A fusion of cultures, gastronomies, and majestic landscapes, there is no place on Earth quite as glorious and charismatic Cape Town. It also happens to be the fabulous Gay Capital of Africa….
Granted, given the political and social background of the continent, this title is not particularly hard to claim – but Cape Town truly is gay mecca renown the world over for its luxurious hotels, vineyards, gorgeous coastline, hiking, and cosmopolitan nightlife. We haven’t been this in love with a gay destination since Tel Aviv, San Diego or Copenhagen. It’s just that good!
Whether you want to explore the De Waterkant LGBT district, sunbath out on a gay bath or attend some of the biggest queer events in Africa there is a lot to love here, all served up in a captivating urban setting flanked by majestic mountains and an animated coastline. While we don’t think the Mother City – as locals call it – is quite ‘a second San Francisco’, this is a city that doesn’t discriminate and is a mother to all. You are unlikely to be excluded anywhere because of your personal sexual preference and the citizens in Cape Town take immense pride in their diversity of culture.
Sadly, however, things are not all sunshine and gay rainbows – and are particularly bad in the rest of this troubled country.
While South Africa’s constitution was the first in the world to protect people from discrimination on the grounds of this sexual orientation, and the country was the first in Africa to legalize same-sex marriage, but this progressive political climate has woefully not translated to complete acceptance across society and LGBT hate crimes are all too common.
South African law doesn’t catalog hate crimes separately from other crimes, so we can’t know for sure the exact levels but there is no denying that homosexuality is still very much taboo in smaller, rural areas and that there is a gaping chasm between the law and the social realities for many South Africans.
This, however, is unlikely to affect your average traveler in urban areas – and particularly in gay-friendly Cape Town – but is something to be aware of, and we generally advise caution with public displays of affection in public as such. We are only just beginning to understand the shocking scale of LGBT discrimination in South Africa and while as visitors we personally did not experience any- this is not to say there is a critical need for hate crimes laws here as the local LGBT community still faces high levels of violence.
Theirs is no magic solution here and a change in public perceptions it’s a process that will take time. In urban sophisticated Cape Town, however, we found almost everyone to hold accepting and progressive attitudes and feel comfortable recommending to gay travelers who wish to experience a rich diversity of people, cuisines, and languages, alongside pristine beaches, metropolitan delights and resplendent nightlife.
Gay Cape Town Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Cape Town South Africa
In this article we will cover...
- Gay Cape Town Guide: The Essential Guide To LGBT Travel In Cape Town South Africa
- Attractions in Cape Town
- Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Cape Town
- Gay Nightlife in Cape Town South Africa
- Gay Clubs & Bars in Cape Town
- Gay-Friendly Nightlife in Cape Town
- Cruising, Gay Saunas & Bath Houses in Cape Town
- Gay Cape Town Map
Attractions in Cape Town
Cape Town has a Mediterranean-style climate so you can bet there are going to be plenty of outdoor things to do in Cape Town and fabulous events which take advance of the amazing weather here. It can be wet in the winter, but no season will hold you back from enjoying Cape Town to the max.
Beach days, hiking and cycling are all popular, but equally so is laying by the pool or booking day trips to explore the glorious nature on the doorstep of Cape Town. If you plan to get a lot done car hire in Cape Town is a very affordable option and popular to see more far-flung attractions. This is South Africa after all – one of the world’s greatest self-drive holiday destinations with the excellent road network and epic scenery.
However, when it comes to driving in South Africa, there are a few simple rules to keep safe including ensuring your windows and doors are locked when driving through any urban areas (especially when stopped at a traffic light!) and never leaving any valuables in sight when you are parked. Even better, park your car where a car guard is available – and then all it takes is a few rands to ensure your vehicle remains safe.
Naturally being gay does not define which attractions most of us will want to see in each destination and most queer travelers will simply want to check out the top things to see in Cape Town during the day! We found our favorite memories were watching the sunset from a relaxing cocktail bar, dancing till dawn with our queer family, or laying out by the pool in our luxe Cape Town hotel.
