Cape Town may be situated a fair distance from other big cities of South Africa, but that doesn’t mean its surroundings are desolate. In fact, South Africa’s Western Cape is perfect for scenic road trips. There are several towns connected by well-maintained roads, boasting a rich history, wholesome food and spectacular nature. Most of these towns are only 2-3 hours from Cape Town, but you can spend days without getting bored. Here are our top picks of the top towns surrounding Cape Town worth the visit!
Visiting Matjiesfontein, you will find yourself put through a time machine to the 19th century. The quaint Victorian architecture is one of the most prominent features of the towns in Western Cape. Matjiesfontein was a popular destination amongst the wealthy when the Cape Colony was under British Rule, due to the health benefits of dry air for the lungs, among other things.
Initially, there was nothing but a train station to facilitate transfer between Cape Town and the diamond mines in the north. Over time, the town became the spa and retreat centre in the province, as well as a strategic military checkpoint during the Anglo-Boer Wars. Today, the small town is like an open-air museum, including well-preserved historic buildings like the Milner Hotel, and the Transport Museum that contains a collection of old vehicles.
A lot of people wrongly believe that Cape of Good Hope is the southernmost point of Africa; however, that title belongs to Cape Agulhas, 200 km southeast of Cape Town. Situated only 5 km from Cape Agulhas, Struisbaai is an excellent choice for a beach vacation that involves history and nature.
The Bay itself is known for its sheltered beach with calm and crystal-clear waters. Large stingrays swim close to the shore delighting visitors, one of which, the town mascot named Parrie, is well known to locals (he even has his own Facebook page) and the area is fantastic for scuba diving.
Visit the official meeting point of two oceans and one of the oldest lighthouses in the country. After working up an appetite, taste the best quality fish and chips for under R70.
The towns of South Africa have a much more significant role in the country’s history than we assume. For instance, Riebeek Kasteel was the birthplace of two South African prime ministers.
Today, many famous figures from authors to journalists and painters made Riebeek Kasteel a mecca for their retreat. Looking at the serene backdrop of mountains and greenery, we can’t blame them. So, it’s no surprise to find art galleries, museums, Dutch Reform churches, and cozy shops lined up on the streets. For hearty meals and signatures burgers, you should pay a visit to the Red Tin Roof Restaurant owned by Jacques Pauw, the famous journalist known for his harsh criticism against the former president Jacob Zuma.
You can’t complete a trip to South Africa without tasting its world-famous wines. Unlike the other towns on our list, Franschhoek is only less than an hour from Cape Town, which makes it ideal for both day trips and staying over. Translating to French Corner, this lovely town is the heart of the wine industry thanks to the French Huguenots, who migrated from France due to religious conflicts.
You can visit the Huguenot Museum and the Monument to find out more about their origins. Arrive on an empty stomach, as some of the highest-ranked restaurants and wine farms are found in Franschhoek. Last but not least, consider taking the scenic Wine Tram, where you can hop-on and hop-off at the vineyards as many times as you want.
Nestled among the dramatic Overberg Mountain Range, Greyton is one of the most postcard-worthy towns of Western Cape, and a popular choice amongst Capetownians thanks to the range of activities. Regardless of your fitness level, Greyton is a hiking haven that encompasses easy-peasy walks and strenuous multi-day hikes, as well as refreshing natural pools. If you are not a fan of hiking, you can opt for mountain biking or even horse riding. It’s also fine if you are feeling lazy; you will find plenty of other activities while strolling amongst the remarkable Dutch architecture. Owing to the surrounding farms, Greyton provides a perfect opportunity to buy organic farm products and herbal remedies.
Written by Harita Kurdu
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