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The Gay Guide to Cape Town, South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦

The Gay Guide to Cape Town, South Africa πŸ‡ΏπŸ‡¦

Table of Contents

  1. Intro

  2. Gay Accommodations in Cape Town 🏠

  3. LGBTQ-Friendly Scene: Gay Nightlife in Cape Town πŸ₯‚

  4. Food Heaven: Best Restaurants in Cape Town πŸ–

  5. Let's Get Cultural: Cultural and Historical Sites and Tours of Cape Town πŸ›οΈ

  6. Day Trips from Cape Town πŸš—

  7. Best Cape Town Tours πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ

  8. Gay Events in Cape Town 🎸

  9. TL;DR: Plan your Cape Town Trip (Logistics) ✍️

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Please help us improve this guide πŸ’–: Our gay guides undergo regular updates to ensure that all listed establishments are current, popular, and, most importantly, safe. The recommendations and descriptions provided within this guide stem from personal experiences and/or reports. We welcome any input regarding new venues or updates to existing ones included in the guide. Please feel free to reach out to us by email with your suggestions or updates.

Panoramic view of Table Mountain at sunset, as seen from the water, highlighting the natural magnificence that surrounds gay Cape Town.

When one thinks of Africa, 'gay destination' is not a pair of words that comes to mind. It is that giant continent where many African countries criminalize homosexuality, with some even making it punishable by death πŸ’€. But then there is Cape Town, also known as the mother city, South Africa...this beautiful anomaly of a city and country perched at the very south of the continent.

The country legalized same-sex marriage in 2006, long before, well, many other countries around the world and gay Cape Town is the epicenter of gay life of the country, and most likely the entire continent.

Previously, I wrote up a post about gay life in Cape Town and how it feels more reserved than a lot of the European cities I have been. Of course there is a lot of sense in this, as it is not a European city, and any model of success is thousands of miles away from Cape Town, but regardless the LGBTQ community is buzzing, and it feels to be one of the few places in Africa where your sexual orientation just doesn't matter!

But while there are admittedly some shortfalls, the beauty of the city, the people, the beaches, should be more than enough of a reason to get yourself down to the mother city. Fabio and I went in the beginning of 2023 to escape Berlin winter, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of our lives. Even though we were working, living the gay capital of Cape Town vibe brought out the best in us and every day felt like a holiday.

It is your turn!

Gay Accommodations in Cape Town 🏠

De Waterkant is known to be the gay center of already very gay Cape Town. This is where the gay nightlife is and a general congregation of gay men.

Nevertheless, you can stay anywhere from the CBD, to De Waterkant, to Green Point, to Sea Point or beyond to Camps Bay and you are going to have a gorgeous time. It depends on what you like. CBD for a more bustling city vibe, De Waterkant for being in the middle of the gay life, Green Point for a more chill residential feel, or Sea Point/Camps Bay for a beachy experience.

So what are some gay accommodation options?

We went the Airbnb route when we were there as we were there for well over a month as digital nomads. You can find fabulous month long deals on the site.

If you are looking for a gay-friendly hotel though, these are some of the ones we have vetted specifically for you.

  • The Glen Boutique Hotel & Spa - Located in sexy Sea Point, this place offers luxurious rooms, an outdoor pool, and spa facilities. With stylish rooms featuring modern amenities, private bathrooms with double volume showers, and scenic views of the pool, mountains, or Atlantic Ocean, guests can also enjoy a buffet breakfast, Γ‘ la carte warm breakfast, informal lunch, poolside dining, and spa treatments, all complemented by free parking and an airport shuttle service.

  • Home Suite Hotels Sea Point - Home Suite Hotels, Cape Town's affordable luxury gem on the Atlantic seaboard, flaunts a four-star vibe and top-notch service, making five-star places blush. Welcoming to all, it's a chic blend of comfort and luxury with modern rooms boasting views that steal the show. Whether you fancy beach vibes at Three Anchor Bay or crave the city buzz, it's got you covered. Nestled in Sea Point, it's the cool kid on the Cape Town block, offering posh scenes without the eye-watering bill. In short, it's where style, practicality, and beach vibes meet without the pretentious price tag.

  • O'Two Hotel - The O'Two Boutique Hotel stands out with its vibrant blend of luxury, impeccable service, and affordability. Its spacious suites, expertly maintained, redefine hotel living. The perks kick in early with an outdoor pool and extend to a self-sufficient spa, a well-equipped gym, a sociable bar, and direct beach access. Rooms impress with kitchenettes, separate living spaces, and dedicated services. The added bonus? An airport shuttle, eliminating the car rental hassle. At The O'Two, you can bid farewell to worries and embrace a carefree stay.

