Franschhoek Attractions: A World of Delight
Rolling green valleys, cascading mountains and characteristic Cape Dutch architecture are a few of the wonders that make this petite French corner magnifique. As one of the oldest towns in South Africa, Franschhoek is filled with history and countless attractions.
Come sunny summer, winter or rain; this pristine valley has something for every season and palette. With its many tourist attractions, Franschhoek call to those with wanderlust from far and wide.
To help you plan your trip, we’ve slimmed down your options so that you can experience only the best during your visit. Here are the top things to do in Franschhoek you should try first!
1. Thrill Your Taste Buds at Franschhoek Restaurants
Food. In Franschhoek, all good things start and end with food. Not only do big names in the culinary world make this town their home, they also help evolve one of the most prestigious fine dining scenes in South Africa and the world.
From Franschhoek market fare to picturesque edible compositions on a plate, this South African nook is packed full of flavour sure to please even the most discerning food-lover.
For the full foodie experience, try one, or all, of our favourites listed below.
Best Breakfast on Foot – Franschhoek Market
Kick-off your morning with waves of welcoming aromas at Franschhoek’s market or grab a coffee at one of the numerous coffee shops in town. The market is compact and quaint, with something for everyone.
Apart from easy access to South African crafter’s wares, visitors can taste artisanal flavours from across the globe, and proudly South African goodness, all the while listening to a local crooner’s soothing tunes.
Luxurious Lunch in Franschhoek – Pierneef à La Motte
In Franschhoek, it is always a holiday, so say goodbye to traditional meal times and forget about your schedule. Between 12:00 and 15:00 guests savour a delectable à la carte lunch at one of the best restaurants in Franschhoek, Pierneef à La Motte.
With Chef Eric Bulpitt behind the innovative and delicious dishes, an experience at the restaurant is unlike any other. The à la carte menu celebrates South Africa’s culinary heritage with sophisticated dishes that taste of the past.
Nestled between La Motte’s historic buildings, the restaurant boasts a contemporary nature-inspired interior that is as refreshing as it is welcoming. Explore the evolution of the South African palette at Pierneef à La Motte.
Dine Differently – Casual Nibbles
With so many sights and tastes to explore during the day, evenings are best spent unwinding and appreciating the sunset as the last rays light up the mountain range. But before the day’s end, visit a wine estate’s farm shop and grab a few kinds of cheese, freshly baked bread, yummy preserves and, of course, some vino. Now, you’ll be set for the perfect wind down.
Alternatively, wander through inviting pathways and pick a bistro that tickles your fancy. In town, you can choose from a selection of tasty tapas and music live music, fine dining and more! Browse through the extensive list of restaurants in Franschhoek here.
A Sweet Little Bite - Franschhoek Chocolate Tasting
Whether you love all things chocolate or appreciate expert craftsmanship, De Villiers chocolates are a must-try. At this chocolatier, beautifully handmade chocolates take up to a week to make and is wholly unlike the mass-produced chocolates we’re accustomed to.
Not only can you taste artisanal chocolate, but ice cream, milkshakes, cakes and coffee too – De Villiers is a must!
2. Explore the Best Franschhoek Wine Farms
Known for some of the most prestigious wines in the world, Franschhoek wine estates are a must-see. Many of the wine farms in the valley still have their original French names, given to them by the Huguenots of 17th century. These refugees named their farms after the towns they came from in France.
The wine estates in this region are spoilt with an outstanding terroir and excellent winemakers shaping grapes into award-winning wines. Not only can you taste exceptional wines, but you can explore beautiful vineyards and manicured French-style gardens when you go to the best wine farms in Franschhoek.
Franschhoek Wine & Food Tasting
In and around Franschhoek, many beautiful wine estates offer wine tasting at a small fee. You can either have a tasting journey as part of a guided wine tour or head to best wine farms in Franschhoek, like La Motte.
With a history dating from 1695, La Motte’s 4,000 vines have matured to produce some of the best wines in the world. Spoil yourself with a feast for the senses; a wine and food pairing unlike any other.
Wine Around the World
A hop-on-hop-off tram provides wine-lovers the chance to see as many of Franschoek’s wine farms in one day as possible without the risk of drinking and driving. Passengers meet in Franschhoek’s town centre and head to the beautiful farms in a double-decker railway tram or an open-air bus, both capturing the old world look and feel of the town.
You have a choice between six routes and various departing times, but the earlier the better. Remember to have a hearty meal before, and snacks during your tour.
3. Franschhoek Museum & Art Galleries
Rife with culture, Franschhoek is a must-see destination for car-lovers, avid art enthusiasts and historians alike. You need only see but a small part of the small town to understand why it’s a popular breakaway for poets and artists.
Some of Franschhoek’s most noteworthy museums and galleries include the following:
Franschhoek Car Museum
Those who appreciate the hum of an engine rich with history have to visit Franschhoek’s acclaimed car museum. With over 220 historically significant vehicles, the chronologically ordered collection is sure to amaze.
The works by Jacob Hendrik Pierneef, one of the most well-known South African old masters with a distinctive landscape style, and temporary selections by other artists are on exhibit at the Pierneef Museum. This venue also features pieces from the Rupert family’s collection and the notable Cape Dutch architecture on the farm.
Those interested in more can participate in a historic or sculpture walk or an art experience, each equally enlightening. All packages include a wine tasting or savoury tasting.
