As Cape Town’s oldest township, Langa is a truly unique place to explore by bike, with a rich cultural and historic heritage, steeped in Jazz tradition. At the heart of Langa lies the vibrant Langa Quarter – Langa’s cultural hub and home to a variety of community outreach projects and cultural institutions, art and craft studios, theaters, restaurants and shops.
Langa can be reached by train from Cape Town’s CBD but for the more adventurous cyclist we have curated a 15km cultural trail from the CBD that follows a mix of cycle lanes and streets shared with traffic. While flat and easy to pedal, sections of the route can have heavy traffic and are best cycled during off-peak hours. Langa regularly hosts Open Streets events, where the main roads are shut down to traffic as a result, this is one of the best times to explore the area, and there is usually a group of cyclists riding to the event from the city.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE ROUTE
THE FRINGE DISTRICT
Your adventure starts at Truth Coffee HQ in Buitenkant Street, in Cape Town’s Fringe District. This bike friendly cafe has free parking inside for bicycles and what is arguably the best coffee in the city – perfect for a pre-ride boost. Leaving the CBD, the route takes some savvy short cuts and bypasses busy intersections via the pedestrian bridge over Tenant street.
HISTORIC CHAPEL STREET & DISTRICT 6
Just 2 kilometers in the route follows Chapel Street, weaving through the quieter streets of Zonnebloem, District Six and Woodstock. This historic area is filled with interesting heritage buildings, mosques and chapels, and is also the location of Cape Town’s favorite bike shop, Woodstock Cycleworks (on the corner of Chapel Street and Searle Street) where you can stop for a coffee, gear or to drool over the latest custom built bikes.
WOODSTOCK TO LITTLE MOWBRAY
Leaving Woodstock Cycleworks we connected onto Albert Road following the green painted cycle lane which runs all the way from the Woodstock Exchange building through to Salt River Circle. Here the cycle lane connects to the cycleway which runs along Malta Road and Liesbeek Parkway. The cycleway is car-free and pleasant to cycle, with shade and paved and tarred surfaces. After a kilometer or so on the cycleway you will turn left off into the quaint little suburb of Little Mowbray. Look out for the The Gear Change bike shop and cafe which is located on the corner of Durban and Gloucester Roads.
ATHLONE TO LANGA
From Little Mowbray the route brings you onto Klipfontein Road that takes you through the suburb of Athlone. The traffic on Klipfontein/Durban Road can be a bit fast, so you will have to be alert for this section and particularly cautious when crossing busy intersections like Jan Smuts Drive. After passing the Athlone Stadium turn left into Calendula Road and onto a marked cycle lane that runs through the quieter streets of Athlone to Loerie Road and the start of the Fan Walk to Langa. The Fan Walk was built for the 2010 World Cup to connect Langa to the stadium in Athlone. When cycling along “Fan Walk” stay alert as this no-mans land can be a bit deserted and watch out for glass and devils thorns on the path. Continue along the Fan Walk and cycle over the Bhunga Avenue Bridge and down into Langa!
THE LANGA QUARTER
From Bhunga Avenue turn left into N’Dabeni Street the home of Ikhaya Le Langa – a Non Profit dedicated to revitalizing the Langa Quarter and transforming it into a tourism and social enterprise precinct. Pop-in to Ikhaya le Langa’s Langa Quater Café, for a coffee or chat with local change makers.
At the bottom of N’Dabeni Street turn right into Bitterhout Street where you will find Langa’s Mural Art. This 34m strip of murals was created by 17 artists in December 2013 through an engaging street art competition to celebrate the Langa Quarter and its rich heritage and vibrant community.
Follow the route into Washington Street and Langa’s cultural hub, the Langa Quarter. Langa is one of Cape Town’s oldest townships and is a unique area steeped in Jazz tradition, with a rich cultural and historic heritage. As you cycle down Washington Street, you’ll pass the brightly coloured, Guga S’Thebe Arts & Culture Centre which is dedicated to the empowerment of the local people. The centre houses exhibition areas, art studios, a theatre and retail spaces for arts and crafts.
For your return trip either follow the same route back, or you can catch the train back from Langa. To reach the train station, continue cycling up Washington Street and take a left into Jungle Walk, at the end of the road you will see the Langa Station ahead. Please note that bicycles are only allowed on Metro rail trains during off-peak hours (09h00- 15h00 and 19h00- until last train run) on weekdays, and all day on the weekend.
⇔ 15km DISTANCE
∧ 165m ELEVATION GAIN
≡ Road TERRAIN
⊗ Download MAP& GPS
- The Fringe District cafes and eateries
- Historic Chapel Street
- Woodstock and Salt River bike shops, eateries and art.
- Langa Quarter – cafes, art and cultural
- Guga S’Thebe Arts & Culture Centre
OPEN STREETS LANGA
Langa regularly hosts Open Street events, where the main roads are shut down to traffic. This is one of the best times to explore the area, plus there is usually a group of cyclists riding the route from the city together.
- Best time to go: On the weekend when the roads are quieter.
- Taking the train: You can catch the train to or from Langa and just ride around the neighborhood. Choose your departure time carefully, as bicycles are only allowed on Metro rail trains during off-peak hours (09h00- 15h00 and 19h00- until last train run) on weekdays, and all day on the weekend.
- Bike shops: The closest bike shop is Gear Change in Little Mowbray and Woodstock Cycleworks in Woodstock/ Salt River
- Safety & Security: Cycling to Langa is safer in a group as sections of the route can be very isolated. There are also sections of the route (e.g. Klipfontein/Durban Road) that can have heavy traffic and are best avoided during peak hours. Be particularly cautious when crossing busy intersections like Jan Smuts Drive, look out for turning vehicles. When using the cycle lanes, always be alert for cars parking or stopping in the cycle lanes.
MAPS & GPS
Download route from Strava to use on mobile/GPS
Photographs © Leonie Mervis
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