Slap bang in the middle of the city is a green oasis and what some locals only think of as a cool spot for a picnic. Well, if you stroll down the garden path you’ll find a lot more than sprawling lawns, lush plantings and luxuriant blooms.A walk back in time Named for the Dutch East India Company, the Company’s Gardens lie alongside the elegant Houses of Parliament and Tuynhuys, the President’s Cape Town residence. Established in the 1650’s by Jan van Rieebeck, the Company’s Gardens was provided fresh produce for the ships and Cape Town’s colonists. In 1848 the Garden became a botanical garden and public park, enticing visitors for a wander around the fountains, rambling lawns, koi fish ponds, Japanese rose garden, aviary, sun dial and some of the country’s oldest cultivated trees. Nut-gobblers? Be prepared to encounter busy squirrels scampering about, stopping only to grasp titbits proffered to them. Most visitors enjoy feeding the Garden's permanent residents, grabbing bags of peanuts from vendors at the Adderley Street entrance.Culture vultures and arty farties head to the Iziko South African National Gallery to check out the empressive collections of South African, African, British, Dutch, French and Flemish art. The Gardens is also home to the Iziko South African Museum with its phenomenal collection of one and a half million specimens. A mosey around the Museum’s halls leaves one with a greater understanding of the earth’s biological and cultural diversity.Beam me up? Next door is the Iziko Planetarium where you can kick back for the ultimate in comfy armchair travel – a cosmic voyage through outer space projected onto an enormous dome.Anyone for tea? Join tourists or lunchtime locals for a feast of scones, jam and cream or homemade apple pie under the boughs of stately old trees at the Company's Garden Tearoom.
Galleries and Museums
Home to some of the most beautiful collections, The South African National Gallery features art of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish origin.
Collections are regularly rotated so that there is always a full programme of temporary exhibitions, including paintings, photography, sculpture, architecture, beadwork, textiles and works on paper.
Open daily from 10:00 to 17:00.
Located in the prestigious Mount Nelson Hotel, the Planet Bar offers a cool, chic, and elegant venue for a perfect night out.
The bar features a stylish celestial décor, quirky touches and comfortable couches, creating a relaxing ambience. The Planet Bar has an extensive cocktail menu, a wide selection of champagnes and wines, and an assortment of light menus and canapés.
Open daily from 12:00 until late.
Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Table Mountain National Park (0.7 km from Gardens)
Lions Head proudly surveys Table Bay, Robben Island and the City Bowl on one side and Camps Bay on the other. The panoramic views are spectacular. It is the most awesome full moon hike – aim to summit at sunset. Remember to take your camera.
Park your vehicle on Signal Hill Road at the starting point. Most of the route is fairly easy but it is steep in places. A short scramble up a rock face via a chain ladder will get you to the top. There is an alternate route without chains but this section is still quite vertical.
Duration: 1.5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate (some rock scrambling)
Distance: 2 km one way
Warning: Take extra care on the descent if hiking after dark
Camps Bay (0.7 km from Gardens)
Cape Town Tandem Paragliding offers tandem paragliding flights from the famous Lion's Head and Signal Hill. You fly with safe, experienced and fully certified tandem flight instructors using only the best paragliding equipment.
They offer tandem flights, cross country adventures, videos and souvenirs. No experience is required for tandem flights. Please call for bookings and further information.
Table Mountain National Park (1.2 km from Gardens)
The Pipe Track is an easy out-and-back contour path offering incredibly rewarding mountain and ocean views over Lion’s Head, Camps Bay and Bakoven. It starts where Kloof Nek Rd meets Tafelberg Rd and follows a pipe and trail along the Twelve Apostles section of Table Mountain.
Park at the Kloof Nek parking lot and climb the stone steps to the beginning of the Pipe Track. Head off on this trail for as long as you like. There are a number of benches perfectly positioned for watching the sun sink below the ocean. Keen birders will enjoy watching sugarbirds flitting about dense thickets of protea bushes.