Franschhoek Art Galleries
In town, you can go on a self-guided tour as you pass galleries or follow the tourism centre’s art route to absorb as much of what South Africa talent has on offer.
As you drive down Huguenot road, you’ll notice the impressive monument at the edge of town. Not only is the memorial of historical importance but it is also the host of many of the Franschhoek festivals.
The Huguenot Memorial and accompanying museum show a glimpse of the past; how the Huguenots made wine, what they wore, and the course of daily life. Entry to the museum, monument and coffee shop is affordable which makes this stop one of the most budget-friendly picks on this list.
4. Franschhoek Hiking, Walking & Biking Trails
Many blissful outdoor adventures await nature-lovers who visit Franschhoek, also known as Olifantshoek as elephants used to calve in the valley. Explore the wild Mont Rochelle reserve on foot, take in the views from the hiking trails in Franschhoek or take to the road with a rented bike.
Mountain Biking & City Cycling
Golden Leaf Trails offer bike enthusiasts established and beautiful routes sure to give them the workout and views they are hoping to find. Those active enough wanting to tackle the slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains can find out more about the permit cost here.
For a more relaxed trip, go on a self-led tour on the town grounds with rented bicycles from Franschhoek Cycles.
Hiking & Walking Trails in Franschhoek
Guided nature walks with refreshments at the peak vista are also available at selected wine estates like La Motte. This particular trail is perfect for avid bird watchers and plant aficionados alike. For those interested in a self-guided hike, take a snack basket to enjoy at the picturesque picnic spot at the halfway mark. Reservations are essential
Exploring Franschhoek on foot is the best way to get around, and it surely sets the pace that suits the region; slowing down and appreciating the finer things in life. A walk in town has its own intrigue but if you want to get closer to nature without physical exertion, you can take the Franschhoek pass, a beautiful and worth-while drive in itself, to get to the lookout points and appreciate the town’s beauty from up high.
5. Franschhoek Accommodation – Live in Style
With countless romantic things to do in Franschhoek, it’s easy to understand why so many tourists flock to this quaint town. In each narrow street, nook and corner you’ll find delightful accommodation that will make your adventure all the more special.
Your stay in Franschhoek will undoubtedly be one of the best experiences you’ll have on your trip; with competition high, each establishment wows from arrival to departure. Whether you want intimate and cosy or illustrious and expansive, you’re sure to find the haven you’ve been looking for.
To avoid disappointment, consult a booking agency in Franschhoek (like Booking.com or LekkerSlaap) to discover the boutique hotel, country house, villa, farm cottage or bed and breakfast perfect for you.
6. Franschhoek’s Must-see Festivals
This small town is anything but sleepy; Franschhoek is propped full of events. From literary loveliness to a masquerade-like dance festival, the French corner has something for everyone.
Franschhoek Literary Festival – May
The literary festival is more than a celebration of the written word; it’s the culminating literature event in the country as proclaimed South African and international authors visit Franschhoek to inspire and delight the visitors.
Find out more about the Franschhoek Literary Festival here.
Bastille Day in Franschhoek – July
Celebrating Huguenot heritage, locals don their best red and blue outfit and participate in the age-old Bastille festival - a food and wine extravaganza. In memoriam of the French Revolution, Bastille Day celebrates liberty with the finer things in life. Our local counterpart joins in on the festivities with tasty dishes, superb wine and live music.
Find out more about the Franschhoek Bastille Festival here.
Franschhoek Uncorked – September
Franschhoek Uncorked celebrates spring with an exciting burst of flavour as participating wineries showcase their new vintages and host special events on their estates. Visitors can expect to see and taste a variety of MCCs, and white, rosé and red wines.
Find out more about Franschhoek Uncorked here.
Cap Classique and Champagne Festival – November
Champagne and celebration are in cahoots and Franschhoek knows how to make the best of this flourishing partnership. The town comes to life during a two-day event filled with the best bubbly and divine views at the Huguenot Monument.
The Franschhoek champagne festival is a true bubbly lovers dream as the “Magic of Bubbles” comes to life with the best Method Cap Classiques (MCC) South Africa has to offer. Not only can visitors taste local pop, they can also indulge in premier French Champagne.
Summer weather, beautifully tasty bubbles and yummy nibbles – what’s not to love?
Find out more about the Franschhoek Champagne Festival here.
There are many more events, like a Classic Music Festival, to choose from. Be sure to see which ones you could attend with a quick search tool. Click here to see what’s on in Franschhoek during your trip!
6. Franschhoek Shops made for Curation
Nestled in between the many special restaurants, coffee shops and galleries, unique stores offer the passionate shopper near-limitless avenues of exploration. Our top pick is the cornerstone of all things beautiful in Franschhoek – Masquerade. Lovers of all things beautiful should pop in at this expansive store for décor, linen, quirky notebooks and revitalising cosmetics.
Other stores that line Franschhoek’s Huguenot Road include clothing stores, a book store, African crafts and a chocolatier.
7. Visit an Animal Sanctuary
Wine is not the only thing the locals care about in Franschhoek. The Farm Sanctuary works to raise awareness of ethical farming with their farm animal rescues. Each of their inhabitants has personality with their individual likes and dislikes. Guests are encouraged to come and meet Pigcasso, a pig and painter.
Find out more about the Farm Sanctuary in Franschhoek here.