Franschhoek (French Corner in Afrikaans) is a charming town located in the picturesque valley at the foot of the mountains, 75 km from Cape Town. It is one of the oldest cities in South Africa. Its history goes back to 1688, when French Huguenot refugees began to settle in the valley, bringing the tradition of growing grapes and making wine. Don't be surprised by the French origin of the names of many wine farms in the region.
Franschhoek is a must-visit place in South Africa for wine and food lovers, here you can find some of the best wine estates and restaurants in the country. If you are looking for the perfect place for a romantic weekend, Franschhoek is the place to be. Every year we spend our wedding anniversary here and it is always a great experience.
If you are choosing between Franschhoek and Stellenbosch (another city in Winelands) I recommend Franschhoek for couples and Stellenbosch for individual travelers and travelers with children. There are more activities and places to keep your kids busy.
Reasons why we love Franschhoek
- The area is impressive.
- Many beautiful wine estates with great wines.
- Many restaurants serving delicious food.
- Franschhoek is close to Cape Town, it's easy to visit it as a day trip from the city.
- There are many things to do in Franschhoek; wine tasting, hiking, chocolate tasting, MTB, visiting museums and art galleries, spa, scenic tours, etc.
Different ways to get to Cape Town's Franschhoek
Rent a car
Car hire is the best and fastest way to travel around South Africa and it is not that expensive, in fact, if there are two people sharing a car, it is not at all expensive. The roads to most farms and properties around Franschhoek are paved. You can drive with any car, without the need to rent a large 4×4. Rent a car at Cape Town airport it's the easiest way to pick you up on arrival and drop you off.
Suggested cars to rent for the trip
Cape Town Wine Tram + Bus
If you want to spend the whole day in Franschhoek, but renting a car is not in your plan, there is a great day trip to Franschhoek from Cape Town. The tour includes a transfer back from Cape Town to Franschhoek and a tram ticket for wine. You will have ample time to visit 4 to 5 wine estates and enjoy the stunning scenery around Franschhoek. This tour is the most economical way to explore the area. When choosing which wineries to visit, definitely go down and have a tasting at the Boschendal farm, it is one of our favorites in Franschhoek.
Participating in a group tour
Doing a day trip to Cape Town Wineries offers a perfect opportunity to get an overview of the area. The tour includes Stellenbosch, Franschhoek and Paarl, three main cities in the wineries. You visit several exquisite properties, taste wines, cheeses and chocolates and have lunch à la carte. Franschhoek is one of the stops on the route that you don't spend a lot of time in Franschhoek, but visit several wine farms and learn a lot about the region. This tour is a good option for individual travelers.
Taking a private tour of the wineries
If you want more flexibility and privacy, you can do the same route (Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch) with a private tour during which you will visit several wineries, have a tasting and learn about South African wines.
Where to stay in Franschhoek
There are many inns in the city, but I really recommend staying around Franschhoek on one of the farms or wine farms. It's a totally different experience and, even if it's a little more expensive (not always), it's definitely worth it. Farms around Franschhoek are some of the most beautiful properties in the country.
We stayed in La Terra de Luc is a guesthouse on a farm outside Franschhoek. The room was nice, a little rustic, but very neat and clean, with a comfortable bed and great shower. Each room has air conditioning, wi-fi, minibar and TV. The best thing about the place is the location, it is very close to Franschhoek, but far enough from the road and city life, hidden in the vineyards, a spectacular place.
Travel insurance for your trip
Best Gastronomic Things to Do in Franschhoek
There are 50 wine farms and even more restaurants in the Franschhoek valley unconsciously, you won't be able to visit them all in one, two or three days. We have been to Franschhoek several times and have managed to visit only about 15 of them, but we have some favorites that we always visit. Some of the wine farms only taste by appointment, but most of them work on a regular basis.
