Penguins to Pinot Noir: The 9 Best Things to Do in the Overberg (+Map)

Where else in the world can you watch whales, sip wine, hike up a mountain, and ride on a steam train, all in one day? Nowhere. Just over an hour outside of Cape Town starts the Overberg region, a wonder suspended between mountain and sea.

This region is laden with vibrant seaside communities and sleepy towns, serves up views for days, and makes for the perfect weekend trip from Cape Town. Here, communities live a slow life, focusing on art, nature, and friendship.

Although you can spend weeks hopping from one town to the next, I’m going to focus on my personal favorite things you can do on a day trip from Cape Town.

How to Get to the Overberg

How to Get to the Overberg

The adventure already begins on the drive there. Follow the curves of Clarence Drive around the mountain and fight the urge to take your eyes off the road as sensational views unfold around every turn. This road, also known as the R44, takes you into the towns of Rooi Els, Pringle Bay, Kleinmond, and beyond.

Sir Lowry's Pass

Take the N2 when you head back towards Cape Town and treat yourself to some insane views from the top of Sir Lowry’s Pass. This is the shortest way to get to the northern reaches of the Overberg including Grabouw and Elgin.

Greet Betties Bay’s Charming Penguins


Let’s kick off our journey with an encounter with the cutest residents of Betties Bay – the African penguins. People are familiar with the Boulders Beach penguins in Simon’s Town, but the Stoney Point penguin colony is the other of only two mainland breeding grounds for the African penguin.

As you stroll along the boardwalks of Stony Point Nature Reserve, prepare to be greeted by these delightful creatures waddling about in their natural habitat. Watch as they dive gracefully into the freezing waters or simply bask in the sun, casting their adorable shadows on the rugged coastline.

PRO TIP: From March to May is the peak of their breeding season when you will see adorable penguins coupled up. They are very lovey-dovey all year round, but especially during those months.

Experience Hangklip Hotel’s Coastal Charm

Hangklip Hotel

The tranquil village of Pringle Bay is quickly becoming a favorite weekend destination among Capetonians but it has managed to hold onto its quirky charm and underrated allure. Its best-kept secret is the Hangklip Hotel, a rustic institution that values good vibes above all else.

It exudes old-world charm and hospitality and whether you’re craving a delicious seafood feast or simply wish to unwind with a refreshing drink in hand, this iconic hotel offers the perfect respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Hangklip Hotel

On weekends it becomes a particularly lively affair with musicians coming from far and wide to keep the good times rolling. From the outside, it might just look like a hotel in the shadow of an impressive mountain, but as soon as you cross the threshold, you quickly realize just how special this place really is.

PRO TIP: Head up to the outdoor deck area to relax and let the gentle sea breeze lull you into a state of blissful relaxation as you soak in the mesmerizing views of the Atlantic Ocean stretching out before you as the sun dips below the horizon.

Enjoy Whale Watching at Its Finest

Whale Watching

Hermanus calls itself the whale-watching capital of the world and they aren’t far from wrong. This is by far the best place that you can spot whales from land, making it accessible to everyone, regardless of your budget or the strength of your sea legs.


From July to November, scores of Southern Right Whales migrate past Walker Bay and give birth along the rocky shore, safe from predators. The season reaches its peak in September and October and there is also an annual Whale Festival, usually in September.

Whale Watching

You can also witness their exuberant mating displays, complete with breaches and tail slaps. Whether you choose to admire them from the rugged cliffs of Walker Bay or opt for a boat tour for a closer look, the sight of these gentle giants frolicking in the waves is guaranteed to leave you speechless.

PRO TIP: Keep your ears open for the sounds of the Whale Crier, the town’s most important resident during whale season. His job is to keep an eye on the whales and signal their position by blowing on a bamboo trumpet, telling you where to look.

Immersing Yourself in Hermanus Art and Culture

Hermanus Art and Culture

Hermanus isn’t just renowned for its natural beauty; it’s also a haven for art enthusiasts and culture aficionados. Take a leisurely stroll along the cliff paths, where you’ll encounter an array of captivating sculptures that pay homage to the town’s rich maritime heritage. Here you will find an outdoor exhibition at Gearing’s Point which annually changes the sculptures to feature new and exciting additions.

Hermanus Art and Culture

And if you happen to be visiting on the first Friday of the month, be sure to explore the vibrant art scene during the First Fridays Artwalk, where local galleries open their doors to showcase the works of talented artists from the region.


PRO TIP: The whole town is a colorful affair so save enough time to walk around. There are many pedestrian streets, charming cafes, street art, and boutiques to explore.

