5 ways to get fit for free in Cape Town

There’s no need to spend money on joining a gym when you’re living in or visiting Cape Town – the city is home to more free fitness facilities, places, groups and classes than you can count! We name five of the best.

If you’ve stayed in Cape Town more than a few days, you’ll soon realise a steady line-up of world-class cuisine and bottomless wine tours can tickle the taste buds but tack-on some unwanted kilos. Lucky for you, there are many ways to get fit for little more than the cost of transportation to some of the city’s most breathtaking destinations.

1. Free Summer Fitness Classes at V&A Waterfront

The V&A Waterfront, Africa’s most popular tourist destination, has teamed up with Virgin Active, Adventure Boot Camp and Kranking Fitness Studio to offer free exercise classes until Saturday, 30 April 2016. Just enough time left to shake off those Easter extras…

2. Lion’s Head Sunset Hike

If waking up early to exercise isn’t for you, lace up your shoes and hike Lion’s Head at sunset when the full moon displays its glory. The one- to two-hour hike is a local favourite and not too difficult. You’ll be in good company if you also pack a (healthy) picnic and lots of water. Just remember your safety: hike in groups, wear proper footwear, bring a torch for the dark way down and layers in case the weather takes a turn for the worse.

3. Running Clubs & Free Outdoor Gyms

There are plenty of student, intern and adult running clubs to join in any area of Cape Town, many operating from popular fitness hubs such as the 2.5-km Rondebosch Common jogging loop, Newlands Forest Contour Path or the fitness circuit at Green Point Park. And don’t forget the almost 50 free outdoor gyms rolled out by the folks from the City of Cape Town’s Parks Department. There’s one in Sea Point, another in Muizenberg and lots more in-between. Let your fingers do the Googling to find your closest outdoor gym.

4. Stroll the Sea Point Promenade

Sea Point Promenade is free and open to the public all year round. The best part? It’s accessible to everyone, from body builders to baby-toting mothers to senior citizens – and you can finish off your workout with an (inexpensive) swim at the Sea Point outdoor pool.

5. Gardens Skate Park

If you’ve got a skateboard or longboard and want to practice your tricks without worrying about fist-shaking neighbours, head to Cape Town’s skate park in Gardens (next to the MyCiti bus station under the Mill Street Bridge). It’s free and open to novice and experienced skaters during daylight hours.

Explore Cape Town’s buried battery at the V&A Waterfront

More than just a military museum, the Chavonnes Battery Museum at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront gives you a glimpse into life at the Cape in the 18th century.

In the 1990s, during the development of what is now known as the Clock Tower Precinct at the V&A Waterfront (the premier shopping and entertainment hub alongside Cape Town’s harbour), the remains of an early 18th century military battery were discovered. The site, which was excavated by a team of archaeologists from the University of Cape Town, can now be accessed via the Chavonnes Battery Museum.

The Chavonnes Battery, which was completed in 1725 and named after the then-governor of the Cape Colony, Maurits Pasques de Chavonnes, was one of several fortifications that the Dutch built to protect Table Bay. The battery, which had 16 mounted guns, was also used as a prison and to quarantine those arriving at the Cape who might have been exposed to smallpox.

In 1861, when construction began on the Alfred Basin in the harbour, the battery was partially demolished and stone from its walls was used to create a breakwater (built to reduce the size of waves coming into the harbour). Later, the battery was forgotten as it was covered by coal bunkers and a fish factory.

The well-laid-out museum contains detailed models of the battery, the largest selection of muzzle-loaded cannons in South Africa and remains of the actual battery. You’ll even get to touch the sand of the original shoreline well below current ground level! The enthusiastic staff, dressed in period costumes, will tell you fascinating stories of the era. Historical walking tours of the V&A Waterfront also depart from the museum.

Find the best of local design at the V&A Waterfront’s Watershed

The V&A Waterfront holds many attractions for Cape Town locals and discerning tourists alike – none more so than the innovative local designer crafts and goods on sale at the Watershed.

The V&A Waterfront is Africa’s premier shopping and entertainment destination, with an estimated 24 million visitors in 2014. It is estimated that only 23% of the Waterfront’s visitors are South African, which makes it an ideal location for a designer hub such as the Watershed to showcase the best South African and Cape Town design talent.

Previously the Blue Shed and Wellness Centre, the tenant selection for the Watershed, which opened in 2014, was overseen by South African design expert Trevyn McGowen of Southern Guild and Source. The 150 craft and design traders (representing over 365 brands) are mainly from the disciplines of textile, furniture, ceramic, homeware, fashion, jewellery design and art.  All their beautifully crafted products and goods are displayed within the various alleyways and stalls of the industrial-styled Watershed.

Designed by Heinrich Wolff of Wolff Architects, the Watershed’s ground level is based on the idea of a public street, which crosses through the multi-volume and multi-level space. Its location next to the historic Robinson Dry Dock and its views of the harbour and Table Mountain allow visitors to wander through on their way to and from other attractions at the Waterfront whilst enjoying the scenery, the vibe, a cup of coffee on the go and the immense variety of original designer goods on sale.

The upper mezzanine levels include a wellness centre, corporate office spaces and exhibition and eventing areas, as well as a technology hub called Workshop 17.

In the year since it opened the Watershed has become known as the home of Cape Town’s design talent and was recently recognised with an Award for Architecture by the Cape Institute for Architecture for its design.

From rooftops to wine farms: the best of Cape Town’s open air cinemas

Dinner: check. Movie: check. All the brownie points: check! Watch Hollywood’s brightest stars under the celestial stars at these picturesque open-air cinemas in Cape Town.