Duration: 4.5 hours return
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Distance: 6 km one way (to Corridor Ravine)
Warning: This trail is fairly secluded so be aware and try not to hike alone
Tamboerskloof (1.2 km from Gardens)
A long standing tradition in Cape Town is to climb Lion’s Head at full moon.The peak forms part of a dramatic backdrop with Table Mountain to the cityscape of Cape Town.Arm yourself with a bottle of Cape bubbly and plonk yourself down on the summit to watch the sun set over the ocean. The 360 degree views of the city and ocean are hypnotic, you won’t want to leave. Be sure to muster up a healthy sized group – it is not advisable to hike alone.You could also get really brave and book a tandem paraglide flight with an instructor. Lion’s Head is a popular launching site for paragliders.
Cape Town (1.7 km from Gardens)
Get aerial and go up in the cableway for awesome panoramic views of Cape Town - the most spectacular sights are seen from the top of Table Mountain. The Cableway takes you to the summit in under 10 minutes and the cable car's rotating floor ensure that all passengers get a 360 degree aerial view of the city. The cable cars depart every 10-15 minutes weather dependant.
What to see
Your ascent to the top of Table Mountain takes just under 10 minutes
and offers you a 360 degree view of the city. Once on top there are
over 2km of pathways leading you to views over Cape Town, Table Bay,
Robben Island the Cape Flats and the Cape Peninsula. There are also
short walks available or you can join one of free guided tours daily at
10h00 and 12h00.
Walks on top of Table Mountain
Dassie Walk Offers you spectacular views north, west and south.
Agama Walk This popular route has been specially chosen to give you spectacular 360 degree views of Cape Town and Cape Peninsula.
Klipspringer Walk This walk offers wonderful views, along the plateau edge to above Platteklip Gorge. In summer you can see the sunshine conebush in full
Table Mountain Café Situated right on top, Table Mountain Café offers a trendy menu that caters for the changing demands of the Cableway's visitors. Menu items include pizzas, gourmet burgers, and harvest rice bowls (meals of the day) that showcase Traditional South African cuisine. A selection of pre-packed light meals are available from the gourmet deli. Meals may be complimented with a selection of fine wines. A wide variety of pastries, speciality teas and coffees are also on offer from the coffee bar.
Galleries and Museums
City Centre (1.7 km from Gardens)
The Iziko Planetarium is housed in the South African Museum building in Cape Town. The venue is a round celestial theatre, utilising a complex Minolta star machine and multiple projectors to transport the audience through the wonders of the universe.
Night skies are created within the dome, coupled with great audio to make the experience a unique and memorable one.
Open all week;
Closed on Workers' Day, Christmas Day and the first Monday of every month.
Adults (19 years and older): R25;
Children, students and SA Pensioners: R10.
Cape Town (1.8 km from Gardens)
Founded in 1825 and situated in the historic Company's Garden, the IZiko South African Museum is a popular place for visitors coming into Cape Town.
Millions of visitors have wandered through its halls and corridors to be stimulated and inspired by its collections and exhibitions. They have left the Museum with a better understanding of the earth and its biological and cultural diversity, past and present.
Open 10:00 to 17:00 daily.
Closed on Workers Day and Christmas Day.
16 years and older: R15;
Under 16 years: free.
South African pensioners, school learners and students: R5
Free entrance on selected commemorative days.
City Centre (1.8 km from Gardens)
You'll have to look for an unmarked door and walk up an inconspicuous staircase to successfully find The Waiting Room. But once inside, you'll soon realize that this little scene is a true hidden gem.
Located above the The Royale Eatery in Long Street, this venue features plenty of seating and a homely, hip atmosphere. The Waiting Room attracts plenty of trendy folks; an ideal place to simply hang out, enjoy the music and socialize. Great for group parties, there is an outdoor area, as well as roof access with views of Long Street and Table Mountain. A bar is available where you can acquire your drinks, and comes with card facilities for your convenience.
Given the nature of the venue, it succeeds as a great place for small, intimate live music performances. Shows are done regularly, so check in to see what's happening every week.
Mon-Thu: 18:00 to 2:00;
Fri: 16:00 to 2:00;
Sat: 18:00 to 2:00.
