20 Spots Where You Can Experience Cape Town Like A Local

[Updated 6 August 2018]

Local knowledge involves a hard-won, intricate understanding of a place; it’s not easily dug up in guide books, nor is it straightforwardly fessed up by its guardians. When it comes to Cape Town, we’d like to think we’re in a good position to pass on our locals’ knowledge, so we set about uncovering the gems and quirks that stitch the fabric of Cape Town’s scene together. By creating awareness awehness, we hope that next time you visit the Mother City you’ll also be able to experience Cape Town and the spots where you can eat, shop, party and be entertained like a local.

Yogi’s Barber Shop

yogis barber shop experience cape-town

Back then the barber shop was the perfect place to catch up on “skinner”, now it’s all about networking – Yogi of Yogi’s Barber Shop.

If you’re looking to get your hair cut like a local then step into Yogi’s on Buitengracht Street. Proudly owned and run by a 4th generation barber, Yogi’s has been around for more than a decade. The barber shop is reasonably priced, clean and relaxed, and the interior is kitted with the most amazing antique barber’s chairs, black and white chessboard floor, as well as the obligatory red and white baton outside. Yogi’s stylists are exceptionally talented and cut hair with the same level of expertise and passion as the owner.

Tip: Yogi’s Barber shop offers a multicultural way to experience Cape Town. He and his fellow barbers cater for all and have the skills to satisfy any customer’s needs.

Address: 103 Buitengracht Street, City Bowl
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 08:30 – 17:00
Fri, 08:30 – 12:30 & 13:30 – 17:00
Sat, 07:15 – 13:00
Phone: 021 424 5408
Website: www.yogis.co.za

Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay

Fish-on-the-Rocks-experience-cape-town

Capetonians know they’re never too far away from a slap-up seafood chow. But for what is arguably some of the freshest seafood in the city, locals know they can rely on Fish on the Rocks in Hout Bay. Known for their delicious fish and chips combo, it’s an authentic way to experience Cape Town, and no tour of the Cape Peninsula is complete without stopping here. Think crispy fish and chips with a sea breeze.

Tip: Combine a visit to Fish on the Rocks with a browse around Bay Harbour Market which is just across the parking lot.

Address: 1 Harbour Road, Hout Bay
Hours: Mon-Sun, 09:00 – 20:00
Phone: 021 790 0001
Website: www.fishontherocks.co.za 

Athlone Stadium

athlone stadium experience cape town

Image courtesy of @ebrahiemsamuels via Instagram

Look to your left when approaching Cape Town on the N2 and you should see the recognizable white arches curving over the two stands at Athlone Stadium. This is the home of Santos Football Club and Chippa United, as well as the Cape Flats’ lively football culture. The stadium holds 34,000 people and makes a festive venue in the midst of the legendary match-ups it plays host to.

Tip: Laduma with the locals and roar at the pitch. A definite way to experience Cape Town like a local. Stay up to date on fixtures at Athlone Stadium on the Santos FC website.

Address: Cross Boulevard, Athlone

Hudson’s Burger Joint

hudsons burgers experience cape town

Image courtesy of @jacobburrell91 via Instagram

Forming an integral part of trend-setting Cape Town culture since 2009, Hudson’s is the self-proclaimed creator of the Mother City’s tastiest most satisfying burger. Cape Town includes three branches: on Somerset Road in Green Point, Protea Road in Claremont and on Kloof Street in Gardens. Whenever you visit, you’ll get to experience Cape Town like a local again, since you’ll never be too far away from Hudson’s. Inspired by the authentic American-style diner with a distinctly Capetonian twist, you will always feel comfortable and at home sipping on a Hudson Pale Ale Draught and enjoying fantastic service.

Tip: Happy hour is from 16:30-18:30, Monday to Friday which means half price on selected items including appetizers, draughts and cocktails.

