Franschhoek: the 7 must do’s in the most popular wine town in South Africa

Franschhoek is one of South Africa’s most important and popular wine towns. It is not a big city, but it is a very beautiful one, surrounded by mountains and great vineyards. In this blog we tell you all about Franschhoek. We provide tips on the 7 best things to do in Franschhoek, give tips on the its hotspots and on hotels. Because Franschhoek is not only worth a visit for the wine, but also for the beautiful nature and the delicious food.Franschhoek 4

Franschhoek in South Africa

Franschhoek is part of the Cape Winelands. It is an hour and a half drive from Cape Town and is one of the three most important wine towns in the Cape Winelands. The name comes from the French Huguenots who arrived here in the 17th century. Franschhoek is one of the oldest towns in South Africa and this is reflected in the architecture of the beautiful houses here.

Stellenbosch, Paarl and Franschhoek

Besides Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl are the two other wine towns. Paarl is a somewhat larger city, very spread out and less lovely than Franschhoek. We do not recommend staying in Paarl, it lacks coziness and is not very centrally located. Stellenbosch is a nice, somewhat larger city. Because there is also a university here, you will not only see tourists here but also many students. Read all about the 7 things to do in Stellenbosch in our blog!

How many days do you need for Franschhoek?

We recommend that you stay at least 3 nights in Franschhoek so that you can visit several wineries, take a nice hike and also relax for a while.

Are you traveling to Cape Town after Franschhoek? Then read our Cape Town blog. Or are you going to drive the Garden Route? Then read all about the ultimate Garden Route itinerary here!

Stellenbosch South Africa 6

The 7 best things to do in Franschhoek and its surroundings

Yes, number 1 of the best activities in Franschhoek is of course visiting wineries and tasting wines. But there is much more to do here! Read on to find out more about the 7 best sights and things to do in Franschhoek and the surrounding area.

1. Visiting wineries and tasting wine in Franschhoek

When in Franschhoek, visiting a winery is a must! Wine tasting in the wine countries of South Africa has certainly become quite an experience. At many wine estates you not only taste wine, but also enjoy good food (usually there are several restaurants), walk, enjoy art, or shop.

There are 45 wine estates in the Franschhoek area and to help you choose the best one, we have written a blog with our favorite wineries in Franschhoek (and surroundings). What is also recommended is to have a picnic at a winery. Read more about the best picnics at wineries in Franschhoek and the surrounding area in our blog.

Visit wineries in Franschhoek yourself, with a tour or the wine tram

We visited the wineries ourselves, because we enjoy going to different wineries on our own. But it is also possible to take a wine tour with a guide. For more information click here.

In addition, a wine tram runs from Franschhoek. This allows you to visit 25 different wineries so you can taste wine at several wineries without having to drive a car. There are ten different routes, with each route taking you to eight or nine wineries. It is a “hop on hop off” principle, so you decide how long you stay somewhere. For more information see the Franschhoek Wine Tram website here.

A guided wine tour or a day on the wine tram is recommended if you have little time but want to see different wineries in a responsible way.Franschhoek 2

Do you want to explore the Cape Winelands yourself, just like us? Then we recommend that you rent a car. Do you want to rent a car without any hassle? Then choose a car via Sunny Cars. With Sunny Cars we often book rental cars within and outside Europe because you are fully covered in terms of insurance and you can contact them 24/7 with all your questions!

2. Stroll around beautiful Franschhoek to explore the city

The town of Franschhoek itself is located in a ridiculously beautiful valley with 360 degrees of mountains around it. The houses in Cape Dutch style, with their white color, stand out brightly against the green-brown mountain peaks that can be seen everywhere. It all feels very sweet and friendly.

The city is not big, but there are more than enough nice restaurants, art galleries and shops to while away a few hours. Almost all of these are on the main street. But be sure to walk into a side street/alley sometimes, as nice shops are also hidden in the courtyards.

Every Saturday and Sunday from nine to three there is the “village market”. Here you will find good food, souvenirs and clothing. Nice to stroll across.

