Mother City Markets are a Local Delight
Cape Town’s market scene is one of the best ways to experience local culture in the city. Enjoy our gorgeous weather, creative crafts, fine foods, and some good old-fashioned people watching at these well-established markets.
Greenmarket Square, City Centre (Monday to Saturday, 9:00 – 16:00)
Greenmarket Square is one of the oldest markets in Cape Town. The square was built in 1696, and has been used as a slave market, produce market, and even a parking lot in its lifetime.
Today, it’s a vibrant space with vendors from across African. You’ll find beadwork, leatherwork, art, clothes, and jewellery. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what you’re buying. The wooden masks on sale, for example, are not native to South Africa – most are from central Africa. Vendors may take the hard-sell approach, but are typically friendly and happy to talk about their wares.
Even if you’re not interested in shopping, this is a must-see for the history alone. Architecture buffs should remember to look up: there’s a smorgasbord of building styles and periods around the cobblestone square. Art aficionados can visit the Michaelis Collection at the Old Town House, one of the most substantial collections of 17th century Dutch art outside of Europe. And just for the fun of it, pop into Sturk’s Tobacconists on Shortmarket Street, which has been there since 1793!
From here, you’re a quick walk from the Earth Fair market (see below), and you can continue our walking tour by following Church Street – which has its own antiques market – to Long Street.
You will find some vendors at Greenmarket Square on a Sunday, although the city centre will be quiet and not worth frequenting. Rather check out the Bay Harbour Market (see below) for a Sunday activity.
Earth Fair Market, St George’s Mall (Thursdays, 11:00 – 15:00)
This is a convenient market to enjoy as part of our walking tour, as it’s close to many of the museums, galleries, and tourist sites in town.
Bring a big appetite to this small food market. Paellas, ice-cream, sushi, brownies, breads, salads, pastries, you name it – there’s lots of selection in a very short stretch. Try some biltong while you’re there: this truly local delicacy is similar to jerky, but much better!
It’s best to get there around midday, as this is a prime grazing ground for the hungry execs, journalists, lawyers, and others who work in the city centre. By 14:00, there’s not much left.
City Bowl Market on Hope, Hope Street (Thursdays, 16:30 – 20:30)
This weekly market is perfect for people watching, because it’s more than just a market – it’s a social event! Locals love meeting up for food and a drink at this indoor market. There’s craft beer on tap, wine tasting, happy hour cocktails, live music, and an incredible selection of food.
You’ll also find some craft items. Peruse their Facebook page to see if they’ll be hosting their monthly fashion market during your stay in Cape Town – a great opportunity for vintage and second-hand shoppers. They sometimes host a Friday night market, but check their social media for details.
The market is within walking distance of Parker Cottage; however, we’d recommend taking a taxi as it’s a 20-minute walk and not particularly scenic.
Neighbourgoods Market, Woodstock (Saturdays 9:00 – 14:00)
This is probably the hippest market in Cape Town. It’s hosted by The Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock – an old factory that’s been revamped as a multi-functional space.
Outside, you’ll find amazing local crafts: hand-made shoes, leather bags, and clothing. As always, there’s a near-overwhelming selection of delicious foods in the tented area, from artisanal corndogs to fresh oysters and gourmet chocolate.
Get there early to find seating. Between 10:00 and 11:00 is usually the best time to avoid the crowds but still get that bustling market feel.
While you’re there, make a day of it and visit some of Woodstock’s trendy galleries and design stores. We recommend taking a taxi there and back, as it’s close to town but not walking distance from Parker Cottage.
Bay Harbour Market, Hout Bay (Fridays, 17:00 – 21:00; Saturday & Sunday, 9:30 – 16:00)
The Bay Harbour Market is further from town but a fantastic indoor market if you’re looking for something to do on a Sunday or a rainy weekend. It’s also a nice stop if you’re coming back from our Peninsula Tour on a Friday evening.
The enormous market has tons of food and drink, as well as a range of beautiful crafts. There’s also live music; much like the City Bowl Market, this is a social gathering as much as an eating-and-shopping experience.
What makes this market unique is that it’s kid-friendly, so it’s a great outing if you’re travelling with young children. There’s a Kids Cove where little ones can play safely while you enjoy the market.
We recommend taking a taxi, incorporating this into your Peninsula Tour, or – if you have lots of time on your hands – taking the MyCiTi bus.
Milnerton Flea Market, Milnerton (Saturdays & Sundays, 8:00 – vendors feel like leaving)
This one’s really for the low-key locals: no trendy gluten-free anything and not a craft beer in sight. But it’s worth a mention if you’re interested in visiting the not-your-typical-tourist-spot spots. Read more about it in our article on Milnerton and Blouberg.
With most markets, you can count on having ATMs nearby, but it’s best to bring some cash, as many vendors do not have credit card facilities.
Now your biggest challenge is deciding which markets to visit!