The Incredible Colors of Bo Kaap, Cape Town

The Incredible Colors of Bo Kaap, Cape Town

Bo Kaap is where Cape Town’s Muslim community has traditionally resided.  Walk around and you’ll see mosques and friendly locals in Islamic attire. But the most arresting feature of the neighborhood are the incredible colors of the houses.

Lots of photos in this post.

Bo Kaap, Cape Town SA

Bo Kaap, Cape Town (2)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (3)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town yellow house

Bo Kaap, Cape Town

Bo Kaap colors, Cape Town (2)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town (1)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town (3)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (4)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (5)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (7)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (6)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa (2)

Bo Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa


Want to get orientated with Bo Kaap? Take a walking tour with Free Cape Town Walking Tours. We had Manni (below) who was an excellent guide.

Manni, free walking tours


I’ve stuck to photos of the houses but there is much more to the neighborhood. Many people come here to taste Cape Malay food which is excellent. Biesmiellah Restaurant has been recommended. You can also take cooking classes if you want to learn how to do Cape Malay cuisine on your own. Finally, there is the Bo Kaap museum which is an excellent way to find out more about the people and history of the neighborhood.


Bo Kaap is easily the most photogenic district in Cape Town and, being an easy 10 minute walk from Greenmarket Square, is definitely worth a visit.



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  1. Malaysian muslims?

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hey Tom. A little history:
      Most of the current residents are descendants of slaves brought in from Malaysia, Indonesia, and some of the islands around India by the Dutch as skilled labor (this started in the 1650’s when the Dutch came here). When slavery ended in South Africa in the 1830’s the then freed slaves moved to this area and made it home. Painting of the houses was started by a few tradespeople who wanted to make their shops stand out (they ended up having color codes for bakeries, tailors, carpenters etc). It wasn’t a rich area and the residents all then decided to beautify the neighborhood by painting their homes in these bright colors.
      When apartheid came into effect in 1948 (to 1994) the neighborhood was declared an exclusive residential area for Cape Muslims.
      Many still live here today although gentrification has become a bit of a problem as non-Muslims have bought some of the houses. The area is right next to the center of downtown so it’s a great location and prices have soared in the neighborhood.

  2. 60% price rises last year in some areas. That is a big boom.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Really!! Where did you get that from? Do you have a link?
      I can see anything that central in Cape Town would be a great investment. You’ve seen my post on getting an Airbnb apartment here – I think there is more demand than supply and that prices are greatly inflated. A centrally located apartment would be very easy to rent out.

  3. Cool photos – reminds me of the old town in Puerto Rico

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Puerto Rico? Lissette’s ancestors are Puerto Rican but she’s never been. We’ll have to go there one day, especially if as pretty as the above.

  4. Amazing photos. You both are making me jealous but giving me a lot of great options of things to do when we eventually visit Cape Town!
    Elizabeth Hampton recently posted…Our Favorite Beaches in Southern BrazilMy Profile

  5. Bo Kaap is such a unique pocket of Cape Town. It’s one of my favorite areas. When we were there we popped into a spice shop – oh my, the scents wafting through the shop were amazing! Great photos!
    Sarah (Jetsetting Fools) recently posted…Visiting Sarajevo in 2015My Profile

  6. That is absolutely amazing! I did not expect Cape Town to be like this – everything I love – colorful, original local houses situated in perfect natural landscape. I just came from Azores and the nature was quite similar. I miss it so much! I envy you to be there.

    How is the safety situation in Cape Town? I read so many stories online – but I also read a lot about Peru, Middle East and other places that in reality, turned out to be friendly and amazing. I’d love to hear an opinion on this matter from you.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Tom. Cape Town has a high crime rate but much of that is in the townships of the Cape Flats, outside the center of the city (where there is a lot of poverty). You still have to be careful, especially at night, when you can get had a bag grabbed or be pickpocketed. We take precautions: we’re out mostly during the day (when it feels safe) and when we do go out at night we take Uber home. Security everywhere is high: fences, electrified wire, neighborhood watches…

      But generally we feel safe and the locals very helpful. Feels much safer for example than Rio where we were always looking over our shoulder. We’re not taking anything for granted though.

      • That’s good to know. I didn’t feel unsafe in Rio though. The colorful houses look amazing and you really made me want to visit South Africa. Are you also planning to see Lesotho and other place around?

  7. Takes away the fun somewhat. Walking around a city at night is one of the highlights of travelling.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      For us depends where we are. Love it in Europe because the old cities are lit up and so beautiful at night. But in the developing world sometimes there’s not all that much to see at night. We still get out to restaurants and bars, we just make it a point to take a taxi or Uber home if it’s getting later.

  8. Nong Khai Silverback says:

    Beautiful homes!

  9. Wow! The houses are so colorful. I had no idea. I would like to try the Cape Malay food.
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    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Karen – we didn’t either before coming here. It’s a small neighborhood but really the prettiest within the center of Cape Town.

  10. the colours are so bright and beautiful! What an amazing suburb!
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  11. Oh, we absolutely adore these COLORFUL photos! What a cheerful neighborhood it must be to go for a stroll through…
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Travel photos of San Francisco neighborhoodsMy Profile

  12. Love, Love, Love the vibrant colors! There are so many cities in the world that are just bleah beige and gloomy gray. I get excited when I come across a city full of color. Most likely one of the reasons I fell hard for Porto – the colored tiles blew me away. Embrace the color, people, it makes the world a brighter place!
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    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Porto is a place we were thinking of going next summer and I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it.
      Thanks for the comment Patti! 🙂

  13. Don’t know how I missed this post back in Nov Frank… One sure cannot be in a grumpy mood for long with all this color…. Love it 🙂

  14. So beautiful! I love the colors, this must go in our Ultimate travel bucketlist. Thanks for sharing this.

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