Cape Town is full of historical sights and cultural experiences, not to mention good food. A day is far from enough to experience all its delights, but if you are short on time, a walking tour will help you get a good sense of what the center of the "Mother City" has to offer.
Time: 2-4hrs Distance: 3-5 km
Start your day off with an organic bite at Birds Boutique Café (1), a trendy and rustic little eatery on the corner of Bree and Church Streets. If you have a car, there is street parking or a large car park just across the street at Van Riebeeck Square (2). After you have fortified yourself, walk down Bree Street and turn left on Shortmarket Street, which will take you up into the hills of the Bo-Kaap, Cape Town's historically Muslim neighborhood. On your way up, check out Streetwires (3), a community employment initiative that sells all sorts of functional and funky wire art. Continue up Shortmarket and take a left onto Chiappini Street. Make your way back down the cobblestoned Longmarket Street and turn right on Rose Lane, home to Bo-Kaap's iconic colorful houses. Where the road comes to a T-junction, you will find the Bo-Kaap Museum (4), the former home of Abu Bakr Effendi, a prominent Muslim leader from the mid 1800s. It's a small museum that will give you a good introduction to the lives of the people who played a large hand in building the Cape Town you see today. After visiting the museum, continue just a few steps up the hill and turn left on Van der Meulen Street and then left down Dorp Street, past the Owal Mosque (5), the first Mosque to be built in Cape Town in the early 1800s.
Continue down Dorp Street to the famous Long Street, the heart of the City Center. Turn right to stroll past the Victorian buildings with wrought iron balconies, independent cafés, boutique shops, backpackers and bars. Turn left on Green Street and then left onto Queen Victoria Road. On the right will be a gate leading into the Company's Garden (6), Cape Town's largest municipal green space. Make your way to Government Avenue, the main thoroughfare of the gardens. If you have the time and interest, veer right and walk to the southern side of the gardens to check out the impressive exhibits at the South African National Gallery (7) on Paddock Avenue. Otherwise, continue north on Government Avenue past the red and white Parliament Buildings (8), the seat of South Africa's legislature.
Upon exiting the gardens, you will find St George's Cathedral (9) on your left, from where Bishop Desmond Tutu called for the end of apartheid and national reconciliation. On your right is the Slave Lodge (10), a fortress-like structure that used to house the Dutch East India Company's imported slaves. Today it is a poignant museum, which examines the effects of apartheid and racial discrimination in South Africa.
Across Bureau Street from the Slave Lodge is the mammoth Groote Kerk (11), the mothership for the Dutch Reformed Church in Cape Town. From here, you can continue down Bureau Street to the District Six Museum (12), arguably the most unique museum in Cape Town. It recalls the forced removal of city residents and the memory of a community displaced by apartheid racial zoning. To get there, take Bureau Street down and turn right on Corporation Street. Take an immediate left on Albertus Street down to Buitenkant Road and the District Six Museum is on the southwest corner. It's a sight not to be missed, but if you are crunched for time, continue up Wale Street past St George's Church and turn left to stroll down the pedestrian St George's Mall Street.
At Darling Street, turn left to do a little shopping at Greenmarket Square (13). Once you've had your fill of crafts, head back down Burg Street and take a right on the pedestrian, tree-lined Church Street. If you're lucky, you'll catch some of the more interesting antique vendors, or you can pop into some of the art galleries and stores that line the street. Continue down Church Street to return to your beginning location. You'll probably be famished by now, so head two blocks up Bree Street and grab some tapas and a beverage at the classy Caveau (14), to congratulate yourself on a Capetonian day well done.