Take a wine trolley
If you don't have a car to tour the wine estates or simply don't want to limit your tests because you need to drive, do it. the wine tram it is the right thing to do. In fact, it is a combination of a tram and a bus, due to limited access to the tram, the bus has been added to add more farms to the route. There are 8 different wine routes, each including 8 wine farms. It is a hop on hop off tram / bus that you can get off at any farm you wish. The ticket office is on Huguenote Street, next to the River Cafe. There is parking at the ticket office, where you can safely leave your car.
|Daily||between 9:40 am and 5:30 pm|
depending on the route
|Adults – ZAR260 / US $ 18|
Children – ZAR90 / $ 6
Enjoy spectacular views at Dieu Donne
Dieu Donne is our favorite winery in Franschhoek and one of the most favorite in South Africa. We love its wines, they are great and cheap, the view from the tasting room is breathtaking (one of the best views in Franschhoek), the staff are very friendly and knowledgeable about wines. We come here to taste every time we are in Franschhoek and buy a few bottles of his Wooded Chardonnay. If you feel hungry, you can order a cheese plate with your wines or have lunch at the property's Roca restaurant. Dieu Donne is on the Franschhoek red and yellow tram routes.
Dieu Donne wine tasting
|2a. The 6th||9 am – 5 pm||from ZAR75 / $ 5|
|Sat, Sun||10:30 am – 5:00 pm|
Taste exquisite wines in Chamonix
This wine estate is famous for its Pinot Noir, the wine that is not very common in South Africa. They have a wide variety of whites and reds in different price ranges, although, in general, their wines are quite expensive. The tasting area is nice, but does not offer views that we usually stop here on the way to or from Dieu Donne. You can stay in Chamonix, in the middle of the vineyards, in one of the luxury homes with stunning views from the Franschhoek valley. Chamonix is on the yellow and red tram lines.
Chamonix wine tasting
|Mon-Sun||10 am to 4:30 pm||from ZAR75 / $ 5|
Take amazing photos at the Haute Cabriere
A beautiful farm with great wines and incredible views. Located between the Huguenot monument and the Franschhoek pass. They have different tasting options, from a single wine tasting to the winery and 6 wine tasting combinations (Mon-Sat at 11am and 3pm, Sun at 11pm) reservation is advisable) You can choose the one that suits you best, based on how much time you have. There is a good restaurant on the property so you can combine wine tasting with lunch. Don't miss a photo spot – a big yellow frame where you can take beautiful pictures with the mountains in the background. Haut Cabrier is on the pink and gray tram lines.
Haute Cabriere wine tasting
|Mon-Sat||8am to 8pm||from ZAR15 / US $ 1|
|Sun||8am to 4pm|
Picnic at the Boschendal wine farm
Boschendal Farm it is a little further from the city. The property is absolutely stunning, it is a great place to combine wine tasting with a picnic, you don't need to bring anything that can buy a picnic basket here. We really like Shiraz and usually buy it without tasting it. There is a restaurant on the property, offering delicious food and beautiful views of the garden and mountains.
This farm is a great place for a romantic lunch under the huge oak trees. I love your garden with funky sculptures places here and there. You can spend the whole day at Boschendal enjoying the tranquility of the place, great wines and delicious food. If you want to spend more time here, you can spend the night in Boschendal at one of the houses in the vineyards. Boschendal is on the purple and orange tram lines.
Boschendal wine tasting
|Mon-Sun||10am to 6pm||from ZAR65 / US $ 4.5|
Enjoy simplicity in Lopard & # 39; s Leap
It can be a good farm to start wine tasting, located on the way to Franschhoek, 2 km before the city. Leopard jumping it is very large compared to most local farms. The views from the restaurant area are impressive. We recommend coming here when the restaurant is open, otherwise this huge place will look a little deserted without people. They have a wide variety of wines; red, white, shiny. They serve breakfast here too. The farm is on the gray and pink tram lines.
|Tue-Sat||9 am – 5 pm||ZAR55 / $ 4|
|Sun||11am to 5pm|
Explore the beautiful gardens of Babylonstoren
Babylonstoren is a huge farm near Franschhoek, where you can find just about everything, local wines, freshly baked, fruit and vegetable gardens, a spa, a restaurant and a farm shop. The fruit and vegetable gardens here are incredible, if you like gardening or landscaping, you will definitely enjoy the stroll through the garden. You can spend half a day walking, savoring, eating and relaxing. They have luxury chalets on the property where you can stay for a few nights, the cottages are incredible, but very expensive – luxury accommodation for a very special occasion. Babylonestoren Farm is on the purple and orange tram line.
|Mon-Sun||9:00 am to 4:00 pm||Adults – ZAR20 / US $ 1.5|
Children – ZAR10 / US $ 1
|Walk in the garden|
|2a. The 6th||11:30 am|
Have a romantic dinner at a wine estate
Many wine farms have restaurants with good food and beautiful surroundings that will be perfect for a romantic dinner. We went to Grand Provence Estate for our wedding anniversary dinner and it was an amazing experience. Everything from the location to the food and wine was impeccable. The garden is very beautiful, with flowers, small fountains and huge oaks decorated with lights on a warm, non-windy night that I would recommend sitting outside. Oysters Saldana Bay as one of the starters is a must-try for oysters and seafood lovers. You can also do a wine tasting at the property. The farm is on the pink and gray tram lines.
