The Best Gardens and Parks in Cape Town

The Best Gardens and Parks in Cape Town

Find sanctuary at these spectacular parks and gardens where nature and art intertwine.

Someone once said, “gardens are the windows to a city’s culture”. Which is so true… they offer interesting insights into the history, geology and climate of a place, revealing their many layers the further you explore…

More than that, gardens are such a wonderful refuge for those seeking sanctuary from the stress of modern life.

Capetonians are blessed to be living in a city that’s dotted with a verdant array of horticultural havens, offering serenity and peacefulness at every turn. From innercity delights to Wineland’s wonders, Overberg oases and Breede Valley beauties, we’ve rounded up our favourite parks and gardens to relax in this summer!

1. Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden

Parks Kirstenbosch

Cape Town’s answer to Eden is wonderful for picnics, leisurely strolls, nighttime movies, and open-air concerts. The flowery meadows are safe and spacious for kids to run around – or they might prefer to sit and observe the birds and insects if they’re in a more contemplative mood. They’ll especially love the treetop canopy walkway, named The Boomslang, which is so Jurassic, you almost expect a pack of Velociraptors to burst out of the bushes at any moment. of Kirstenbosch are
Opening times Daily, 8am – 7pm (September to March)
Daily, 8am – 6pm (April to August)
Daily, 9am – 5pm (conservatory)
Cost R65, adults
R35, students
R15, children, aged 6 –17
Free, children under 6)
Pensioners have free access on Tuesdays, except on public holidays.
Contact 021 799 8783, Kirstenboschinfo@sanbi.org.za
Where Newlands

2. Boschendal

Parks Boschendal

In the Cape’s magnificent Franschhoek region lies beautiful Boschendal – one of our favourite  wine farms in the country for its picturesque setting, superb food and wine offerings, and an array of fun things to do, which makes it a destination in itself. Here, you’ll also find award-winning gardens, including a delightful internationally acclaimed rose garden, designed by Gwen Fagan, an authority on old gardens in the Cape. The gardens provide a serene and beautiful way to spend an afternoon.
Good to know While you’re smelling the roses, why not add some flavour to the experience by booking a picnic in the rose garden or the werf lawn.
Opening times 9am – 9pm
Cost Free
Contact 021 870 4274, enquiries@boschendal.co.za
Where Franschhoek 0218704262

3. Durbanville Rose Garden

Parks Durbanville Rose Garden
myself_elaine

This flourishing, well-maintained garden is home to around 6 000 rose bushes, including 500 different species. The best time to view these wonderfully fragrant blooms is from October until May, when the bushes are full of colour. On Sundays visitors are invited for a cup of tea in the tearoom, courtesy of the various charity organisations.
Good to know The venue has become increasingly popular for weekend weddings during summer, so if you don’t want to photobomb the bride – or, worse, the bride to photobomb you – you might like to visit during the week.
Opening times Daily, 7am – 6pm
Cost Free
Contact 021 948 8717
Where Durban Road, Durbanville, Cape Town

4. Company’s Garden

Parks Companys Garden

This historic garden, first made public in 1848, is home to some important South African landmarks including the Houses of Parliament, Iziko South African Museum and Planetarium, St George’s Cathedral, and the National Library of South Africa, to name a few.
In recent years it’s become a haven in the middle of the busy city, where tourists and locals can stroll, throw down a blanket, and feed the squirrels.
With botanically and historically valuable trees, a bird aviary, rose garden, and always-ravenous squirrels, this garden has stood the test of time. Feel free to picnic on the lawn and soak up some summer sun.
Good to know The Company’s Garden Restaurant serves food (that’s nothing to write home about), but at least it gives you time to have a cup of tea and slice of cake, while the kids climb into the giant Pokey Hefer-designed birds’ nests.
Opening times Daily
Cost Free
Contact 021 444 1901
Where 19 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town

