The Waterfront Clock Tower has become every bit as famous as the main V&A Waterfront itself. This section lies over the bridge if coming from the V&A, or it can be accessed from a service road if coming from outside of the V&A. This area is located in its own precinct, the Clock Tower Precinct. Historically, the Victorian Gothic-style Clock Tower is an important part of the old Cape Town harbour.
This building was the original Port Captain’s Office that was built in 1882. Today, it has become a major tourism and leisure hub. Home to a large retail centre, a number of museums, the Robben Island Gateway, restaurants and many other interesting sights, this place is a must-visit for all.
Wondering what to see and do at the Waterfront Clock Tower? Keep reading to get our insider tips on where to go, what to do, and what to see while you’re visiting this part of the Waterfront.
Why We Love the Waterfront Clock Tower (And You Will, Too)
First things first, here are a few important details to note about the Clock Tower:
Address: Clock Tower Precinct, V&A Waterfront
Hours: Daily from 09h00 – 21h00
Contact: +27 (0)21 408 7600 / [email protected]
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, what sort of attractions can you enjoy at the Waterfront Clock Tower? Let’s take a look…
Clock Tower Centre
The iconic Clock Tower has been transformed into a Victorian-Gothic style retail centre. Here, you will find a small but excellent range of shops, art galleries and other interesting stores. Even if you only plan to window shop, a walk around this fascinating building is highly recommended!
Shimansky Diamond Museum
One such store in the Clock Tower is the Shimansky Diamond Museum. You can take a free diamond tour here, to learn more about the history of diamonds in the Cape as well as Shimansky’s role. You will also get to see the workshop, where the magic happens. The museum has an on-site jewellery store as well.
Robben Island Gateway
Everyone should visit Robben Island at least once in a lifetime. The Robben Island Gateway is where tours depart. This venue is also a museum, which tells the story about how former South African leader, the late Nelson Mandela, began his walk to freedom. This museum, and the island, play a vital role in the country’s history.
Chavonnes Battery Museum
The Chavonnes Battery is one of the oldest European structures in South Africa. Dating back from 1714 to 1725, the site was excavated nearby some years ago. You can explore the ruins and learn more about the battery. This is a highly informative museum that visitors of all ages will enjoy.
Time Ball Tower
The Time Ball Tower is a signalling device that was built in 1894. next to the Harbour Engineer’s former residence (Dock House). The tower was used to allow masters of ships passing through to test the accuracy of their chronometers while docked at the harbour. It was in use for four decades, after which brand new technology caused it to lie dormant until finally being restored in 1997.
The original prison was built in 1860. It housed the convicts working on the breakwater. This prison has been turned into a hotel and university school, offering a stark reminder of the harsh penal attitudes in the late 1800s, with features such as an old treadmill that still remains next to the former prison building.
Last, but not least, another highlight of the Waterfront Clock Tower is the sighting of Cape fur seals, which are found next to the original Bertie’s Landing Restaurant as well as on old tyres lining the quaysides around the Waterfront. These seals often come to laze in the sun. They are an integral part of the area.
Other highlights to enjoy here include the South African Maritime Museum, as well as a variety of restaurants. The best way to take in the sights around this area is to book a spot on our Cape Town City Tour.
To learn more about exploring the Waterfront Clock Tower and other nearby sights, contact us today!