Where to Stay in Cape Town: Best Areas and Neighborhoods

Where to stay in Cape Town
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Are you wondering where to stay in Cape Town? The sprawling Mother City is home to a variety of smaller neighborhoods and suburbs, each of which offer distinct benefits and their own sense of charm for visitors. Choosing the best neighborhoods to stay in Cape Town depends on individual tastes, as each of the city’s neighborhoods offer different things.

Sandwiched between mountains and ocean, Cape Town is a culturally diverse city with stunning natural beauty and a buzzing city center flooded with museums and cultural attractions. In addition to being a jumping off point for visitors who come to South Africa for its wildlife, Cape Town has plenty of amazing sights to show those eager to explore its many offerings.

With a better understanding of the geography of Cape Town and accommodation options in each of the major neighborhoods, travelers can feel confident when choosing where to stay when on holiday in Cape Town.

Where to stay in Cape Town: Best areas to stay in Cape Town

1. City Bowl

Where to stay in Cape Town: City Bowl
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The central business district of Cape Town is a thriving metropolitan area where there is a constant buzz of activity. Shaped like an amphitheater, the City Bowl neighborhood is surrounded by several natural borders including Table Bay, Signal Hill, and Devil’s Peak.

In addition to the thriving business district, the neighborhood also includes the harbor and a number of suburbs, including the vibrant Woodstock neighborhood and De Waterkant, among others.

As the heart of Cape Town, City Bowl has no shortage of bars and restaurants catering to every taste, especially on vibrant Bree Street. For a cup of coffee and shopping, visitors can head to Long Street, where book shops and bars peacefully coexist.

Staying in the City Bowl neighborhood is ideal for travelers looking for a vibrant nightlife scene within a short distance of their accommodation; however, the main train station is also located in City Bowl, making it easy for travelers who make base here to explore other parts of Cape Town.

Visitors choosing to stay in Cape Town in City Bowl have a number of options because the district technically includes several neighboring suburbs. Apartment style accommodation is a popular option in this area, with varying levels of luxury and pricing options.

Backpackers’ hostels and boutique hotels are less abundant but also an option for travelers who stay in Cape Town’s bustling City Bowl neighborhood.

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2. Sea Point

Best neighborhoods in Cape Town: Seapoint
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Arriving in the sprawling city of Cape Town can be overwhelming, but not far from the city center, visitors will find an idyllic retreat in the Sea Point neighborhood. Here, visitors can take a leisurely stroll down the Sea Point Promenade, a favorite landmark featuring picturesque views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Pubs and cafes are just a short trek across the road on this winding walkway, and art installations frequently grace the Promenade for walkers and joggers to admire. Sea Point is also home to a large public pool and two children’s pools, a perfect retreat from the summer sun.

From Sea Point, outdoor enthusiasts will find that neither beach nor mountains are far from the neighborhood’s center. Saunder’s Beach is a popular place to stroll the beach and swim in the tidal pool while Signal Hill’s Lion’s Head hiking trail is not far away.

Restaurants, bars, and shopping boutiques line Main Road, offering visitors a relaxing break from sightseeing in Cape Town. Sea Point is also home to one of the oldest Italian restaurants in South Africa — Pizzeria Napoletana has been serving up slices since 1958.

Visitors will find an abundance of hotels in the Sea Point district, many of which offer stunning views and upscale amenities for very reasonable prices. Condos and guest houses are also available at a reasonable cost and offer a more personable experience than larger hotels.

Staying in Cape Town in Sea Point is ideal for visitors who want a serene retreat after long days of sightseeing around the city.

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3. Green Point

Accommodation in Cape Town: Green Point
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With a name like Green Point, it’s no wonder this neighborhood features a stunning urban park for visitors and locals to enjoy picnicking, jogging, or simply soaking up some sun. The Green Point neighborhood is located between Sea Point and the city center, so visitors who stay here are a short distance from either. The area is also home to a number of attractions touching on a variety of interests.

Visitors who stay in Green Point can visit several attractions without traveling far from their accommodations. In addition to the large urban park, which features an outdoor gym and adventure park, outdoor enthusiasts can hike the Promenade up to Green Point Lighthouse and admire the historic landmark as well as the views.

Football fans will want to check out the Cape Town Stadium Tour where guests can walk on the pitch and view the stadium jail as well as luxurious box seats. Restaurants in the area feature diverse menus, ranging from sushi to traditional African fare, and after dinner, visitors can catch a live show at the Theatre at the Rockwell.

One of the most picturesque areas in Cape Town, Green Point is a popular choice for visitors choosing a home base in the Mother City. Several accommodations offer sea views, looking out near Mouille Point, but these options often book up quickly; visitors looking to stay close to the water in Green Point should book early if possible.

