Western Cape Travel Guide

Alfie WilsonLily Sawyer
By Alfie Wilson  - Travel Guide Manager Lily Sawyer  - Travel Editor 28 Min Read

Welcome to the Western Cape, where majestic mountains meet wild, open seas. This is a place of rolling green valleys and vast, untouched plains; a place where you can connect with a diverse group of people; a place where you can find yourself again.


Discover Cape Town and the Western Cape, a bustling melting pot of cultures, tastes, and experiences for young and old. Within Cape Town itself, or the Mother City, you’ll find state-of-the-art shopping malls, open-air markets, dynamic night life, and windows into the region’s rich history.  

In addition, a world of natural beauty lies beyond the boundaries of the city in the greater Western Cape regions: the Cape West Coast (Weskus), the Cape Karoo, the Garden Route and Klein Karoo, the Cape Winelands, and the Cape Overberg. Each area is worth exploring and has its own charm. You’ll uncover diverse culinary delights, award-winning wine estates, nature in full bloom, wide open spaces and deserts, azure waters and white sandy beaches, luxury experiences, and animal encounters that will make your journey truly unforgettable.  

The Cape West Coast (Weskus) is a place so vast and magical, you would need weeks to take it all in. Stretching from Malmesbury, just outside of Cape Town, to the border of the Northern Cape at Touws River, the Cape West Coast (Weskus) is best known for its beautiful beaches and the pretty, seaside towns. 

Due to its wide-open spaces, the Cape Karoo is where you go to get off the grid. Known for its abundance of wildlife, the Karoo National Park is home to black rhinos, lions, and other wild game.  

The Garden Route and Klein Karoo is home to breath-taking natural sights – be it dramatic oceanside cliffs, ancient forests, or arid semi-deserts. Take advantage of seeing as much as possible by visiting the many nature reserves in the region.  

World-class, award-winning restaurants and iconic winelands make Cape Town and the Western Cape the food and wine capital of South Africa. Discover all of this and more in the Cape Winelands.  

With a landscape dominated by gentle, undulating hills, enclosed by the ocean and foreboding mountain ranges, the Cape Overberg is a favourite getaway for those seeking outdoor pursuits and adventure. For example, the Cape Canopy zipline in the Hottentot’s Holland Nature Reserve is high-flying fun. 

Whatever the experience, it’s waiting for you in and around the Mother City.   


We speak to Monika Iuel, Chief Tourism Officer at Wesgro, about the Western Cape’s vast plethora of cultural offerings, natural landscapes, and culinary delights, all of which contribute to showcasing the region as a tourist destination of choice.

Firstly, can you talk us through the vision, mission, and values of Wesgro?

Monika Iuel, Chief Tourism Officer (MI): Wesgro, the official tourism, trade, and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, is responsible for promoting leisure and business tourism for the province, both domestically and internationally.  

Wesgro’s aim is to showcase the Western Cape as a world-class destination, attracting new tourists and welcoming back returning visitors. This vision is supported by our mission to promote the region through various activities and tourism initiatives. Wesgro’s values include integrity, excellence, and a commitment to sustainable tourism. 

How do you market the Western Cape as a competitive business and leisure travel destination?

MI: The Western Cape offers a diverse range of tourism experiences that cater for both business and leisure travellers.  

One of the key factors in attracting visitors is accessibility. Wesgro powers the Cape Town Air Access initiative, which is mandated to increase direct airlift to Cape Town International and George Airports, making it easier for travellers to reach their destination. We also power the Cruise Cape Town initiative, created to stimulate growth in the global cruise market and expand the cruise economy for the Western Cape. 

Our tourism team markets the destination through a variety of means, from partnerships with tour operators and travel agents, to directly targeted marketing campaigns released to our key source markets, such as The Neverending Tourists campaign that was run in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and most recently in the US. The digitally led campaign focused on expats from those countries, who came to the Western Cape on holiday, fell in love with the destination, and never left. 

The Neverending Tourists campaign video has had more than 2.3 million views to date in North America alone. To support the campaign, Wesgro developed content using authentic voices to rally fellow countrymen from aforementioned markets to the Western Cape, inviting them to ‘get into a good space’.  

By leveraging marketing strategies and providing a world-class tourism experience, the Western Cape is able to position itself as a highly competitive business and leisure travel destination.

What are some bucket list sights and attractions that are not to be missed when visiting the Western Cape?

MI: The Western Cape is made up of six distinct regions, with Cape Town standing out as the true treasure. Known as the Mother City, Cape Town boasts The Big 6 attractions, which are easily accessible from the city’s centre and are a must-see for any first-time visitor. These include Cape Point, Groot Constantia wine estate, Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Robben Island Museum and UNESCO World Heritage Site, Table Mountain Cableway, and the V&A Waterfront. 

