Don’t miss out on what the Western Cape has to offer. Visitors to Cape Town often make the mistake of not venturing further than the city itself. The urban attractions are undeniable, but the province as a whole shouldn’t be overlooked. Full of possibilities for adventure, with a floral kingdom like no other in the world, winding rivers, sandy beaches and South Africa’s most celebrated food scene… it’s no wonder that visitors choose to stay longer.
A jewel of a province
Covering nearly 130 square kilometres, with coastal curves traced by the Indian Ocean on one side and the Atlantic on the other, the Western Cape is a place of natural beauty. Hike in sandstone-folded mountain ranges or drive through the arid Karoo. Spend weekends wine-tasting in fertile green valleys or traveling along the Garden Route. There’s also scuba-diving off undisturbed shorelines and surfing famous shore breaks.
Named as one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature, majestic Table Mountain dominates Cape Town’s skyline, but venture a little further from the city to discover a whole range of other summits to explore. The Western Cape is scattered with towering peaks and elevated passes; from the Outeniqua Mountains, with their ancient rock paintings to the rugged cliffs of the smaller and greater Swartberg Mountains. Don’t miss out on an epic road-trip through these landscapes.
The mountains of the Western Cape are home to an incredible diversity of native flora. The brightly coloured fynbos shrubland that thrives in these rocky regions includes the King Protea, which was named South Africa’s national flower in 1976.
Closer to sea level, sandy beaches call for hours of sun-soaking, while waters in kaleidoscopic shades of blue provide a playground for breaching whales and pods of dolphins. Discover lodges situated alongside meandering rivers, or campsites on eco-reserves and cottages in the world-renowned wine-lands.
Hikers and cyclists gravitate to the mountains. Reached by a 90-minute trek, the summit of Lion’s Head in Cape Town offers the perfect hike before a late dinner. For an unforgettable experience take on the trail under the glowing light of the full moon.
Dedicated hikers should book a spot on the Otter, Whale or Leopard trails for an adventurous escape along the finest, most unspoilt beaches in the province.
Camping enthusiasts can explore the many pristine sites throughout the wild, unspoiled landscapes of the Western Cape. Night skies frame glittering panoramas of the Southern Cross and Milky Way, and early morning sounds of the malachite sunbird or blue crane make for a wake-up call far better than any alarm.
A rugged but beautiful coastline
One of the reasons why so many visitors come to the Western Cape is the enthralling stretch of coastline for snorkelling, diving, kayaking, foraging for mussels and much more. Surfers can find swells on the west coast at Elands Bay or at vibey Victoria Bay, a six-hour drive south-east. Or take lessons at Surfers Corner in Muizenberg
Join the crowds at Camps Bay, just 10 minutes from Cape Town’s city centre, or head a little further from the city to swim with the cheery, cheeky penguins at Boulders Beach. You’ll find total isolation at the end of the picturesque Garden Route, on the wide shores of Nature’s Valley, or if you’re looking for a holiday buzz, Plettenberg Bay’s golden beaches and lagoon offer the fun factor.
World renowned food
Cape Town and its surrounding winelands are often described as the country’s gastronomic capital, and it’s easy to see why. Many of South Africa’s top restaurants are located in the Western Cape.
Breakfast at Lexi’s Healthy Eatery, with its predominantly vegan menu, or brunch at the ever-stylish Hemelhuijs. This can be followed by lunch at Beau Constantia’s Chefs Warehouse, where the breathtaking vineyard views battle for attention with the beautifully presented dishes. Dinners at Fyn are filled with Asian flavours, while Thali is a hotspot for contemporary Indian dishes.
All the excellent food on offer calls for a glass of something special on the side, and luckily there are many award-winning wines produced here, from Constantia and Stellenbosch to Durbanville and Robertson. Book a food-and-wine-pairing experience or a private cellar tasting with an ever-changing seasonal menu.
The gin boom in the region has led to the emergence of a variety of stellar local brands, often infused with aromatic fynbos. The vibrant coffee culture means there’s a brew for every profile preference, from Rosetta’s Kenyan roast to Moses Coffee’s slow-brewed pour-overs from Ethiopia.
To stock up on fresh local treats and produce, the Saturday morning markets in Greyton, Sedgefield, Hermanus, Harkerville and Stanford are more than worth the drive from Cape Town. Prince Albert’s market is a particular standout, showcasing the incredible produce of the charming Karoo town, including plump figs from Weltevrede farm. Beyond that, there are mouth-watering cheeses at Gay’s Guernsey Dairy and award-winning extra-virgin olive oils at the organic Kredouw Olive Estate.
The West Coast fishing village of Paternoster is another tempting destination. Sample the variety of local seafood at Oep ve Koep or the seven-course sustainable feast of Strandveld-style food at Wolfgat, an intimate coastal setting that seats just 20 diners. At family-run restaurant Gaaitjie, look out for the West Coast’s famous mussels, which pair excellently with nearby winery Groote Post’s Seasalter Sauvignon Blanc.