The 20 Best Things To Do in Franschhoek

The 20 Best Things To Do in Franschhoek

Fine wine, French finesse and more.

Judging by the names of many of the estates, restaurants and shops in this historic town, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d somehow landed up in the French countryside. The Francophilia is justified and authentically connected to actual French roots.

When 300 French Huguenots arrived in the Cape in 1688, the Dutch gave them this land in exchange for their vinicultural knowledge. They left an indelible mark on the valley, kick-starting South Africa’s wine industry.

With great wine comes great food, and from the late 1990s Franschhoek emerged as SA’s culinary capital. Illustrious wine estates and Michelin-grade restaurants aside, it’s teeming with creativity, a soigné café society and awe-inspiring nature.

Just a short drive from Cape Town, it has an eminently walkable main road, and for visiting the outlying estates, the hop-on hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram handily ferries visitors around. It truly is one of the most pleasant towns to visit.

If you’re looking for somewhere special to eat, see our 20 Best Restaurants in Franschhoek, and to extend your stay, consult our 20 Best Places to Stay in Franschhoek.

Explore Babylonstoren

To Do Franschhoek Babylonstoren

Babylonstoren is justifiably world-famous for its magnificent five-hectare garden, inspired by the original Company’s Garden in Cape Town. Its ever-changing seasonal tapestry and botanical diversity informs every aspect of the farm – from the hotel and spa to the farm shops and wines. Divided into multiple sections – edible plants (you’re free to pick and eat as you stroll), indigenous plants, age-old trees, cycads, beehives, even a rice paddy – you can explore it on your own or enjoy a guided tour with one of the gardeners. Also visit the artisanal “factories” making balsamic vinegar, juice, soaps and essential oils using the garden’s produce. Then grab a coffee at The Coffee Roastery, or take a seat for a meal at The Greenhouse or Babel, or try the wines in the glass-enclosed Tasting Room.
Good to know It’s as much of an adventure for children, who will love the Roomyskas (water buffalo-milk gelato) and Lekker Room (daily baked pastries, plus sweet and savoury nibbles), Porky Hefer’s “Nest” chairs, outdoor art, the donkeys and other residents, prickly-pear maze and water features.
Times Summer: Monday – Sunday, 9am – 6pm
Winter: Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Garden tour: 10am daily
Special Collections tour: 11.30am weekdays
Cost R100 per adult; free for children under 18 years
The once-off entry fee gives you “membership” access for 12 months.
Contact 021 863 3852, enquiries@babylonstoren.com
Where to find it Babylonstoren Road, Franschhoek

Get up high at Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve

To Do Franschhoek Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve
Gavin Pickford

If you’re chasing spectacular views over the Franschhoek Valley and greater Winelands, head to 1 759-hectare Mont Rochelle. There are 10 hiking trails snaking through the reserve, ranging from 2km (one hour, easy) to 13km (six to seven hours, moderate), so you can choose walks that suit your fitness level. Head for Breakfast Rock, then to the Uitkyk viewpoint (via the Manganese Trail) or further up the Du Toitskop and Perdekop peaks. Or take the Cats’ Path, a historic wagon route. Along with the scenery, there’s wonderfully diverse fynbos and plantlife, prolific birdlife, and mountain streams (except in the hot months).
Good to know The reserve is not dog-friendly, and drones are not permitted. It is cashless, so bring cards or use Zapper.
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Cost R70 (day permit)
Free (children under 12 years)
R300 (one-year permit)
Contact 083 270 7291, mont.rochelle@gmail.com
Where to find it Lambrecht Road/Franschhoek Pass (R45), 7km from town
Book Now

