dotted with a myriad of idyllic beaches that, with long stretches of soft white sand, azure waters and endless horizons, were designed, it would seem, for witnessing the sun’s last red rays disappear over the edge of the ocean. What’s more, as lazing along Cape Town’s coastline doesn’t cost a pretty penny, it’s a budget- and student-friendly sundowner option for those with tight bank balances. It must be noted though, that drinking alcohol on South African shores, as enticing as it may be, is still considered an illegal activity, so sea, sun and sand lovers would be well advised to either go virgin or try to be discreet.
Cape Town’s Highest Points
Another especially inexpensive option is to pack a few cold ones and hike, drive or cableway up to one of Cape Town’s higher peaks, most of which flaunt breathtaking views over the whole twinkling city as the sun slowly melts into the horizon. A few great alternatives include iconic tourist hotspot Table Mountain (there’s a well-stocked café at the top, and they offer a half-price ‘sunset special’ on return tickets from 6pm onwards), Lion’s Head (the 360-degree views from here are, arguably, unrivalled), Signal Hill and Paarl Rock. Although not an elevated point, the open field near the soccer pitch in Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch is also a noteworthy natural site for an enjoyable and scenic spell of sundowners. Surrounded by towering mountains and greenery, such a spot takes after its lofty counterparts, affording a sunset experience that most urban cocktail bars and lounges would be hard-pressed to match.
*NOTE: 'Met eish' in the title refers to an iconic South African Klipdrift brandy ad in which the phrase "with ice" gets lost in translation.
Seeking other ways to make the most of sunny weather in the Mother City? Read more about Cape Town’s top picnic spots.