The beautiful Franschhoek Wine Tram is one of, if not the most popular tourist activities outside Cape Town! It’s a favourite amongst locals too, and makes for the perfect day trip.
The wine tram takes you to seven different wine estates, allowing you to go wine tasting and vineyard hopping without any worries about transport. It’s a great way to see the Franschhoek wine region, and a fantastic way to get tipsy with friends.
The tram is hop-on hop-off, so you can stay as long as you want at your wineries of choice. It also includes transport from the city centre, making it as easy as possible so that you can just enjoy the day. We went on the wine tram for our first anniversary, and it was perfect. So, let’s get into what you need to know!
And, if you’re interested in wine tasting, but would prefer to stay in the city, check out our post on vineyards and tastings in Constantia, Cape Town.
Important information for the wine tram
Departure: 9 am, Hop-on Hop-off bus stop, V&A Waterfront, just outside the Two Oceans Aquarium
Duration: 8 hours
What’s included: Transport to Franschhoek, wine tram & bus, glass of wine, and any entrance fees to the vineyards (I believe only Babylonstoren has one)
What’s not: Wine tastings – these cost between R40 and R100 at the various wine estates
Departure days: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday (these are correct at time of writing, in winter, but it’s worth checking dates again in summer!)
One last important thing to know is that if you want to have lunch at any of these wineries, you’ll have to book beforehand – particularly if you’re visiting over the weekend. However, there are such phenomenal charcuterie boards and wine pairings to enjoy, you’re not too likely to feel the lack of a lunch plan!
Why we loved the Franschhoek wine tram
We’d been wanting to do the Franschhoek tram for ages – it really is popular, so we’ve been hearing very good things for years now! So, we decided it’d be perfect for our anniversary. And it was!
The tram was beautiful, with large open windows to look out from, and classic wooden tram seats. We were served a glass of wine from one of the farms on the route, to enjoy while we approached our first stop. My only complaint is that the tram went too fast – I would have liked to spend a lot more time on it.
Since we enjoy doing things slowly when we’re being decadent, we only ticked off three stops on the route – and one of them only for a post-wine coffee! So you’re certainly not guaranteed to tick them all off. But the two we did were so terrific – one with a wine and chocolate pairing, and the other with a very impressive charcuterie board sourced from the garden. A very decadent day.
Pros & Cons of taking the wine tram & bus
- You don’t have to worry about transport
- No risks with drinking and driving, and no sober driver
- It’s a fun and enjoyable way to experience the area in a day
- You’re dropped off at the best wine estates in the region
- It’s well-priced and easy
- The staff take all your purchases to the end stop, so you don’t have to carry them around
- It’s near-impossible to fit all seven vineyards into one day
- You have to leave your last estate at around 4 pm, so the day feels quite short
Wine estates on the route
The wine estates on your Franschhoek tram tour are exquisite, with award-winning wines, and beautiful, nature-immersed tasting rooms and restaurants. You’ll be hard-pressed to decide where to eat and what to choose, as they’re all ridiculously good options. That’s why I’ve tried to break down their best assets below, so that you can make an informed choice.
We – shockingly – only ticked off two estates on our trip, because we were just enjoying them so much! It’s a good reason to go back… However, you can do much better than that. I’ve got friends who powered through all seven; most, though, choose four to five. So, have a look at the wine estates you’ll be choosing from, and pick your favourites!
Allee Bleue is a stunning little wine estate with three wine tasting options. If you’re trying to tick off a good few stops, I’d recommend their Tram Selection – three of their best wines for R40.
You can also enjoy a charcuterie board or a picnic, or visit the Allee Bleue Bistro for a proper lunch. They’ve got a lovely farmstall with fresh produce, breads, cheeses and pestos. And if you want to pick up a few things here, you can just hand them to the tram staff, and they’ll bring them directly to your final stop so that you’re not weighed down on the trip.
Contact: email@example.com / +27 21 874 1021
Enjoy a wine tasting overlooking vineyards, mountains, and fynbos – located at the foothills of the Simonsberg Mountains, Anura’s tasting room is fantastically relaxing amidst natural beauty.
