Just a 5 minutes drive from Cape Town City Centre lies the historical colourful residential area of Bo-Kaap which is at the foot of Signal Hill. Bo-Kaap was formerly known as the Malay Quarter, the Bo-Kaap’s origins date back to the 1760s when numerous “huurhuisjes” (rental houses) were built and leased to slaves. These people were known as Cape Malays, and were brought from Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of Africa to work in the Cape by the Dutch East Indian Company known as the V.O.C.
The Bo-Kaap houses are a mix of Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture, beautiful painted in multi-coloured rows on steeply cobbled roads. The choice of colour is said to be attributed to the fact that while on lease, all the houses had to be white. When this rule was abolished, and the slaves were allowed to buy these properties, all the houses were painted bright colours by their owners as an expression of their freedom. The area is a National cultural heritage site and attracts thousands of tourists every year.
Bo-Kaap can be be easily reached by foot just a five-minute walk from the city centre and De Waterkant and a 20-minute walk from the prestigious V&A Waterfront.
No Cape Town visit or holiday should be considered complete for any visitor and tourist alike if one skip a guided private or small group tour to Bo-Kaap. Its one of the best places in Cape Town one could go for amazing instagram photos. Visit the oldest building in the Bo-Kaap situated in Wale Street which is the the Bo-Kaap Museum. This is the best place to discover the real history of the area and to get a glimpse into the life of a typical Malay family. The very first established Muslim mosque in South Africa, the Auwal Mosque is in Bo-Kaap.
When to Go to Bo-Kaap?:
The Bo-Kaap is an all year round destination to go to and one of Cape Town’s most distinct neighbourhoods and there’s so much to see, taste and explore. Here’s our guide to what you can’t miss while in the Bo-Kaap. The winter months are very wet and summer and spring months are the best time to go to Bo-Kaap.
There are a few places to go on your Bo-Kaap visit or tour. A must-do is a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the restaurants, or a Cape Malay cooking course with one of the expert locals. These great recipes date back centuries and are a spicy mix of Middle Eastern and Dutch styles of cooking, usually consisting of fruit, spices, vegetables and meat. The area has a local art gallery. Bismillah Restaurant should be part of your Bo-Kaap bucket list.
Kabura Travel & Tours offers a half-day cooking course, which starts with a visit to the District 6 Museum and a walk through the Bo-Kaap to visit Atlas Spices, plus two other community projects before heading to a local Cape Malay home to cook. You’ll get to make rootis from scratch, samosas, traditional Cape Malay curry or Bobotie. The tour ends off with a relaxing cup of cardamom tea.
You can also stop at a corner café and pick up a few snacks like samoosas (crispy triangle pastries), half-moons (crescent-shaped savoury snacks), daltjies (chilli bites), slangetjies and paaper bites (crisps), koesisters (spicy doughnuts) and boeber (a sweet sago and vermicelli drink).
Best Time to Go
Enquire Now and an African Travel Expert will get back to you Immediately 24/7Let's Start Planning