Franschhoek Valley in South Africa is one of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet. Flanked by the Huguenot Mountains and awash with clear streams running past rolling verdant vineyards, Franschhoek is as picturesque as a small town can get. Not only are the locals inviting and friendly, it’s also quiet, safe, and somewhat vibrant.
Accordingly, savvy travellers flock to Franschhoek by the thousands in the summer season. South Africans spend weekends enjoying picnics on the sunny lawns of its many wine farms. There are literally thousands of options for sleep, play, dining, and of course wine tasting.
This article is about narrowing down those thousands of options. Read more for our locally curated ‘Top 5’ things to do in Franschhoek and get ready to enjoy the best of the winelands:
1. Wander the gardens and enjoy farm to table dining at Babylonstoren
The 3.5 hectare (8 acre) gardens of Babylonstoren are utterly iconic. Using organic farming methods in a self-sufficient environment, the massive garden contains everything from stone fruit to medicinal herbs. Ducks and chickens wander freely, fertilizing the soil while streams fed from a local river water the plants. At each of the cafes and the incredibly stylish wine tasting room, visitors can enjoy a genuine farm-to-table wine and food experience. For these reasons, and so many more, Babylonstoren is not to be missed.
2. Wine tasting on horseback
Franschhoek is famous for its Bordeaux-inspired wine farms, and what better way to experience the farms than on horseback? Adventurous wine tasters enjoy a walk along less trodden mountain paths to a curated list of wine farms. Then again, if you are nervous about ‘drinking and riding,’ a return lift can be arranged – or you can just ask the horse to walk a bit slower.
3. Spend an afternoon at Boschendal Farm
Boschendal has become a haven of activity with an incredibly tasteful re-brand and re-design a few years ago. The farm has a colloquial charm, and houses several dining options as well as some pretty cool activities. Notably, visitors can ride a horse through the farm or go on a carriage ride. Moreover, the farm has a network of biking trails. At the end of a long day exploring, guests enjoy a picnic under the oak trees or a 5-star meal at The Werf.
4. Wine tasting at Chamonix Wine Farm
Franschhoek has many wine farms, but the consensus amongst wine makers is that Chamonix is by far the best of the lot. Their wines are incredibly complex yet smooth, and the tasting is done in an old fashioned cellar type room. On a warm summer day, go outside and listen to the gurgling sound of the adjacent stream while sipping the best wines in the valley!
5. Enjoy a dinner at Foliage
In the five star dining world, the concept of ‘rewilding’ is rare indeed. The delicious exception to this rule is Foliage. Chef Chris Erasmus is the multiple award winning chef who responsible for the groundbreaking foraging concept which informs a delightful menu in which everything is ‘wild.’ Book in advance to avoid the disappointing possibility of missing the opportunity to dine on wild things.