Learn how to make chocolate
Tasting is one of Franschhoek's main activities. Change your experience with some chocolate. During your visit to the Huguenote de Chocolat Factory, you will learn about the chocolate making process and experience delicious local chocolates and sweets. The whole experience takes about 30 minutes. In the end, you receive small sweet gifts.
Huguenot chocolate tasting factory
|Daily||11am and 3pm||ZAR50 / $ 4|
Stroll through the Franschhoek Market
Locals love this market it's not just a place to sell and buy, it's a social event with a great vibe and amazing food and wine, because at the end of the day Franschhoek is the main point. Visitors can find products from local farmers, homemade preserves, exquisite dishes from local chefs, freshly baked breads and sweets, jewelry, art, souvenirs, clothing and more. Unfortunately, the market takes place only once a week on Saturday, in the city center, on Huguenot Road.
|Sat down||9:00 to 15:00||free|
Stop for breakfast at Big Dog Café
Our favorite place to have breakfast. They roast their own coffee and it is definitely the best coffee in Franschhoek (we always buy your beans at home). They have a large garden and an outdoor terrace, it is a good place to have breakfast and coffee. They have a lot of different breakfast options, it's a really cool place. The cafe and the roastery are just before Franschhoek, if you are driving from Cape Town.
Big Dog Cafe & Roastery
|2a. The 6th||7am to 5pm||ZAR110 / $ 7|
|Sat down||8am to 4pm|
Buy artisan cheese
Dalewood Cheese Farm it is just a quick stop on the way to Franschhoek; there is no very long tasting here (although you can try various types of cheese in the store). The farm and factory are a family business, the owners are very involved in the entire cheesemaking process, from milking the cows to making the cheese and selling it in the store. We love cheese, always buy Camembert and Bri here.
|2a. The 6th||9:00 am to 4:00 pm||from ZAR30 / $ 2|
|Sat down||10am to 3pm|
Recommended books and guides
Top Outdoor Activities and Adventure in Franschhoek
Take a hike in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
The entrance to the reserve is located at the top of the Franschhoek Pass, there is parking and toilets at the gate. There are six hiking trails in the reserve:
- Rock Trail Breakfast – 2 km
- Vista Trail – 2.5 km
- Wineries Trail – 3.5 km
- Uitkyk Trail – 6 km
- Perdekop Trail – 13 km
- Du Toitskop Trail – 13 km
All trails are circular routes that begin and end at the main gate (parking) of the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. If you plan to take one of the longer routes, it is highly recommended to start at the beginning of the summer months, as it gets very hot up there. Be sure to bring enough water, as it is not always possible to get water along the way.
Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve ticket office at the entrance gate*
* the entrance gate is always open, you can start walking before the office opens and pay the fee (cash only) when you leave the reservation.
|Daily||8am to 5pm||Adults – ZAR50 / $ 3.5|
Children – free
Explore the flora and fauna of the La Mott wine estate
It is always good if you can combine wine tasting, outdoor activities and learn more about the local flora and fauna. La Mott wine farm offers this opportunity to its visitors. There is a 5 km hiking trail that takes visitors through the vineyards and fields to the top of the hills, with spectacular views of the Franschhoek valley. After the walk, guests can relax on the property, have a wine tasting or have lunch.
La Mott Hiking Trail
|Mon-Sat||9 am – 2 pm||Adults – ZAR60 / $ 4|
What to pack and wear for hiking in Franschhoek
- Comfortable shoes you won't need heavy boots, but a good pair of walking shoes (if you plan on taking one of the longest mountain routes) or just comfortable trail running shoes.
- A cap or a hat to protect your head.
- A small day pack put water, snacks, sunscreen etc.
- A bottle of water. Tap water in Cape Town is good to drink, but for stream or river water, I recommend using a filter.
- Sunscreen is highly recommended for outdoor activities in South Africa.
