The rainbow nation has so much to be proud of – its diversity, friendliness, unique landscapes and scenery, and rich history are all reasons to explore South Africa

But recently, two South African neighbourhoods were highlighted among the “coolest in the world” – cooler than NEW YORK CITY! The list, compiled by Forbes contributor Ann Abel was put together based on Abel’s correspondence with various travel experts.

The neighbourhoods mentioned on the top 12 list all showcase the local lifestyle of inhabitants, they’re creative, energising, inspiring, and offer something unique – something that you can find only THERE.

Kalk Bay in Cape Town, and Maboneng in Johannesburg made the top 12 list, and we’re not surprised! If you haven’t been to these two neighbourhoods yet, add them to your bucket list immediately!

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Kalk Bay, Cape Town

Tom Marchant, the founder of Black Tomato described the neighbourhood as “Blanketed with quaint cafes, rustic fishing boats and colorful storefronts.”

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Marchant also loves the origami installation by Kalk Bay artist, Sanae Sawada which can be seen in the Olympia Café.


Where to stay in Kalk Bay?

Little cottage in gorgeous Kalk Bay

It is situated on the seaside, a mere three-minute walk from Kalk Bay High Street, where you will find many fantastic bars, restaurants and coffee shops which make up the special village of Kalk Bay.

The Inn at Castle Hill, Kalk Bay

This beautifully restored Victorian guesthouse celebrated its centenary in 2016 and lies at the heart of Kalk Bay. It comprises six luxurious en-suite bedrooms, and boasts a charming TV lounge with art that reflects iconic Cape Town.

Copyright: vlbentley / 123RF Stock Photo

Kalk Bay fisherman’s cottage

This light and airy room with own entrance and private bathroom is situated in the heart of Kalk Bay. It comfortably fits two, and offers a sunny courtyard. Just five minutes’ walk to the tidal pools and Kalk Bay’s best cafes and restaurants.


Maboneng, Johannesburg

This area has undergone a major transformation since the end of apartheid, and has been transformed by local artists, investors and entrepreneurs. It boasts a weekly craft market as well as the Museum of African Design and various African-themed eateries.

Where to stay in Maboneng?

MabonengUbuntu loft-pool+Art museum

The Executive Rooftop apartment with views of Maboneng (the art,architecture &a design capitol of South Africa) is a unit built as the second phase, on top of the art museum. There is a pool and cafe downstairs, the Moad Museum of African Design on the ground floor and The Cosmopolitan hotel.

The Crib Studio

The Crib is a small 38m2 studio apartment that is suited for couples, international travellers and local tourists who want to experience the vibey and eclectic Maboneng lifestyle that is on offer.

Maboneng creative and literary oasis

Maboneng is an oasis of art, performance and innovation in the city centre. Galleries, restaurants and theatres are in an area with 24-hour security and a friendly community vibe. This well-appointed loft is in Revolution House, the building that sparked Maboneng’s live/work/play ethos and is the most mature and secure living space in the precinct.


The other neighbourhoods that appeared on the list included:

  1. Sants, Barcelona
  2. Navy Yard, Washington DC
  3. IJ Hallen in Amsterdam Noord
  4. Getsemani, Cartagena
  5. Maboneng, Johannesburg
  6. Plekhanov, Tbilisi
  7. Casco Viejo, Panama City
  8. Saigon, District 5
  9. Keramikos, Athens
  10. Seongsu-dong, Seoul
  11. Pilsen, Chicago
  12. Kalk Bay, Cape Town