The 20 Best Bars in Cape Town

Best Bars In Cape Town

There’s no shortage of hopping watering holes in the Mother City.

Whether you’re in the mood for a cold beer, a glass of celebratory bubbly or a dazzlingly complex cocktail, these hotspots will shake and stir you. We’ve rounded up the coolest bars in the city for all tastes and occasions, from moody speakeasies and swanky hotels to beat-filled music bars and rooftop sundowner spots.

You might also be interested in our Best Wine Bars in Cape Town + Stellenbosch.

The Athletic Club & Social

Best Bars In Cape Town Athletic Club And Social

Entering this grand old building on Heritage Square stirs up thoughts of a tracking shot that opens a movie, in which the hero is led upstairs and downstairs, through an intriguing labyrinth of spaces, each more sumptuous and “extra” than the last – a whimsical design fantasy of colonial meets modern. There are three glorious bars, each dressed in its own style and offering a canapé menu to match the drinks; a speakeasy-like basement called The Trophy Room, where live jazz creates sexy magic; and the Trapezaria, a dining room serving fantastic Greek fare. This is a place with a story – get to know it and you’ll understand its name.
Opening times Monday, 4pm – 11pm
Tuesday, 12pm – 11pm
Wednesday, 12pm – 12am
Thursday – Saturday, 12pm – 2am
Contact 084 087 5566,
Where to find it 35 Buitengracht Street, Cape Town
Book through DinePlan

The Gin Bar

Best Bars In Cape Town Gin Bar

Every good gin bar should have a good story. This innercity gem is hidden behind a chocolate shop, housed in a heritage building that used to be a mortuary – which, in a good way, informs the drinks menu and interiors. Take a seat in the Chapel Room or the charming courtyard, and order one of the five “medicinal” remedies (cocktails). If you’d rather go for a straight-up G&T, there are over 100 gins to choose from (80 of which are local). Gin not your thing? There’s wine and beer, too, plus the Bubbly Bar – tucked away in a corner, in what used to be the Embalming Room, it showcases the best of local cap classiques, including small lesser-known producers.
Opening times Thursday – Saturday, 3pm – 1am
Monday – Wednesday, 5pm – 1am
Contact 071 241 2277,
Where to find it Behind Honest Chocolate, 64A Wale Street, Cape Town

The Blue Room

Best Bars In Cape Town The Blue Room

This cocktail lounge and jazz club is a magnet for a “grown-up” night out that ticks all the boxes: top-notch drinks, fantastic food and great music. Expect sets by some of the country’s best musicians in an atmospheric speakeasy space – think candlelight, mirrors, leather seating and a curvy wooden ceiling. Patrons can settle in early with cocktails and small sharing plates, or enjoy a proper dinner (here or upstairs at chef Matt Manning’s Grub & Vine bistro), then disappear behind the blue curtains to enjoy the show.
Good to know Culture Wine Bar is upstairs – just the spot to unwind over a glass or two – cosy, atmospheric, without the wine snobbery.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 8pm – 10pm (shows); 6pm – 8pm (dinner)
Happy hour: 4pm – 6pm
Contact 021 216 0035,
Where to find it 103 Bree Street, Cape Town
Book Now


Best Bars In Cape Town Asoka

Despite so many cool spots vying for attention on the Kloof Street strip, Asoka stands out – as it has for over a decade – for its intoxicating vibe and decadent food and drinks. At the heart of this vibrant bar-lounge-restaurant-nightclub is a 150-year-old, fairy-lit olive tree, while glowing candles and lanterns add to the magical atmosphere of possibility… It’s the perfect backdrop for an evening of dining, drinking and dancing, to a soundtrack of house music or live jazz on Tuesdays. The Asian-flecked menu of sharing plates is themed around the five elements – earth, fire, air, water and nirvana (desserts, of course). Come for dinner, stay for the rest!
Good to know There’s now also live music on Sundays, from 8.30pm.
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 5.30pm – 2am
Sunday until midnight
Contact 021 422 0909,
Where to find it 68 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town

