The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront lies at the historic centre of Cape Town’s working harbour. It is South Africa’s most visited tourist destination and offers everything from sophisticated shopping malls to arts and crafts markets, pubs, fine restaurants, theatres, live music and entertainment.
The harbour is named after Queen Victoria and her second son, Prince Alfred. It was Prince Alfred who commissioned the construction of this harbour in 1860.
The V&A Waterfront is a must-see site in Cape Town. Situated between Robben Island and Table Mountain, the harbour offers scenic views of the ocean against a magnificent backdrop of mountains.
A Visitors Centre located on Market Square offers information on the Waterfront, Cape Town and the Western Cape. The V&A Waterfront is famous for its outstanding heritage buildings, retaining the charm of Victorian industrial architecture. You can also enjoy the unique experience of dining at a 19th-century prison that is now a hotel, the Breakwater Lodge. The area has 38 designated national monuments that are worth visiting.
Another interesting sight at the V&A Waterfront is the old Victorian Gothic style Clock Tower. It is popular among visitors and has become an important focal point in the Waterfront’s recent urban design.
If sailors and ships fascinate you, then head for the Time Ball Tower, situated next to the Dock House. Initially constructed in 1894, the Time Ball Tower was idle for 63 years once new technology replaced its use. It was then restored as a historical site in 1997. Right next to the Time Ball Tower is a 100-year-old Dragon Tree (dracaeno draco), one of the largest of its type in Cape Town. You could also visit the Maritime Museum that focuses on the history of shipping from prehistoric times to the present day.
The V&A Waterfront is also home to the Nelson Mandela Gateway, from where you can take a boat trip to Robben Island, as well as the Two Oceans Aquarium and Chavonnes Battery museum. There was a prison at Robben Island in the 17th century that was mainly used to isolate political prisoners. People like Nelson Mandela and Kgalema Motlanthe (another South African President) were imprisoned here during the apartheid era.
Whilst at the V&A Waterfront, indulge in the unique experience of seal-watching: A colony of Cape fur seals have found an unusual breeding ground at such a crowded area and can be spotted easily at the seal landing in the Clock Tower Precinct.
The Two Oceans Aquarium is extremely popular among visitors of all ages and offers a fascinating encounter with the underwater world. Diving facilities are also offered at the Two Oceans Aquarium.
Located close to the V&A Waterfront is a myriad of museums and art galleries; the Castle of Good Hope is also a few minutes away.
Boat trips and yacht charters around the harbour and along the coast are always popular. Scenic Helicopter flights provide a breathtaking aerial view of the Waterfront. Luxury harbour cruises and water taxis also offer rides around the harbour. Speed boating is also popular at the V&A Waterfront.
If gems and precious stones fascinate you then a visit to the Scratch Patch and Mineral World is a must. Here you can buy gems of your choice. The options vary from Tiger’s Eye to Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Jasper, Agates and Crystals. You could also go on a Diamond tour or simply indulge in live music at Quay 4 Brasserie every weekend.
The Waterfront Amphitheatre offers live entertainment every Saturday and Sunday from 17:00 – 18:00. For Jazz lovers a trip to the Green Dolphin Restaurant and Jazz Bar is a must. You will also find numerous street performers across the precinct, adding to the life and ambience of the Waterfront.
The V&A Waterfront provides a variety of entertainment for the whole family and a trip to Cape Town is incomplete without experiencing all the culture and history of the V&A Waterfront.