Cape Town

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Cape Town and Table Mountain viewed from Bloubergstrand across Table Bay.

Cape Town is the second largest city in South Africa and is the capital of the Western Cape Province, as well as being the legislative capital of South Africa (the Houses of Parliament are here). It is located in the south-west corner of the country near the Cape of Good Hope, and is the most southern city in Africa. It is a stone's throw from South Africa's world-famous Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek.

Understand[edit]

Cape Town is also known as the Mother City in South Africa. It is also one of the most iconic cities in the world.

Geography[edit]

Cape Town seen from space: Most of the urban area visible in this NASA Astronaut photo is part of the greater Cape Town metropolitan area. Also visible are Stellenbosch, Paarl, and Fransch Hoek to the north east, and Rooi-els and Pringle Bay to the south east

The Cape Town metropolitan area covers a large area, from Durbanville and Somerset West in the east to Cape Point in the south and Atlantis in the north. The city centre is located in a relatively small area between Table Mountain and Table Bay.

History[edit]

Heart Transplant

The first human heart transplant was performed on the 3rd December 1967 by Dr. Christiaan Barnard at the Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town

For thousands of years, Cape Town was inhabited by the Strandloper (ancestors of Kalahari Bushmen). Cape Town's European history began in 1652, when Jan van Riebeeck established a trading post there on behalf of the VOC (Dutch East Indies Company). The first European settlers were mainly Dutch, with some French Huguenots that had to flee from religious persecution in their home country. The first settlers soon explored the adjacent hinterland and founded the cities of Stellenbosch and Paarl in today's Cape Winelands. The Voortrekkers (Pioneers of European descent) started from here to explore and settle the rest of South Africa.

Today Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa. It is a world-class cosmopolitan city with numerous sites of historical significance, and a lively night-life, as well as a large gay community.

Climate[edit]

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 25 26 25 22 20 18 17 17 18 21 23 24
Nightly lows (°C) 15 15 14 12 10 9 9 8 9 11 13 14
  • The summer months are from December to February. Days are usually hot, but the humidity is low, so it is not uncomfortable. You should stay inside or in the shade during the midday heat and use sufficient sun block. You will fight for space on the beach around New Year's with all the local tourists but it is still a great time to visit as there are a lot of events happening.
  • The winter months of June to August tend to be rather wet, which does not mean rain every day although it can rain for two weeks straight on occasion. It can also get very cold at night, with temperatures as low as 2 or 3°C (this is the temperature of the ocean so it will not get colder unless you go far inland) but 5-7°C normal. It will become warmer during the day, with temperatures between 9-15°C typical. It is often very cloudy with far fewer hours of sunshine.
  • Best times to visit are:
    • October and November: The weather is getting warmer. Spring is in the air, but it is not as hot as mid-summer yet. These months can be windy months. The South-Easter is known as the Cape Doctor as it blows away a great deal of pollution!
    • December to February: These are the prime summer months of long hot days. The sun sets late in the evening (it stays light up until about 8:30PM in December) and there is generally a lot going on. February is the most reliable month for weather, with week after week of hot days.
    • March to May: This can change from year to year, but generally it starts raining and the temperature begins to become cooler. There are far fewer visitors around, and you can get excellent deals on accommodation, food and most tourism services.

Fire[edit]

During the dry summer months (even more so when there is strong wind) fire poses a serious threat to the flora and fauna of the region, especially the National Parks. The fynbos in particular can become very dry and burn easily. Over the last couple of years a number of fires have damaged the slopes of Table Mountain. Please take care not to be the cause of any runaway fire and report any fires that you might see to Table Mountain National Park Fire Management on +27 (0)21 689-7438 or +27 (0)21 957-4700 outside office hours.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Cape Town International Airport (CPT)[edit]

Central Terminal Building at Cape Town International Airport

   Cape Town International Airport +27 21 937-1200. Cape Town, International Port of Entry is the second largest airport in South Africa (the largest being the OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg), located around 20 km east of the city centre of Cape Town. It can easily reached by all National Roads and situated directly at the N2 near Bellville.

The MyCiti rapid transit operates from 04:30 to 22:00 between the airport and the centre of Cape Town with connections to the Atlantic coastal suburbs and to the MetroRail commuter train service [1].

There are multiple direct flights daily to Johannesburg, Durban and all other major South African cities, as well as Windhoek and Walvis Bay in Namibia, and Gaborone and Maun in Botswana.

Local airlines include South African Airways, British Airways franchise Comair and low-cost airlines Kulula.com and Mango

International Airlines operating routes to Cape Town include:

South African Airways no longer operates inter-continental routes direct from Cape Town International, only via OR Tambo in Johannesburg. Services from the United States also connect via OR Tambo in Johannesburg from/to New York City, Washington DC or Atlanta. In the summer, (October–March) several charter airlines operate direct flights from all over Europe to Cape Town. Spare seats are sold with substantial discounts but during Christmas time and New Year prices rise significantly.

The Antarctic Company operates 3-day excursions from Cape Town to Queen Maud Land in Antarctica.

Facilities[edit]
  • ATMs (In all terminals).
  • Baggage storage (In the Domestic Arrivals terminal),  +27 21 936-2884. R15 per bag per day.
  • Clinic (Southern Office Block),  +27 21 936-2277.
  • Foreign exchange (Located in International Arrivals and Departure Terminals). Master Currency and ABSA
  • VAT Refunds (International Departures, between passport control and the gates),  +27 21 934-8675, e-mail: .
Car hire[edit]
Sleep[edit]
Connect[edit]
  • Always On Wi-Fi +27 11 575-2505. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. From R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

See also Discount airlines in Africa for further information.

By train[edit]

The Muizenberg to Simon's Town Metrorail tracks run right along the ocean. Great views.

All scheduled South African passenger trains are run by PRASA (the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa), which has different divisions for long-distance (inter-city) trains and commuter (suburban) trains. Shosholoza Meyl operates inter-city trains and MetroRail operates commuter trains in major cities.

Shosholoza Meyl has three classes of inter-city trains : Economy Class, Tourist Class and Premier Classe. In economy class there are seats only (no bunk beds), tourist class provides bunk beds for overnight trips (bring a sleeping bed or buy bedding on the train) and premier classe is luxurious and comfortable, with all meals and bedding provided. Economy and tourist class trains have a buffet car for food. Prices on the three classes vary accordingly.

Cape Town's main train station is located in the city centre, on the corner of Adderley Street and Strand Street. All trains to or from Cape Town arrive and depart from here.

There are inter-city trains to

MetroRail has two classes on commuter trains in and around Cape Town : MetroPlus (also called First Class) and Metro (called Third Class). MetroPlus is more comfortable and less crowded but also more expensive. Every trainset has both MetroPlus and Metro coaches ; the MetroPlus coaches are always on the end of the train nearest Cape Town. Prices are cheap so it is better to be more comfortable and use MetroPlus. Note that there are steep fines if you are caught in a MetroPlus coach with a Metro ticket (vice versa is allowed).

MetroRail commuter trains are a great way to get between Cape Town and neighbouring towns such as Stellenbosch, Strand, Paarl, Somerset West, Malmesbury, Worcester and through the Southern Suburbs (Claremont, Wynberg, Retreat) or to the beaches at Muizenberg, Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Glencairn and Simon's Town. Contrary to many reports that you might read, MetroRail trains are safe, but it is probably wise to avoid avoid traveling at night if possible. If you need to use trains at night, use the most crowded first class (MetroPlus) car and don't stay alone.

The train line from Cape Town to Simon's Town is fabulous ; from Muizenberg south to Simon's Town it runs right next to the sea. You can often see whales, and if it's windy you may have sea spray hitting the train windows. For the best views make sure you sit on the east side of the train (the left side as you face away from Cape Town and towards Simon's Town). This route previously boasted a moving restaurant coach (called Biggsy's) that did the return trip from Cape Town to Simon's Town between 2 and 4 times a day, every day except Monday. However, Biggsy's restaurant car was withdrawn from service on July 2007 for renovations and by June 2009 had not yet been re-introduced. You can buy a Tourist "hop on, hop off" ticket for the Cape Town-Simon's Town route that allows you to get off and on any train for the entire day.

Trains to Stellenbosch run every two hours (more or less), but this journey might take a while. Ask at the ticket counter if there is an earlier train you could use, as there are also trains to Stellenbosch starting in Bellville and Eerste River.

By car[edit]

The vast majority of roads in and around Cape Town are in a very good condition, making travelling by car an easy issue. However, please be aware of hijackers at night or at traffic lights. The danger is not as high as often emphasized by the media, but a good portion of precaution should be taken. Please ask your hotel staff or anyone familiar with the area about where it is safe and where it is not safe.

Several major highways start in Cape Town:

Hiring a car in South Africa is not as expensive as in Europe or many other countries. Petrol is also cheap compared to Europe but a bit more expensive than in the United States. The locals will tell you that the Cape Town drivers are the most courteous drivers in South Africa (except the mini bus taxi drivers who are unpredictable) and generally drive slower in comparison with other cities.

By bus[edit]

All major bus companies have Intercity connections from Cape Town, taking you to other cities in South Africa and to Windhoek in Namibia. There might be up to 6 buses a day to certain cities.