  • BoHoHo boutique home - This eclectic mid-century modern pop art super-glam villa in Camps Bay, featured in Visi Magazine, offers panoramic views of the Cape Town lights and scenery. It's not only gay-friendly, it's a gay paradise; channelling all kinds of Palm Springs vibes. It sleeps 6 to 8, so it is the idyllic villa for your group of gay summer besties.

The gorgeous, gay BoHoHo boutique home villa

If you want to escape the city, but be close enough and have a truly gay experience, check out:

  • Pink Rose Guesthouse & Spa - In Somerset West, near Cape Town, the pioneering gay-friendly hotel guesthouse, established in 2009, invites visitors to experience four beautifully appointed rooms curated by hosts Lars and Detlef. Nestled in a serene residential locale, the guesthouse offers views of the mountains and sea, a mere 20-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport. Guests can relish a sumptuous breakfast daily in the tastefully adorned Panorama Lounge, and luxuriate in various spaces including the Chill-Out Area, pool that is clothing optional 😏, sauna, and Jacuzzi, while also exploring nearby gems like Stellenbosch, Cape Town, Cape Point, Hermanus for whale watching, and Franschhoek with its acclaimed dining and wine offerings.

LGBTQ-Friendly Scene: Gay Nightlife in Cape Town πŸ₯‚

Best Cape Town Gay Bars + Best Gay Clubs in Cape Town

  • The Pink Candy Night Club - This is the first place we made it to on our first Friday night out in Cape Town. Ridiculously camp with some swelteringly sexy bartenders, you're bound to have a weird time here. The music is painfully pop, with the DJ seemingly going through a Spotify playlist, but a few songs will most definitely resonate. The staff is super sweet, especially the woman we befriended who cleans the restroom. The weirdest part is how meticulous the staff is about cleaning the floors while everyone is dancing around πŸ˜‚. Anyway, definitely check it out!

  • CafΓ© Manhattan - One of the quintessential gay bars Cape Town has to schmooze and chat with the locals, but they also serve up some good food as well! It starts to fill up during the early evening hours and is more of a place to start the night out on a high. We also enjoyed heading there during the week for a post-work glass (or most likely a bottle - let's be real) of wine.

  • Zer021 Social Club - This place hosts drag shows and has a much more of a vivacious mixed crowd than some of the aforementioned! You will meet some incredible people from all over here.

These three clubs/bars are the epicenter of Cape Town's gay scene! However, there are many more places that are not specifically LGBTQ bars below that deserve a mention:

Miscellaneous Bars

  • Modular - This is not really a gay bar, per se, but it is one of the few techno/electronic venues you will find, if you are into this type of scene. It is pretty extensive and usually has a few different floors. While it doesn't rival the Berlin scene, it definitely comes close!

  • Bokeh Creative Studio - If you are a karaoke lover, get yourself to this place in Sea Point! It makes karaoke the sole focus and takes it to the next level. Some clienteles are hysterical (let us know if you meet Jackie-O). If you head there on a weeknight you will for sure get a large amount of songs in, but we cannot say the same for a weekend. Drinks are a bit pricey and will add up as there is table service, but the experience is worth it and a total gay scene favorite.

  • The Art of Duplicity - Also not gay, but worth it! It is a speakeasy where you have to make a reservation beforehand. The cocktail menu comes on a receipt and the drinks are pretty special.

  • Rockpool - This one is a questionable entry here, as it is not really gay, but if you are looking for a good - slightly trashy time, with fabulous sea views and massive Coronaritas, this will be your jam. They have nice food, too!

Gay Cruising Cape Town

Despite the fact we love cruising, we didn't actually get to experience this while in Cape Town (there is just too much to do there), so we will link to the experts: HERE.

Nevertheless, if you are looking for an actually gay cruising venue in Cape Town, check out Shaft Cruise Zone.

Food Heaven: Best Restaurants in Cape Town πŸ–

Cape Town is renowned for its food. While it isn't always easy to track down the most local of food, most places you go to will have super fresh ingredients and seafood and meat are copious!

If you want to first get a picture of how South African cuisine is, check out this article.

Now, where to go for some food?

