Stunning views, the mountain on your doorstep and a laid back local café culture, Vredehoek is quietly rising in popularity with those in the know.
Vredehoek has come a long way in the last fifteen years, from being the City Bowl’s slightly shabby and more affordable neighbourhood, to being a trendy and desirable area for young professionals to live. Only a stone’s throw from the CBD, it’s a quiet residential suburb with stunning views in every direction. Driving around the peaceful streets of mostly low-rise apartment buildings on the slopes below Devil’s Peak there’s a sense of openness and light, of being slightly removed from the city bustle but close enough to dive into it on a whim, and the shortest of commutes to work.
The big draw for many is Vredehoek’s proximity to mountain trails: “The mountain is so dominant here that it’s just about everywhere you look, so it really is Vredehoek’s main resident,” says Estelle Visagie. “The minute you’re on the mountain you feel a million miles from town, but with an awesome view of it. Like all Capetonians, I love my mountain.” It’s only a short uphill walk to access a number of hiking and mountain biking trails, either up around Devil’s Peak and to the block house, or starting from the Deer Park, where there’s a lovely shady picnic area and trails, both easy and challenging, for leisurely dog walkers and serious hikers.
It’s a young neighbourhood with a laid back café culture and a friendly, funky vibe. Some say that it feels like Sunday everyday here, with café tables just as busy in the week as at the weekend, freelance professionals working on their laptops or holding relaxed coffee meetings, and the streets alive with dog walkers and runners. “I love the diversity of people. And the proximity to everything,” says Natalie van der Walt, who lived in Vredehoek for five years before moving to Oranjezicht a year ago.
We had our neighbourhood shop, laundry, bottle store. My beautician, our local DVD store and a choice of restaurants were all within walking distance.
Derry Street is the fashionable but low-key hub of the area for cafés and local shopping. At the top you’ll find the local Spar, Red Sofa Café, Carlyles, The Sidewalk Café and Bella Italia, as well as the public library. Head further down the hill to Upper Mill Street for chic natural cosmetics from Ecoco and the well preserved and quaint Victorian houses that add an unexpected dash of historic character to this otherwise unapologetically Art Deco suburb. And it’s not too far for the energetic to walk to the Gardens Centre; getting back up the steep hill with bags of spoils from the delis and trendy boutiques might be more of a problem, but there’s always the MyCiti bus to ride home again.
Ask a resident about the characteristics of Vredehoek and sooner rather than later, with a wry smile, they’ll mention the wind. The suburb gets the double-edged benefit of the ‘Cape Doctor’ in a boisterous mood. “During summer the wind adds some comedy to our daily lives,” adds Estelle. “Watching people trying to negotiate the wind can be amusing. But I think the wind keeps the property prices a bit lower than the rest of the city bowl so that’s a good thing for most of us.”
Plenty of families live in Vredehoek too, and they are spoilt for choice for small parks with well-kept jungle gyms to visit with the kids and of course the mountain is a playground for keen mountain bikers. The Grass Boots soccer club on the open playing fields off Vredehoek Avenue is another outlet for young energy, as is the new skate park under Mill Street bridge. As far as schools go, Herzlia High School has a fine campus with great views on Deerpark Drive, St Cyprians is just over the border into Oranjezicht and there are several small pre-schools.
If an unpretentious, but quietly hip neighbourhood, with amazing views and a side-order of unruly south-easter is your idea of home, head over to Vredehoek for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Eat Like a Local
- Red Sofa for fabulous breakfasts and coffee
- Carlyles for great pizzas and a friendly local bar
- The Sidewalk Cafe for quirky brunch and casual dinners
- Woodlands Eatery for gourmet pizzas
- Con Brio Bistro for good food and a family-friendly vibe
Property prices in Vredehoek
- A typical property for sale in Vredehoek is a four-bedroom house at an average asking price of R6,95m
- 42% of properties for sale are flats at an average asking price of R1,55m
- Average monthly rental for a two-bedroom apartment: R13,500
- 5% of the interest
- 4% of the total rental listings
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.