The starting point is next to the train station at the corner of Adderley and Strand Street, near the Golden Acre building. Please ask at the nearby tourist information or in your hotel for connections and where your bus is going to leave, as finding your bus can become difficult.

Also, there are a few bus services available while travelling from eastern Africa, notably Tanzania and Kenya. The general route followed is Nairobi (Kenya), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Lusaka (Zambia) and Harare (Zimbabwe) in order to reach Johannesburg. The journey from Nairobi takes about two to three days.

Bus tickets can also be obtained from Computicket [2] .

Cape Town is also on the Baz Bus route.

By boat[edit]

Most of the larger cruise lines, such as Princess Cruises offer Cape Town as one of their destinations, but you can also try something different:

  • RMS St Helena. This passenger/cargo ship is the last working Royal Mail Ship and stops at Cape Town on its way to St Helena.

Get around[edit]

Map of Cape Town City Bowl and adjacent suburbs

By foot[edit]

Unless you are staying within walking distance of the beach in Camps Bay (or some other area where everything you want is close by) then you will find it very frustrating not to have your own transport. Even short distance walks (like from V&A Harbour to the Castle of Good Hope) are problematic by foot, in a city with dividing motorways, and little or no signage or facilities for pedestrians away from the shopping precincts.

By car[edit]

There are numerous car rental companies located at the airport and throughout town. Remember that you drive on the left here which may take some getting used to if you've never done it. It may be difficult to come by an automatic transmission at the rental company so reserve your car ahead of time if an automatic is what you prefer. When you are ready to put fuel in your car, it is required to let one of the petrol station attendants fill it up for you. Just stay in your car, he/she will come up to and ask you which fuel type and how much you want to put in. Cape Town also has a number of luxury chauffeur companies available that perform various services such as airport transfers, transport to corporate events as well as VIP bodyguards.

By metered taxi[edit]

Metered taxis are controlled by the city council and can be considered safe and reliable. The price per kilometer is around R8-R10 and can often be read at the taxis side door. You can also set a fixed price with the driver, especially when going to a far away destination such as the airport which is about 21 km from city center and the fare can be bargained down to R180.

Please note that there is only one official taxi company at the airport. But you should ask your hotel to pick you up, as pick up service are provided by nearly all hotels, guest houses and so on.

By minibus taxi[edit]

Minibus taxis are used widely by locals but tourists are usually discouraged from using them, except for the Green Point - Sea Point - Clifton - Camps Bay route that is frequently used by tourists. They cover most of the Cape Town Metropolitan Area and are very cheap, however they can get very crowded and are definitely less safe than metered taxis due to their dangerous driver behavior.

Some minibus taxi operators have seen the value in the tourist market and are starting to provide safe and legal alternatives to the traditional minibus taxis. They are more expensive than the traditional minibus taxis, but still far cheaper than metered taxis. No guarantee you'll get to your destination directly, but it is safe, fun, and all the drivers are characters. You may even meet supermodels going to their photo shoots or artists going to their studios. During busy times of day (or year) you may have to wait a while and unfortunately, they do not take reservations.

By bus[edit]

Recently a brand new, international standard rapid transit service has started in Cape Town, known as MyCiTi, that runs from Cape Town Airport to the Cape Town CBD (City Bowl) and the Atlantic coastal suburbs.

  • MyCiTi. 04:30 to 22:00. This is the recommended service for tourists to the City and is comparable with the London Transport system in England.
  • Golden Arrow Bus Services. This is a network of public buses that offers cheap connections (e.g. from the city centre to the Cape Flats). They run mostly during the day. It is better to ask the driver where the bus is going to make sure you don’t end up somewhere else.

By scooter or cycle[edit]

You can also hire a scooter or a small motorbike. A number of places in the city offer this service and it is a great way to be mobile and save over hiring a car; however, unless you love the pain of cycling up and down mountains while dodging city traffic on narrow streets, cycling for transportation is not recommended.

  • LDV Biking13D Kloof Nek Road +27 83 528-0897, e-mail: . The recommended place to rent a scooter or motorbike. From about R100 to R170 per day depending on how many days you are renting for and the time of year.

By train[edit]

There is a system of public train transport, although it is mainly used by locals. Operator Metrorail has done a lot to increase safety and comfort on board the trains, but they still do not live up to European standards. So make sure to buy a first-class ticket. Cape Town station is situated in the city centre on the corner of Adderley Street and Strand Street and there is a reasonable suburban network of lines with more than 80 stations. A nice scenic ride can be done south to Simon's Town, all along the east coast of the Cape Peninsula. Stick to the Simon's Town line and make sure you are not on the train after 6:30PM or when it is dark.

Make sure you do not carry anything expensive on the train as this is an invitation to thieves. If you must carry a camera, make sure it is well out of sight (preferably a small wallet sized camera). Ear rings, necklaces and any form of visible jewellery are not recommended as these can be ripped (rather painfully) from one's person by an enterprising thief. Keep your wits about you and it will make for a pleasant and safe journey.

See[edit]

Colourful houses at Bo-Kaap
The Castle of Good Hope
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Robben Island prison museum
  • Bo-Kaap. This neighbourhood, located on a hill south-west of downtown, is the area historically inhabited by mainly Muslim descendants of slaves from South-East Asia (hence an older term for the area - 'Malay Quarter'. It's a common location for film shoots, as there are some very colourful buildings, quaint streets, mosques. views over Cape Town and some great food sold on the side of the street. It's well worth wandering around for an hour or so, as well as visiting the Bo-Kaap Museum (a view of a prosperous Muslim family from the 19th Century).
Atlas Trading is an old fashioned shop where you can buy spices for any dish. Ask the proprieter to mix you the necessary spices for the meal you intend on making.
Approximately 1km from the Bo-Kaap, is the Noon Gun which is fired every day at noon - from Monday to Saturday. You can go and view the short ceremony that takes place before the actual shooting, as well as the shooting itself.
  •    The Castle of Good HopeBuitenkant Street +27 21 787-1260. The Castle of Good Hope is South Africa's oldest surviving building. It was built between 1666 and 1679. It is popularly called 'The Castle' by locals. It has extensive displays of historical military paraphernalia, a history of the castle, an art collection and the William Fehr Collection (including old Cape Dutch furniture).You can eat and buy wine inside the Castle at the restaurant or café.
Tours are offered Monday through Saturday at 11AM, 12PM, and 2PM.
Horse and carriage rides are offered daily at 10:30AM, 12:45PM and 2:45PM. Booking is necessary. R28 entrance fee.
  •    Kirstenbosch Botanical GardensRhodes Drive, Newlands +27 21 799-8899, +27 21 799-8783. Open daily 8AM-6PM (7PM September to March). View the hugely diverse and beautiful plants and flowers of the Cape flora in one of the most stunning botanical gardens in the world. Plants from all of the regions of South Africa are on display, including rare succulents from the Richtersveld, a giant baobab tree, and interesting medicinal plants. Numerous paths wander through the grounds situated on the back side of Table Mountain. Several restaurants, a gift shop and indigenous nursery are also available. At various times of the year concerts are performed in the open air amphitheatre. Art is frequently on display, including large Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe. The gardens are also home to the National Biodiversity Institute.
What makes the garden so special, is that every season gives you something new to see - new flowers, different birds, etc.
During the summer months, sunset concerts feature excellent local and international music acts in diverse genres. Get there early to get a good spot on the grass amphitheatre. Bring a picnic, and enjoy the sounds of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, local rock bands, and popular artists like Freshlyground and Goldfish. R40.
  •    Robben Island +27 21 413-4200. Robben Island is located just off the coast from Cape Town, this was the location used during the apartheid days to hold political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela and the late Walter Sisulu. The tour consists of a guided bus tour around the island, before meeting a former political prisoner for a tour of the prison area. The island itself is quite scenic, with African penguins usually seen on the tour. The bus tour stops to allow you to take in the view, and buy a snack. Tours run several times per day, seven days a week from the Nelson Mandela Gateway near the clock tower at the V&A Waterfront. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone. There are three trips a day at 9:00, 11:00, and 13:00. The tour takes 3.5 hours including the ferry ride to and from the island. R230.
  •    Rhodes Memorial +27 21 689-9151, e-mail: . The memorial is situated in recognition of Cecil John Rhodes. It's built in his favorite spot on the lower slopes of Devil's Peak. Rhodes's own wooden bench is still located below the memorial. The memorial is part of the Table Mountain National Park which is a great spot for picnicking. The memorial is also a start for the hiking along Devil's Peak. Rhodes Memorial and the surrounding bike and hiking trails have become a very popular spot for muggers in recent months. If you just have to explore the nature in this area as it is very beautiful, make sure you are never alone and never carry valuables with you.
  • South African Parliament +27 21 403-2266. Cape Town is the legislative seat of South Africa (the Presidential seat is in Pretoria and the Supreme Court is at Bloemfontein). A tour of this compound will acquaint you with South Africa's recent history and its political system. The tour includes visits to the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces and the old apartheid-era assembly which is now only used for caucus and committee meetings. Tours are offered a few times per day in various languages. Free entrance and tours.
  •    Two Oceans AquariumV&A Waterfront +27 21 418-3823, e-mail: . Open 9:30AM-6PM. You can come and watch the sharks be fed every Sunday at 3PM. There is an extensive series of events calendar for each month. Scuba diving with the sharks is also offered. A walk around the aquarium takes about an hour. Adults R105, children (14-17) R75 and children (4-13) R48.
  •    Victoria and Alfred Waterfront +27 21 408-7600. A huge shopping and entertainment area in the harbour. It is very popular with tourists, because of the high density of shops, restaurants and amusement possibilities, like the Aquarium or the Marine Museum. Harbour tours and trips to Robben Island start from here, as well as helicopter flights to the Cape Peninsula. The V&A Waterfront has more or less full wheelchair access.
  • Cape Town Science Centre370B Main Road, Observatory +27 21 300-3200, e-mail: . A world of discovery under one roof! Expect a wide variety of interactive displays and exciting activities for your enjoyment. Build a house in the exclusive 'kids only' Building Site, challenge your mind with Puzzling Things, experience weightlessness similar to that of space with a spin on the Human Gyroscope, play Mindball - the game where you control the ball with your brain waves and see and hear science in the Audio Kinetic Sculpture. R40 for adults and chldren. Students, pensioners and group discounts.

