Last Updated on December 22, 2023 by thecapetownblog
If you ask me, De Waterkant is one of the most underrated neighbourhoods in Cape Town. You don’t hear as much about this cute little enclave as you do the Waterfront, Camps Bay, or the CBD, but there are lots of reasons to love this area.
One of the biggest appeals, though, is that like Bo Kaap, the area is filled with colourful houses. However, I actually think that De Waterkant is even prettier! Most of the cottages here are pastel coloured rather than brightly painted, and the accompanying cobbled streets and bougainvillaea make the area look like a Pinterest dream.
De Waterkant is also known as a very LGBTQ+ friendly area. There are some gay bars and clubs around, and even a rainbow-painted crosswalk.
So if you’re wondering where to stay in Cape Town or just looking for some fun things to do, I highly recommend checking out De Waterkant. Keep on reading for my full guide to this chic (and safe!) part of the city.
Where is De Waterkant?
Basically, De Waterkant is smack dab in all the middle of the action. It’s super close to a lot of the city’s best nightlife, a 15-minute drive from the Clifton beaches, and about 10 minutes from the Lion’s Head and Table Mountain hikes. Strand Street, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, divides De Waterkant and Bo Kaap.
Why Stay in De Waterkant?
If you ask me, there are lots of reasons to base yourself in De Waterkant!
For one thing, it’s very pretty. All of the pastel-coloured cottages, cobbled streets, and cute boutiques make De Waterkant a super cute place to stroll around. People often head to Bo Kaap to take photos, but De Waterkant is just as aesthetic – if not more so.
De Waterkant is also very LGBTQ+ friendly. In fact, it’s known as “the gay area” of Cape Town. You’ll find some popular LGBT-focused nightlife here, including Manhattan’s, Pink Candy, and Beefcakes. I’ll talk more about each of those later!
Perhaps the biggest draw, though, is that De Waterkant is also really safe. This is a very middle-to-upper class area and the local homeowner’s association pays for private security. I lived in De Waterkant for around 9 months and I never had any issues here, even at night.
Best Things to Do in De Waterkant?
De Waterkant is home to the Cape Quarter Lifestyle Village, which is one of the best shopping malls in Cape Town. There are a few big brands here but it’s mostly home to boutiques, and you can find bespoke items like sound bowls and beautiful sculptures, or even go for a vitamin drip at the IV clinic.
If you look at the Cape Town geotag on Instagram, you’ll see a lot of photos of Bo Kaap. However, De Waterkant is just as pretty and it’s definitely safer to be waving your phone around here. So if you want to do a photoshoot #forthegram, I would recommend doing it in De Waterkant instead!
There are a couple of boutique fitness studios here in De Waterkant. One is Yoga Life, which offers excellent classes, including a free beginners one on Monday, Wednesday, and Sunday evenings. This is genuinely free – they don’t ask for tips at the end or anything like that. You can book via the MindBody app!
Meanwhile, upstairs from Oxygen Functional Fitness you’ll find SpinHaus, where I myself am a regular. It’s an awesome spin studio that offers a ton of fun classes, including trance music rides and a Spin and Tonic session on First Thursdays. They’re really accepting of people of all ages, shapes, sizes, and abilities.
Where to eat and drink in De Waterkant?
The Charles is a cafe, restaurant, and BnB. I love coming here for breakfast, and I always get the croissant French toast. My girlfriends and I are also partial to a sunset glass of wine on the rooftop, because you get a nice view of some of the area’s colourful cottages, as well as the CBD skyscrapers behind.
Cafe Chiffon is an elegant cafe that serves beautiful drinks and desserts. I’m not usually a fan of tiramisu, but the one here is delicious!
The Piano Bar at The Grey Hotel is also a nice place to grab a drink. They have a small outdoor section that looks down over Jarvis Street, and they serve free popcorn, too!
There are also quite a few good options for Asian food in De Waterkant. My favourite place to eat in the whole neighbourhood is Yen’s Vietnamese Street Food. It’s the ONLY place in Cape Town where you can find authentic Vietnamese food (other than their stall at the Oranjezicht Market). And I should know – I lived in Vietnam for 2.5 years!
I also like Kong Fu Dim Sum and Sushi. To be fair, I’ve never actually tried their sushi but they have some great lunch specials, including wonton soup for around R60.
And for bubble tea fans, Susu Bubble Tea is a super cute spot inside the Old Cape Quarter. Their brown sugar bubble coffee is really yummy, although personally, I prefer the proper Vietnamese iced coffee from Yen’s.
Where to go out in De Waterkant?
As I mentioned earlier, De Waterkant is a LGBTQ+ hotspot in Cape Town. Even though this area is pretty small, there are a couple of gay bars around. One of the main ones in Cafe Manhattan, which is a bar-slash-restaurant that’s usually open until 1 am. It’s cheap and pretty chilled!
There’s also Beefcakes, where you can go to a drag dinner show and do body shots off of the hunky barmen (for a fee). It costs R350 for a “plain Jane” ticket or R400 for a “diva.” I went to Beefcakes for my friend’s 30th birthday and it was such a fun night out.
Meanwhile, if you want to dance until the wee hours, head to Pink Candy. Formerly known as Pink Panther, they blast Cher here all night long. There’s a cover charge of R150, and it’s one of the few places in Cape Town that I actually think warrants this. If you love cheesy tunes, you can’t go wrong here.
Where to stay in De Waterkant?
The Grey Hotel
Pretty, cosy, and comfortable, The Grey Hotel is a very reputable place to stay in De Waterkant. Plus, it’s home to the Piano Bar, which I mentioned earlier, and a nice rooftop pool, which is ideal in the summertime. Prices start at R990 per night (£42/$54).
Home Suite Hotels
Home Suite Hotels offer sleek and modern rooms, and there’s free parking on site which is ideal if you’re renting a car. The rooms also have air-con (which isn’t always a given in Cape Town), so it’s a nice place to stay during the summer months. Prices start at R1,300 (£55/$70) per night.
The Charles is one of favourite places to grab breakfast in Cape Town, but it’s also a boutique guesthouse with nine rooms and three duplex cottages. Guests also get private access to exclusive roof decks, which is ideal if you want to sunbathe. Rooms start at R1,200, but you’ll need to contact the property for a complete price list.
They also have long-stay deals where you can get up to 50% off!