Hudson’s Kloof Street

Address: 69A Kloof Street, Gardens
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12:00 – 23:00
Phone: 021 426 5974

Hudson’s Green Point

Address: 1A Portside Mall, Main Road, Green Point
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12:00 – 23:00
Phone: 021 433 1496

Hudson’s Claremont

Address: 25 Protea Road, Claremont
Hours: Mon-Sun, 12:00 – 23:00
Phone: 021 674 5152

Website: www.theburgerjoint.co.za

Surf with the Muizenberg locals

muizenberg surfing experience cape town

Image courtesy of @shane_lawrence8 via Instagram

Muizenberg – the sleepy seaside community comes alive in the line-up at Surfers Corner. The wave riding culture of the area is alive and well and has been for some 50 odd years when The Corner Surf Shop – Africa’s oldest surf shop – first opened its doors. Besides the shape of surfboards and the comforting presence of Shark Spotters, not much has changed in Muizenberg, and that’s where its charm lies. Get ready to experience Cape Town’s surfing culture.

Tip: Check out Gary’s Surf School on Beach Road for lessons and board rental.

Address: Balmoral Building, 34 Beach Road, Muizenberg
Hours: Mon-Sun, 08:00 – 17:00
Phone: 021 788 9839
Website: www.garysurf.com/

Slow Market

slow market experience cape town

Image courtesy of @mercia.joy via Instagram

‘Slow’, in the new age sense of the word, is defined as, “edibles that are produced or prepared in accordance with local culinary traditions, typically using high-quality locally sourced ingredients.

What better way is there to experience Cape Town’s culture of slow than at the Slow Market at Willowbridge. Taste locally produced food served by locals, and enjoy the culinary spoils of the merchants’ ode to old family recipes. Featuring 100 specialty suppliers, including local farmers, grocers, artisan bakers, organic merchants, craftsmen, fine food purveyors, craft beers and estate wines, the Slow Market is available every Saturday, come rain or shine.

Tip: Take time to chat to the storeowners and you’ll find out there is also a Slow Market in Stellenbosch at Oude Libertas.

Address: Willowbridge South, Carl Cronje Drive, Bellville
Hours: Sat, 09:00 – 14:00
Phone: 021 886 8514
Website: www.slowmarket.co.za

Ubuntu Khayelitsha

Ubuntu Khayelitsha experience cape town

Khayelitsha, Cape Town’s biggest informal settlement is rarely explored, but Ubuntu is changing that with their township bicycle tours. The tours, which are conducted in English and cost R400 p/p, offer a safe and fun way to explore a new culture and landscape.

Tip: There are a number of B&B’s in Khayelitsha. Why not stay for a night or two and experience Cape Town’s other treasures?

Address: 23 160 Dullah Ouma Street, Mandela Park, Khayelitsha
Phone: 063 709 8382
Website: www.townshipbiketour.com/

Shop like a local, take The Lot

the lot experience cape town new

Image courtesy of @deanfriederich via Instagram

Capetonians are a fashion-conscious bunch, and The Lot on Kloof Street is perfectly positioned to cater for local looks. A contemporary boutique with various locations around the city, finely dressed folks at The Lot have scoured the globe to bring you the coolest fresh and vintage fashion, accessories & lifestyle products. Their stores stock women’s wear and menswear from local designers to well-known international brands. Discover the fashionable way to experience Cape Town!

Tip: Too far from Cape Town to get the look? Shop online!

Address: 43 Kloof Street, Gardens
Hours: Mon-Fri, 09:00 – 18:00
Sat, 09:00 – 17:00
Sun, 09:00 – 15:00
Phone: 021 424 8812

Lefty’s

leftys experience cape town

Image courtesy of @adventuresofelise via Instagram

Kentucky Chicken and waffles in one dish … what more can we say? Unashamedly itself, Lefty’s on Harrington Street has been in Cape Town since 2014, drawing a local crowd for it grungy interior, American inspired menu and all-round alternativeness. Spread over several interlinked rooms, this is the venue for booze, food, smoke and song. The menu is scrawled haphazardly on the wall, leading us to believe firm favourites such as chicken waffles and ribs is just the beginning of Lefty’s’ offering.

Tip: Discover another way to experience Cape Town like a local by ordering the famous deep-fried chicken and maple syrup waffles.