Museums and Galleries[edit]

Cape-Dutch architecture at Groot Constantia
Jane Alexander Butcher Boys at the South African National Gallery
  • Bo-Kaap Museum71 Wale Street, Bo-Kaap +27 21 481-3939, e-mail: . Open 9:30AM-4:30PM Monday to Saturday. Located in a home dating from the 1760s, the museum offers an insight into the cultural life of the Muslim community of the Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town. R5 entrance fee.
  •    District Six Museum25A Buitenkant St +27 21 466-7200, e-mail: . Open 9AM-4PM Monday to Saturday. District Six is an area near downtown Cape Town which remained multiracial well into the 1960s against all attempts by the government to declare it a "white only" area. Eventually the residents were all evicted and the buildings were bulldozed. The area remains uninhabited. The museum provides information about the area, the eviction, the Group Areas Act, and the people who used to live there. The director of the museum is a former resident. There is a small bookstore with an excellent selection of books on South Africa's history, District Six and apartheid.
  •    South African Jewish Museum88 Hatfield Street +27 21 464-1267, e-mail: . Open Sunday-Thursday 10AM-5PM and Friday 10AM-2PM. Closed Saturday. The Museum about this small community that has made large contributions in South African society and bringing down Apartheid. The museum is about Jews but Non-Jews will find it very interesting and informative. R35 adults, R15 students.
  •    South African National GalleryGovernment Avenue, Gardens +27 21 467-4660, e-mail: . 10AM-5PM Tuesday to Sunday. Located in the Gardens area of Cape Town off Government Ave (about a 20 minute walk from downtown). Contains extensive displays of South African art, as well as information on the history of censorship of art during apartheid. R10 entrance fee.
  • Galleria Gibello67 Rose Street, Bo Kaap +27 21 422-1144, e-mail: . Open 10AM-5PM Monday to Friday. Galleria Gibello is a photo gallery that is filled with visually captivating moments of life on the African continent. Admission is free.

Performing arts[edit]

Do[edit]

V&A Waterfront
West coast of the Cape Peninsula.

Almost everything is possible in Cape Town, from a nice guided city tour through an adrenaline kick in an old fighter jet. The easiest way to get an overview on things to do, nice restaurants, clubs, tours etc. is to walk into one of the visitors centres which are in several areas. (V&A Waterfront, City Bowl, Green Point etc.).

  • Cable Car to the top of Table MountainLower Cable Station, Tafelberg Road +27 21 424-8181. Open between 8AM-10PM (usually 8:30), last car down is at 9PM. Both the cable car and the pathways on top of the mountain are wheelchair accessible. Always take something warm to wear when going up the mountain, even if it is a nice toasty 30C at the bottom of the mountain. Weather conditions at the top of the mountain are not the same as at the bottom. There is a cafe with a limited range of snacks, coffee, beer and wine at the top. Table Mountain is the home of a small animal, the rock rabbit (known locally as the 'Dassie') whose closest relative, DNA-wise, is the elephant, and you can see them running around on the rocks at the top of the mountain. R195 return ticket or R100 for one way (down).
  • Climbing Table Mountain - Platteklip Gorge is the most accessible and therefore the most popular route for climbing up Table Mountain. You start from Tafelberg Road and proceed up a steep gully to the top of Table Mountain. It's a steep 2 hours but well worth the effort and you can jump in the cable car back down to spare your knees. Be cautioned that the cable car does not operate in strong winds so you need to check before departing. Take water, sun block, hat and jacket. The cloud comes down unannounced and the temperature could plummet. Poorly equipped hikers often have to be rescued. Although it is very steep this route is extremely popular and you are guaranteed to meet many people on the way up and down. The gorge is shaded in the afternoon but earlier in the day it can be extremely hot with very little shade. Most of the route involves rock steps which can be challenging and many people find coming down even harder than going up. Don't underestimate the time and energy required for the downward section of this hike. Remember to take lots of water - this climb can be hot! Wear appropriate hiking shoes. Leave plenty of time to get down before dark. As this is a well known route and easy accessible, many inexperienced hikers attempt the climb. Take care, or consider a guide. Meridian Hiking Club welcomes visitors on its organized hikes led by experienced climbers. There's a R20 daily charge per person.
  • Ratanga Junction +27 21 550-8504, e-mail: . Open 10AM-5PM, but not open all year round. Usually open during summer, Easter and winter holiday periods. Enjoy a day with your kids at this theme park. R25 to R100 depending on what rides you want to do.
  • Swimming. Beaches on the False Bay side of the peninsula are the most popular with swimmers as the water is warmer. St James has the most picturesque tidal pool on the stretch between Muizenberg and Kalk Bay, while Clovelly and Fish Hoek beaches wrap around a sheltered bay with soft, white sands. Fishing boats, hobie cats and kayaks launch from here too. Brave hearts can sun-worship and swim naked in the freezing water of the isolated and breathtaking nudist beach Sandy Bay near Llandudno. Major spot for gay tourists as well. There's a 1.5 km walk down from the parking lot. Camps Bay and Clifton also have great beaches to visit if you want to try the chillier waters of the west coast.
  • Surfing— Cape Town is one of the best places to surf. Muizenberg is a good place for beginners to learn to surf, Gary offers reasonably priced lessons from a shop facing the beach. Don't forget that the False Bay area (where Muizenberg is located in addition to Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek) is known for its sharks! If you're an experienced surfer, try the reef break at Kalk Bay, Outer Kom near Kommetjie or Misty Cliffs on the coast road near Scarborough. You could head up the west coast and sample Milnerton, Table View or Big Bay, although Big Bay is often crowded with people kitesurfing due to the windy conditions. When the swell is really cranking, the big wave surfers gather at Dungeons, near Hout Bay, for some of the biggest surfable waves in the world.
  • Kite Surfing— Cape Town is one of the most favourite Kite Surfing destinations in the world. The two oceans combined with the windy conditions make for a great Kite Surfing experience. Some of the most popular Kite surfing hot spots are Dolphin Beach in Blouberg Strand, Muizenberg and Langebaan Lagoon.
  • Winelands— Tour the beautiful Constantia Valley wine estates Groot Constantia, Buitenverwagting, Klein Constantia and Constantia Uitsig before checking out the Cape Winelands around Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek. Stellenbosch has the added attraction of being an historical university town and Franschhoek, well established as the food capital of the Cape, is home to three of the country's top ten restaurants. The views are extraordinary. Have a drink and a snack at Dieu Donne estate for an unsurpassable vista of the entire valley, or take your own picnic to the top of a little hill they have by the parking area. Most wineries charge for a tasting session, but usually refund it on a purchase. It's right next to the botanical garden.

Wine Tasting[edit]

Cape Town has some of the worlds best wine producing vineyards and arguably the worlds most scenically stunning on its doorstep. The wine regions of Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl are all with in an easy hours drive, these historic and lush regions offer stunning views and world class wine tastings. You can self-drive but this come with limitations, often the best farms are closed to the public and then there is the drinking and driving issue. The best value and safest way to see the winelands is to trust your day to a dedicated wine tour company.

Deep Sea Fishing[edit]

Shark cage diving[edit]

Diving[edit]

On the way to a dive off Cape Town
The sharks at the Two Oceans Aquarium are fed every Sunday, so visitors who take advantage of the opportunity to dive with them can do so in relative safety.

Cape Town is located near two oceans, the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean. Because of the Benguela Current the Atlantic Ocean is relatively cold (about 8°C to 14°C). The Indian Ocean is warmer (12°C to 17°C), and here you can see the more colourful fish. The official border between the two oceans is at Cape Agulhas, but currents and eddies take the warmer water further west and these waters can reach the eastern side of the Cape Peninsula in False Bay, so from a diving point of view, the Cape Peninsula may be considered the interface between the two marine biological regions, and there is a notable difference in character between the waters of the two coasts of the peninsula. This manifests itself in the different range of marine life found on the two coasts. These regions are the South Western Cape inshore bioregion and the Agulhas inshore bioregion.

Permits:

The waters around the Cape Peninsula have been declared a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Permits are required to Scuba dive in any Marine Protected Area. This is a politically controversial issue due to disputes on whether due process was followed and whether the government department exceeded its authority, but the consequence is that a tax is imposed on all Scuba divers who dive in an MPA. The permit (valid for 1 year) may be purchased for R75 (2009) at a some branches of the Post Office, or a temporary permit valid for 1 month may be purchased at most dive shops. Failure to present this permit when requested by an official of MCM may lead to harassment and possible arrest.

