The V&A Waterfront is the place where it all started for the city of Cape Town. In 1654, two years after his arrival, Jan van Riebeek built a jetty as part of his task to establish a refreshment station at the Cape. Fresh water and fresh produce were provided to the ships of the Dutch East India company on their journey to Batavia. The Atlantic sea and Cape Town harbor lie at the heart of Cape Town’s history.
In June 1858 serious winter storms, which were a common occurrence, wrecked over 30 vessels. Therefore, Lloyds of London refused to cover ships spending the winter in Table Bay. On a sunny day in September 17, 1860 Midshipman HRH Prince Alfred, tipped the first load of stone to start construction of the breakwater for Cape Town’s first harbor to make it a safe haven all year round for passing ships.
The discovery of gold and diamonds in South Africa meant that the first section of harbor, the Alfred Basin, was not large enough to accommodate the increased number of ships, and the Victoria Basin was built. The construction of these two harbor basins took place between 1860 and 1920, and this area of the harbor still has an array of outstanding heritage buildings from this era.
In 1938 work was started to reclaim land between the city center and the harbor, most notably the new Duncan Dock. This area called the Foreshore, made city expansion possible.
In November 1988, Victoria and Alfred Waterfront was established as a wholly owned subsidiary by Transnet Ltd. Its aim was to redevelop the historic docklands around the Victoria and Alfred Basins as a mixed-use area with a focus on retail, tourism and residential development with a working harbor at its center. In 1992 the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre opened, following completion of the first section of the retail and entertainment center and the UCT Graduate School of Business also opened, and building of the Ulundi parking garage and Portswood Ridge offices commences. Today the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront attracts more than 24 million visitors a year, employees more than 21 000 people and has an estimated yearly revenue of 335 Billion Rand.
Situated in the heart of Cape Town’s working harbor, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is the city’s most visited destination, offering a range of activities, diverse cuisine and shopping for the discerning traveler.
The Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre is renowned for its world-class shopping experience in Cape Town. With more than 450 South African and international stores selling everything from fashion, jewelry and homeware to leather goods and groceries — you can literally spend hours here.
The V&A Waterfront has a great selection of fine dining restaurants, delis, cafes and casual dining eateries for all budgets and palates. Try the Cape Town Fish Market for fresh seafood, Karibu for authentic South African cuisine and Gibson’s for gourmet burgers, ribs and shakes. For a unique culinary experience, the V&A Food Market offers a variety of delicious artisanal food and craft beer sold by 40 vendors.
A Ride on the Cape Wheel is a must when visiting Cape Town for the first time. From the safety of enclosed air-conditioned cabins, the 15-minute long ride provides fantastic 360-degree views of the city and harbor.
Visit the Two Oceans Aquarium and explore the incredible diversity of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans at this world-class facility. The Two Oceans Aquarium has a wide variety of exhibits featuring many species of fish and other marine life, including turtles and penguins. Visitors can also get up close with various sea animals at the touch pool, microscope exhibit and penguin encounter.
Discover the V&A Waterfront’s rich and varied history on the one-and-a-half hour guided walking tour of the expansive property the size of 180 rugby fields. Your tour led by an experienced guide from local communities dressed in period costume will include some of the 22 points of historical interest including Cape Town’s first power station.
Take a step back in time at the Waterfront’s four resident museums, each one offering unique insight into Cape Town’s cultural and historical past. The Iziko Maritime Centre uncovers the history of the Table Bay Harbor, while the Chavonnes Battery Museum is about the history of Cape Town showcases the Archaeology ruins that has been buried for 140 years of an 18th-century fort built by the Dutch East India Company. The museum hosts international photo exhibitions and offers guided tours. Learn about the world’s most precious gem, from formation to the final polished stone, at the Cape Diamond Museum. From 2017, you’ll be able to experience contemporary African art at the highly anticipated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa.
Enjoy a leisurely cruise of Table Bay or tour of the harbor on one of the many boat charters at the Waterfront. Popular cruises include the Jolly Roger Pirate Boat and a champagne cruise aboard the Sea Princess at sunset.
Enjoy a scenic helicopter flip over the Atlantic Seaboard or Cape Winelands with one of several charter companies based at the East Pier. The trips range in price and duration, from 20 minutes to two hours long.
The Victoria and Alfred waterfront has something for everyone, so make a day of it and get down to one of the best places in Cape Town or join a Cape Town private tour by Cape Tourism Solutions and let us show you the best places in Cape Town.