Do a nature hike at La Motte

To Do Franschhoek La Motte

This venerable wine estate (dating from 1695) is committed to conservation and biodiversity, and farms accordingly. Learn more and see the splendid results on the 5km circular Sustainable Hike (self-guided or guided), which allows you to stretch your legs amid glorious vineyards and mountain fynbos fauna and flora, including a protea garden. It requires a fair degree of fitness and is not recommended for children under 10 years. Before or after, follow your nose to the La Motte Artisanal Bakery & Garden Café, for treats fresh out of the wood-fired oven and a seasonal menu. Wine-tastings are offered next door in the historic cellar.
Good to know The estate’s Restaurant and Museum is currently under renovation and is due to reopen in late 2024.
Times Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 2pm (latest start)
Note: The trail is closed in winter (June – September)
Bakery: Wednesday – Sunday, 8am – 4pm (kitchen closes at 3pm)
Wine-tasting: Tuesday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm
Cost R90 (includes a map, water + snacks at the Lapa); guided hike: R200
Online pre-booking is essential
Wine-tasting: R80 – R160
Contact 021 876 8820, tasting@la-motte.co.za
Where to find it R45, 6km before Franschhoek
Book Now

Make your own scent at Kumanov Perfumery

To Do Franschhoek Kumanov Perfumery

Step into the heady world of passionate master perfumers Daniela and Dimo, who arrived in Franschhoek 25 years ago, set up the first perfume museum in South Africa, and have been guiding countless visitors ever since in making their own signature scents. At the Perfume Privé workshop, in a lovely, art-filled Victorian house, you’ll learn all about notes and ingredients, then use fragrance oils imported from Grasse, France, to mix up your unique formula. And, voila!, you’ll go home with a bespoke perfume oil concentrate and body cream. They cater for individuals, couples or groups.
Good to know The Perfume Museum is around the corner (at the Huguenot Memorial), where you can see bottles and paraphernalia dating back to Roman times. The Perfumery also stocks its own “Le Grand Secret” range, including aphrodisiac scents and beauty creams.
Times On request
Cost R620 (two-hour Gold package; includes 10ml concentrate)
R750 (three-hour Platinum package; includes 20ml concentrate + glass of bubbly)
R850 (three-hour Diamond package; includes 50ml eau de parfum, 10ml concentrate + bubbly)
R2 300 for two people (Ultimate Romantic package, including wine + charcuterie platter)
Contact 072 342 4174, info@kumanovperfumery.com
Where to find it 2 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek
Enquire Now

Spend the morning gallery hopping

To Do Franschhoek Gallery Hopping

What goes with food and wine? In the case of Franschhoek, it’s art. The main drag, Huguenot Street, has dozens of galleries catering to every taste. Among these, don’t miss AITY (at Heritage Square, with a second location at 1 Main Road); The Rodwell Gallery (in a characterful, historic house); Abé Opperman (for whimsical monochromatic works); and Ebony/Curated, which also focuses on design (with a second location round the corner in Bordeaux Street). Everard Read, SA’s oldest gallery, has two branches in Franschhoek – the one at Leeu Estates also offers a magnificent sculpture garden; as does Grand Provence, alongside its magnificent gallery.
Good to know Dominic Dear runs Art Trip, for guided tours of the local galleries, with a bit of wine and history thrown in (073 251 9169).
Times Daily, 10am – 5pm (in most cases)
Contact 021 492 5980, 021 876 2446 (Everard Read)
021 876 8630 (Grand Provence)
021 876 4477 (Ebony/Curated)
Where to find it Everard Read at Leeu Estates, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
Grand Provence, Main Road (R45), Franschhoek

Browse the Friday night market at Boschendal

To Do Franschhoek Boschendal

Boschendal’s maze of gardens and mountain views are lovely on any day, but on a Friday night there are few better places to be than on its historic Werf. The night market with live music, fun kids’ entertainment, fairylights and food and drink aplenty sets the scene for a laidback outing with family or friends. Pre-book a sharing snack box (filled with farm-fresh goodies), or enjoy pizzas and boerie rolls – or oysters and platters at the Wine Bar. For the kids, there’s the added bonus of The Treehouse playground and pump track, which is right next to the Werf and one of the best jungle gyms ever! The Werf Restaurant, Deli and Farm Shop are also open on Friday night. Free entry to the market must be pre-booked (to limit numbers), and you’ll need to reserve restaurant and deli tables.
Good to know Boschendal also offers daytime picnics (daily in summer), wine-tastings (including a breakfast canapé and wine pairing), mountain-biking, horse-riding, farm tours and an art gallery. Note that it’s a cashless farm.
Times Friday Market: 5pm – 9pm
Cost Free entry (booking essential)
Sharing snack box: R480
Contact 021 870 4200, enquiries@boschendal.co.za
Where to find it Helshoogte Road (R310), Pniel, Franschhoek
Book through DinePlan

