A Guide to the V&A Waterfront Canal and its Boat Cruises

That's right! Cape Town has a canal and it’s scenic AF!

While the V&A Waterfront is literally South Africa’s most visited tourist attraction, the canal seems to be one of its best-kept secrets. It took me many visits and two years of living here to discover that there even was a canal right at the V&A Waterfront. 

When I did discover its existence, I didn't expect much from it but if you’re looking for something different to do in Cape Town, experiencing the Canal District at the V&A Waterfront is a surprisingly pleasant way to spend the day. 

Canal District at the V&A Waterfront seen from a bridge

The City Sightseeing company also offers boat cruises of the canal and goes through areas not accessible on foot

Reasons to take a canal cruise at the V&A Waterfront:

1. It’s budget-friendly. 

It’s the cheapest possible boat tour you will find in Cape Town.  

canal cruise at the V&A Waterfront

2. You can actually use it as a form of transport:

There are a number of hotels sprinkled along the canal and so you can actually use it to help you travel between them or between the V&A Waterfront and the CTICC.

The ticket is valid for the whole day and so, if you’re travelling in the area, it’ll probably work out cheaper than an Uber.

blogger on canal cruise at the V&A Waterfront

3. You can learn about the history of Cape Town. 

As it is run by City Sightseeing, the same company that does the hop-on-hop-off bus tours, you are given a set of bright red earphones which you can use to listen to an audio guide in 16 different languages. I didn’t really bother so I’m just going to have to google what they mean when they talk about the super intriguing story about the "suitcase of money".

Stops on the City Sightseeing Canal Boat Tour

Here is a map of the general area surrounding the canals :


According to the website, the boat is supposed to make four stops:

1. The CTICC, near the Hotel Sky and the Westin. 
2. The Harbour Bridge Hotel & Suites.
3. The City Lodge Hotel Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
4. The One&Only Hotel near the 2 Oceans Aquarium / main V&A Waterfront area.

Sites you can explore from the canal boat stops:

1. Battery Park 

Located on what was once the Amsterdam Battery, this is a scenic public park. The rear ramparts of the battery, built by the Dutch in 1784, remain in place. It was remodelled and fortified by the British in the following century before being partially demolished in 1905. It offers some great views of the city and is also the site of a skate park, a multi-purpose sports court and obviously some old cannons to reference its history.

Battery Park, V&A Waterfront Precinct

3. SUP Cape Town

The flat water of the canals around the Waterfront precinct makes for the perfect conditions to learn or practice Stand Up Paddleboarding (or SUP). SUP Cape Town is located on the canal and provides lessons and equipment rental. If you don’t want to attempt it yourself, watching novice SUPpers (I don't know if that's an official term but whatevs!) falling off their boards is great entertainment. 

Stand Up Paddleboarders on V&A Waterfront canal

Be warned: The SUPpers are to the canals what the cyclists are to the streets of Cape Town. (Especially if you’re trying to drive to Muizenberg on a Saturday morning - Don’t even get me started!) At least the SUPers fall over more often.

SUPpers - The cyclists of the V&A Waterfront canal

2. Rollercade

Rollercade is an indoor roller-skating rink. If you’re tired of watching people fall over outside, you can watch people fall over inside instead!  If you want to participate, take your socks, they’ll provide the DJ! 

4. The One&Only

If you really want to feel a sense of superiority, you can watch people fall off their paddleboards from the luxury hotel, The One&Only while sipping on a cocktail. (Remind me to come back here for high tea.)

Blogger drinks a cocktail at Cape Town's One&Only Hotel

5. The 2 Oceans Aquarium 

The Two Oceans Aquarium is home to a vast array of sea creatures from both the Atlantic and Indian Oceans which meet not far from Cape Town. (Hence the name.)

Two Oceans Aquarium - V&A Waterfront



6. The Marina Residential Estate

As you leave the One&Only to head back to the CTICC, that feeling of superiority you just fostered will float away as you get to see how the super-rich live or holiday as you cruise through the Marina Residential Estate. Obviously, this is a security-protected area and they’re not going to let you off the boat here but the views are quite something. It’s like the opposite of slum tourism.

The Marina Residential Estate, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town

(The pictures don't quite do it justice.) I don’t really know why watching rich people being rich is so fascinating but it is the basis of a lot of really successful reality TV shows. 

7. The Hotel Sky

Opposite the CTICC is the Hotel Sky with its robot concierges and its rooftop vertical drop Sky-Hi Ride. If you’re feeling too at peace after a tranquil canal cruise, this will give you the shot of adrenaline you didn’t know you needed. 

The Hotel Sky - Seen from a boat on the V&A Waterfront canal, Cape Town

8. The Street Art and Walkways 

There are lots of scenic walkways and bridges along the way that do make for great photos as well as "street art" to be “appreciated”. 

"street art" at the V&A Waterfront Canal District, Cape Town

I'm not going to lie, I've seen better


Cape Town’s Other Canals

To clear up any confusion, the canal in the V&A Waterfront Precinct has absolutely nothing to do with the Canal Walk shopping mall, nor is it anywhere near it.  There are also underground canals in Cape Town that were built when the Cape was a Dutch colony. They were covered over into tunnels and still lie forgotten underneath the city. If you would like to do a tour of them, you can, with Good hope Adventures.

Considering these Waterfront canals are built on land that was reclaimed from the ocean in the 1940s, they are definitely not as historical.

scenic view of V&A Waterfront Precinct canal

Where to get tickets:

Tickets are available online or on the boat. (I believe they are cheaper if you buy them online than on the boat.)

You can also get discounted tickets for tour combos or families

The tickets are valid for the full day and you can get on and off as many times as you like.


Operating Times:

The boats operate Monday - Sunday, 9:00am - 5:00pm
And the boats come at 30 - 60 minute intervals

Find out more at City Sightseeing's website.

Other things to do nearby:

A guide to cruising Cape Town's Canal

A guide to cruising Cape Town's Canal

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