Thursday 30 April 2015

Cape Town City Center to Waterfront Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 7.7 km (4.8 miles), terrain: fairly flat, gain 60 meters

Cape Town running routes:
Camps Bay / Clifton beach run
City Center to Waterfront run
For other running routes, see the Route List

Cape Town is happily located in one of the most breathtaking spots in the world, with a rocky coastline on one side and stunning Table Mountain rising right up behind town. And there are lots of old neighborhoods and a fascinating waterfront waiting to be explored, so it's a perfect spot for a great run.
Cape Town botanical garden
In the Botanical Gardens
You might be wondering, though, if the area is safe to run, with South Africa's notoriously high crime rate. The answer is "yes". If you run while there is still a bit of daylight, the town is safe. Cape Town is generally much safer than Jo'burg, and it has some lively night life in the rejuvenating downtown.

NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
One other important thing to consider: Cape Town is definitely NOT FLAT. The city is surrounded by steep hills on three sides. The suburbs around the city center climb their way directly up the slope of Table Mountain and Signal Hill, getting steeper with each block. The streets in the city center begin rising as they leave the downtown "bowl". So the neighborhoods covered in this route combine to give you the best area for running on a fairly level surface.
This route will run right through the middle of the historic old town, past the most important public buildings, then head through the modern downtown, head out into the redeveloped waterfront, and then return via Long Street, the heart of Cape Town's pulsing nightlife.

So, if you're ready to run, let's go!
Cape Town Mt. Nelson Hotel
The Mount Nelson entrance: not bad!
Make your way to the corner of Orange Street and Government Lane. On one corner, you'll find the white-pillared gateway into the sprawling grounds of the Mount Nelson Hotel, the city's finest lodge (not that I've been in there). Across the street, you'll see the little pedestrian street, Government Lane, heading north through lush vegetation. Head straight down that lane! We'll be going lightly downhill the whole way through downtown.
Along Government Lane
Government Lane is a pleasant, green spot to be, leading you past schools, parks, gardens, the main synagogue, museums. It's a bit like a narrow, tropical version of the Mall in Washington. When you see a park open up on the left side, you can run parallel to Government Lane itself by running through the Company's Garden on the left, now used as a botanical garden. It's beautiful, exotic and I highly recommend it!
In Company's Garden, with Table Mountain
The domed monument in the park is for soldiers lost at Delville Wood, a World War I battleground in France, where the South Africans paid a heavy price for their involvement.

Along the right side of the lane, you'll pass Tuynhuys, the old colonial governor's mansion, now used by the South African president.
Tuynhuys, the presidential mansion
After that follows the red-and-white parliament building, with its lush gardens.

Parliament, with Queen Victoria
When you exit the lane, you come out onto busy Adderley Street at the Iziko Slave Lodge Museum. Turn left here and run past St. George's Cathedral, then turn right at the pedestrian crossing to take you onto the next pedestrian street, St. George's Mall.
St. George's Mall
Now you keep running northward for 9 blocks, until after you cross Riebeek Street at the Absa Centre. Just as you can see St. George's Mall ending ahead, a square will open up on the left side, Thibault Square.
Thibault Square: run this way to Loop Street!
Turn left and run through this square surrounded by modern bank buildings and a modern sculpture.

Cross Long Street (we'll come back on that street on the way back!) on Prestwich for one more block, then turn right onto Loop Street.

In just one block, you'll cross a busy street, the M6, and now continue on the left side of Loop Street. After just one building, Loop Street starts curving to the right, but you need to follow the pedestrian walk that goes straight into another square at North Wharf, surrounded by several hotel buildings.
And cross this bridge! Now it's straight ahead to the Waterfront
Just past the fountain in the square, you'll see a footbridge rising to the left side. Take that bridge: it will take you straight towards the next stop on the run, the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, with its big Ferris wheel visible in the distance, the Cape Wheel. The footbridge leads over a busy street, Buitengracht. Keep running straight along Walter Sisulu Avenue until you get to the big roundabout.
The marina, with Signal Hill in the background
Basically, any of the several streets heading north from the roundabout will take you to the waterfront. But let's take a nice, quiet and scenic way: look for the pedestrian path that goes down to the canal on the left side. It takes you under Dock Road and then leads you along the water's edge past the new apartment buildings on West Quay lining the marina, with Signal Hill and Table Mountain rising over the whole scene.

Keep going straight until you come to the blue draw-bridge, where you cross the bridge and continue straight past the cafè. Just after the cafè, you have no choice but to turn left and continue running west along the north side of the marina.

You will come to the Two Oceans Aquarium, where you turn right and then turn right again as you come to the main street at the Waterfront: Dock Road.
At the Waterfront
In a few blocks, the road will curve to the left, where you turn to the right onto the pedestrian lane just before Mitchell's pub. And there is the giant white circle of the Cape Wheel, and the other waterfront attractions. This is a bit like Darling Harbour in Sydney. There are numerous good restaurants lining the water here, and there is a huge mall on the left, the Victoria Wharf Shopping Centre.
More of the Waterfront, with Victoria Wharf in the background
The water is to your right, and the working fishermen's harbor begins there. The Robben Island Museum (Nelson Mandela's prison) is right there, too. Maybe run a loop past the most interesting stuff, then return to the Cape Wheel at Market Square.

Now turn south and run past the little shops and the rescue boat (in its own glass boathouse), and then follow the pedestrian path towards the left, back at the water.
The swing bridge and clock tower: head home this way!
You'll see a modern swing bridge and the old clock-tower behind it on East Quay. Cross the bridge and continue running southwards between the modern East Quay buildings, going up some steps.

You'll now run south, down East Quay Road, past a wharf with a collection of old ships being repaired on land.
Ships under repair at the wharf
When you get back to the big roundabout, continue running back the way you came on Walter Sisulu Avenue, going back to the square at North Wharf, then right onto Loop Street again.

But when you cross the M6, turn left for a block until you reach Long Street, where you turn right and head uphill along this lively street. Long Street has a lot of old buildings with wide verandas, and is home to lots of clubs, restaurants and pubs. The street is not very exciting during the day, but as the evening continues, the place gets wilder and wilder. Definitely a place to explore later!
Typical Long Street
Long Street ends when it runs into the curve of Orange Street, where you turn left and run the last five blocks back to the start of the run.

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