Following on the immense popularity of our list of Cape Town day trips, we've set up this list of weekend getaways from Cape Town. Our starting point for each trip is Europcar at Cape Town International Airport.
The main activity in Montagu is the hot water spings, but you'll be missing out if you don't try some of the walks, even if it's just the climb to the cave above the springs, which offers and eagle's view of the springs and the valley. There's some great places to stay in Montagu: you may want to try the Montagu Vines B&B and enjoy its view of the mountains (especially in the evening sun), during the day play in the splash pool in the heat of the Karoo. Have dinner at Ye Olde Tavern which is a 5 minute walk away.
Warmwaterbergspa is the most rustic of the hot water springs in the Western Cape, which in the opinion of some (like this article's author) also makes it the best. Book well in advance and stay at the "Bath House", which has sunken Roman baths in a Victorian building.
There is something fitting about visiting the extremities of a continent, indeed, South Africa is named after its geographic extremity. On your trip to the southern-most point in Africa, Cape Agulhas, you'll pass through Bredasdorp - visit the Shipwreck Museum and the Heuningberg Nature Reserve, and Struisbaai. For accommodation in L'Agulhas try the Agulhas Country Lodge, from which you can enjoy a sunrise over the sea.
To get away from it all, take a 3 hour drive to Draaihoek Lodge between Dwarskersbos and Elandsbaai (i.e. pretty much in the middle of nowhere, which can be a great place to be!). Enjoy a beautiful white beach sandy and very quiet beach, as well as their solar-heated pool. Fall asleep to the sound of waves.
Langebaan centres on the lagoon - spend time on the beach, hire a kayak or double kayak at Cape Sport Centre (before you leave book kite surfing or windsurfing lessons with them). Visit Mykonos Casino for a little flutter on the tables if that's your thing.
The turnoff to Langebaan is approximately 140km from Cape Town on the R27. You will come to the West Coast One-Stop (an Engen service station and Wimpy restaurant) on the left. Take the Langebaan turnoff and drive 10km into the town’s centre.
Le Mahi is a great choice for a weekend's accommodation in Langebaan. Spend some times in the upstairs lounge, and have a look at their interesting library. There are many B&B’s, self-catering cottages, campsites and some hotels to choose from. A list can be obtained from the West Coast Peninsula Website. Some popular places to stay include the four-star Farm House Hotel, the brand new WindTown Resort in the town centre and the sporty Langebaan Golf and Country Estate. Book at least a couple of nights in Langebaan because there is so much to do!
Be prepared to stay a night at one of the gems of the West Coast - Paternoster. Drive past the Laguna Mall in Langebaan and follow the signposts to Saldanha Bay. This part of the trip should take only 20 to 25 minutes. You will pass the looming structures of Saldanha Steel on the way. Saldanha was named after the Portuguese admiral Antionio de Saldanha, and is a vast natural harbour. It is popular for major sailing regattas as well as a wonderful spot for fresh seafood, water sports, golf and awesome scenery. The town is home to a naval training base and the South African Military Academy and is the heart of the west coast commercial fishing industry. Saldanha Steel and the iron ore quay also provide employment in the area. The SAS Saldanha Nature Reserve and Hoedjieskoppie Nature Reserve boast spectacular flowers in the season, and an annual half marathon takes place through the Saldanha flowers in spring. The town is also a good vantage point to see the southern right whales or to visit the Malgas Bird Island - a birdwatcher’s paradise. Two huge rocks, Adam and Eve, brood over Saldanha atop a small hill. Before you leave, stop at one of the coffee shops which overlook the bay. For more info contact the Saldanha Information Centre: +27 (0) 22 7142088.
Jacobsbaai: If you have time, pop in to Jacobsbaai - a few kilometres north of Saldanha Bay. A quiet, isolated little bay with only one restaurant and a tiny cafe, but renowned for its seafood and wild flowers and a sanctuary for artists and potters. There is an interesting 17km hiking trail from nearby Swartrietbaai to Tietiesbaai. For info: +27 (0) 22 7142088.
