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Things To Do in Grabouw, Western Cape: Discover Top Activities Near Cape Town

things to do in grabouw

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On frequent road trips between Hermanus and Cape Town, we would often breeze past the farm stalls along the N2 highway without a second look.

But after a recent detour, I became curious about Grabouw – a charming rural town nestled in the scenic Elgin Valley just an hour’s drive from Cape Town that we had driven by many times.

After several day trips spent uncovering Grabouw’s pastoral beauty and farm-fresh flavours, we discovered some of the top things to do in this hidden Western Cape gem in South Africa.

From scenic outdoor adventures to indulging in local cuisine, this article will inspire you to craft your own idyllic day of activities in Grabouw.

Hike the Palmiet Trail in Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is a pristine wilderness enclave in the Western Cape, captivating visitors with its diverse landscapes and rich biodiversity

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Palmiet Trail in Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve is a must-do hike for this list of things to do near Grabouw.

Arriving early, we picked up the required permits before hitting the 6 km circular trail in the Elgin Valley. The imposing mountain peaks overlooking the valley offered stunning scenery as we hiked along the fynbos-lined path.

About an hour in, we paused for a snack break to refuel. The hike took us around 2-2.5 hours at a comfortable pace. Unfortunately, we forgot essentials like sunscreen – rookie mistake!

Completing the scenic Palmiet Trail was the perfect way to spend a rejuvenating morning surrounded by nature. While I’d love to return someday and tackle the multi-day hiking routes, this easy trail was ideal for our casual day trip.

I’d recommend it to any fellow outdoor lovers looking for things to do in Grabouw. Just don’t forget to pack snacks, water and sun protection! Permits are required, so be sure to acquire them before arriving.

Time commitment: 2-3 hours

Booking: Essential

Price: Permit fees are around ZAR 50 per person (available at the gate)

Good to know: Closes at 3 p.m. so start early. Bring snacks, water, sunscreen, swim costume & towel.

The Palmiet Trail is in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve (about 15 kilometres from Grabouw). It starts from Nuweberg, by the Cape Canopy Tour. The entrance is well-signed from the R321.

Horse Riding at Wildekrans Wine Estate

Wildekrans Wine Estate is a vinicultural gem nestled in the Bot River Valley, where rolling vineyards and a historic homestead create a picturesque setting

As an avid equestrian, I had to book a trail ride to soak up Grabouw’s scenery on horseback.

We scheduled a leisurely ride through the rolling vineyards and orchards of Wildekrans Wine Estate. I was instantly mesmerised by the sweeping views of distant mountains as we arrived.

The horses carried us up hills revealing breathtaking vistas along the way. We even encountered some friendly farm animals that made the experience feel straight out of a storybook.

After an easy hour riding through gorgeous pastoral landscapes, we dismounted back at the stables. I was already eagerly planning our next equestrian adventure in the area.

If you too fancy a taste of rural life on horseback, Wildekrans and Oak Valley Estates both offer trail rides for all skill levels. Meandering through the countryside atop your trusty horse is the perfect way to soak up Grabouw’s scenic beauty.

Just be sure to book your ride in advance online or by phone. And get ready to saddle up for a serene escape!

For those seeking more of a thrill, mountain biking trails at Oak Valley Wine Estate or Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve wind through scenic areas with routes suited for different skill levels. It’s an adventurous way to take in the natural landscapes around Grabouw.

Time commitment: 1-2 hours

Booking: Advance booking recommended through Horse Riding Cape Town

Price: ZAR 650 – ZAR 900

Good to know: All skill levels are welcome. Wear pants and closed-toe shoes.

Wildekrans Wine Estate is located 25 kilometres from Grabouw towards Bot River.

Visit the Vibrant Elgin Railway Market

Elgin Railway Market in Grabouw is a vibrant cultural hub housed within a historic apple warehouse, blending nostalgia with contemporary flair

I’ll admit I was sceptical about visiting the bustling Elgin Railway Market, but arriving as a vintage 1940s steam train pulled in changed everything.

Seeing the majestic locomotive dramatically roll in—whistles blaring, smoke billowing—transported me back in time. Impressive!

That set the tone for an adventure inside the lively converted warehouse, which left my partner smitten with the Art Deco x Steampunk decor. This place is packed with unique local wares, from genuine leather goods and Himalayan salt lamps to salvaged antique finds.

I don’t quite get the South African obsession with “vellies” myself, but if you’re into those leather high-top shoes with the terrible laces, they had a mind-boggling variety.

In between shopping, we sampled too many artisanal treats – my favourite being the chocolate espresso macarons. We grabbed fresh-brewed coffee from Steam Coffee and a divine carrot cake slice before departing.

Chatting about our experiences on the drive home, I suddenly understood this market’s popularity as a weekend spot.

And I already can’t wait to return on the vintage train from Cape Town to fully immerse myself in the nostalgia. This first visit gave me a true taste of Grabouw’s singular spirit. That steamtrain was just plain cool!

Time commitment: 1-3 hours

Booking: No booking required, unless going by train (book through Ceres Rail Company)

Price: No entry fee, just pay for food/goods. If taking the train, it’s about ZAR 700 per person.

Good to know: Check schedule for days/hours open. Vintage train operates select weekends – normally Saturdays.

The Elgin Railway Market is located in Grabouw. Option to take vintage steam train from Cape Town on select days.

Picnic at Oak Valley Estate 

Oak Valley Estate in Grabouw is a picturesque escape nestled in the heart of the Elgin Valley, where rolling orchards and vineyards surround a historic Cape Dutch homestead

For a leisurely gourmet experience, we booked one of Oak Valley Estate’s Instagram-worthy picnic baskets.