Food Markets in Cape Town

  • THE OZCF MARKET - This outdoor market opens up on Wednesdays in September and closes in April, but features food from all over the world. Mix that with endless craft beers or South African wine stands, and we were very happy. Hipster environment at its finest.

  • The Old Biscuit Mill - Another outdoor market, but only on weekends, the food section is packed with endless cuisines from around the world. As a bonus, they have a DJ entertain you while you stuff your face with Korean, Zimbabwean, or lobster rolls.

Fresh oysters with condiments on a paper tray, paired with sparkling wine at the Old Biscuit Mill market, a gourmet experience in gay Cape Town

You will find all you could ever desire and more at the Old Biscuit Mill

Restaurants In Cape Town

  • The Butcher Man - A Braai is a traditional South African barbecue, and it is a social event that brings people together. It is an essential part of South African culture, and it involves grilling meat, sausages, and vegetables over an open fire. If you want to experience a Braai, you can head to a local park or beach and join the locals. There are also many restaurants like this one that offer a Braai experience.

  • La Perla - In Sea Point and with a nice sea and sunset view, this place offers damn good bottles of wine and fried calamari.

  • Cause and Effect - Camps Bay - While there is a street between you and the beach, it is a banging place for an end of the day cocktails and a seafood platter.

  • Blondie - While it is in the middle it of the CBD, it gives us such summer vibes and has extremely creative cocktails and tapas. No sea-side view here, but just a fab atmosphere.

  • Cushty Neighbourhood Deli - A bakery with delicious fresh salads and a few nice working stations if you can snag them.

  • Tjing Tjing - Featuring contemporary Japanese-style cuisine, this place is fancy and boasts a cool little rooftop bar.

  • I LOVE THE DOUGH - And since we are Italian (or half-Italian in my case), we always have to seek out the best pizzas in a place and in that case the crown goes to this place. While the interior is a bit excessive, it serves up a delicious Neapolitan-style (but not exactly) pizza always with a side of fresh chili oil and garlic oil.

A vibrant photo of gourmet pizzas under a pink hue in a trendy restaurant, representing the diverse culinary scene in gay Cape Town.

Horribly tacky interior, excellent pizza

And feel free to jump to our article on how we ended up paying €150 each for dinner by accident in Cape Town and why it was not worth it 🀣.

What to do around Cape Town: Nature in Cape Town

When it comes to nature, Cape Town is one of the best cities we've been to experience it. The city and the area around actually makes up one of the six global Floral Kingdoms, making it the smallest in the world, with unique plant and animal life.

If you are nature freaks like us, you will have everything you need within minutes from your doorstep.

Let's start with some musts:

  • Go up Table Mountain (via gondola or hiking) - If you have time for nothing else, make sure Table Mountain is high up on your list, as it is literally a centerpiece of the city. Most people take the round trip cable way ride, which whisks you to the top of Table Mountain in minutes, but if you are adventurous (we got too scared), there are also many hiking routes.
Bird's-eye view from a Table Mountain gondola overlooking the bustling cityscape of gay Cape Town, with the ocean extending to the horizon, showcasing the city's beauty from above.

Cable way ride up Table Mountain

  • Hike Lion's Head - This was an absolutely epic hike that also scared the sh**** out of us at times! About an hour and a half in total (if starting from the base), you basically wind around the side of Lion's Head until you are at the very top. From the bottom, it looks impossible to get all the way up, but thanks to the gradient and a bit of assistance from a few ropes and chains, somehow it is. Totally worth it! You will be proud of yourself. If you feel more comfortable hiking with guides, you can do a tour through GetYourGuide. Our friend did it this way, and as it was a sunset hike, she could easily have fallen off while heading back down had she gone on her own πŸ˜….
Selfie of two men hiking on Lion's Head in gay Cape Town, with the iconic peak in the background, capturing a moment of adventure in the LGBTQ-friendly destination.

There's the tip!

  • Tan yourself on Cape Town's nearby beaches - Around Sea Point, the waterfront becomes a bit more beachy, and there are tons of beaches to check out. The ones with the biggest gay community are Clifton 3rd Beach and if nude beaching it is your thing, you can go all the way down to Sandy Bay. Between that area are a plethora of other beaches to check out all catering to tourists and South Africans.
Two men relaxing on Clifton Beach with smartphones and sunglasses, enjoying the sandy shores and gay-friendly atmosphere of Cape Town.

