Cape Town is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It has a rich history and a plethora of sites and activities to indulge in. People naturally mention Table Mountain in their praise of South Africa’s second-largest city. But one thing tourists often don’t know is where the best Cape Town nightlife can be found.
Whether you’re new to Cape Town or looking to travel locally, you’ll want to experience the city’s nightlife at least once. We’ve created a list of the top nine spots in Cape Town to drink, smoke, dance and meet great people. Each venue is a little different from the last.
Best Bars in Cape Town
Cape Town has hundreds of gorgeous bars to choose from. This list is by no means extensive, but these are three popular choices amongst locals and newcomers.
1) Yours Truly / Up Yours
Yours Truly has a well-known history in the Mother City. What began as a coffee cart traipsing through Long Street is now a brand synonymous with Cape Town nightlife. There are now three locations in the city. The most popular one is on Kloof Street.
YT Kloof is always filled with locals and tourists alike thanks to the backpackers lodge on site. Here you can find affordable wine and beer as well as popular local DJ performances. Up Yours is the upstairs section of the bar, draped in hanging plants that make it feel like you’re in an upmarket nursery (plus booze and pizza).
2) Harrington’s Cocktail Lounge
Harringtons is an upmarket social lounge where you can dine, drink and dance. Harrington Street is buzzing with other partygoers. So feel free to take a waltz through the area and explore the numerous other bars and clubs around town.
Harringtons offers something sophisticated and dynamic for a night out, where you can choose just how much you’d like to let loose. With intimate seating at the bar and in the lounge, Harringtons is a great place to see – and to be seen.
3) The Moveable Feast / TMF
The Moveable Feast is one of Cape Town’s most ambient locations. It’s a Parisian-style bar and restaurant boasting soft lighting, stylish decor and even more stylish patrons. You can enjoy a well-crafted bistro menu here. But ‘Moveable’ (as the locals call it) can also be a fantastic place to socialize and groove on the intimate dance floor.
You can also lounge on the balcony looking over Kloof Nek Junction and take in one of Cape Town’s most trendy areas. The bartenders make a mean cocktail well worth the price, and the music by local DJs is sure to induce a good time.
Best Pubs in Cape Town
For something a little more relaxed, with a ‘pub vibe’, here are three excellent watering holes in Cape Town. These locations have more of a sit-down feel to them than the bars listed above. But they all offer good music, good drinks and, of course, a wide selection of beers.
4) The Kimberley Hotel
Kimberley Hotel is a backpackers’ lodge in the city center with a downstairs bar open to the public. What sets this particular establishment apart is the jukebox with oldies and 2000’s bops. Patrons can set their own tone for the evening.
Kimberley’s outside seating is a great place to relax, sip on a beer and watch the buzzing city from its very heart. Perhaps you’ll meet some interesting tourists who are staying upstairs, too.
5) Hank’s Old Irish
Hank’s has the most extensive selection of whiskeys in the area. It brings an upmarket feel to the traditional Irish pub atmosphere. The pub also hosts live music events every week for patrons to enjoy.
You can spot well-known Cape Town-based bands here, or a six-piece jazz ensemble that will make you feel like you’re in a movie. Hank’s is also known for serving only the best craft gin, beer and wine.
6) The Dubliner
The Dubliner is your more typical Irish pub, with beers on tap and sports games on TV. This pub is located on the middle of Long Street, so you’ll be right in the heart of the city’s nightlife there.
The Dubliner also hosts live bands every week for your pleasure, as well as a buzzing crowd with an authentic pub feel.
Best Clubs in Cape Town
We’d be remiss not to mention the best nightclubs in Cape Town to let loose and dance to good music. We’ve chosen three very different locations, however, each brings something special to the table.
7) The Waiting Room
Waiting Room is one of the most popular choices amongst locals for a good night out. The multi-level club hosts a range of parties throughout the year, covering everything from hip hop to indie music.
Every event is different, but the Waiting Room is dependably crowded and energetic. And it always offers a breathtaking view of Long Street, Cape Town’s oldest party street, from the rooftop deck. Expect a bit of a wait at the bar – it’s small but reasonable – as well as performances from the best of local and international talent.
MØdular is an electronic music dance club in Cape Town’s city center. A small venue but one dripping with intrigue. Bouncers will cover your phone camera with a sticker on entry, and inside you’ll find yourself in a smoky room literally underground and filled with ravers.
Expect people of all ages, most of them wearing glow sticks, dancing and having an uninhibited good time. MØdular is a must see when it comes to exciting nightlife in Cape Town.
9) Zer021 Social Club
Our list wouldn’t be complete without an LGBTQIA-friendly establishment. Enter Zer021, one of the more popular gay Cape Town clubs and an inclusive space where anyone can have fun.
What sets this club apart is the drag performances on stage in front of the dance floor, a unique element which makes a night out at Zer021 an incomparable experience.
Enjoy the best of Cape Town nightlife
It really only takes a short walk down a busy street to find a good bar, club or pub in Cape Town. But we hope this list has given you a better sense of what to try first if you’re new to the Mother City. Once you’ve explored Cape Town by night, be sure to check out the city’s hiking trails as well.