A vineyard in the Cape Winelands region in South Africa

Discover the Cape Winelands, South Africa

Travel Guide

The Cape Winelands is a beautiful region, known for its exceptional award-winning wines, fascinating history, picturesque settings and exquisite foods. Rolling vineyards and historical Cape Dutch houses are set against a mountainous backdrop, with excellent wine never far away.

While visitors usually spend their days tasting the world-renowned wine and trying the top-quality local dining options, there are also plenty of other activities to enjoy. Along with long drives through the countryside and visiting charming towns, strawberry picking and local farms experiences are favourites for families travelling through the region.

The three most popular towns for visitors to explore are Paarl, Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, each with its own distinct personality. Book accommodation in one of these and use it as a base to explore the surrounding areas.

Flowers in Franschhoek, South Africa

The wine

There's a wide range of wine grown in the Cape Winelands. If you enjoy reds, you can try the local Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Merlot, and there are some great blends as well. White options include Chardonney, Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, and JC Le Roux, South Africa's best known sparkling wine, is also grown in the region.

When to visit the Cape Winelands

The Cape Winelands are one of those places you can visit all year round. The Summer months are warm with clear, blue skies, while the Winter brings cosy dinners and glasses of wine by the fire. Autumn and Spring are also both beautiful with colourful foliage.

Saying that, if you intend on exploring more of the Western Cape, then you'll probably want to visit visit between November and April. Cape Town is at its best in late summer and autumn, and the warmer weather means you can enjoy the beaches of the Garden Route, if that's part of your itinerary.

A jacaranda tree in the main street of Paarl

Paarl

Paarl is a fantastic little town that has evolved into a family-friendly area, with many attractions absolutely suited to young children.

Butterfly World has an indoor enclosure with free-flying butterflies and many other animals such as marmosets, iguanas, fruit bats and small antelope to enjoy as you wander through the jungle-like paths. And that’s not all – there are many more smaller animals to see as well as an arachnid section which truly fascinates children. Grab lunch or on ice-scream on a hot summer’s day before heading to your next destination.

Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm offers guided educational tours on their farm of over 1, 000 crocodiles. Older children can partake in the exhilarating experience of crocodile cage diving and for others, catch-and-release fishing is available in their dam.

In addition, Paarl is also home to The Alpaca Loom where children can touch and help feed these South American cuties, and for those interested you can see how alpaca fibres are transformed into scarves and blankets.

A vineyard in the Cape Winelands region in South Africa

Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch is a university town and there is always a hive of activity here. Older children will enjoy a guided walking-eating tour where you taste teas, Cape sweet treats, beef snacks and more while learning about the area.

Oom Samie se Winkel is located in Dorp Street and for those who are looking for something a little different to take home, you will not be disappointed. Filled with traditional sweets, antiques, ostrich eggs, hand-crafted relics and more, this “winkel” (shop) is cute even just to browse through.

During summer, strawberry picking on a local farm is a must do. Gather up your family, purchase your bucket and head out into the fields with rows upon rows of sweet strawberries which you can pick for yourself.

If you’re looking for something a little different and oddly enough, very entertaining, the duck walk at Vergenoegd Wine Farm is a must. 1, 000 Indian Runner Ducks parade three times daily and end their walk foraging in a courtyard where visitors are invited to purchase packets of food to feed them. While you are here you can enjoy a delicious, farm packed picnic lunch in the shade of one of ancient oak trees.

Spier Wine Farm is a busy farm which you could put a whole day aside for exploring. They offer Segway tours, kid-size bikes to explore from, grape juice tasting, and they are home to Eagle Encounters which is a rehabilitation centre for wild birds and visitors can enjoy interaction and flight displays.

The wine tram in Franschhoek

Franschhoek

Populated in 1688 by French refugees who established their farms in the fertile valley, many of the farmers named their farm after the area in France from where they came.

Franschhoek is the perfect destination for all foodies as it has the reputation of being South Africa’s Gourmet Capital. This is beautiful, green and lush and while the wine farms are magnificent, if you stick to the main road you will find chocolate tasting, craft beers, world-class shops and dine with locals.

Explore Babylonstoren Farm, which offers wonderful accommodation options. Become grounded again as you walk through the peaceful farm, enjoy a treatment at the spa, a tasty meal at a selection of restaurants and sip a glass of wine at the end of a long day. Children who stay here enjoy getting back to nature by getting their hands dirty when helping to feed the donkeys, collecting chicken eggs, and harvesting fruit and vegetables from the garden. They can also help knead the dough for bread, and end off with a well-deserved Scavenger Hunt.

A view of the gorgeous rugged mountains in the wine region of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

Where to next

if you haven't spent much time in Cape Town, now would be the time to go. The Mother City has a huge amount to see and do and visiting is a must on your South African trip. Otherwise, spend the next week or two following the Garden Route up the coast, stopping in at all the little towns along the way. If you want a quiet beach break, Knysna is a firm favourite.

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Roxanne de Bruyn

Author - Roxanne de Bruyn

Roxanne is the founder and contributing editor of Faraway Worlds. She travels as often as she can, usually with her husband and young son. With a background in communications, she is interested in ancient history, slow travel and sustainable tourism, and loves cooking, yoga and dance.

Last Updated October 18, 2021

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