However, if you’re someone who can’t sit still, we have put together a few of our other things to do in this gay paradise that are sure to keep you busy!
Top Highlights in Cape Town
- Cape Town Wine Tour – The wine regions of Paarl, Franschhoek, and Stellenbosch produce some of the finest wines in the Cape Winelands, surrounded by lush mountains and rolling vineyards. On this tour, enjoy a comprehensive introduction to South African wine as you visit four different wineries; sample a wide variety of red and white wines, including port brandy and sparkling wine; stop at a local restaurant for lunch; and taste regional specialties including cheese and chocolates.
- South African National Gallery – South Africa’s premier art museum houses outstanding collections of South African, African, British, French, Dutch and Flemish art. Selections from the Permanent Collection change regularly to enable the museum to have a full programme of temporary exhibitions of paintings, works on paper, photography, sculpture, beadwork, textiles, and architecture.
- Cage Diving with Great White Sharks – Spend time watching one of the world’s most feared fish on this 4-to-6-hour cage diving experience in Cape Town. Travel to the ocean off the coast of Gansbaai for a full-day tour. Learn about great white sharks from your marine-biologist guide, and then dive into the water in a cage to observe sharks in their natural habitat.
- District Six Museum – District Six was named the Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town in 1867. Originally established as a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, laborers and immigrants, District Six was a vibrant center with close links to the city and the port. By the beginning of the twentieth century, however, the process of removals and marginalization had begun. The District Six Museum, established in December 1994, works with the memories of the District Six experience and with that of forced removals more generally.
- Garden Route – See the best of South Africa’s scenic Garden Route with visits to Addo Elephant National Park, Wilderness National Park, Jeffreys Bay, and Oudtshoorn during this 5-day trip from Cape Town. Join your expert guide on hikes through lush forests and canoe rides through picture-perfect water. Visit nature reserves to see some of Africa’s endangered species. Kick back and soak in the sun on soft, sandy beaches. This tour offers the perfect mix of guided and self-directed activities, but you can also hire a car and self-drive if you want to try out on your own. At the end don’t forget to explore Port Elizabeth, or perhaps carry all the way to Durban!
- Helicopter Tour – Climb aboard a private helicopter for an unforgettable flight over Cape Town! During this 18-minute helicopter tour, see the majestic Table Mountain from all sides and the natural amphitheater of Cape Town’s City Bowl. Soar over the beautiful Atlantic coastline. Enjoy a bird’s eye view of area attractions like the Twelve Apostles, Lion’s Head, and maybe even Robben Island. It’s a thrilling tour of Cape Town.
- Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa – A cutting-edge museum opened in 2017 which collects, preserves, researches, and exhibits twenty-first-century art from Africa and its Diaspora in over 100 galleries.
- Table Mountain – An icon of Cape Town, enjoy panoramic views from the top – accessible either by hiking or cable car. One of the new 7 Wonders of Nature, no visit to the mother city is complete without standing atop this incredible rock.
- Cape Peninsula Day Tour – See the natural wonders of Cape Peninsula from pristine beaches to spectacular mountain ranges before heading down to the gorgeous beaches of Clifton and Camps Bay lined along the Atlantic coastline. Visit Cape Point, a famous landmark in Cape Town, and witness spans of beautiful landscapes then observe the African penguins at Boulders beach, the most idyllic beach spot for kids to enjoy! Finally, embrace the serenity as you roam free around the lush forest of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens!
- Robben Island – The exceptional symbol of “the triumph of the human spirit over adversity, suffering, and injustice” with a rich 500-year-old multi-layered history, is visited every year by thousands of people eager to understand and honor the important aspects of South Africa’s history that the Island represents. Any trip here will follow a set tour route included the graveyard of people who died from leprosy, the Lime Quarry, Robert Sobukwe’s house, the Bluestone quarry, the army, and navy bunkers and the Maximum Security Prison where thousands of South Africa’s freedom fighters were incarcerated for years. The highlight for most people is at the end of the tour: a viewing of Nelson Mandela’s cell.
