Cape Town’s surrounding areas offer wonderful opportunities for self-drive holidays (or take an organised tour). There’s the West Coast, the Garden Route, the Overberg, the Cederberg and the arid landscape of the intriguing Karoo.

Did you know?

The Garden Route National Park, consisting of the Wilderness, Nature's Valley and Tsitsikamma, is home to over 280 species of birds.

Cape Town's surrounding areas offer great opportunities to explore the treasures of the Western Cape. The regions east and west match the Mother City for attractions, scenic beauty and adventure, and outside Cape Town you'll meet the down to earth version of everything South Africa.

The areas surrounding Cape Town stretch to the West Coast, the Overberg, the Garden Route and even as far as Oudtshoorn.

On the West Coast, walk in the path of the early Khoisan, whose signature may be found in hundreds of rock paintings, particularly in the rugged Cederberg.

At the West Coast Fossil Park, a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, there's a rich find of animal fossils, even three-toed horses, would you believe! Visit Paternoster for a classic fishermen's village retreat, and Yzerfontein for an endless, unexploited stretch of beach.

About mid-year, depending on the rains, the region bursts into bloom with acres of daisies as the wild flower season starts.

From June, Southern Right whales visit the Overberg coast, taking up residence in the inlets and coves of Walker Bay whale sanctuary. Watch them frolicking from the cliffs and beaches of the seaside town of Hermanus, or get close in a whale-viewing boat. Don't miss Cape Agulhas, marked by a lighthouse; the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

The Garden Route runs up the south-eastern Cape coast, incorporating Mossel Bay, Sedgefield, George, Wilderness, Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Aptly named, it's a veritable Eden. Beaches, lakes, lagoons and forests combine with magnificent golf estates and cultural attractions. Considered South Africa's adventure sports capital, it's a region sprinkled liberally with thrills like extreme bungee jumping, sea kayaking and treetop canopy tours through the amazing Tsitsikamma forest.

Don't be fooled by the dryness of the Karoo. Under its infinite skies there's much archaeology, wildlife, architecture and some of the most impressive mountain passes. The Sutherland Observatory is of particular interest to star gazers, and snow is common during winter.

The Cango Caves outside Oudtshoorn drip with stalactites and stalagmites, while the ostrich palaces, located on farms where you can ride one of the birds if you dare, have retained their yesteryear elegance.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Cape Town Tourism Information
Tel: +27 (0)21 405 4500

How to get here

Head in any direction from Cape Town on one of the free- or highways: the N1 and N2 north or the N7 and R27 west.

Best time to visit

Each season in the Cape has its own charm. Summers are hot and dry, winters are cool and wet.

Around the area

The Western Cape is yours to explore – head out to the Garden Route, along the Overberg, on a seafood safari to the West Coast or on one big adventure to the dry Karoo. There are also great places nearer the city centre such as Kalk Bay, Hout Bay and Simon's Town.

Tours to do

The Garden Route is a definite on any tour to the Western Cape.

Get around

There are organised tours to the Garden Route, West Coast and the Karoo. Alternatively, hire a car.

Length of stay

Book yourself at least a week or two to explore the Cape and its surrounding areas

What to pack

Pack rain gear if you are visiting the Cape in winter. A swimsuit is essential in summer!

Where to stay

There is reasonably priced accommodation available in all the outlying areas. Consider guesthouses and bed and breakfasts as well as backpacker options.

What to eat

Seafood along the West Coast and Garden Route, Karoo lamb in the Karoo.

What's happening

The Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn (usually one week around Easter weekend) draws South Africa's top talent and huge, art- and food-loving crowds.

Best buys

Local produce at farm stalls and wine cellars en route to your destination.