Once the urban experiences are complete, however, the exciting stuff can really begin – when travellers have the opportunity to go off-grid and explore further afield.  

Each of the Western Cape’s five regions offer unique bucket list experiences. The Cape West Coast (Weskus) is a place so diverse in its beauty that it carries a sense of magic. Best known for its exceptional beaches and quaint seaside towns, it also boasts notable flora and fauna, along with incredible hikes and trails through rocky outcrops. 

Lying between the Cape Peninsula and the Garden Route, the Cape Overberg is a place that boasts great diversity. With coastal towns such as Hermanus (known as the jewel of the Cape Whale Coast for its abundance of marine wildlife), the delightful Elgin Valley (an under-appreciated wine region), and Swellendam (a jaw-dropping, beautiful natural wonderland), this region is unlike any other.  

The Western Cape is also known for its abundance of quality wine. Nowhere is this truer than in the Cape Winelands, a region overflowing with award-winning vintages and home to a number of world-class vineyards. Towns such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, Paarl, Wellington, and Robertson are now considered iconic on account of their wine tourism experiences, and together they produce wine that is as diverse as it is bountiful. Set aside plenty of time if you visit the Cape Winelands, because you’ll not be able to cover it in a day. 

The Garden Route and Klein Karoo is one of the Western Cape’s most loved road trips as it includes the country’s most diverse, awe-inspiring landscapes. Stretching from Witsand and Plettenberg Bay, around to Oudtshoorn, Calitzdorp, and Ladismith on the world-renowned Route 62, this is a place where adventure lies around every corner. Known for its wide-open spaces, explore the Knysna Heads, play on world-class golf courses, and eat at award-winning restaurants. 

If the pace of city life is something you’re looking to escape, the Cape Karoo is the place for you. A place of incredible beauty, clear skies, and magical sunsets, the Cape Karoo has a number of nature reserves and game farms, whilst Karoo National Park boasts an abundance of wildlife.  

How does the Western Cape appeal to various types of travellers looking for specific experiences?

MI: The Western Cape offers a treasure trove of experiences, catering to a diverse array of travellers seeking authentic and memorable adventures.   

Nature enthusiasts can explore picturesque landscapes like the Breede River Valley and a vast choice of nature reserves.  

For those with a taste for adrenaline, a number of tour operators offer an array of thrilling activities such as sand boarding, paragliding, and more.  

Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of local history and cuisines with a Cape Malay food tour for a cultural journey. Indulge your palate further with the region’s plethora of wine tours, including the renowned Franschhoek Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Tram, a favourite amongst food and wine connoisseurs.  

Golf aficionados will find themselves in paradise with access to first-rate courses, solidifying the Western Cape as a premier destination for avid players.  

With a kaleidoscope of tours and activities spanning the entire region, the Western Cape promises a truly inclusive and captivating experience for every type of traveller.

Why, in your opinion, should someone visit the Western Cape?

MI: The Western Cape is truly a whole world in one province. One day you can be on the beach, the next hiking in the mountains, and then on a sidecar experiencing our beautiful scenic passes.  

It is a place where you can truly immerse yourself in a variety of experiences and the friendly, authentic locals of all our communities, sharing their stories through food, nature, art, and music. 

What makes the Western Cape an inspiring place to discover, and how is it different to other destinations in Africa?

MI: The Western Cape stands out as an inspiring destination due to several distinctive features that set it apart from other locations in Africa for tourism.  

Importantly, it is one of South Africa’s largest provinces, and our nation’s history and experiences, steeped in culture, make this destination unique. Some key aspects include natural beauty, breathtaking coastlines and beaches, mouth-watering local gastronomy, diverse culture, and a rich heritage that spans many centuries.  

The people of the Western Cape also play a large role in its success by ensuring that when tourists visit our province, they experience our friendliness, different cultures, and are made to feel at home. 

As the events capital of South Africa, what can visitors look forward to in the Cape Town calendar this year?

MI: The province is known as the Cape of Great Events and hosts a large variety of shows and sporting events every year. Internationally renowned, it attracts international and local visitors to the province. Some of these include: 