Dive Sites:

Detailed information and suggestions on local conditions, service providers and more than 100 local dive sites is provided in the guide to Diving the Cape Peninsula and False Bay.

If the open ocean does not appeal to you, the Two Oceans Aquarium also offer diving opportunities in their 2.2 million liter tank.

  • Diving at Two Oceans Aquarium +27 21 418-3823, e-mail: . 9AM, 11AM and 1PM daily. You need to be in possession of a valid diving license (PADI, CMAS, NAUI, BSAC etc.). Swim along with the Ragged tooth sharks, Yellow tail, Kob, Musselcracker, Bull rays and a lonely turtle. The dive master Iain, a barrel shaped bearded little man with a distinct Scottish accent, is both nice and knowledgeable and accompanies you into the aquarium ready to fend off the sharks with his broomstick should they become cuddly. Dive time is around 30 minutes. For advanced divers, the Kelp forest tank puts you into the water with more and bigger local reef fish than you will see in the sea. R400 (R325 if you bring your own diving gear), this includes the R70 aquarium entrance fee.

Events[edit]

There are many organized events in Cape Town throughout the year. An official calendar of events is available from Cape Town Tourism.

  • Cape Argus Cycle Tour +27 21 685-6551, e-mail: . March every year. Total distance is 109 km. Start in downtown, cycle down the eastern side of the peninsula, past Simon's Town and back up the western side of the peninsula. Entrance fee is R250 for entrants on the African continent or the equivalent of 50 Euro's everyone else. If you are not involved in or interested in cycling, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
  • Two Oceans Marathon +27 21 671-9407, e-mail: . On Easter Saturday each year. An Ultra marathon (56 km), a half marathon (21 km) and a number of fun runs ranging from a 56m Nappy Dash to a 8 km walk or run. Maximum 10 000 entrance accepted per year per race distance (fun runs excluded). There is a pricing scale for each of the runs. The Ultra Marathon, R190 for South African residents, R300 for the rest of Africa and R555 for the rest of the world. The Half Marathon, R125 of South African residents, R215 for the rest of Africa and R335 for the rest of the world. The Fun Runs are priced from R10 to R20. If you are not involved in or interested in the runs, avoid Cape Town on this weekend, as it is almost impossible to go anywhere as so many roads are closed.
  • Cape Town Jazz FestivalCape Town International Convention Centre +27 21 422-5651. Normally held during late March.
  • Cape Town Minstrel CarnivalMarches throughout the city ending at Green Point Stadium. Usually New Years day and a couple of days later during January. Also known as the Kaapse Klopse, these brightly dressed singers and dancers spend months preparing for this annual event.
  • Kirstenbosch Summer Sunset ConcertsKirstenbosch Botanical Gardens +27 21 799-8783. 5:30PM-6:30PM every Sun, late Nov to early April. R50.
  • Mother City Queer Project, e-mail: . Sometime during December each year. Biggest gay and lesbian party of the year. R100 to R350. The sooner you buy a ticket the cheaper it is.
  • Spiers Summer Arts Festival +27 21 809-1111, e-mail: . From October to March. At the time of writing, the web site was not available.
  • City Harvest Festival +27 21 422-1418, e-mail: . April 20th 12PM-10PM and 21st 9AM-6PM. The City Harvest Festival exhibits the Cape’s finest wines, food, with live entertainment including bands. Talks by Cape winemakers on the winemaking process. Chocolate feature planned. Host venues include Signal Hill Winery, Café Mao, Riboville, WineSense and Sundance Café.

Safari[edit]

Big Five Cape Town safaris are becoming increasingly popular. There are numerous safari game reserves with in 2 hours drive from Cape Town which is a great option if you don’t want to venture too far from the city.

Hiking[edit]

There are many hiking trails in and around the city, from short walks to multi day hikes.

  • The Cape of Good Hope TrailCape Town +27 21 780-9204, e-mail: . Cape of Good Hope in the Table Mountain National Park, 34 km, 2 Days. R88.
  • Hoerikwaggo Table Mountain TrailCape Town +27 21 465-8515, e-mail: . 3 Day, non-strenuous, luxury trail through the city, botanical gardens and Table Mountain National Park. R635 per day.
  • The Orangekloof Hiking TrailCape Town +27 21 465-8515, e-mail: . 6 Days, Cape Point to Table Mountain. R420.
  • Table Mountain (Starting point is 1.5 km past the Lower Cable Station on Tafelberg Road). Always open, but you might want to start early enough to catch the last cable car down. 3 km (all uphill), 1 to 3 hours, Platteklip Gorge to the Upper Cable Station. No fees are charged.
  • Chapman's Peak. 2–3 hours, non-strenuous with breathtaking views of Hout Bay and Noordhoek and rich flora, especially proteas. The trail begins on the Hout Bay side of the peak about 750 m from the main view-point on scenic Chapman's Peak Drive. Park by the trail head and follow the path out of the picnic area. It soon forks but both routes take you to the same place. Turn right at the next junction, from where the path is clear. Return same route. No permit required.
  • The Amphitheatre in the Kalk Bay mountains. 3 hours. Start at the sign on scenic Boyes Drive and climb up towards the rocks above which are peppered with scores of caves, many of which are not recommended for novice cavers so be careful. Take a torch. Follow the right forks in the trail and you'll be rewarded with increasingly spectacular views of False Bay. Head straight up through Echo Valley and through an ancient milkwood grove. Come back the same way if you don't have detailed directions. No permit required.
  • Cape Town has a very good network of trails to suit every level of fitness. Many of these trace the contours of the mountain and wander through the protea bushes and fynbos, often with breathtaking views. Many require no permit, although most of Cape Town's reserves have entrance fees. Hiking in a group is strongly recommended. The outdoor store Cape Union Mart has a hiking club with organized group hikes most weekends. Pick up a programme at one of their stores. You must phone the hike-leader first and pay R10.
  • Paradise Touring +27 21 713-1020, e-mail: . For guided walks up the mountain with a botanical guide.
  • Cape Eco-Tours +27 82 460-4847, e-mail: . A good one for twitchers to use and is a member of Bird Life South Africa.
  • Trax Tours +27 73 495-6115, e-mail: . Guided hiking and cycle tours in Franschoek and Stellenbosch, including wine tasting.
  • Meridian Hiking Club +27 82 498-0361, e-mail: . This club organizes hikes ranging from easy day walks to strenuous rock scrambles on the mountain and multi-day hikes. Look up the calendar on the web site for details of current hikes. It is very popular with tourists. R20 per person (or R144 annual membership).

In the air[edit]

Kayaking[edit]

Sunset cruises[edit]

Townships tours[edit]

The townships are the places where people were forced to live (based on race) under the apartheid regime. To some extent townships continue to retain their apartheid-era racial make-up, for a variety of reasons. Townships have also grown to cover far larger areas of land than in the apartheid days. This is a result of urbanization, especially over the past 10–15 years. Touring a township may seem strange, even inappropriate, but it is a good way to learn about South Africa's history, and the poverty that many people continue to live in. People in the townships are friendly and the children love visitors. Some townships however can be dangerous (see the warning on the South Africa page) so don't go alone unless you know what you're doing. The townships tours are safe. If you want to bring sweets or gifts for the children, it is best not to give it directly to them, but to give it to the tour guide who will distribute them later.

Tours can be booked directly or through one of Cape Town's many booking agencies. Tours run once or twice per day. Be aware that if you're given the chance to try some township food, that a 'walkie-talkie' is often made from the feet and beaks of poultry. The very best way to see a township is by foot and to stay overnight at one of the many township B&Bs.

There are several tour companies which offer tours.

  • Cape Fusion ToursOranjezicht Cape Town +27 21 461-2437, e-mail: . Offers hands-on African cooking experiences in Langa at a local cooking school. This gives you an insight into the culture, the people and their cuisine.

Wildlife[edit]

There are a number of small nature reserves in and around Cape Town.

Wine tours[edit]

With South African wines becoming more and more popular worldwide, the number of tourists who visit Cape Town to learn more about the local wines is growing. The impressive variety of vineyards in Cape Town and the surrounding Cape Winelands make the choice which one to visit and which wine to taste very difficult. It is always a good idea to rely on one of the established wine tour operators. Guests should insist on a specialised guide with a thorough knowledge of South African wines.

Whale watching[edit]

Mostly you will see Southern right whales, but on occasion you might also spot humpback and killer whales. Bottlenose and dusky dolphins also frequent False Bay. The Southern Right wales visit each year between June & November to mate and calve.

From viewpoints next to the coastal road between Fishhoek- Sunny Cove railway station through Glen Cairn to Simon's Town one can often spot whales less than 100m from shore. At Cape Point whales can often be seen passing below.

A number of operators also offer Whale Watching Cruises.

Learn[edit]

Cape Town's medical research is world-renowned, and Groote Schuur hospital is where Christiaan Barnard and Hamilton Naki performed the world's first heart transplant.

There are several language schools in the greater Cape Town area. Shop around before you make your choice. Choose a school which is part of the e.g. IALC (International Association of Language Centres) or other certificate that ensure quality.