Taste cap classique at Haute Cabrière

To Do Franschhoek Haute Cabriere

A journey to Franschhoek would not be complete without a visit to Haute Cabrière, home of Pierre Jourdan. Housed in a stone cellar that extends into the mountainside, the beautiful tasting room was conceived by legendary winemaker Achim von Arnim (a pioneer of cap classique in South Africa, and the iconic chardonnay pinot noir blend). Take a tour of the largest underground cellar in the region to delve deeper into cap classique and the farm’s history, get a crash course in the art of sabrage, and enjoy a tasting overlooking the barrel room. Outdoors, there are exceptional views of the valley, too – best enjoyed from the sun-soaked terrace restaurant.
Good to know The Bakery in the cellar is great for fresh bread, croissants, coffee and pastries. Or keep enjoying the wines at the restaurant, with a fresh French-inspired lunch to match the views (including a “Little VIP Menu” for kids).
Times Monday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm; Sunday until 4pm
Cellar tours: 12pm daily
Restaurant: Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 3.30pm
Cost From R95 (cellar tour + wine-tasting)
Contact 021 876 8500, 064 928 1044 (WhatsApp), reservations@cabriere.co.za
Where to find it Lambrechts Road (R45), Franschhoek
Book through DinePlan

Park off for a pint at Tuk Tuk

To Do Franschhoek Tuk Tuk

It’s not all about wine in Franschhoek. This microbrewery on the main street, housed in an 1886 gabled building, is all industrio-cool vibes inside: exposed brick, sandblasted walls, vaulted ceilings, copper and stainless-steel piping. Watch as Nick Smith and Devon Hendriks brew the beers, while you enjoy the fruits of their labour – lager, weiss, IPA or blonde ale. They also now offer guests a broader beer experience, by showcasing niche craft breweries from the Franschhoek area. The food stands out as much as the colourful furnishings; fresh, fun and homemade are key focus areas using local suppliers and fresh produce from the beautiful gardens of Leeu Estates up the road. The menu is globally inspired, showcasing favourites that go down wonderfully with beer – nachos, tacos, crispy Korean chicken, burgers, fish and chips, curry… PS: The verandah is also a great spot to watch the world go by.
Good to know For more local craft beers, check out Hey Joe and The Franschhoek Beer Company, both on Main Road (R45).
Times Monday – Sunday, 11am – 11pm
Last round 10.45pm, kitchen closes 9.30pm
Contact 021 492 2207, reservations@tuktuk.co.za
Where to find it 14 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek
Book Through DinePlan

Picnic at Mont Rochelle hotel & vineyard

To Do Franschhoek Mont Rochelle Picnic

Overlooking the entire valley, this magnificent Richard Branson-owned estate offers wonderful views of meadows and vineyards stretching out towards distant mountains. The perfect spot for a picnic, then… Pick up your basket of gourmet goodies (chicken skewers, lamb koftas, arancini, fishcakes, breads and spreads, cheese and charcuterie, salads and dessert) from The Country Kitchen, the casual lunch restaurant, then take a stroll down to the dam, where a scattering of garden cushions and concrete tables offer comfortable feasting. You can start the blissful day out with a wine-tasting (including pairings with chocolate or gourmet bites), and end it with sundowner cocktails at the MIKO bar.
Good to know Order 24 hours in advance; kids’ baskets also available. Catch the end-of-summer music picnic on 19 April 2024, featuring cellist Carol Thorns.
Times Monday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm
Cost R390 per person
R340 per person (vegetarian); R325 per person (vegan)
Wine-tastings: R80 – R120; with pairings, R210 or R245
Contact 021 876 2770, countrykitchen@montrochelle.virgin.com
Where to find it Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
Enquire Now