- Bo-Kaap – One of Cape Towns most distinctive neighbors with colorful buildings, cobblestone streets and a taste of local Islamic culture. Highlighting the routine and cultural influences of 19th-century Muslims in Cape Town, this is a far cry from the skyscrapers of Dubai or Qatar, which is probably why we loved it so much! After the demise of forced racial segregation under apartheid, property in the Bo-Kaap has become very sought after – meaning gentrification is rampant here, and the once close-knit community is facing dissolution.
- Norval Foundation – A center for art and cultural expression dedicated to the research and exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond. Located in the Steenberg area of Cape Town, adjacent to Table Mountain National Park, the Norval Foundation combines the experience of art with an appreciation for nature.
- Gay Beaches in Cape Town – Some of the world’s most picturesque beaches are found in Cape Town, but weirdly enough most gays simply hang out by the beachfront pools instead of taking a dip in the cold waters of the Atlantic. We have noted a few of the best gay-popular pool bars and waterfront hotels later if you want to find them this way. However, if you just want to lie on the sand then try Clifton Third beach or Camps Bay, both of which are gorgeous and the best gay beaches in Cape Town, though anyone is welcome. If you want to soak up the African sun au natural then Sandy Bay is the unofficial nudist beach in Cape Town and attracts plenty of gays wanting to let it all hang out.
- Hop-On Hop-Off Bus – Easily discover the unparalleled beauty of Cape Town with this 1 or 2-day hop-on-hop-off bus pass. If you are not hiring a car, or plan to drink, simply get whisked around to all of Cape Town’s must-see landmarks such as Camps Bay, Table Mountain, and more! Don’t forget to visit Kirstenbosch National Botanical to see the sublime garden landscapes while you are at it. Too easy!
- The Official Cape Town City Pass – Enjoy unlimited visits and skip the line benefits as you explore the beautiful city of Cape Town. Visit up to 70 popular nature-scapes, cultural destinations, and attractions with a single pass. Choose between 2, 3, or 5 day-pass, designed perfectly for cost-saving and ease of travel and then plan your travels on-the-go with the help of a free guide booklet and map upon redemption
Gay Events in Cape Town
- Out in Africa Film Festival – A gay and lesbian film festival launched in 1994 to celebrate the inclusion, in the South African Constitution, of the clause prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Today it is still regarded as one of the pre-eminent LGBT film festivals in the world and if you are visiting in September/October you should not miss snapping up a few tickets.
- Mother City Queer Project – Africa’s biggest costume party that annually rings in the festive season. MCQP started in 1994 as a highlight on the Cape Town gay calendar and has gathered a cult following of fun-loving creatures to become SA’s biggest dress-up parties. Expect huge dance floors, gorgeous men, queer spirit and international DJs – there is nothing else quite like it.
- Cape Town Pride – Am annual Parade through the heart of the Cape Town CBD giving the local LGBT community a chance to be visible and speak loudly to the rest of the city about what they have achieved, how far they have come and what is still needed. Taking place annually in February, there is, of course, plenty of sexy pool parties, drag shows, all-night club events and gorgeous men (and women) everywhere you look. The perfect escape from the Northern Hemisphere winter – though it is also held at a similar time to Sydney and Taipei, other popular gay pride festivals for sun-seekers.
Gay-friendly and Gay Hotels in Cape Town
In this glorious beachside city, you will not find any major hotel accommodation that has issues with gay guests checking in – and most are explicitly gay-friendly!
After all being gay-friendly is about providing a non-judgmental and respectful environment in which all people are treated equally. In saying that, elegant design, helpful staff, and excellent value for money never hurt anyone. Some hotels in Cape Town have also gone above and beyond in recognizing and marketing to the LGBT community and given their popularity with gay travelers we would say it has paid off!
