Awesome Road Trips Routes in Cape Town

Are you ready for the ultimate Cape Town road trip? The Western Cape is blessed with a glorious and diverse topography, where scenic mountain passes and stunning road trip routes are as abundant as they are varied. Each mountain pass boasts spectacular views, stunning surrounding scenery and incredible hidden gems and secret spots to discover along the way.

Here are some of the top mountain passes in the Western Cape as well as awesome road trip routes in Cape Town, all of which deserve a prime spot on your Cape Town bucket-list.

Victoria Road

Awesome Road Trips Routes in Cape Town - Victoria Road

Victoria Road between Hout Bay and Camps Bay is perhaps one of the most underrated scenic drives and road trip routes in Cape Town. The stunning Victoria Road essentially hugs the back of Table Mountain, passing bustling cosmopolitan beaches and quiet stretches of the coast.

While it may be an unavoidable commute for many locals, taken slowly, and in the direction of Hout Bay to Camps Bay, it presents endless surprises that elicit joy from even the most jaded drivers. As you crest Suikerbossie Drive, you’ll catch a glimpse of the magnificent Llandudno Beach to your left, one of Cape Town’s most beautiful beach gems, however it’s around the next corner, as you drop down to ocean level, where you will experience some of the most spectacular sights and sweep-you-off-your-feet views Cape Town has to offer. Boasting breathtaking views of the glorious Twelve Apostles mountain range, Lion’s Head, and Atlantic Ocean, the incredible Victoria Road will undoubtedly have you completely captivated by its beauty.

Victoria Road takes a minimum of 30-minutes; however we recommend you allow for at least an hour so that you can stop off at some of the amazing beaches and stunning destinations along the way.

Bainskloof Pass

Awesome Road Trips Routes in Cape Town
  • Distance from Cape Town: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Where: R301/3 | Bainskloof Pass Connects Ceres and Wellington, Breede River Valley / Winelands, Western Cape
  • When: Best during daylight hours

Bainskloof Pass is by far one of the best road trip routes in Cape Town. This scenic mountain pass snakes up the R301/3 above Wellington, boasting some of the most magnificent panoramic sweep-you-off-your-feet views. On a clear day, you will be able to see the renowned Table Mountain in the distance, along with the captivating Cape Winelands below you.

Declared a National Monument in 1980, the Bainskloof Pass lies within a nature heritage site, and forms part of the Limietberg Nature Reserve. Nature lovers are in for a real treat when taking a drive along this stunning stretch.

  • Insider tip: Besides its unapologetic natural beauty, this area is great for camping, and swimming in the crystal-clear river streams.
  • Look out for: The Bainskloof Pass and its surrounding area is home to a glorious diversity of indigenous fauna and flora. Visitors will be able to enjoy incredible sightings of over 182 bird species, otters, jackals, leopards, Cape honey badgers, various buck, and endangered frogs and fish. This makes the Bainskloof mountain pass a must-visit destination for all nature and wildlife lovers.
  • Fun fact: The Bainskloof Pass is one of South Africa’s most picturesque and masterfully constructed passes. It was completed in 1854 and covers 30km, including some hair-raising turns, which makes the drive equally as exhilarating as it is beautiful.

Franschhoek Pass

Awesome Road Trips Routes in Cape Town
  • Distance from Cape Town: Approximately 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Where: Franschhoek Pass, R45, Lambrechts Road, Franschhoek, Cape Winelands, Western Cape
  • When: Best during daylight hours

Also known as Lambrechts Road, the Franschhoek Pass follows the path of least resistance along the Middagskransberg, tracing the northern edge of the Franschhoek Mountains between the Wemmershoek Mountains and the Franschhoek Valley. In terms of scenery, sheer drops, and panoramic views, the Franschhoek Pass is tough to beat. 

When it comes to views and vistas of the surrounding valleys, gorges, and mountains, particularly the drop down to the Franschhoek River from the summit, the Franschhoek Pass is deemed one of the more heart-stopping adrenalin-inducing mountain passes and road trip routes of the Western Cape.

Beyond being one of the top mountain passes in the Western Cape, the Franschhoek Pass is widely renowned for its truly spectacular views. From admiring the lush meadows and vineyards of the Franschhoek Valley to stunning views of the glorious oasis of greenery surrounded by mountain ranges, it will almost feel like you’ve escaped to a whole new world entirely.

**Look out for: When taking a drive along the Franschhoek Pass, be sure to keep a lookout for the entrance to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, which is accessed from the Franschhoek Mountain Pass.

A visit to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve is an absolute must for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. Hikers will be able to enjoy one of its many exciting hiking trails that pass by flourishing fynbos fields and tranquil mountain streams (which are usually in full flow during Cape Town’s winter rainy season). Not to mention the beautiful views of the mountains and Franschhoek Valley hikers can admire along the way.

Besides enjoying an adventure-filled visit to the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, you will find various viewpoints along the Franschhoek Mountain Pass route. These stopping points are great for taking a break, relaxing, and soaking up all the sensational views around you. It’s also the perfect place to capture some stunning snapshots and photographs off the picturesque surroundings.