Time travel at the Huguenot Memorial Museum

To Do Franschhoek Huguenot Monument

Passing through town, you might have spotted the Huguenot Monument (a woman standing on top of the globe, in front of a serene pool, surrounded by a colonnade). Next time, stop and visit the museum alongside to find out more about the monument’s symbolism and the 300 French refugees who arrived at the Cape in 1688 – exhibits range from magnificent models of their ships to household items, religious artefacts and family portraits. You’ll also learn more about Franschhoek, fynbos and the original Khoekhoe inhabitants of the area. The architecture of the museum building itself is also lovely.
Times Monday – Sunday, 9am – 5pm (last entry 4.15pm)
Cost R100 (adult), R50 (child)
Contact 063 758 1623, hugmus1688@gmail.com
Where to find it Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
Book Now

Go trout fishing at La Ferme

To Do Franschhoek La Ferme

You’ll find Franschhoek trout (smoked) on many a menu, which might inspire you to explore this providence further. The Wemmershoek River flows through pretty La Ferme farm, which has four dams – two filled with trout exclusively, for fly-fishing only; one is carp only (great for novices); the other has a mix of trout, bass and tilapia for spinning and fly-fishing. You can hire the rods and buy bait at the shop on site. Bring some picnic or braai provisions and chill out for the day beside the peaceful waters – there’s a pool to swim in (or the river) and a jungle gym for the kids.
​​Good to know No fishing permit is required as it is private land. All fishing is catch-and-release, except the trout in December to March (catch-and-pay). A fee is payable for injured fish.
Times Monday – Sunday, 7am – 6pm
Cost R250 (adult), R200 (child under 10 years)
Non-fishing: R200 (adult); R150 (child)
R250 per person to use all the facilities (pool, etc)
Rod hire: R80; flies R30 each; bait from R30; hooks R10
Contact 021 300 3899, info@laferme.co.za
Where to find it Off R301 (to Paarl), Franschhoek
Enquire Now

Enjoy a boutique wine experience at Paserene

To Do Franschhoek Paserene

With vineyards in Tulbagh and Elgin as well as Franschhoek, Paserene offers a terroir-forward wine-tasting experience surrounded by well-tended gardens and views of the Franschhoek Mountains. Overlooking a sparkling farm dam through floor-to-ceiling windows, the elegantly modern “nest deck” Tasting Lounge is inspired by, and themed around, the migratory swallow. Savour a selection of four estate wines from either the Paserene or Elements Range, complete with a delicious selection of small plates (charcuterie, Franschhoek smoked trout, fynbos honeycomb, bitterballen) or platters for two.
Good to know You can do a tasting, or order the wines by the glass or bottle. Or enjoy them as an ice lolly!
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm
Cost R105  (Elements Range); R210 (Paserene Range)
Contact 021 876 2714, info@paserene.co.za
Where to find it R45, Franschhoek
Book through DinePlan

Marvel at Franschhoek Motor Museum

To Do Franschhoek Motor Museum

Even if you aren’t a petrolhead, it’s hard not to be impressed by the magnificent collection of cars, motorbikes, tricycles, bicycles and auto memorabilia on display at the Franschhoek Motor Museum – all in mint condition. More than a century of motoring history is housed here, from antique and vintage to post-1945 and post-1960. In the four exhibition halls, you can get up close to an A–Z of icons, from Bentleys and Buicks to the Ford Model T and Mustang, Rolls-Royce and Porsche. The displays are rotated to keep things interesting, making return visits a must. Visits are by pre-booking online only; ask for a guided tour at no extra charge.
Good to know Enjoy a snack (with wines) at the Pitstop Deli, or hop on a free tram that transports you to neighbouring Antonij Rupert farm for a wine-tasting. These can include a cap classique and nougat pairing, or Italian cheese and wine pairing at Terra Del Capo. The Estate Package includes the museum, tram, wine-tasting and an antipasti lunch.
Times Monday – Friday, 10am – 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Saturday, Sunday + public holidays, 10am – 4pm (last entry 3pm)
Cost R80 (adult), R60 (pensioner + motor-club member), R40 (child)
Contact 021 874 9000, fmm@fmm.co.za
Where to find it L’Ormarins Estate, R45, Franschhoek