Everybody likes to be surrounded by people with common interests and as such there are a few hotels in Cape Town favored by gay travelers – and even two exclusively gay hotels in Cape Town. We were torn better clothing-optional bathing poolside with other gay travelers and the endless options of boutique hotels in Cape Town – with some of the most beautiful properties we have ever seen..anywhere!
The following gay-friendly hotels in Cape Town are only the most recommended, but there are hundreds of other hotels in Cape Town if you don’t find quite find what you are looking for. Whether you want a fun and social hostel, a cheap but private place to crash after a night of partying or a chic luxury option to sip cocktails surrounded by fashionable people, Gay Cape Town has something for everyone!
Gay Hotels in Cape Town
- Pink Rose Guesthouse & Spa ☆☆☆☆ – The original gay guesthouse in Somerset West near Cape Town offering a one-of-a-kind-experience to the traveling gay community. Excuvily for gay men, your hosts Lars and Detlef from Germany invite you to come and spend some time in sheer luxury for however long you wish. Four stylishly furnished apartments are at your hand in this exclusive home. The guesthouse is situated 20 minutes from the Cape Town International Airport, in a quiet residential area with striking views of the mountains and sea. A decadent breakfast is served daily in the Panorama Lounge, one of the many rooms in the house that is decorated with style. Enjoy your days hanging out at the Chill-Out Area, lounging by the pool (clothing optional), Sauna and Jacuzzi or indulge in an extravagant massage. We are used to gay hotels being run-down and rather – well, not fabulous – but like the gay hotels in Fort Lauderdale or the new Axel straight-friendly hotel brand, the Pink Rose is a welcome breath of fresh air and our ideal choice for relaxing in Gay Cape Town.
- Cactus House All Male Gay Guest House ☆☆☆ – The other option when it comes to a gay hotel in Cape Town, this exclusively gay male guesthouse is the only one of its kind in central Cape Town. The beautiful Victorian property was built in the late 1800s and is designed and decorated retaining many original features with five stylish en-suite bedrooms with large oversized showers and king size beds. There is weekly social BBQs, an honesty bar, a small pool, and inspired design.
Gay-Popular Hotels in Cape Town
- MannaBay ☆☆☆☆☆ – In the heart of Cape Town, bordering Table Mountain, MannaBay has eight uniquely designed rooms that set the bar for contemporary luxury. You can’t get much closer to Table Mountain than this… Quite literally. A gate leads directly from MannaBay’s grounds to the Table Mountain National Park. A truly extraordinary boutique offering a prime setting, becoming of Persian Princes, Orchid Hunters, Heroic Explorers and Fabulous Gays alike. The views are dazzling whether you’re breakfasting at the jaw-dropping cafe, with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows; taking a dip in the private plunge pool; or admiring the restaurant’s uninterrupted panorama of the harbor. The Mountain is never far from sight either. She watches over MannaBay from above, eyeing guests clinking champagne flutes at the rooftop Atlas Bar and the koi hopping like whales out of the pond of fairy moss. MannaBay is a work of art that inspires, enlivens and delights – and if your budget stretches, there is no better place to stay!
- The Grey Hotel ☆☆☆☆ – Not a gay hotel in Cape Town, but conveniently located in the De Waterkant gay village meaning a large number of guests here are part of our rainbow family. We loved the cozy ambiance of the newly renovated ensemble of Victorian houses, the cuddly rooms and the familiar atmosphere which turns the Grey into the vantage point to conquer the city. It is also very easy to enjoy the whole day here with a piano bar, dining, infinity pool and breathtaking view of Table Mountain. All rooms are well decorated with plenty of well thought out details and each furnished with their own individual style.
