Cool forested valleys, dramatic mountain peaks, verdant botanical gardens, vineyard-carpeted landscapes, and soft white sand beaches: wherever it is you feel most at peace, the Cape boasts a smorgasbord of picture perfect settings in which to reconnect with nature over a lovely meal and perhaps a bottle of local wine. Here are the best of those locations!
Forest and Garden Picnics
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Sprawled across the eastern slopes of Table Mountain is the world famous Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which is home to a spectacular abundance of plant and bird species. Bring the whole family here for a walk around the lush gardens before settling on a lawn somewhere, perhaps under a tree, to enjoy a picnic!
Where: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
Cost: Adults (R75), SA students with card (R40), children aged 6 to 17 (R20), kids under 6 (free)
Newlands and Tokai Forests
The lush woodlands of Tokai and Newlands Forests (named after their home suburbs) both offer peaceful, shaded picnic spots that are not only spacious and fairly private, but also feature concrete tables, chairs, and fire pits for braaiing. This, together with the tranquillity of the forest, makes both of these destinations some of the best outdoor braai spots in the whole of Cape Town. Do note that Newlands Forest has a small entrance fee per vehicle and per person.
Where: Off the M3 highway, Newlands, Table Mountain (Nature Reserve)
Contact: +27 (0) 21 712 0527 or +27 (0) 21 712 2337
Where: Tokai Road, Tokai, Cape Town
Contact: +27 (0) 21 712 7471 or +27 (0) 21 422 1601
The Company’s Gardens
Originally established in the 1600’s as a supply station for the Dutch East India Company ships, the Company Gardens is one of the Cape’s most historic sites. This lush and manicured collection of lawns, rose gardens, fountains, historic statues, and tree-lined avenues right in the heart of Cape Town’s city centre is a fantastic place to go for a walk and a picnic. Bring peanuts for the squirrels: they’re tame and will eat right out of your hand!
Where: 19 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town City Centre
The Norval Foundation in Steenberg is also now offering South African themed summer picnics, which guests can enjoy in its astounding sculpture garden. Available from its signature eatery, the Skotnes Restaurants, these family-friendly picnic hampers are brimming with fresh, local, and seasonal produce – in keeping with the Skotnes’ philosophy of supporting local, small-batch food suppliers. Baskets also include a range of desserts made by their in-house pastry chef.
Where: 4 Steenberg Road, Steenberg Estate, Cape Town
Cost: From R295 per person and R95 for kiddies baskets
Cape Town’s splendiferous mountains and their forested valleys are fantastic venues for outdoor lovers, where every vantage point, pool of shade, or babbling stream is a potential picnic spot.
Summiting Table Mountain is just about a rite of passage for Capetonians but if you prefer arriving at your destination a little less sweaty, you can always catch the Cable Car. At the top, there are numerous winding pathways, peaceful spots, lookouts, and spectacular views over the whole of Cape Town and the peninsula all the way to Cape Point, making Table Mountain absolutely incredible for picnics, particularly at sunset. Don’t forget to bring the bubbly!
Where: Cable Car Station, Tafelberg Road, Gardens, Cape Town
Cost: Make the most of the cable car’s half price summer sunset special for locals (must present SA ID): R150 per adult | R75 per child, valid 1 November – 18 December 2019 | 4 January – 29 February 2020
Signal Hill and Lion’s Head
Every evening during the week and weekend (weather permitting), Capetonians head to Signal Hill with picnic baskets and blankets in tow to watch the sunset. It’s a spectacular spot with beautiful views but be sure to get there a little before sunset or else you’ll struggle to get a decent spot. Alternatively, you can make the steep climb up Lion’s Head, which may be a bit of a slog, but the views and sense of achievement are worth it. Just be sure to bring a headlamp on the return journey if you’re making a sunset climb.
Where: Car park at the end of Signal Hill Road, Cape Town.
Opening Times: Daylight hours
Silvermine Nature Reserve
A part of the Table Mountain National Park, Silvermine Nature Reserve is home to a scattering of tranquil, scenic picnic spots right next to a large reservoir, which, if you can brave the icy water, is great for swimming (there are also decent ablution blocks nearby). Silvermine Nature Reserve is also great for rock climbing, hiking, and bird watching and be sure to take in the fynbos landscape and fascinating geology.