Address: 105 Harrington Street, Zonnebloem
Hours: Mon-Fri, 16:00 – 01:00
Sat, 16:00 – 00:00
Phone: 021 461 0407
Website: www.facebook.com/Leftys

The Book Lounge

book lounge experience cape town

Image courtesy of @backhand_winner via Instagram

Kicking back with a book in the comfy setting of The Book Lounge is a promising alternative if you need a break from exploring outdoors. Offering peace and quiet in the city, The Book Lounge won an award for being the best independent book store in South Africa. Curled up on a couch with your favourite novelist’s latest work, this charming book store will take you back to the Victorian era with its beautifully decorated wooden finishing’s and plush sofas. What’s more, there is no rush! Join the locals for this relaxing way to experience Cape Town and read for an entire day.

Tip: The Book Lounge often has book launches and informal chats with authors, speak to the clerk to see what’s on.

Address: 71 Roeland Street, Corner of Buitenkant & Roeland Street, Cape Town City Centre
Hours: Mon-Fri, 08:30 – 19:30
Sat, 09:00 – 17:00
Sun & publ. holidays, 10:00 – 16:00
Phone: 021 462 2425
Website: www.booklounge.co.za

The Fireman’s Arms

firemans arms experience cape town

Image courtesy of @dylan_luizinho via Instagram

It’s one of Cape Town’s oldest pubs occupying the same site it did when it first opened for business in 1864. Despite its age, Fireman’s Arms has stood the test of time, retaining its original ambience and standing firm as one of the best ways to experience Cape Town. It’s still a great place to watch sport alongside fans of local sides, and a wintery Saturday cheering on your favourite team has never looked so good accompanied by a range of hot pub fare, a range of beers on tap, and table visits from Babelas – Fireman’s Arms’ resident cat.

Tip: Join the Pub Quiz Night on Thursdays. Arrive around 18:00 to secure a table. Quiz starts at 19:30. The tables are available at R20 per person. Don’t forget your thinking cap!

Address: 25 Buitengracht Street & Mechau Street, De Waterkant
Hours: Mon-Sat, 11:00 – 02:00
Phone: 021 419 1513
Website: firemansarms.co.za

Kalky’s in Kalk Bay

kalkys-experience-cape-town

Image courtesy of @adspixls via Instagram

The queue on weekends verifies this non-descript little shop’s popularity. Kalky’s offers an old-school fish & chip experience where patrons can choose to eat inside if the weather’s looking sketchy, or on the pier, where you’ll need to keep an eye on dive-bombing seagulls who are as hooked on Kalkys’ food as the locals! Fresh from the sea (caught on the owner’s boat) the blackboard menu brims with authentic fish and chips, deep fried calamari, snoek and crayfish and prawns all served with rice or chips. Expect generous portions and daily offers which can be enjoyed with an easy drinking house wine or beer. Experience Cape Town by indulging in Kalky’s ocean-fresh seafood while watching trawlers at work and seals at play in the quaint Kalk Bay Harbour.

Tip: Take the Metrorail train to Kalk Bay and stop for a few cheeky drinks at The Brass Bell, sans ‘Designated Dave’.

Address: Kalk Bay Harbour (off Main Road), Kalk Bay
Hours: Mon-Sun, 10:00 – 20:00
Phone: 021 788 1726
Website: www.facebook.com/kalkys.seafood/

Beta Beach in Bakoven

beta beach experience cape town

Image courtesy of @yaya_goes_places via Instagram

While the water might not be as tempting as the photo suggests, Beta Beach offers a welcome respite from the crowds at Clifton, Camps Bay and Llandudno. This small, pristine stretch of sand is frequented by residents who live in the vicinity, providing one of the relaxing ways to experience Cape Town. Truth be told, unless a fellow sun gazer has brought their cat with, it’s hard to tell locals from visitors. Although the beach mostly comprises large boulders there is a small section of white sand, and a clear swimming area if you’re brave enough.

Tip: Have a pre or post-beach coffee at Baked Bistro which is around the corner from Beta Beach on Victoria Road.

