Cape Town didn’t become known as the ‘Tavern of the Seven Seas’ for nothing. There are scores of bars – with stunning views of either beach or mountain – in which to sip cocktails, fine wines or craft beers. If strutting your stuff on the dance floor is more your thing, then there’s bound to be a club to suit.

Join the Jol

The busy nights are Wednesday, Friday or Saturday when you’ll see how the locals like to party, or jol, as they say here. But it’s not all about drinking and dancing. Cape Town’s nightlife embraces cabaret and comedy venues, and live music gigs from jazz to rap as well as hybrid events such as First Thursdays and Tuning the Vine.

What to Drink

There are abundant opportunities to sample the Cape’s wines in bars, restaurants and at the cellar door. Cocktails are also popular, and the best mixologists incorporate local flavours and artisanal spirits into their liquid creations.

European beer-brewing at the Cape also has a long history here: Pieter Visagle is said to have first brewed ale on the banks of the Liesbeek River in 1658. At Newlands Brewery, major brands such as Castle and Black Label are pumped into barrels and 750ml (quart) and 330ml ('dumpy') bottles. Another popular mass-market brand is Windhoek, brewed in Namibia.

Microbrewing and artisan spirits distilling are booming, too, with craft brewers and distillers clustering in Woodstock and Salt River. Beer lovers should mark their calendar for the Cape Town Festival of Beer at the end of November or early December.


Cape Town’s club scene is firmly plugged into the global dance network, so expect star appearances by international DJs. Trance parties, such as Vortex ( and Alien Safari (, held outdoors an hour or so from the city centre, happen throughout the year; check their respective websites for details or make some enquiries at backpacker hostels.

Need to Know

Opening Hours

  • Bars Noon to midnight, but some stay open much later.
  • Clubs 8pm to 4am, but most don’t get going until well after midnight.

Cover Charges

From R30 to R100 for clubs, depending on the event.


It’s the norm to tip bartenders 10%.

Event Tickets

  • Computicket (
  • Webtickets (


  • The alcohol content of beer is around 5% – stronger than UK or US beer.
  • It’s OK to drink the tap water.


  • Cape Town Magazine (
  • Inside Guide (
  • IOL (
  • More Than Food (
  • The Next 48 Hours (
  • The Brewmistress (