Horseback riding through the vineyards
If you are looking for a special experience, horseback riding through the vineyards at the Boschendal wine estate can be a great option. You will have a chance to explore the area and enjoy the fantastic landscape. You don't have to be an experienced driver, you can do it, even if you've never done it before. Boschendal is one of the places where you can spend almost the entire day. After horseback riding, you can taste some local wines, have a picnic (you can order a picnic basket) or have lunch at the restaurant.
Horse riding in Boschendal
|Tue-Sun||9 am, 10:30 am, 2 pm|
|ZAR450 / $ 30 pp per hour|
Electric wine tasting
Ride a bike it is an easy and fun activity, suitable for everyone, regardless of age and fitness. Cycle around the city, visit 3 wine farms and learn more about Franschhoek's history from your guide. Cycling through the vineyards to a wine farm, enjoying a warm and pleasant climate and stunning scenery – a great way to explore the region.
Go on a mountain bike adventure
Franschhoek is not just about wine and food; there are several bike trails around the city. Some are short and easy, others require experience and skills.
Trails in Boschendal Wine Estate. This property is probably the best option for cycling, if you don't have your own bike, you can rent MTBs, children's bikes and electronic bikes here. There are 6 trails on the property; Yellow Route – 4 km; Green Route – 9 km; Blue Route – 11 km; Red Route – 15 km; Black Route – 23 km.
Trails in Boschendal MTB
|Days||Time||MTB track rate|
|Daily||8am to 5pm||ZAR50 / $ 3.5|
- Robertsvlei Loop – a 14 km trail for beginners that starts on the R45 (road) and continues on Robertsflei Road through the farms.
- MTB Matoppie Trail – a 14 km cycle of moderate difficulty for more experienced cyclists that goes to the Berg river dam.
- Franschhoek Pass Track – a steep 25 km route to the top of the pass, starts in the city and passes through the Huguenote Memoria Museum, owned by Haut Cabrier, Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. Recommended for experienced cyclists.
Explore the vineyards on a downhill scooter
If you don't feel comfortable enough on a mountain bike, but still want to catch some down the hills a downhill scooter ride can be a great option for you. No special skills are needed, the only requirement is to be able to maintain balance on a bicycle. The route passes through the slopes of Mont Rochelle Nature Reserves and the nearby vineyards.
Drive the Franschhoek Pass
Panoramic tours are a big part of Cape Town trips, wherever you go, there will be a pass that offers stunning views. The Franschhoek Pass is a 13 km long road over the mountains of the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve. The whole path is beautiful, do not turn at the first point of view, continue along the undulating road until you start to descend. The tour starts at the Haut Cabriere wine farm, where you can stop on the way back for a wine tasting.
Franschhoek for lovers of culture and history
Visit the Huguenot Memorial Museum
If you want to know more about the French Huguenots who arrived in South Africa in the 17th century escaping the charge for their beliefs from the authorities. The Huguenots brought grape plants and the tradition of making wine to South Africa.
|Mon-Sat||9 am – 5 pm||Adults – ZAR80 / $ 5.5|
|Sun||14:00 – 17:00||Children – ZAR40 / $ 3|
Admire old and modern cars at the Motor Museum
Franschhoek Motor Museum it is a real hidden treasure in the vineyards of the L & # 39; Ormarins farm. Every time we passed the sign, we were wondering about this place and finally decided to enter. What a surprise! We expected to find maybe 20 vintage cars parked outside, a bit rusty, as in some places in Namibia. Not at all! Hundreds of cars in perfect condition, all sparkling and running (85% of them at least).
From the first Ford cars assembled in 1904 to modern Formula 1 cars. Some of the cars are very unique, there are only two or three of those cars in the world. I'm not a big fan of cars, but I loved this place that we spent a few hours walking, comparing cars from different years and choosing favorites.
Opening hours of the Franschhoek Motor Museum
|December – March|
|2a. The 6th||10am to 6pm||Adults – ZAR80 / $ 5.5|
|Sat, Sun||10:00 pm – 5:00 pm||Children – ZAR40 / $ 3|
|April – November|
|2a. The 6th||10 am to 5 pm|
|Sat, Sun||10am to 4pm|
Walk along the main road
Park your car and stroll down the main road, enjoy the architecture of the Dutch cape, visit some art galleries, stop for a cup of coffee or have lunch at one of the many restaurants along the road. The city is quite small, it will not take long to cross it on foot, from the entrance of the Huguenot Monument and back.
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