Tjing Tjing Rooftop Bar

Best Bars In Cape Town Tjing Tjing

This 200-year-old building in the innercity unfolds a string of surprises and beautiful spaces. Head to the third floor – the attic – for a hidden-gem rooftop bar, a splendid spot to socialise to the sounds of ice-cool electro-indie beats. The terrace is small and cosy, only adding to the sense of having stumbled upon a secret club. The focus here is gorgeously presented cocktails – classics with a twist of Japanese spirits and ingredients (think yuzu, shiso, sansho pepper, wasabi, miso, togarashi) – served at a red shrine-inspired bar. The drinks, decor and atmosphere makes this one a stand-out. If you’re hungry, there’s a menu of Japanese streetfoods.
Good to know At street level, you’ll find Tjing Tjing Torii for Japanese streetfood (open from 12pm); on the middle floor is reservations-only Momiji (for a sushi-led omakase menu, Saturday nights only) and its intimate bar-lounge (open at the same time as the upstairs bar).
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 4pm – late
Contact 021 422 4374,
Where to find it 165 Longmarket Street, Cape Town
Book Now

Grand Africa Cafe & Beach

Best Bars In Cape Town Grand Africa Cafe And Beach
Laura McCullagh

It’s the location that lures people here – to discover a beachside idyll unlike any other in Cape Town. There are stunning sea views, yes, but its private beach is what sets it apart, where you can eat, drink (and play) – Ibiza-style – with your toes in the sand. Housed in a restored boathouse, the interiors smack of old-world romanticism and laidback glamour. The menu offers all the popular classics (pizza, steak, pasta), while five bars ensure patrons have their choice of cocktails, bubbly, craft beer and excellent Cape wines. Add the occasional star-studded DJ lineup, and it’s no wonder the crowds flock here for sundowners, dinner and after-dark beats under the swaying palms. We recommend reserving a table ahead of time.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – midnight
Contact 021 425 0551,
Where to find it Haul Road, off Granger Bay Boulevard, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Book through DinePlan

The Planet Bar

Best Bars In Cape Town Planet Bar

Fancy pink drinks at an iconic pink-hued hotel? Chic, laidback and unfailingly luxe, this bar at the Mount Nelson hotel is just as suitable for spontaneous after-work drinks as it is for special occasions. People-watch from the terrace with a glass of champers in summer, soaking up the majestic views of the beautiful gardens or the starry night sky. Or curl up by the fire in one of the plush alcoves in winter. In addition to a superb and comprehensive list of top-notch wines, spirits and cocktails, the bar food menu is one of the best in town. Service, of course, is always warm and impeccable.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 1am
Contact 021 483 1000,
Where to find it 76 Orange Street, Gardens, Cape Town

The Art of Duplicity

Best Bars In Cape Town Art Of Duplicity

You don’t have to love cocktails to love this bar – but it helps! And not just your standard martini, but tipples concocted by barkeeps with a love of rare spirits, experimentation and molecular gastronomy. The drinks change often, but they’ve included ingredients such as butter-washed gin, grape air, quail eggs and bacon. Housed in a secret 19th-century warehouse furnished to evoke a moody 1920s speakeasy, access is via a password supplied (along with address clues) when you book online – the adventure starts before you’ve even arrived… Patrons are encouraged to dress the part. The bar often hosts blackjack evenings, vintage-movie nights and jazz-blues bands.
Good to know There is a food-pairing menu as eccentric as the liquid one.
Opening times Tuesday – Saturday, 6pm – midnight
Where to find it Now, that would be telling.
Book through DinePlan