Where: Off Ou Kaapse Weg, Table Mountain National Park, Table Mountain (Nature Reserve)
Opening Times: 08:00 to 18:00
Cost: Adults, R31 per SA local adult per day | R16 per child | free entrance for WILD Card holders
Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve
About an hour’s drive outside of Cape Town, you’ll find the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve where one can happily spend an entire day exploring the picturesque landscapes, waterfalls, caves, reservoirs, and the magnificent Paarl rock – a massive dome-shaped granite batholith. There are picnic spots with braai areas, but you’ll need to bring your own grid and firewood. Be sure to pack everything you need because there are no shops in the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve.
Where: Paarl Mountain Local Nature Reserve, Paarl
Opening Times: October to March, 07h00 to 19h00; April to September, 07h00 to 18h00
Cost: R19.00 per occupant during weekends. Entry is free during the week.
Tygerberg Nature Reserve
Thousands of years, the koppie that dominates the Tygerberg Nature Reserve was used by the indigenous Khoisan people as grazing grounds for their cattle. Today, it is a 309-hectare nature reserve that yields spellbinding 360-degree views of the entire Cape Peninsula. The Tygerberg Nature Reserve is also home to a staggering 562 floral species and is one of the largest remaining areas for the critically endangered Swartland Shale Renosterveld. After a hike around the stunning reserve, visitors can convene on the picnic site right at the top of the koppie.
Where: 1 Totius Street, Welgemoed, Cape Town
Opening Times: 07:30 to 18:00 on weekdays and 19:00 on weekends.
Cost: R20 per adult | R10 per child (aged 3 – 17) | free for kids under 3 or members.
Beach Picnics in Cape Town
Cape Town is known as a beach destination, except for one little problem: the summertime southeasterly wind. Llandudno and Clifton beaches, however, are well sheltered from the wind and are therefore perfect picnic spots with fabulous views out over the Atlantic Ocean. The former is tucked away at the base of the Twelve Apostles mountain range (you’ll see the turn-off on Victoria Road just before entering Hout Bay), while the latter, which consists of four beautiful beaches, is located at the base of Lion’s Head in the wealthy suburb of Clifton. Further afield, Boulder’s Beach in Simon’s Town offers a sheltered cove for picnicking, sunbathing, and swimming, and has the added bonus of being home to a penguin colony.
The Cape Winelands
For a totally lazy day spent under the shade of a towering oak tree, head to the Cape’s winelands with its manifold wine routes. Here, the picnics are gourmet and prepacked for your convenience (booking in advance is almost always required).
Allée Bleue Wine Estate, Groot Drakenstein
Embraced by the majestic Drakenstein Mountains, the historical Allée Bleue Wine Estate offers a breath-taking setting for couple and family picnics. In addition to the traditional farm fresh bread, cheese platter, and charcuterie, their pre-packed “Chicnic” baskets (R385 for two adults) include a bevvy of delicious treats from rare roast beef wrap and farm grown micro herb salad to white chocolate mousse. There are also vegetarian options, as well as a special Christmas 2019 picnic basket!
Where: Allée Bleue Wine Estate, Intersection R45 and R310, Groot Drakenstein
Bertus Basson at Spice Route, Paarl
Located at the delightful Spice Route in Paarl, the Bertus Basson restaurant celebrates the best of South African cuisine with an independent take on traditional dishes. If you are in the mood for something more casual, pop into the restaurant and help yourself at their “pak ‘n mandjie” (pack a basket), select a bottle of wine, artisanal meats, and delicious baked goods to enjoy on the lawn.
Where: Spice Route, Suid-Agter-Paarl Road, Paarl
Boschendal Wine Estate, Franschhoek
Boschendal Wine Estate is amongst the oldest wine farms in the Cape. It’s also one of the most beautiful with its sweeping lawns, ancient trees, massive herb and vegetable garden, Cape Dutch architecture, and exquisite oak-lined avenues. Boschendal’s deli does delicious pre-packed picnic baskets (R580 for two or R310 for one) featuring freshly baked bread, delicate pates, salads, cold meats, homemade preserves, desserts, and more. Picnics can be enjoyed in the Werf area or the Rhone lawns, the winemaking and wine-tasting hub of Boschendal.
