Here is the only guide to Muslim-friendly Cape Town you will need as a Muslim traveler.
Cape town is a city that has always been on my bucket list. Located at the southernmost tip of Africa, it is renowned for its natural beauty, diverse culture and Muslim-friendly atmosphere.
I can’t wait to explore everything it offers, from the iconic Table Mountain to the vibrant Bo-Kaap district. Insha’Allah (God willing), I will be making my way there soon, and I am sure it will be an unforgettable experience.
From its vibrant Cape Malay Quarter to the bustling markets of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town is a city full of culture and diversity. It is also known as South Africa’s Mother City, which is consistently rated amongst the best cities in the world.
Did you know that it is also one of the most Muslim-friendly cities in the Western world? South Africa is listed as No.4 on CrescentRating’s list of non-OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) countries.
This is partly due to the city’s large Muslim population and many mosques and Islamic centres. Cape Town also has several halal restaurants, and many businesses accommodate Muslim customers.
Whether you’re looking for a place to worship or want to try some delicious halal food, Cape Town is an ideal destination for Muslim travellers.
A Brief History
The first Muslims came to the Cape in the 17th century, mainly as enslaved people from countries like Dutch East Indies (now known as Indonesia).
One of the first Muslims was Shaykh Yusuf (`Abidin Tadia Tjoessoep). He was exiled to the Cape of Good Hope by the Dutch and is widely credited for spreading Islam on the Cape.
He is buried in Macassar, near Cape Town, and his tomb is one of the Cape’s many kramats (holy shrines).
Many of Cape Town’s residents still pilgrim to these shrines, which are brightly decorated and well maintained.
What to Expect in Cape Town?
Cape Town is a vibrant and multicultural city with a diverse population of Muslims, Christians, Hindus and Buddhists.
Before you visit Cape Town, you should keep a few things in mind.
First, the city is very spread out, and you will do a lot of walking, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.
Second, Cape Town is safe, but stay vigilant and take care of your belongings as you would when travelling.
And although tap water is perfectly safe to drink, many locals prefer bottled water to be on the safe side.
Finally, cars drive on the left side of the road in South Africa. Driving in Cape Town is easy if you are visiting from the UK and need to rent a car, which is also another great to explore the city.
What is the Best Time To Visit Cape Town?
There’s something special about the Cape Town beach holidays. Maybe it’s the sand between your toes, the sound of waves crashing against the shore, or the feeling of the sun on your skin.
Whatever it is, there’s no doubt that Cape Town is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The best time to visit is during peak summer, from December to February, when the days are long and hot and the nights are warm and perfect for stargazing.
Late April to early June is also a great time to visit, as the days are crisp and clear – perfect for a hiking trip.
And of course, a food holiday is always best from late June to August, when you can dine at world-class eateries in the gorgeous Cape Winelands.
But no matter when you visit, one thing is for sure – you’re guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience.
Essential Tips for First-timers
Cape Town is a beautiful city with a lot to offer visitors, but it can also be overwhelming. If you’re planning your first trip to Cape Town, here are a few essential tips to keep in mind.
First, be aware that the city can be expensive, especially in touristy areas. So budget accordingly.
Second, work with the weather, not against it. The city gets pretty hot during the summer, so if you’re visiting during that time, make sure to stay hydrated and take plenty of breaks in the shade.
Third, stay alert and aware of your surroundings.
Places to Visit in Cape Town
A flat-topped mountain and prominent landmark overlooking the city. You can ascend the mountain via cable car or hike up. Once on the mountain, the panoramic views of Cape Town from different angles are amazing.
Robben Island is where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 18 of the 27 years he was incarcerated. A ferry will take you to the small island where guided tours of the historic island are available. One of Cape Town’s prominent kramats is also located here. Make sure to book your tickets online well in advance, as this attraction is very popular.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is one of the most beautiful gardens in Africa. It lies at the foot of Table Mountain and is the perfect place for a day out and a picnic. A canopy walkway overlooks the gardens and gives excellent views of Cape Town.
Bo-Kaap is one of the oldest and most colourful urban residential areas in Cape Town. It is also predominantly Muslim. The Bo-Kaap has a fascinating history, and locals will show you around the place where you can visit museums and even do cooking tours.
Castle of Good Hope
Castle of Good Hope is the oldest surviving colonial building in South Africa. It was built in the 1600s as a defensive fort, and you can walk around the castle grounds and see the exhibits and a live cannon-firing demonstration.
Cape Town has many beautiful beaches. If you have children, Boulders Beach is a must. Endangered African penguins inhabit it, and children will enjoy swimming with them. Muizenberg Beach is a must. Colourful beach houses have been featured in many movies.
Although this is mainly a shopping destination where you can indulge in all the retail therapy you like, it is located in the Cape Town harbour. It boasts an aquarium, a giant Ferris wheel, activities for kids and boat rides where you can see seals. It also has a plethora of halal restaurants.
Halal Food in Cape Town
Halal food in Cape town is easy to find. Here are some of the popular halal restaurants in Cape Town, and you are guaranteed to find something you will enjoy.
- Biesmiellah Restaurant in the Bo-Kaap is famous for its Cape Malay cuisine
- Syriana in Sea Point specialises in Middle Eastern cuisine
- Bibi’s Kitchen in Wynberg makes delicious Indian dishes
- Woodies Burgers at the V&A Food Market makes delicious gourmet burgers
For more halal restaurants in Cape Town, check out Zabinah.com.
Where to Stay in Cape Town
The 12 Apostles Hotel is an exclusive hotel which stands on one of Cape Town’s most beautiful roads, between the mountain and the sea.
It boasts a spa, a gym, heated swimming pools, and even a private cinema. And it is famous for the magnificent sunsets that dip into the ocean every evening.
If you prefer to stay in the city centre, then the Taj Cape Town is a great choice. It is centrally located in a historic part of Cape Town, and complimentary walking tours are offered daily.
It also has excellent restaurants, an Indian-inspired spa, and a gym.
If green is your favourite colour, stay in the Hotel Verde, Africa’s greenest hotel. It is the first hotel in Africa to be built with the environment in mind.
It features advanced technologies that help reduce its carbon footprint, like an eco-pool, a living wall and power-generating gym equipment. Yet, it doesn’t sacrifice comfort, and guests are given the option of requesting a Quran in their rooms.
There are also several Muslim-owned guest houses in Cape Town.
Where to Pray in Cape Town
Mosques can be found all over Cape Town. There are several in the Bo-Kaap area alone, and I have mentioned two here.
- The Auwal Mosque in the Bo-Kaap is the first and oldest mosque in South Africa. It was built in 1794.
- The Habibia Soofie Mosque – This is the third-largest mosque in Southern Africa. It is a beautiful mosque built in 1905.
How to Get Around Cape Town
The Cape Town City Sightseeing Hop-on Hop-off Bus is excellent for seeing the main tourist attractions.
Alternatively, Uber and private taxis are available, or you can hire a car, and public transport is also available if that’s what you prefer.
Cape Town is a great travel destination with a great Muslim community and options for travellers.
With its stunning natural scenery, vibrant culture and diverse population, Cape Town is a melting pot of different religions and traditions. And thanks to its Muslim-friendly infrastructure, it’s also a great place to visit if you’re looking for a place to pray, find halal food or explore Islamic history and heritage.
So whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, hike up Table Mountain or explore the streets of Bo-Kaap, Cape Town has something for everyone.