What to do and where to go at the V&A Waterfront

23 March 2018 | Alyx Carolus

One of the Mother City’s biggest attractions, the spectacular V&A Waterfront should be on your bucket list. According to Cape Town Tourism’s statistics, the popular shopping, leisure and cultural hub pulls around 24-million visitors each year. Here’s our guide on things to do at South Africa’s most-visited destination.

Located on the Atlantic Seaboard and still functioning as a bustling working harbour, the V&A Waterfront has three major malls and precincts: the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre; the Alfred Mall and Pierhead; and the rapidly expanding Clock Tower precinct, which is also the gateway to the new Silo District and Zeitz MOCAA Museum.

See the views and soak up history

The V&A Waterfront has incredible views of the ocean and Table Mountain, so bring your camera. For that perfect shot, don’t miss out on a Cape Wheel adventure. The observation wheel is more than 40m high, with 30 air-conditioned cabins offering 360-degree views of the city.

As part of your relaxed day out, choose from a wide variety of restaurants and enjoy some of the city’s finest cuisine while gazing out across the harbour or at the mountain.

Spend time watching the boats come in and out of the harbour near the Clock Tower. Built in 1882, the tower was the part of the original Cape Town harbour. The surrounding area is also home to the Robben Island Gateway, the seal landing and Chavonnes Battery Museum.

Shop until you drop

There’s no shortage of retail therapy at the V&A Waterfront. Boasting five different retail spaces across 123 hectares, the venue is a shopping mecca for tourists and locals because of the sheer volume of shops to explore. Whether you’re looking for authentic South African souvenirs or high-end brands, there’s something for you.

Get your fix of local contemporary design at the Watershed, a multifunctional space housing more than 150 tenants and a wide choice of products. Go home with some expertly crafted jewellery, ethically made clothing or crafts. The Waterfront is also home to many international luxury brands, for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Treat the family

The V&A Waterfront is a family-friendly space with plenty of activities to keep the little ones busy.

Directly opposite the Cape Wheel is an interactive jungle gym that’s perfect for kids who want to explore and run around safely. The playground is close to convenient seating areas for parents. Alternatively, grab a seat at the open-air amphitheatre and catch a live performance or musical act.

One of the area’s most popular attractions is the Two Oceans Aquarium, home to thousands of marine creatures The award-winning multilevel venue has an incredible predator exhibit, penguin pool and awesome jellyfish exhibit, to highlight just a few. It’s ideal for a fun-filled day out where you and your loved ones get to learn more about the ocean. Children can enjoy time at the touch pools, see marine creatures up close and get insight into the importance of protecting our fragile ecosystem. Snap a picture at the adorable clownfish exhibit.

The aquarium has a strong focus on environmental education and conservation that targets younger audiences.

Grab a bite at the upmarket Vista Marina restaurant next to the aquarium. The establishment has banned plastic from its premises and is committed to being environmentally friendly.

Go cruising along

A defining feature of the Waterfront is its maritime history, dating back to the 1900s. There’s a constant hustle and bustle around the harbour as boats come and go, whether for work or leisure activities.

City Sightseeing offers two different cruise options for visitors, the V&A Waterfront Seal and Harbour Cruise and the Canal Cruise. See a slice of harbour life and take some pics of the resident seals. The Harbour Cruise is a 20-minute adventure that’s perfect for the whole family. You can purchase your tickets at the City Sightseeing tour office (stop 1) just outside the Two Oceans Aquarium, and head down to the jetty to wait for your boat. Cruises run every 20 minutes and feature audio commentary in 15 languages.

Alternatively, enjoy a Canal Cruise, one of the easiest ways to beat the Cape Town Foreshore traffic. The 20-minute cruise connects The Cape Town International Convention Centre and the V&A Waterfront, with several convenient stops along the route. See the beautiful architecture alongside the canal and the hotels that call the Foreshore home. The Canal Cruise all-day pass allows you to hop on and off as needs be. The boats arrive every 20 minutes and also feature audio commentary.

Hop-on Hop-Off

Hop on the open top red bus and enjoy the sights of Cape Town – from Table Mountain to the V&A Waterfront, from Camps Bay to Kirstenbosch. The Classic package gives you one full day on the bus covering all hop-on, hop-off tours.

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