- The Silo ☆☆☆☆☆ – An extraordinary five-star hotel in Cape Town situated above Zeitz MOCAA in the iconic V&A Waterfront setting a new standard for luxury Cape Town hotel accommodation. The Silo has been built in the grain elevator portion of the historic grain silo complex occupying six floors above Zeitz MOCAA (Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) and offers a celebration of art, style, architecture, and design. The Silo Hotel has 28 rooms, including a spectacular one bedroom penthouse. Each room has been individually designed and decorated by the stylish wand of Liz Biden. Colorful and eclectic pieces juxtapose the modern, industrial architecture.
- Sea Five Boutique Hotel ☆☆☆☆☆ – Just 300 meters from South Africa’s most glamorous beach (Camps Bay), Sea Five Boutique Hotel offers seven exclusive en-suite rooms, with clear, sweeping mountain and ocean views. Aimed at the discerning traveler, Sea Five Boutique Hotel draws a comparison between Cape Town’s Atlantic coastline and the European Riviera. Not resting on the laurels of this spectacular location, Sea Five Boutique Hotel pays particular attention to even the minutest detail. This is a ‘beach house’ with a difference.
- POD ☆☆☆☆☆ – A cocoon-like ambiance envelops guests in a warm embrace of tranquillity and luxury at this luxury Camps Bay Hotel, striking the perfect balance between relaxation and refinement. On offer are seventeen rooms, each as unique and distinctive as the individuals who choose to stay here, and the fabulous facilities include a popular cocktail bar, lap pool, gym with cardio and weight training equipment, and late departure lounge/shower room. Situated within driving distance of the vibrant and historical city center and the bustling V&A Waterfront, you can’t go wrong with this Camps Bay address – and the views are to die for!
- The Cape Royale ☆☆☆☆☆ – An award-winning luxury hotel in Cape Town situated close to the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront and the gay De Waterkant area. Onsite you will find a lush rooftop pool, rejuvenating spa and six different Restaurants. The Cape Royale also offers bright spacious suites with Juliet balconies, or why not splash out on the opulent penthouses with a 270-degree view of Cape Town. An unforgettable stay, and one of the best-rated hotels in Cape Town, also offering complimentary parking and an area shuttle.
- The Glen Boutique Hotel & Spa ☆☆☆☆ – The perfect destination for gay travelers who are looking to unwind, relax and explore the very best Cape Town has to offer. Very gay-popular close to the gay village and queer-popular Green Point. Stylish, sophisticated rooms with terraces and luxe amenities including an outdoor pool, restaurant, 2 spa tubs, and a sauna.
- Oxford House ☆☆☆ – An affordable apartment in Cape Town with rave reviews and a convenient location near the gay scene. Including free WiFi, all the freshly furnished studios at Oxford House have a chic white décor and colorful mosaic mirrors.
- The One 8 Hotel ☆☆☆ – Relax & enjoy the hospitality & atmosphere of this modern intimate hotel centrally located in Cape Town, close to everywhere you want to be! Focussed on service and attention to detail, you can enjoy a relaxing drink at the bar, or soak up the sun around the solar heated pool and jacuzzi. Even better is the fun design, affordable prices, and cute balconies – making the One 8 Hotel a popular gay-choice for those on a budget but refuse to compromise on quality.
- The Greenhouse Boutique Hotel ☆☆☆ – Another popular hotel in Green Point popular with gay travelers on a budget. Book in advance to get these amazingly affordable rooms – there is only 6 – with fabulous service and reviews.
- Once in Cape Town ☆☆☆ – If you are not one for extravagance and luxe amenities, we also are kind of obsessed with this chic hostel offering clean sheets and dirty adventures. An accommodation concept designed to bring together new ways of traveling with the new age explorer this hostel combine the luxuries of a boutique hotel and energy of a backpackers hostel, offering a mix of affordable and design led accommodation types. Give it a go if you want to make new friends, save some coin and don’t mind sharing a dorm room.
