Exploring The Cape Winelands: 10 Things To Do In Franschhoek

things to do in franschhoek

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to blend work and wanderlust in a place so unique it feels like a slice of Europe in Africa? Welcome to Franschhoek, the French Corner of South Africa.

As a digital nomad who frequents the stunning city of Cape Town, I decided to escape the hustle and bustle and take the road less travelled. My quest for a place that offers both local culture and the convenience of cosy workspaces led me straight to Franschhoek, just an hour’s drive from Cape Town.

As soon as I arrived in Franschhoek, I could tell it was special. The town’s French roots and warm South African hospitality created an inspiring and welcoming atmosphere.

I’ve explored the nooks and crannies of this charming town to bring you the ultimate guide on things to do in Franschhoek. From wine tasting in some of the most prestigious vineyards of the Cape Winelands to discovering hidden hiking trails, get to know why I love this cosy corner in South Africa’s Western Cape.

1. Wine Tasting On Horseback

Franschhoek Horseback Outrides offer a unique and immersive way to explore the picturesque landscapes of the Cape Winelands, providing riders with a memorable equestrian experience amid vineyards and scenic trails

Ah, wine tasting on horseback in Franschhoek – now that’s an experience you don’t get to have every day! Picture yourself trotting through the lush vineyards, with the majestic mountains as the backdrop and the sweet aroma of ripening grapes in the air. Nothing short of magical – I know, I was there!

Now, I know what you’re thinking – “Wine on horseback? Isn’t that a bit…risky?” And you’d be right! Thankfully, the actual sipping happens off the horse. The ride is about immersing yourself in the scenery, with the wine as your tasty reward after each stop.

I recommend going through Franschhoek Outrides. They have three different tours to choose from, each differing in price based on duration. For those pressed for time, you could do a quick 1-hour jaunt for around R750 pp, and for a more immersive experience, there are 2.5-hour and even 4.5-hour rides for around R1,550 and R1,850 pp respectively.

Booking is easy, but I do recommend securing your spot in advance!

I can’t recommend this experience enough as one of the best things to do in Franschhoek. Rather than just staying at one wine farm, you’re travelling through the heart of the Cape Winelands on horseback with delectable wines along the way.

2. Scenic Strolls On A Hiking Trail

Mont Rochelle in Franschhoek is a luxurious haven nestled in the heart of the Winelands, where rolling vineyards and panoramic mountain views set the stage for an indulgent escape

If you’re keen on a good leg stretch and some fresh mountain vibes, Franschhoek’s got the trails to scratch that itch. If there’s one place I loved exploring, it’s definitely Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve.

This spot is a treasure trove of scenic beauty, with 10 hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just want a leisurely stroll, there’s a trail with your name on it here.

I hit the Uitkyk Trail in Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, and what a treat! It’s a 6 km hike that’s moderately challenging, but the views make every step worth it. Winding paths lead you through lush fynbos, you can smell that fresh mountain air, and the views paint a thousand words. I can’t even describe it, you’ll just have to see it for yourself!

I took my sweet time, soaking it all in, and wrapped it up in about three hours.

A word to the wise: hit the trails early in the morning or later in the afternoon to beat the heat – especially during South Africa’s summertime. And don’t forget to pack water, wear comfy shoes, and charge that camera!

3. Soothing Spa Day At Leeu Spa By Healing Earth

Leeu Spa in Franschhoek is a haven of tranquility and rejuvenation, where luxurious wellness treatments unfold amidst the serene backdrop of the Cape Winelands

For those days when you just need to hit pause and indulge in some serious me-time, a spa day at Leeu Spa by Healing Earth is the answer. Franschhoek has its fair share of spas, but Leeu Spa is a full-on retreat for the senses.

The second I walked in, I could just feel the workday hustle and the whole hunched-over-the-laptop vibe start to fade away. I’m a big fan of massages, and the masters of relaxation at Leeu Spa know their stuff.

I opted for the Jetlag Recovery treatment – a blissful 120 minutes of relaxation. Full-body brushing, a clay mask, and a 60-minute deep tissue massage (with heated bamboo, no less!) are all part of the package.

Of course, you’ve got some other great choices here, from healing massages to rejuvenating body ceremonies and specialised experiences. There’s something for every soul and sore muscle!

For a price of around R1,250 to R2,980, it’s not the cheapest indulgence in town, but trust me, it’s worth every cent. Just make sure to book in advance, especially during peak season.

4. Café Working At Terbodore Café

Terbodore Café is a charming haven for coffee enthusiasts, where the rich aromas of freshly roasted beans fill the air, and the cozy ambiance invites guests to savor artisanal coffees

When you think of Franschhoek, wine might be the first thing that comes to mind, but let me tell you, the coffee scene here is just as good, especially at Terbodore Café. With its laid-back vibe, this café is a little haven for anyone needing to crack on with some work with a great brew and tasty bite.

Walking into Terbodore, you’re immediately welcomed by the rich aroma of freshly ground coffee beans. The baristas here know their stuff, and it shows in every cup. Whether you’re a latte lover or an espresso enthusiast, they’ve got you covered.

