15 Best Things to do at the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by thecapetownblog

The harbour at the Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is one of the best parts of Cape Town to hang out in. It’s home to beautiful views, excellent shopping, great restaurants, and resident seals! There’s a ton to do around here and I always really enjoy the laid back but convivial atmosphere at the Waterfront. 

The Waterfront is actually a pretty big area. It covers over 300 acres and is divided into nine different districts. There are shops, covered markets, and even luxury apartments around here, so there’s no shortage of things to do. Perhaps for this reason, it’s also one of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole of Africa. 

Yup, not just the country of South Africa – I’m talking about the entire continent. 

Since this area is so big and so popular, I felt that it was only right to create a guide containing all of the best things to do at the V&A Waterfront. You don’t want to miss out on this part of Cape Town! 

1) Ride the Cape Wheel 

The Cape Wheel at sunset
Sunset over the Waterfront from the Cape Wheel

Riding The Cape Wheel is a quick and fun thing to do at the V&A Waterfront. It offers beautiful views of the entire area, as well as Table Mountain, Signal Hill, and the Green Point Stadium.

The wheel is really easy to find because it’s right outside of the Victoria Wharf Mall. You really can’t miss it. It would also make a great date!

You don’t need to book the Cape Wheel in advance, you can just turn up and buy a ticket from the kiosk. You can also buy it earlier in the day to use later on – it’s very chilled. The ride lasts for 15 minutes and costs R175 for South African residents, or R250 for non-residents. Kids can ride for R95, no matter where they’re from. 

Sunset over the Green Point stadium from a pod on the Cape Wheel
Table Mountain at dusk from the Cape Wheel

My tip for riding the Cape Wheel would be to go at sunset. We turned up and bought our ticket, then asked the staff what the prime viewing time for sunset was, and went to grab a drink from Tasha’s across the road while we waited.

The ride on the Cape Wheel lasts for around 12 minutes, and you get to go around 5 times. We loved the views and the pods have good air conditioning, so this is actually quite a nice thing to do when it’s warm outside.

Hannah Will and Stace Cape Wheel

Address: The Lawns, Breakwater Blvd, V&A Waterfront

Open times: 10 am – 10 pm during summer, slightly reduced hours during the winter

2) Shopping at the Victoria Wharf Mall

The Victoria Wharf is a huge shopping mall where you can find a huge range of international stores. You can find pretty much anything here, from H&M to Chanel and everything in between.

There are also some nice restaurants in Victoria Wharf. Tasha’s is a popular local chain that’s a great lunch stop, and Willoughby & Co is a seriously popular sushi spot. I’ve never been, but it’s always really busy. And I mean always. I’ve seen queues here at 3 pm on weekday afternoons. 

Given that it doesn’t look like much and a lot of the seating is right in the middle of the mall corridor, I can only take this to mean that the sushi is really something special. 

3) Enjoy a Boat Ride

I did this one-hour boat cruise recently, and loved it! The fantastic views start pretty much straight away as you pull out of the harbour and gaze back at Table Mountain, and they only get better as you work your way up the coast to the Mouille Point lighthouse. 

One of the best things about this boat ride is that I saw a seal playing with its food, a dolphin, and a sun fish, which are so-named because they float on their sides to soak up the sun! 

The staff on board were super friendly and the boat ride was very smooth. You can sit at the front in the “splash zone”, but be prepared to get wet if that’s the case! I chose to soak up the sun upstairs, and since I was on my own, the crew offered to take photos for me and made sure that I was ok. 

There was also a bar downstairs which had some drink specials, such as two G&Ts for R60. I must admit I was a tad hungover when I did this, so I just went for a trusty old Coke Zero, which cost R25. 

As for the cruise itself, it costs R380 (£16/$21) and you can go at 11:30 AM or 2:30 PM. You just need to make sure you redeem your tickets from the kiosk about 15 minutes beforehand. They say leave half an hour, but that just meant I was waiting around for ages. The boat won’t leave early! 

Click here to find out more and book your spot

4) Go gin tasting 

Gin tasting at the Gin Emporium
Gin tasting at Pienaar and Son

Gin tasting is always fun! There are a couple of nice spots to go try some local gins at the waterfront. 