Vredenburg: Leave Saldanha and drive 12km inland on the R399 to Vredenberg. On the way you will pass the large West Coast/Weskus Mall which houses over 70 shops, including some of the big chain stores. Vredenburg is the economic heart of the region, originally established to service the wheat farmers in the area in 1875. The town was originally called “Twisfontein” which more or less means “troubled fountain” in Afrikaans. Two farmers fought over the water rights to a fresh water spring. Once the fight was over, the town settled down to its current name, Vredenburg, or “peaceful town”. The town is the administrative centre of the region. For more info: +27 (0)22 7151142
Paternoster: Drive north-west up the main street of Vredenburg, past the Dutch Reformed Church, and you will be on the road to Paternoster, about 15km away. Paternoster (which means “Our Father” in Latin - after the prayers of Portuguese sailors who foundered in the bay) is a charming fishing village, where small wooden boats still go out every day to gather the rich harvest of the sea. It has become a sought after destination because of its picturesque cottages, delightful places to stay, good food, activities and art and craft galleries. Have a look at Paternoster Pottery Store, Stonefish Studio and Paternoster Hotel’s Panty Bar. The long beach is white and sandy and a haven for all water sports. Nature lovers could see dolphins, seals, birds, whales, penguins, or just enjoy the sunsets. Wildflowers bloom in spring, and a visit to the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve is a must. Here you can survey the Atlantic from the top of the last manned lighthouse in South Africa.
So book into one of the many guest houses - perhaps Dolphin View on the beach, or the Paternoster Hotel and enjoy lunch and dinner at one of the lovely restaurants. You can even buy a packet of fish and chips on the beach and eat it amidst the cry of the gulls. Crayfish are available fresh from the sea in season - claws and feelers paddling in the wind.
St Helena Bay: After you have had your fill of the delights of Paternoster, take a quick trip up to see the beautiful coastline of St Helena Bay, which includes Brittania Bay, the Shelley Point Peninsula, Stompneusbaai and the Sandy Point Harbour.There are beautiful beaches, birds, wildlife and flowers and several places to stay if you like remote and quiet spots. Visit the Vasco da Gama Nautical Museum at Shelley Point, or play golf at the Shelley Point Golf Club, Hotel and Spa.
There are about 9 restaurants in Paternoster, but these three rank top of the list:
The Noisy Oyster: +27 (0)22 752 2196. Ranked No.1 restaurant in Paternoster by Tripadvisor. Romantic, quirky, delicious food. Lunch and dinner.
Gaatjie Salt Water Restaurant: +27 (0)22 752 2242 Right on the beach - uses ingredients straight from the sea. Open Thurs - Mon for lunch and dinner
Oep ve Koop: +27(0) 22 7522105- Traditional dishes with a West Coast flavour. Eat under the trees and sample the homemade delicacies.
Breaking up the undulating wheatfields of the Swartland is the solitary Kasteelberg, to the north-west of which is Riebeek Kasteel (named after Jan van Riebeek and the Kasteelberg), and the south-west of which is Riebeek Wes. Two famous politicians have been born in Riebeek Wes - Jan Smuts in 1870 at the farm Bovenplaas & DF Malan at the farm Allesverloren). Riebeek Kasteel can sometimes be seen on flights coming into Cape Town.
Head back in time as you arrive in the Royal Hotel in Riebeek Kasteel (avoid rooms facing the street, as it can get noisy, and the rooms facing the garden are more serene). Go on the Olive route visiting Goedgedacht, Het Vlock Casteel, Kloovenburg Wine & Olives and The Riebeeck Olive Boutique.
Hike to the Wolfberg Cracks, Wolfberg Arch, go pass the Maltese Cross. Possibly Sneeuberg (spelling) and Tafelberg.
