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Your V&A Waterfront neighbourhood guide
Sculptures, buskers, yacht charters, and hundreds of stores to shop at this summer
Last Update: 19 October 2020
Marimba music fills the air at the V&A Waterfront. Tin men make you do a double take. The walkways are alive with people playing giant chess, dancing groups, and doting couples having their portrait painted. Sculptures, live entertainment, sea views, yacht trips and hundreds of stores to shop at – everywhere you look there’s something going on in this city hub by the harbour.
“The V&A Waterfront was created to connect Cape Town to the water — to connect the people to the water,” says Tinyiko Mageza, marketing executive at the V&A Waterfront.
“Now, we want to reconnect the people with the water and with each other.”
WANDER, SHOP, EAT, BE MERRY AND REPEAT
The V&A Waterfront has over 450 retail outlets stocking everything from pantry staples - like bread, milk, and eggs - to luxury leather furniture, art, designer kiddies fashion and jewellery. “It’s not just a mall, although we happen to have an incredible one. It’s a space where people can make their dreams come true,” says Tinyiko.
Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre is the heart of the shopping experience. Try the luxury London fragrance boutique Jo Malone or visit Lush for psychedelic bath bombs and shampoo soaps. Admire functional art created for the home at Carrol Boyes or find the perfect fountain pen to engrave at Montblanc. Book a wash, cut and blow at Partners Hair Design or stop by Tidy Tucs Tailor to finally get those pants altered. Update your wardrobe: take your pick from Woolworths and H&M to Versace and Maxhosa, Laduma Ngxokolo’s African luxury knitwear brand. Or make your kid’s dreams come true with a visit to Hamleys. Plan your shopping trip beforehand using the store directory online.
DISCOVER AN AFRICAN DESIGN STORY
Step outside and take a stroll to the undulating rhythm of marimbas while you browse traders, crafts and curio shops dotted around the pedestrian-friendly neighbourhood.
Soon you’ll saunter into the Watershed, the biggest artisan market for art, beauty, fashion, and interior design in South Africa, with 365 local brands. Sculptors, jewellers, designers show off their best work. Look out for recycled flip flop sculptures by Davis Ndungu, or add a Mia Melange handwoven basket to your storage collection. Find old favourites and make some new discoveries at the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed.
ON THE MENU IS A SENSE OF WONDER, ALWAYS
Choose between affordable street food, high-end fine dining, freshly shucked oysters, Thai, Italian, and more. There are 80 places to eat at the V&A Waterfront, all with great views.
Find a table on the deck at Quay Four to get a glimpse of friendly, inquisitive seals playing in the harbour. Settle in at Sevruga for an opulent experience with a mesmerising view of city lights sparkling off the water as the night creeps in. Watch the yacht charters come and go at Den Anker, feel like a celebrity when you’re seated at NOBU Cape Town inside the One & Only Hotel, or take your fast food outside to eat while you people-watch. “You come for the KFC and you stay for the sea views,” muses Tinyiko.
EXPECT FARM FRESH PRODUCE AND STREET FOOD FLARE
The bustling V&A Food Market serves artisanal ice cream from Unframed. Or stock up on fresh produce at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market on weekends. Free entrance, family friendly (dogs included) atmosphere, and covering (so that it can stay open no matter the weather) make it a great place to support local traders and farmers.
This December, the Cape Town Cruise Terminal will become Maker’s Landing; a kitchen incubator and food community. It will provide a space for local foodie talent to grow and there will be a kitchen studio and an event area at Maker’s Landing.
DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE – PALE ALES, SIDECARS AND ALL
The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town has some of the best cocktail bars in the city. Lounge about on a private beach, sundowner in hand, in Granger Bay at Grand Africa Café & Beach, and stick around for a fun night out under the stars. Shimmy Beach Club is a dance club where world famous house DJs like DJ Black Coffee and Goldfish play in summer. Or catch your favourite local artists at their special live concert events known as Good Night Friday.
For experiential drinks and classic recipes with a twist, created by some of the country’s best mixologists, order a drink at Cause Effect Cocktail Kitchen. The Willaston Bar on the sixth floor of The Silo Hotel has incredible views of Table Mountain and the kind of colourful decor you’ll want to Instagram immediately.
YOUNG, WILD AND FREE WITH ROOM TO GROW
Tours in the classic red open-top bus, 18 holes of Cave Golf, pirate boat rides on the Jolly Roger, electric bicycle rentals, and a colourful playpark: there is plenty for toddlers, kids and teens to do and to make new friends while doing it.
There are free-to-use play areas everywhere, including the giant jungle gym just outside the food court and Battery Park in the Canal District, which is open to everyone. You can skate, scoot and dribble to your heart’s content. Or bring along a packed picnic basket for a relaxed lunch at Battery Park.
Be transported to other worlds when you visit the Scratch Patch or the Two Oceans Aquarium, both a real treat for your children too. Take home the gemstones you pick up and a sense of wonder when you visit the Scratch Patch. Or meet marine life - like sassy penguins, gentle giant turtles or an intriguing octopus at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
THRILLING PASTIMES AND BUCKET LIST EXPERIENCES
You can pick up a board and oar at Battery Park for a SUPing adventure through the canals. Or see Cape Town from a whole new viewpoint on The Cape Wheel. You can spot Table Mountain, Robben Island, Cape Town Stadium and more with the 360-degree view in the comfortable cabins.
The V&A Waterfront is, of course, a working harbour and there is ample opportunity to take to the seas. Head out on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure by yacht, speedboat, cruise liner, or barge. Spot a whale coming up for air or a glistening sunfish, or enjoy a sunset dinner on a boat.
A LONG HISTORY WITH MANY STORIES TO TELL
The Silo District embodies what the V&A Waterfront does so well: juxtaposing the old with the new. The harbour-side grain silo which was built in 1921 has been reimagined as a luxury space for exhibitions, concerts and an incredible hotel with unbeatable views.
It is also home to the biggest museum for art from Africa, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA). On Wednesdays, African citizens get in for free entrance between 10am-1pm at Zeitz MOCAA.
In Dock Road, the historic Queens Hotel was repurposed into an iStore, the largest one in Cape Town. The 1880-built hotel finished its two-year transformation and opened its doors in July 2020 as the new flagship iStore.
So many of the buildings are steeped in Cape Town’s history. Visit Chavonnes Battery Museum in the Clock Tower Precinct to learn more about Cape Town’s past with slavery, shipwrecks, convicts and warfare. The battery was excavated in 1999, after 140 years of being buried. The nearby Cape Town Diamond Museum, which is free to enter, tells the story of the three-billion year journey of a diamond from the ground to your ring finger.
WINNERS IN SAFETY AND HYGIENE
The V&A Waterfront was awarded a “‘global safety and hygiene”’ stamp from the World Travel and Tourism Council for their efforts; a first for any attraction destination in South Africa. Contactless parking, a Click and Collect kiosk powered by Pargo, automated surface cleaners, and 25 litre hand sanitizer dispensers are just some of the ways they’re keeping visitors safe while they explore. “There’s a lot of trust, too,” says Tinyiko. “We believe in the power of people doing the right thing,” explains Tinyiko.
By Cassidy Emmanuel
Buy local, and love what you buy, when you visit The Watershed.
Plan a fun family trip - for FREE - to Battery Park.
Learn about marine life and the secrets of the seas at Two Oceans Aquarium.
Sample classic South African flavours and meet the country’s brightest minds in food at Maker’s Landing, launching December 2020.
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