London has SoHo; New Orleans, the French Quarter; and Cape Town has Long Street.
By day, most of Long Street is abuzz with coffee bars, exotic restaurants, legendary bookshops, African craft markets and backpackers' lodges. You’ll see a fun mix of travellers, breakfasting locals, shoppers and morning joggers all absorbing the vibe of this brilliant social centre.
In the early afternoon, you’ll see the bars start to fill up with a mishmash of regulars and young adventurers coming out of their backpackers’ for a stroll down the street. But don’t worry, the police are always around to keep you safe. That’s why there’s such a relaxed feel to walking Long Street.
If you’re a fan of old architecture, Long Street will keep you busy for days. Let’s take the Victorian-styled Carnival Court for instance, this used to be where the young toffs of Cape Town would keep their apartments. From a wrought-iron balcony, you can watch the world go by up and down Long Street.
Long Street’s buildings, its Victorian follies and intricate ironwork, have been mostly well-kept, because a number of preservation societies, heritage groups and architects constantly protect these structures from the wrecking ball. In fact, many of the buildings have been restored over the years.
The evening vibe of Long Street is, and always has been, a party you’ll never forget. From sundowner time until the early AM, the restaurants, bars and late-night clubs are all about keeping the party going!
The street has all kinds of private decks, balconies, rooftop lounges and other vantage points where exclusive parties are held. On street level, pavement dining in summer (October to April) is what it’s all about. And the barmen of Long Street have become famous for their skills with exotic cocktails.
In fact, when Cape Town wants to celebrate something…anything, Long Street is always the first thought.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
Long Street runs up the hill from the corner of Coen Steytler Avenue near the docks up to Buitensingel Road, from where it becomes Kloof Street. It lies between Loop and Adderley Streets in the city centre.
Best time to visit
Long Street has its morning qualities, its afternoon qualities, its sundowner-to-evening qualities and its late-night party qualities. It is an all-year destination.
Around the area
Go for an early morning walk around the nearby Bo-Kaap area and across to the Grand Parade, greeting the friendly flower sellers of Adderley Street en route.
What will it cost
Pubs and restaurants have different fare at different rates, but most offer good value.
Length of stay
The best advice when visiting Long Street is to catch a taxi from your accommodation (if you’re not actually staying in Long Street) and walk up and down the street. Sample as much as you can in the time you have available.
What to pack
Packing depends on the action you’re after. It’s casual by day (always keep a windbreaker handy) and trendy casual by night, when the party’s on. If you’re planning to photograph the architecture in the street, don’t forget your widest-possible lens.
Where to stay
You could stay at the Carnival Court or Blue Mountain Backpackers – or perhaps the eccentrically-stylish Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street.
What to eat
There are many places to eat and drink in Long Street, but if you want to start off with the exotic, then why not indulge in a cocktail at the Mojito Bar, followed by seafood at the Long Street Café? Or, possibly, Mozambican prawns at Mama Africa’s? Or exotic burgers at the Cafe Royale? You could also have a drink on the roof of the Grand Daddy Hotel, which is home to a retro trailer park with great views.
Check the listed Cape Town Tourism website for events in the Long Street area during your stay.
Something portable yet memorable from the Pan African Market, which in itself is worth an hour’s window shopping.