We spread out our blanket beneath sprawling trees and popped open a bottle of their crisp Sauvignon Blanc. Our artisanal feast featured smoked chicken pâté, roasted chicken, creamy potato salad, fruits, cheeses, and the most decadent spiced apple tart.

Bird-watching between bites in the peaceful open-air setting was pure bliss. Their chef-curated baskets transformed an ordinary picnic into a special occasion.

Many estates in the Elgin Valley let you BYO picnic with purchased wine. But Oak Valley’s culinary team took our al fresco meal to the next level. It was a delicious highlight of our Grabouw getaway!

So gather your loved ones and escape to these picture-perfect gardens for a catered picnic. Just don’t forget your camera to capture the views and feast!

This little slice of paradise is perfect for a memorable occasion.

Time commitment: 2-3 hours

Booking: Book picnic basket 24 hrs in advance

Price: From ZAR 460 – ZAR 640 per basket, excluding wine

Good to know: Bring sun protection. They call to reschedule if it looks like rain.

Oak Valley Wine Estate is located in Grabouw.

Pair Brandy and Chocolate at Oude Molen Distillery

As a whiskey-loving Scotsman, I was intrigued to try something new at Oude Molen Distillery – a brandy and chocolate pairing.

We booked their 2-hour Distillery Experience for a refined afternoon outing. Their interactive tasting guides you through the entire production process, from base wines to the award-winning Oude Molen VS, VSOP and XO brandies.

But the main event was our expert-led brandy flight paired with decadent Lindt chocolates. Our guide highlighted the complex notes of oak, spice and dried fruit in each pour. Though I pretended to distinguish them as any refined taster should!

The chocolates blended impeccably with the brandies, culminating in a grand finale 12-year sip. By the end, my eyes were opened to exquisite South African brandies. I definitely have an appreciation for what goes into brandy-making, though I will say I haven’t been fully converted.

Led by passionate experts, this tasting was a sophisticated yet cosy escape. Oude Molen unlocked a whole new world of brandy for this rookie, one decadent bite and sip at a time. Don’t miss out during your Grabouw getaway!

Time commitment: 2-hour tour and tasting

Booking: At least 2 days in advance recommended

Price: ZAR 80 per person

Good to know: Closed-toe shoes are required. No photography inside. 18+ only.

Oude Molen Distillery is located in Grabouw.

Stop at a Farm Stall, or Two

The Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw is a charming haven along the Elgin Valley's scenic route, where the aroma of freshly baked goods and locally sourced produce fills the air

In my book, no road trip through the Overberg region is complete without a stop at a farm stall.

When near Grabouw, we usually stop at Houw Hoek Farm Stall on the way in & The Orchard Farm Stall on the way out. Just a few kilometres apart, both make a convenient pitstop on the way.

Houw Hoek and The Orchard are must-visits just minutes apart for convenient pit stops when travelling the N2.

I’m always overwhelmed by their drool-worthy selection of baked goods, local wines, jams, and artisanal products. Fair warning – your quick pie stop will turn into a 30-minute shopping adventure!

Weekends can get busy, but spacious patios allow you to settle in with your haul. Don’t miss their gift shops filled with regional wines and goodies like pecan pies to take home.

Houw Hoek’s pies are legendary – so famous you can now find them fresh in Cape Town shops. But do yourself a favour and try one straight from the source. Their cosy ambience and friendly service turn a highway stop into a delightful experience.

For road trippers and locals alike, these farm stalls offer a tasty pitstop with quality local flavours and charm. Just be sure to arrive hungry, because you’ll be leaving with bags full of delicious Elgin Valley treasures!

Time commitment: 30 mins – 1 hour

Booking: No booking required

Price: No entry fee, just pay for goods purchased

Good to know: Best to go on weekdays to avoid crowds

Both farm stalls are located along the N2 highway near Grabouw. The Orchard Farm Stall is just at the entrance to Grabouw while Houw Hoek Farm Stall is about 16 kilometres from Grabouw.


What is the best time of year to visit Grabouw?

The best time to visit Grabouw is during the warmer months from September through April. This allows you to fully enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and picnicking. The summer months from November to February can get quite hot, so spring (Sept-Oct) and autumn (March-April) are ideal for avoiding crowds and scorching temperatures. Winters can be rainy and chilly.

Many attractions stay open year-round, but some activities like vintage train trips may be limited to peak visitor months.

What are some other things to do in Grabouw and surrounds worth adding to my itinerary?

Some popular attractions and things to do in and around Grabouw include:

  • Cape Canopy Tour ziplining in Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve
  • Elgin Valley wine route – over 20 estates offering tastings
  • Bot River lagoon nature walks and bird watching
  • Wavecrest honey farm tours and tastings
  • Peregrine Falcon breeding project near Vogelgat Nature Reserve
  • Caledon Spa hot springs
  • Hermanus whale watching (in season) and cliff paths
  • Cape Agulhas, the southernmost point of Africa

Visiting some of these nearby sights can easily round out your Grabouw escape for a full day or weekend in the region. The town makes a great starting point for exploring the Overberg countryside.

Final Thoughts

Roll down those windows and let the pastoral magic of Grabouw wash over you! This charming rural escape is only an hour from Cape Town and offers a feast for the senses – think mountain trails, horseback vineyards, bustling markets, and brandy tastings.

Whether you’re an outdoor junkie, foodie, or thrifting pro, there’s something for every interest in this valley gem. Saddle up for farm-fresh adventures, just 60 minutes from Cape Town.

Focus your country jaunt on blissful weekday mornings and you’ll miss the crowds. But don’t skip the farm stands bursting with bakes, gifts, and apparently – addictive pie.

Grabouw is calling your name. Ditch the city grind and immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and tastes of this hidden valley oasis in South Africa. Your revitalising rural retreat awaits! Just bring your appetite for scenic vistas and delicious local flavours.

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