Whatever your scene, from sweaty electronic music dancefloors to open-air beer gardens, Cape Town has it all. Being a hedonistic city – especially in the summer – Cape Town has plenty of great bars where you can drink and party, especially on Long and Bree Streets where it’s safe and busy, and there are taxis to get you home. In the summer, the Atlantic Seaboard is a great option, and the party starts with the first sundowners. Taken from the new Rough Guide to Cape Town, these are 7 of our favourite places to sample the city’s nightlife.
Bar-hopping in the city centre
For a night out in the city centre, head to buzzing Long Street. This is one of Cape Town’s most diverse thoroughfares, lined with colonial Victorian buildings that house pubs, bistros and nightclubs, from whose wrought-iron balconies you can catch glimpses of Table Mountain and the sea.
For beer-lovers, modern “beer hall” The Beerhouse is an essential stop, with a menu comprising 20 taps and 99 bottles, 75 percent of which are local craft brews. Pick of the cocktail bars is rooftop TjingTjing, thanks to its upbeat soundtrack and mouth-watering drinks menu – expect unusual ingredients like fynbos, candyfloss vodka and balsamic vinegar. End your night at Fiction, host to stand-out electronic music nights by the likes of Skrillex, Diplo, Pendulum and Noisia.
Sundowners on the Atlantic seaboard
Clinging to the slopes of Table Mountain in a dramatic ribbon, the Atlantic seaboard suburbs offer ocean views in spades, along with some of the city’s trendiest outdoor cafés and bars. The best place to embrace the scene is at Café Caprice, a beach-facing hangout in Camps Bay popular with celebs (and wannabes). Pavement tables are like gold dust after sunset, so get there early, order a cocktail and watch the sun sink slowly into the ocean.
Ocean-side drinks at the Waterfront
Head to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, Cape Town’s redeveloped Victorian harbour, for laidback ocean-side drinks. Best of the outdoor decks is Alba Cocktail Lounge, where the drinks list includes the JellyTot- and Apple Sourz-spiked “Albatizer” – an acquired taste, perhaps. With its private beach, outdoor deck and an infinity plunge pool to boot, nearby Shimmy Beach Club provides a more luxurious option – with the prices and clientele to match.
Craft beer in Wembley Square
South Africa’s beer landscape has recently undergone a small transformation, propelled by a global microbrew renaissance in the USA, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. And if you want one of the best beer selections in the city, there’s only one place to head, the Wembley Tap. A menu of stomach-lining pizzas provides the perfect accompaniment to local brews by the likes of Jack Black, Mitchell’s and Cape Brewing Company.
A night at P&G’s
If you want to see the hipster side to Cape Town, this is the place to go. On any night of the week “PnG’s” (The Power and The Glory) is a magnet for Capetonians sporting neatly trimmed beards, checked shirts, red lipstick and vintage dresses. But don’t worry too much about fitting in, Cape Town is one of the world’s friendliest cities after all.
During the day you can grab a coffee in the well-styled bistro, kitted out with old-school metal chairs and botanical drawing prints, then it blends seamlessly with a smoking room and cosy bar serving craft beers at night.
A nightcap at the theatre
As well as offering a real taste of the South African arts scene, the intimate Alexander Theatre also holds an excellent bar. Handsomely furnished in old world decor, this is a good spot for a quiet conversation or nightcap – a much needed addition to Cape Town’s social scene. Old rotary phones in the bar even allow you to call the table next to you while sipping a single malt.
Wine on the rocks at Kalk Bay
Kalk Bay might be one of the most southerly and smallest of Cape Town’s suburbs, but don’t overlook it. Head here for drinks at The Polana in the Harbour House complex. The setting, right on the rocks, is spectacular. In the summer you can nestle on battered couches and cushions by the open windows while a fire burns cheerily as the waves crash in winter. Local wines feature heavily on the drinks list and there’s sometimes live music and dancing.