Ryan checking out the beach boys

Some other cool things:

  • Head to the Galileo outdoor cinema and watch a film - This is a stunning setting that has nightly film showings during the summer. There are also food vendors galore around. We went and watched 3 Weddings and a Funeral, which was awful, but the ambiance totally made up for it 🀣.

  • Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa - A must-see museum for contemporary art lovers! Probably one of the best museums of contemporary art Africa has to offer!

  • Take a sunset wine cruise - 2 hours on a yacht for like 30 euros. You will feel like a badass even if you are on a budget. Bottles of wine will not cost a fortune on-board, either. This takes off from V&A Waterfront.

Sunset cruise view at the V&A Waterfront in gay Cape Town, with silhouettes of people against a backdrop of illuminated ships and palm trees, highlighting the city's nightlife.Two men sipping wine on a boat cruise, with the calm sea and setting sun near gay Cape Town, a testament to the romantic and leisure opportunities in the city.

Looking cute on the sunset cruise

Day trips from Cape Town

If for some mysterious reason, you run out of things to do in Cape Town, you literally have some of the most incredible day/weekend trips moments away from the heart of the city. We totally encourage you to get out of the city at some point, as it utterly stunning around there, and you have a little something for everyone. These were our favorites:

Let's start with wine! 🍷 Check out the massive Cape Winelands

  • Wine tasting in Stellenbosch - Stellenbosch is the super adorable, albeit very colonialized town, that is less than an hour from Cape Town and famous for its wine. We drove there ourselves without anything lined up, and thus went to the visitor's center to book a half-day or full-day tour. However, if you are without a car, you can for sure book Stellenbosch wine tours from Cape Town that will pick you up at your Cape Town hotel and drop you off there again. This bike tour is also a fabulous looking alternative.

  • Taking the Wine Tram in Franschoek - Yet another wine region close by the aforementioned, Stellenbosch, Franschoek provides a really special take on the standard wine tours that involves dozens of old-fashioned wine trams buzzing around the region dropping you off at different wineries. For just 300 Rand, you can book a hop-on-hop-off tour. The different colored routes are a bit overwhelming, but you cannot go wrong with anyone that you choose. The route will give you several wineries, and you have a recommended amount you can fit in based on the time you start taking the tram. It is ridiculously fun, and you have the opportunity to meet a lot of random people along the way. It is one of the best places for wine to come if you don't have a car.

A cheerful man leaning on a wooden barrel at a winery in Franschhoek near gay Cape Town, with a wine tram timetable in the background, showcasing the region's wine culture.

Fabio's fitting colonial attire for the wine tram πŸ˜…

Four friends enjoying a ride on the Franschhoek Wine Tram, surrounded by lush greenery, reflecting the vibrant social life of gay Cape Town.

Alright, now for nature and culture (and 🐧)

  • Tour of Cape Good Hope/Boulders Beach for Penguins - We called in from work sick one day to actually do this, and it was WORTH IT despite it being a tourist hotspot. While the tour we took ended up being one of those red city Hop-On-Hop-Off buses that scream "tourist!", as soon as we saw the penguins at Boulders Beach, our assumptions about the bus disbanded. It is hard to turn your eyes away from the cuteness of the penguins as they wander harmoniously amongst the swarms of tourists. Soon after, you are taken down to Cape Good Hope. There you can wander around and partake in some hiking, and ultimately take a picture by the famous sign. While the tour gave you a relatively fast-paced, but satisfactory taste of everything, of course you can arrange it yourself and go at your own pace.
A playful selfie of two men with African penguins in the background, capturing a moment of joy and nature in gay Cape Town.

The penguins ❀️

Two men smiling at the Cape of Good Hope sign, marking the most south-western point of the African continent, a popular landmark in gay Cape Town.

Quintessential Cape Good Hope picture

  • Garden Route/Western Cape exploration - Not so much as a day trip, but a chance for a longer road trip, this is a must if you have a week or so to spare. With tons of different beach towns along the way, you will also hit farms, game reserves and experience a ton of what the southern coast straddling the Atlantic and Indian oceans have to offer. Check out one of our first YouTube videos for some inspiration:

Best Cape Town Tours πŸ™‹β€β™€οΈ

  • Shark Cage Diving - Not for the faint-hearted, this is a terrifying experience where you get to go face-to-face with a great white shark! When I did it, I was actually struggling far more with the cold water than anything πŸ˜…, but it is a memory you will have for a lifetime and something you can brag about with your friends.

  • Paragliding - This city is best seen from above, so another one for the thrill seekers, paragliding! You'll get these ridiculously breathtakingly stunning views of the city, Table Mountain and Lion's Head.

