by Tamlin Wightman
on August 8, 2011
It’s very difficult to be bored in Cape Town. Despite the city’s nickname ‘Slaapstad’ – the sleepy city – it’s much more like New York. A city that never sleeps. Not in summer, not in winter. There’s so much to get up to here! The nickname comes more from the slow pace of locals and the particular brand of Capetonian lifestyle, especially in comparison to other parts of South Africa. Perhaps it’s the effect of the beautiful mountain and sea scenery down in the Cape…
Either way, there is, at any time of day, a range of things to do in the city and its surrounds. From catching early sun rises on Table Mountain (or sunsets and full moon rises on Signal Head or Lion’s Head); to lazing on sandy beaches all afternoon; to dining at restaurants in the evening and dancing in the city’s clubs till sunrise. Our favourite thing to do on weekends in the city, though, is browsing the numerous bustling indoor and outdoor markets. Slowly though, in true Cape Town style, because there’s no reason to rush…
The best weekend markets include:
1. Old Biscuit Mill Market
The Old Biscuit Mill Market is Cape Town’s original gourmet market and definitely one of the best in town, if not the best. The Old Mill itself is open all week long, with its array of restaurants and shops selling inspired works of art, jewelry, cool cameras, photography paraphernalia, farm stall produce, office and workshop spaces, and then there’s the Espresso Lab Microroasters, serving delicious daily cups of coffee.
On Saturdays, though, you can enjoy the addition of two main tents as the popular market opens, featuring over 100 traders. There’s a clothing tent – with unique once-off clothing items and accessories hand-made by local designers as well as things for kids. And there are the food tents, selling a feast of various munchables and drinkables.
There are hand-made cheeses, pestos and pâtés; wood-fired breads, fresh rolls, baguettes, ciabatta, bagels, croissants; delicious wines (red, white and pink) from the Cape Winelands; cakes, macaroons and other sweet things; seafood paella; fresh fruit and veg; chunks of meaty biltong; porcini and pink oyster mushrooms; delicious oysters rich with the smell of the ocean; fresh flowers and plants for the garden; doggie treats and much more!
It’s easy to spend an entire morning into afternoon browsing the market. Source your snacks and take-home souvenirs and then claim a seat on the hay-stack or wooden benches, under the free form marquees or outside in the sunshine. A must is a cold beer or ice tea in hand, while you people watch and catch up with friends. The crowd here is mixed, with young and old, hound and human, city dwellers and suburban folk, and is particularly popular with the trendy – making people-watching all the more entertaining.
It’s how every Saturday should be spent!
When: Saturday mornings from 9 am to 2 pm
Where: 375 Albert Road, Salt River, Cape Town
Our Five Mill Highlights:
- wine tasting in the morning;
- Real Beer from Brewers⋃
- the steaming paella;
- the unique once-off handmade jewelry, clothes and shoes – particularly when on sale;
- the lively market atmosphere, walking through crowds of easy-going weekend shoppers and sitting alongside them all, munching and glugging away
2. Hope Street Market
This is a new market that has opened up on the same street as Rhino Africa’s offices, in an old church building in Gardens in the city bowl. So needless to say, it’s a firm favourite of ours too. It’s less expensive than the Old Biscuit Mill and has smaller crowds, but still a lively bustle. There is plenty seating on hay bales and wooden benches, indoors amid the market buzz. There’s plenty on offer, including Darling Brew beer on tap, cupcakes, fresh bouquets of flowers – cheaper than most places in town, ground coffee, cheeses, biltong, fresh sushi, samoosas, breads, warm curries, saszali hand crafted chocolates, pancakes, falafels, chicken wraps, yummy sandwich combinations, and much more!
On every second Saturday there’s also a clothing market upstairs, with vintage and handmade items. When there’s a rugby match on
When: Every Saturday 9 am to 2 pm
Where: Hope Street, Gardens, Cape Town
3. Blue Bird Garage Food & Goods Market
This new neighbourhood food and goods market, set in the heart of bustling Muizenberg, in False Bay, in a beautiful old warehouse, takes place every Friday, offering something for people on the other side of town, although everyone should make a trip there just because it offers something totally unique to the city markets. It’s slower, more bohemian. There’s organic wine and beer, delicious food and warm meals, clothing, live music, warm fires on cold nights, and a chance to meet new friends. It can get quite busy and is a great way to spend a Friday evening.
When: Every Friday 4 pm -10 pm
Where: 39 Albertyn Road corner Milner, Muizenberg
4. Wellness Natural & Organic Market
At the Jan Van Riebeeck Primary School, Gardens, is a market every Saturday, with several stalls outdoors selling fresh produce, organic beers, wine, coffee, doggie treats and handmade clothing and other items.
When: Every Saturday 9am to 2pm
Where: Kloof Street, Gardens
5. The Bay Food & Wine Market
Situated in Hout Bay, this is a natural, fresh, socially responsible market. It isn’t weather dependent and is a great place for all the entire family. They have a Saturday and Friday market. On Saturdays, enjoy fresh rolls and croissants, muffins, danishes, pretzels, quiches, pizzas, pies, fresh vegetables and other produce, dried fruit and nuts, delectable oysters, French nougat, coffee, wines and much more! On Fridays, the popular local band, The Crunch, plays and supervised entertainment for the little ones is provided.
When: Every Saturday 9.30 – 2.30 pm; every first Friday of the month 5 pm – 9 pm
Where: Victoria Mall (under La Cuccina), Hout Bay
6. Porter Estate Produce Market
Expect the odd baboon to come down the mountain to join you here, at this Tokai market. Don’t worry thought; they shouldn’t steal your fare, only sniff it from afar, as the baboon monitors keep them under wraps. This weekly genuine outdoor market under tall oak trees has a distinct country feel – as though you should arrive in Wellington boots and knitted jerseys, woven basket in hand. Stock up on a week’s supply of fresh farm produce here in the beautiful surrounds of Cape Town’s Constantia Valley and grab breakfast to enjoy in the sunshine or shade of the oak trees.
There are over 70 fresh produce vendors, artisans and original crafters, selling everything from store cupboard staples to unique, decadent treats. On offer, are plants for the garden, breads, cakes, cold meats, chutneys and jams, cheeses, warm curries, chicken kebabs, coffee, fresh fruit and vegetables, rustic frames, jewellery and much more.
Bring the pooch – on a leash – and the kids.
When: Every Saturday 9 am – 1 pm, weather permitting. Parking is available in the market grounds.
Where: Next to the Chrysalis Academy
7. Milnerton Fleamarket
For something totally different to the above mentioned markets, try Milnerton Market, for great, inexpensive second hand finds. Also known as junk, but some times, most times, you come across gems! And on the cheap. Old cameras and lenses, record players, frames, military wares and clothing. Also on sale are generic t-shirts, toiletries, car parts, tools, computers, CDs, DVDs, as well as koeksusters, biltong, pancakes, soft serve ice creams, cool drinks and more. While you browse, you can smell of the ocean nearby and glimpse Table Mountain, while the odd freight train grumbles past. It’s definitely an experience!
When: Every Sunday
Where: On the R27 west-coast road, on the part of Paarden Island closest the sea
There are still many more markets in Cape Town worth a visit and we’ll feature them all soon. If you’d like to find out more about them, Cape Town and the city’s many attractions, visit the Cape Town section on our website, or contact us.