City Bowl (1.8 km from Gardens)
Forming the ‘lion’s rump’ for the adjacent Lion’s Head, Signal Hill is a prominent attraction from which the historic Noon Gun is fired at midday.Most people make their way there for the spectacular views across the Cape Town harbour, city and Atlantic Ocean. The family-friendly picnic spots are popular with locals and visitors alike in all seasons.On summer evenings Signal Hill becomes a ‘lover’s lane’ with couples admiring the city lights and the romance of the floodlit background of Table Mountain.The site got its name from the practice of using signal flags to communicate with ships in the bay, and later the famous Noon Gun. The two cannons were brought to Signal Hill in 1902, serving as time signals for ships at anchor. Watch the daily firing of the gun, or bring a picnic and find a spot looking out over the Atlantic Ocean near the parking lot. You could also head down into the Bo-Kaap for a meal at The Noon Gun Tea Room in Longmarket Street.Photo: Lion's Head and Signal Hill – next on the 'to do' list after Table Mountain and Robben Island
City Centre (1.9 km from Gardens)
Down one of Long Street's quieter avenues, you'll find the inconspicuous yet classy Julep Bar.
A small venue, featuring warm, trendy interiors with matching lounge seats. A well-stocked bar is located at the back where you can acquire your favourites drink, as well as a selection of delicious cocktails. If you'll like to complement your drinks with some snacks, there is a tapas menu available to help whet your appetite.
Vibey evenings are sometimes matched with live music, proving to be a popular spot to hang out with friends.
Open Monday to Sunday, 17:00 to 2:00.
Cover charge is sometimes applied.
City Centre (2.2 km from Gardens)
Vibrant and hip Long Street is the main street to party or chill out in Cape Town’s trendy City Bowl. Here you can choose any restaurant, lounge, club, or pub that strikes your mood. Every place is unique and promises a fabulous vibe.
Architecturally Long Street is renowned for the attractive Victorian buildings, some housing interesting bookshops and ethnic-styled eating and drinking spots.
Attracting a diverse range of locals and tourists from all over the globe, accommodation choices on Long Street are appropriately varied. Choose from chic penthouses, self-catering apartments, arty hotels or funky backpackers.
Galleries and Museums
Bo-Kaap (2.2 km from Gardens)
The Bo-Kaap is the historical Cape Town residential area of freed slaves and muslims following the abolition of slavery.
The Bo-Kaap Museum is located in Wale Street and acts as a cultural history museum, depicting the lifestyle of the nineteenth-century muslim family.
Open from Mondays to Saturdays from 10h00 to 17h00.
Children under 18 years enjoy free entrance.
City Centre (2.2 km from Gardens)
Zula Sound Bar mixes the finest music with live theatre and dance. Add a sprinkling of poetry, and Cape Town has an ever-changing art house.
Zula has hosted some of the Mother City's leading musicians – Freshly Ground, Godessa, Teba, Bed on Bricks, 340ml and Sons of Sellassie as well as International DJs such as Pascal (True Playaz). Zula gets cooking from 12:00 until late every day, having one of the finest kitchens in Long Street offering affordable excellent meals.
From the fully licensed Magic Tree Bar there is a selection of Cape wines, local and international beers and cocktails. Whether you chill on the balcony, boogie inside or sink a few balls between sets in the games room, Zula is a cool, fresh, funky music venue and restaurant just waiting for you – whatever your age, gender, colour or creed.
Opening hours: 12:00 to 00:00 Tuesday to Saturday, Monday 16:00 to 00:00.
City Centre (2.3 km from Gardens)
There's a new retail destination on the Mother City skyline Mover and shaker of the South African events industry Alison McCutcheon has added a new string to her bow. Seeing a gap in the market for a destination store that showcased the resourcefulness and creativity of all South Africans.The Rainbow Experience at the stylish Mandela Rhodes Place on Church Street, Cape Town offers everything you would want for an unusual gift, leisure or décor item reflecting the spirit of South Africa.This unique multi level retail concept store is packed full of intriguing, unusual and desirable products and is home to the clever handprint paintings of Nelson Mandela and other South African icons. The enterprising spirit of the rainbow nation’s people is apparent as you move through the store. Admire the artworks on the upper level and enjoy watching artists at work. Bronwyn Tarr, adds the finishing touches to another handprint painting and this initiative of McCutcheon has seen visitors and residents stop to engage as the image evolves. Enjoy browsing the book section where shelves bulge with the talent of our local authors. Visitors fascinated with South Africa’s road to freedom and iconic leader, Nelson Rohlihlahla Mandela, can view a short movie of his legendary life journey and his legacy of leadership through reconciliation, mentorship and magnanimous spirit. With contemporary art, books, music, design and fashion this is a store that simply buzzes with the passion of our people and has to be the first stop on a visit to the City. Jazz jamming sessions are regular events in the Rainbow Room on the Lower level making this the perfect creative hot spot to chill. Read, network or catch up on your mails at the espresso cafe & bar where a lively selection of social drinks plus a small menu of deliciously fresh fusion foods delight the palate. Committed to creating a flagship for the global philosophy of mankind and ubuntu, business partners McCutcheon and Frank Gormley, are supporting Mr Mandela’s vision of educating and building outstanding leaders in Africa by sustaining revenue streams to the Mandela Rhodes Foundation through the unique Rainbow Experience.Need to know? The Rainbow Experience, Mandela Rhodes Place, Church Street, Cape Town is open daily from 9am to 9pm.
