The Essential Winelands
- 3 Days
The Winelands make it onto the bucket list of almost every visitor to South Africa. Even nondrinkers are soon entranced by the elegant Cape Dutch mansions, fine food and bluish-grey mountain backdrop. This itinerary could easily be split into day trips. Stick to a maximum of four wineries per day.
Leaving Cape Town via the N1, kick off your day with a glass of bubbly at Villiera and consider sticking around for a two-hour wildlife drive to see giraffes and zebras. From here it’s a 20-minute drive to Spice Route, where you can easily spend half a day indulging in all the foodie pursuits. Enjoy lunch with a view then take Rte 45 towards Franschhoek, stopping to visit the museums – and tasting room – at Solms-Delta. Overnight in a Franschhoek guesthouse and be sure to book ahead for dinner in one of the town’s renowned restaurants.
Wake up and take a stroll around town, stopping to graze in cafes and patisseries as you go. Mix things up with lunch at a local brewery before heading to one of the region’s most beloved estates, Boschendal, with its stately buildings, huge tree, vineyard tours and mountain biking trails. Route 310 towards Stellenbosch is a winding, scenic road and there’s no better spot to enjoy the views than at Delaire Graff Estate. Spend the night in one of Stellenbosch’s historic hotels or long-standing hostels.
On day three, spend the morning exploring the town centre – don’t miss the excellent Village Museum and the pretty botanical garden, a nice spot for midmorning coffee and cake. Head out of town on Rte 310 and try a brandy tasting at Van Ryn Brandy Cellar, whose brandies are among the most awarded in the world. Mere moments along the same road you will reach Spier. It is unashamedly commercial, but few leave disappointed by the restaurants, wine tasting, family-friendly activities and vast grounds.
Continue south, but before you join the N2 back to Cape Town, make time for one final stop at Meerlust Estate where there is no restaurant, no kids’ corner, pairing experience or on-site cheesemaker. Here it’s all about the wine, particularly its signature red blend.
Garden Route Road Trip
- 7 Days
Verdant forests, gnarly surf spots and every outdoor activity you could imagine – it’s no wonder the Garden Route endures as one of the country’s most popular places for visitors. Ideally you would spend a week travelling to and exploring the region, though it could be squeezed into five days.
From Cape Town, head east along the N2, stopping for padkos (road snacks) at an Elgin farm stall and pausing for lunch in Swellendam. Spend a night or two in Mossel Bay where you can surf, skydive, hike, dive with sharks or just explore the museum. Many people drive right by Wilderness, but its national park deserves at least one afternoon and accommodation options around town are excellent.
Knysna is a rightfully popular town – hike the forests, take a boat cruise on the lagoon and join a tour of the hilltop township. If you’re seeking some beach time, continue to pretty Plettenberg Bay with its wide beaches, seafront accommodation and smattering of wineries specialising in bubbly.
If you’re heading back to Cape Town and time is on your side, consider driving through Oudtshoorn and taking Route 62 for the return leg – the arid, winding drive makes for a delightful alternative to the N2.