What to do in Woodstock, Cape Town

Here in South Africa, now that we're coming out of Lockdown level 4 and the vaccine rollout seems to be picking up, I think we can start thinking about getting out there and exploring more of our local destinations. (International ones still seem to remain off-limits.) 

Before we were hit by the third wave, I was fortunate enough to visit the areas of Woodstock and Salt River in Cape Town. Below I list five reasons why you should too: 

Title picture: 5 things to do in Woodstock and Salt River

1. You can see the street art

Every year the Woodstock / Salt River area is home to the International Street Art Festival (or IPAF) organised by Baz-Art, where local and international artists transform urban spaces with oversized colourful murals. 

Even if you miss the actual festival where you get to see the artists at work, you can explore the area year-round by yourself (with a downloadable map) or with a guided tour (a better idea, especially for tourists unfamiliar with South Africa’s ingrained second-nature safety culture).  

We took a tour with Joan from Baz-Art who showed us around the area and explained which artists created what and what different themes were the basis for each year’s festival. 

Here are some of the murals you can expect to see:

Mural of two people by Silas
By Silas

Two people stand in front of 'All of Us' Mural in Woodstock
By Morag Myerscough (UK) & Ilukuluku Collective

Salt River mural by Buffy Braveart and Gareth Funksavage
By Buffy Braveart and Gareth Funksavage

Yellow and black mural by Israeli artist Pilpeled in Cape Town

By Pilpeled (Israel)

Surreal rhino street art by AEC - Interesni Kazki in Cape Town
By AEC - Interesni Kazki (Ukraine)

Mural of two young boys by Dbongz, Salt River
By Dbongz

Public art by France's Maye in Salt River, Cape Town
By Maye (France)

2. You can also pose with the street art  

Yes, we are all sick-to-frikken-death of wing murals and the same generic poses we’ve seen influencers pull in front of murals since millennials started travelling to places based solely on their 'Instagramability', and tourism boards realised that street art was the best (and probably cheapest) way to make non-Instragramable places Instagramable. 



I do believe though, that public art is for the public and is intended to be engaged with and even interacted with.  

Like this:

Girl poses with street art by Argentina's Lucas Aoki
By Lucas Aoki (Argentina)

Girl poses with Salt River public art by Stefan Smit
By Stefan Smit

Salt River mural by Anser NineOne
By Anser NineOne

Girl poses with Brothers of Light mural in Cape Town
By Brothers of Light (Israel)

Car painted to match building mural in public art by Silas
By Silas                     (I'm not actually in the car, I'm behind it.)                               

Cheetah street art by Sonny in Salt River, Cape Town
By Sonny

There. I’m art. 

3. You can people-watch the influencers at the Old Biscuit Mill

The Old Biscuit Mill is an art, food and design hub located in a historical 19th-century building that was obviously once a biscuit mill. Apparently, it closed in 1946.  According to the official website, the base of the mill still exists somewhere on the grounds but it hasn’t been found yet. 

Market at Old Biscuit Mill, Cape Town

Here, you can browse art, decor and clothing boutiques, as well as upmarket restaurants or you can just people-watch the Instagrammers. Yeah, I was surprised that there weren’t more influencers in front of the murals but it turned out that they were all at the Old Biscuit Mill. 

People shop at market at the Old Biscuit Mill in Woodstock

Street art AND repurposed buildings: The theme of gentrification is strong!

4. You can narrowly avoid COVID at the Neighbourgoods Market

The Neighbourgoods Market is an independent initiative founded to "revive and reinvent the Public Market as a civic institution" i.e. create a South African version of the European gourmet food market. Every Saturday it is home to over 100 speciality traders, from local farmers to bakers, local chefs and creative small businesses with a wide variety of artisanal food, exotic cuisine and whatever is trendy right now like macarons, all set to the soundtrack of live music.   

It's very popular: 

People shop at the crowded Neighbourgoods Market in Cape Town

To be fair, this picture was taken before the third wave when the numbers were relatively low ...although it may also explain why they went up.   

People enjoy artisanal food at the Neighbourgoods Market in Cape Town

5. And finally, you can discover a world of wonderful and creepy things that line the antique stores along Albert Road 

Interior of an antique shop in Woodstock, Cape Town

This picture of the Laughing Cavalier was way funnier in the antique shop than it is now on my living room wall but it's still funny to me. 

A shopper holds up her purchase at an antique shop in Cape Town

(My housemate is very accepting of my aesthetic.) 

I was a little concerned that as my friend Bron was marching the gift she bought me through the streets back to my car, someone may confuse the cavalier with Jan Van Riebeck and take offence (not everyone is a fan). Fortunately, that did not in fact happen. 

Here are some other items we stumbled upon but did not buy:

Multicoloured Pegasus print in Woodstock antique store

Terrifying monkey doll in Woodstock antique store


Other stuff you should know about Woodstock

A super brief history of the area:

Woodstock is one of Cape Town's oldest areas. It was a small fishing village in the 19th century before the Woodstock beach was lost to land reclamation in the 1950s (they reclaimed land from the ocean, not from other people in this situation). Despite being a mixed-race neighbourhood, it survived Apartheid without any forced removals like those of the nearby District 6.

How to get to Woodstock:

Woodstock is just a 10-minute drive from the centre of Cape Town.

If you are relying on public transport, Albert Street (and all the attractions mentioned in this blog) is on Route 261 of the My Citi Bus

Baz-Art Walking Tour Meeting Point:  
374 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 8000 

Old Biscuit Mill / Neighbourgoods Market Address: 
375 Albert Rd, Woodstock, Cape Town, 7915 

When to go to Woodstock:

Saturdays seem to be the only time to go.

Old Biscuit Mill opening hours:
Monday - Friday: 10:00am - 4:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am - 2:00pm

Neighbourgoods Market opening hours:
Saturday: 9:00am - 3:00pm

Baz-Art Walking Tour tickets: 
Bookings can be made at the Baz-Art website.

Or find a Salt River street art map here.

Other FAQs about Woodstock:

Are tours available of the Old Biscuit Mill?
Yes. More information can be found here.

Do you need to book in advance to visit the Old Biscuit Mill?

Not unless you are on a tour.

Old Biscuit Mill entrance fee:


Neighbourgoods Market entrance fee:

Also free!

Do you need cash to shop in Woodstock? 

If you would prefer not to carry cash on you, in most cases you can pay for your purchases by credit card. 

  • Baz-Art Street Art Tours: Your tour guide is unlikely to have access to credit card facilities, be sure to clarify how you will pay prior to the tour. 
  • The Old Biscuit Mill and the Neigbourgoods Market: Most places will accept cash or credit card. It's not uncommon for market stalls (in other markets in Cape Town too) to only accept payment through Snapscan or Zapper. It may be worth downloading one or both before you go.
  • The Antique Stores: They accept cash or credit card.

Is Woodstock safe?

There are definitely more dangerous areas in Cape Town, there are also safer ones.  If you are a foreign visitor to Cape Town, here are some safety tips:

  • Do be cautious in Woodstock. 
  • Keep valuables in places where they cannot be pickpocketed. 
  • Don't walk around at night or by yourself. 
  • Stick to the main roads and don't journey into unfamiliar areas or backstreets.

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