For a real South African brew, get the Tin Cup – a double espresso with condensed milk and stretched milk. And don’t get me started on their menu, brimming with a smorgasbord of brunch and lunch options, from loaded breakfast options with coffee-cured bacon to hearty curries, soups, and international dishes.

For digital nomads like me, reliable Wi-Fi is non-negotiable, and Terbodore had me covered with strong, free Wi-Fi. Grab a seat inside or in the gardens, order your coffee of choice along with a slice of whatever cake they’ve got on display (trust me on this one), and you’re all set for a solid work session.

5. Taste Your Way Through the Franschhoek Valley

La Petite Colombe in Franschhoek is a culinary gem where the artistry of French-inspired cuisine meets the rich flavors of South Africa

What better way to immerse yourself in the South African experience than to taste their amazing food – or as the South Africans like to say “lekker kos”. From casual nibbles to fine dining, you’re in for a treat that caters to every pallet in Franschhoek.

First off, there’s La Petite Colombe on Huguenot Road. Sitting pretty in the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, they’ve got four superb menus to pick a taste from. I had the chance to dive into The Chef’s Experience Menu, where I could taste the passion and precision in every bite.

For something really special, The Werf at Boschendal Wine Estate is blissfully perfect. Set in a revamped cellar, it offers a farm-to-table dining experience using only the best local and seasonal ingredients.

For a quick yet delicious bite in a casual setting, I personally loved Big Dog Café on Main Road – which is right inside Trebedore Café! I’m telling you, their avo and whipped feta toast? To die for! It’s casual, it’s cool, and it’s just what you need for a laid-back munch.

6. Hop Aboard The Franschhoek Wine Tram

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a unique and enchanting way to explore the renowned vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley

If you’re here thinking one wine tasting in Franschhoek will do the trick, think again! As one of South Africa’s most famous wine regions, there’s so much more to explore – and wines to taste! The Franschhoek Wine Tram is your ticket to sipping through the vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley.

Picture yourself on a vintage open-air tram, the wind blowing about, and the sun-drenched views of the Franschhoek Wine Valley racing past. It’s an ambience that’s just intoxicating (pun intended).

When it comes to hopping aboard the tram, there are five different colour-coded lines to choose from: blue, navy, orange, pink, and red. Each line takes you on a route to different wine farms in Franschhoek and beyond.

Starting your journey at the Franschhoek terminal, grab a coffee and beignet for a pre-journey treat. You’ll then be whisked away on your chosen route to the various wine farms. Adult tickets are R280, while the kiddos (3-17 years) are R90. Just note, ticket prices do not include tasting fees, although you might score some discount vouchers.

The best part? You get to hop on and off whenever you fancy. Fancy a glass of red at the next estate? Hop off! Want to stick around for a bit longer and maybe grab a bite? Do it!

Now, a little tip from me to you: have a hearty breakfast before, drink plenty of water, and pace yourself on the wine.

And for the non-drinking nomads, don’t worry, you can still enjoy this experience alcohol-free!

7. Shop Local

As a digital nomad, constantly hopping from one stunning location to the next, you know that finding those perfect, travel-friendly souvenirs becomes an art form. But you simply can’t leave without snagging yourself a gift – or two!

Huguenot Street is lined with boutiques and stores that are just oozing with local charm. These shops are filled to the brim with unique finds that are not only beautiful but also easy to pack.

For clothing, there are boutiques like Desray, Indian Summer, and Nia and Far – each offering a special style. For those of you with a knack for cooking or just a love for all things kitchen, the farm shops at Babylonstoren, Boschendal, and Grande Provence are a must-visit.

For a touch of African flair to your roving office, The African Attitude store offers a variety of small, hand-crafted items that are as meaningful as they are portable. And if you’d prefer to eat your souvenir, Dalewood’s handcrafted cheeses and Huguenot Fine Chocolates are the perfect spots to purchase treats for those grinding work sessions.

In my opinion, a fun and fruitful shopping experience is at the Franschhoek Village Market, located on 19 Huguenot Street and open every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. I personally love grabbing a coffee at one of the nearby cafés and just taking it all in.

The market is a treasure trove of South African crafts, tasty eats, and some good ol’ local goodness. And all this with the soothing tunes of a local musician in the background? Yes, please!

8. Dive Into History At The Museums And Art Galleries

The Franschhoek Motor Museum is a captivating journey through automotive history, showcasing a remarkable collection of vintage and rare cars meticulously displayed in a state-of-the-art facility

Despite being a small town, Franschhoek has a big history behind it. Being a digital nomad isn’t just about finding a beautiful spot to set up your home office for some time, it’s also about getting to know the place you’re in.

Just like you’d savour the fine wines and food that Franschhoek has to offer, take a moment to appreciate the history, culture, and fine art of the region.

A must-visit is the Franschhoek Motor Museum. And you don’t have to be a car enthusiast to appreciate it! Although, if you are, you’ll love this! It’s like stepping into a time machine of automobiles, with over 220 classic vehicles from different eras.