5. Auldearn

Parks Auldearn
Marie-Luce Vogel

Elgin – the land of apples and pears (and the subject of many an argument as to how the “g” in its name should be pronounced) – is also a land of lush gardens, unsurprising considering its cooler climate and healthy clay soil. For two weekends a year, it hosts the Elgin Open Gardens event, during which around 20 or so gardens are open to the public. Visitors can explore at their leisure, enjoying the diverse range of flora that flourishes in this region. Plants are available for sale, and many of the gardens offer tea and light meals during the events.
Auldern is one of those gardens, situated on a hilltop with panoramic views of the Kogelberg Biosphere. Two peaceful ponds and a stream enhance the serene atmosphere.
Please note This garden is only open to the public during the Elgin Open Gardens event, which takes place over two weekends of the year. However, groups can contact Jenny Simpson (number below) for visits. Tour operators can contact Barbara Knox-Shaw directly to arrange tours for large groups during Elgin Open Gardens.
Cost R25, entrance
R10, tea and rosemary biscuits)
A proportion of income from Elgin Open Gardens is donated to charity.
Contact Auldearn: 021 849 8762 (Jenny Simpson)
Elgin Open Gardens: 021 844 0154 / 078 021 2101 (Barbara Knox-Shaw); 083 458 3790 (Jessie Walton); info@elginopengardens.co.za
Where Elgin

6. Green Point Park and Biodiversity Garden

Parks Green Point Park

A little Eden in the middle of the Mother City, right below the Cape Town Stadium, lies a curated garden, rich with a wide variety of indigenous Cape flora. Enjoy a spontaneous afternoon letting the kids run free on the open lawn, picnicking in the warmth of the summer sun, or going for a walk, run or cycle in the fresh air surrounded by the sounds of the ocean. Could an outdoor space tick more boxes?
Good to know Tea in the Park Café does a selection of delicious sweet and savoury treats, fresh lunches, and breakfasts.
Opening times Daily, 7am – 7pm
Cost Free
Contact 021 417 0120, Asharuf.Moorad@capetown.gov.za
Where Fritz Sonnenberg Road, Green Point, Cape Town

7. Harold Porter National Botanical Garden

Parks Harold Porter
Outdoorphoto

Follow the zigzag paths, that were marked out by Harold Porter himself, and you’ll be led into an indigenous oasis of beauty. Take a leisurely stroll through the garden and see what flora delights you can encounter, dogging families of baboons along the way.
If you’re feeling adventurous, take a hike up the mountain to some of the beautiful rock pools hidden from sight.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 8am – 4.30pm
Saturday, Sunday & public holidays, 8am – 5pm
Cost R25, adults
R15, seniors
R15, students with valid card
R10, learners
Free, children under six
Free, South African Botanical Society members
Please note Wild Card Members do not qualify for free entry to SANBI Gardens.
Contact 028 272 9311, info@sanbi.org.za
Where Corner of Clarence Drive and  Broadwith Road, Betty’s Bay

8. Old Nectar

Parks Old Nectar

At the end of a beautiful 120-metre drive, surrounded by oak trees, you’ll find the equally beautiful Old Nectar gardens in Stellenbosch. Boasting views of the Jonkershoek Mountains, this garden is made up of several parts, including a circular rose garden, a kitchen garden, a magnolia path, as well as an indigenous garden. Every tree, other than the oak trees, were planted over 70 years ago by gardening legend Una van der Spuy. Come rain or shine, a part of the garden is always in bloom. With such beauty throughout the seasons it’s easy to see why this garden was featured in the 1 001 Gardens to See Before You Die
Please note If you book for one of the guided tours, you will be invited to stay for refreshments afterwards.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm
Weekends by appointment only
Cost R120, adults
R100, garden groups and pensioners
Free, children under 16
Contact 021 866 1133, info@oldnectar.com
Where Jonkershoek Valley, Stellenbosch