Address: 7 Beira Rd, Bakoven

Tokai Forest

tokai-forest-experience-cape-town

Image courtesy of @biancarom90 via Instagram

Tokai Forest presents the perfect opportunity to get outdoors and experience Cape Town like a local. This green belt in the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town is the domain of SANParks and a favourite amongst picnickers, mountain bikers, walkers and runners. The mountainside setting affords fabulous views of the flats, and on clear days, all the way to the Hottentots Holland mountain range. Pine trees create a natural canopy; while a maintained network of dirt paths provide the perfect platform for adventure-seeking mountain cyclists, trail runners and horse riders.

Tip: Take the trek to Elephant’s Eye Cave if you are in the mood for some off-the-beaten-track exploration.

Address: Tokai Road, Tokai

Get in the game!

newlands-cricket-experience-cape-town

Image courtesy of @aamc75 via Instagram

As an outsider, there’s nothing like experiencing the passion and pulse of a home crowd on a winning streak. At the various sports grounds around Newlands, the atmosphere is electric. There’s the Newlands Cricket Ground, Newlands Swimming Pool and the Newlands Rugby Stadium. The rugby stadium is the oldest in South Africa and the second-oldest in the world. Make sure you join the residents of Newlands and experience Cape Town’s enthusiasm for sport!

Tip: Are you a Sharks supporter in Cape Town? Then check out the Sharks Supporters Club near Newlands.

Newlands Cricket Ground

Address: 146 Campground Road, Newlands
Phone: 021 657 2004

Newlands Swimming Pool

Address: 151 Sans Souci Road, Newlands
Hours: Mon-Fri, 06:15 – 17:00
Sat-Sun, 07:30 – 17:45
Phone: 021 674 4197

Newlands Rugby Stadium

Address: 8 Boundary Road, Newlands
Phone: 021 659 4600

Long Street Baths

long-street-baths-experience-cape-town

Image courtesy of @touristincapetown via Instagram

Right in the middle of Cape Town’s lively centre, hidden behind an antique looking façade on the corner of Long Street and Orange Street, is one of the Mother City’s often overlooked gems: the scruffy but charming Long Street Baths. For more than 100 years, the swimming pools at the top of Long Street have provided one of the oldest ways to experience Cape Town: generations of water babies have a place to play, relax and perfect their stroke. While the exterior exudes faded Edwardian elegance, the interior was upgraded (in 1990!) to include an up-to-date heating system, ramps and facilities for handicapped swimmers, as well as change rooms with hot showers.

Tip: The entry fee is R25.30 for adults and R13.20 for children. Pensioners go free!

Address: Corner of Long Street and Orange Street, Cape Town
Hours: Mon-Sun, 07:00 – 16:00 (excl. Turkish baths, which are closed)
Tues, 10:00 – 14:00 (females only)
Phone: 021 422 0100

Milnerton Market

milnerton-flea-market-experience-cape-town

Image courtesy of @peekingrecords via Instagram

Today, Milnerton Flea Market is situated on Marine Drive (R27), a stone’s throw away from Lagoon Beach. The outdoor market has been going for over 20 years now, and it offers a truly local way to experience Cape Town on the weekend – browse delightful bric-a-brac, pick up some plants or find a rare Mother City keepsake hidden amongst mountains of antiques. A landmark popular with bargain hunters, it’s open on Saturday and Sunday, as well as public holidays.

Tip: Bring the dogs – Milnerton Market is pet friendly. Entrance to the market and its parking facilities is free of charge.

Address: 126 Marine Drive, Paarden Eiland
Hours: Sat & publ. holidays (excl. Christmas & Good Friday), 08:00 – 14:00
Sun, 08:00 – 15:00
Phone: 021 551 7879
Website: www.milnertonfleamarket.co.za

Eastern Food Bazaar

eastern food bazaar experience cape town

Image courtesy of @di_nincao via Instagram

To step into this aromatic arcade between Longmarket Street and Darling Street is to step into another world, seemingly removed from the Cape Town experience you might be familiar with. But for locals who frequent this value for money restaurant and take away outlet, its diverse dining experience is what makes it so distinctly Capetonian. It doesn’t matter whether you’re going for lunch or a late in the day dinner. Expect a menu that takes you from India to Turkey and downtown Chinatown in one sitting! Eastern Food Bazaar is a multinational eating experience like no other.