Talking to Strangers

Best Bars In Cape Town Talking To Strangers

Celebrating the art of conversation – albeit cocktail-lubricated – along with global streetfood and upbeat DJ vibes, this hip-hop-centric, slightly grungy innercity bar is sure to intrigue (and the “strangers” are sure to be good-looking). In a heritage building on Loop Street, it’s cosy and moodily lit, with sofas for private chats and high tables for the more sociable. The bar counter is the headline act, where a high-energy team of mixologists concocts inventive creations (the drinks menu is seasonal). Chef MG Mzoneli’s delicious tapas complement the tipples perfectly – plus his kitchen stays open until 1am (a rare find). As owner Nicholas Crouse says: “I’ve met all the best people in my life in a bar.”
Opening times Monday – Saturday, 6pm – 2am
Contact 067 404 7343,
Where to find it 61 Loop Street, Cape Town

The House of Machines

Best Bars In Cape Town House Of Machines

No cocktail umbrellas here… THoM, as it’s affectionately known, is a cool coffee shop and retail store by day and a cocktail bar by night – serving the finest barrel-aged spirits, craft beer and rocking music. With its weathered beams, exposed bricks, subway tiles and a touch of motorcycle life sprinkled throughout, the mash-up pays homage to a bygone era while being very much of the moment. The service is lively, and the eclectic soundtrack of (free) live bands every night makes it one of the Mother City’s finest music venues.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 7am – 2am
Saturday, 9am – 2am
Contact 021 422 0946,
Where to find it 84 Shortmarket Street, Cape Town

Taj Lobby Bar + Lounge

Best Bars In Cape Town Taj

Step from the city streets into a world of fluted pillars, high vaulted ceilings and marble floors… The Taj hotel’s impressive grandeur dates from its time as the old Reserve Bank. Updated with a dash of contemporary colour and a patina of glamour, with opulent furnishings and armchairs you’ll want to sink deep into, it’s a sophisticated meeting place. Signature and classic cocktails (and mocktails), a curated menu of wines by the glass, draught beers, craft gins – your every sipping pleasure is shaken or stirred to perfection. Hungry? Order from a menu of often-Indian-inspired small plates and treats.
Good to know In the adjoining Whisky Lounge, browse the extensive collection and contemplate the finer things in life. Ask about the special tastings at 3pm.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 10pm
Whisky Lounge: 11am – 2am
Happy hour: Monday – Friday, 5pm – 7pm
Contact 021 819 2000,
Where to find it 1 Wale Street, corner of St George’s Mall, Cape Town
Enquire Now

Rita’s Cocktail Club

Best Bars In Cape Town Ritas

Think margaritas… Arrive parched and thirsty at this oasis of a tequila bar, and you’ll feel like you’ve landed on a 50s film set. You’ll spy the odd cactus, but also moss green and dusky pink walls, mid-century modern furniture and gold detailing. The curvy bar takes centre stage, where the sound of cocktails being shaken is all part of the rhythm of the night. The interior is spacious – hinting at the possibility of a dancefloor takeover later. Outside are two festive rooftop terraces with a bar counter and a wonderful view of the mountain. Besides the signature cocktail and premium tequilas, the drinks menu has diverse and creative choices – and there are delicious tacos to match.
Good to know Half-price margaritas every day from 5pm – 7pm, and a “Two for One” tacos special every Tuesday.
Opening times Tuesday – Thursday, 4.30pm – 2am
Friday – Sunday, 3pm – 2am
Contact 021 300 6695
Where to find it Above Hudsons, 22 Kloof Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Book through DinePlan

The Tiki Tomb

Best Bars In Cape Town Tiki Tomb

Psychedelic tropical-island, semi-pirate vibes in the heart of the city? Yes, please! Tiki Tomb pays homage to retro South Pacific tiki culture (which gained popularity in the US from the 1930s), with an eclectic, vintage-inspired, hand-built bar filled with intriguing objects from around the world. Hidden away downstairs, below Boma on Bree, this exotic bar takes tiki energy to the next level, with drinks served in anything from a bowl shaped like a shrunken monkey skull to a tiki head, parrot mug or coconut – complete with paper umbrellas. So get your hula on and escape to a fantasy island, sipping on cocktails like a Zombie, Painkiller or Scorpion Bowl, as DJs spin the vinyls. PS: It’s strictly 25 years and older.
Good to know Book the Chieftain’s Hut booth for VIP-style bottle service. On Wednesdays, there’s “tiki-oke” (karaoke).
Opening times Wednesday – Saturday, 8pm – 2am
Contact 076 070 4474,
Where to find it Below Boma on Bree, 107A Bree Street, Cape Town

