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Seven ultimate day trips from Cape Town

Whether you’re visiting the sublime shores of Cape Town for a much-needed holiday, or you’re lucky enough to call the colourful Mother City home, there’s one thing guaranteed: there’s always something to do. The city itself is a playground of many delights and if you’re up for a little daytime adventuring, Cape Town will gladly oblige. Jot down some of our ideas for the ultimate day trips (mostly) beyond the urban centre this summer (or whenever!)

The Peninsula tour

For a day (or two!) filled with jaw-dropping ocean views, winding mountain roads and charming seaside towns, take a circular drive around the famed Cape Peninsula. Heading south, hit the surf in Muizenberg first, before meandering along to quirky Kalk Bay and onto Simons Town (hello Boulders’ penguins and Just Nuisance statue!) Next stop will be the south-westernmost tip of Africa: Cape Point Nature Reserve. Enjoy a hike along one of the many trails or visit the old lighthouse. Pass through Scarborough, Kommetjie and Noordhoek on your way back, before hitting Chapman’s Peak and making your way down to picturesque Hout Bay. Full day ahead with this one!

Compulsory padkos stop: Be sure to pop to the Olympia Bakery in Kalk Bay to pick up some yummy treats for the road.

Gallop away: Noordhoek beach is well-known for its horse-riding so plan accordingly if you’re keen to fit this in.

Wine-ing & dining in the Winelands

Easily one of the most celebrated regions, the Cape Winelands is a mix of endless vineyards, picture-perfect mountain backdrops, superb food and even more superb vino. From Franschhoek to Stellenbosch, Constantia, Paarl, Durbanville and Robertson, you’ll have your pick of estates waiting to welcome you and give you a taste of the area. Spend the day hopping from one to the next, sampling the various wines and nibbling on the delicious morsels available at the many award-winning restaurants. The towns themselves are also fascinating and worth discovering too.

Helpful tip: Remember to book for lunch in advance, especially over the summer season when the region gets particularly busy.

Read The most special wine estate lunching spots for some munching inspiration.

Small town exploring

The Cape is dotted with countless little towns, some quaint, some sleepy and some just simply intriguing. If you’re keen on escaping the bustling city for the slow-paced countryside of the serene Overberg, for example, you can do just that without having to travel very far. Experience the history of Tulbagh’s Church Street, sample the olives of the Swartland while visiting Riebeek Kasteel, or the old-world charm and architectural heritage Greyton has to offer. Many of these places seem to have been frozen in time so it’s most definitely an interesting experience exploring them.

Lesser-known gem: We love Philadelphia, located about 35km north of Cape Town. You’ll be treated to country hospitality at its best and we can assure you that after one visit, you would have fallen in love. Enjoy the Sunday buffet at de Malle Meul in the old flour mill or a laid-back meal under a huge pepper tree at the popular Pepper Tree Coffee Shop. Art lovers can also check out the handcrafted wares in the adjacent Art Stable.

De Malle Meul – Tel: +27 (21) 972 1097; Pepper Tree Café – Tel: +27 (21) 972 1916

West Coast wanderings

And speaking of small towns… The West Coast offers a beautiful stretch of coastline lined with a number of lazy beach towns, again perfect for getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Langebaan boasts the Langebaan Lagoon, the ideal swimming, watersport and fishing spot. Continue on for another 30 minutes, and you’ll arrive at Paternoster, a sleepy fishing village with gorgeous places to stay and great restaurants. The West Coast is also a fantastic place to see the wild flowers when they’re in full bloom (season is August – September), with the West Coast National Park being a prime viewing spot.

Seafood lovers have to try: Die Strandloper. This well-known open-air restaurant is perched on the beach and serves a mean seafood lunch of several courses that consists of many South African favourites such as crayfish, mussels, prawns and fish curry. YUM!

Tel: +27 (22) 772 2490

You may want to read An introduction to Paternoster & Things to do in Paternoster

The great outdoors

When it comes to being spoiled for choice with activities out in nature, Cape Town doesn’t disappoint. From an array of incredible hikes, to sandy-white beaches and amazing picnic spots, if you’re looking to connect with nature, you can easily do it. Here are a few ideas of how you can spend some time outdoors:

  • Shark-cage diving in Gansbaai.
  • Mountain biking in the Helderberg (choose from four routes catering for riders of varying fitness levels).
  • Picnic in the beautiful Kirtsenbosch National Botanical Garden or at Oudekraal Beach (between Camps Bay and Llandudno).
  • Paragliding off Signal Hill or abseiling down Table Mountain.
  • Hiking at one of these spots.

Sweet pickings

Following on from the above - there are few things as sweet as picking your very own fruit. A day spent either strawberry or cherry picking can be most satisfying, most of all for your belly. Both kids and adults will love this excursion, with the gorgeous setting of the Winelands and Ceres making it that much more special. This experience will give enjoying the “fruits of your labour” a whole new meaning.

For strawberries (Stellenbosch):

  • Polkadraai Strawberry Farm (Tel: +27 (21) 881 3303)
  • Mooiberge Strawberry Farm (Tel: +27 (21) 881 3222)

Strawberry picking season runs from October to December. Booking essential for large groups.

For cherries (Ceres):

  • Klondyke Cherry Farm (Tel: +27 (23) 312 1521)

Cherry season runs from the end of November until the first week of January.

An authentic braai experience

For a truly unique and authentic South African experience, driving out to the township of Gugulethu and tucking into some delicious, meaty goodness is the way to go. Mzoli’s has become a popular spot for both locals and visitors looking to enjoy simply prepared yet tasty meat, while mingling and having a good time. Crowds gather around the plastic tables in the covered canteen to eat the sausage, chicken and beef they’ve chosen themselves from large tin bowls, all covered in Mzoli’s famous “secret” marinade – it’ll have you licking your fingers for sure. It’s an experience of note and the perfect way to spend an afternoon with friends.

Helpful tip: It’s worth phoning ahead to book a table unless you plan to arrive well before 12 noon.

Tel: +27 (21) 638 1355

Perhaps you’d like one of your day trips to turn into an overnight? Our amazing res team will happily help you find the right accommodation you’re after in the area you’d like – simply pop them an email or call them on +27 (21) 250 0015.

Happy day tripping!