Your Local Guide to Long Street Cape Town

long street cape town guide

I’ve been looking at some posts about my city Cape Town online and most people have something to say about this city, especially Long Street because it seems the only way to prove you’ve been in Cape Town is to brag about your knowledge of Long Street. But after realizing that some of the information out there is very much “cookie-cutter” type of information I decided to come in and write about my own. So you are in Cape Town for the first time or are getting ready to visit and you can’t wait to hit Long Street because you’ve heard so much about it. You are wondering if it’s been oversold by all the hype around it. Well, this guide will help you to decide for yourself if it’s worth visiting and at least give you an idea of what to expect or experience when you get there. Let’s just start by saying that Long Street is the heartbeat of Cape Town and here’s why:

A Locally Crafted, Interactive Map of Long Street

Here’s a quick interactive map I made of all the best local spots on Long Street so you can skip the overly hyped stuff:

The Best Attractions On Long Street, Advice From A Local

Historical Buildings of Interest

Here are some of the most interesting historical attractions you’ll find on Long Street, Cape Town:

  • Palm Tree Mosque
    • One of the oldest buildings on Long Street that remains unaltered till today is the Palm Tree Mosque whose history dates back to around 1780. In the beginning, it was a residential property with stables on it, but pieces of it were sold after the initial owner, Hermanus Smuts’ wife died.
    • After that, it was bought by different families until it was turned into a mosque in the early 1800’s. It is called the Palm Tree Mosque because it has two palm trees in front of the building.
  • SA Mission Museum
    • Another old building is the SA Mission Museum, a.k.a, the SA Sendinggestig Museum. Founded by Reverend Vos in 1799 the South African Missionary Society was created to convert slaves into Christianity. The building of the church, however, was completed in 1804 when it became the first official slave church in South Africa.
    • The museum was established in 1979 and some of the exhibitions that you will find inside include original documents, church furniture and objects, and some audio and visual files. The museum is open from Mondays to Thursdays from 9am – 4pm and they’re closed on weekends and public holidays. There is no entrance fee charged.
  • Open House
    • The third historical building called Open House is not that old. It was designed as a piece of public art by artist Jacques Coetzer who had won the World Design Capital competition in 2014 to create this for the city.
    • The competition was to celebrate 20 years of South Africa’s democracy in 2014, and so it’s a tribute to the men and women who fought for the freedom of this country. The aim was to create a place where people could go to express themselves by speaking, singing, crying, or just waving to passers-by.
    • Coetzer used corrugated metal structures of the Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) homes (government-subsidized houses) to draw his inspiration from, for this piece. You couldn’t miss this 10.5m high, red corrugated iron, building even if you tried. It stands proudly at the corner of Long and Dorp street.

Cape Town Baths

Will you be staying in a place with no pool and don’t really like the beach? You’d be happy to know about the Long Street Baths. Opened in 1908 by the then-mayor of Cape Town, the Long Street Baths was this city’s first municipal pool. They were later extended to include Turkish baths in 1926. Today the Long Street Baths are one of the city’s families’ favorite, especially families from the Bo-Kaap who have easy access to them.

Though they have obviously been upgraded to improve the facility, this didn’t extend to the exterior and so they still hold the old charm of yesteryear.

Some of the facilities inside include a steam room, a sauna, a warm room, a 25m x 12m indoor heated adult pool, a kiddies pool, a massage area, showers, and change rooms. The Baths are used by both recreational and professional bathers, schools, swimming clubs, and for activities like underwater hockey and water aerobics. 

The Baths operate all year round.

I should mention that the steam room, sauna, and hot room are open on alternate days for men and women with men using the facilities on Tuesdays only from 1pm, Wednesdays, Fridays (all day) and Sundays (until 12h00). Women can use the facilities on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays (all day) and Tuesdays until 1pm. Entry fees are: 14 ZAR ($0.70) for adults, 8 ZAR ($0.40) for children and free for pensioners.

