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Explore the coastline of the Overberg region
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The 9 best day trips from Cape Town

Whether it's wine, whales or wide open beaches, explore beyond the city with these fabulous day trips

Richard Holmes
Written by
Richard Holmes

Cape Town packs plenty of activities into a single world-class city. And sure, you might have found so many great restaurants, activities and bars that you never want to leave, but there are equally good reasons to leave it behind and head further afield. 

Just outside the city, there's plenty more to discover and explore. The best part? In many cases, you can get there and back in a single day and still make it home in time for supper. If you have a few days to spare, hire a car and hit the road to discover the best day trips beyond Cape Town.

☕️ The best cafés and coffee shops in Cape Town
📍 The best things to do in Cape Town
🥣 The best breakfast and brunch spots in Cape Town
🏨 The best hotels in Cape Town

Born and raised in the city, Richard Holmes is a travel writer based in Cape Town. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Cape Town's best day trips

A sip and a swirl in Franschhoek
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1. A sip and a swirl in Franschhoek

Franschhoek – the ‘French Corner’ – is one of the oldest wine regions in the Cape, as famous for its elegant estates as the menu of bistros and restaurants on offer.

Leave Cape Town early to allow time for a visit to Babylonstoren, where the remarkable gardens can be explored on your own or with a guided tour. Grab coffee and pastries at Boschendal, and wander through the on-site art gallery and excellent farm deli.

Next, head for Franschhoek itself, where the main street is lined with bistros and boutiques, all leading towards the striking Huguenot Monument.

There are many award-winning cellars in and around town – consider visiting a few on the Franschhoek Wine Tram – but Haute Cabriere is a must for its remarkable valley views.

Road trip along Clarence Drive
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2. Road trip along Clarence Drive

Have a hire car? The scenic route along Clarence Drive ranks as one of the world’s most beautiful drives.

Head out of town on the N2, turning off towards Gordon’s Bay, before the sinuous Clarence Drive (listed as the R44 on road maps) wends its way between the fynbos-clad mountains and the deep blue seas of False Bay.

Stop in the village of Pringle Bay for a walk on the beach, or keep going for a swim at nearby Betty’s Bay. The Stony Point penguin colony here is a quieter, more laid-back alternative to Boulders, while the towering dunes offer fun sandboarding adventures.

Take a walk through the Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens, or a hike in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, before returning via the scenic Elgin valley.

Stroll the 'City of Oaks'
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3. Stroll the 'City of Oaks'

Stellenbosch is one of South Africa’s most famous winemaking regions, but it’s also worth a day wandering the charming streets of this historic 'city of oaks'.

This vibrant university town dates back to 1679, a history celebrated in the soaring Moederkerk, the heritage architecture of Dorp Street, and the excellent Village Museum. The Rupert Museum boasts an impressive collection of landscapes by acclaimed artist JH Pierneef, while the Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens are amongst the oldest in the country.

The town is also home to a thriving food and wine scene, with owner-run bistros and upscale wine bars blossoming in the historic heart of Stellenbosch.

Wine and whales in Hermanus
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4. Wine and whales in Hermanus

It’s well worth the two-hour drive from Cape Town to Hermanus, a town home to some of the world’s best land-based whale watching during the peak winter season (July-October).

From the cliffs that surround the Old Harbour, Southern Right whales can be seen spy-hopping, lob-tailing and breaching close to shore. There are shops and restaurants aplenty in town, but leave time to walk the 12-kilometre Hermanus Cliff Path that runs from New Harbour to the Blue Flag-rated Grotto Beach.

After a visit to the lookout point on Rotary Way, return to Cape Town via the beautiful Hemel-en-Aarde valley, home to some of the country’s best wine estates.

The wild (windy) West Coast
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5. The wild (windy) West Coast

Don’t get confused: the ‘west’ coast actually lies north of Cape Town, a wonderfully empty wind-swept corner of the Cape that delivers natural beauty and charm aplenty.

The star of the show is the West Coast National Park, an hour's drive from Cape Town, which is home to beautiful wetlands and impressive wildflower displays during the spring flower season (August-September). Stop at the Geelbek bird hides for close-up views of the lagoon’s feathered visitors, and if the weather’s warm you’ll find wonderful (safe) swimming and picnic spots at Kraalbaai.

Or head for lunch in the town of Langebaan, where Die Strandloper offers an open-air multi-course seafood feast. The next stop is the West Coast Fossil Park. This National Heritage Site recreates the region as it was during the Pliocene era, when saber-toothed cats, short-necked giraffes and African bears wandered here.

On your way home, drop by the !Khwa ttu San Heritage Centre for a glimpse into the culture and heritage of the indigenous San people.

The tip of Africa
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6. The tip of Africa

It’s a shame to rush through the beautiful Overberg region in a single day, but it’s worth it to plant your feet on Africa’s southernmost tip.

Through the charming village of Napier – the farmstall is famous for their ‘black pan breakfast’ –  and past the white sands of Struisbaai, make your way to the windswept village at Cape Agulhas.

The iconic lighthouse has kept watch here since 1848, and the climb to the top up steep ladders is worth it for the views along the coast. Wander the boardwalks to the plaque marking the bottom of Africa, or explore the two local hiking trails to discover ancient fish traps, wrecked ships and prehistoric shell middens.

Take the scenic route back to Cape Town via Elim, a Moravian mission village founded in 1824, to marvel at the original mill-wheel and impressive church.

Get your kicks… on Route 62
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7. Get your kicks… on Route 62

Most travellers take Route 62 as a scenic journey to the Garden Route, but with an early start and a late finish you can cover the highlights in a day.

From the town of Robertson, a two-hour drive out of Cape Town, spend the morning exploring the wine estates and nature reserves of the Breede River Valley. A river cruise from Viljoensdrift is a laid-back way to soak up the scenery, before driving the winding mountain pass to historic Montagu.

Soak up the vintage charm of town before the R62 wends through orchards and farmland to the quaint town of Barrydale. Stop for a late lunch at Diesel & Crème, or shop at Barrydale Hand Weavers.

The Tradouw Pass takes you back to the N2 highway and the road back to Cape Town. If time allows pay a visit to the excellent museums in Swellendam, the third-oldest town in South Africa.

Discover the Swartland
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8. Discover the Swartland

The wheat fields that carpet the Swartland, an hour from Cape Town, may be known as the ‘bread basket’ of the region, but they’re also brimming with fine wine, food and culture.

Over the past decade the region has built a solid reputation for its world-class Chenin Blanc and Syrah (in particular) thanks to a crop of innovative winemakers crafting world-class wines from aged bush vines. But there’s more to explore than wine.

In the Riebeeck Valley you’ll find elegant country hotels, charming restaurants and olive estates celebrated during the annual (usually in May) Olive Festival. The little town of Moorreesburg plays host to the offbeat Wheat Industry Museum, while the village of Darling is home to the delightfully quirky cultural hub of Evita se Perron and one of the Cape’s finest craft breweries. The region is also a hub for the annual display of spring flowers, which peak in late August and early-September.

Steam adventures
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9. Steam adventures

Relive the glamorous days of steam travel with a day trip aboard the vintage coaches of Ceres Rail. Pulled by shimmering steam engines, lovingly refurbished by a team of enthusiasts, Ceres Rail offers a pair of day trips to the countryside beyond Cape Town.

The regular Elgin route offers an exciting ascent of Sir Lowry’s Pass followed by a few hours at the colourful Elgin Railway Market, while longer special excursions to the town of Ceres take in beautiful mountain passes on a visit to this quaint country farming town.

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