Gay Nightlife in Cape Town South Africa
Sadly the gay club scene in Cape Town is always changing and it seems like most places open just as quickly if they close.
That is not to say you are not spoilt for choice here, but just be sure to check websites and Facebook pages before heading out, and take care – While Cape Town might be one of the most gay-friendly cities in Africa, displays of affection outside of gay bars can still lead to trouble.
Also, watch out for hustlers and don’t take any valuables with you if you can help it.
Visitors to Gay Cape Town tend to be more focused on the daytime fun-in-the-sun so there is no need to wait until Happy Hour to head to the bars – and many travelers here can be found drinking any time of day on sun-drenched rooftops or at chic cocktail bars. Sure they might not be exclusively gay, but they are gay-friendly and gay-popular so we have decided to include a few here as well. Because with a cocktail scene as divine and competitive as here, you would be mad to not try out a few.
Of course, Cape Town does get crazy wild, and what better way could there be to get to know the locals than in a Cape Town gay bar!
Just don’t forget your common sense.
Gay Clubs & Bars in Cape Town
- Stargayzers – One of the best gay clubs in South Africa featuring some of the best DJ’s in Cape Town and a fun karaoke bar. Prices for drinks are affordable – and sometimes you get lucky with occasional entertainment provided by South Africa’s biggest drag personalities. An inclusive LGBT+ environment in the Parow district, outside central Cape Town, playing magnificent 80’s, 90’s and now R&B music. Basic chic design with no frills, but the local crowd of gays make it just as fabulous anyway.
- Crew Bar – A popular gay bar in the De Waterkant gay area, this is a real place to party and have a fab time, complete with inspired music and sexy barmen! Drinks might be pricier than other locations, but the men are possibly the hottest in town, with sexy go-go boys gyrating to funk and electro music. We are not going to lie, it’s a bit of a dive and music can be hit and miss, but that doesn’t stop the crowd of loyal locals and curious tourists dancing the night away. Watch out for the gay-for-pay sex workers here, just politely decline their advances and continue enjoying your night.
- Therapy – An iconic and legendary queer dance party event of international renown taking place in Johannesburg and Cape Town since 1996. Therapy is not about selling a VIP status, all of its patrons are VIPs, or about big-name DJs, it is about the party experience that is uniquely Therapy, and about making everyone feel welcome. Glitzy, fabulous fun taking place periodically in different venues.
- Alexander Bar & Café – A tasteful, old-world spot with cheap drinks, snacks and a jazz soundtrack – perfect for conversation and creativity. Upstairs there is a fully equipped theatre for intimate live performances: come watch live music, comedy, drama, readings and more. It’s like a little festival venue all year round. Alexander Bar attracts a mixed crowd of interesting gay (and straight) locals as well as a handful of tourists from the nearby hotels. Alexander is found in the gay-friendly De Waterkant village after all. The bar is filled with old-world charm and is engineered to get people talking. The functioning antique rotary dial telephone system encourages you to chat to people all over the bar. And you can also dial 9 to ring the bartender. The menu is fairly priced and there’s something to eat and drink whether you’re on a student budget or feel like splashing out!
- Versatile Gay Bar – Located in the heart of the Cape Town’s gay scene, this erotic, gay cruising hot spot caters for those wanting to social over a drink, or something more…Yes, this is the place to explore your kinkier side with serious Amsterdam / Hamburg / Vienna fetish vibes (it’s not quite Berlin…) with a social naked bar environment. If you are into sportswear, leather, denim, naked or undies head here for your own Versatile experience.
- Cafe Manhattan – This famous LGBT+ friendly hotspot in Cape Town is the perfect spot for chilling offering drinks, dinner and decisions. Café Manhattan is the longest standing venue in the heart of the de Waterkant gay village and has been a firm favorite with locals and tourists alike. Whether your intention is a quick bite to eat, a cheeky afternoon cocktail on the terrace, or a late night rendezvous in the bar, at this gay-popular bar anything could happen…We particularly love people-watching from the shady terrace, the inspired design and incredible burgers.
