9 of the Best Ways to Explore the Winelands (Even with Kids!)

The Cape Winelands are just a stone’s throw away from thrilling, cosmopolitan Cape Town. And whether wine tasting is your number-one reason for visiting the region—or simply a fun perk to your Cape Town adventure—a tour of the Winelands is a treat for just about every kind of traveler, including kids (keep reading because family-friendly tours are delightfully easy to come by!).

You could easily spend several weeks roaming about the countryside, staying at quaint, restorative hotels, touring magnificent estates and vineyards, eating spectacularly fresh food, and sipping some of the best wines in the world. There are a wealth of routes to choose from (see our comprehensive guide here), but we’ve narrowed things down to a handful of our very favorite tours.

The first four tours below (Explore, Active, Family, and Quirky) are examples of what your day in the Winelands could look like. Keep in mind that all the details are flexible; we can adjust and adapt according to your preferences—and the weather!

The last five tours are a bit more specialized. If you have particular interest in seeing the Winelands by bicycle, for instance, there’s a tour for that. The same goes for art aficionados and fans of walking tours.

Read on to discover the perfect way for you to experience all the Cape Winelands have to offer.

red dirt paths cut through gardens and vineyards below rolling hills and rugged, purple-tinged mountains in the distance
The Winelands are beautiful—and far more than just a wine destination! © Extraordinary Journeys

Our Special Wineland Tours

Explore Tour

Explore one of the most scenically beautiful areas in South Africa, visiting fascinating towns and taking a look into off-the-beaten-track farms with their old-world roots and unbeatable charm. Today is about so much more than just sipping the wines. Depending on time and season, stroll through the vines, learning about farming methods and techniques. Take an intimate wine-tasting and cellar tour, and possibly meet the driving force behind the estate. If lucky, your behind-the-scenes experience could include grape picking or barrel tastings.

exterior of a historic white-walled bookstore; a tree shades the sidewalk; a bicycle with a basket of flowers rests below a window; inside, bookshelves line the walls.
Cute bookstore in Stellenbosch © Extraordinary Journeys

Spend time in Stellenbosch, browsing its wealth of appealing stores and museums. Sip local coffee blends in tempting cafes. Let the pairing of wine and olives awaken your senses before meandering through lush gardens bursting with life. Admire a collection of contemporary art, see the highest-growing vines and, from an elevated point, take in the stunning vistas over an old-world estate.

In the afternoon, discover Franschhoek. Established by the French Huguenots in 1688, this town retains its historic charm but has fused it with a contemporary vibe. It boasts gourmet restaurants, appealing boutiques, and art galleries.

Active Tour

Uncover the natural beauty of the Winelands, an area known for its rows of vineyards and stunning estates dominated by forests, gardens, and historic architecture. Your active exploration, on bike or foot, provides an intimate and fun opportunity to see this region—all at your own pace.

two men bicycle down a shady dirt road alongside a bright white stone wall; behind the wall are rows of trees; on the opposite side of the road are vineyards
Biking in Paarl © Extraordinary Journeys

Cycle through Franschhoek, admiring the quaint buildings which date back to French Huguenot origins, and pass the bohemian galleries and designer boutiques for which this charming town is renowned. Enjoy sensational vistas, an intimate cellar tour, wine tastings at signature estates, and an introduction to wine-making.

Alternatively, hike the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, stopping at a freshwater spring and taking in the picturesque Franschhoek Valley from above. After a rejuvenating break including local coffees and delicious baked goods, the wine exploration begins.

In the afternoon, discover the university town of Stellenbosch, its youthful vibe delightfully at odds with the old-world buildings and tree-lined streets. Wander through a treasure trove of concept stores, iconic general dealers, art studios, and museums. Soak up the vibrant atmosphere with a little people-watching from one of the cafes.

Family Tour

Today is excellent family bonding time. It's the type of day which creates memories kids will refer to for years to come. It also provides parents with the full Winelands experience. Children can run free in lovely gardens, and resident barn owls, farm animals, and spooky, cobweb-filled cellars add to the excitement of the day.

