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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 30 March, 2024
Expert travel writer: Richard Holmes

Cradled in a valley of fynbos-clad mountains, the ‘French Corner’ of the Cape Winelands is famous for its unforgettable food and wine experiences. From boutique wineries offering cellar tours and tastings, to charming bistros and fine dining in the heart of the village, this is a bucket list destination for bacchanalian adventures.

Alongside the feast of food and wine there’s culture to discover here too, from the town’s graceful Huguenot Monument to the many art galleries dotted along the main road and on surrounding estates. If it’s joie de vivre in the Cape you’re after, head straight to Franschhoek.

Recommendations

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Babylonstoren’s Gardens

Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa

Babylonstoren’s Gardens

Gardeners and food-to-table devotees would love the 8 acres of bountiful gardens at Babylonstoren, one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms. They offer daily walking tours guided by the estate horticulturists. There’s also an excellent on-site restaurant, and an elegant farm shop that sells local foods and homewares.

Best for ages 18+

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Franschhoek Motor Museum

Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa

A yellow Jaguar D-Type vintage racing car on display at the Franschhoek motor museum.

Showcasing over 200 classic cars from the Rupert family’s private collection, petrolheads can delve into a century of motoring history, from South Africa’s first Model T Ford to the rare Ferrari Enzo. It’s open daily, but you must book an appointment via the website before you go. You can also book a ride in a classic car.

Adult price: £5

Best for ages 4+

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Franschhoek Wine Tram

Franschhoek, Western Cape, South Africa

Rickety Bridge Winery a tourist tram ride between vineyards in the Franschhoek Valley Western Cape Southern Africa

This scenic hop-on hop-off tram operates on eight routes connecting 24 wine estates in the Franschhoek Valley. It’s a charismatically convenient way to get around, and you can stop at your own pace for wine tastings, vineyard walks and cellar tours. The routes begin/end at the Franschhoek Terminal and the Groot Drakenstein Terminal. Kids allowed.

Best for ages 18+

Duration: -

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Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

Franschhoek is situated an hour’s drive from Cape Town. It’s easy to self-drive in and around town, but remember that drinking and driving is illegal. A guided tour – or ticket for the Franschhoek Wine Tram – is a better way to sip, savour and explore in the valley. The town itself is small enough to explore on foot.

While it’s accessible as a day trip, if time allows, it’s worth spending a few nights in the valley. You have two broad choices on where to stay: in the village, or on one of the surrounding wine estates. Accommodation in the town puts dozens of restaurants and boutiques within walking distance, so a good option if you’re not self-driving, or want to explore more than relax. Wine farm accommodation is ideal if you’re planning lazy days by the pool, with the occasional outing.

When to do it

Franschhoek is a wonderful destination year-round. In winter the mountains are snow-capped and fires crackle in cosy tasting rooms, while summer brings sultry sunny days perfect for the poolside.

Though the valley gets busy in the peak summer months (November – February) it rarely feels crowded. Be aware that some restaurants close over winter.

Who to go with: organised tours

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Our selection of the best Viator tours of this attraction or activity

Wine Tour: Paarl, Franschhoek & Stellenbosch incl 3 wineries

Cape Town

Wine Tour: Paarl, Franschhoek & Stellenbosch incl 3 wineries
Spend the day exploring the 3 top wine regions of Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch with a local guide in the know. This day tour to the Cape Winelands includes a sweet wine paring in the Paarl region, a wine tasting in the Franschhoek valley and a savoury wine paring with cellar tour in the Stellenbosch region – a must-do for visitors and locals alike.

Price: Z695

Min age: 0

Rating 4.86 / 5 [1669 ratings]

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Private Wine Tour with Wine Expert to Stellenbosch-Franschhoek Wine Regions

Cape Town

Private Wine Tour with Wine Expert to Stellenbosch-Franschhoek Wine Regions
For wine lovers who want to get insider knowledge of the South African wine industry or just enjoy the amazing Cape Winelands. This is a private day tour with a specialist wine guide that you can design by choosing four wine estates in the Stellenbosch/Franschhoek/Paarl area for wine tastings, or we provide a customised itinerary to you.

Price: Z3,600

Min age: 18

Rating 4.96 / 5 [639 ratings]

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Full-Day Franschhoek Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram Tour from Cape Town

Cape Town

Full-Day Franschhoek Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram Tour from Cape Town
The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of this picturesque valley, its rolling vineyards, breath-taking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines and a 300-year history. This tour includes a return transfer from Cape Town in a luxury air-conditioned motor coach and a full day riding the tram and tram buses around the wine estates.

Price: Z695

Min age: 4

Rating 4.62 / 5 [411 ratings]

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Stellenbosch and Franschhoek 20 Wine Tasting & Lunch & Tasting Fees Shared Tour

Cape Town

Stellenbosch and Franschhoek 20 Wine Tasting & Lunch & Tasting Fees Shared Tour
Experience the unmistakable beauty of the Cape Winelands on an all-inclusive shared full-day wine-tasting tour with lunch and sample some of the best wines in South Africa. Stop at heritage monuments as you travel in a shared minibus with live commentary from your tour guide. Follow the ever-popular wine route to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. This tour includes wine-tasting fees and lunch.

Price: Z1,700

Min age: 2

Rating 4.58 / 5 [216 ratings]

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Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl Winelands Full Day Trip from Cape Town

Cape Town

Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl Winelands Full Day Trip from Cape Town
Whether you're a wine connoisseur or a lover of natural beauty you'll be swept away on this wine tour to the famous Stellenbosch, Paarl Valley and Franschhoek wineries. Combining historic villages, stunning scenery and fabulous wines, this day trip will have your senses working overtime!

Price: Z1,550

Min age: 2

Rating 4.46 / 5 [113 ratings]

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Destination guides

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Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Cape Town

Western Cape, South Africa

Aerial view of the whole city at dusk

A vibrant, multicultural city with dramatic scenery, adrenaline adventure galore, Africa’s best art scene, golden beaches world-class wine regions and outstanding gastronomy. All in the shadows of the mighty Table Mountain.