Tip: Pay for your order at the cashiers first, then take your slip to the relevant chef and watch while he makes your meal.

Address: 96 Longmarket Street, Cape Town City Centre
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 11:00 – 22:00
Fri-Sat, 11:00 – 22:30
Phone: 021 461 2458
Website: www.easternfoodbazaar.co.za

Go places with the MyCiTi Bus

myciti experience cape town

Image courtesy of @liezl.n via Instagram

South Africa has never been praised for its public transport network, and for locals without their own vehicles it can be an uphill battle to get from A to B. Times thankfully changed, and things have been looking up; especially since the introduction of Cape Town’s MyCiTi buses in 2010. This transport system is a great way to experience Cape Town’s best way to get around with public transport. There are stations in and around Cape Town. Head to one to get a myconnect card for R35.

Tip: The MyCiTi Bus System is not to be confused with the City Sightseeing Red Buses which are sometimes far better suited to tourists and first-time visitors to the city. The Airport Express gets you to or from Cape Town International for R73.

Phone: 0800 65 64 63
Website: www.myciti.org.za

Kloof Street House

kloof-street-house-experience-cape-town

Image courtesy of @amanda.tajhaard via Instagram

Discover another side of the charming scene that Kloof Street offers! Kloof Street House is a local institution on Kloof Street. That’s thanks to the restaurant’s cosy, refined ambience, exceptional décor and eclectic cuisine. This elegant Victorian house is home to lovely leafy gardens, which transform into a stunning sight at night with beautiful lighting.

Tip: Make sure you head there on Sundays. That’s when you can catch live jazz performances, enjoy idyllic lunches or relaxing times chilling with a drink. Just another way to experience Cape Town’s slow lifestyle.

Address: 30 Kloof Street, Gardens
Hours: Mon, 17:00 – 02:00
Tues-Sun, 12:00 – 02:00
Phone: 021 423 4413
Website: www.kloofstreethouse.co.za

Whether you’re from Sandton, Umhlanga or Soweto, we hope you’ll find a fine balance of places and activities that truly showcase the best way to experience Cape Town’s diversity and uniqueness. The city really does have everything and more you could want in a holiday destination. The real experiences, however, lie just off the beaten path waiting for you to find them.

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What wonderful and unique discoveries have you enjoyed during your opportunity to experience Cape Town?

What would you add to our list? Tell us by commenting below.

All information on this blog page was correct at the time of publishing and may change at any time without prior notice. Travelstart will not be held liable for loss or inconvenience resulting from the use of out-dated or incorrectly noted information.

Featured image courtesy of @jsbinsta via Instagram

Our Readers Comments

  1. You should include the wonder of the world

  2. Thank you to all of you that commented and passed on suggestions. I left Cape Town 30 years ago and have been back at least five times since then, the vlast being June last year (2017)
    I can see I have missed out on a lot of new places and things that I didn’t know about as I tended to stick to what I knew. HOW BORING!
    PLEASE keep posting new, exciting and interesting things and places for me to make a note of.

    Now when I go back next June/July I have a NEW world open to me. Thank you.

  3. I definitely agree Mzolis needs a special mention. Also, Cape Town’s best kept secret – Roxy’s on Dunkley Square, best bacon and blue cheese burgers in the country! Also remember to grab a selfie with the mannequins in the bathroom 😉

  4. I am planning a backpacking trip from Cape to Cairo and reading this got me so excited.
    I guess my itinerary for Cape Town is sorted 🙂 Thanks a lot.

  5. You guys have got everything on the money – except Hudson’s. I have had burgers at both their town joints and everytime I’ve been…underwhelmed. Super expensive, average service …AND YOU HAVE TO PAY EXTRA FOR CHIPS!?!?! What the heck is that about? 😛
    Would rather have voted for Royale Eatery on Long st. Best burger and sweet potato fries I’ve ever had – over and over again 🙂
    xo

  6. I think you should include “Anatoli Cape Town” – the one & only traditional Turkish Restaurant since 1984- to this list. It has great mezes & food and excellent service. Try it – you will like it with a sip of Turkish Raki, the most exquisite drink on Northern Hemisphere.

