One of the seven wonders of the world, sandy white beaches, spectacular sunsets and some of the finest winelands in the world, coupled with rich history and heritage… The Western Cape offers unique getaways, all within a few hundred kilometres of the Mother City.
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Even if you live in what many believe to be the most beautiful city in the world, you sometimes feel the need to get away from it all. Luckily, there are some incredible weekend getaways within a few hours from Cape Town, but we were keen to explore some lesser-known small towns. So, we hopped in the funky Suzuki S-Presso and headed out to find some interesting and unusual spots, ideal for a somewhat off-the-grid experience and filled with welcoming locals, good food and (of course) good wine!
Only 140km east of Cape Town, you will find Greyton in the Overberg district. Established in 1854, this small town at the foot of the Riviersonderend mountains offers a mix of old-world charm and small-town sophistication with some interesting shops and superb food. Pop in at the tourism office and ask for a historical village walk pamphlet to get some insights into the buildings found in town – almost every building has a fascinating history and most have been transformed into restaurants, lodges or guest houses. A highlight is a visit to Genadendal, the oldest Moravian mission village in South Africa, dating back to 1728 and the St Andrew’s Anglican Church built in 1904. The physically taxing but breathtakingly beautiful Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail to another small-town favourite, McGregor (about 14km away), is ideal for the fitter explorers. There are also shorter walking trails ranging from 3 – 7 km in the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve around the Ghobo River.
Speaking of art, the picturesque Kleinmond (110km south-east of Cape Town), which forms part of the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, will enthral you with breathtaking views. Widely considered the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, this special biosphere reserve is a World Heritage Site and boasts a wide range of different types of fynbos and plenty of fun activities such as canoeing, whale watching and mountain hiking. One of our favourite things in the area is trying to spot the wild horses or tick some new bird species off our list in the Rooisand Nature Reserve. Only a stone’s throw from Kleinmond, you will find the Stony Point penguin colony, one of only two shore-based breeding colonies of the African penguin in the country (the other being Boulder’s beach in Simonstown – another small town worth visiting).
If vino is what you’re after, take a drive out to Franschhoek, known as a gourmet food and wine destination. And once you have arrived, don’t worry about drinking and driving as the Wine Tram, a double-decker tram and open-air bus stopping at most of the popular wine estates, is a perfect alternative. Of course, to appreciate the true beauty of this area, we took the S-Presso up the long, steep and dramatic Franschhoek Pass – and boy, did this little one impress on this 15km pass filled with twisty turns. The other wine destination is, of course, Stellenbosch, the second oldest town in the country known for its distinct Cape Dutch architecture, oak-lined streets and some of the best quality wines in South Africa. Surrounded by towering mountains, this is also an outdoor lover’s paradise with many hiking and mountain biking trails to explore.
Darling and Paternoster are two favourite weekend getaway spots of ours on the West Coast. The former may not look like much when simply passing through, but get off the main road, and you will discover a charming town with beautifully restored Victorian buildings. During spring, this area is transformed with hundreds of wildflower species, and no visit to Darling is complete without popping in for dinner at the old station, Evita se Perron. Further along the R27, the quaint fishing village of Paternoster will force you to slow down and relax. The Cape Columbine Nature Reserve and lighthouse is a favourite flower-watching destination during the Namaqua flower season.
A tad further away (but totally worth the drive), is Barrydale in the semi-arid Klein Karoo. It forms part of the scenic Route 62, and while small in size, it oozes personality and boasts one of our favourite road trip stops: the Diesel & Crème Vintage Diner & Motel. The interesting décor will have you clicking away to capture an era gone by while enjoying homemade local cuisine or some interesting milkshake combinations (think lemon meringue, zoo cookie or red velvet). If you feel like sleeping over, the oldest building in town, the Karoo Moon Motel, is right next door (offering three bedrooms).
Sometimes all you need to clear your head and regenerate your soul so you can face the humdrum of city life again is a scenic drive out (make it count in a Suzuki, of course!). We particularly love the 150km-long Cape Peninsula Drive, hitting all the popular spots (Camps Bay, Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak, Kommetjie, Cape Point, Boulders Beach, Muizenberg, Constantia and Kirstenbosch). Having driven this road many times, I am surprised to still find something new to see or do every time. Favourites include swinging by the Twelve Apostles (near Camps Bay), feeding the seals in the Hout Bay Harbour or spending a few hours in the Cape Point National Park. And remember to pop in at one of the wine estates in Constantia to grab a good vino for a picnic at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden.
Gosh, we live in a stunning country, filled with interesting people and places. Did we miss your favourite in our list? Why not head out to visit and tell us all about it? To make your road trip unforgettable, don’t forget to download our tricks and tips to make the most of your time on the road: The ultimate guide to planning a holiday road trip | Suzuki
Life is an adventure – book a test drive in one of the Suzuki family members and head out to explore!