Start with a treasure hunt through the scenic Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, situated in the Franschhoek Mountains. Boasting spectacular views of the Franschhoek Valley, the reserve is home to small animals, fynbos, and a rich diversity of plant life. Your hunt leads to Breakfast Rock (an easy 1 km walk into the reserve) for a pick-me-up of juice and delicious home-baked treats.

a young girl and boy walk the tree-shaded red-dirt paths of a historic wine estate with white-walled buildings all around; the skies are clear and bright blue
Children exploring Babylonstoren in the Winelands. © Extraordinary Journeys

Next, stop at a boutique estate, renowned for its sparkling wines. The winemaker travels to Champagne every year, and—glass of bubbles in hand—it is clear that his time is well spent. While parents wine-taste, kids have their own iced-tea tasting, so they are never left out.

Explore the charming town of Franschhoek, with its French Huguenot origins (here, you can even choose a more active hiking and biking option which is great for older kids). Before long, you’re on your way to a family-friendly wine estate.

We have unearthed those properties where family is at the heart of things and little explorers are not only warmly welcomed but allowed to treat the farms as a playground. This is a world where fountains have been specially designed for cooling off after a run through the vines, and milk-and-cookie tastings in a cellar courtyard are a regular treat.

This afternoon, old wine estates with ancient cobweb-filled cellars reveal their secrets to wine pilgrims and young imaginations alike. Taste the flavors and vintages of the region, while kids soak up ghost stories, play in magical surrounds, and wander through charmed gardens.

Quirky Tour

two older children stand inside an owl enclosure and wear protective gloves and sunglasses; grinning, each holds an owl on their outstretched hand
Safari Specialist Lara’s children with owls on their Winelands tour. This region is often overlooked by families, although it’s perfect for them. © Extraordinary Journeys

For a delightfully unique exploration of the Winelands, the Quirky Tour is the way to go. Explore a wine region with an organic, off-the-radar appeal.

Your day of visiting farm stalls, local hotspots, and estates takes you through the striking scenery of Elgin Valley: apple and pear orchards, rows of vineyards, and lush flower gardens. Plantations and forests are encircled by distant mountains and interspersed with old-world Cape Dutch buildings.

Revel in artisanal products, expertly crafted ciders and wines, deli treats, and other foodie delights created in this earthy region. Perhaps try one of Peregrine Farm Stall's legendary pies, or sip coffee along with Terra Madre Food Barn's superb baked goods.

Discover the glorious flavors of Elgin, the terrains’ richness encapsulated in the fine wines produced by the intimate family estates and boutique wineries you visit. Depending on the time of year, meet the winemakers or experience a barrel tasting. Walk on old wagon tracks—the time-worn path a tribute to the past—and experience an array of authentic experiences only Elgin's hidden gems can offer.

Even More Ways to Explore

For Walking Tour Fans: Porcupine Trail Wine Walk in Stellenbosch

With 120 hectares of vineyard and natural fynbos, there's no better way to explore the picturesque Waterford Estate than on foot. There are three different walking routes of varying intensity for you to choose from, ensuring the best experience based on your own capabilities.

You will have the option of selecting three different wines for tasting to accompany your light picnic-style lunch. On your return to the winery, end your experience with a wine and chocolate tasting.

Details:

  • On this tour, you’ll meet at the Waterford Wine Estate Winery area
  • There are three trails with trail time approximately two hours
  • Tours operate from Monday to Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
  • Prices start at R715.00 per person (approximately $50 as of May 2019)
woman in black shirt, jeans, and sunglasses stands with vineyards and low, scrubby trees in the background. In the distance is a rocky, sprawling mountain.
Safari Specialist Jamie at the Waterford Estate © Jamie Mehrotra at Extraordinary Journeys

For Food Lovers: Stellenbosch Classic Foodie Walk

Established in 1679, Stellenbosch is South Africa's second-oldest town. Its romantic oak-lined streets filled with historical buildings, galleries, and coffee shops are best explored on foot.

Join a local expert for a guided tour of the old town centre. Enjoy delightful stories, taste traditional snacks, and sip local wines before ending with a heritage lunch platter of South African dishes.

Details:

  • This four-hour scheduled walking tour departs from 47 Church Street (Stellenbosch Wine Routes Office)
  • Tours operate on a minimum of 2 passengers (maximum of 8)
  • Private tours are available upon request
  • Tours depart Monday to Saturday at 10:00 a.m.
a craft paper-lined table is filled with wooden charcuterie boards (bread, olives, cheese, stone fruits, snow peas, etc.), wine bottles, erlenmeyer flasks, and glasses of wine
There is amazing food in the Winelands © Extraordinary Journeys

For the Ramblers: Franschhoek Wine Tram Hop-On Hop-Off Tour

a double-decker open-air tram traverses vineyards with clear blue skies above and majestic mountains in the background
Hop on, hop off, sip wine, repeat © Blyth01

The Franschhoek Wine Tram hop-on hop-off tour is one of the best ways to discover the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley: picturesque vineyards, breathtaking scenery, warm hospitality, world-class cuisine, fine wines, and a 300-year history.