Universities[edit]

Other nearby universities.

Learn to sail[edit]

Cape Town is an excellent place to learn to sail, with courses completed here recognized internationally and costs far lower than what you can expect to pay in more developed countries.

Learn to dance[edit]

Cape Town is a hub for all forms of dancing, from African dance to ballroom & Latin American to modern dancing, ballet and swing. There is a school of dance at the University of Cape Town, where you can obtain an international dance qualification at a relatively affordable price.

Work[edit]

There are various volunteering opportunities in Cape Town.

Buy[edit]

V&A Waterfront.

The V&A Waterfront is the prime tourist destination for souvenirs, though these tend to be typically touristy (i.e. expensive and not necessarily authentic). More authentic curios for better prices can be found every Sunday at the Green Point market outside the Green Point Stadium on Sundays, in walking distance from the V & A Waterfront. Many of these same curios can be purchased during the week in the several multi-story shops at the lower end of Long Street. For the real deal with authentic artifacts complete with provenance and ethnographic background, go to Church Street where there are a couple of shops but be prepared for sticker shock. When buying African Curio, the price at open markets are almost always very negotiable and seldom does the item have a price sticker attached. People with foreign accents are often quoted twice to three times the price they sell to locals, so do negotiate.

  • Green Market Square54 Shortmarket Street. Originally a Farmers' Market dating back to 1710, Green Market is today one of the city's best flea markets. There's a range of local arts, craft and curios on offer and the vendors expect to bargain for their wares.

Wine[edit]

If you like South African wine, buy it here (or anywhere in South Africa) before you leave, because it is much cheaper and there is more availability than overseas. Top guide to wines is the John Platter's Guide, with a few others around too, and with thousands of wines available from the region, you will need a guide (see below for shops that have knowledgeable staff). Read Wine magazine (or the iconoclastic Grape) for the latest information.

  • Caroline's Fine WinesV&A Waterfront and 15 Long Street in the City Centre +27 21 419-8984. Better selection and more knowledgeable staff. City Centre location recommended, but both are excellent. Foam inserts and boxes for international shipping or for checking with your luggage (safe!). Not cheap though, compared to supermarkets and wineries.
  • Vaughan Johnson's Wine ShopDock Road, V&A Waterfront +27 21 419-2121, e-mail: . Quality selection but not exhaustive. Knowledgeable staff. Generally substantial (10-20%) markup over winery prices but of course more convenient.
  • Wine ConceptsCardiff Castle Building, cnr Main Street & Kildare Road, Newlands (Southern Suburbs) +27 21 671-9030, e-mail: . Another great wine shop, certainly the best outside the City Bowl. A franchised location is on Kloof Street in the Lifestyle Centre.
  • Ultra. A large South African liquor chain. Several locations around the city, the one in Green Point is the most accessible to tourists. A warehouse bottle store but with a remarkable wine selection across all price ranges. Case discount (even on mixed cases). Good if you want to stock up for a road trip. Stash a bottle of Amarula Cream in your backpack while you're at it. Great prices -- in fact, often cheaper than at the wine farms themselves.

Arts and Crafts[edit]

Distinctively Capetonian in character—are everywhere, from chickens made of plastic bags to bead and wire work to pottery, glass and embroidery. If you don't buy a chicken from a Rastafarian at a street corner (the authentic experience—about 30 rand depending on the size), then try Heartworks (Kloof Street or in Gardens Centre mall) or the Red Shed at the V & A Waterfront. There is also a high-end craft boutique in the Cape Quarter in De Waterkant.

Contemporary South African art has been riding a big wave in the international art world. It is on par with the best in the world and undervalued (unless you buy a William Kentridge). If you like real art as opposed to curios, crafts or posters, and you have the budget for it, there are several serious galleries in town. Try Michael Stevenson Gallery first, then Joao Ferreira Gallery, AVA Gallery or Bell-Roberts Gallery, and there are several others worth seeing. Art South Africa is the art magazine to read if you want to know about the artists, and the adverts list the shows and the galleries.

Shopping malls[edit]

As in any large city you will find a number of major shopping malls with the requisite department sized stores and chain labels:

  • Kenilworth Centrecnr Doncaster and Chichester Roads, Kenilworth +27 21 671-5054.
  • Mainstream Centrecnr Main Road and Pricess Beach, Hout Bay. Shops are open 9AM-5PM Monday to Friday, 9AM-5PM on Saturday and 10AM-2PM on Sunday.
  • Tyger Valleycnr Bill Bezuidenhout and Willie van Schoor Avenues, Bellville +27 21 914-1822. Open 9AM-7PM Monday to Saturday and 9AM-5PM on Sunday.

Eat[edit]

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under R60
Mid-range R60 to R120
Splurge Over R120
View over Greenpoint from the Revolving Restaurant in the Ritz Hotel.

Food in Cape Town is generally of high quality. The wines are much celebrated, but the surrounding region is also a major fruit producer, and the Karoo lamb is widely regarded. Seafood caught locally is superlative, but ironically much of it goes internationally (e.g., tuna for sushi) because of the prices that can be achieved. Ask about the local linefish—yellowtail, cape salmon, kingklip, kabeljou and others are great eating. Oysters in season are also exceptional, farmed and wild from Knysna or wild flown in from Namibia.

As one of the main tourist spots is the V&A Waterfront, you will find a broad range of restaurants, but they are often crowded and expensive. The area around Kloof St has many cafés and restaurants, as well as Long Street (frequented by a multi-ethnic clientèle), while the trendy area of De Waterkant between Bo Kaap and Green Point above Somerset Road also boasts good food and a great vibe. Dine with supermodels and other beautiful people in Camps Bay, which has many hip eateries and nightspots overlooking the beach along Victoria Road.

Farther afield, Hout Bay on the west side of the Cape Peninsula is very good for fresh crayfish (lobsters - they have become quite expensive, around R300, though). Kalk Bay on the east side of the peninsula offers a big variety of fresh fish, do check out The Brass Bell. The restaurants in nearby Simon's Town are also good.

Do not neglect the Cape Winelands for food if you have a car. In Stellenbosch, Spier has several restaurants, including the fun, afro-chic Moyo, and many wine estates offer food of different types and quality. The village of Franschhoek is the culinary navel of the wine region, with Le Quartier Francais a perennial five-star winner, but only one of many excellent restaurants. In the Constantia Valley there are number of great restaurants including Pastis Brasserie, Wasabi, The River Cafe, La Colombe and the Constantia Uitsig Restaurant.

NB: Make sure you know what the price is before you order rare delicacies in restaurants as there have been a few rare but high-profile cases of heinous overcharging where the price is not on the menu, particularly for perlemoen (abalone) and crayfish (similar to lobster).

Budget[edit]

  • BakovenSouthern Life Building, 10 Riebeeck Street +27 21 419-1937. Coffee shop and light meals.
  • Cafe Eco90 Long Street +27 21 422-2299. Cheap, relaxed, environmentally-friendly coffee shop. A favourite with backpackers.
  • Eastern Food Bazaar96 Longmarket Street, Cape Town +27 21 461 2458. South Asian food court offering high quality meals for a fair price. 100% Halaal. Price 20-35 Rand.
  • Table Mountain RestaurantOn top of Table Mountain, close to the Upper Cable Station. Open 08:30 to 18:30, with extended hours during December and January. A 120 seat, self-service restaurant. No booking required. Quality is variable. From R20 for a simple breakfast.
  • The Charles137 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant. Open 07:00 to 17:00. The Charles can accommodate 25–30 people seated. From R35 Small English Breakfast