9. De Waal Park

Parks De Waal Park

The green lawns of De Waal Park are favourite among friends, parents with young children, dog owners and their furry friends. The fountain in the centre welcomes dogs, who bound into its depths to cool off.
There’s also a kiddies’ area, with swings, a merry-go-round, and a jungle gym, as well as many paths that are perfect for whizzing up and down on push bikes.
Pack a picnic, your pets, some sunblock, and whatever else you need, and come and relax.
Good to know Check out the lineup for the Sunday afternoon Concerts in the Park.
Opening times It’s safest during daylight hours
Cost Free
Contact 021 400 3031, info@dewaalpark.co.za
Where Corner of Camp Street and Orange Street, Garden, Cape Town

10. Babylonstoren

Parks Babylonstoren

Dating back to 1692, Babylonstoren is a historic Cape Dutch farm that boasts one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape. Beloved for its magnificent garden that is laid out over 3,5 hectares (eight acres), the garden is divided into 15 sections that comprise fruit, vegetables, berries, bees for pollinating, indigenous plants, fragrant lawns, a prickly pear maze, ducks and chickens, and more. A secluded path runs along the stream where thousands of clivias flower in spring. The garden also boasts a plethora of trees of historical and botanical import. Every aspect of Babylonstoren – including the contemporary Farm Hotel & Spa, the Farm Shop and Bakery – are led by the ever-changing tapestry and botanical diversity of the garden.
Nice to know The farm’s resident donkey has just given birth. What’s better than a fluffy foal? Nothing, right?
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm (last entry is 4pm)
Cost R10, per adult (Monday – Friday)
R20, per adult (Saturday, Sunday & public holidays)
R10, children under 12 (daily)
Free, RHS members only
Contact 021 863 3852, enquiries@babylonstoren.com
Where Babylonstoren, Klapmuts Simondium Road, Franschhoek

11. Karoo Desert National Botanical Garden

Parks Karoo Desert

This unique 154-hectare garden lies at the foot of the Hex River Mountain range in Worcester, and boasts 143 hectares of natural vegetation (of which only 11 hectares has been cultivated). During spring, the annuals and vygies (mesembs) come to life creating a beautiful tapestry of vibrant colours that can be enjoyed while exploring the cultivated section. Come and experience the diversity of South Africa’s succulent flora.
Good to know Pack a picnic, and sit under one of the trees for an hour or two, enjoying the views.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 7am – 6pm
Cost Low season (1 November – 31 May)
R10, adults
R7, students
R5, children under 18 and pensioners
Free, BOTSOC members and disabled persons
High season (1 June – 31 October)
R22, adults
R15, students
R12, pensioners
R10, children under 18
Free, BOTSOC members and disabled persons
Please note Fires and gas stoves are not allowed in the garden. And, no dogs are permitted unless they are guide dogs.
Contact 023 347 0785, Karoo-Desert-NBG@sanbi.org.za
Where Worcester

12. Delaire Graff Estate

Parks Delaire Graff

If you have had the rare pleasure of dining (or, even better, staying) at this illustrious estate, you’ll be familiar with its perfectly manicured gardens created by award-winning landscape designer Keith Kirsten.
In an attempt to encourage biodiversity, over 350 indigenous plants can be found alongside other non-invasive species. Rippling water features and reflective pools are accompanied by sculptures by famed local artists including Dylan Lewis, Deborah Bell, and Anthon Smit, creating a verdant valley to unwind in.
Good to know The floral garden was purposefully planted to ensure there are blooms to be seen 365 days a year.
Please note Some areas are restricted for hotel guests’ privacy. And no picnics are allowed.
Opening times 10am – 7pm
Cost Free
Contact 021 885 8160, info@delaire.co.za
Where Helshoogte Pass, Stellenbosch