Shopping

Long Street is home to many boutiques, clothing shops, and other types of shops where shoppers can find a variety of bric-a-brac, trinkets, antiques, and modern items to take back home or just to spoil yourself.

The Long Street Antique Arcade has a mixture of shops that sell art, clothing, jewelry, coins and medals, and many other things.

Here you will find Glitterati, a vintage and retro clothing shop that sells clothes for men and women dating as far back as the ’50s. Discover Antiques also sells items from different centuries-you could pick up an ancient watch for instance and maybe you will also learn about the history of the item while you’re there.

Or you can check out Times ‘n Pieces which sells clocks, watches, and other collectibles. If you are looking for medals, coins, silverware, toys, stamps, militia, and similar collectibles, definitely try out Fawzia‘s which has quite an unusual mix of collectibles to suit all budgets.

The home of African fashion on Long Street is definitely Merchants on Long.

They sell the latest in African fashion and accessories, all from local designers and designers from across the continent. They are not a budget store since cutting-edge fashion is not cheap, so if you’re not the type to easily part with 5000 ZAR ($270) for a pair of pants, you may not want to go there, but then again browsing is always fun even if you’re not buying. However, if you would rather go for second-hand clothing then check out Afraid of Mice. They carry vintage and not-so-vintage items and you can easily pick up a big brand item like a Chanel bag, at a second-hand price. Definitely worth the trip.

Dining & Cuisine on Long Street

Restaurants

When it comes to restaurants you are spoiled for choice on Long Street so good luck agreeing with your friends on where to eat.

But to help you narrow it down here are some of the highly recommended restaurants to eat at on Long Street, Cape Town:

  1. Mama Africa: Offers an authentic African cultural experience with traditional cuisine, including dishes like Crocodile steak, Cape Malay curry, and Akwadu (a dessert). Features daily live marimba performances and special guest performances on Sundays.
  2. Mesopotamia: Specializes in Middle-Eastern and Kurdish delicacies, serving a meze-style menu with dishes like spicy chicken pide, kibbeh, kebabs, and Blaklava. Entertainment includes belly dancing shows most evenings and occasional comedy shows. Offers an affordable all-day breakfast.
  3. Galbi: A Korean Fusion BBQ restaurant in Cape Town, offering dishes with a unique blend of Korean and African flavors. Highlights include Kimchi and Marinated Pork Belly, along with an exotic Safari set featuring meats like warthog, springbok, kudu, and zebra.
  4. Eastern Food Bazaar: Located on Longmarket Street, this venue offers a variety of Indian, Chinese, and Turkish street food. Known for its affordability, large portions, and diverse selection, it’s ideal for experiencing Cape Town street food. It operates specific hours and does not allow alcohol inside.

Mama Africa is a must if you’re looking for a true African cultural experience. Everything from the food to the music to the decor is African. You will experience African cuisine like never before with dishes like Crocodile steak (265 ZAR / $15), Cape Malay curry (155 ZAR / ($9) and Akwadu, a baked banana and coconut dessert from Equatorial Guinea (70 ZAR / $4), but you will also enjoy the marimba live performances that take place daily with a special guest performance on Sundays.

For a Middle-Eastern experience visit Mesopotamia where they serve a meze-style menu that is big on Kurdish delicacies. When it comes to live performances they host a belly dancing show most evenings and comedy shows sometimes, all for your entertainment. The menu consists of dishes like spicy chicken pide, kibbeh, kebabs, and Blaklava. They also serve an all-day breakfast with meals starting from as little as 75 ZR ($4), which is great when you’re on a budget.

For Korean cuisine with an African twist definitely check out Galbi. They call themselves the “only Korean Fusion BBQ restaurant in Cape Town”. You may want to try a “Kimchi and Marinated Pork Belly wrapped in Lettuce with a Spicy Spring Onions salad or a traditional Korean dish. But if you’re looking for a more exotic experience why not try a platter that contains 100 g (0,22 lbs) each of the following: sub-Saharan warthog, springbok sosaties, kudu, and zebra. The dish is called a Safari set and it costs around 400 ZAR ($22). Whatever you decide on, it will probably be a one-time opportunity and worth digging in!