Indulging in Culinary Delights at Elgin Railway Market

Elgin Railway Market

The Elgin Railway Market is just another testament to why the Cape Region is a foodie hotspot of note. Housed within a converted apple warehouse, this bustling steampunk-themed market is a melting pot of flavors, aromas, and vibrant energy. From artisanal cheeses and freshly baked bread to exotic spices and gourmet delights, there’s something to tempt every palate.

Elgin Station

Soak up the lively atmosphere as you sip on locally crafted beers or sample a glass of award-winning wine, all while tapping your feet to the rhythm of live music performances. You can also look forward to some top-tier shopping with everything from leather goods to home décor on sale.

PRO TIP: For a unique adventure, hop on board the steam train from Cape Town that pulls into the railway market every Saturday and Sunday. It is roughly a 3-hour scenic train ride with enough time at the market to enjoy the treats on offer. The train returns to Cape Town later in the afternoon.

Thrilling Adventures Await at Grabouw Zipline

Grabouw Zipline

If your palms don’t immediately get sweaty at the thought of being suspended high above a gorge, you might just be brave enough for this activity. In the rugged mountain ranges of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, you can take on a zipline canopy tour that promises an adrenaline-fueled experience like no other. These rocky outcrops in the Elgin Valley are otherwise inaccessible, making this a truly off-the-grid experience.

Grabouw Zipline

Amidst breathtaking Cape Fynbos panoramas and mountainous landscapes, you will find 13 platforms and slides stretching up to 320 meters in length. You will also walk across a vertigo-inducing suspension bridge that offers a rare glimpse at a double waterfall.

PRO TIP: On your way to Grabouw, make sure to stop off at the Peregrine Farm Stall on the N2. This is an institution along this stretch of road and you won’t be able to get enough of their fresh quiches and pies. The stuff of legends.

Savoring the Flavors of Hemel en Aarde Wine Route

Wine Route

It’s no secret that this is probably my favorite thing to do in the Overberg. The Hemel & Aarde wine region sits behind Walker Bay and is seen as the Pinot Noir capital of the country. You can also delve into some truly spectacular chardonnays here and many farms have crafted world-class MCCs (aka champagne) too.

Wine Route

Spend your days exploring boutique wineries and cellar doors, each offering an intimate experience off-the-beaten-track. Some of my favorites include Domaine des Dieux for some bubbles, Spookfontein for delicious food, and Bartho Eksteen Wine Estate for exemplary chardonnay. Bosman Hermanus is another special estate with its tasting room sitting on a Protea Farm.

Benguela Cove Lagoon

PRO TIP: Make sure to visit Benguela Cove Lagoon Wine Estate just before you enter Hermanus. Here you can enjoy a pontoon cruise while sipping on their exquisite wines.

Embrace Adventure with Kayaking in Kleinmond

Kayaking in Kleinmond

For those craving a more immersive outdoor experience, kayaking in the Bot Estuary in Kleinmond is the perfect choice. Glide along the tranquil waters as you navigate through lush wetlands and pristine fynbos landscapes, soaking in the serenity of your surroundings. You can rent an hourly kayak or canoe from a local vendor at the beach and paddle your way up the lagoon.

Kayaking in Kleinmond

Keep an eye out for native bird species and other wildlife that call this pristine ecosystem home, especially the wild horses that roam a little further away from the beach.

PRO TIP: Kleinmond can be quite windy so try and do this early in the morning, when the chances of pleasant weather are higher.

Fully Appreciate the Great Outdoors With A Hike

Great Outdoors

I am the last person to suggest going for a hike, but when it comes to the hikes in the Overberg, I am always game. My favorite is the Leopard’s Kloof trail in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens of Betty’s Bay. The trail is just under 3km round trip and you are mostly walking through a forested area. You will have a few glimpses of ocean views and visit three waterfalls as you scramble up rocks and wooden ladders.

You can also intensify the hike with a detour via the Zig Zag Trail or just enjoy the leisurely walk to the Disa Kloof waterfall in the gardens if you don’t want to break a sweat.

Palmiet River Trail

Just behind the gardens, on the other side of the mountain peak, sits the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. The Palmiet River Trail is a 10 km there-and-back trail that winds along the Palmiet, an amber-colored river that is the life force for much of the mountain.

PRO TIP: Pack a light picnic if you take on the Palmiet River Hike. The trail takes you to a secluded “beach” by the river where you can have a swim and enjoy a few hours away from civilization.

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