13. The Gardens at The Vineyard Hotel

Parks Vineyard Hotel

On the majestic eastern slopes of Table Mountain, the elegant Vineyard Hotel is world-renowned for its excellent food and accommodation offerings, but it’s magnificent seven-acre riverside garden is another major attraction. Wear comfortable shoes and take a leisurely amble through the grounds. There’s even a guided walk if you’d like to learn something about the surrounds.
Good to know By prior arrangement, the hotel will even organise a bountiful picnic for you to enjoy.
Opening times Guided walks are on select days from 9.30am
Cost R90, includes tea and pastries afterwards
Contact 021 657 4500, hotel@vineyard.co.za
Where Newlands

14. Vergelegen

Parks Vergelegen

Somerset West’s horticultural oasis at Vergelegen Estate comprises 18 beautiful award-winning gardens. Spend an afternoon or morning meandering through the formal manicured gardens, which include an agapanthus garden, a playground and a stunning rose garden; and then wander into the rugged woodlands – a wonderland for little ones.
Good to know Although you are not permitted to bring your own, book one of Vergelegen’s wonderful hampers to be enjoyed under the famous camphors trees.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm (last entry is at 4pm)
Daily garden tours start from 9.30am
Cost R10, adult property entrance fee
R5, pensioners and scholars property entry fee (pensioners enter free on Mondays)
R50, garden tour
Contact 021 847 2122, info@vergelegen.co.za
Where Somerset West

15. Kalk Bay Park

Parks Kalk Bay

Up a narrow, cobbled road leading towards the mountain, away from Kalk Bay’s bustling Main Road, you’ll find this quaint little park to, er, park off at. With ample shade, some tables and chairs to sit on, and a kitted-out kids’ zone equipped with a slide, merry-go-round, swings and jungle gym, this park is conveniently located across the road from Bob’s Bagels and The Potter’s Shop (full of beautiful hand-crafted gems). Laze on the grass, break some bread (from Olympia Bakery, no doubt), and chill on out.
Opening times Daily
Cost Free
Where 6 Rouxville Road, Kalk Bay, Cape Town

16. Schoongezicht Garden

Parks Schoongezicht Garden

With views of vineyards, green pastures and the majestic Simonsberg mountain, Schoongezicht garden on Rustenberg Estate is a feast for the eyes. In 200,  Rozanne Barlow (the wife of the estate’s owner) restored the garden, turning a tennis court into a Chartres-style labyrinth and a swimming pool into a lily pond. Now this beautiful English-styled garden has four distinct areas accessed by pathways, perfect for an early afternoon stroll.
Opening times Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 4.30pm
Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Cost Free
Contact 021 809 1200, wine@rustenberg.co.za
Where Stellenbosch

17. Stellenberg

Parks Stellenberg Garden

This magnificent private garden in Kenilworth combines vintage and contemporary designs and plantings in 12 sections, which include a White Garden, Walled Garden, Pool Garden and Stream Garden, each with its own unique characteristics, but all equally stunning.
Opening times 1 September – 31 March:
Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm
Cost R50, adults
Free, children under 12
R30, Garden tea
Please note The garden is only open for organised tours and visits by appointment from 1 September – 31 March. Payment is cash only.
Contact  021 761 2948, stellenberggardens@ovenstones.co.za
Where Kenilworth

18. Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden

Parks Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden

Located in the historical centre of Stellenbosch, this is the oldest university botanical garden in South Africa. While the garden’s main purpose is for research and education, it also functions as a green oasis providing a home to various animals. Gardenistas will enjoy the beauty of the indigenous and exotic plants.
Please note Picnics are not permitted.
Opening times Monday – Sunday, 8am – 5pm
Closed on certain public holidays
Cost R10
Free, Stellenbosch University students, staff and members of the Friends of the Botanical Garden
Contact 021 808 3054, subg@sun.ac.za
Where Stellenbosch

