By Roxanne Reid
Small towns are special in many ways, from lack of congestion to country cool, from old buildings full of character to friendly people with time to chat. I’ve chosen 20 of my favourite small towns for weekend getaways from Cape Town. Read on to see if I’ve included your favourite.
I’ve arranged the towns alphabetically in groups so that I don’t have the impossible task of ranking them. How can you say one town is ‘better’ than another when they’re so different, when each has its own particular charm?
Franschhoek makes for one of many superb weekend getaways from Cape Town. To get a sense of the town before you visit, picture towering mountains with vineyards roller-coasting across the valley below, Cape Dutch architecture, chic or rustic restaurants. There’s a distinctly French flavour to the village, a huge nod to the influence of the Huguenots who started the settlement here in the late 17th century.
With wineries and world-class restaurants thick on the ground, it’s no wonder Franschhoek is known as a gourmet food and wine destination. Succumb to the temptation to spend your days under shady trees sampling sophisticated menus and tasting some of the country’s finest wines. To avoid worrying about drinking and driving, plan your route with the Wine Tram, a double-decker tram and open-air bus that stops at some of wine estates.
Explore alluring shops and art galleries, visit the Huguenot Memorial Museum for insight into the history and culture of the area. Do a village walking tour or visit the magnificent food gardens at Babylonstoren. For something more energetic, take to the mountains or Mont Rochelle nature reserve on foot, horseback or mountain bike. Views down across the valley from the surrounding mountains are well worth the effort.
95km east of Cape Town along the N1 and R45