  • [V&A Waterfront] - To be honest, we felt this to be a bit overrated and epitomized the bubble that one can get in when coming to Cape Town, but it is worth seeing it once.

Gay Events in Cape Town

For sure the biggest pride events in all the continent of Africa happen in Cape Town while the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is in freezing their asses off! The month of February and the beginning of March is when it happens, with Cape Town pride month culminating in a parade and a massive event in Green Point Track. While it is a little toned down from Pride events in Europe and the Americas, it is still a sexy time with a smorgasbord of love all around in the air! In a country that is still battling epic amounts of discrimination, it seems like everyone drops these preconceived notions on that day and the LGBTQ community feels incredibly strong.

Keep your eye on this site for updates!

Two men sharing a kiss at Cape Town Pride, with festival-goers and flags in the background, celebrating love and diversity in the heart of South Africa.

Us at Cape Town pride

TL;DR: Plan your Cape Town Trip ✍️

Best Time to Go β˜€οΈ

Cape Town is in the Southern Hemisphere, so while the freezing cold and grayness is making its way through Europe and the United States, Cape Town is in the heat of summer and absolutely thriving. Definitely make the winter escape, and you will never regret it!

Visa Information πŸ“‘

Most EU countries (and many others), the UK and the US do not need a visa and stay period is valid up to 90 days.

For your specific requirements, take a look at iVisa.

How to get to Cape Town ✈️

Wherever you are in the world (unless you call Botswana home), it is likely going to be a long flight to get to Cape Town. Just from Berlin, it was a 3-hour flight plus another 10 hour one.

The airport is approximately 20 km from the center, but an Uber ride will not cost you much.

Electricity Situation in Cape Town (and South Africa) ⚑️

Cape Town (as well as the entire country) experiences a situation called load-shedding (unfortunately, is not as fun as it sounds πŸ’¦), where power is shut off for hours at a time in different districts to take some weight off of the suffering power grid. The times are not random though, so I suggest downloading the ESP app, so you can be aware when this is happening.

If you are planning on getting work done in Cape Town, we very much recommend getting a laptop power bank. As clunky as some of these are, they are a godsend to make it through the load-shedding.

Internet and data in Cape Town πŸ›œ

Right after baggage claim, you will have a few SIM-card options. Make it easy and go to Vodacom, which, inside and outside Cape Town, has been more than reliable enough for my needs. At the time of writing this, I spent R199 (a little over 10 euros) for 20Β GB (lasting for 30 days). I had the new SIM in my phone in a matter of 3 mins and was on my way into the city. You can top these up at supermarkets.

The latest alternative that we have been using when traveling, however, is eSIMs. We use Airalo religiously. Through them, you can get an e-SIM that has coverage for the entire United States for much cheaper than roaming. Just make sure to research whether your phone is e-SIM compatible before buying an e-SIM. If you go this way, buy it before your trip and make sure you set it up beforehand as well.

Health + Safety in Cape Town πŸ₯

Cape Town isn't exactly the world's safest city and the locals tell us that even if you are going just down the road, particularly at night, you should avoid walking the streets. Over the course of the month, we were a bit lax about this rule, and while fortunately nothing happened, this is not the city to not practice vigilance in.

Unemployment, poverty, and decades of disparity have created a pretty unfair system, and thus crime levels are pretty high.

We just recommend to practice extra caution, even though you will likely be fine!

How to get around Cape Town 🚘

As mentioned, walking is not so much of a thing, nor is biking, so your method of getting around will have to be via Uber or renting a car.

While we were there, we used Uber on the daily, as rides were inexpensive (and I definitely upgraded to Uber Premium as it over time brought down the total cost of my rides significantly).

If you would like to drive yourself, we have had many friends rented cars for the duration of their stay in Cape Town. We rented for the first part of our trip down the Garden Route (but not in Cape Town), and our experience with Discover Cars was seamless.

Tipping Culture in Cape Town πŸ’β€β™‚οΈ

While we were in Cape Town and South Africa, generally the etiquette was tipping 10% of the bill.

Other Cape Town Things 😼

- Currency - South African Rand (ZAR)
- Power Plugs - Type M (very random) and also some European outlets - Pick up a universal converter here.
Twilight view over a residential area in gay Cape Town with gradient skies transitioning from deep blue to vivid pink, featuring a bright moon and silhouetted buildings.

Missing you, Cape Town