Along with brilliant wines, you’ll have a selection of local handcrafted cheeses! You’ll also find, among the wines, a few uncommon cultivars, thanks to the soil diversity and winemaking skill. It’s a really terrific stop!
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / +27 21 875 5360
Our favourite winery on the list – and a popular favourite, one people visit Franschhoek especially to spend the day in – is Babylonstoren. This large farm is much more than a wine estate. It’s a fruit and veg farm, where they grow the ingredients for their restaurants; with a scent room, meat room, cheese room, bakery, homeware and lekker, or tasty, room. Basically, there’s a lot to see!
I’d recommend you reserve about 2 hours for this stop, so that you can spend an hour wine tasting (they have a selection of seven incredibly delicious wines), and an hour exploring a part of the extensive gardens. Of course, you may be sorely tempted to come back some day and spend the night.
Contact: email@example.com / +27 21 863 3852
Boschendal is an award-winning wine estate with a lovely wine tasting menu, and even better wine and chocolate pairing! If you eat here, you’ll enjoy fresh produce sustainably grown on the farm, and other ingredients sourced locally.
You’ll be sorely tempted to stay, with access to hiking, horse riding and mountain biking trails through the Boschendal wilderness, and natural dams to take a dip in. Along with farm tours, an art gallery, and a good deal more. But even just an hour or two here is well worth the time.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / +27 21 870 4274
Noble Hill is a small, organic estate. It’s only open from Wednesday to Sunday – so if you’re visiting at the beginning of the week, don’t jump off at this tram stop! They believe in minimal intervention winemaking, for light, unstructured wines. A very interesting comparison to make with the other wines on your tour. You can also find craft beers and olive oil here, along with a charming Latin restaurant.
Contact: email@example.com / +27 21 874 3844
Plaisir de Merle
Founded in 1683, Plaisir is one of the oldest and most beautiful estates in Franschhoek. In addition to a selection of wine tasting experiences, hosted in or outside the beautiful old tasting barn, Plaisir also offers nougat and wine pairings, and fudge and wine pairings! A unique and exciting experience for any sweet tooth.
If you decide to stay the night here, you’ll be welcomed at the 1764 Manor House, a grand old place in the Cape Dutch style, with phenomenal views over the vineyards and mountainscape! And if you’re staying the night, you may as well check out their mountain biking trails. They’re exhilarating and twisty – and they have mountain bike rentals so that you don’t have to miss out.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org / +27 82 303 8071
Solms Delta is quite a special place. As they say themselves – it’s so much more than a wine estate. Most importantly, because 45% of the estate’s ownership and profit are shared with its workers! Workers who have been calling the land home for generations.
Here you’ll find great South African food, innovative and imaginative wines, and regular events to join in on. Tastings take place in the glassy tasting room, or outside under the oaks.
If you’re eager to learn more about this area and the communities that have lived here for centuries, be sure to stop by the museum. They also offer farm tours and picnics!
Contact: +27 60 822 6900
Vrede & Lust
Vrede en Lust (translating from Afrikaans to Peace and Passion) was our first stop on the tram. And we were very impressed with the charming little vineyard – till we rounded the corner, and found ourselves a good deal more impressed with the far larger vineyard!
Dating back to 1688, Vrede en Lust has a long history of quality winemaking. In addition to their 5-wine tasting, they offer chocolate or cheese pairings, and even a tapas tasting. We also had a fantastic breakfast at their bistro – although, if you want to tick off more estates than our measly two, I’d recommend sticking to pairings and platters to accompany your tasting.
Contact: email@example.com / +27 21 874 1611
Last thoughts on the famous Franschhoek Wine Tram
The Franschhoek wine tram is a wonderful way to taste some award-winning local wines and experience a uniquely beautiful area, without doing much planning of your own! In fact, now that you’ve got all the information you need, and have hopefully picked your favourite wine estates to visit, all that’s left is to book your ticket, and to arrive at the starting point. Easy as that!
It’s the perfect romantic getaway, but the tram is also fantastically well-suited to a day out with family or friends. You’re bound to have a terrific time.
Please let me know if I’ve left out any important information, and I’ll be sure to add it! And if you’re looking for more, check out my guide to the best Cape Town tours and experiences!