Accommodation closer to Signal Hill is also available with guest houses and small boutique hotels being the most popular type of accommodations. Bus stations throughout the neighborhood are the primary means of transportation in and out of the Green Point district, whether seeking to cross the neighborhood or visit one of the neighboring areas.

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4. Gardens

Neighborhoods in Cape Town: Gardens
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Directly beneath Lion’s Head and Table Mountain, the Gardens neighborhood in Cape Town sits elevated above the City Bowl, adjacent to both Table Mountain National Park and Signal Hill. This suburb is home to young professionals, and the shops, hotels, and restaurants, particularly those near the city center, reflect that sentiment.

Despite the name, the Gardens district has less green space than Green Point; however, De Waal Park is home to the members-only Gardens Lawn and Tennis Club. De Waal Park, however, is a popular public space, especially among dog walkers. It is also a popular spot for outdoor concerts during the spring.

The Labia Theater, near the city center end of the district, features arthouse cinema on four screens. Visitors staying on this side of town will find they are also within walking distance of a number of museums and galleries, as well as the Company’s Garden.

There are several guest houses in the area as well as a few villas for visitors staying on the outskirts of the district. It is a relatively safe neighborhood for travelers, and is very walkable during the daytime, ideal for grabbing lunch at one of the small restaurants and cafes in town.

At the edge of the neighborhood, bordering the city center, several five-star hotels are also available for visitors seeking luxury during their stay in Cape Town.

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See also: Where to stay in Durban

5. Tamboerskloof

Best areas in Cape Town: Tamboerskloof
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Situated between the Gardens and Bo-Kaap neighborhoods, Tamboerskloof is a suburb associated with the larger City Bowl district. Victorian style homes reflect the history of this suburb, and the quiet, tree-lined streets are ideal for walking.

Located at the very base of Lion’s Head, this neighborhood sits at a slight incline, with many of the residential areas benefiting with excellent views over the city.

Visitors can enjoy this neighborhood by simply walking through the shop-lined streets and stopping for a bite to eat along restaurant mile on Kloof’s Street. With both the Bo-Kaap neighborhood and the city center nearby, Tamboerskloof is located close to a number of attractions while still offering a peaceful retreat while on holiday.

Upscale guest houses and boutique hotels are available to visitors wishing to stay in Tamboerskloof, as are a number of self-catering options. Travelers on a budget will also find a hostel in the neighborhood. Reliable transportation makes this central location an excellent choice for visitors who want to be close to the action but still have a quiet place to rest.

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6. Camps Bay

Where to stay in Cape Town: Camps Bay
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Located a short 10 minute drive from Cape Town’s city center, Camps Bay is a picturesque location for holiday in South Africa. The neighborhood is dotted with upscale restaurants and beachside cafes serving up fresh seafood, international cuisine, and local wines.

With a prime location between Table Mountain National Park and stretches of beaches, Camps Bay is one of the more popular neighborhoods in Cape Town.

Camps Bay is near many of the most popular activities for travelers in Cape Town. White sand meets turquoise water at Camps Bay Beach, which is one of the most picturesque beaches in Cape Town. This family-friendly beach offers facilities like lockers and toilets, making it a favorite for travelers with small children, while the stunning view of Lion’s Head peak lures photographers from around the globe.

Close proximity to Table Mountain National Park — and numerous hiking and biking trails — makes Camps Bay a popular place for active travelers to stay in Cape Town, as well.

Accommodation in Cape Town in this neighborhood is abundant, and most cater to a wealthier crowd. With the higher price tag comes top notch service, luxurious rooms, and stunning sunset views to enjoy from balconies.

Cozy guest houses with accommodating staff are a popular choice in the area, as well, and are often less expensive than some of the high end boutique hotels dotting the neighborhood. Travelers on a budget may also consider self-catering apartments and villas to save money and stay in this beautiful, walkable neighborhood.

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7. Waterfront

Best areas in Cape Town: Waterfront
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Bursting at the seams with things to do, the Waterfront district, just next to Green Point, is a popular place for visitors to experience, whether or not they choose to stay in Cape Town in this upscale neighborhood.

From a family-friendly ferris wheel to numerous historic monuments and museums, visitors can spent hours if not days seeing all of the attractions in this area. Picturesque sunsets and cafe-lined streets add to the appealing charm of this stunning Cape Town neighborhood.

The Waterfront neighborhood is appealing to travelers who want to stay near some of the most popular attractions in Cape Town. The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is located here, as is the Chavonnes Battery Museum. Wildlife lovers will find a variety of marine life on display at the Two Oceans Aquarium.

One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town, particularly for history buffs, is Robben Island, the infamous prison where Nelson Mandela was incarcerated for 18 years during his fight to end apartheid.