Extra Franschhoek tip: a 20-minute drive from Franschhoek you will find some beautiful furniture & antique shops in large warehouses. You have Barn & Werf, Beeswood Decor and Die Handelshuis next to a beautiful branch of Ou Meul (chain with roadside restaurants with fantastic food). A little further on you have Koöperasie Stories, also worth a look.

3. Walk in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve or hike at La Motte!

Franschhoek is surrounded by mountains and the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve in particular is a nice place to go hiking. There are a total of 10 hiking trails that you can do here, ranging from 2 km to over 13 km. We walked with Floris in the baby carrier the short Breakfast trail (less than an hour), which gives you a beautiful view over the Franschhoek Valley and then walked a short part of the Uitkyktrail. Good friends of ours did this 6 km circular route all the way through and absolutely recommend it! Click here for the entrance to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve and here for an overview of the different hikes. Admission is 70 Rand per person.

La Motte wine estate hike

Another hike that we can recommend is the La Motte wine estate hike. Yes, you read that right, this is a walk along the vineyards and through the mountains of La Motte. The route is a total of 5 km long and well signposted. We thought this was one of the nicest hikes in South Africa, perfect for a morning of exercise. Good to know, you are not allowed to do this hike with children in a baby carrier (we did this hike before Floris was born). And it is essential that you book in advance via the La Motte site. Costs for this hike are 90 Rand per person.

4. Explore the Franschhoek area by mountain bike (including the Berg River Dam)

A perfect activity for when you want some action combined with perhaps a glass of wine: mountain biking in the Franschhoek area! Ries did this with a friend and they had a great time. They drove to the Berg River Dam, a beautiful large dam lake, around which several mountain bike (and walking) tracks run. But also the mountains behind the dam were visited by them.

While cycling, a stop at a restaurant or bakery for a tasty lunch is of course a must. But you can also visit a winery for a tasting while cycling. We saw several people do this, which is useful because then you are not dependent on the car.

We do recommend that you rent an electric mountain bike because of the many mountains in combination with the heat. It is also possible to take a wine bike tour with a guide. Click here for more information.

5. Drive the famous Franschhoek Pass by car

It is now clear that Franschhoek has a great location! But did you know that the route to Franschhoek, via the Franschhoek Pass, is also really beautiful? This 15 kilometer long road runs between the mountains and was originally formed by elephants. Yes, you read that correctly! Centuries ago, this area was populated by elephants, who created an “elephant trail” between the mountains.

Nowadays you will no longer find elephants on the Franschhoek Pass, but you will still be amazed by the looks. You pass all kinds of hairpin bends that hide a new view every time. There are a few places to safely stop on the side of the road and enjoy the view. Keep in mind that this road is very busy on Saturdays because all the car enthusiasts come to drive the Franschhoek Pass with special cars.

Tip: are you a car enthusiast? There seems to be a nice car museum near Franschhoek. We have nothing to do with cars and have not been there, but maybe it is something for you.Franschhoek 42

6. Go to Stellenbosch for a day

The student town of Stellenbosch is about a 20-minute drive from Franschhoek. A beautiful city with many good wineries in the area. It is nice to go to Stellenbosch for half a day and combine this with a tasting or lunch at a winery on the route (Boschendal, Tokara, Rainbows End or Delaire Graff).

Read all about Stellenbosch in our Stellenbosch blog (coming soon) or find a nice restaurant in our Stellenbosch restaurant guide! Going to visit wineries outside Franschhoek? Then read our Stellenbosch wineries guide or about the best wineries in Paarl

Wine tasting Stellenbosch South Africa 6

7. Enjoy delicious food in the hotspots of Franschhoek and the surrounding area!

Franschhoek has really great restaurants and hotspots! Both in the center and in the surrounding area. Below we describe a number of restaurants we have been to. Please note: reservations are essential for most restaurants.

Get Lost Coffee: coffee shop in the center of Franschhoek

At Get Lost Coffee we drank a delicious frappuchino and I enjoyed French toast. It is a nice coffee shop where you can also go for brunch & lunch.

