Toolkit » A Cultural Day
A Cultural Day
Cape Town is a city bursting at the seams with colour, creativity and humour. You only need to walk past the flower sellers of Adderley Street to get a taste of the zest for life that permeates the city. The Cape Minstrel Carnival, affectionately known as Cape Town’s answer to the Mardi Gras, is another wonderful example of the city’s creative spirit: on January 2 every year more than 13 000 brightly dressed minstrels dance through the city centre singing traditional songs and playing banjos.
If the sea is calm, visit Robben Island. Once the notorious, isolated “Alcatraz” for South Africa’s political prisoners, including Nelson Mandela, it is now a World Heritage Site, museum and nature reserve. The 11,5km boat trip takes about 30 minutes each way, and the guided tour of the island lasts about three hours. Booking a Robben Island tour at the Nelson Mandela Gateway.
After your sea journey, nip into Charly’s Bakery or the Field Office in the Fringe to recharge, refuel and enjoy a sweet treat before visiting the District Six Museum. It pays tribute to communities forcibly removed during apartheid from their homes in District Six, on the slope of Table Mountain.
Afterwards take a taxi across town to Bo-Kaap, once known as the Malay Quarter, a charming area of multi-coloured Malay houses and friendly faces. Meander along the cobbled streets and sample local treats such as sosaties and samoosas; if you have time, take a walking tour or book a Cuisine Route tour.
The Fugard Theatre is a must for a night out in the city. Also keep an eye on the great line-ups at The Artscape Theatre, or The Baxter in Rondebosch with its tapas and wine bar called Play, and Act that offers bistro-style fare. If music is more your style, enjoy traditional Goema music or take a Jazz Safari into the townships with Coffeebeans Routes and share a meal in the home of one of our talented musicians.
If you’re hungry to learn more and want a cultural feast in Cape Town, fit in as many of the following outings as you can:
Must-see cultural hotspots
Most of the Iziko museums are included on city walking tours. In the Company’s Garden, the Iziko South African National Gallery houses national art treasures and fascinating examples of resistance art. Across the road you’ll find the Iziko South African Museum that displays everything from fossils and Stone Age tools to the eerily beautiful whale well, where you can hear the songs of these giant marine mammals.
The South African Jewish Museum is built alongside the Great Synagogue and is an integral part of the architecturally striking Cape Town Holocaust Centre.
The City Hall dates back to 1905 and a new series of concerts is revitalising the venue. On his release from prison in 1990, Nelson Mandela addressed the nation for the first time from the balcony of the City Hall, overlooking 250 000 people on the Grand Parade, the oldest square in Cape Town.
The Castle of Good Hope, Cape Town’s oldest surviving building, has been lovingly restored. The tea room and courtyard offer beautiful views of the mountain.
Other national heritage sites to explore in the area include the 18th century Rust en Vreugd Manor, the Slave Lodge, the Bo-Kaap Museum, St George’s Cathedral, the Old Townhouse and Koopmans-de Wet House.
Sign up for a community-run outing to really get a feel of life as a local in and around Cape Town. Mzolis in Gugulethu is always a hot favourite, renowned for its world-class meat and local music. Choose your own meat and watch it sizzle over open coals.
If you really want to kwela (get up and go), join the party at AmaZink Live, a new live theatre show in collaboration with The Barnyard Theatre, in the Stellenbosch township Kayamandi. Well known chef Bertus Basson, of Overture restaurant, has collaborated on the kasi cuisine (township food) menu. AmaZink offers a music experience honouring legends such as the late Miriam Makeba, as well as Johnny Clegg, Mango Groove and many more.
Experience a cultural township tour with one of many operators that take visitors to Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Lwandle, and which provide sustainable job opportunities to residents in those areas. Township tours should be booked through reputable operators, like most other activities and tours.
If you’re looking for something more low-key, the new “Rond en Bond” community tourism route around the pretty town of Franschhoek, in the Cape Winelands, will be right up your alley. Choose between a cultural or culinary tour.