Cape Town Nightlife

By far South Africa's most cosmopolitan city, Cape Town's nightlife is definitely something to write home about. This multicultural city has something for just about everyone, from fashionable bars and watering holes to classy dance clubs and hotel bars, and visitors will find themselves brushing shoulders with the who's who in Cape Town's trendy social scene.

Kick things off by sipping on a cocktail and watching the sunset at one of Camps Bay's trendy sidewalk cafes in the summer, offering fancy cocktails and gorgeous ocean views. Somerset Road in Green Point is where the main gay and lesbian clubs and bars are situated, although Cape Town in general is very tolerant of same-sex relationships.

If that doesn't float your boat, head to Observatory for a more bohemian experience with students from the University of Cape Town. Everything happens at a slightly slower pace here and pool halls, reggae bars, avant-garde eateries and live music are the order of the day. For a younger and more mainstream clubbing experience, head to main road in Claremont where teens prefer to drink and dance the night away at clubs like Tiger Tiger.

Long Street, in the centre of town, is the heart of Cape Town's nightlife, particularly the mountain end. There is just about every kind of bar or club on offer, from live music and deejay bars to pubs, dance clubs and the more trendy and laid-back 'lounge' variety. It can be a difficult and confusing task choosing a venue to while away the hours, and you are likely to find people from myriad nations wandering the streets on weekend nights. Be wary of the numerous pickpockets in the crowd, however, and keep close watch on cell phones and wallets. This strip is happening all the time but there are plenty of quieter and less crowded venues hidden away off the side streets. Nearby Long Street, Kloof Street and Bree Street are also hubs for fashionable restaurants and bars in Cape Town. There is almost always a great line-up of original South African bands playing at lots of venues around Cape Town and advertising for these performances is widespread.

For culture vultures, there are great local and often international shows to be seen at one of the many theatres in Cape Town, such as the Theatre on the Bay, the Baxter Theatre, or ARTscape, while On Broadway hosts a wonderful mix of comedies and farces. The Cape Town City Ballet, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Cape Town Opera are all world-class performing groups. Maynardville Open-Air Theatre hosts Shakespeare in the Park performances in Wynberg every summer.

Unfortunately, there is little to no public transport after 7pm in Cape Town, besides private taxis which often need to be booked in advance and can be very expensive, so it is best to organise your own car - but make sure there is a designated driver as the accident rate on weekends is frighteningly high and police road blocks are common. The legal drinking age in South Africa is 18. Bars and clubs in Cape Town stop serving alcohol at 2am.

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An American expat currently living in South Africa, Anya Klaassen has travelled widely as a musician and writer.

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