Cape Town, which sits in South Africa between the Atlantic Ocean and several mountains — the majestic Table Mountain is smack in the middle of the city — has its famous neighbourhoods, like the luxe and glossy V&A Waterfront and the colourful, history-rich Bo-Kaap. But Woodstock, just east of the city’s downtown core, is where the attributes of these other neighbourhoods meet.
Woodstock, Cape Town’s oldest suburb, has always been a mixed community, with residents of different races and religions. Now, it’s being “hipsterized” — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many buildings left in disrepair or vacant have been revitalized by small-business owners and creative business offices, while a weekend craft-and-food market has made the neighbourhood a destination. Woodstock’s history and future are cohabitating in an exciting way right now, which makes it a must-visit when you’re in South Africa’s Mother City. Here’s where to spend your time.
Savour the street art
The street art in Woodstock is plentiful and impressive. Artist Juma Mkwela leads tours through the community explaining the pieces, sharing stories about the artists behind the work, and looking at what street art means for (and to) the neighbourhood. The walking tour is 90 minutes long; for a more in-depth experience, Mkwela leads a half-day “Woodstock Creative” tour that, on top of the graffiti walk, includes lunch with a local family and a visit to a local art gallery.
Woodstock comes alive every Saturday at the Cape Town edition of The Neighbourgoods Market (there’s one in Johannesburg, too). Housed in a reused warehouse space called The Old Biscuit Mill, the market highlights two things: food and design. Pick up fresh bread, cheese, meat, and produce for a picnic later in the day, or sit down at one of the communal tables and tuck into some made-to-order dishes. Outside the food hall there’s independent clothing, jewellery, and accessories designers pedalling their extremely stylish wares. Be warned: you’ll find it hard to leave empty-handed.
The Pot Luck Club, sister restaurant to the famed Test Kitchen, is housed on the top floor of the Old Biscuit Mill, and offers views over Woodstock and the surrounding areas of the city, as well as a rich menu of shared plates. Chef Luke Dale Roberts divides the menu by flavour profile — sweet, salty, bitter, sour, and umami — and mixes international cuisines with skill. The open kitchen is the centrepiece of the restaurant, and sets the tone for the atmosphere (professional meets convivial). Reservations highly recommended.
Lunch like a local
The sleekest cafeteria you’ll ever dine in, Superette, is open for breakfast and lunch, and is located near a number of creative businesses (think: advertising and design agencies). It serves up elevated home cooking that makes the most of delicious local South African ingredients. There’s even a (very on-trend) section of the menu called “Things on Toast.” Cheese, mushrooms, beans, kippers (herring) — they’ve got ’em. Local beers on tap top off the experience.
Those looking for a break from fast fashion will delight in the uniqueness of South African design. Woodstock is home to a number of indie boutiques that celebrate local design in fashion and homeware; among them, Kingdom and its sister store Indigenous are worth seeking out. The former specializes in fashion and accessories, leather goods, and jewellery; the latter sells treats for home and body. Both offer an eclectic mix of made-in-South Africa goods — the hardest part will be figuring out how much you can fit in your luggage.
Quench your thirst
There are a number of places in the neighbourhood where you can grab a drink. One of note is the Woodstock Gin Company, a local distiller that crafts wine- and beer-based gins, as well as a high tea gin, which is infused with rooibos and honeybush (advanced bookings are required for tastings). Not far away is the Woodstock Brewery, a local brewer that welcomes guests for tours and tastings of its beer on tap. If a structured visit isn’t to your taste, the brewery’s beer garden is a great spot to spend some downtime in the sun.
G Adventures runs a number of tours to South Africa that visit Cape Town and beyond. We're excited at the prospect of showing you around this big, blue planet — check out our small group tours to South Africa here.