Ride the Franschhoek Trail Network

To Do Franschhoek Trail Network
Sam Clark/Cape Epic

The craggy wilderness surrounding the Berg River Dam is a playground for mountain-bikers, with 48km of forestry trails, jeep track and single-track taking you through breathtaking scenery – especially from various lofty lookout points. Expect river crossings, gnarly downhills and rocky climbs. There are five options – Skerpenheuvel/Snake Alley Loop, Matoppie Mast Climb (the highest you can get), Matoppie Contour, Dam 360 or the Full Monty – ranging from 14km to 20km. Budget for around 1 hour to 5 hours, depending which you choose. The trails are good for hikers too.
Good to know Permits are available from the Franschhoek Wine Valley office at 66 Huguenot Street.
Times Daylight hours
Cost R50 (day permit)
R300 (annual permit)
Contact 066 224 6360, info@franschhoek.org.za
Emergency services: 021 808 8888
Where to find it Entrance gate on Robertsvlei Road, Franschhoek

Relax in luxury at the Leeu Spa

Thins To Do Franschhoek Leeu Spa

Enjoying pride of place at the picture-perfect Leeu Estates, Leeu Spa By Healing Earth is a world-class wellness sanctuary, with four treatment rooms (including three couples’ suites) that look out over the Franschhoek valley. A refreshing drink, personalised guest experiences, elemental modern architecture and next-level spa attire welcome you and set the tone for signature pinotage-based vinotherapy treatments by Healing Earth. Where you spend your time is up to you: there’s a nail salon, separate his-and-hers steam rooms, and a heated plunge pool overlooking a tranquil lily pond. The lavish relaxation area is also the perfect place to linger.
Good to know There is a mini spa menu for children (age 6 – 18 years). Spa clients are welcome to have lunch or dinner at The Dining Room at the hotel, or do a tutored wine-tasting at The Wine Studio.
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 7pm
Cost From R1 250 for massages; from R1 095 for facials; from R1 895 for body therapies
Contact 021 492 2223, leeuspafhk@leeucollection.com
Where to find it Leeu Estates, Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
Enquire Now

Treat yourself at Huguenot Chocolates

To Do Franschhoek Huguenot Chocolate

Master chocolatiers Danver Windvogel and Denver Adonis learnt their trade in Belgium, and now hand-craft a wide variety of treats using imported Belgian chocolate (dark, milk and white), in a range of forms and flavours. How to choose… chilli or espresso truffles, crème brûlée, pistachio creme, Irish coffee, pink champagne or pinotage… Twice a day you can join the 30-minute Chocolate Experience for a demo and a tasting, or book a full hands-on chocolate-making workshop.
Good to know The shop also has a range of jams made with local fruits, biscuits and gourmet products, plus ice cream.
Times Shop: Monday – Friday, 8am – 5.30pm; weekends from 9am
Chocolate Experience: Monday – Sunday, 11am + 3pm
Cost R90 (adult), includes a chocolate gift
R120 (adult with a child)
Workshop: R600
Contact 021 876 4096
Where to find it 1 Daniel Hugo Street, Franschhoek