The Galileo Open Air Cinema

Each summer, from November to April, the hills are alive with The Sound of Music. Well, usually for one night at least. The line-up for the rest of the season will probably include the likes of Dirty Dancing, Love Actually, Moulin Rouge, Zoolander, The Shining, Avatar, The Karate Kid and Harry Potter. A little something for everyone, really.

The Galileo Open Air Cinema moves between Hillcrest Quarry (Tuesdays), Kirstenbosch gardens (Wednesdays), the V&A Waterfront (Thursdays), rotating venues in Cape Town (Fridays), and the Cape Winelands on select Saturdays.

Although the venues change, the set-up tends to be the same: the gates open a couple of hours before the movie and local vendors sell a range of foods – think pizzas, nachos, paella, pies, popcorn and candyfloss – as well as wine and beer. You can also bring along your own picnic basket full of snacks, as well as blankets and cushions.

If the movie isn’t sold out, you can get tickets at the door  for R90, but tickets are slightly cheaper if you buy them online. You can also hire blankets and chairs at the venues.

The Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema

Situated on the rooftop of the Grand Daddy Boutique Hotel in Long Street, the Pink Flamingo Rooftop Cinema oozes old-school charm. Surrounded by vintage Airstream trailers, this open-air cinema is open all year round.

Perfect for date night, you can choose between general seating, the Love Seat and the Couch. While all tickets (from R110) come with a welcome drink, a bag of sweets and popcorn, you can up the romance factor by adding a gourmet picnic basket and a bottle of bubbly.

The Pink Flamingo generally screens old favourites such as Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, The Sixth Sense, The Bourne Identity and The Matrix.


There’s not much that you can’t do at the Spier wine estate, so it’s not all that surprising that the estate moonlights (you see what we did there?) as a cinema too. The Spier film events, which take place twice a month, come in the form of a Drive-In or a more traditional picnic-on-lawn movie night.

At the Drive-In, which costs R250 per vehicle, you can buy food and drinks at the food stall or you can pre-order a snack box (R180) full of BBQ corn, rootstock crisps, Angus Beef biltong, sesame caramel nuts, speckled chocolate eggs and homemade chocolate brownies. On the movie night, you can’t bring along your own picnic and wine, but you can pick up a pre-made picnic basket (R450 for a family of four) two hours before the show.

Chubby Panda and Short & Sweet 

A little less mainstream, Chubby Panda and Short &Sweet offer up alternative open-air film experiences. Chubby Panda, Cape Town’s first nomadic cinema, offers free – yes, you read that correctly – screenings of films that “inspire adventure and an understanding of our natural world”. The movie screen is attached to a 4×4 vehicle and, as such, can be set up pretty much anywhere.

Short & Sweet is the Cape Town branch of an international movement by the same name that was started in London in 2006. As the name suggests, the films screened are short films and the screenings take place all year round. You can expect to find them in places such as the Castle of Good Hope, Batstone Pool and at the Drive-In of the Good Hope Seminary Junior School.

Seven things to do in the dark in Cape Town

We’re inspired by Earth Hour this week (19 March). Here are our fun, delicious, sexy and just plain naughty ideas for what to do in the dark in Cape Town during Earth Hour and beyond.

1. Sleep with da fishes!

Don’t worry, there’s no mafia involved in this one – it’s a sleepover at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Earth Hour night. This is a family-fun gig with lantern building, face-painting and nemos, lots of nemos. If you’re not an aquarium member, best you hurry and sign up: this is a member’s only event. Read more

2. Taste dinner delights by lantern lights

Grande Provence estate in Franschhoek is pulling out the stops with a wine and pairing dinner to celebrate Earth Hour. You’ll be surrounded by more than 100 lanterns as you taste  sustainably sourced food created to match the exquisite wine from the estate. It all sounds very eco-PC, and very delicious. Read more 

3. Mellow music by moonlight

An almost full moon. Three of South Africa’s most talented musicians (Matthew Mole, Mike Campbell and Paige Mac). And nothing but you, your cuddle partner and darkness as they play mellow tunes. Sound good? It’s happening at the V&A Waterfront on Earth Hour night. Read more

4. Free wheel through the night

Keep the Earth Hour spirit alive a few nights later as you join Cape Town’s free-spirited cyclers (and skaters) for the Moonlight Critical Mass, a full moon night ride from the city to the sea. Read more

5. Light the psychedelic fire

The folks at Greenpop are celebrating Earth Hour in tree-mendous style at their Reforest Friends Weekend – a weekend of planting trees, dancing, live music and eating lentils (ok, and some other stuff). During Earth Hour festival-goers will be treated to a spectacular LED light and fire show by performance group Psychedelic Theater, set to live acoustic music of Wild Lettuce. The bad news? Tickets are sold out. The good? Greenpop is releasing a limited number of extra tickets. Hurry and click here for details.

6. Make like a werewolf on the mountain

Join the Cape Town community for their monthly full moon hike – a pilgrimage up Lion’s Head to see the bright city sprawled below. Read more

7. Naughty nights in

Of course, you can always stay home on Earth Hour and create a treasure hunt in the dark for your plus one. The only rule? No clothes allowed. (Disclaimer: All About Cape Town accepts no liability for the spike in the Cape Town birth rate nine months after Earth Hour.)

The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – V&A Waterfront

Waterfront ShoppingDare to dream of a place where there is a myriad choice of everything you can think of, coupled with a large amount of awesomeness and then stop dreaming because that absolutely phenomenal place is The Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Continue reading “The Victoria and Alfred Waterfront – V&A Waterfront”