  • Fun fact: A hundred and fifty years ago the Franschhoek Pass was known as Olifantshoek, or Elephants’ Corner after the now mythical herds of elephant which once roamed these valleys and mountains. Many believed that these elephants used this route to move from one valley into the next as the seasons changed.

Clarence Drive

Awesome Road Trips Routes in Cape Town
  • Distance from Cape Town: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Where: Clarence Drive Scenic Route, Clarence Drive, R44, Kleinmond, Cape Overberg, Western Cape
  • When: Best during daylight hours | Particularly beautiful at sunset

Considered by many to be one of South Africa’s most scenic coastal drives, the captivating coastal drive of Clarence Drive is located between the windswept hamlet of Rooi-Els and the naval town of Gordons Bay, which nestles in the north-eastern crook of False Bay in the shadow of the Hottentots Hollands mountains. 

Forming part of Route 44, Clarence Drive is a stunning 21km stretch that hugs the picturesque Cape coastline, with the majestic Hottentot Hollands Mountains on one side, and the ocean on the other – showcasing the very best of both!

If you’re up for a bit of thrill and adventure, taking a drive along Clarence Drive is right up your alley! This top Western Cape mountain pass and route trip route consists of approximately 77 bends, numerous wide curves, and a couple of sharp corners of which four are in excess of 150 degrees – It is bound to get even the most avid thrill-seekers’ adrenalin pumping!

The road is in excellent condition and regularly attracts tourists, locals, bikers, and cyclists looking to enjoy all the sensational scenic views and everything else Clarence Drive has to offer.

**Look out for: Flanked by dramatic coastlines and the majestic Hottentots Holland mountain range, the pass offers awesome picnic and viewing spots. This gives visitors the perfect opportunity to find a beautiful spot along the route and enjoy a delicious picnic paired with stunning views. As Clarence Drive is known to be particularity beautiful at sunset, we highly recommend taking a sunset drive along this captivating coastal road and road trip route.

That’s not all! Clarence Drive is also one of the best scenic drives to spot Southern Right Whales as well as other incredible marine life sightings – including the other four members of the Cape Town Marine Big5 (Cape Fur Seals, African Penguins, Molo Mola Sunfish, and dolphins).

If you’re an avid nature lover, keep an eye out for wild Proteas as well as various indigenous fauna and flora found in the area. Clarence Drive is also known to attract keen local and international surfers as Kogel Bay (or Cool Bay) and Dappat se Gat, two of Cape Town’s coolest surfing spots, are located along the route.

Du Toitskloof Pass

Awesome Road Trips Routes in Cape Town
  • Distance from Cape Town: Approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Where: Du Toitskloof Pass, Between Paarl and Worcester, Winelands / Breede River Valley, Western Cape
  • When: Best during daylight hours

Another great Cape Town road trip route and top mountain pass in the Western Cape that should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-list is the remarkable Du Toitskloof Pass. 

The picturesque Du Toitskloof Pass lies on the R101 between Paarl and Worcester, although, these days, many people may not realise that they are actually on the pass as they opt to use the Huguenot Tunnel, which means you shave a significant 11 kilometres off the original drive. However, you can still scale the heights of this impressive pass that used to be part of the N1.

As one of the most beautiful scenic drives in the Western Cape, the Du Toitskloof Pass winds its way up the side of the mountain, boasting spectacular panoramic views over the Paarl valley. It also showcases a unique perspective / view of Paarl rock, which you certainly won’t see or experience if not for this sensational Western Cape scenic route. As you continue to scale the pass, the full significance of its dexterity becomes increasingly obvious as you notice the sheer mountain peaks and cliff faces looming above and below you – it truly is quite a remarkable sight to behold!

  • Insider tip: We highly recommend you take the time to stop once you have crested the pass. On a clear Cape Town day you will be well rewarded with a stunning view of the tall-standing giant of the Mother City skyline, Table Mountain, as well as a beautiful view over the Paarl Valley.
  • Look out for: There’s a variety of beautiful viewing sites and picnic spots overlooking the Paarl valley located along the Du Toitskloof Mountain Pass. It’s a great idea to pack a picnic basket, sit back, relax, and soak up all the stunning views and surrounding scenery. There are however several troops of baboons that patrol the area, so be sure to keep a lookout for them – And, please don’t feed them!
  • Fun fact: The Du Toitskloof Pass is 48 km long and scales 820 metres in height. It was named after a Francois Du Toit, a 17th century Huguenot pioneer who settled in the foothills of the mountain.

About The Author: Bianca Bunge

I am a Cape Town based Travel Blogger & aspiring writer. Travelling is the ULTIMATE joy, it allows us to lose ourselves & find ourselves all at the same time, is there anything better than that? PURE BLISS!! And being a Travel Blogger allows me to share my love of travelling, especially my LOVE of Cape Town, with all of you. The Mother City truly did steal my heart, and perhaps she'll steal yours too! I also love the ocean, going on adventures & wine, I REALLY love wine! Join me on my mission to discover EVERY little bit of Cape Town, and what a glorious adventure it will be!
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