It's only an hour and a half's drive up the west coast to Yzerfontein, but worth having a weekend there so you can enjoy it properly. Yzerfontein is best visited in the spring, when the flowers are out. Its 16-mile beach (which is actually 19 miles) is great for walks and sandcastles, but the sea water is similarly cold to Clifton, Camps Bay and Lagoon Beach in Cape Town. Plan a bit beforehand and visit Dassen Island and arrange a walk on Skaap-Eiland. Be sure to have a look through the clear night skies at the stars above. For accommodation in Yzerfontein, stay at Harbour View and enjoy its views over the sea (ask for the suite on the top of the house) and harbour. Take a day trip from Yzerfontein to Darling and time it for a cabaret show at Evita se Perron with Pieter-Dirk
Drive from Cape Town up the R27, known as the West Coast Road, for about 75km. Just before you reach the R315 turnoff to Darling, you will see a huge sign on the right proclaiming the !Khwa ttu, the San Education and Culture Centre. The San were the first indigenous people in southern Africa, and the Centre showcases their culture and traditions. !Khwa ttu means “water pan” in the extinct |Xam language. The Centre offers guided tours, storytelling, traditional crafts, a small restaurant, a bush camp, bush cottage and a guest house, as well as conferencing facilities.
Continue north briefly until you reach the R315 turnoff on the right. Travel about 15km through low hills to the small town of Darling, named after Sir Charles Henry Darling, Lieutenant Governor of the Cape from 1851. Darling is the home of South African satirist Pieter Dirk-Uys who made famous the nation’s beloved character “Evita Bezuidenhout”. Before you leave Cape Town, make sure you’ve made a booking for an afternoon show at Pieter’s Darling restaurant/theatre - Evita se Perron.
You can browse through the interesting arts and crafts next door to the theatre, have a look at the Darling Museum and pay a visit to the Darling creamery and wind farms. And you can drive a few kilometres out of Darling on the R305 to the Groote Post winery for drinks and a meal from Hilda’s Kitchen, or time it so that you can take part in Darling Cellars annual Crush Day. Darling Cellars are a short way outside Darling on the R315.
Darling is famous for its wild flowers, so if you are there in August and September you will be treated to carpets of beautiful blooms. The famous Darling Wildflower Show, which started in 1917, takes place every year on the third weekend in September. In 2013 it will be held from 20-22 September at the Darling Sports Club. (see Darling Wild Flowers for more info).
And if you feel like a round of golf on a...how can we put this politely...really rustic golf course, try the Darling golf course out.
When you’ve finished exploring Darling and surrounds, retrace your steps to the R27 and continue north to Langebaan.
Visit the old Fish House (now the Tourism Bureau) which is the oldest building in the town. If you are staying the night, book into one of the many B&B's and enjoy the peace and tranquillity of the sea and the beaches. The famous Sixteen-Mile Beach stretches from the northern end of Yzerfontein's main beach and is good for horseriding or just to stretch your legs. Try the Beaches Restaurant Tel: +27 (0) 22 4512200 or Die Rooi Granaat Tel: +27 (0) 72 9019133 for a great meal out. A really special place to go is the West Coast Farm Stall, just after the turnoff to Yzerfontein. It houses lions, tigers and black panthers as well as a restaurant, winetasting, a nursery and an aviary! Tel: +27 (0) 22 4512851.
For more info, contact Yzerfontein Tourist Office on +27 (0) 22 451 2366
We included this in our Cape Town day trips guide, but it is a bit rushed for one day, and ideally one should do it over a weekend. The best time to visit Hermanus is from July to October, when the southern right whales are most easily viewed. As long as you don't mind being in Sandbaai (a 5 minute drive drom Hermanus's centre), the spot to stay in Hermanus is 138 Marine Beachfront Guesthouse - just make sure you get a room with a sea view (if you can't spend time in the upstairs common room) - enjoy falling asleep to the sound of the waves. Have your meals at the Bamboo Beach.
An epic experience is to go shark cage diving - take a drive to Van Dyks Bay and get up close and personal with the world's largest predatory fish in your shark cage dive with sharkcagediving.net.
If you know of any weekend getaways from Cape Town which you feel should be added to this list, let us know, so we can expand it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org (also let us know if there's better spots to stay).