Words: Kit Heathcock | Images: Natasha Lassen
In the unique position of being a city in its own right within the Cape Town metropolis, Bellville is surrounded by its own cluster of leafy suburbs. The Bellville CBD is historically the economic hub of the north, home to traditional financial institutions, training hospitals and businesses, but over the last few decades, private development initiatives have led to businesses shifting out of the CBD and over the N1 to Tyger Valley.
There’s a growing movement to regenerate and revitalise the CBD and attract new investment. “I’ve never seen an area with more potential and diversity than Bellville,” says Warren Hewitt, CEO, Greater Tygerberg Partnership. “The CBD has attracted a multinational, multicultural mix ranging from informal traders and small businesses to international corporate headquarters, which is uber cool – it’s a cosmopolitan outpost of Africa with Somalian traders, Ethiopian coffee shops, Ghanaian market stalls – a true African city right in the middle of Cape Town.”
The CBD is also a vibey student hub, with UWC, CPUT, and Unisa all having campuses here. Stellenbosch’s health science faculty ties in with the strong focus on the medical profession in the area including Tygerberg Hospital, and several more specialist and private hospitals. Bellville is also home to some of the top names on the Afrikaans music scene.
The leafy suburbs of Bellville spread up into the hills to the Tygerberg Nature Reserve and to the border of Durbanville, encompassing affluent areas of large villas and gardens, high-end security estates, and more modest residential neighbourhoods comprising family homes. “I like the convenience of living and working in Bellville,” says one resident, “it takes me eight minutes to get to work and it’s close to good schools for the children too.”
Adjoining the Tyger Valley business area, you’ll find residential apartment complexes, some of the most desirable overlooking the Tyger Waterfront. Within central Bellville, the residential suburb of Boston is seeing an upswing in popularity with families renovating the older properties. It’s within walking distance of the CBD, Hoërskool DF Malan, two primary schools, and Jack Muller Park, where the Saturday parkrun is the biggest in Cape Town, a biodiversity area with a resident owl and tortoises, and locals visit regularly for the play parks, dog-walking, running tracks and sports facilities.
Some of Cape Town’s top Afrikaans-medium schools are in Bellville, known both for their academics and sporting achievements.
Hoërskool DF Malan and Hoërskool Bellville have made their mark on the Western Cape’s top-ranking schools’ lists in the last few years. Other high schools that are well regarded include dual-medium Stellenberg High School and English-medium Fairmont and Settlers High Schools, so there’s no shortage of choice for residents, all conveniently close for an easy school run. Not to mention several more excellent schools in neighbouring Durbanville.
It’s easy to get into nature from any of the Bellville suburbs. Mountain bikers and hikers have a variety of well-maintained trails to choose from, starting in Majik Forest, and through the Tygerberg Nature Reserve. From here Tygerberg MTB club members can link up with a network of trails through the wine farms of the Durbanville Valley wine route. Wine tasting is a perfect weekend activity for the more leisurely, exploring both the Durbanville and the Stellenbosch wine routes and discovering some excellent restaurants.
Upmarket Willowbridge Lifestyle Centre has not only a good selection of boutiques and restaurants to browse, but also the attraction of the Barnyard Theatre for rousing musical shows, and nearby Tyger Valley shopping centre is a top retail-therapy hub for the Northern Suburbs.
Within the Bellville CBD itself, culturally inclined urbanites can discover hidden gems at the Art.b Gallery, the Sanlam Art Gallery and enjoy fringe performances at the Collective Arts Theatre, as well as soak up the vibrant street culture and multicultural food scene.
“There’s a peaceful tranquillity in the leafier suburbs of Bellville. The streets are wide, the neighbourhood is safe and there’s less hustle and bustle than the Southern Suburbs. You’ve got the diversity of fairly affluent suburbs next to a cosmopolitan urban environment. There’s a mix of things to suit everybody.”
Warren Hewitt, resident
- Jade Court: excellent Chinese food
- Pizzeria Vesuvio: authentic trattoria and pizza from a Neapolitan family
- Devils Peak De Oude: good bistro food, burgers and pizzas
- Ou Meul Bakkery: breakfast and snacks
- The Burner: Durban-style curry and bunny chows
- Jerry’s Burgers: delicious burgers and craft beer
- Tygerberg Hospital
- Karl Bremer Hospital
- Mediclinic Louis Leipoldt
- Melomed Private Hospital
- Stikland Psychiatric Hospital
- Cape Eye Hospital
- Cool Runnings toboggan ride
- Tygerberg Nature Reserve for hiking and mountain biking
- Parkrun in Jack Muller Park
- Bellville Golf Club
- Wine tasting on the Durbanville and Stellenbosch wine routes
- Bellville Velodrome for indoor cycling and sports events