Franschhoek, a quick 45-minute drive from Cape Town, has a beauty that’s hard to match. With its mountain peaks, lush scenery and a never-ending list of wine estates (approximately 50), time spent in this historical town never quite feels long enough. While the traditional visit to an estate for a wine tasting is essential, we’re here to switch things up a bit with a few fresh ideas to add to your to-do list. Grab a pen and write these down – our top eight fun things to do in Franschhoek…
1. Horse ride in the vineyards
Get ready to saddle up and explore Franschhoek on horseback. As you meander through the vineyards taking in the sheer beauty that’s around every corner and over every hill, you’ll get to learn about this incredible wine region and its history that dates back over 300 years. Feeling a little parched after the ride? Finish off this unique experience tasting a few of the wines produced from the vineyards that you explored – a great way to experience the vine to glass journey.
2. Picnic at a wine estate
Known as the gastronomical capital of South Africa, Franschhoek is home to some of the world’s greatest restaurants. While dining at these exquisite spots should definitely be on your list, a picnic at one of the wine estates, especially during summer, is a must! Relax on lawns overlooking vineyards as you sip on a glass of bubbles or rosé and indulge in delicious picnic snacks. Chances are you’ll get carried away soaking up the sunshine and ordering more wine, so don’t make too many other afternoon plans.
Also Read: 6 Undiscovered Wine Farms Around Cape Town
3. Ride the Franschhoek Wine Tram
Short on time and looking to pack in as many wine farms as possible into a day? All aboard the Franschhoek Wine Tram – a firm favourite on our list of fun things to do in Franschhoek. With a selection of eight different routes, choose one based on your wine preferences and hop on and off the tram when you stop at an estate that tickles your fancy. If you start your day early and keep an eye on your watch, you can visit up to 9 farms in a single day. But if there’s one thing we can suggest, pick your top four and avoid rushing – there’s so much more than wine to experience at each stop.
4. Cycle through the vineyards
Looking for an adventure that will get your blood pumping? Jump onto a bike and ride along trails that take you through vineyards, up mountains and into areas that only a few have explored. If mountains sound a little daunting (and tiring), opt for a slower-paced bike tour that even the most amateur rider can enjoy. On your tour you’ll get to discover a few of Franschhoek’s most beautiful wine estates, tasting their world-class wines along the way.
5. Visit a luxury spa
Take a break from wining and dining and wind down at one of Franschhoek’s luxury spas. From treatments using garden-fresh ingredients to cascading pools overlooking vineyards, Franschhoek is the perfect location for some real R&R. For a truly unique Winelands wellness experience, visit Boschendal – you can arrange to have your massage done in the tranquil gardens surrounded by the sounds of nature. If a full day experience is what you’re after, Babylonstoren offers incredible treatments as well as facilities to die for – a bamboo enclosed beach area, a gorgeous swimming pool and a world-famous garden.
6. Go beer tasting
Calling all beer lovers. For the past couple of years, craft beer has taken off in South Africa, and Franschhoek has become home to some of the country’s top sellers. Trade in your wine glass and head to one of the local breweries to taste your way through a range of different beers. Once you’ve found your favourite, grab a pint, sit back and enjoy an afternoon in the sunshine.
7. Make your own beauty products
Renowned for its breathtaking gardens, Babylonstoren attracts a slew of tourists every day to experience its wine, food and natural beauty. A recent addition to the farm is the Factory – a bright space that houses the Scented Room, the Juicery and the Balsamic Vinegar Battery – which allows visitors to witness the magical production of some of the farm’s products. But what makes this space extra special is that guests can now create their own beauty products, one of the newer fun things to do in Franschhoek. Get creative and concoct a scented bath soak, face mask or hand and foot scrub using ingredients grown on the farm.
8. Enjoy an afternoon tea
Nothing is quite as delightfully decadent as afternoon tea, and Franschhoek sure brings a wonderful spread to the table. From classic tea and scones with clotted cream to blanched asparagus with Parma ham and a glass of bubbles, dress for the occasion and get ready to indulge in some seriously moreish treats. For tea with vineyard and garden views, head to Le Verger at Le Franschhoek Hotel or Manor House at Leeu Estate. If immaculate interior design gets you excited, opt for tea at Orangerie Restaurant at Le Lude – you won’t be disappointed.
So, the next time you’re looking for fun things to do in Franschhoek outside of the usual wine tasting experience, give one of these options a bash. Full disclosure, you’ll probably find yourself booking a night’s stay (or more) to explore this magical town as much as possible.
What have been some of your favourite things to do in Franschhoek? Let us know in the comments below.