(served with toasted white or whole wheat bread) 1 Egg, rasher bacon, sausage, fried tomato and sauté mushrooms.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Africa Café108 Shortmarket Street +27 21 422-0221, e-mail: . Affordable and very good. Maybe the best restaurant in Cape Town for African cuisine. Lower to medium price range. Serves fixed menu, all you can eat of 12-15 different dishes.
  • Bayfront BluTwo Oceans Aquarium +27 21 419-9086. Offers breakfast and coffee all day and also serves good seafood, like Swahili prawn curry. Tables offer view on water and Table Mountain.
  • BiesmiellahCorner Upper Wale/Pentz Street +27 21 423-0850. One of the oldest restaurants around, known for its Malay kitchen. No alcoholic drinks are available.
  • Col'Cacchio Pizzeria42 Hans Strijdom Avenue Foreshore (also at Eden on the Bay in Bloubergstrand) (Take N1 on M18, take right into River Rd and left into Hans),  +27 21 419-4848. Italian dishes made to order. Mid-range.
  • Five Flies14-16 Keerom Street. Enjoy a wonderful, multi-course meal in a stylish restaurant housed in one of Cape Town's oldest still-standing buildings. Favourite of local diplomats. Menu changes regularly; book reservations online.
  • HildebrandsV&A Waterfront. Offering standard Italian fare of pizzas and pastas, but the quality is not up to par.
  • Jewel Tavern101 St Georges Mall Street, City Bowl (At the intersection of Church Street and St Georges Mall Street),  +27 21 422-4041. Increasingly popular Chinese restaurant. Preferred destinations for Cape Town's bon viveurs. Guest can watch how their meals are prepared. Note this is a local spot for fisherman/boat workers coming in and spending a few days into the harbour. It is a very authentic spot with no frills. Most of the staff do not speak English, but the food is delicious.
  • 95 Keerom95 Keerom Street. A top class Italian restaurant with modern décor and a trendy atmosphere.
  • Lolas (Across from Long Street Café). Vegetarian food with local colour and great karma. Good conversation and even better meals. Mingle with dreadlocks, artsy types and brooding poets.
  • Long Street Café259 Long Street. Very popular, European kitchen, which serves up tasty drinks.
  • Mama Africa178 Long Street +27 21 426-1017. Open Monday to Saturday. Restaurant is open 7PM till late, the bar is open 4:30PM till late. African style tourist restaurant offering local and African meals, like Bobotie and Potjiekos, but also springbok, kudu and crocodile steak. Good range of wines at affordable prices. Live marimba music some nights.
  • Renaissance CafeMainstream Centre, Main Road, Hout Bay (next door to the Post Office) +27 21 790-7202. Best coffee in Hout Bay, set in a stunning courtyard. Open 8:30AM-6PM every day. Well worth a visit!
  • Rhodes Memorial RestaurantRhodes Memorial +27 21 689-9151, e-mail: . Situated in the Table Mountain National Park directly behind the famous Rhodes Memorial. The restaurant has stunning views over the northern and eastern Cape Town suburbs and the Hottentots Holland mountain range. The menu is diverse and caters to all tastes, but its the desserts that really rate a mention, be sure to tuck into some scones!
  • The Ritz Hotelcnr. Camberwell and Main Roads, Sea Point +27 21 439-6010. Has a revolving restaurant on the top floor of the hotel. Good food, good views, soft background live piano. A bar and smoking room is available one floor below the restaurant. You do not have to be a resident at the hotel to get a booking at the restaurant. NB(The floor has a small non revolving ledge next to the wall. Do not put your valuables on it as your table will be half way around the building before you realize that you have been separated from your belongings.)
  • Sunflower Health Café111 Long Street. Vegetarian restaurant, with a limited range of satisfying warm meals.
  • Tasca de BelemVictoria Wharf, shop 154, Piazza Level, V&A Waterfront. A very good Portuguese restaurant that offers some exquisite meals.
  • Tong Lok10 Link Rd Parklands, Parklands Centre. The best Chinese restaurant and take-away that serves anything from vegetables, to seafood, sushi and other Japanese foods.
  • Willoughby'sVictoria Wharf, V&A Waterfront. Has some of the best seafood including excellent sushi at very good prices.

Splurge[edit]

  • Thai Cafe in Hout Bay, Claremont and Tokai serves fresh authentic thai food cooked by 5 star thai chefs
  •    Blue Danube102 New Church St +27 21 423-3675. Mo-Fr 12PM-11PM, Sa-Su 6PM-11PM. Serving French/Austrian cuisine modernised with dishes inspired by more exotic flavors.
  • Tide69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town +27 21 437-9701fax: +27 21 438-4433, e-mail: . Mo-Fr , Sa-Su. Serving with Steamed Seasonal Vegetables, New Potatoes and Lemon Butter. R90 Fresh Catch Of The Day.
  • Ashton's Restaurant at Greenways1 Torquay Avenue Upper Claremont +27 21 761-1792. Mo-Su 7AM-10PM. World class fine dining restaurant that offers international cuisine with a South African twist.
  •    Stardust Theatrical Dining118 Sir Lowry Rd (Directions on Website),  +27 21 686-6280fax: +27 21 686-0674. Tu-Sa 4PM-Late. While eating delicious Mediterranean cuisine, customers are entertained by their talented waitrons who perform throughout the evening between serving tables. R80-R150.
  •    City Grill SteakhouseShop 155, Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre +27 21 421-9820. Enjoy delicious selection of traditional South African steaks, grills and venison. or www.citygrill.co.za
  •    Meloncino259 Upper Level +27 21 419-5558. Choose from a variety of homemade pastas, wood-fired pizzas and various other authentic dishes. or www.meloncino.co.za
  •    La ColombeSpaanschemat Street +27 21 794-2390, e-mail: . Lunch: 12h30-14h00 Dinner: 19h00-20h45. La Colombe, one of Cape Town's most well-loved and awarded restaurants, achieved an impressive 12th place in the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants of the World Awards 2010. Having moved up 26 places and into the hallowed Top 20, this bastion of contemporary French-meets-Asian fine dining thereby also clinched the Acqua Panna Best Restaurant in Africa and Middle East Award. Winner of both Chef of the Year and Restaurant of the Year in the Prudential Eat Out Awards 2008, and again honoured with the prestigious Restaurant of the Year title in 2009, La Colombe has also achieved the highest three star rating in the 2009, 2010 and 2011 issue of the acclaimed Rossouw’s Restaurants guide. Book months in advance!
  •    The Test KitchenThe Old Biscuit Mill 375 Albert Road Woodstock +27 21 447-2337, e-mail: . Lunch: 12:30-14:00 Dinner: 19:00-21:00. Luke Dale-Roberts’ The Test Kitchen, which opened in November 2010, has the celebrated chef cooking at his most creative in a distinctive contemporary space. At the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards 2013, The Test Kitchen made an impressive leap to No. 61 on the list, climbing up 13 places from no.74 in 2012. More significantly, The Test Kitchen was singled out as the winner of the “Cacao Barry One To Watch Award” 2013, indicating momentum that may well secure a place in the Top 50 next year. Book months in advance!

Drink[edit]

Long Street, which can be easily reached from St. George's Cathedral and the Greenmarket Square, is famous for its bars, restaurants and clubs. This is the ideal place if you want to end the day with a drink. It is also one of the few truly multi-ethnic, multi-racial nightspots in the city. See the new South Africa, not just other tourists.

You will have live entertainment (normally something like jazz or kwaito music) in many bars and sometimes you will have to pay to get in.

Observatory or better known as Obz is just north of Rondebosch (Southern Suburbs). There are several student residences of the UCT and Obz main street (Lower Main Road) has a vibrant nightlife with restaurants, bar, pool halls and pubs. Almost daily there is something going on.

A popular destination with locals is Camps Bay, which offers a vibrant night-life and many bars, restaurants and clubs.

  • 169 on Long169 Long Street +27 21 426-1107. This place is a local legend, pumping out a range of jazzy retro beats between Wednesday and Saturday nights. There's also a nice restaurant attached that serves Mediterranean cuisines, so you can line your stomach before you hit the dance floor
  • Blushlounge43 Somerset Road, Greenpoint. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 5PM to late. Blush Lounge is a bar lounge and nightclub that caters for the young professional. Quality service by well trained bar staff and efficient and stylish door and security staff, patrons can relax into an evening of wellness brought on by a socially accessible environment.
  • Caveau Wine Bar & Deli92 Bree Street, Heritage Square +27 21 422-1367, e-mail: . Has over 300 wines by the glass and an award-winning wine list at that. In Heritage Square, city centre.
  • Club Georgia30 Georgia Street (offside the Buitensingel),  +27 21 422-0261. 9:30PM till late. Popular with over 25-year olds. Music from all over Africa is played, especially Kwassa-kwassa, Kwaito, Ndombolo and Rai.
  • Mannenbergs Jazz CaféShop 102, Clock Tower Centre, Clock Tower Precinct, V&A Waterfront +27 21 421-5639, e-mail: . Popular jazz café specializing in distinctive Cape Jazz. Snacks and coffee during the day and live jazz every evening. Bookings/reservations essential. Many famous jazz musicians have already played here.
  • Marco's African Place15 Rose Street, Bo Kaap +27 21 423-5412. Popular gay bar which serves up specialities such as Ulwimi (steamed ox tongue with mustard sauce) along with live African music.
  • Sandy B69 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town +27 21 437-9701, e-mail: . Open to the public at The Bay Hotel over summer, Sandy B is a unique cocktail venue, accentuated by its glorious views of Camps Bay beachfront.
  • The Green DolphinShop 2A, Alfred Mall, Pierhead, V&A Waterfront +27 21 421-7471, e-mail: . Locals tout it as the best jazz club in the city, with soothing beats playing every night.
  • The Nose Wine BarCape Quarter, 72 Waterkant Street, Green Point +27 21 425-2200, e-mail: . Has many wines by the glass, but pricey.
  • Zanzi-Bar255 Long Street (above Long Street Café.),  +27 21 4232-9003. 5PM-2AM. Good meeting place for other travelers visiting Cape Town. Live jazz on Sundays, DJ's on Friday & Saturday nights. Free entry most nights.
  • Mitchells Ale House (Mitchells Brewery), Cnr East Pier & Dock Road V&A Waterfront +27 21 419-5074, e-mail: . Great location, fun atmosphere, friendly staff and famous craft beers, amazing views of the Cape Town harbour and Table Mountain, and karaoke.
  • Foresters Arms (Forries), 52 Newlands Ave, Newlands +21 21 689-5949, e-mail: . Nestled at the foot of our majestic mountains, in the leafy suburb of Newlands, Cape Town, Foresters Arms Restaurant and Pub (fondly referred to by the locals as Forries), is one of the oldest pubs in South Africa and provides a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. They have a good selection of draught beers.
  • The Royal OakMarine Circle, Table View +27 21 557-0354. A friendly traditional British pub, frequented by British expatriates.