  1. Cape Town Carnival – An annual free event, this year taking place in March, the Cape Town Carnival brings together some of the region’s best performers and artists. The carnival aims to cultivate and sustain local participation in arts and culture, whilst showcasing creativity, encouraging celebration, and boosting tourism.  
  2. Cape Town Cycle Tour – The 109 kilometre (km) Cape Town Cycle Tour, affectionately dubbed the ‘world’s biggest fun ride’ by attendees, will be held on 10th March 2024. Attracting tens of thousands of cyclists of all fitness levels year on year, the tour’s scenic route starts at Grand Parade in Cape Town, before meandering into the picturesque Cape Peninsula. 
  3. Absa Cape Epic – As the most televised mountain bike race in the world, the Absa Cape Epic comprises a gruelling eight-day event, in which a two-person team must navigate 700km of the Western Cape’s majestic mountains ranges, deep ravines, indigenous forests, spectacular coastlines, and flourishing vineyards, with up to 16,000 meters (m) of elevation.  
  4. Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – With a mission to highlight Cape Town and Africa on the global running scene, the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon invites runners from all over the world to participate in what is now the continent’s first Abbott World Marathon Majors (AbbottWMM) candidate race. 
  5. Two Oceans Ultra Marathon – A 56km ultramarathon held annually in Cape Town, the Two Oceans Ultra Marathon is hailed as the world’s most breathtaking course due to the natural splendour of the Cape Peninsula. Highlights include Chapman’s Peak, Muizenberg, St James, Kalk Bay, Constantia, and Newlands. 

In addition, there are a variety of events that happen throughout the year across the province. Some of these can be found here

Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in the Western Cape? 

MI: Without a doubt. Tourism is the lifeblood of South Africa, and one of the most important industries for the country and her people.  

We have such an incredible tourism offering, particularly in the Western Cape. Once you come and visit us, you will want to come back again and again! 

Finally, what makes the Western Cape the place to visit in 2024?

MI: Cape Town and the Western Cape has such a variety of tourism offerings and caters for all types of travellers. From the city to the mountains and vineyards, there is so much to do in the destination that you will never get bored.  

Then, of course, there is the exchange rate! Any visitor to South Africa will be able to experience all the destination has to offer and fully immerse themselves in the food, activities, and exciting offerings, all without breaking the bank.  




Visit Kenilworth Racecourse, the premier destination for exhilarating horse racing experiences, high-end raceday fashion, fine dining, and unforgettable memories.  

As the country’s oldest racecourse, it enjoys a special place in the history books of South African horse racing.  

Spread over an area of 52 ha, the arena includes three well-maintained horse racing tracks, home to world-renowned events such as the Sun Met and the L’Ormarins King’s Plate.  

The venue offers great hospitality, including restaurants, bars, and betting booths, in a stylish setting against the picturesque backdrop of Table Mountain.  

Come and enjoy the thrill of the races and soak up the atmosphere at Kenilworth Racecourse.

For An Immersive Aquatic Experience… 

Two Oceans Aquarium  

For a Luxury Wildlife Experience… 

Contact Rhino Africa, a sought-after luxury safari company, who will welcome you with open arms. Its friendly travel experts can assist you in curating the trip of a lifetime! 

Guided by its love and passion for the continent’s varied and unique wildlife, Rhino Africa is eager to share tailor-made itineraries and magical moments with its guests.  

Partnering with the best resorts, travel agents, and airlines, the company works to ensure your dream trip is in safe hands.  

So, get in touch with Rhino Africa today and dream up your ultimate wildlife experience. All that will be left to do is start packing!



Explore the serene haven of Erinvale Estate Hotel and Spa, set in the picturesque foothills of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. Here, guests are invited to embrace relaxation and rejuvenation amidst the verdant indigenous gardens and tranquil spa sanctuary. With its privileged location in the Heart of the Helderberg, amidst historic neighbouring wine estates and breathtaking natural landscapes, the hotel offers an abundance of leisure activities tailored to the varied interests of its cherished guests, ensuring an unforgettable experience for all who enter through its doors.

The hotel’s signature restaurant, Stefan’s, can be considered a destination in its own right. A table d’hôte menu is lovingly prepared by Executive Chef, Stefan Bekker, whose innovative take on regional and seasonal ingredients leaves guests wanting more.  

The Magnolia Social Dining Lounge offers visitors a laid-back atmosphere and friendly service. Featuring world-class cocktails and a well-stocked wine list, it’s the perfect destination to relax and enjoy warm summer evenings. 

Relaxation is also central to the Lurra Spa, where guests are able to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of their surroundings whilst indulging in exclusive treatments, including massages, facials, and hair treatments. The spa’s facilities also include a relaxation area with a heated pool, patio, and sun loungers, set amongst whispering trees in the foothills of the Helderberg Mountain.  

The hotel’s Wine Society collaborates with prominent local wine makers to curate bespoke and personal wine tasting experiences. The events invite guests to interact socially with the wine makers and share their wine journeys, accompanied by Chef Stefan’s irresistible small plate cuisine.    

So, whatever your needs, trust Erinvale Estate Hotel and Spa to provide the perfect relaxing getaway. The only problem? You’ll never want to leave!

For a Showstopper with Distinctive Design… 

Stay at The Capital 15 on Orange hotel, a stunning accommodation combining distinctive architecture and exquisite luxury, within easy walking distance of Cape Town’s main attractions, and against a jaw-dropping backdrop of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.  