- Zer021 Social Club – A funky Cape Town hot spot and safe place for the Urban LGBTIQ community here. It’s not just about sexuality, personality or equality – there is also banging tunes and live performances of Cape Town’s fiercest Drag Performers, with both resident and emerging drag queens.A space with beautiful people and a mix of cultures, offering a socially diverse experience and propelling the local gay clubbing scene forward by helping it to be more inclusive of the entire rainbow community and its supporters. Located in the up-and-coming Zonnebloem area within Cape Town’s CBD, a ten-minute drive to the gay village. Check out their website for upcoming events.
- The Pink Panther Night Club – A casual, chich LGBT club in the heart of Gay Cape Town with camp music and strong drinks guaranteed to ensure your night is an extraordinary one. The owner seems to be very involved in day-to-day operations ensuring fast service, a clean and safe environment, and everyone is having a good time. Security is also great, and make a particular effort to make sure everyone gets home safe. Great lighting, talented DJs and friendly vibes make this a venue that easily stands out as our go-to option later at night.
- Beefcakes – The ultimate drag dining experience in Cape Town mixing ’50s Americana with camp humor, outrageous comedy and stunning drag performers. Inspired by the trend-setting styles of Miami’s South Beach, Key West, and Palm Springs, this is where flamingos flock to be surrounded by camp chic and a touch of madness. Beefcakes’ legacy of nightly performances, beefy table hosts, luscious libations and mouth-watering burgers prevails in a place that welcomes everyone and anyone to experience drag dining at its finest – perfectly positioned in cape town’s upmarket hotspot, green point. They also have locations in Pretoria and Johannesburg -so you know they are doing something right – and while it is more oriented for girls and bachelorette parties, gays are most welcome and we loved donning our gay pride outfits and showing those hetero-girls our queer spirit.
Gay-Friendly Nightlife in Cape Town
- The Waiting Room – One of Cape Towns best bars, located on a hip and happening rooftop above the Café Royale hotel. Perfect for sundowners and chilled nights accompanied by live music, the design – boasting fairy lights, retro curves, and blonde wood – is almost as striking as the views down Long Street. Always crowded with DJs playing a mix of hip-hop, funk, disco and more eclectic music.
- Orphanage Cocktail Emporium – A place for lost souls to enjoy marvelous mixtures, music & company. This speakeasy-style bar and dining room is named after the actual St Francis Children’s Home orphanage across the road, of which they are proud supporters of and run various fund-raisers / donate a sizable amount of money to each year. Tom-foolery with a social conscience.
- The Striped Horse On Kloof – The secret’s out! Formally the gay-popular Vic, now transformed into The Striped Horse on Kloof but with the same good music, same good vibes and even more great beer on tap. A favorite local go-to after a long Sunday hike, with a fabulous thin pizza and a good selection of craft beer on tap. Friday nights are a vinyl night with really cool music and Tuesday’s are quiz nights from 7 pm. One of the best “be yourself” pubs in Cape Town.
- Chinchilla Rooftop Cafe & Bar – One of the newest rooftop bars in Cape Town, and yet already the most popular. This exclusive venue is the first of its kind in Camps Bay offering a unique location and world-class cocktails are created by in-house mixologists. We especially loved the Mojito Bull, which had us dreaming of Carribean Islands, and the Side Car, invented in the Ritz Hotel in Paris but arguably perfected here. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, sunset at Chinchilla is heralded in live DJ sets with the view being the only distraction from the food, music, and vibe.