Dust and Dynamite

Best Bars In Cape Town Dust And Dynamite

Stepping through the swing-doors into this candlelit bar, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled onto the set of a Tarantino movie. Decorated from head to toe in Wild West paraphernalia – an old honky-tonk piano against a wall, red theatre curtains and wood panelling everywhere – the bar has been described as the perfect place to sip a cold beer, relax and let your hair down after a long week. With a rocking alternative playlist (and occasional live bands) to match the interior, and cowboy hats for guests to get into character, we recommend you push open those doors – not just for a beer but for an entire experience.
Opening times Tuesday – Friday, 3pm – 2am
Saturday, 6pm – 2am
Contact 062 306 9906,
Where to find it 27 Caledon Street, East City, Cape Town

RED Roof Bar

Best Bars In Cape Town Red Roof Bar

No hotel is complete without a good bar – but this one takes it to the next level (or should we say 7th level?). We’re talking about a red-hot venue atop the no-ordinary Radisson RED hotel in the Silo District. This vibrant rooftop sun terrace with its sexy sliver of a lap pool boasts killer views – of city, ocean, mountain and Zeitz MOCAA’s incredible glasswork – making it the perfect spot for a hedonistic afternoon escape or sundowner soirée (including the RED Summer Sessions with DJs and musicians on weekends). The bright red bar-truck serves beers on tap, cocktails and smoothies, and you can order delectable bites like cheese and jalapeno balls, wraps and pizza.
Good to know Check out the Gin Dispensary in the hotel’s OUIBar, for tastings and blending your own botanical mix.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – midnight (food served until 11pm)
Contact 087 086 1578,
Where to find it Silo Square, S Arm Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town
Enquire Now


Best Bars In Cape Town Chinchilla

This cool and contemporary rooftop bar on the Camps Bay strip, with its killer views of the beach and ocean a stone’s throw away, is the ideal place to while away the hours sipping on cocktails and listening to laidback beats. Greenery, natural decor (wood, rattan, cane, basketry) and pops of colour make it feel like a bohemian tropical-beach shack – just more well-heeled. A menu of sushi, “bar bites”, platters and café classics (seafood, steaks, burgers) means that you can stay fuelled up. On weekends, resident DJs spin cool tunes for the sundowner session.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 4pm – 10pm
Saturday + Sunday, 12pm – 10pm
Contact 021 286 5075,
Where to find it The Promenade, 201 Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town
Book Now

Hugo Social Club

Best Bars In Cape Town Hugo Social Club

Toast the arrival of a new watering hole in Sea Point, from its fabulous ninth floor – with views of Lion’s Head in one direction and the ocean in the other. It goes without saying it’s a wonderful spot to enjoy one of the city’s Technicolor sunsets… Hugo has a sparkling rooftop pool and sundeck – if a day spent lounging and sipping cocktails is your desire. The drinks on offer are cocktails (classics and specials, such as peanut butter, raspberry jam and bourbon) and wine. There’s also a modern restaurant indoors serving a concise but delicious menu of crowd-pleasers (steak frites, burgers, seafood, salads).
Good to know The same owners run a speakeasy nearby called Nightcap. It’s moody, glamorous, sexy and very grown-up, with a variety of clever cocktails made with fresh ingredients.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 10pm
Breakfast/brunch: 7.30am – 11.30am (no bookings)
Contact 021 286 9332,
Nightcap: 076 710 7386 (WhatsApp)
Where to find it Latitude Aparthotel, 2 Kings Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
Nightcap: 90 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town
Book through DinePlan


