Whether you’re from Cape Town or just visiting the beautiful Mother City, everyone knows that the V&A Waterfront is a must-visit. It certainly isn’t your typical mall and as one of Cape Town’s oldest historic attractions, it’s home to local artisans, buskers, yacht charters and budget friendly activities for the whole family, to mention just a few. Juanita Abrahams shares how to explore the V&A Waterfront in a day.
How to explore the V&A Waterfront in a day
As a local, spending the day where the city meets the sea is second nature – sometimes just for a leisurely stroll or to experience something new in the V&A Waterfront neighbourhood.
“But with so much to do, and often limited time, here’s a few of my favourite things you can explore in one (jam-packed) day”
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Skate the blues away at Rollercade
There’s nothing better than starting the day with some ridiculous fun and endless laughter at Cape Town’s first indoor roller-skating amusement park.
“Knowing full well that I can’t rollerskate to save my life, I was still up for this exciting yet scary challenge. Many hard knocks, falls and belly laughs later – I can say that I’ll definitely visit again. Staff are helpful, quickly come to the rescue of amateurs like myself and even spend a few minutes training newbies on the basics of roller skating. And perhaps the most important lesson of the day was to not be afraid to fall. It’s part of the process. ”
Rollercade provides a safe and friendly environment the whole family can enjoy, and entertainment that includes a DJ and an arcade too.
Roller-skating sessions are 2-hours long, with sufficient time allocated between sessions for sanisation to take place. Sessions fill up in the blink of an eye, so best to book online in advance.
“All you really need to take along is yourself. Dress comfortably, not too warm as roller-skating definitely is a workout and remember your socks. Socks are mandatory!
When booking online you will be prompted to select your shoe size. If however, the skates don’t fit as snug on the day, feel free to ask for a smaller (or bigger size). And of course, be punctual. Your session begins on the hour.”
Rollercade also welcomes bigger groups as well as birthday parties.
Find them at Parking Floor 3, at the Battery Park every Tuesday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm.
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Eat at the V&A Food Market
From 10am to 6pm every day, the alluring smells of freshly roasted coffee, decadent desserts and hearty lunch time meal choices fill the space known as the V&A Food Market, luring us in, in the best possible way.
Known for its mouth watering gourmet foods, craft beer and vibrant atmosphere, rest assured that your cravings will be satisfied whatever you choose (it may just take a while choosing!).
Just outside its doors, not only will you be blessed with fabulous views of Table Mountain and the harbour, but you’re likely to hear the air fill with live music from local talent or see a group of talented dancers entertain the crowd.
“Sushi to Go was our meal of choice, followed by Unframed ice-cream after a proper walk-through of the food market. Admittedly, the food market can be somewhat overwhelming – with so many great options to choose from, interesting stories to hear from local businesses and so much to learn about what they do and why they do it!
I could honestly stay all day exploring every inch of just this one spot.”
And with a quick walk to the left or right of the V&A Food Market, you’ll find yourself at your next adventure – either taking a ride on the Cape Wheel, discovering the beauty of the Two Oceans Aquarium or hopping on the free shuttle headed for Makers Landing.
“Like us, don’t be shy to circle back here before heading home. And if you’re needing just one last sweet treat, head upstairs to Wicked Waffles”
Let the Cape Wheel take you higher
The Cape Wheel is hard to miss as you enter the bustling V&A Waterfront precinct and truth be told – every local should experience 360-degree views of Cape Town and its breathtaking surroundings from the top at least once (if not twice!)
This is the perfect socially-distanced outing for families or couples, as it’s intimate yet still fun and exhilarating. Air-conditioned cabins (perfect for the warmer days) take you 40 metres above the ground, and although it’s a wonderful sight to behold during the day, it’s even more extraordinary during sunset.
The wheel also offers two wheelchair-friendly and accessible cabins, so everyone can get a bird’s eye view of our remarkable city.
“Tickets can’t be booked online but based on experience, I do recommend booking tickets as soon as you arrive at the Waterfront to avoid long queues or crowds later on. The process is relatively quick and easy, and tickets can be redeemed any time throughout the day so there’s really no need to rush”
Remember to say ‘cheese’ for your big picture moment. Professional photos are available for purchase after the ride but be sure to take as many of your own, capturing every moment of this experience.
