The Old Biscuit Mill Market in Cape Town
After a chilly winter and spring in Cape Town, the warm summer sunshine is finally …yay!! If you live in Cape Town then you know that the coming of summer means a whole lot more than better weather. The days get longer and you can cram so much more into a day, the weather is a little bit more predictable which means you can plan a trip without worrying about it raining. All of this means that there are more events planned for the season. It’s like Cape Town comes out of a kind of winter slumber. It really is a magical time.
This weekend was a scorcher and usually that means that we, and half of Cape Town, would end up enjoying the sunshine on a beach, maybe even splashing in the icy cold water (you need a wet suit to swim in Cape Town’s beaches no matter the season). This weekend though, we decided to spice it up a little and visit a market. Usually we save markets for rainy weather days so this was such a treat.
I am a huge fan of markets of all kinds, and I love markets almost as much as I love beaches. I have been to all kinds of markets all over the country and while they each have their charm, Cape Town’s markets take it to a whole new level.
Types of Markets In Cape Town
There are quite a few kinds of markets in Cape Town. You get your traditional vintage goods markets, your night markets and your church fete kind of markets. But then you also get niche markets like those dedicated to unique, vegan, unusual or organic foods; markets dedicated to art, pottery or craft goods and those that are dedicated to incredibly well-crafted jewellery and accessories.
Each of these kinds of markets has a place in my heart, but the Old Biscuit Mill Market is my absolute favourite market simply because it incorporates a little of everything and a bit more. I love that the crafted goods that are sold here are so unique and take so much skill to make that it is very unlikely that you will find them anywhere else in the country, maybe the world. I love that about this market. It feels like you are walking through a live art gallery full of wearable and edible art.
The vibe at the Old Biscuit Mill Market
The vibe of the Old Biscuit Mill Market is also a big drawing card for me. I love that they have local musicians entertaining the crowds and fake lawn where you can picnic and just enjoy the music.
Then there’s the food!! Cape Town is easily the foodie capital of South Africa, and the Old Biscuit Mill Market is a kind of sample of this. You can get anything from Japanese, to Mexican to vegan food and even fresh oysters to celebrate the weekend.
Where is the Old Biscuit Mill market?
The Old Biscuit Mill Market is a large market situated near Cape Town’s CBD. It really is a perfect spot to spend an entire Saturday or Sunday if all you want to do is chill in a vibey spot and enjoy some local music during the weekend.
About the biscuit Mill market
Old Biscuit Mill Market is named this because is actually stands on an old biscuit factory. The buildings of which have been converted to house the market and some office blocks. You can still see the original buildings which adds a unique character to the market.
What to see and do at the Old Biscuit Mill Market
This market is divided into 5 main sections.
2 of these sections are dedicated to food stalls which sell practically anything for everyone. You can even buy fresh flowers, fruit and freshly made juice and smoothies here. This is absolutely perfect for a scorcher of a day like we had.
The third section is a little like a beer garden where you can get a cocktail, beer or coffee and just chill and enjoy the music provided by a local band. This section is covered by a tarp tent so you don’t have to sit out in the sun, but you do get the feeling of being outside with the breeze that flows though it.
The 4th section is a little craft market area where you can get some incredibly well-crafted jewellery, leather bags, clothes and stuff for your home. I’m always amazed at the quality of the stuff sold here, no ‘made in china’ stuff here. It’s actually an ideal spot to shop for a gift if you’re looking for something unique and special.
The last section of the Old Biscuit Mill Market, ‘block 1’, looks totally different from the rest of the market and feels different too. While the first 4 sections can get quite busy and overwhelming, the ‘block 1’ section is calm and quiet. This section is layered and you need to climb a staircase to explore the various levels.
At the ground floor level you will find coffee shops where you can have a really god cup of coffee and even a meal. This is a really nice calm environment with a couple of trees and water features, and is great for kids too.
As you climb the stairs you can explore more shops that sell unique and good quality stuff ranging from antique kitchen wares to designer clothing. Going further up you’ll even come across a ‘hint hunt’ level. This is the first time I have ever come across a hint hunt venue in Cape Town and I look forward to trying it out. This is definitely something I’d save for a rainy day in Cape Town.
If you go all the way to the top of the staircase you come to a tiny landing with an amazing view of table Mountain over the roof tops of the market and surrounding buildings. This was such a surprising find for me because it’s such a contrast to the buzz of the streets and market below that it feels like you are somewhere else entirely.
Not many people even know of this little spot and for me it was one of the highlights of the market.
Because the Old Biscuit Mill Market is so popular with the locals it can get very busy so be prepared to feel a little overwhelmed at the food sections especially. Also you may not find a spot to sit and eat your food so you may have to picnic on the fake lawn or stand and eat.
While the market is technically suitable for all ages I didn’t see to many children outside of the ‘block 1’ section. It is possible that the crowds can get a bit too much for young kids.
I also wouldn’t advise bringing your dog. Again, it gets very hot and busy at the Old Biscuit Mill Market and there isn’t a grass patch, space or a watering station for dogs. Being in the middle of a very busy area (Woodstock) also means that there is a LOT of traffic around the Old Biscuit Mill Market itself. For me traffic and animals is just a bad.
How to get to the Old Biscuit Mill Market
The Old Biscuit Mill Market is situated in the heart of Woodstock, which is one of the busiest places in Cape Town. The roads are narrow and can get very congested and parking is extremely limited.
While we drove in and were very lucky to find parking, I wouldn’t advise doing this, especially if you are not used to driving in Cape Town. My advice would be to take a taxi to the Old Biscuit Mill Market. I saw quite a few people doing this and I thought it was an absolutely genius idea. It saves you so much stress and hassle and you don’t have to worry about your car getting broken into either.
Retail trading/operating hours:
Saturday – 09:00 – 14:00
NOTE: The Old Biscuit Mill Market is closed on weekdays and Sundays and is only open till 2pm on Saturdays.
The Old Biscuit Mill Market is a high end market which means that everything here is expensive. If you have a big appetite it’s best to eat before coming to the BMM, then simply sample the food sold at the food area. The food is delicious and worth it, but if you need to eat a lot to get full your wallet and budget may not be too happy with you. Expect to pay an average of R80 for a small serving of food. I did notice that the portion sizes of the food were a lot smaller than we as South Africans are used to.
It gets very very hot at the Old Biscuit Mill Market in summer. This may be because of all the buildings, I don’t know. But I do advise bringing some water along so that you don’t get dehydrated. There are plenty of places selling juices and alcoholic drinks, but please keep hydrated on a hot Cape Town summer’s day. It’s all too easy to get heat stroke here.
The area sound the Old Biscuit Mill Market seems to be absorbing the vibe of the market too, so it’s worth it to take a walk along the main road to the left and right of the market to explore some of the restaurants, pubs and shops and art galleries here.
I did just that and found 2 amazing little shops; one focusing on unusual décor pieces to brighten up your home, and another on beautifully crafted jewelry and clothes designed and made in South Africa.
Old Biscuit Mill Market in Cape Town’s busy Woodstock area is definitely worth a visit if you are into markets, good food and a chilled vibe. You can easily spend an entire day here and wandering around Woodstock. It’s really worth doing this on a warm sunny summer’s day since you can get the most out of the market.
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