The collection is displayed in chronological order, making it easy to take a trip down memory lane. Just a little heads up though, you need to book your visit in advance.

Of course, to really get to know the history of Franschhoek, you have to visit the Huguenot Monument and Memorial Museum. The monument is a real sight to behold and the museum offers a peek into the lives of the French Huguenots who settled in Franschhoek during the 17th century.

Good news for the art enthusiasts, there’s practically a gallery at every turn – I’m not kidding! The Sénéchal-Senekal Art Gallery and African Hands Art Gallery celebrate the artistic spirit of South Africa. They have everything from whimsical paintings to contemporary African art.

And if you’re up for something particularly unique, head over to Farm Sanctuary SA. It’s home to ‘Pigcasso’, the world’s only painting pig! Her abstract expressionist art is a quirky addition to Franschhoek’s cultural offerings, and you can even take home a nose-tip signed masterpiece!

9. Lounge & Lunch At Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren is a horticultural haven in Franschhoek, where the symmetrical beauty of the gardens meets the charm of a historic Cape Dutch farmstead

For those days you’ve been tapping away at your keyboard relentlessly, Babylonstoren offers the perfect lounge and lunch spot. This ancient Cape Dutch farm is a true sanctuary, with lush gardens, a variety of fresh produce, and an ambience that just says ‘relax and stay awhile’.

To take a break from my screen, I strolled through the gardens. The air is fresh and the foliage is so thick and luscious that it kind of wraps around you in a tranquil sense. The pathways are lined with fruit, vegetables, and flowers in an array of colours – you just get completely lost in the moment.

And after soaking all that in, it’s time to eat. The Greenhouse Restaurant is where the magic continues. Many opt for the Babel Restaurant, but there’s something about dining in a space that feels both rustic and refined that just hits right.

The Greenhouse offers a more laid-back vibe, perfect for those days when you just want to lounge with a picnic-style bite, surrounded by the beauty of the garden.

Think about biting into a delicious pot pie of slow-roasted, Cape Malay spiced leg of lamb or a layered sandwich. You can also complement it with coffee or the Babylonstoren wine!

10. Take To The Skies With Paragliding

Wineland Paragliding in Franschhoek

You haven’t seen Franschhoek until you’ve seen it from a birds-eye view. Imagine taking in an uninterrupted view of the mountains, the wine farms, the vineyards, and the gardens. I mean, who wouldn’t want to swap the hotel office chair for a chance to soar through the sky?

Wineland Paragliding is ready to welcome adrenaline junkies. You’ll kick off this adventure at Mont Rochelle Nature

For about R1,600 per person, you can soar through some of the most amazing scenery in Cape Town’s Western Cape. With a licensed paragliding flight instructor, you’ll take in the breathtaking Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve with this tandem paragliding flight off the Franschhoek Pass.

A helpful tip: Snag an early morning slot, especially in the summer. Trust me, it’s worth setting that alarm a bit earlier. You’ll get to ride the currents, gain some serious altitude and just maybe, you’ll find your new favourite story to tell.


What is the best time of year to visit Franschhoek?

Honestly, Franschhoek is stunning year-round, but if you’re looking for the sweet spot, I’d say visit any time from May to October. Autumn is a great time to visit, in particular. Not only do you beat the summer crowds, but you also enjoy cooler weather and get to see the Cape Winelands show off their autumn colours. Plus, the Franschhoek Literary Festival in May is a real treat for book lovers.

Are there coworking spaces available in Franschhoek?

The great thing about Franschhoek is that it’s a quaint town, so you can a comfortable work area just about anywhere! Many cafes and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, creating a perfect informal workspace. Some of the hotels even have desks in the room. For a more structured environment, you might want to check out nearby Stellenbosch, which has a few coworking spots.

Can I easily find Wi-Fi in Franschhoek?

You sure can! Most accommodations, from hotels to guesthouses, offer free Wi-Fi to guests. Cafés and restaurants are also pretty generous with their internet, though it’s always polite to order a coffee or a bite if you’re planning on staying awhile.

Is Franschhoek suitable for solo travellers?

Franschhoek is a friendly and safe destination with plenty of things to do and see for solo travellers. You’ll also find it incredibly easy to make new friends. Just have a chat with the locals; they’re full of stories and recommendations. There are also plenty of solo activities you can take part in, or even join a group of other solo travellers on an activity!

What are some budget-friendly activities in Franschhoek?

Franschhoek can be a bit pricey, but I would say it’s fairly priced compared to the more expensive Cape Town. There are plenty of budget-friendly alternatives to the more expensive activities. The Wine Tram and paragliding are two of the more expensive activities, but visiting markets, museums, and even some wine farms can be super budget-friendly.

Final Thoughts

Having experienced the beauty of Franschhoek myself, I can confidently say that this is an unmissable destination for digital nomads seeking a perfect balance between work and play. Things to do in Franschhoek are endless – this little yet captivating corner in South Africa promises a wholesome experience!

Overall, if I had to score all the things to do in Franschhoek, I’d the food and drink a strong 9/10, the activities a 7/10 (it’s not the most action-packed), and the atmosphere a 9/10.

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