Cape Town/Observatory, Cape Town

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Western Cape Cape Town Cape Town/Observatory, Cape Town



Nestled at the crossroads of Cape Town city centre, blossoming suburbia, sprawling shantytowns and the beloved, larger than life, Table Mountain (phew what a sentence) , lies the tiny village known as Observatory. A stones' throw from the airport, this central suburb attracts students of local and international calibre as well as a hefty crowd of locals, in a constant stream both day and night. If you're new to Cape Town (or South Africa for that matter), Observatory is the perfect spot to put your feet on the ground and dip into local life quite instantly :)



Sights and Activities

See below for where to eat, sleep and drink and when you're done filling your tummy and browsing books, take to exploring the antique stores, junk shops and vintage clothing nooks for some trinket perusal! Voom Voom offers an impressive collection of your-next-door-neighbours-clothing-from-the-50's as well as a kick ass record selection and if you hight tail it back down the same road you'll find the smaller vintage clothing stores, which also house interesting instruments and occasionally serve tea.

If you'd prefer something more active, pop by the Observatory Community Centre where you can try your hand at a variety of martial arts, including Capoeira, dance and yoga classes. And if that still doesn't tickle, simply bring your feet and your enthusiasm to the common field adjacent to the centre and play some soccer with anyone who happens to be hanging around.



Getting There

By Car

All roads lead to Lower Main road, Observatory. By Bus, train or by taxi you'll be able to find your way here easily.



Getting Around

By Foot

Everything is in walking distance here.




Lower Main Road is where you'll find a bumbling row of stores to browse through, as well as a hefty collection of coffee stores. For the health conscious, start your morning with a vegan cuppacino at Bolobolo, the local vegan anarchist bookstore and then when you're ready to buy some nuts and dried fruit for your Cape Town adventures, pop next door to Komati health food shop to stock up. And if that isn't enough, take a wander down the road to find Mango Ginger for some delicious pastries and gluten free cookies.

Once you've exhausted your sunshine quotient, bring your night-owl eyes back under the awnings of Lower Main and dine at the hip, Southern (Louisiana & Tennessee inspired) foodbars like Sailor Jerry's or Hello Sailor, or if you're looking for some more local flavour, try the ribs at Sticky Fingers in Station round around the corner.




Late at night you might find yourself in Stones playing some pool and taking advantage of the drinks specials; grooving to some soulful beats at Tagores or live music at the Armchair.




Many places will keep you happily warm and fed, try the Green Elephant, Observatory Backpackers and of course, 33 South Backpackers.



Keep Connected


Internet is available throughout Cape Town. Other internet cafes can be found all over the city and suburbs, with many coffee shops offering internet access. Charges per hour ranges from R5 (in town) to R50 (V&A waterfront). Many places in Cape Town provide WiFi free for their guests


See also International Telephone Calls

South Africa's country code is 27. Telephone numbers in South Africa are 10 digits, including the local area code. There are also some prefixes like 0800 (toll free), 0860 (charged as local call) and 0861 (flat-rate calls). The general emergency number is 10111, ambulance is 10177 and police is 1011.

South Africa has very good phone facilities, which are also becoming more and more competitively priced, now that more operators are active on the market. The main ones are Neotel and Telkom South Africa. Local phone calls are cheap (about one Rand an hour), domestic long-distance calls are about twice as expensive. International calls start at around 6 Rand an hour but can be (much) higher to less usual countries. Note that public phones are about twice as cheap as new private phone centres. Phone calls tend to be the cheapest during the weekend and during business hours (8:00am to 5:00pm) on weekdays and more expensive during the evening and nights at weekdays.

There are also good mobile-phone facilities, with GSM and 3G networks. There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available from R10. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls. You can buy credit for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations.


The SAPO (South African Post Office) is the nation's postal service. They have a track & trace system for parcels as well. Post offices are open from 8:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00am to noon on Saturdays. Domestic and international deliveries are reliable but can sometimes take up to several weeks. If you want to send something oversees of any value, try using one of the private mail services, like Postnet. Also international courier companies like TNT, UPS and DHL tend to be fast, very reliable and competitively priced.


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