  7. Lovely choices, I have not been to all of them listed here but that will soon change. A favorite place of mine is Mariners Wharf in Hout Bay. Such a great vibe from with the rustic old seafarers set-up that takes you back in time. Add to that the exceptional cuisine, lovely views and fresh sea breeze.

  8. Thanks this is exactly what Cape Town needs, more tourists clogging up the joint. As soon as a place becomes too popular it loses it’s appeal and locals stop going there. I dont understand the motivations in an article like this besides to try and show off your colloquial knowledge, which isn’t all that I might add. Why not direct them out of town instead and leave the locals some space? We’ve got enough tourism thank you. Makes me wonder if perhaps you’re a tourist yourself?

    • Sam grow up

    • Sam, I think you need to leave the city….no actually the country ASAP. People like you don’t belong here. Stop being so negative and share the joy, rather than to trap on people and your comment sucks big time. We don’t need you. Well done Cape Town and welcome all of you to our beautiful city.

  9. it would be realy nice for you guys to also talk about the best laundry mates in the city. places like (laundry on long) were local residents come around for the best laundry services and welcomed to the best underground deep house music, (i love my laundry) for the resindents that wants to have dinner or good wine while they are waiting for their laundry to get done and ect…. ijust think its something else that you should know of…

  10. been to fish on the rocks many times ,havent seen litter etc..the area is a working harbour and as such has a weather beten facade and is a bit grungy but that is half the character of the place

  11. If “Fish on the rocks” spent a little of its profit on keeping the surrounding area clean and tidy it would be a much better place to go. It’s simply disgusting and something needs to be done! I think it’s a tragedy that the City can’t get their act together and keep the area clean and hygienic. There’s broken glass, litter and used condoms lying everywhere! It’s the last place I’d recommend any tourist go!

  12. Johan; Vuyokazi and Tshepo are right…
    Mzoli’s deserve to be on the list if we’re talking about experiencing CT like a local – It’s not mainstream at all in my view or else the list needs a relook to exclude ‘mycitibus, rafikis, fireman’s arms etc.’
    It’s not easily accessible to all and sundry and if it was then the place would have evolved from being a little butcher shop on the streets of NY 115 to a better setting…

  13. While there will always be some places missing on a list like this, I really think a tourist should do most of those things. Great stuff. I would skip Fireman’s Arms though…way too overpriced – and I’m from Cape Town!

  14. Vuyokazi and Tshepo. Mzoli’s is mainstream tourist Cape Town. This is a more off the beaten track list. Hence why places like Truth coffee and Charly’s bakery also isn’t on the list.

  15. Or the Sugarhut at the Castle Hotel In Constitution street
    for your special party /event

  16. What about The Kimbo Pub at the Kimberley Hotel In Roeland street

    Full Breakfast R15.00(T&C’s) when u buy a beverage ie Tequila or Coffee(t&C’s)or beer etc

  17. I left 15 years ago. I miss beautiful Cape Town more than I can say. Thank you for the trip down memory lane, I cried all the way through those wonderful pictures of the happiest years of my life.

  18. Constantia Village Courtyard, a small intimate shopping centre opposite the main mall in Constantia Village with some wonderful designer clothes, sunglasses, gifting and definitely the best little Italian restaurant in Cape Town Fame Gourmet.

  19. What about Mzoli’s butchery in guguletu? That place has had over 85 000 people from all over the world because of its delicious meat. Jamie Oliver even mentioned the place in his book and also included their recipe.

  20. What about Mzoli’s in Gugulethu? It sure needs an honourable mention at least…

  21. The only time my late son and myself disagreed was about where we will have fish. He and his friends loved Kalkies and I like Fish on the Rocks just outside Hout Bay harbour!
    We all loved the Eastern Bazaar in Darling Street.

  22. What about Toni’s on Kloof? A favourite local hangout in Kloof St and priced for the locals.

  23. Very interesting not only for tourists to your city but to new residents who are settling in to CT! Good areas to visit! Thank you for your excellant information!

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