City Centre (2.4 km from Gardens)
Introducing Cape Town’s new Jazz Club THE RAINBOW ROOMAt last Capetonians now have a top central city Jazz and dinner venue! Since opening mid December 2009, The Rainbow Room at Mandela Rhodes Place on St George’s Mall the superb line up of well known local artists and young up and coming talent has had residents and visitors alike flocking to the club. Enjoying top class jazz in a superb environment that mirrors overseas clubs of the same genre is not the only thing the Rainbow Room offers: delicious “Soul” food and social drinks add to the experience making a memorable evening!The philosophy of these regular sessions is to feature Cape Town’s top musicians supported by young up and coming musical talent. The brains behind this venture; Alison McCutcheon and business partner Frank Gormley of The Rainbow Experience, Eric Alan of Jazz Rendezvous on Radio 2000 and Aki Khan of Eastern Acoustics have networked and collaborated with musicians and the top acoustic specialists to ensure that this new venue is an optimum performance environment.Sessions will take place four times a week and Monday sees Listening jazz with head set and jazz jamming, Thursday offers AfroJazz with Shado Twala offering her choices for fabulous entertainment, Friday evenings takes you on a smooth jazz trip whilst Saturday will showcase mainstream jazz. During the week sessions start at 6pm allowing you to enjoy a relaxing time after work and beat the evening traffic gridlock. On Saturday prepare for an evening of pleasure from 8pm.Great food is part of the experience so book early and enjoy some Cape Town soul food: delicious butter chicken, lamb shank with dollops of garlic mash and morogo plus traditional cuisine done the rainbow way! Chef Whaheed Rojan will have daily surprises to keep one coming back for more.The format of the sessions is simple: an opening act of one set by student musicians drawn from the music schools of Cape Town, followed by two sets featuring the best jazz musicians from Cape Town. Nationally and internationally acclaimed musicians will be featured when the occasion arises. There is no prescribed play list and the Rainbow Room will encourage the artists to perform their original compositions as well as the well known International and South African jazz standards.With a cover charge of R50 (special discounts for music students and musicians) and this convivial atmosphere, whether seated at tables or the bar, you can enjoy jazz at its very best.Jazz guru Eric Alan is excited about the response to the venue which answers all the musicians’ needs.“Finally we have a professional platform to showcase Cape Town’s and South Africa’s amazing musical talent in an environment where music lovers are going to feel as at home as the musicians. It is also important to give new young talent a stage to perform before a live audience, this vision is being realised at every session and we can only grow from hereon. The Rainbow Room’s aim is to become the premier serious jazz music listening venue in Cape Town and South Africa, rivaling the best known jazz venues around the world.”The Rainbow Room is a true music venue in all senses and acoustically provides the best that Cape Town has to offer. Aki Khan of Eastern Acoustics spent many hours fine tuning and developing the venue and says he is proud to be the technical partner of The Rainbow Room. His vision is to assist in empowering musicians, technicians and in growing the music business through quality live recordings. With this in mind all performances will be recorded with the view of releasing “Live at The Rainbow Room” compilations and full CD’s of all concerts. This means there will be a strict “silence during performances” policy in place during the sessionsResearch into successful Jazz venues in international cities has shown that creating a space of respect for musicians and the music has resulted in outstanding musical experiences where musicians perform at their optimum.Expect the unusual to be the usual and the Rainbow Room to become your venue of choice to visit on a regular basis.Need to know? Booking is essential 021 422 1428Cost: R50 cover charge plus any refreshments. Dinner is served before and after the main act. Interpark Parking off Burg Street with direct access to Mandela Rhodes Place.