Clubs[edit]

  • Fiction Bar226 Long Street +27 21 424-5709. Renowned club with weekly indie-, drum'n'bass- and minimal-electro-nights mostly around R30 admission.
  • Mercury Live & Lounge43 De Villiers Street (Zonnebloem). World-class live music, with students nights. R20-40.

Sleep[edit]

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under R500
Mid-range R500 to R1000
Splurge Over R1000


Accommodation in Cape Town ranges from hostels (of which there are many) to luxury accommodation. Actually, there are so many hotels, B&Bs and guest houses that it can be difficult to decide where to stay!

Staying in city centre can often work out cheaper as obviously all the attractions are to hand, but stick to one of the neighbourhoods next to the central area for better prices and a quieter nights sleep. The area around vibey Kloof Street in Gardens/Tamboerskloof with its young cafe culture and hip shopping is a good choice. You could consider sleeping in one of the suburbs. It is normally quieter and there is less traffic than in Central Cape Town. The suburbs in the south, like Muizenberg, Fish Hoek or Simon's Town, or near the winelands (see Cape Winelands)are ones to try. Areas along the western seaboard of the peninsula (such as Camps Bay) will be more expensive.

Budget[edit]

  • African HeART BAckpackers27 Station Road, Observatory +27 21 447-3125fax: +27 86 556-0277, e-mail: . African HeART is an artwork in progress. A small, beautifully decorated backpackers which aims to offer the alternative side to travelling in Cape Town" From R130 per person including light breakfast & FREE internet..
  • Alive PTLBeyers Road, Woodstock. Woodstock can be unsafe even in the day. Beyers Road has a bad reputation. Avoid nearby Gympie Street at all costs. From R70 per person.
  • Ashanti Lodge11 Hof Street, Gardens +27 21 423-8721fax: +27 21 423-8790, e-mail: . A perennial favourite among travellers ; camping also permitted. Has a large travel centre as well. From R160 per person, or R90 per person for camping.
  • B.I.G Backpackers18 Thornhill Rd, Cape Town 8005, South Africa +27 21 434-0688, e-mail: . Two Kitchens, Travel Desk, Swimming Pool, Braai Facilities, Quiet Library Room, Big Screen TV, Bicycles for hire, Airport Transfers, Free Breakfast and fast WiFi included. From R180 per person in a 4 Bed Mix, or R670 per night in a Double Room..
  • Cape Town Backpackers81 new church street +27 21 426-0200, e-mail: . Cape Town Backpackers has a fantastic atmosphere and plenty of style.Listed by the British newspaper The Independent as one of only 3 places to stay in Cape Town (the other 2 being 5 star hotels!) the review described the place as "...spotless and stylish.." Just off Park Road and Kloof Street, the area they are in is renowned for delicious restaurants, busy cafés and trendy drinking spots. This place is fun, friendly,clean, it's gay friendly and they have regular theme nights in the funky bar. There are options for sleeping from dorms if you want to save money for more beer, to ensuites with table mountain views if you want to spoil yourself. From R170 per person.
  • Carnival Court Backpackers255 Long Street, e-mail: . Dorms and private rooms at reasonable rates. Linen provided, hostel is very clean and staff friendly and there is a bar and balcony to hang out. From R130 in the dorm to R250 for a double room.
  • Formula 1 Hotel17 Jan Smuts Street (corner of Martin Hammerschlag Way) +27 21 418-4664fax: +27 21 418-4661. Part of the international chain of budget hotels - each room can sleep up to three people. A few minutes walk from the train station. R369 per room.

Mid-range[edit]

  •    The BallinrobeCalais Road, Sea Point (From Cape Town International Airport: Head southwest and turn left onto Airport Approach Rd. Merge onto Settlers Way / N2 via the ramp to Cape Town. Merge onto De Waal Dr. Continue onto Nelson Mandela Blvd. Take the Strand Street exit. Merge onto Strand Street. Continue onto High Level Rd. Turn left onto Upper Rhine Rd. Take the 1st right onto Calais Rd. The Ballinrobe is on the right.),  +27 87 943-4302, e-mail: . Check-in: 14h00, check-out: 10h00. From R2100 per night to R3500 per night.
  • The Camps Bay Guesthouse31 Geneva Drive, Camps Bay, Cape Town +27 81 467-4400, e-mail: . Exclusive use of 180sqm private self-catering stand alone luxury accommodation set in the grounds of the owners Camps Bay Villa, private and secure with onsite gated parking, full kitchen, teak floors, living and dining room with underfloor heating throughout, widescreen LCD television with Apple TV entertainment system and stereo surround, complimentary hi-speed WIFI access, private deck and garden area opens into the grounds with access to the Villa swimming pool, porcelain tiled bathroom has separate bath and shower, WC and bidet. From ZAR 750.00.
  • Dark Chocolate Guest House Durbanville1 Mountain View Crescent Durbanville +27 21 979-1988. Standard rooms, all equipped with Air-conditioning, TV with cable and High-speed Internet connection. Facilities and services are Garden, Outdoor swimming pool and Conference. From ZAR 810.00.
  • Cape Diamond Boutique HotelLongmarket and Parliament Street +27 21 461-2519. All rooms equipped with Air-conditioning, Private toilet and bath, Safe deposit box, Side lamp table and Wired Internet connection (extra charges apply). Some of its facilities and services are Meeting/ banquet facilities, Business centre, Restaurant, Theatre Cafe, 24-hour front desk, Room service and Laundry service. From ZAR 1080.00.
  • Lorraine’s on Lincoln12 Lincoln Street, Boston +27 21 946-4710. All rooms equipped with English breakfast, Spacious dining area, Hair dryer, TV with satellite channels, Work desk and Fan. Outdoor swimming pool, Garden, Banquet hall, Car rental, Wi-Fi Internet connection, Fax and photocopying services. From ZAR 670.00.
  • Abbey Manor Luxury Guesthouse3 Montrose Avenue, Oranjezicht +27 21 462-2935, e-mail: . Luxury guesthouse set high on Table Mountain overlooking Cape Town city. Dramatic views from individually decorated rooms. Built in 1905 in the Arts-and-Crafts style, and has been recently remodelled. An easy hop from the city centre and the V&A Waterfront. Rated 5 stars by TGCSA. Provides free wi-fi to guests. From R800.
  • Afton Grove Country RetreatAfton Grove, Chapman's Peak Road (M6), Noordhoek (Midway between Cape Town and Cape Point),  +27 21 785-2992, e-mail: . Four star hotel. B&B and self-catered accommodation is offered in charming cottages in a garden. Provides free wi-fi to guests. From R720.
  • The Bay Atlantic Guest House3 Berkley Road, Camps Bay +27 21 438-4341, e-mail: . Beautiful four star Guest House situated in Camps Bay with exhausting view on the beach of Camps Bay and the Lionshead, only 10 minutes away from the V&A Waterfront. Provides free wi-fi to guests. From R350.
  •    Cape Coast Views (Cape Coast Views), 95 High Level Road, Green Point, Cape Town +27 21 439-7761, e-mail: . Eco friendly guest house located in trendy Green Point. Central to most attractions. Walking distance to bars, cafes, shops and taxi rank. Includes secure parking, wifi, continental breakfast, solar heated pool, bar fridge, tea/coffee making facilities and more. Starting price - R550 per room. Self-catering - R750 for the unit. From R550 per room.
  • Cactusberry Lodge30 Breda Street, Gardens +27 21 461-9787. 3 star. 200 metres from the Gardens Shopping Centre, is comfortable, central and quiet, very good value for money, excellent breakfast, very helpful in all itinerary planning. R500.
  • De Waterkant Village1 Loader street, De Waterkant +27 21 437-9706, e-mail: . De Waterkant is often described as being arty, charismatic and quaint and is a truly special place decorated with gorgeous al fresco restaurants, sidewalk café's, boutiques and bars and is often compared with Greenwich Village. R580 for single room, R850 for a double.
  • Grande Kloof Boutique Hotel69 Kloof Road, Fresnaye (corner of Kloof Road & Avenue La Croix),  +27 21 433-1852, e-mail: . Check-in: 14PM, check-out: 11AM. Good Sea Views, Fantastic Lions head view and views of famous Robben Island. from ZAR600 (includes light continental breakfast, free WIFI, open plan top floor sea view rooms or executive petite garden level rooms, swimming pool, jacuzzi area, steam area, sauna.
  • Grapevine Cottage Guesthouse13 Vierlanden road, Durbanville. 3 star. Great view over the Durbanville winelands. Surrounded by wine estates, excellent restaurants nearby. Self catering accommodation and Bed and breakfast; garden and pool invite you to relax. R650 per unit, max 4 people.
  • Shambala Guest Lodge7 Little Lions Head Road, Hout Bay +27 21 790-4328, e-mail: . Set in a lush and tranquil garden on the sunny slopes of Little Lion’s Head mountain, overlooking the valley of Hout Bay. Offers a selection of one and two bedroom self-catering suites. Breathtaking views and beach access close by. From R250pppn.
  • Sitara Country Lodge10 Guinea Fowl Way, Noordhoek +27 21 789-1622, e-mail: . In the south of the Cape Peninsula. Ideal base for exploring the natural beauty of the Cape Town area. Own transport required. From R325 for single room, from R450 for a double.
  • Tudor Hotel153 Longmarket Street, Greenmarket Square +27 21 424-1335, e-mail: . In the city centre, near the Waterfront, Parliament, Gardens or the Malay Quarter Boo-Kap. R520 for single room, R740 for a double.
  • The Charles Guesthouse137 Waterkant Street, De Waterkant +27 21 437-9706, e-mail: . Trendy and fashionable today, it is compared to New York's Greenwich Village and London's Soho with its tree lined streets, restored cottages, spectacular views and village atmosphere. R920 for single room, R1400 for a double.
  • NH The Lord CharlesCorner of Stellenbosch and Faure Roads. 7130 Capetown +27 21 855-1040. Located in an area with beautiful surroundings, this 4* hotel offers meeting rooms, a fitness centre and some fantastic views.
  • The One 818 Antrim Road, Three Anchor Bay +27 21 434-6100, e-mail: . Modern and intimate Four star accommodation in Cape Town. The One 8 Hotel is located in Green Point and close to Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, V&A Waterfront, De Waterkant gay village, and Table Mountain. This gay and lesbian friendly Guest House offers bed and breakfast and contemporary rooms for your South African Holiday. From R550 per room.
  • Villa Sunshine Guesthouse1 Rochester Road, Bantry Bay +27 21 439-8224, e-mail: . The Villa Sunshine guesthouse is a classic Mediterranean Villa situated along the prestigious Atlantic Seaboard. In close proximity to several of Cape Town’s most revered tourist attractions, it is still able to provide its guests with a peaceful setting – within walking distance of restaurants and shops to meet your every need. From R 950 per room.