- Harringtons Cocktail Lounge – A classic cocktail lounge, restaurant and boutique bar, evokes a feeling of otherworldly opulence and style. The vibe is easy and laid-back, set in a cool environment with a distinct air of sophistication. The lush, inviting décor of Harringtons include beautifully polished wooden accents, large windows, and velvet bottle service booths. The dedicated smoking lounge and a boutique DJ booth completes the lush feel of good fortune, making Harringtons the perfect backdrop to well-into-the-night frivolity. And if it’s music you’re after, Harringtons has weekly collaborations between some of the coolest music cats in Cape Town. Think live jazz, funk disco, hip-hop, and some sexy, soulful house.
- Sky Bar @ The Grey Hotel – Can you imagine anything better than having drinks in a rooftop pool viewing the Table Mountain surrounded by cute guys? Neither can we, which is why we loved Sky Bar – where the possibilities get more inviting with each drink you have. Not a gay bar, but very gay-popular given its location in De Waterkant, right in the heart of Gay Cape Town.
- The Gin Bar – One of South Africa’s only true speak-easy bars, accessed through a Chocolate Café, and nestled within a Mediterranean-style secret courtyard. It’s like sunny Mykonos meets classic London. Inspired by the history of the heritage building itself (which was a morgue until recently) and the “Quack” medicinal history of gin and Juniper (the defining ingredient of gin), The Gin Bar offers elixirs, tinctures and potions to cure all manner of ills.
- CoCo – Not a gay nightclub, but very gay-popular given it is one of the most glam nightlife spots in the country. High-end bottle service, excellent customer attention, beautiful clientele and incredible music all set in a sexy and glam environment that has been designed and kitted out by Cape Town’s hottest interior designer. Musically the venue will cater for everyone from commercial fans to hip-hop heads with a DJ line-up like no other. If you want to be with the ‘it’ crowd of fashionistas, scene queens and those with cash to busy this is the place to go.
- The Piano Bar @ The Grey Hotel – Sitting proudly in the queer-friendly De Waterkant village, we loved this trendy New York music revue bar and eatery with a mix of African and International flavor. Relax on their wraparound terrace – which enjoys views through De Waterkant village to Devil’s Peak – with an evening cocktail, often accompanied by live music from their grand piano. Located in the same gay-friendly hotel as Sky Bar, the Grey Hotel, there is also a fun 2 for 1 daily happy hour on selected cocktails, wine, tequila and beer from 4-6 pm.
- Fiction – The center of Cape Town’s alternative nightlife and Cape Town’s longest-running electronic DJ Bar with 12 years of operations and hundreds of international guests! Pumping out passion, strong hits, and good vibes -along with underground music, such as nu-rave, electro and indie. Oh-so-cool and contemporary tucked away in the cellar of the 150-year-old building, Fiction is not to be missed – gay, straight or unicorn!
Cruising, Gay Saunas & Bath Houses in Cape Town
Even though Cape Town is a wildly popular gay vacation destination there is only one gay sauna in Cape Town, but thankfully it is one of the best on the continent – and is guaranteed to get your pulse racing! If you want some hot and steamy fun similar to the glorious European gay sauna scenes that we found in Valencia, Milan or Paris, you are in luck!
Other than that there is always Crew Bar for cruising or Grindr et al if you’re desperate for some non-sauna action at other times. Or you could also try any of the gay hotels in Cape Town: previously the (almost-gay) Glen Hotel opened its spa to outside guests but due to the severe drought in Cape Town, they have closed our indoor jacuzzi, steam room, and sauna until further notice.
- Hot House – A stylish upmarket European-Style steam bath and adult store, in the heart of the Cape Town gay village. Hothouse offers what you expect and more from any gay sauna: Luxurious double volume lounges, fireplace, a bar and a sundeck with the most spectacular views over the city. Trust us, we know gay sauna’s – and this is one of the best. Ever. There is an enormous steam room, sauna, 2 spa baths, 3 video lounges, maze, showers, lots of private rooms, encounter and dark areas plus private paid cabins with double beds, own TV and air conditioner. 24 hours over the weekend, and past midnight every other night there is a lot to love about this glorious facility, and we are certain you will not be disappointed.