South Africa Table Mountain

Famous Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town,
set against the backdrop of Table Mountain

Having become an important seaport on the trade routes between Europe and the East, Cape Town has seen continuous development and growth as a harbour. In 1860 the first section of the Alfred Basin was built.

Later with the discovery of gold and diamonds along with a rapidly developing industrialization process, the Alfred Basin was expanded and in addition the Victoria Basin was built.

From the 1970s the worldwide development of containerization as the main method of handling and transporting cargo together with the reopening of the Suez Canal reduced the levels of shipping activity in Cape Town's harbour drastically.

A large part of the land and the harbour facilities became un-utilized.

In an effort to find ways and means of redeveloping the land and buildings around the Alfred and Victoria basins, the idea of the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront project was born.

View from Table Mountain of Cape Town CBD with the harbour and Table bay in the background - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
View from Table Mountain of Cape Town CBD with the harbour and Table Bay in the background
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
copyright © South Africa tours and travel.com

And so the huge Victoria & Alfred Waterfront shopping and entertainment centre as we know it today is the result of nearly 30 years of planning, development and construction.

Having preserved the harbour's historic heritage and ambiance in a setting of beautiful mountain and sea views, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in South Africa, drawing more than 20 million visitors each year.

View towards the south of the V&A Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
View towards the south of the V & A Waterfront with Table Mountain in the background
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
copyright © South Africa tours and travel.com

A great deal of its attraction lies in the point that this bustling commercial harbour is situated amid an immense entertainment venue with theatres, movies, restaurants, pubs, specialty shops and craft markets.

Next to almost 500 stores, 80 different restaurants, IMAX cinema, Huge Arts and Crafts centre and the internationally renowned Two Oceans Aquarium, the centre offers world class shopping malls, live performances, boat and helicopter trips, a marine museum and a variety of festivals throughout the year.

From their restaurant tables visitors can enjoy watching the harbour activities and fishing vessels offloading their catch.

V&A Waterfront and Table mountain at dusk - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
V & A Waterfront and Table mountain at dusk
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop

A focus point you won't be able to miss at the V & A Waterfront is its Amphitheatre, offering life entertainment to the public for free such as workshops and puppet shows and concerts among others. One of the hallmarks of the centre is its overwhelming number and variety of shops and eating places catering for any budget or taste.

Amidst a dynamic and cosmopolitan ambiance with a unique mix of African cultures, maritime traditions and Victorian architecture you will find a wide variety of national retailers, boutiques and services, together with a terrific assortment of coffee shops, restaurants and fast food outlets.

Chinese new year festival at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
Chinese new year festival at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop

Other hallmarks of the V & A Waterfront are:

The Clock Tower

Built in 1882 as the headquarters of the Port Captain from where he was able to view all the activities in the harbour, the Victorian Gothic-style Clock Tower is an Icon of the old Alfred and Victoria docks and a main focus point on the V & A Waterfront of today.

The Clock Tower at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
The Clock Tower at the V & A Waterfront in Cape Town
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
copyright © South Africa tours and travel.com

The Time Ball Tower

The Time Ball Tower at the Waterfront can be found next to the former residence of the Harbour Engineer. Built in 1894 it contains a signalling device called a Time Ball at the time, which indicated Cape Town's harbour mean time for Ships' captains to synchronize their chronometers when they were lying for anchor in the harbour.

The giant Wheel of Excellence at the V&A Waterfront in cape town - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
The giant Wheel of Excellence at the V & A Waterfront in cape town
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop

The Dragon Tree

The Dragon Tree is to be found close to the Time Ball Tower. One of the biggest of its kind in Cape Town and originating from the Canary Islands, it is assumed to have been planted by a ships' crew-man during his stay in Cape Town more than 100 years ago.

View of Table Bay hotel at the V&A Waterfront and of Table Bay itself - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
View of Table Bay hotel at the V & A Waterfront and of Table Bay itself
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop

Robben Island embarkation building and info centre

There are in fact two embarkation buildings at the V & A Waterfront, both for the purpose of boarding a boat that will take people to the world renowned Robben Island, the place where famous Nelson Mandela was held as a political prisoner for more the 20 years.

The old one can be found on jetty 1 at the end of quayside 5, which was used for sending prisoners to the island. The other one is in actual fact the Robben Island Information and Exhibition Centre located next to the Clock Tower building. From there you can make guided tours to Robben Island.

View of the Robben Island Information centre and embarkation jetty from the ferry that has just departed - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
View of the Robben Island Info centre and embarkation jetty from the departing ferry
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop

Seal Landing

It is not always easy to get a close-up view of seals. At the V & A Waterfront however they have become part of everyday harbour life. Cape fur seals resting on old tires lining the quaysides and on the seal landing in the vicinity of the Clock Tower are a familiar sight at the Waterfront.

Cape Fur seal resting on one of the jetties at the V & A Waterfront - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
Cape Fur seals resting on one of the jetties at the V & A Waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop

South African Maritime Museum

The South African Maritime Museum houses a wonderful exhibition of Table Bay's maritime history, including the biggest collection of model ships in South Africa. It also offers a display of life-size ships in the Alfred and Victoria basins, which include the Alwyn Vincent a retired steam tug from 1859 and the SAS Somerset, a Naval Defence submarine guard ship withdrawn from service. They are open for public viewing against an entrance fee.

One of the many local bands entertaining the visitors at the V&A Waterfront - Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
One of the many local bands entertaining the visitors at the V & A Waterfront
Victoria & Alfred Waterfront Cape Town, Table Mountain Backdrop
copyright © South Africa tours and travel.com

A visit to the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront is an unforgettable experience, accommodation of excellent quality can be found within walking distance. You will receive a warm welcome at the V & A Waterfront Information Centre, which you can find at Dock Road (alongside Ferryman's Pub) and the Waterfront Information Kiosk situated at the Victoria Wharf.






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