Get cooking at Spilsbury’s Kitchen

To Do Franschhoek Spilsbury Kitchen

A gorgeous homeware store by day, a culinary studio by night, this is where chef Nicola Spilsbury offers cooking experiences for anyone who loves good food. The “Franschhoek Feast” heroes local food and artisanal produce, resulting in a harvest-style meal to share at the end (bubbly and wine included). There’s also Easy Italian night, where you make fresh pasta dough and create your own pizza, to be enjoyed with Nicola’s antipasti salads and ice cream. Or decorate a cake to take home at the 2.5-hour “Cake & Bubbles” workshop. It’s a wonderful way to experience Franschhoek’s renowned culinary scene from a different angle.
Good to know Head up the road to Lamu (50 Huguenot Street), Nicola’s other concept store: island-inspired clothing with a globally-inspired restaurant and bar upstairs.
Times Tuesday – Saturday, from 5pm (by appointment)
Cost R1 600 (Franschhoek Feast; 4 hours)
R1000 (Easy Italian Night; 3 hours)
R600 (Cake & Bubbles; 2 hours)
Contact 082 331 9987, hello@spilsburyskitchen.com
Where to find it The Yard, 40 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek

Have high tea at Le Lude

To Do Franschhoek Le Lude

Where better to go for a sparkling high tea than an estate that focuses solely on producing award-winning cap classique? The Orangerie Restaurant’s interior hints at a greenhouse of yore, with cane chairs, ceiling fans, checkerboard tiled floor and leafy palms and ferns. Double-volume arched windows all around put the marvellous view centre stage. Tea begins with a glass of Le Lude bubbly (brut or brut rosé), then your pick from nine TWG teas is served in the most beautiful tea service, while the eats arrive on a silver-tiered platter. The delightful spread includes finger sandwiches, frittatas, buttermilk scones with chantilly creme and decadent sweet treats such as profiteroles, madeleines, macaroons and petite carrot cake.
Good to know Book 24 hours in advance.
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am, 10.30am,11am, 3pm
Cost R425 per person (minimum two, maximum eight)
Contact 021 876 2961, info@lelude.co.za
Where to find it Bowling Green Avenue, off Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek
Book through DinePlan

Blend your own wine at Café du Vin

To Do Franschhoek Cafe Du Vin

Now that you’ve tasted your way through the wines of Franschhoek, and spent some time on the farms, you might feel inspired to make your own wine. The two-hour Winemaker for a Day workshop guides you through the art of blending different grape varieties to create a distinctive wine, under the expert guidance of sommelier/wine director Ricardo Roux, and then you’ll cork, capsule and label your bottle to take home (or to enjoy with your next dinner). It’s held in The Vintage Room at Café du Vin, which is also home to a great bistro, a 12 000-bottle wine cellar and linked to the first wine-themed boutique hotel.
Good to know Each session is limited to eight participants.
Times Monday – Sunday, 10am – 5pm (by appointment)
Cost R1 450
Contact 021 876 4542, 067 412 6223 (WhatsApp), booking@winemakerforaday.co.za
Where to find it 46 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek
Enquire Now

Book a wine-tasting tour by e-bike

To Do Franschhoek Ebike Wine Tasting

Ride an electric bike through the Franschhoek vineyards (berets and baguettes in your basket optional!). The three-and-a-half-hour trip starts at the Terbodore Café, where your guide will run through how to use your bike. Then you’ll head off into the countryside, avoiding main roads and stopping at Grand Provence and Glenwood wine farms along the way – plus either Leeu Estate, Leopards Leap or Country Kitchen (decided on the day). Included is an ebike, your guide and protective gear. Food, coffee and additional tastings are for your own account.
Good to know A child seat (age 3 – 5 years; R150) or half-wheeler (age 5 – 9 years; R350) can be attached to the bike.
Times Monday – Saturday, 9am – 12.30pm; 1.30pm – 5pm
Cost R1 100
Where to find it Terbodore Café, 29 Huguenot Street, Franschhoek
Book Now

What are your favourite things to do in Franschhoek? Let us know in the comments below.

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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: 06 March 2024

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One Response to “The 20 Best Things To Do in Franschhoek”

  1. Theo Herbert

    Nice to know what’s available almost on your own doorstep!

    Reply