Renowned for its gourmet cuisine and world-class vineyards, Cape Town and the surrounding area is a true gastronomer's paradise. While it's possible to spend a considerable amount of money in any of the city's top-rated restaurants, a thriving market culture means you don't have to be a millionaire to sample Cape Town's culinary scene. Farmer's markets come in all shapes and sizes in the Mother City, from outdoor events on weekends to everyday extravaganzas in some of Cape Town's most iconic locations. Here, we take a look at five of the best options within an hour's drive of the city center.
Located a 35-minute drive south of the city center, Hout Bay is arguably one of the most jaw-dropping stops on the Cape Peninsula. The bay spreads endless and blue towards the horizon, and Chapman’s Peak stands sentinel over the town nestled at its base. This is the setting for the Bay Harbour Market, whose stalls are spaciously spread between an old fish factory, scenic tented alleyways and a handful of open-air courtyards.
Here, visitors can gorge themselves on an impressive variety of ready-to-eat fare, including several stalls selling locally-caught seafood. Arts, crafts, and fashion are a focus of Bay Harbour Market, ranging from jacaranda carvings to traditional beaded sculptures and independent South African designer clothing. Live music is a key part of the experience, with a soundstage blaring everything from acoustic rock to African reggae and a bar serving no fewer than nine local craft beers on tap.
Hours: Fridays, 5pm - 9pm; Saturdays, 9:30am - 4pm; Sundays, 9:30am - 4pm.
Set against a spectacular mountain backdrop and surrounded by Stellenbosch’s award-winning vineyards, Blaauwklippen Family Market is worth the 40-minute drive from central Cape Town for the scenery alone. Located on the beautiful Blaauwklippen Wine Estate, the market has several distinct sections. Beneath a large marquee, vendors offer street food ranging from vegan kebabs to Chinese dim-sum, while the old carriage museum houses artisan cheeses, breads, olives, and pies.
Beneath the estate’s picturesque fig trees, craft stalls sell handmade clothing and second-hand books, while the vineyard itself offers wine tastings and bistro dining. Those that enjoy the estate’s wines can buy bottles for later or as the perfect souvenir from the next-door shop. Best of all, as the market’s name suggests, Blaauwklippen is exceptionally family (and pet) friendly, with bouncy castle rides, farmyard animals and expansive lawns perfect for a weekend picnic.
Hours: Sundays, 10am - 3pm
Perfect for days when you don’t feel like venturing too far afield, Neighbourgoods Market is located in the inner city industrial neighborhood of Woodstock. Set up as an independent market in 2006, Neighbourgoods is housed in The Old Biscuit Mill, an airy, light-filled warehouse that provides a home for more than 100 specialty vendors. The purpose of this market is to encourage the community to buy directly from the source, therefore supporting grassroots businesses.
Food is the centerpiece of the market, whether you’re looking for organic, farm-fresh ingredients or gourmet cuisine with a lean towards healthy eating. There are plenty of choices for vegans and vegetarians; which is perhaps one of the reasons why the market has become a hotspot for Cape Town’s creative clique. Neighbourgoods hosts festivals and live music throughout the year, and also offers fashion ranging from African batiks to fine, hand-crafted jewelry.
Hours: Saturdays, 9 am - 2 pm.
A favorite with South Peninsula locals, Noordhoek Community Market is located a scenic 40-minute drive from Cape Town on the grounds of Cape Point Vineyards. Held every Thursday evening, the market gives you the perfect excuse to combine your visit with an afternoon of wine-tasting. Buy a bottle from the shop, browse the market stalls for dinner, then sit at the outdoor trestle tables to watch the sun go down over Noordhoek’s impossibly beautiful coastline.
Noordhoek Community Market specializes in home-cooked fare that makes the most of fresh, local and free-range ingredients. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re more into handmade Italian pasta, quality biltong, West Coast oysters or traditional fish and chips. Non-food items include ceramics and fresh-cut flowers, while an infectious sense of community and a bustling night market vibe help to make this the best al fresco party in town.
Hours: Thursdays, 4:30 pm - 8:30 pm.
When you can’t wait until the weekend to satisfy your market cravings, head downtown to Cape Town’s breathtaking V&A Waterfront. Open seven days a week (including public holidays except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day), the V&A Food Market may be more permanent than your typical farmer’s market, but it still manages to sustain a rustic authenticity. It’s also a foodie’s paradise, with more than 50 vendors selling everything from Portuguese pastries to Greek gyros.
V&A Food Market is also a good place to sample traditional African cuisine, including samp and beans, mielie pap and boerewors. Wash your meal down with craft beer from Bottle Bank, a stall selling microbrews from all over the country. In summer, take your food outside for a picnic overlooking the marina in Nobel Square; then continue your adventure with a visit to other V&A Waterfront highlights like Two Oceans Aquarium and the Watershed art and fashion market.
Hours: Every day, 10 am - 6 pm (May to October); 10 am - 7 pm (November to April)