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Whilst there are no specific boundaries, the area known as the City Bowl in Cape Town is defined by Table Mountain, Lion’s Head and Signal Hill to form a natural amphitheatre. The City Bowl encompasses the business district, harbour and several residential areas. It’s the pulsating heart of Cape Town city.
The City Bowl sits on an ancient granite base surrounded by sandstone mountains. In the 1950s, steps were taken to reclaim land from the sea to build the Foreshore area and thereby extend the harbour further out to sea. This area is largely commercial with residential areas located closer to the mountain slopes.
When visiting Cape Town, the lively City Bowl is the most convenient destination to start your journey.
Top 10 reasons to visit the City Bowl
1. You’re in the centre of Cape Town, take a free city walking tour – starting at St George’s Mall – to learn of the city’s history and to view the many attractions along the route.
2. The pedestrian avenue in the Company’s Garden is known as the Museum Mile for the many and varied museums located here. Not to be missed are the South African Museum with in-house Planetarium, the Holocaust Museum and the Slave Lodge.
3. Cape Town streets are filled with trendy shops, unique antiques, African curios, urban art, restaurants, clubs and cafés. The city has something for practically everyone.
4. The oldest military building, the pentagon-shaped Cape of Good Hope Castle is worth visiting to watch the changing of the guard and to visit the gaol and dungeon. The Castle houses the important William Fehr Collection of South African art.
5. Visit the vibrant Bo-Kaap area to experience daily life amongst the brightly coloured historic homes. Sample a traditional snack or join a Cape Malay cuisine cooking tour.
6. Climb Lion’s Head, rated by National Geographic as one of the twenty best hikes in the world. For something more strenuous, hike up Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge.
7. Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium at the V & A Waterfront to experience surrounding sea life. The aquarium has a touch pool, penguin encounters and the opportunity to swim with ragged tooth sharks. Best time to visit is during feeding time.
8. Travel the beach road along the Atlantic seaboard to your ultimate destination of Camps Bay. The main road separates the beautiful palm-lined white beach from popular upmarket sidewalk cafés and restaurants, hot on the social scene.
9. The V & A Waterfront is the city’s top tourist destination. The mall has over 450 stores and 80 restaurants, many of which are located along the quayside. Boat rides in the harbour, a ferry trip to Robben Island and helicopter flips are taken from the Waterfront. The Cape Wheel has magnificent views of the harbour, the city and Table Mountain.
10. Spend a day travelling via Hout Bay and the scenic Chapman’s Peak drive to reach Cape Point, Africa’s most south-westerly point. See where some believe the Atlantic and Indian oceans meet.
The nearest airport is Cape Town international, 22km from the City Bowl. There are several car rental agencies in the city and at the Cape Town airport but it’s best to book a rental online. Uber operates in Cape Town, if you have the app, contact them for a ride. Other options are traditional metered taxis such as Rikkis Taxis. The city has an efficient bus service operating on a card system only, no cash. Enquire with your host.
Did you know?
Cape Town’s original coastline ran beside the Cape of Good Hope Castle, the waves regularly crashing up against the north-eastern bastion. Following land reclamation undertaken in the 1950s, the Castle is now over 1km inland!
Cape Town is the legislative capital of South Africa and the parliament buildings are located within the City Bowl.