It's one of our favourite places on earth, but our last feature on South Africa's Cape Winelands raised some questions about how best to explore the area without a car. After all, this is one of the foremost wine regions in the world - with top-notch vineyard restaurants and tasting rooms to match - and no wine-loving traveller wants to pull the designated-driver short straw.
So we were excited to learn about a brand new way of discovering the Franschhoek Valley which allows both non and reluctant drivers to sit back, admire the scenery and enjoy a glass of the latest vintage. The newly-constructed Franschhoek Wine Tram is the star attraction of a recently-launched hop-on, hop-off tour (also featuring an open-sided tram-bus), which follows a loop of stops along tracks originally built in 1904. The railway line - operated by steam and then diesel locomotives until the 1990s - has been out of action for more than a decade but the launch of the new tram tour has given it a new lease of life.
Visitors can look forward to a guided tour through the heart of what is arguably the most beautiful valley in the Cape, with a narration focusing on the region's 300 year history and the process of winemaking. Stops include some of the oldest and most illustrious wine estates in the region including Haute Cabrière, Rickety Bridge and exquisite Grand Provence, all of which are home to world-class dining and tasting rooms.
Tickets are priced at R150 (£11) for adults, R75 (£5.50) for children aged 5-17, and free of charge for children aged 4 and under. Tours depart every 40 minutes between 10am and 2.40pm and operate daily except Christmas and New Year's Day. Purchase online at www.winetram.co.za or at the ticket office at Bijoux Square, 60 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek.
Virgin Atlantic operates seasonal flights to Cape Town from London Heathrow.
Header photo © GOC53
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.