When planning a trip to Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront is at the top of many holidaymakers’ lists. From restaurants by the water’s edge, to exciting activities for kids and adults, it has something for everyone. Whether you’re into market shopping or high-end luxury goods, the V&A Waterfront has it all.
And while the obvious splendour of the place is reason enough to visit, these fascinating facts will make you see why a visit to the V&A Waterfront is worth waiting for.
The V&A Waterfront is a gathering place for locals and international visitors, making this neighbourhood a real melting pot of nationalities and cultures.
A big, beautiful space
The V&A Waterfront is the size of 180 rugby fields (123 hectares) with many beautiful spaces for people to enjoy. The team finds creative and interesting ways to bring the neighbourhood to life. There are giant chess sets, seating options for people relax, and public art works accessible to everyone. Take a picture at one of the two yellow frames and have Table Mountain as your backdrop. You could also enjoy Battery park, which offers a free skate park, basketball courts and a grass area to have a picnic.
View this post on Instagram
There’s a running route
It has a well laid out running route with a 2.5km and a 5km option. This route takes you to a board walk overlooking the beautiful Atlantic Ocean.
A variety of activities
The V&A Waterfront has wide range of activities and experiences for all interests. Try stand up paddling in the canals or rent a waterbike. For a birds eye view, take a ride on the Cape Wheel. You could also visit the award-winning Two Oceans Aquarium and time your visit to coincide with a shark feed!
View this post on Instagram
Leisure boats are by far the most popular activity at the V&A. You can find anything from 30 minute harbour cruises to romantic sunset cruises, and even cruises that offer dinner and a show!
Unique activities include booking a dive with the seals or even free-diving.
Robben Island ferries
The ferries to Robben Island depart from the Nelson Mandela Gateway. But in the old days, they departed from Jetty 1 across the basin from Nelson Mandela Gateway. Jetty 1 is a small light blue building that now features a museum and definitely worth a visit.
V&A Waterfront does is committed to sustainability. They have managed a 61% reduction in water consumption and reduced their carbon emissions by 40% over the past 10 years.
Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre proudly stands as the highest rated green shopping centre in South Africa.
They’ve broken up with first-use and single-use plastic. This initiative even has a mascot: artist William Sweetlove’s penguin sculpture, fitted with a plastic bottle backpack. You can find him at the swing bridge, and it makes a great Instagram photo opportunity.
Oranjezicht City Farm Market works tirelessly to rebuild the inner city’s food system. Working with more than 35 local farms and 80 food traders, the market is a buffet of organic and eco-friendly fresh food and flavours. It’s a local favourite and open on Saturdays and Sundays.
The V&A Food market is open 7 days a week and this repurposed warehouse is filled with a variety of food traders. Grab some Indian food, local South African cuisine, artisanal coffee, ice cream, or try some craft beer at the bar area.
The Watershed is the curated home of South African crafters and designers, showing that style can be sustainable too. The building also boasts original sustainable design features preserved during the construction process. From accessories and jewellery to clothing and décor, there’s something for everyone’s personal taste.
The buskers are entertainment for all and give the neighbourhood a vibrant flair. The V&A supports local culture through initiatives like the Busker Development Programme, impacting the lives of 170 buskers.
Unique ways to get around
Keen to find alternative modes to discover the neighbourhood? The V&A offers a range of low carbon transport options such as electric Mellow Cabs, e-scooters, shared transport options, and electric fuelling stations for local and international guests.
There’s a free GPS Audio Tour called Reinventing the Tavern of the Seas. Download the tour from the VoiceMap app and this tour will take you on a walk off the beaten path where you will learn many interesting facts about this inspiring place.
For example, the very first electricity on the African continent was generated from the Pumphouse in 1882. The pumphouse building has been repurposed and is now a Comedy Club that celebrates local comedians.
Zeitz Mocaa, the first contemporary art museum for Africa and its diaspora is located at the V&A’s Silo District.
The round windows located at Zeitz Mocaa were produced locally in Milnerton.
Year round shopping
The V&A Waterfront has more than 500 retailers. Retail shopping hours are from 9am to 9pm, 364 days of the year with Christmas Day trading being optional for tenants.
Supporting local is one of the V&A’s passions. They see it as a way to stimulate conscious and circular communities.
They are supporting local food-related businesses with Makers Landing, their soon-to-be-launched kitchen incubator and food market.
There are 396 businesses operating in this sphere. Over 2 800 people owe their livelihoods to enterprise development and start-ups. (Excluding Workshop 17).
The V&A is the most visited attraction in South Africa.
The first lights in Cape Town were switched on from the V&A Waterfront.
The oldest working synchrolift in the world that is still operational is located at the V&A Waterfront and called Robinson Dry Dock.
The V&A Waterfront is situated in South Africa’s oldest working harbour with the local fishing industry occupying 31% of the site.
The various businesses at the V&A Waterfront employ more than 23 000 people and indirectly 66 000.
The open spaces and public walkways cover 37% of the V&A’s total land use.
The V&A has 13 hotels with 1 529 number of rooms available in total.