Long Street is the unofficial centre of Cape Town, a famous thoroughfare running from the bottom of Table Mountain towards the waterfront and harbour. Early 20th century townhouses line both sides of the street, with balconies converted into bars, restaurants and cafes. Markets and shops fill the ground floor rooms, from local newsagents to alluring stores selling African masks, surf brands or designer clothes. Long Street has become an iconic Cape Town attraction and can get very busy in the evenings when locals and tourists mingle in the array of bars and restaurants.
The lower section of Long Street is quieter and connects with Cape Town’s Central Business District. Residential apartments and quirky restaurants can be found here, along with many local businesses. Long Street runs slightly uphill, with its middle section packed full of establishments that celebrate the diversity of Africa. These include pan-African markets, Ethiopian restaurants, and bars emanating the xylophone notes of Zimbabwean music. Upper Long Street is Cape Town’s liveliest area, a throbbing mix of restaurants and clubs that each have a very distinctive style, from Cuban cocktail bars to Irish pubs, dance music to hip hop.
It takes around 20 minutes to walk the length of Long Street. Vehicle traffic can only travel in one direction, uphill towards Table Mountain. Although there is no taxi rank, private taxis can be found all along Long Street. When travelling towards the water, away from Table Mountain, it’s easier to walk one block to the parallel Loop Street, where vehicle traffic moves one-way down the hill. There are many bus stops along Long Street for services heading towards Gardens and Camps Bay. Note that some are for the MyCiti public buses with separate red stops for the hop-on-hop-off buses that take visitors to the Table Mountain cable car station. A taxi to Long Street from Cape Town International Airport will take 20 to 30 minutes.
Despite being at the hub of Cape Town, Long Street has managed to retain its Victorian architectural integrity. The exterior of the buildings has hardly changed, although the interiors have switched from houses and theatres to restaurants and shops.