South Africa’s legislative capital is known for its fascinating history and cutting edge culture; and nowhere are these two elements more apparent than at the V&A Waterfront. Located at the foot of Signal Hill and washed by the deep blue waters of Table Bay, the Waterfront is Cape Town’s tourist showpiece—a place where crowds gather to eat, drink, shop, socialize and admire breathtaking views of Table Mountain. There are a hundred ways to spend your time at the V&A Waterfront, with activities ranging from helicopter tours of the bay to some of the city’s top-rated restaurants and sightseeing attractions.
Take a Historical Walking Tour
Start your V&A Waterfront experience with a guided walking tour. The Waterfront is part of Cape Town’s working harbor, whose history dates back to 1654 when the first jetty was built by famous Dutch colonist Jan van Riebeeck. Your guide will introduce you to the landmarks that make up the area’s rich history—including Breakwater Prison, which housed the British convicts responsible for building the harbor breakwater; and SAS Somerset, the world’s last boom defense vessel. Tours last approximately 1.5 hours and depart daily from Chavonnes Battery Museum at 11:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. Tickets cost R150 per adult, or R20 per child under the age of 16.
Shop for Arts & Crafts at the Watershed
A vast, light-filled warehouse providing space for more than 150 individual vendors, the Watershed specializes in the very best South African art and crafts with many of its high-quality products made locally in the Cape Town area. This is not your average African market—the prices are high and haggling is not expected. However, it offers a chance to invest in art, jewelry, fashion and home decor created by some of the most exciting designers in South Africa. Make sure to visit the Watershed’s Jubilee Exhibition Hall, too, which hosts regular live entertainment, workshops and exhibitions.
Get an Aerial View on a Helicopter Tour
Cape Town is often voted one of the most scenic cities in the world. To see it in its full glory, book a helicopter tour with one of the charter companies based at the V&A Waterfront. Both Cape Town Helicopters and NAC Helicopters offer various sightseeing flights, ranging from 15-minute tours of the city itself (including landmarks like Camps Bay, the Clifton beaches and the Twelve Apostles hotel) to 50-minute flights along the length of the Cape Peninsula to the Cape of Good Hope. Whichever option you choose, the sight of the city and Table Mountain nestled between False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean is one you’ll never forget. Flights start at around R1165 per person.
Meet the Marine Life at Two Oceans Aquarium
Just south of Cape Town, the tropical Indian Ocean meets the temperate Atlantic, creating a unique ecosystem defined by its incredible diversity of marine life. Two Oceans Aquarium reflects that diversity with magnificent, immaculately maintained displays of sea creatures from all over South Africa and beyond. Meet ragged-tooth sharks at the Predator Exhibit, or fall in love with the Penguin Exhibit’s comical colony of African penguins. Feeding times and regular talks add an educational element, while kids love the touch tanks and walk-through underwater tunnel. For a truly immersive experience, consider signing up for a scuba dive in the I&J Ocean Exhibit.
Book a Harbor Cruise
If you’d rather be on the water than under it, check out the harbor cruise companies based at the V&A Waterfront. There are plenty to choose from, both in terms of the itineraries offered and the vessels themselves. The Jolly Roger pirate ship is a firm favorite with families, while the Peroni catamaran’s romantic sunset cruise includes complimentary Champagne. Prices vary according to which charter you choose. Whatever you decide, keep an eye out for Cape Town landmarks (like Robben Island, the Clifton beaches and beautiful Blouberg beach); as well as local wildlife including the V&A Waterfront’s inquisitive resident Cape fur seals.
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