Lying west of the industrial Duncan Dock, the V&A Waterfront is Cape Town's original Victorian harbour. Before its construction the Cape of Storms was notorious for wrecking ships during ferocious winter spells. In 1860 a very young Prince Alfred ceremoniously dumped the first load of stone to begin work on the Breakwater and 1869 the twin basin dock was completed.
Renovated period buildings, imitation Victorian malls, piers and a busy harbour coexist with an astonishing collection of pubs, clubs, eateries, museums and outdoor theatres set against the panoramic view of Table Mountain.
The star of the show is the two-level Victoria Wharf, crammed with an array of shops, cinemas, kiosks and stalls. It houses a diverse variety of restaurants, ranging from sushi bars, coffee shops, take-out joints and upmarket venues, the most popular being the outdoor ones where you can enjoy the vistas created by harbour lights and the surreal lit Table Mountain.
The Visitor Centre on Dock Road is the starting point for an outstanding self-guided historical tour interspersed with 32 information boards. You can purchase a map here and gather information or book tours and taxis – 021 408 7600. Just around the corner from the Visitor Centre is a hit with kids, the Two Oceans Aquarium.
The centrally situated Old Port Captain's Office lies next to the modern swing bridge, connecting it to the whimsical Clock Tower and further along the Nelson Mandela Gateway. Here you can book the only tours on Robben Island, and it's the departure point for the ferry. The Gateway has a restaurant and museum with high-tech interactive displays conveying the island's history, voices of prisoners and freedom songs.