Reubens: chic hotspot in the center of Franschhoek

Reubens is located in the center of the city and is a relatively chic restaurant. I really enjoyed the oysters, and the appetizers. The main courses are big with many meat dishes on the menu. It is a large restaurant but it is almost always full so make a reservation.

Yama: chic Japanese food in the center of Franschhoek

Yama is a restaurant on the main street of Franschhoek. For us this was one of the most surprising restaurants. On a Wednesday evening we arrived without a reservation, but we were very lucky and there was still a table available. The food is Japanese with influence from other Asian countries. We went for the bao buns, dumplings and donburi, but there is also an extensive sushi menu. The bao buns were absolutely AMAZING! But the desserts (Chokorētomūsu) are also really great. Highly recommended!

La Cotte: wine farm near the center of Franschhoek

La Cotte is a beautiful spot, a wine farm transformed into a luxury hotel where you can also have breakfast and lunch. It is close to the center, but you have the feeling of being in the countryside. This location is fun with children who can run around on the large lawn. Perhaps the most beautiful thing here is the sweet (mostly pink) interior. La Cotte has also accommodations. There are different options, the Forest Cottages are the most affordable, click here for more information.

Chefs Warehouse at Maison: great food on the vineyards just outside Franschhoek

We have wanted to eat at a Chefs Warehouse for a long time. This is a chain with great restaurants where you often need to make a reservation months in advance. What makes this location (Chefs Warehouse at Maison) so nice is that you are sitting next to the vineyards. You can walk up to the vines to taste a few grapes. This location is also completely child-friendly (children are not welcome at Chefs Warehouse in Constantia) with a large garden to romp in and free-roaming chickens. Very nice!

The food here is phenomenal! They have a fixed 4-course tapas menu with really delicious, fresh ingredients. This location is also a winery. I drank the tastiest Chenin Blanc ever here (and immediately took a bottle home with me).

Glenwood sushi: delicious sushi in a winery just outside Franschhoek

Glenwood was a recommendation from local people from Franschhoek. Firstly, this winery is located in a beautiful spot in a valley just south of Franschhoek. Everywhere you look you see mountains. The winery itself is famous for its chardonnay and it is really great! But perhaps even better is the sushi restaurant that opened up a year ago. Super fresh fish with surprising combinations. The wine estate is clearly less commercial than most wineries around here. So you won’t find much fuss or extra restaurants/shops here. But the sushi is sublime! Truly a hidden gem that is mainly known by locals.

Other restaurants in Franschhoek and surroundings:

We did not try the following restaurants ourselves, but we got them recommended; Le Coin Francais (chic fine dining), La Petite Colombe (the little brother of La Colombe in Cape Town, chic fine dining), Oku (from the same owner as Yama, but a bit more chic, 4 or 15 course menu), Eleven (also same owner as Yama, with 11 courses), Protege (also from the same owner as La Colombe, but a bit more relaxed).

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The best hotels and accommodations in Franschhoek

There are many beautiful hotels and accommodations in Franschhoek. From cute B&Bs in the center to beautiful vineyards where you can sleep in the Franschhoek area. Below we list three possible options for different budgets. For more options in Franschhoek, click here.

TheLab €


TheLab is an innovative hotel with technical gadgets (such as a coffee machine in your bedside table). The rooms are spacious, there is air conditioning and a sauna. They offer massages too. You all have breakfast together at the large table. From 81 euros per night (low season).

Book here

Chapter House €€

Chapter House Boutique hotel

This beautiful boutique hotel is located in the center of Franschhoek. There is a shared pool, but the superior king rooms have their own pool. The rooms are stylishly decorated. The breakfast is great, and cake is often served in the afternoon. From 170 euros a night incl. breakfast.

Book here

Stijlvol in Franschhoek €€€

Franschhoek 41

We stayed six nights in this beautiful luxury Airbnb. With two bedrooms, a private swimming pool and garden, wine cooler, braai and fireplace, we really had a lovely spot here! The design of this apartment is really great. 15 min walk to the center. From 220 euros per night.

Book here

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