Bonus: ride for FREE on your birthday by simply signing up online. This free ticket is redeemable for a month from the date of issue.
With three exciting activities already done and dusted, where will the wind take us next? Perhaps a more popular choice…
Experience the Two Oceans Aquarium
“This is by far one of my favourite places to visit, making me as giddy as a kid in a candy store. Seeing the diverse range of sea animals, albeit not in their natural habitat, is not only soothing for the soul but also provides a fresh perspective into the vastness of the world we live in. And that alone is something to be treasured.”
Although one of the more popular attractions amongst families with younger kids and with tourists, as locals let’s not take for granted what others travel miles to come experience.
If you’re wondering what to do at the aquarium, the list below may sound short but provides fun and insightful educational opportunities at every turn.
- Start by exploring the live ocean exhibits that showcase the incredible diversity of marine life found off our coast. Spot seahorses, jellyfish, rays, turtles and fish of all shapes and sizes. With hundreds of species on display, some of which can’t be found anywhere else, there’s plenty of time to learn about each one!
- Next, stop and admire the penguins and if you’re lucky, you might just catch a glimpse of them during feeding – which is quite the show.
- Take a break at the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Exhibit and experience a close encounter with some of the most misunderstood species in South Africa’s oceans.
And that’s only but a small part of the Two Oceans Aquarium offering. See how easy it is to lose yourself in the aquarium’s stunning displays? Go on and be immersed in the wonders of the ocean.
Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, a variety of on-site amenities and attractions have temporarily been suspended. Visit https://www.aquarium.co.za/content/page/things-to-do for further updates.
South African residents: enjoy FREE admission to the Two Oceans Aquarium on your birthday (or six days thereafter) – for the whole day. Simply stop by and show your valid RSA ID to redeem your ticket.
Take a seat at Makers Landing
Makers Landing is a new V&A food community, where everyone is invited – including you!
“As someone who strongly believes in championing all things local, Makers Landing is heaven on Earth for me. It makes me incredibly proud to see these growing businesses at work, sharing what they’re most passionate about, while allowing the public to connect with them in a new, innovative way. And let me not even get started about the delicious delicacies!”
If you’re someone who delights in the South African food journey as much as anyone else, add Makers Landing to your list of places to visit one weekend.
Wondering why only the weekend? Makers Landing is open every Friday to Sunday from 8am. However, Makers operate at different times depending on their available offering.
“For our first Makers Landing experience, we tried Kapoochka, who’s all about having a party in your mouth and they certainly live up to that! Their dishes are a taste explosion like no other and I’d recommend the decadent poppers for dessert any day.”
Makers Landing is situated at the Cruise Terminal (near the Silo district) and although there is ample parking available, take the scenic route free of charge!
Simply hop on and hop off the Eco Bus that offers tours of the whole V&A Waterfront neighbourhood, including #MakersLanding. Various shuttle pick up points are available and waiting times are approximately 30 minutes, giving you more than enough time to explore and get to a pick up point before the next trip.
Dine at La Parada
La Parada is the perfect lunch-time or dinner date treat, with views that overlook the harbour. Find a table near the window and soak it all up, while you wait for one of their mouthwatering, Spanish inspired dishes to be served.
This is a great place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of the mall, watch a sports match or have a few drinks with friends.
Food, food and more food. Whether you prefer affordable street-food, high-end fine dining or something in between – there’s truly something for everyone.
Continue to play, shop, dine and #KeepDiscovering local heritage, diversity and vibrancy with the V&A Waterfront family.
You can also download the VoiceMap app and join a free self-guided audio tour to learn more about the V&A Waterfront’s history.
Share your top Cape Town Big 6 moments with us!
ONE DESTINATION, SIX UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES
There is no one way to explore all of the Cape Town Big 6, and much of what makes each of them so special is the variety of things to see and do at each. So if possible, take your time to explore each of the city’s most visited tourist attractions in as much depth as possible – as any local will tell you, you can spend a lifetime at each of the Big 6 and still not tire of them. Find the 3 and 4 day itineraries and tips here.