From ancient to contemporary design, Cape Town has it all. See stone tools and African beadwork at the Iziko South African Museum, and a wide variety of local and international art and sculpture displayed at the many art galleries scattered throughout Cape Town, including South Africa's national art gallery.

Did you know?

The Bo-Kaap area in Cape Town is one of the city's oldest districts, established in the 1750s.

South Africa’s Mother City pipped Dublin and Bilbao to become designated World Design Capital for 2014, a status awarded biennially by the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design to cities using design for social, cultural and economic development.

As the oldest city in South Africa, many original architectural designs remain in living testament to its colonial past, the oldest being the Castle of Good Hope, a blend of medieval and 17th-century architecture.

Other early edifices include Auwal, the country’s first mosque, founded in 1797; the city’s neo-classical Renaissance-style City Hall; and the magnificent St George’s Cathedral.

Restored to its former functionality, the Josephine Mill’s iron waterwheel grinds flour as it did back in the 1800s, and the Newlands Brewery remains true to more than a century of brewing excellence.

Echoing the brightly coloured beach huts that define Muizenberg’s seafront, the Muslim-inspired Bo-Kaap is world-renowned for its cobbled streets and rainbow-coloured terraced homes.

Not far away, trendsetters will love the Soho feel of De Waterkant, with its revamped 19th-century homes, while purists are likely to prefer the classic gabled Cape Dutch homesteads that dot the Winelands.

A touch of art nouveau can be seen in the Mutual Heights building, with its triangular windows and detailed relief; or, for a design incorporating sound, light and cutting-edge technology, visit the Iziko Planetarium.

Appreciate ancient design in 120 000-year-old stone tools and authentic African beadwork at the Iziko South African Museum, and a heritage of European art, sculpture and modern installations at the National Gallery. Or visit one of the many other art galleries scattered around the city.

Innovative local design is evident at Iziko lo Lwazi’s, where handmade paper incorporates seaweed, mielies, reeds and dung, while its beaded dog collars are sought after.

The Khayelitsha Craft Market showcases traditional African pottery, beadwork, baskets and fabric painting, while the Montebello Design Centre markets a host of arts and craft studios, workshops and more.

For home-grown chic and classy clothing or accessories, try Imagenius, Hip Hop, and other fashion outlets.

Original T-Bag Designs has created an innovative range of greeting cards, artwork and handmade products; or you might like to interact with the artists from Imizamo Yethu township in Hout Bay.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Cape Town Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)21 487 6800/+27 (0)86 132 2223

How to get here

Cape Town is accessible via Cape Town International Airport, or the N1 or N2 highways. Most of the design attractions mentioned are within easy access of the city centre.

Best time to visit

Cape Town enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate, though winters (June to August) can be cold and wet and summers (November to February) dry and hot.

Around the area

While in the Mother City, take a trip in the cableway to the top of Table Mountain; visit the Two Oceans Aquarium; tour the Castle of Good Hope; and visit the Cape Winelands.

Tours to do

Winelands of Stellenbosch; Bo-Kaap; V&A Waterfront; Franschoek Valley.

Get around

Self-drive in a hired car, or via a City Sightseeing tour bus.

Length of stay

Two weeks minimum to sample Cape Town's variety of destinations and experiences.

What to pack

As little as possible, since there is so much great designer clothing, art, craft and collectibles to buy.

Where to stay

Cape Town is South Africa's premier tourist destination, with many top hotels, B&Bs, guest houses and holiday apartments.

What to eat

You could probably spend three months here and never eat at the same place twice. Choose your preference and head out on the town. Seafood is a particular speciality. When visiting the Bo-Kaap, enjoy a traditional, spicy Cape Malay meal.

Best buys

Wine, of course, followed by stylish clothing, trendy jewellery, art, crafts and so much more.