One is the Gin Emporium, where you can do a gin tasting for about R60. You get to try four different varieties of Cape Town Gin, and you can also purchase a bottle for R250. If you buy a bottle, your tasting fee will often be waived. It’s best to book online before you go, otherwise you won’t get a guided tasting.

I’ve also been gin tasting at Pienaar & Son, which costs R80 per person. I think I preferred the Cape Town gin, but the tasting experience itself was excellent at Pienaar.

We got to taste 5 different spirits and the tasting room was really cool, with lots of decorative alcohol plant machinery. The staff were super friendly and really knew their spirits.

I especially liked the concept of their “Ugly Gin” which is a great gin that’s super affordable at R200 per bottle. That’s not because it’s bad, but because there’s no fancy branding or marketing involved. Again, we booked online!

5) Spot Seals

Seal at V&A Waterfront
Seals at Waterfront Pontoon

One of my favourite things about the V&A Waterfront is that you can see the resident seals swimming around the harbour! On pretty much any given day, you can catch them sunning themselves on the pontoon right outside the Aquarium Bootleggers

You can also spot them on the boat tour that I talked about above, but you can see so many just by walking around. We even saw a few while we were riding the Cape Wheel!

6) Go SUPping 

Supping at the Waterfront
Hannah and Stacey SUPping at the canals in the Waterfront

Stand up paddleboarding (aka SUPping) is a really fun way to explore the waterfront.

Start at SUP Cape Town in Battery Park, where you can rent boards for an hour. After a quick briefing, you can paddle the 3-kilometre loop through the waterfront canals. You’ll go past luxury hotels and swanky apartments, and probably spot the mischievous otter who may or may not try to climb on your board. 

The loop takes about an hour to complete. Board rentals cost R250 per hour, so that works out nicely.

When we went, the staff were super friendly and patient with us, even though we were all novices. This experience is a ton of fun, but you do need to go on a day that’s not super windy. It’s best to go in the morning as the wind tends to pick up during the afternoon. 

7) Grab Cocktails at Cause & Effect

Table Mountain cocktail
A smoking cocktail at Cause and Effect

Cause & Effect is definitely one of the best bars in Cape Town and it’s known for its novelty concoctions. It’s really more about the production value than the drink itself here! 

Some of the best cocktails on the menu include the Table Mountain cocktail, which comes in a glass shaped like the famous peak, with a Cape Fynbos flower on top for that extra touch of authenticity.

Meanwhile, the Rock to Fakie (which I’m given to understand is some sort of skateboard trick) actually comes with a mini ramp and a toy skateboard, so you can indulge your inner child while you drink.

I could keep going, but you get the point. Pretty much every cocktail on the menu at Cause & Effect is an elaborate affair. 

You’ll find Cause & Effect near the harbour, next to the big Scottish and Irish taverns. They also do bottomless mimosas from 10 am until 11:30 am daily.

Address: The Rocket Shed, 280 Dock Road

Open times: 10 am – 1 am (opens at 9 am on weekends)

8) Visit the Oranjezicht Market

Often referred to simply as “the market”, going to the Oranjezicht Market is probably one of the most popular things to do at the Waterfront for both tourists and locals alike. 

It’s located in the Granger Bay district of the Waterfront, and it’s perched right on the water’s edge. You’ll find a ton of tasty food stalls from local restaurants here, but the star of the show is Vadas Bakery and their pastéis de nata – it’s famous around here. 

There are also lots of artisan goods on offer, from locally made gins and jams to fresh produce, clothing, and leather goods. And, best of all, there’s a bar that serves cocktails, wine, and MCC. 

The market is open from 8:15 am until 2 pm on Saturday and 9 am until 2 pm on Sunday, but lots of stalls sell out of food by the end so if you’re hungry I recommend getting there before midday.

There’s also a Wednesday night market from 5 pm until 9 pm during the summer months. It used to be just a food market on Wednesdays but now it’s proved so popular that all of the regular vendors pitch up. I recommend getting there early, though, as it can take a while to find a seat and if you turn up after 6 you might have to queue to get in.

9) Watch street performers

There are usually quite a few buskers around the waterfront, especially at the Ampitheatre. It’s fun to walk around and soak in the atmosphere as you watch performers sing, dance, and perform tricks. You’ll find performers from all over the world showcasing their talent here, and it creates a really fun, vibrant atmosphere that you can’t help but enjoy. 

11) Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium 

The Two Oceans Aquarium is home to over 8,000 different types of marine creatures, and there are lots of display galleries designed to educate visitors of all ages (although of course, kids particularly love aquariums). The Jelly Hall is especially amazing!

The aquarium is open every day of the year from 9:30 am until 6 pm, or from 9 am on Saturday and Sunday. Tickets cost R235 for adults, R175 for 14-17 year olds and students, or R110 for kids aged 3-13. 

12) Visit the Zeitz MOCAA 

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (aka the Zeitz Mocaa) is a true cultural gem. It’s housed inside an old grain silo complex, only now it stores masterpieces instead. 

It’s a truly huge museum – in fact, it’s the largest of its kind in the whole of Africa. You’ll find art here that spans a whole range of mediums, from painting and sculpture to insane video installations. The art here is all about celebrating the diversity of contemporary African art because, spoiler alert, Africa is NOT a country. 

The Zeitz MOCAA has played a big role in putting African art and culture on the global map, so I definitely recommend going to check it out while you explore the Waterfront.  It’s open from 10 am until 6 pm every day except Sunday, and if you’re an African citizen you can visit for free until 1 pm on Fridays. Otherwise, it costs R250 per adult, or R206 if you reserve your tickets in advance.

13) Do a Sunset Cruise 

A sunset cruise is a beautiful way to end a day in Cape Town, and they depart right here at the V&A Waterfront! I did one with my friends on my third summer in the city, and I couldn’t believe that I had waited so long. It was a blast! 

On the champagne cruise, you get a bottle of bubbly between two while you sail along the Atlantic coastline at sunset. I’ll admit, it’s sweet J.C. Le Roux sparkling wine, so it’s not THE BEST stuff I’ve tasted in Cape Town (not by a long shot, actually), but the experience was so fantastic that it didn’t really matter. 

Plus, there’s usually a well-stocked bar onboard where you can treat yourself to a few more drinks, at an additional cost.

Obviously, the departure time changes throughout the year as the days get longer and shorter, but the cruises usually last for about 90 minutes. We did ours in early January and we departed at 7 PM, but this will be closer to 5 PM in winter. 

The sunset was gorgeous and the crew played cheesy party tunes the whole way around. I would recommend bringing a jumper or jacket because it gets very windy on board, so you’ll probably be chilly without one. But wear something nice underneath, because you can snap some killer photos on this cruise!

The champagne cruise costs R580 (£24/$31) per person and lasts for 1.5 hours. It’s one of the best things that I’ve done in the Waterfront and I’ll definitely be going again with family and friends who come to visit in the future. 

Click here to book your sunset champagne cruise

14) Watershed Market 

The Watershed Market is a covered market where you’ll find crafts, fashion, and jewellery from talented local designers. It’s all about supporting small scale local businesses and independent artists, and there’s always a good atmosphere around here. Plus, it’s a fantastic place to pick up thoughtful gifts or simply discover your new favourite artist.

15) Playdate Superpark

If you’re a parent and want to take your kids somewhere they’ll really love, head to Playdate Superpark. It’s like an extreme adventure park, but it’s adapted and made super safe for kids.

There’s a highline course, a 3D maze, and a zipline, so if you want to tire your kids out, this is the place to do it. 

It costs R95 for one hour, R140 for 90 minutes, R170 for 2 hours, or R220 for an all day pass. 

Adults need to accompany super young kids, but they pay just R30 per hour. Meanwhile, the first hour is free for kids under 1, or costs just R35 for under 2s.

If your kids are older than 5, there’s also a Drop & Go system, so you can leave them to run riot while you go and check out some of the other fabulous things to do at the Waterfront. 

Playdate Superpark is open from 10 am until 5 pm daily. 

FAQs about the Waterfront

Is there parking at the V&A Waterfront?

Yes, there are over a dozen different paid parking lots in the area. Parking usually costs around R15 an hour although the hourly rate can vary slightly depending on how long you’re there for. I usually park in Victoria Wharf or the Granger Bay lot if I’m heading to the market, but they’re all within walking distance of one another. 

Can you walk to the V&A Waterfront?

Yes, you can easily walk to the Waterfront from Green Point, Sea Point, or De Waterkant. It’s perfectly safe to do this during the day, but I recommend taking an Uber after dark. 

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