Franschhoek, in South Africa’s Western Cape Province, is the gourmet capital of South Africa, with multiple restaurants offering world-class cuisine. Another exciting and unique experience in Franschhoek is the Franschhoek Wine Tram. This is the best way for a wine lover to explore Franschhoek’s many distinguished wine estates. In this article, we consider how to get to Franschhoek, what the Franschhoek wine tram is, where to book tickets for the tour, the hop-on hop-off lines, what the experience is like and tips to help you make the most of the tour.
Getting to Franschhoek
You can find the Franschhoek Village about 90 minutes from Cape Town by bus or car. The easiest way to get to Franschhoek is by car. If you land at Cape Town International Airport, you can rent a car for an easy and scenic drive to Franschhoek while passing through numerous vineyards and beautiful mountains. We prefer using Rentalcars when we rent a car.
An alternative option o get to Franschhoek is to book a day tour that includes return trips to and from Cape Town to Franschhoek. Here are some of the best options:
- From Cape Town: Franschhoek Wine Tram Hop-on Hop-off
- From Cape Town: Hop-on Hop-off Franschhoek Wine Tram
Alternatively, book a private car to take you to Franschhoek. You can even get an Uber from Cape Town to Franschhoek.
Although the Franschhoek Wine Tram is a beautiful experience, Franschhoek has many other attractions. Why not spend a night or two at the Farm Sanctuary in this picturesque town in the Cape Winelands?
What Is the Franschhoek Wine Tram’s Hop-On Hop-Off Experience?
The Franschhoek wine tram offers multiple experiences. The experience we chose was the hop-on hop-off experience, where you take the tram and choose where you want to go wine tasting, take a cellar tour or take a walk through the vineyards. When you are done at one destination, board the tram again to continue on the route. You can choose from ten different routes. Each route stops at specific vineyards, where you can participate in different activities.
There are fixed pick-up times from each wine farm. When you book your tickets, you get a map of the different routes and the pick-up times at each estate. The schedule allows you about an hour at each wine estate if you want to get off for a visit. You can spend longer at a particular vineyard, but then you may not have much time to visit other wine estates.
We found the hour sufficient for a wine tasting. At many wine estates, you can order a meal or snacks but then an hour may not be enough to finish eating and do a wine tasting.
Lines of The Franschhoek Wine Tram
In the past few years, the lines of the Franschhoek Wine Tram have increased from two to ten. All routes start at either the Franschhoek or the Groot Drakenstein Terminals. You can get a coffee and a beignet at these terminals, or purchase Franschhoek Wine Tram merchandise there. The route you choose determines which terminal you start from. From a terminal, you will start a loop of the line you’ve chosen while travelling on either a double-decker tram or an open-air tram bus.
The wine tram routes are named by colour. You can choose from the Pink Line, Blue Line, Yellow Line, Purple Line, Navy Line, Grey Line, Green Line, Red Line, Orange Line and Burgundy Line.
The tours start between 8:45 and 13:30 daily. You can choose the wine estates to visit and decide how long to spend at each – keep the timetables in mind for your chosen route. Choose three to four wineries if you start in the morning. The tour includes a narration of Franschhoek’s and wine cultivation in the area’s history.
Tickets for The Franschhoek Wine Tram
Since we were staying in Franschhoek, we booked our tickets at the ticket office. You can buy tickets on the Franschhoek wine tram’s website. It was helpful to book at the ticket booth directly, as the staff advised us on which tram routes to choose!
Your Franschhoek Wine Tram ticket does not include the costs of cellar tours, wine tastings or any other activities. Since you choose your destination and activities, there is an additional cost to you. Your tick gives you transport for the day with some narration on the history of the Franschhoek Valley.
What the Franschhoek Wine Tram Experience Is Like
We stayed in Franschhoek for a few days and only needed to drive a short distance to and from the Franschhoek Wine Tram experience. However, it was still nice not to worry about who would be the designated driver for the day, making the wine tram the perfect way to sample many wines! We visited various wine farms.
Eikehof Wine Estate
Eikehof is a lovely vineyard, the estate started in 1902. It has the oldest producing Semillon vines in South Africa, making it one of the oldest vineyards in the Franschhoek Valley. The estate is owned by a family and sits amongst towering oak trees along with stunning views of the vineyards and the Groot Drakenstein Mountains.
There were some long wooden tables and chairs outside the shop, and we all got seated there. The owner’s wife served us for the wine tasting and gave a brief history of the vineyard. Her husband was the fourth generation owning the estate. We tried three different wines and ordered a few bottles to be delivered at home.
This wine estate is on the slopes of the Franschhoek Mountains and offers unparalleled views of the valley.
This was our final stop at the end of the day. We had a chocolate and wine pairing experience with an award-winning wine range here. Afterwards, we had lunch here in the beautiful gardens of the Cellars.
We found the experience of visiting various wine estates one day worth it. The staff is friendly, and Franschhoek is one of the most beautiful valleys in South Africa.
Tips for the Franschhoek Hop-On Hop-Off Wine Experience
Here are some tips for doing the Franschhoek Wine Tram experience:
- Combining wine estates from multiple routes may be possible since some wine estates feature multiple tram routes. Speak to the staff members to find out what is possible!
- Some estates may be closed on specific days – do your research beforehand to ensure the ones you want to visit are open when you do the tour!
- Ensure you eat breakfast before the tour – drinking wine when you have not eaten is never a good idea. Also, drink enough water during the day and have some snacks or food to lighten the impact of the wine on your tummy.
- The tram and tram-bus have open sides, meaning you need sunblock and a hat during the hot summer. Take a jacket with you during autumn and spring, as the days can be pretty cold on an open vehicle.
- Ensure you charge your phone and/or cameras before you start the tour. You will take many photos during the day of the breathtaking scenery.
- If you have teenagers who are too young to drink wine or play in the children’s areas, consider leaving them at your accommodation. The wine tram experiences have little for teenagers to do. We found the teenagers were bored after the first stop. They may enjoy a Quad Bike (ATV) Adventure or Franschhoek Family Cycle Tour more.
- For a great experience with this type of hop-on hop-off tour, research the wine estates and experiences you want to have beforehand to help you choose between the different lines. It can be overwhelming to show up at either Franschhoek wine tram station and to immediately choose your destinations and activities for the day. Their website provides you with details of the estates, the activities they offer and details of experiences requiring advance bookings.
- We recommend that you spend at least two days in Franschhoek. Don’t only do the wine tram experience but also taste the foods prepared by the many talented chefs in Franschhoek – the food here is truly remarkable and one of the must-do activities to experience the true essence of the Franschhoek Valley. Here are some of the accommodation options in Franschhoek:
Other Experiences of The Franschhoek Wine Tram
If the hop-on hop-off experience is not your idea of fun, you can choose from the Franschhoek Wine Tram’s other experiences, including:
- A curated wine experience: With this experience, an experienced wine ambassador accompanies you to a selection of wine estates. At these wine estates, you can have a premium tasting and pairing experiences, do a cellar and vineyard tour, or enjoy a curated three-course lunch.
- An exceptional wine and cuisine experience: A wine ambassador arranges this unique experience for you. You can relax completely while enjoying a day’s meals, ranging from breakfast to dessert, filled with food and wine pairings.
- A group experience: Book a dedicated group tour to share a memorable experience with large groups of 20 or more of your colleagues, friends or family. During the day, you will visit three wine estates in Franschhoek by double-decker tram and open-air tram bus.