Where Cape Town lets its hair down, the Observatory is the city’s most bo-ho neighborhood, rattling with great music venues, fine African restaurants and quirky independent boutiques.
Known locally as ‘Obs’, the district takes its name from an actual Observatory. Visit for tours of the historic McClean telescope (Observatory Road, Saturdays, www.saao.ac.za). During apartheid, Observatory was one of the few de facto ‘grey’ suburbs where all races lived together. That live-and-let-live attitude remains to this day, and Obs is one of the most enjoyably eclectic, hippie-friendly districts in the city.
Lower Main Road
The main entertainment area is centered around the Lower Main Road. Along its length you’ll find the city’s best music venues. Make a night of it, stop at your choice of Afro Latin, folk and jazz, electronic and soul venues. Shop for trinkets and clothes at shabby chic boutiques, and refuel at any number of wholesome, organic and hearty restaurants.
We recommend Mimi’s (107 Observatory Road) for filling breakfasts and lunches – try their amazing homemade soups. Florentine (66 Lower Main Road) is Cape home cooking at its best, with vibrant and healthy salads, while the Obz Burger is the best in town (115 Lower Main Road), in a joint that transforms, at night, into a riotous live music venue. Music fires up Hello Sailor’s quirky marine-themed bar too (86 Lower Main Road).
Fancy a show? The contortionists and acrobats at the Zip Zap Circus School will blow your mind – and you can even have a go, if you’re sufficiently foolhardy (2 Willow Road) while the Moroccan-themed Tagore’s is a no-nonsense late night pub when you just need one more for the road (42 Trill Road). And, in Obs, you’ll always need just one more for the road – just make sure you book into Mango Ginger Coffee Shop (105 Lower Main Road) for a healthy morning after smoothie tomorrow.