Cape Town Waterfront

Cape Town's Top Attractions: The V&A Waterfront

The Cape Town Waterfront or the Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Waterfront is today the Mother City’s foremost entertainment and shopping district, but did you know that this area only exists for a bit more than twenty years?

The Cape Town Waterfront was established in 1988 and is situated in a working harbour with the local fishing industry occupying 60% of the site. Cape Town harbour, originating from 1860, today caters for a wide range of vessels from working boats to yachts and provides berthing to passenger boats, super yachts and a multitude of upmarket cruise liners.

The V&A Waterfront boast magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean, the city and Table Mountain and is located close to most of the Mother City’s famous attractions.

V&A Waterfront courtesy of V&A Waterfront Tourism

The Cape Town Waterfront is easy to reach and close to many other Cape Town attractions, just to give you an idea: Cape Town Stadium can easily reached by foot (1km), the city center's main pedestrian zone St George’s Mall and the colorful Greenmarket Square can be reached as well by foot (2km)or by bus, watertaxi or shuttle. When you come into town with the new BRT bus lines you will still need to change at the BRT Station in Cape Town CBD, but there are frequent buses going from there to the Waterfront from the main terminal.

Today the Cape Town Waterfront is recognised as one of the most visited tourist destinations in Africa, with a wide range of retail, entertainment and lifestyle offerings to locals, expats and visitors. The average number of visitors to the V&A Waterfront is 1.7-million per month, which increases to over 2.5 million during the popular summer months as domestic and international tourists descend on Cape Town.

Cape Town Waterfront Development

The official trading at the Waterfront began in 1990 when the first shops, restaurants, hotels and markets opened around the Victoria Basin and the Pierhead Precinct.

Today the V&A Waterfront forms an integral part of South Africa’s historical legacy with 22 official landmarks on site. The most prominent historic buildings at the Waterfront are certainly Chavonne’s Battery which was established in the 1800’s and Dock House which previously was the Harbour Master’s residence from 1870. Breakwater Prison which houses UCT’s Graduate School of Business is from 1902 and the Old Port Captain’s Building from 1904.

Did you know that the V&A Hotel was formerly a warehouse from the 1930’s and is now located in the midst of the Waterfront?

Most of the newer buildings around the V&A Waterfront were completed between 1991 and 1995. In 1996 The five star Table Bay Hotel and Cape Grace Hotel opened. After this the V&A Marina residential development commenced. In 2009 Cape Town’s One& Only Hotel opened its doors.

And not to forget, Cape Town's World Heritage Site "Robben Island" can reached from the V&A Waterfront in roughly 30 minutes via Ferry which departs hourly at Nelson Mandela Gateway next to the red Waterfront landmark, the Clocktower.

More info on Robben Island here.

Some more interesting Cape Town Waterfront Facts

The V&A Waterfront is renowned for excellent shopping. It has over 450 retailers.

Retail shopping hours are from 9am to 9pm, 364 days of the year with Christmas trading being optional for tenants.

The V&A Waterfront has expanded over the past two decades and currently boasts more than 80 eateries, including restaurants, coffee shops and fast food outlets.

Did you know that the first business to open at the V&A Waterfront was Mitchell’s Brewery and Ferrymans? This well known restaurant and bar opened its doors in 1989 and still operates today and is very popular with tourists, expats and locals alike.

Source: Thanks go to Rozitta de Villiers of V&A Waterfront Tourism who supplied much of the info on this page.

There are so many attractions at the Cape Town Waterfront you can happily spend a day or two to experience the great atmosphere of the place. Night or day there are special attractions for everyone.

Read my photo journal about the Cape Town Waterfront

If you are looking for more insider views and great places to visit in and around Cape Town, please subscribe to my free ExpatCapeTown Newsletter here:

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you ExpatCapeTown Newsletter.

Read more about other Cape Town Attractions