Best Bars In Cape Town Fable

The Castle of Good Hope, the Uniondale Ghost, the Sky God, the Lightning Bird… all local legends, and now legendary cocktails. Not only do the drinks push the envelope, the entire place is a story waiting to unfold… You don’t only come here to drink – you come for the buzz. When the DJs ramp up the beats, the vibe ratchets up as punters pivot from cocktails to tequila shots. There’s a small food menu to match the party state of mind: think lamb or hot honey chicken sliders, a beef burger or sirloin steak, and for the vegetarians, a bourbon grilled-cheese sandwich or cauliflower steak.
Opening times Tuesday – Thursday, 5pm – 2am
Friday + Saturday, 4pm – 2am
Contact 066 009 7786,
Where to find it Corner of Bree and Wale Streets, Cape Town
Book Now

Cause | Effect Cocktail Kitchen

Best Bars In Cape Town Cause And Effect

Kurt Schlechter, Ruzaan Schlechter and their trusty band of mixologists are known for bold, expertly crafted tipples (earning them a spot on the world’s best bar list in 2022). The cocktail menu turns the traditional on its head, featuring adventurous flavour combos and interactive presentations that tell stories about Cape Town, channelling the fynbos, mountain, ocean and vineyards. Watch the maestros create liquid magic in contemporary surrounds – think copper stools, a stone-clad bar counter, hefty wooden tables and lush indoor hanging plants. The food menu features canapés, sliders, sharing boards and mains, with a comprehensive winelist. There are also four DIY tastings, themed around Franschhoek spirits, craft gins and Cape brandies, plus private Taste Labb cocktail-and-food pairings and a gin-soaked Bartender’s Table.
Good to know There are sibling bars in Camps Bay and on Morgenhof Estate in Stellenbosch (Cause | Effect Vineyard). A fourth “mountain” location is coming soon…
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 1am
Bottomless Mimosa Brunch: Monday – Thursday, 10am – 11.30am; Friday – Sunday, 9am – 11.30am
Contact 021 422 0266,,
Where to find it The Rocket Shed, 280 Dock Road, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

The Holy Spirit

Best Bars In Cape Town Holy Spirit

This Tamboerskloof neighbourhood favourite (formerly WeCafé) has transformed into a vodka bar, stocked with the best potato and grain spirits from Poland, Ukraine, Russia, etc, celebrating the heritage of the owner. Settle in for a cosy, convivial cocktail session paired with modern Eastern European-Asian fusion bites. Chef Eugene Volkov goes beyond WeCafé’s vegan menu, introducing us to blinchiki (traditional pancakes) topped with teriyaki beef or spicy shrimp, gourmet salmon röstis and sliders, alongside plant-based dishes such as seaweed caviar, smoked tofu noodles and black bao. Add a holy trinity of vodka cocktails and your evening will be off to a spirited start. The fairy-lit patio/bedouin tent is a fabulous spot to bask in the golden glow of summer evenings, and on Sundays you can join in a traditional shashlik (kebab) braai with music and stand-up comedy.
Opening times Wednesday – Sunday, 12pm – 11pm; Tuesday, from 4pm
Contact 066 187 8315,
Where to find it 118 New Church Street, Gardens, Cape Town
Book through DinePlan

Which are your favourites? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 13 December 2023

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4 Responses to “The 20 Best Bars in Cape Town”

  1. Sylvie Smith

    Random listing of cool Cape Town bars as 2 of the top 3 are not even mentioned!

  2. Aidan

    Out of interest, how does a venue like The Drinkery not make this list? A venue that consistently pushes international boundaries and voted top 3 cocktail bars in South Africa, top 10 Middle East and Africa (Tales of the cocktail) voted on 50Best Discovery, hosting international guests, international bartenders year round.

    • Inside Guide

      Hi Aidan

      Agreed, The Drinkery is a fab spot, and was featured consistently on our best bars round-up, which used to be a list of 40 places. Since we only featured 20 places this time around, we had to exclude some favourites. The competition in the bars and nightlife space is fierce, with new and exciting spaces making the choice even harder.


    I always send these on to my 2 sons who live in Joburg so that they have somewhere new to visit when they come down to Cape Town.