On board the hop-on hop-off tour, you’ll experience a unique and leisurely way to see the Franschhoek Valley as you journey through rolling vineyards in an open-side tram and open-air tram-bus, stopping in at some of South Africa's oldest and most distinguished wine estates.

A combination of tram and tram-bus transports you around a loop of stops allowing you to hop off at each stop and experience the activities on offer, be it wine tasting, a cellar tour, lunch, or simply a stroll through the vineyards. When you’re ready, hop on to continue the tour.

The experience takes you right into the heart of the Franschhoek Valley, with a narration focusing on the history of Franschhoek and wine cultivation in the valley, complimentary wine tastings, and unparalleled views of the valley and vineyards.

Details:

  • The tour starts and ends at the ticket office located in the centre of the Franschhoek Village
  • Wine tasting at each Wine Estate requires a separate fee

For Bike Lovers: Bikes and Wine - Cycling in the Winelands

Combine a love of wine and the great outdoors with a guided bicycle tour through the heart of the Cape Winelands. Cycle along farm roads and through private vineyards sampling some of the best wines the region has to offer.

Half-day tours are available in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek while a full-day tour in Franschhoek includes a glimpse of some of the culture and heritage of this small town.

Details:

  • Tours are in small groups with a minimum of 2 passengers (and a maximum of 13)
  • Private tours are available upon request
  • Half-day tours include 2 wine tastings
  • Tours depart Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in Stellenbosch and daily in Franschhoek
  • Full-day tours in Franschhoek include additional snacks and pairings, and shuttle transfers can be arranged from Cape Town

For Art & Nature Lovers: Leeu Estates Garden and Art Tour

Enjoy a relaxing and rewarding tour of the Leeu Estates gardens, 100 hectares of landscaped grounds, manicured vineyards, and indigenous fynbos in the Franschhoek Valley.

The meticulously designed and landscaped gardens are interspersed with a collection of curated artworks predominantly featuring life-sized bronzes by Angus Taylor, Deborah Bell, Dylan Lewis, and Otto du Plessis, among other well-known artists, most of whom are South African.

Each sculpture has been strategically placed between the pristine lawns and the rows of hand-tended vines to be shown to its best advantage. These guided tours provide an opportunity to connect with art and nature in serene and meditative spaces with exceptional views.

Details:

  • Tours depart daily at 10:00 a.m. or at 2:00 p.m.
  • Prices start at R240 per person (about $17 as of May 2019), including the tour followed by tea with scones and homemade jam
  • Prices start at R385 per person (about $27 as of May 2019), including the tour followed by a traditional afternoon tea
  • Prices start at R400 per person (about $28 as of May 2019), including the tour followed by a picnic lunch in the vineyard or the Bokkie Garden
  • From R400 per person (about $28 as of May 2019), including the tour followed by a Signature Mullineux tasting

Something for Everyone

We’re proud to say that among these tours, there’s a way to discover the Winelands that’s suited to just about every kind of traveler. Whether you’re staying in the area for several days or simply making a day trip from Cape Town, we highly recommend you include one of these tours in your journey to South Africa.

Here’s a quick recap of the many ways you can get the most out of your visit to the Winelands:

  • For the chronically curious: Explore Tour
  • For the outdoorsy set: Active Tour
  • For younger families or multi-generational groups: Family Tour
  • For fans of all things weird and wonderful: Quirky Tour
  • For the gastronomists: Stellenbosch Classic Foodie Walk
  • For the ramblers: Franschhoek Wine Tram Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
  • For fans of laid-back biking: Bikes and Wine - Cycling in the Winelands
  • For art & nature lovers: Leeu Estates Garden and Art Tour

Plan Your Immersive Winelands Adventure

Ready to start planning your own incredible exploration of the Cape Winelands? We make the process stress-free and enjoyable.

Call or email us today to explore your best options for strolling, sipping, and eating your way through this gorgeous corner of the world!

Then, start packing that suitcase because we’ve got all the details covered.

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Lara Ray