The Mother City’s popular V&A Waterfront, featuring trendy café’s, tantalising restaurants, and cocktail bars, is a mere 3km away.  

For more picturesque views of Table Mountain and Cape Town’s skyline, visit Zimbali Coastal Resort’s sister hotel, The Capital Mirage, situated in the city’s chic De Waterkant area.  

Featuring two independent on-site restaurants, a rooftop bar, and luxury rooms and studios, guests are spoiled for choice at The Capital Mirage.

For a World of Vintage Relaxation and Glamour… 

Mount Nelson, a Bellmont Hotel 

For Serenity and Surreal Natural Beauty… 

Strandloper Ocean Boutique Hotel


One of the Western Cape’s most iconic sights, Table Mountain looms large over the Mother City. One of the New7Wonders of Nature, the eye-catching mountain has a level plateau flanked by impressive cliffs and is thought to be around 300 million years old 

Distinct sandstone caves are a feature of Table Mountain, unlike most mountains on Earth. It is also home to the unique flora known as fynbos. The views from the mountain’s tabletop are superb and a favourite for locals and visitors alike; this is certainly Cape Town’s most majestic and photo-worthy landmark. 

Rest assured – it’s not a necessity to hike all the way to the top of the iconic mountain.. The aerial cableway is a slow and scenic route that gives you plenty of time to take in magnificent 360-degree views. At the summit, prepare to be astounded by the sheer magnitude of the vistas. There is a huge expanse of space to make yourself comfortable, or even bring a picnic and relax. A café also offers drinks and snacks. 

Locals like to beat the crowds by making the trip early in the morning. Sunset can be busier, but it is worth it to take in the endless skyline as the sun goes down. Don’t forget your camera! 

Although the mountain may loom like an insurmountable icon, there are a number of paths to suit almost any fitness level. The locals’ preferred route is the Platteklip Gorge as, although strenuous, it is the most direct route. Hiking starts a few metres to the right of the lower cableway station as you face the mountain from the car park, and the entire route is clearly signposted.  

Other routes that are also worthwhile – though equally strenuous – include the Kirstenbosch Gardens trails at Nursery Ravine and Skeleton Gorge. Alternatively, routes from Silvermine, the Cape of Good Hope, and the Constantiaberg offer easier options.  

A guidebook is recommended for those unfamiliar with the trails. Guided walks are also available from various travel operators.  


Golf in the Garden Route

Cape Town and the Western Cape is a world-renowned golfing destination, with a diverse portfolio of courses to play, many of which have been designed by some of the world’s best golfers. The Garden Route is arguably the home of golf in the Western Cape with some of the most popular courses found here. From Gary Player to Ernie Els, there is a reason legends of the game have a base on the Garden Route. 


Recently voted by The Telegraph as one of the best destinations worldwide for watching marine mammals, Hermanus is rated as one of the top 12 whale-watching locations in the world by the World Wildlife Fund. It offers the best land-based viewing opportunities because the whales often come within metres of the shoreline, including southern right whales, humpback whales, and Bryde’s whales. 

The Cross Cape Cycle Route

Crossing the length of the Western Cape – from Plettenberg Bay to Stellenbosch – the newly-launched cycle route offers a truly unique way to experience the province. From majestic vistas and rugged mountain passes to coastal towns and rustic inland villages, this is a bucket list experience for cyclists and non-cyclists alike. Open 24/7, 365 days of the year, the route is completely free of charge – all you need is a bike and a plan of action! 


Cape Town International Airport offers direct connections via most global airport hubs, and currently offers 182 direct international flights a week. The airport is just a 20-minute drive from the city centre. On arrival, access to ground transport is simple and convenient.  

The MyCiTi bus rapid transit system offers regular shuttle services to and from the airport. The service operates from the Civic Centre bus station in Cape Town on weekdays, weekends, and public holidays. Travel on the service requires a MyConnect card, which can be purchased from MyCiTi station kiosks and participating retailers. Metered taxis, car rentals, and ride-hailing services such as Uber are also available at the airport.  

You’ll also find most major car-rental agencies at the airport, so you can book a vehicle as you arrive. It’s best to secure your rental beforehand, especially if you’re travelling in peak season. Keep in mind that, if you choose to hire a car, you will need a driver’s licence that is valid in South Africa, or an international driver’s license. 

The Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works continually works to upgrade roads in Cape Town and the Western Cape. All highways and main roads are thus in a good condition. As such, if you want to hire a car, a normal sedan will do for most of the province. If you’re looking for an adventure, however, there are also many great 4×4 trails in the nature reserves – but don’t forget to upgrade your car!


Read Issue 15 of Outlook Travel Magazine
By Alfie Wilson Travel Guide Manager
Travel Guide Project Manager