At the bottom of Long Street is the Eastern Food Bazaar which is situated close to Greenmarket Square. It’s not technically on Long Street but on Longmarket street, a 5-minute walk from Long Street, so it’s in the vicinity. Here you will find Indian, Chinese and Turkish street food all under one roof with different stalls to choose from, and there is a seating area inside. The Eastern Food Bazaar is great when you’re on a budget and want to experience Cape Town street food. The meals are cheap and the portions are huge, sometimes enough for two people to share. You can easily get yourself a bunny chow for 50 ZAR ($2.70) or a lamb or chicken shawarma with chips and salad for 60 ZAR ($3.30) . This place is open Monday to Thursday from 10am – 8pm, and Friday to Saturday 10am – 10pm. Please note, no alcohol is permitted inside.

Nightlife on Long Street

Nightlife on Long Street is great and most tourists love to come out here to experience the fun. One thing I would mention here is just be cautious late at night about safety here, don’t get too drunk and don’t walk around on your own as woman.

Pubs

The whole of Long Street is full of pubs and bars but again I’m only going to mention a few here:

  • The Dubliner – You’ve probably already guessed from the name that this is an Irish pub. Serving a wide variety of beers and comfort Irish and South African food, such as Bangers and Mash, the Dubliner Hamburger with bacon and cheese, and good ol’ Fish & Chips the prices are reasonable and the portions are large. This place is located at the top of Long Street and they’re open from midday to 11pm during the week and till 4am from Fridays to Sundays. Which is great when you’ve been out all night and are looking for a place whose kitchen is still open at that time. Throw in live entertainment and you’re in for a good time!
  • Beerhouse – Definitely a place for beer lovers, they have 99 varieties of beer in the house, most of it locally-produced smaller brands! A must-visit if you love your beer or are some type of connoisseur. And for those who just want to sample, they offer tastings as well. Their food menu includes things like mac n cheese, beer nachos, a meat platter and they serve vegetarian meals as well. The meals are reasonably priced too, with tacos starting at 85 ZAR ($4,70) and a rib-eye steak will cost around 185 ZAR ($10). And, as you may expect, they are never short on entertainment and they are open from 11am till 2am every day!
  • Stones – Feel like a game of pool and shots with your mates? Stones is the venue. They’re open from midday till 4am every day and they have a dance floor, pool tables, a DJ booth, shooter bar and a VIP lounge for those who want a bit of exclusivity. They have drinks special all week and different types of entertainment including karaoke nights. Stones has multiple franchises across the city which is great if you want to explore a different part of the city.

Clubs

As for clubs on Long Street, you’ll want to check these ones out:

