Cape Town’s beautiful city center—an easy-to-navigate grid brimming with historical monuments and quaint Victorian architecture aplenty—is in the throes of a revival. The streets have been cleaned up, hip new restaurants and boutiques keep opening, and a monthly art exibition and cultural program is one of the city’s star attractions. For those who want a closer look at all the vibrant city has to offer, read on for some of its best walking tours.
Bo-Kaap Cooking Tour
A collection of brightly painted homes at the foot of Signal Hill marks the start of the Bo-Kaap neighborhood, long home to South Africa’s Cape Malay Muslim community. It’s also where you’ll find a distinctive culinary tradition that exists only here at the tip of South Africa: Cape Malay cuisine is a unique hybrid of Dutch, Asian, Indian, and African flavors. Sign up for a cooking tour with Cape Fusion Tours, where you’ll walk through the neighborhood and learn about its history, followed by a cooking demo in a local home (you’ll learn how to make bobotie or a traditional Cape Malay curry).
The City Walk
An initiative by the Cape Town Partnership, this monthly free city tour combines exploring with storytelling. Starting at the Company’s Garden in the CBD—a historic garden set up in the 1600s by Cape Town’s first Dutch settlers—the walk takes you along the pedestrian St. George’s Mall, up to St. Andrew’s Square, and beyond, taking in the best of Cape Town’s art, history, music, and more. If you’re in the city on the third Saturday of the month, don’t miss it.
Interested in immersing yourself in Cape Town’s creative scene? Book a niche tour from Culture Connect—themes include the city’s Art Deco architecture, a behind-the-scenes look at the Irma Stern Museum, and a gallery tour of Woodstock.
Bites and Sites
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a jaunt to the nearby Winelands. Hanli Fourie founded Bites & Sites to show visitors that there’s much more to the oak-lined burg of Stellenbosch than world-class wines: join one of her cultural culinary tours through the 300-year-old town’s historic center, or the nearby Kayamandi township for a Xhosa lunch.
Not so keen on being herded around in a group, and prefer to explore the Mother City and surrounds at your own pace? This GPS-driven app offers engaging audio tours all over the globe, but here’s a fun fact: it’s actually a homegrown business started last year right here in Cape Town. So while you should definitely download VoiceMap before heading to Paris, Buenos Aires, Toronto, Hong Kong, and even far-flung destinations like Tunis or Ashtarak, Armenia, VoiceMap’s offerings are strongest on its home turf. Choose from a maritime-themed walk along the Seapoint Promenade, a street-art tour of Woodstock, an offbeat route through the bohemian seaside suburb of Muizenberg, and more. Each of the intimate, locals-guided narratives is prompted by your location, so you can walk as quickly or slowly as you’d like, with your guide in your ear.
More Cape Town on T+L: Travel Guide: Cape Town.