Crystal Wizard Hotel, Observatory. Photo courtesy Damien du Toit

Observatory or “Obs” as the locals call it, is Cape Town’s bohemian suburb and lies east of the city centre.

East of the central business district, on the way to the University of Cape Town and the southern suburbs, you’ll come across Observatory, with its bars, live music and trendy restaurants.

During the apartheid era Observatory enjoyed “grey area” status, meaning that people of all races lived together, and this same spirit has persisted in the new South Africa. The suburb’s numerous clubs, restaurants, book and curio shops remain open until late, making Obs a great night-time spot. Visiting at night also means you’ll see Obs at its best – when the shabby chic of its slightly dilapidated buildings is less obvious.

All the night action is centred on Lower Main Road, so take a slow amble down, taking time to stop at each of the shops, or let your ears lead you to the best live music on the street – most nights offer a choice of Afro Latin, folk and jazz. Don’t walk alone at night, though, for your own safety.

Those more concerned with the spinning of the Earth than spinning on the dance floor, should visit the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), +27 21 447 0025; www.saao.ac.za, on Observatory Road, which grew from the Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, founded in 1820. It’s open to the public every second Saturday of the month for a two-hour tour; no booking is required, unless your group is larger than 16. Meet at the SAAO at 20h00 for a tour of the observatory and its museum, a chance to view distant galaxies and marvel at sparkling celestial bodies through a telescope.

  • Phone: +27 21 487 6800

Cango Caves

29km from Oudtshoorn, at the head of the picturesque Cango Valley, lies the spectacular underground wonder of the Klein Karoo - the Cango Caves. Situated in a limestone ridge parallel to the well-known Swartberg Mountains, you will find the finest dripstone caverns, with their vast halls and towering formations.

Southern Suburbs

The Southern Suburbs are a tourist’s delight. The area, which stretches from the slopes of the Table Mountain range to the False Bay coast, offers natural attractions and a vibrant nightlife.

St James

Just a little further on from Cape Town’s well-known Muizenberg beach is St James. Home to a cluster of well-known and oft-photographed bathing boxes on the beach, St James is a picturesque area that offers beachgoers respite from the westerly wind.

Llandudno and Sandy Bay

Only 18km from the Cape Town city centre, an arc of fine white sand gives away the secluded location of one of Cape Town’s most beautiful beaches, Llandudno.


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