  • The Waiting Room – This is a rooftop bar that’s situated on top of a restaurant called Royale Eatery, a place that sells gourmet burgers and milkshakes. Apparently, it started as a real waiting room for the Royale Eatery and that’s where it gets its name. Other than the great line-up of DJ’s and live performances this place offers stunning views of the city and is truly one of the trendiest joints in this neighborhood. It always draws an international crowd. And as you can imagine it’s quite popular and so it gets very busy, and that means you have to get there early enough to secure yourself a nice spot. If you can’t secure a spot on the rooftop don’t stress, they also have an indoor lounge, a dance floor, and a balcony too where you can enjoy cocktails with your crew.
  • Cafe Mojito – For those who like eating from the sidewalk while watching the Long Street action, Cafe Mojito is the place. This bar/restaurant is known for drawing a multidimensional crowd of all colors and from different countries. It serves an African-Latino vibe. They’re open daily from 11am till 2am. The Cafe Mojito food menu is made up of South African staples like braai (barbeque) meat and pap, mutton tripe, chicken feet, and oxtail as well as Afro-Latino tapas like Cuban chicken livers, Castro bombed potato shells and Nanchos. They also have a selection of pizzas and an extensive cocktail menu. Their meals range from 75 ZAR ($4) to 145 ZAR ($8) for pork ribs. They also serve platters for sharing and run daily specials on food and drinks.
  • Sky Bar at the Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel – This bar is situated within the stunning trailer park that’s on top of the Grand Daddy hotel and with limited capacity it is only available for exclusive functions and private bookings only. It promises stunning views of Table Mountain and the city. They offer an all-day breakfast with meals starting from 50 ZAR ($2.70) for an avocado toast, up to 380 ZAR ($21) for a lamb shank. Other features on the menu are Kingklip fish at 260 ZAR ($14), Karoo lamb chops 285 ZAR ($16) and a chicken salad for 95 ZAR ($5). Their cocktails start at 80 ZAR ($4).
  • Club 169 – Formerly known as Cape to Cuba this restaurant/cocktail bar/cigar lounge/nightclub has a Cuban vibe. The restaurant menu has a wide variety of dishes including sushi and pizza. Upstairs is the cigar lounge while the cocktail bar and restaurant are downstairs. They also have a balcony that overlooks the busy Long Street. They’re open from Wednesdays to Saturdays from 9pm – 4am (3am on Wednesdays), with the place being more of a restaurant and cocktail bar earlier in the week and turning into a nightclub on Fridays and Saturdays. Ladies get free entry to the club most days before 11pm.
  • Tjing Tjing Bar – This Japanese-inspired rooftop bar opens from Tuesdays till Saturdays from 4pm till late. It offers lounge-style seating and serves bespoke cocktails, wines, gins and whiskeys. Tjing-tjing house has a restaurant on the ground floor, a small lounge that takes reservations on the second floor, and the rooftop bar, however the kitchen closes at 10pm. Not exactly on Long Street but on Longmarket street, which is just off Long.

Safety on Long Street

Cape Town is relatively safe in the touristy areas and on Long Street however you should exercise caution as like in many busy areas in the world there are causes for concern.

Long Street is busy, it bustles with tourists and locals both during daytime and nighttime but more so at night and on the weekends because of all the favorite hangout spots. Like everywhere in the world where many people hang out it has its fair share of criminals, mostly pick-pocketers and dealers. It’s also full of the younger crowd who are high on life and everything else.

So the best thing to do is to exercise caution, and this includes things like not openly displaying your valuables (cameras and phones), and going in groups whenever possible, especially if you are a lady. Stay within well-lit areas and avoid the dark alleys.

You will be walking most of the time if you want to go club-crawling or try out different venues, so it’s a good idea to wear a cross-body bag and have your valuables safely tucked away.

Transport to Get to Long Street

There are a few options you can use to get around Cape Town, such as the bus system, minibusses, and the metro. However, to get to Long Street it’s better to take an Uber or use the bus.

Here are the best ways you can get to Long Street:

  • If you are staying in CBD, get an Uber
  • If you are staying outside the city centre, you can get the MyCiti Bus or Shuttle service

Do not try to drive yourself to Long Street if you don’t want the frustration of trying to find parking. Parking is very limited in the city center and on top of that, you have to worry about the safety of your car. Unless you are on a motorbike, in which case you may have better luck finding parking, but Uber still remains the best option.

Here’s a quick map showing you how to use the bus services:

History

Characterized by Victorian buildings with wrought iron balconies that date far back into the history of this city, Long Street is a one-way street that cuts through the middle of the CBD and goes all the way up, beginning at the Cape Town International Convention Centre and ending on Kloof Street. This is the area of the city called the City Bowl. Long Street is probably the most famous street in Cape Town. It is so famous it was featured in a British publication called The Saturday Book, an annual publication that ran from the early ’40s to the mid-70s. Some of the theatres on Long Street used to show anti-apartheid plays in the ’70s and the ’80s although most of them have now been turned into restaurants, bars and shops.

Long Street is characterized by its bohemian feel and it has boutiques, clubs, restaurants, theatres, and bookshops lined up on either side of the street.

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