Get to know Cape Town a little better by walking through her streets. The City Walk is a good introduction to what the Mother City has to offer.
A pre-determined route through the city, the City Walk gives you the opportunity to experience some of the sights and sounds of Cape Town’s CBD. While this route can be done as a guided tour – departures daily from outside the Taj hotel (www.footstepstofreedom.co.za) – it is, for the most part, a self-guided route. There doesn’t seem to be any signage along the way, so it is a good idea to jot down the details of the route before you set out.
The route begins in the Company’s Garden, heads down St. George’s Mall to Waterkant Street, progresses along Waterkant Street’s Fan Walk, and ends in St Andrew’s Square. Given the flexibility of this walk, I would actually recommend doing the route in reverse – starting in St Andrew’s Square and ending in the Company’s Garden.
Grab a cup of coffee at Truth – where you can also connect to free WiFi – before browsing the Prestwich Memorial. This memorial, which was erected after construction along the nearby Prestwich Street uncovered the unmarked graves of those executed by the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries, includes an ossuary and interpretive displays.
From there, take a stroll along the picturesque Fan Walk. Keep an eye out for football-related murals along the way. If you want to extend your walk, you can take a detour up Bree Street — where you’ll find some trendy restaurants – and back down vibrant Long Street.
Turn right when the Fan Walk meets St George’s Mall and take your time perusing the colourful stalls. Here, you can stock up on African textiles and curios and local works of art. Even if you don’t buy anything, this stretch of the walk is a visual treat! Turn left at the top of St George’s Mall and head towards the Company’s Gardens. Along the way, you might want to pop into St. George’s Cathedral – the oldest cathedral in Cape Town. Designed by Sir Henry Baker, the cathedral has magnificent stained glass windows and a calming labyrinth in the courtyard garden.
The reason why I suggested finishing – rather than starting – in the Company’s Garden is that you’ll want to spend some time wandering around this beautiful public space. Established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 as a vegetable garden, the Company’s Garden now provides Cape Town residents with an inviting green space. Be sure to check out the rose garden, the newly re-established vegetable garden, the Japanese garden, the fish pond, and the aviary. A number of the city’s museums also sit along the edge of this garden.
If you happen to be in the city for the third Saturday of the month, you’re in for a bit of a treat. During City Walk Saturdays, which take place between 10am and 2pm, there are a number of additional fun attractions along the route. Think dancing, singing, acting, and craft markets. For more information and dates on when the next City Walk Saturday takes place, check out the Cape Town Partnership website (http://www.capetownpartnership.co.za/).