At the Waterfront, guests can visit the Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island museum before taking a tour of the infamous Robben Island. It is from the Waterfront neighborhood that both helicopters and boats depart to this historic site.

The picturesque Waterfront can be an expensive place to stay, with several upscale waterfront accommodations charging hefty nightly prices for visitors who want this exclusive luxury experience. Even inland hotels can cost twice as much as accommodations in other neighborhoods.

While the price can be off-putting for many travelers, the Waterfront is one of the best areas to stay in cape Town to enjoy close proximity to shopping, attractions, and excellent restaurants with a stunning view of the water.

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8. Bo-Kaap

Bo-kaap Cape Twon
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At the base of Signal Hill lies the Bo-Kaap, an historic neighborhood dating to the 1760s when Malaysian slaves lived in this neighborhood in the “huurhuisjes”, small houses which were leased to them by South Africans. Today, the once-white houses are painted bright hues, a visual celebration of freedom that gives the neighborhood a colorfully distinct look.

For the most part, this neighborhood is home to people who have been in the area for generations, but for travelers drawn to this cultural center, there are a handful of accommodations here, as well.

Travelers who want to be near the city center will find the Bo-Kaap to be one of the best areas in Cape Town because it is directly adjacent and within walking distance to several museums, including the Bo-Kaap Museum and the District Six Museum, among others.

As a result of its history, the Bo-Kaap is an excellent place to eat or take a cooking class and experience traditional Cape Malay cuisine which is a fusion of Dutch and Middle Eastern. The neighborhood is also home to a popular diamond wholesaler for visitors looking for a sparkling souvenir.

Close proximity to the city center means that transportation in and out of the neighborhood is easy for travelers choosing to stay in the Bo-Kaap. It can also be more expensive than surrounding neighborhoods for visitors who choose one of the boutique or luxury hotels bordering this neighborhood.

Conversely, visitors lucky enough to find a guest house will find moderately priced accommodation and a more authentic experience in this historic neighborhood.

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9. De Waterkant

Best areas to stay in Cape Town: De Waterkant
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The stylish and trendy De Waterkant district sits just north of the Bo-Kaap and is technically a subset of the Green Point neighborhood. Nicknamed the “pink district,” De Waterkant is an open-minded and welcoming neighborhood for the LBGTQ community with its mixture of gay-friendly bars, restaurants, and other businesses.

Visitors looking for craft cocktails and a buzzing bar scene will find De Waterkant to be one of the best neighborhoods in Cape Town. A wide variety of international cuisine within walking distance makes De Waterkant a popular neighborhood for food and drink lovers.

Since 2010, the FIFA World Cup Fan Walk has also been a popular attraction for visitors, and it passes directly over De Waterkant Village. And for guests traveling in March, this neighborhood is one of the best neighborhoods in Cape Town to view the Cape Town Carnival, a lively parade that fills the streets with floats and performers, culminating in a street party for all to experience.

Centrally located and safe for visitors, De Waterkant is a visually appealing and walkable place to stay in Cape Town. As a suburb of the larger City Bowl center, there are a number of apartment rentals and cottages throughout, most of which offer competitive pricing and proximity to transportation.

One of the best areas to stay in Cape Town is De Waterkant Village, a European-influenced collection of detached cottages and guest houses, featuring charming architectural details and thoughtful amenities. Although these accommodations don’t include fitness rooms, the neighborhood is abuzz with yoga centers, ideal for travelers who don’t want to miss a workout while on vacation.

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10. Woodstock

Best places to stay in Cape Town: Woodstock
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Edgy and vibrant, Woodstock is a hip, up-and-coming neighborhood whose humble beginnings included farm cottages and fishermen’s homes. Nowadays, brightly colored graffiti adorns the coffee shops and vintage boutiques that line the streets of one of the oldest suburbs in Cape Town.

Youthful and diverse, this art-filled neighborhood is a favorite among locals and travelers looking for an authentic experience when they stay in Cape Town. Woodstock’s urban renewal has made it popular among a younger crowd, many of whom have embraced the neighborhood’s eclectic style and built on that vibe.

The area is best discovered on foot, walking up and down the streets, discovering a funky used lamp at one of the many antique shops or some dangly new earrings at an African market stall before digging into cheap eats at one of the many cafes lining the streets. In addition to a buzzing food scene, the neighborhood is filled with coffee shops and breweries for relaxing and people watching.

As a neighborhood favored by locals, accommodations in Woodstock are primarily guest houses, apartments, and studios, although there are a few big name hotels lining the outskirts of the neighborhood.

Budget travelers will appreciate the backpacker’s lodge in town, but in general, accommodations here are relatively cheap whether at a hostel or not. Access to both the Esplanade and Woodstock train stations make for easy travel throughout Western Cape.

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