19. Keurboom Park

Parks Keurboom
Anna Felicia

This peaceful park in Rondebosch has everything; lush green lawns, trees, a river and two playgrounds (one for children under 6, and the other for slightly older kids) with picnic tables. There are paved pathways for cyclists, a skate park, and plenty of space for kids and dogs to run riot. Dogs need not be kept on a leash, but pet owners are asked to keep them under control (bags for disposing of their mess are provided). Furthermore, no dogs are allowed in the toddler’s play area.
Please note Though cyclists are allowed to use the paved pathways, they are required to yield to all other users.
Opening times All day
Cost Free
Contact 021 683 7368, info@keurboompark.org.za
Where Rondebosch

20. Leeu Estates

Parks Leeu Estates

On the slopes of the Dassenberg mountains lies a 68-hectare wine farm with sublime views of the surrounding vineyards, gardens, fynbos and mountain beyond. The gardens along the vineyard walk follow the course of the river, and are as picturesque as the oak trees interplanted with evergreens and azaleas that surround the route. Also to be enjoyed is the country herb and vegetable garden with its granadilla-covered pavilions and the serene Bokkie garden.
Good to know If you would like to learn more about how this gorgeous gardens came to be, book a Garden and Art Tour with your choice of treat at the end.
Opening times Please contact Leeu Estates to organise a time outside of the Garden and Art Tours.
Garden and Art Tour followed by tea and scones, 10am and 11am
Garden and Art Tour followed by a traditional afternoon tea, 2pm and 3pm
Garden and Art Tour followed by a picnic, 12pm and 1pm
Cost Free to walk around
R150, Garden and Art Tour followed by tea and scones
R250, Garden and Art Tour followed by a traditional afternoon tea
R410, Garden and Art Tour followed by a picnic
Please note While it is free to walk around and admire the beautiful gardens, Leeu Estates does ask that you let them know ahead of time that you will be popping in for a visit.
Contact 021 492 2222, reservations@leeucollection.com
Where Franschhoek

21. Chart Farm

Parks Chart Farm
Jacqi Kachelhoffer

This serene rose farm in Wynberg, a mere 15-minute drive from the CBD, is a real treat for flower lovers, as it is home to a large garden filled with a variety of wild roses in almost every colour you can imagine. It also happens to be the only place in the Cape peninsula where you can pick your own, from mid-October right up until the end of June.
When you’re done picking roses, have a cup of tea and scones at The View @ Chart Farm, with the scent of the redolent roses in the air, and amazing views of the Constantia Valley that stretch as far as Muizenberg.
Opening times Daily, 9am – 4.15pm
Cost Rose-picking:
R6.50 per stem (ready picked)
R5.50 per stem (pick-your-own)
R3.50 per stem (Sunday Special)
Contact 021 761 0434, admin@chartfarm.co.za  (Farm Stall)
021 762 0067 (The View @ Chart Farm)
Where Wynberg

22. Fresh Woods

Parks Fresh Woods
Amazing Spaces

What Yet another venue open to visitors during Elgin Open Gardens, this garden has an especially impressive collection of roses on display, including old varietals from the Cape and wild roses from all over the world. Various flower varieties from distant lands such as Ethiopia, China and India also thrive here, and the garden has become famous throughout the world for being a source of rare plant species.
Cost R30, entry
Half-price, children aged 2 –12
Teas and unusual plants for sale
A proportion of income during Elgin Open Gardens is donated to charity
Please note This garden is only open to the public during the Elgin Open Gardens event, which takes place over two weekends of the year. However, groups can contact Barbara Knox-Shaw (number below) for visits. Tour operators can contact Barbara Knox-Shaw directly to arrange tours for large groups during Elgin Open Gardens.
Contact Fresh Woods: 021 844 0154 / 078 021 2101 (Peter & Barbara Knox-Shaw)
Elgin Open Gardens: 021 844 0154 / 078 021 2101 (Barbara Knox-Shaw); 083 458 3790 (Jessie Walton); info@elginopengardens.co.za
Where Elgin

