November 25, 2022

3 unique bookstores to visit in Cape Town

One of my favorite getaways from the hustle and bustle of life and the torments of my restless mind (hey anxiety) is to visit a bookstore, writes Robyn Simpson of Cape {town} Etc. It is a nostalgic pastime, a ritual that was introduced to me by my mother.

There is an even feeling of tranquility and excitement that is almost overwhelming when I walk into a bookstore. Colors and covers, the distinct smell of ink and paper, rows upon rows of printed perfection. I’m a real nerd in this regard.

More often than not, I visit these pocket churches to walk around rather than buy. And if I allow it, a coffee in my hand sends me straight to heaven.

Cape Town is home to wonderfully unique bookstores, perfect for catching a page turner or lounging for some time. Here are three of my favorite unique bookstores to visit.

1. Kalk Bay Books

Kalk Bay Books is an independent bookstore located in the seaside village of Kalk Bay (my favorite suburb). It’s quaint and replete with a quality selection of fictional and non-fiction gems, new and used, local and international, contemporary.

The setting is bathed in breathtaking natural light. Get there early to find a comfortable spot, and flip through the pages for anything that catches your eye. Take a pick-me-up at one of the surrounding cafes or head to Dalebrook’s Tidal Pool for a dip when you’re filled with whimsy.

  • Site: 62 Main Road, Kalk Bay
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day
  • Contact: 021 788 2266

2. OBZ books

Located in Cape Town’s most quirky suburb, OBZ Books is the perfect place to immerse yourself in a bunch of different reading. Pre-liked books and brand new books are on maximum stock – there really is “something for everyone”. The store is well known for its vinyl records and vintage comics.

One of the best things about this groovy place is the little cafe at the back of the store, which leads to an outdoor patio. It’s perfect for settling down with a treasure discovered and enjoying a good coffee. The lighting is warm and welcoming, something I always appreciate.

  • Site: 76 Lower Main Rd, Observatory, Cape Town
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday / 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday
  • Contact: 072 057 8429

3. Clarke Bookstore

Opened in 1957, Clarke’s Book Shop is a local treasure with a rich history. What I love most about this place is its homage to South African literature. They started specializing in Africana in the 1970s, making it a special center for expanding your appreciation of African talent.

Clarke’s is full of old and new, African and general used titles and leftover titles. The two-story delight is a must visit for those looking for not only a once in a lifetime experience, but a slice of book history as well.

  • Site: 99 Long St, Cape Town City Center, Cape Town
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday / 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday / Closed Sunday
  • Contact: 021 423 5739


Insta: @ Robyn.inthe.Hood

Twitter: @Robynhoodcpt

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