Splurge[edit]

  • De Verdwaalde Boer (private villa & guesthouse with Dutch management. #1 at Booking.com and #1 at Tripadvisor), 10 Monterey Drive, Constantia (located in the heart of the oldest wine-producing area of South Africa, a 10 minute drive from Cape Town's CBD),  +27 21 794-1501, e-mail: . De Verdwaalde Boer boasts 7 suites and is available to book as a villa for full privacy. From R700 p.p.p.n.
  • Cape GraceWest Quay Road, Victoria & Alfred Waterfront +27 21 410-7100. Situated on its own private quay on Cape Town’s vibrant Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, the Cape Grace has 121 rooms all with views of the V&A harbour or yacht marina with a Table Mountain backdrop. From R16000 to R55000 for 5 nights, 2 people.
  • Mandela Rhodes Place +27 31 310-3333, e-mail: . Old school charm and hospitality meets modern amenities and features. It also boasts a gymnasium, swimming pool, wireless internet, undercover parking, 24 hour concierge and business centre, optional breakfast service, pre-delivery grocery shopping, airport and city transfers, car hire, house keeping and laundry and day tours From R815pps.

Township[edit]

Connect[edit]

Telephone[edit]

If you have a cell phone get one of the cheap prepaid sim cards from either Vodacom, MTN, Cell C or Virgin Mobile and save money on local calls.

Calling Home[edit]

Overseas calls at local rates via the Celldial service. Call 087 940 6966 and follow the voice prompts. See www.celldial.co.za for supported countries.

Internet[edit]

Internet is available throughout Cape Town and the inner city cafes always a hub of activity. Charges per hour ranges from R5 (in town) to R50 (V&A waterfront)

  • m@in internet cafeKloof street. They have private booths, and offer wifi access for laptops.

Other internet cafes can be found all over the city and suburbs, with many coffee shops offering internet access.

WiFi[edit]

Many Guesthouses in Cape Town provide WiFi free for their guests.

Always-On, +27 (0)11 575-2505, provides prepaid wifi access in a number of locations in Cape Town. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by credit card. Pricing starts at around R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB.

Coverage areas include:

  • Westin Grand Hotel at Arabella Quays.
  • Cape Town Backpackers.
  • Cape Town International Airport. Restaurants and Coffee shops, in Domestic and International Departures, boarding gates, airline lounges and at the Road Lodge.
  • City Lodge. GrandWest, Pinelands and V&A Waterfront.
  • Dulce Cafe. Bayside Centre, Durbanville and Gabriel Rd, Plumstead
  • Mugg&Bean. Just about all of them offer free WiFi.
  • Sundance Coffee Co. Adderley St, Buitengragt St and Mouille Point.
  • McDonald's.

Cafe Neo, located opposite the lighthouse in Mouille Point, offers an open hotspot in addition to their excellent Greek food.

Stay safe[edit]

Although Cape Town has its share of violent crime, you are safe if you keep your wits about you as you should in every large city around the world. As a visitor, you are less likely to encounter problems while visiting the townships if you are escorted by a township resident—though you should not really venture into the townships without a fairly large group of accompaniment. Official township tours are your safest bet; revealing a very interesting lifestyle to the more curious tourists. The CBD (Central Business District) has been cleaned up over the years, but some con men and cholos do still exist, although during daylight police make themselves known. Simply put, leave everything you value—especially your papers and tickets—in your hotel room safe if you plan to stroll through Cape Town.

Foreigners should avoid hitchhiking or using local commuter and metro trains. Be aware of automated teller machine (ATM) con artists. Under no circumstances allow a stranger to assist you in your transactions. Should your card become stuck in the ATM, call the helpline number on display at the teller machine for assistance and to cancel your card.

During day time it is quite safe to walk around the city center. People and beggars are in general quite respectful and accept a "no". During the evening it is worth taking a taxi to and from your destination, rather than walking. Make sure you take a taxi card with you, so that you can have the driver meet you outside the bar or restaurant.

Watch out for the mini bus taxis. They often drive like hell disobeying many traffic rules. Watch out for pickpocketing.

At night, make sure you stay on well-lit and crowded streets. Crime is especially high in Salt River, Observatory, Mowbray, and the Cape Flats.

Glue sniffing children and junkies are a minor problem, called 'strollers' by the locals: these ragamuffins will strip you bare if you do not stay alert.

While driving in a car be more aware of people approaching the car at traffic lights for smash-and-grab theft. So don't leave valuables on the seats or your lap.

If you go to the mountains, go in a group of at least 4 people.

You should try not to appear to be a tourist, and you will not be targeted. Targeted tourists are generally spotted wearing cameras, shorts, jewellery and golf hats—try not to do this. Do what you can to blend in, and if anything happens—do not try to be a hero: rather, give them what they want

Important telephone numbers[edit]

From a fixed line[edit]

  • 107 - Emergency.
  • 10111 - Police. [3]
  • 10177 - Ambulance.
  • 082911 - Netcare911

Cope[edit]

Embassies and Consulates[edit]

  • Argentina Argentina8 Brittany Ave, Bantry Bay +27 21 439-0403fax: +27 21 439-5918. Only located in Cape Town when the South African parliament sits in Cape Town. When parliament moves to Pretoria, so does this embassy.
  • Greece Greece19F, Reserve Bank Bldg, 30 Hout St +27 21 424-8160fax: +27 21 424-9421, e-mail: . Only located in Cape Town when the South African parliament sits in Cape Town. When parliament moves to Pretoria, so does this embassy.
  • Italy Italy2 Grey's Pass (top of Queen Victoria St) +27 21 487-3900fax: +27 21 424-0146.
  • the Netherlands Netherlands100 Strand St +27 21 421-5660fax: +27 21 418-2690.
  • Portugal PortugalStandard Bank Centre, Hertzog Blvd +27 21 418-0080fax: +27 21 418-0084.
  • the United Kingdom United Kingdom15F, Southern Life Centre, 8 Riebeek St +27 21 405-2433.

Go next[edit]

Cape Town is positively located for many day or two day trips, offering a variety in landscapes and cultures. Choose self-drive or guided tours.

Cape Peninsula[edit]

The Boulders penguin colony.
  • Boulders beach is famous for its penguin colony and you can watch penguins in their natural habitat. September is the breeding season and if you are very lucky you can see penguins hatching out of their eggs.
  • Visit the Cape of Good Hope to experience the wildness of the natural habitat preserved here. Stunning views and for sure you will meet one of the local baboons or ostriches. Be sure to stop in Simon's Town on your way back to relax with a wonderful view on the False Bay.
  • Hout Bay — also known as the "Republic" of Hout Bay by its locals — is a beautiful bay on the Atlantic coast. The bay is protected from the north westerly and south easterly winds, but is open to the south westerly wind and prevailing swell which can produce some of the worlds biggest surf at "Dungeons" and "Tafelberg reef". It has a quaint fishing harbour, which provides protection from the south westerly swell. Boat trips to Seal Island (more accurately Duiker Island) operate from here. While you're there try the fish and chips at the Café on the Rocks at the end of the harbour road - a local secret.
  • Chapmans Peak— Experience one of the most scenic drives in the world. As you drive up the Chapmans Peak Drive and look north over Hout Bay, the view of the bay and the fishing boats is stunning.

Along the south coast[edit]

Bontebok, seen in De Hoop.

Garden Route and further on[edit]

Up north[edit]

Go up north along the West Coast to Saldanha Bay and all the other hidden spots. Further on are Namaqualand and finally Namibia.

  • Visit Melkbos to surf, windsurf, kitesurf and sunbathe on its wide sandy beach and also visit the only working Nuclear Power Station in Africa. There is a nature reserve surrounding the power station, with trails for walking or mountain bikes, where you'll see eland, zebra and springbok. Entrance is free, but you must show a photo ID.
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