23. Upper Liesbeek River Garden

Parks Upper Liesbeek River Garden
Stevie Yogabean

The Protea and window streams meet to form a single peaceful river that runs through Newlands, Rondebosch, Rosebank and Observatory before joining the Black River and emptying out into Table Bay.  Upstream of the Paradise Road intersection on the M3, you’ll find this piece of paradise in the heart of (sub)urban Cape Town. The area is maintained and rehabilitated with donations from the residents of Bishopscourt Village and Fernwood, and includes picnic areas, benches and paths. 
Good to know The park is wheelchair friendly, with access via a wooden ramp, but there are no paved pathways. There are no toilet facilities, and it is a no-litter area – visitors are requested to take their litter home with them. Dogs must be kept on leads and owners are required to pick up their dog’s mess.
Opening times All day
Cost Free
Contact info@rivergarden.org.za
Where Bishopscourt Village/Fernwood

24. Houw Hoek Outspan

Parks Houw Hoek Outspan

A sprawling mass of lush greenery spreads out in front of you, while in the background the Houw Hoek peak rises majestically into the clouds. It’s a pastelle of vibrant colour that wouldn’t look out of place in any masterwork painting. Houw Hoek Outspan’s diverse collection of plant life includes over 200 roses, and the imported dwarf Alstroemerias (from a species of plant also referred to as the Peruvian lily).
Good to know Picnickers are welcome. Tea, coffee, cake and homemade chicken wraps are also available, and plants available for purchase.
Cost Entry is free, but donations to the Bot River Education Foundation are appreciated
Please note This garden is only open to the public during the Elgin Open Gardens event, which takes place over two weekends of the year. However, groups can contact Barbara Knox-Shaw (number below) for visits. Tour operators can contact Barbara Knox-Shaw directly to arrange tours for large groups during Elgin Open Gardens.
Contact Houw Hoek Outspan: 082 740 3590 (Peter & Tessa Goemans)
Book ahead by contacting goemans@twk.co.za (advance bookings are only for private visits)
Elgin Open Gardens: 021 844 0154 / 078 021 2101 (Barbara Knox-Shaw); 083 458 3790 (Jessie Walton); info@elginopengardens.co.za
Where Elgin

25. Rustenberg Garden

Rustenberg: Best Gardens in Cape Town

An elegant farm garden that would make the perfect setting for a Charles Dickens or Jane Austen novel, Rustenberg is an expansive old English-style estate ground dotted with vintage Cape Dutch architecture, and comprised of a series of “garden rooms”, each with its own thematic presentation. It is a private garden, but is open to the public once a year.
Opening times Open to the public once per year (usually between October and November, depending on the weather)
Cost R50, entry
Coffee, scones and plants are for sale on the day
Contact 021 809 1200
Where Stellenbosch

Research by Alicia Chamaillé, Matthew Flax and Simone Michaelis

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 20 December 2017

Add new comment

7 Responses to “The Best Gardens and Parks in Cape Town”

  1. sylvia king

    I love all this info thanx

    Reply
  2. Debby Tenquist

    You cannot leave out Ardern Gardrns as it has an incredible and important collection of trees

    Reply
  3. Jan Ludik

    Beautiful and a privilege to visit

    Reply
  4. Moira walket

    Keep a beady eye on your handbag
    While chilling in the Gardens off government avenue in Cape Town.

    Reply
  5. Claude Felbert

    Wynberg Park and Ardern Gardens both have their charm. There are also many magnificent private gardens.

    Reply
  6. Rosemary

    Lovely places but you forgot about Arderne Gardens in Claremont – I have loved that garden since I was a child over 70 years ago, when my parents took me there to feed the ducks. Visited it hundreds of times since.

    Reply
  7. Barbara

    This is a wonderful article…Cape Town and its surrounds are home to magical places….and the Inside Guide is ‘guiding us ‘ to them!

    Reply