Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Travel Guide - part 2

South Africa’s most visited attraction will certainly keep you busy. The shops are stocked with Africa’s finest art, jewellery and curio collections. With many restaurants, coffee shops and wine bars to choose from, no-one should leave with an empty stomach. Not to be missed is the Two Oceans Aquarium – if you have any doubts about going – just go! The Clock Tower mall is an exciting add on to the original complex, with even more shops to choose from.

No visitor to Cape Town should miss South Africa’s most visited tourist destination. This is Cape Town’s official meeting place and it’s buzzing every night.

Tip The Waterfront is a place to explore on foot – there are surprises around every corner. Ensure that you have enough time available to explore. Carefully study the V&A Waterfront map (obtain from V&A Main Office) so you don’t  miss some of the many attractions within the harbour area.  Keep the shopping for a rainy or cloudy day, and rather visit outdoor destinations like Table Mountain when the weather is good. If the weather is brilliant every day, there is always the last day for shopping.  

As you walk through the main entrance, you are greeted by the main shopping area. If you looking for something unique at a good price, head for the South African department stores. These include Woolworths, Edgars, Stuttafords, Exclusive Books and @Home, to name a view.

Several other shopping areas are located within the V&A, including the exciting new Clock Tower mall (excellent especially if you are looking for the rear Tanzanite stone) and the Red Shed Craft market which sells painted fabrics, earth works, textures in textile and original art. If you are looking to buy South African music, visit the CD Warehouse located in Dock Road – here you will find rare music and the shop is any music buyer’s dream come true.

In total there are over 400 stores to choose from of which the African Curio shops are some of the most beautifully and well-stocked on the Continent.  Stores are open daily from 9am to 9pm.

As you walk through the main shopping area you reach the working harbour. This is the true heart of the V&A Waterfront and there are many excellent restaurants where you can watch the world pass by. There are over 50 restaurants to choose from, all situated within the working harbour - a food lover’s paradise. Table Mountain rises beautifully while people explore cheerfully what’s on offer.

It is hard to imagine that the old harbour was once an eyesore for the city’s inhabitants. After major developments around the harbour a view years ago, it’s now one of Cape Town’s most exclusive areas. More developments worth R1 billion have recently been announced - this will certainly ensure that the Waterfront remains South Africa's top attraction.

Walk all the way to the Clock Tower for some beautiful city views. Try the Paulaner Bräuhaus Pub and Restaurant near the Clock Tower for their famous German shandy and affordable food. The restaurant offers a variety of home-brewed beers, value for money buffets, and live music.

Not to be missed is a helicopter ride over Cape Town. The trip provides a fantastic view over the Mother City and will show you what all the fuzz is about. It’s also much cheaper than a similar trip in other major tourists cities around the world – now is the time to take advantage.

The Two Oceans Aquarium is a must-see for young and old and the visit is worth every cent. This could probably be the highlight of your trip to the Waterfront. View more than 3000 animals from the ocean – stunning displays give you a new insight into what happens below. Dive with the sharks or dive while hand feeding hundreds of fishes in one of the world’s most magnificent kelp displays. The experience is truly fantastic.

Two other major Waterfront attractions include the S.A. Maritime Museum and the Mineral World and Scratch Patch. The S.A. Maritime museum holds stunning maritime exhibitions and has the largest collection of model ships in South Africa. With almost half of the world’s gemstones found in Southern Africa the Mineral World and Scratch Patch is the place to experience the beauty of it all, and to take home a little piece of Africa.

A sunset cruise is an exciting way to end a busy day of shopping and exploring. There are various types of cruises on offer including Sunset, Dinner, Champagne, High Speed and Fishing – all starting within the harbour. Make sure you go on at least one of them during your stay here.

How to get there

From the Cape Town International Convention centre (CTICC) (Corner of Coen Steytler and Buitengracht street) continue with Coen Steytler as it becomes Dock Road. At the circle turn left into Port/Dock Road which will take you all the way to the parking area at the Victoria Wharf shopping mall.

You can also reach the V&A from Sea Point / Mouille Point by driving all along Beach Road towards the city. You will see the shopping mall on your left side. Turn left into Grander Bay.

Parking can sometimes be a problem at the V&A Waterfront and its advisable to park underground if you cannot find a spot. 

Travel checklist

  • Shopped at the V&A & Clock Tower shopping malls 
  • Visited the Red Shed Craft Market  
  • Explored the harbour area   
  • Took a helicopter ride over Cape Town 
  • Visited the Two Oceans Aquarium  
  • Visited the SA Maritime Museum 
  • Mineral World and Scratch patch 
  • Took a beautiful sunset cruise

Useful numbers

V&A Waterfront Main Office 021 408 7600
Two Oceans Aquarium 021 418 3823
S.A. Maritime Museum 021 405 2880 
Mineral World and Scratch Patch 021 419 9429

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