Where: R310 Pniel Road, Groot Drakenstein, Franschhoek
Buitenverwachting was founded by Simon van der Stel, the Cape’s very first governor, and so guests will find this Constantia wine estate bursting with history and rustic charm! The restaurant here provides a top tier dining experience but for those on the hunt for a more relaxed outdoor experience, go to their wine cellar, order a charcuterie platter and enjoy in outside on the lawns in the shade of 250-year-old trees!
Where: 37 Klein Constantia Road, Constantia
Cape Point Vineyards, Noordhoek
Cape Point Vineyards in Noordhoek is well known and loved for its Thursday evening market, but this wine farm is also a glorious week long venue for picnics, with its breath-taking mountain, vineyard, and ocean views, luscious lawns to sit and relax on, beautiful selection of wines, and stunning food. Call them up 24 hours in advance to pre-order a picnic basket (R200 per adult). You’ll be supplied with blankets and pillows too.
Where: Silvermine Road, Noordhoek, Cape Town
Most wine estates in the Cape are blessed with spectacular views but at Delheim Estate in Stellenbosch, the views of the Simonsberg Mountains and vineyards are taken to another level. Pick up a hand-woven picnic basket (R315 to R345 for two adults) from their Garden Restaurant and spread out on the lawn for a riverside feast of fresh produce, homemade goods, and artisanal treats. Afterwards, pay their spooky yet atmospheric underground cellar a visit for some wine tasting but watch out for the cobwebs: they’re likely older than you are!
Where: Knorhoek Road, Stellenbosch
Grande Provence, Franschhoek
Enjoy a delicious and relaxing country-style picnic under the oaks in beautifully landscaped gardens at Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate. The Grande Country Picnic basket (R700 for two or R350 for one) is filled to the brim with treats such as Dalewood camembert and preserves, tender roasted vegetables and chimichurri, smoked snoek pâté, estate-made hummus, freshly-baked bread, olives, and a crisp heirloom garden salad, along with a bottle of mineral water and their award winning Angel Tears wine.
Where: Main Road, Franschhoek
Hazendal Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Having prospered under the stewardship of Russian owners for more than 20 years, it’s only fitting that Hazendal’s picnic offering be distinctly Russian flavoured. Their ‘Babushka picnics’ (R250 per person, R125 for a kids’ basket) offer a relaxed experience on the lawns of the estate, presented in gorgeous bespoke wicker baskets and filled with South African and Russian inspired treats.
Where: Hazendal Wine Estate, Bottelary Road, Stellenbosch
Holden Manz Wine Estate, Franschhoek
A picnic on the Holden Manz Wine Estate is all about enjoying fine wines and good food under ancient oaks by the idyllic Franschhoek River. Order 24 hours in advance and arrive to collect your picnic basket from their Franschhoek Kitchen; perhaps pick up a bottle or two of their award winning wines.
Where: Green Valley Road, Franschhoek
Jordan Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Jordan Wine Estate – home to Chef George Jardine’s acclaimed Jordan Restaurant – offers a highly memorable picnic treat, served in private picnic pods on their lawn with views of the Stellenbosch Kloof Valley. Make a quick stop at The Bakery at Jordan to collect your picnic basket filled to the brim with delectable treats, as well as a bottle of wine from their Chameleon range.
Where: Stellenbosch Kloof Road, Vlottenberg, Stellenbosch
Klein Joostenberg, Stellenbosch
The causal taproom and picnic-style eatery at Klein Joostenberg is a paradise for families and friends. With a wide-open expanse of shaded lawns, there is plenty of space to throw down a blanket for a picnic and for the kids to run free. The “Best of the Boland Platter” is the go-to option and features local cheeses, Joostenberg charcuterie, homemade preserves, home-baked bread, herb butter, and more.
Where: Klein Joostenberg, R304 Muldersvlei, Stellenbosch
La Bri Estate, Franschhoek
Tucked away in the Franschhoek Valley lies the historic La Bri wine estate that’s one of the town’s oldest Huguenot-allocated estates. As one of the hop-off points for the Franschhoek Wine Tram, it’s a convenient spot for a picnic and one that offers gorgeous private gardens and delicious picnic baskets packed with cheeses, olives from the estate, freshly baked bread, salami sticks, sweet BBQ chicken strips, chargrilled artichokes, and more.
