Cape Town’s urban geography is influenced by the contours of Table Mountain, its surrounding peaks, the Durbanville Hills, and the expansive lowland region known as the Cape Flats. These geographic features in part divide the city into several commonly known groupings of suburbs (equivalent to districts outside South Africa), many of which developed historically together and share common attributes of language and culture.
- City Bowl
The City Bowl is a natural amphitheatre-shaped area bordered by Table Bay and defined by the mountains of Signal Hill, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak.
The area includes the central business district of Cape Town, the harbour, the Company’s Garden, and the residential suburbs of De Waterkant, Devil’s Peak, District Six, Zonnebloem, Gardens, Bo-Kaap, Higgovale, Oranjezicht, Schotsche Kloof, Tamboerskloof, University Estate, Vredehoek, Walmer Estate and Woodstock.
- Atlantic Seaboard
The Atlantic Seaboard lies west of Cape Town and Table Mountain, and is characterised by its beaches, cliffs, promenade and hillside communities. The area includes, from north to south, the neighbourhoods of Green Point, Mouille Point, Three Anchor Bay, Sea Point, Fresnaye, Bantry Bay, Clifton, Camps Bay, Llandudno, and Hout Bay.
The Atlantic Seaboard has some of the most expensive real estate in South Africa particularly on Nettleton and Clifton Roads in Clifton, Ocean View Drive and St Leon Avenue in Bantry Bay, Theresa Avenue in Bakoven and Fishermans Bend in Llandudno. Camps Bay is home to the highest concentration of multimillionaires in Cape Town and has the highest number of high-priced mansions in South Africa with more than 155 residential units exceeding R20 million (or $US1.8 million.
- West Coast
The West Coast suburbs lie along the beach to the north of the Cape Town city centre, and include Bloubergstrand, Milnerton, Tableview, West Beach, Big Bay, Sunset Beach, Sunningdale and Parklands, as well as the exurbs of Atlantis and Melkbosstrand. The Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is located within this area and maximum housing density regulations are enforced in much of the area surrounding the nuclear plant.
- Northern Suburbs
The Northern Suburbs are mostly Afrikaans-speaking, and include Bellville, Bothasig, Brooklyn, Burgundy Estate, Durbanville, Edgemead, Elsie’s River, Factreton, Goodwood, Kensington, Maitland, Monte Vista, Panorama, Parow, Richwood, Thornton, Table View, and Welgemoed. Much of the northern suburbs is colloquially known as Tygerberg and is home to Tygerberg Hospital, the largest hospital in the Western Cape and second largest in South Africa.
- Southern Suburbs
The Southern Suburbs hug along the eastern slopes of Table Mountain, southeast of the city centre. This area has mixed languages but is predominantly English-speaking, and includes, from north to south, Rondebosch, Pinelands, Newlands, Mowbray, Observatory, Bishopscourt, Claremont, Wynberg, Plumstead, Ottery, andBergvliet. West of Wynberg lies Constantia which, in addition to being a wealthy neighbourhood, is a notable wine-growing region within the City of Cape Town.
- South Peninsula
The South Peninsula is generally regarded as the area south of Muizenberg on False Bay and Noordhoek on the Atlantic Ocean, all the way to Cape Point. Until recently quite rural, the population of the area is growing quickly as new coastal developments proliferate and larger plots are subdivided to provide more compact housing. It includes Capri Village, Clovelly, Fish Hoek, Glencairn, Kalk Bay, Kommetjie, Masiphumelele, Muizenberg, Noordhoek, Ocean View, Scarborough, Simon’s Town, St James, Sunnydale, Sun Valley, and Steenberg. South Africa’s largest naval base is located at Simon’s Town harbour as well as Boulders Beach, the site of a large colony of African penguins
- Eastern Suburbs
The Eastern Suburbs lie southeast of the Afrikaans-speaking neighbourhoods in the Northern Suburbs, beyond the airport, and notably are the site of several new subsidized housing projects. Communities include Fairdale, Brackenfell, Kraaifontein, Kuils River, Blue Downs, Belhar, Delft,Mfuleni and Protea Hoogte.
- Cape Flats
The Cape Flats (or the Flats) is an expansive, low-lying, flat area situated to the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town. From the 1950s the area became home to people the apartheid government designated as non-White and has been described by some as ‘Apartheid’s dumping ground’. Race-based legislation such as the Group Areas Act and pass laws either forced non-white people out of more central urban areas designated for white people and into government-built townships in the Flats or made living in the area illegal, forcing many people designated as Black into informal settlements elsewhere in the Flats.
Since then the Flats have been home to much of the population of Greater Cape Town. This area includes the neighbourhoods of Mitchell’s Plain, Athlone, Elsie’s River, Hanover Park, Bishop Lavis, Manenberg, Strandfontein, Gugulethu, Nyanga, Langa, and Khayelitsha.