Where: La Bri Estate, Excelsior Road, Franschhoek
Lanzerac Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
The grand old Lanzerac is a gorgeous wine estate in Stellenbosch with sweeping views of the Jonkershoek Valley. Its manicured lawns and stunning surroundings offer visitors the perfect venue for a picnic, which you can either order from the deli pre-packaged or custom created by making your selection from what’s on offer.
Where: Lanzerac Wine Estate, 1 Lanzerac Road, Stellenbosch
Mont Rochelle, Franschhoek
What was once a 17th Century hilltop estate in the glorious Franschhoek wine valley has now been transformed into “Leisure Land”, thanks to the work and influence of Sir Richard Branson. The Country Kitchen is Mont Rochelle’s informal restaurant located adjacent to their wine cellar and it’s from here that guests can collect a hand-packed picnic basket, which include a bottle of wine.
Where: Dassenberg Road, Franschhoek
Noble Hill Wine Estate, Paarl
For a unique experience in the winelands, head to Noble Hill in Paarl where the tranquil picnic grounds are complemented by the surrounding vineyard, mountain, and lake views. The picnics are put together by the estate’s restaurant, Cosecha, and are crammed with traditional Mexican favourites and authentic, zingy treats. You also get a bottle of Noble Hill wine and still or sparkling water.
Where: Noble Hill Wine Estate, Klapmuts-Simondium Road, Paarl
Rhebokskloof Wine Estate is famous for their picnics and with rolling lawns and a dam surrounded by weeping willow trees, it’s easy to see why. This is especially the case for families over weekends when a jumping castle, trampoline, and free pony rides (on Sundays, 12:00 to 14:00) offers kids all the diversions they need to leave the parents alone to a little quality time. Picnic baskets are available for order.
Where: Noord-Agter-Paarl Road, Windmeul, Paarl
Solms-Delta Wine Estate
Tuck into a scrumptious picnic, pop open a bottle of delicious Solms-Delta wine, and enjoy the day with a view to match your feast: choose between their lush lawn alongside the forest, a sandy riverbank, or a shady spot overlooking the dam. The Fyndraai Restaurant team freshly packs the picnic baskets and there are vegetarian and kid-friendly baskets available on request.
Where: Delta Road & R45, Drakenstein, Franschhoek
Spier Wine Farm, Stellenbosch
Spier is a perennial, family-friendly favourite and perhaps one of the better-known wine estates in Cape Town. This enormous wine farm offers no shortage of beautiful, shaded places to spread out a blanket and enjoy the outdoors. The Farm Kitchen offers a great assortment of fresh, organic produce and hearty, yet nutritious farm-style food and included in the picnic price is a bottle of wine from Spier’s signature range.
Where: Spier Wine Farm, R310 Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch
Vergelegen Estate, Somerset West
Nestled into the Helderberg valley is one of the Cape’s oldest and, quite possibly, the country’s most beautiful wine estates. Here, guests can expect the standard offering of sprawling lawns, ancient trees, historic manor houses, exquisite wine, and delicious food. But what sets Vergelegen apart as a destination for picnic lovers is its truly magical camphor forest, where picnic tables bedecked with white tablecloths are scattered amongst the trees.
Where: Vergelegen Wine Estate, Lourensford Road, Somerset West
Warwick Wine Estate, Stellenbosch/Klapmuts
The stately and picturesque Warwick wine estate carries a well-deserved reputation for its “picnic pods”. Here, underneath a yawning umbrella and on the thoughtfully laid out picnic blankets and pillows, guests are invited to spend a leisurely afternoon, munching their way through a pre-packed artisanal picnic (R550 for two or R300 for one), and sipping on a glass (or three) of their award-winning wine.
Where: Warwick Wine Estate, Between Stellenbosch and Klapmuts, R44
Zorgvliet Wine Estate, Stellenbosch
Zorgvliet wine estate in the Banghoek Valley of Stellenbosch has several cleverly curated picnic basket options for adults and children (depending on numbers, preferences, and appetites). The Zorgvliet basket for two packs a baguette, preserves, meat wraps, a trio of gourmet cheese and crackers, chicken drumsticks, a fresh green salad, and, to end off on a sweet note, a dessert. Also included is a bottle of Silvermyn wine of your choice.
Where: Zorgvliet Wine Estate, Helshoogte Road, Stellenbosch