Because of the area’s natural splendour and wide-open spaces, picnic spots in Cape Town are plentiful. So plentiful, in fact, that it might be difficult to narrow down the best options. Here are a few for this summer that might hit the spot, along with a few handy Sol’s suggestions as to what to take along with you so that you can maximize the joy and wonder in Cape Town’s great outdoors this summer.
And since this is Cape Town, we’ll naturally include a dedicated beach picnic section.
Cape Town picnics with Sol’s
- The best picnic spots in Cape Town
- What is the best picnic food?
- The seven habits of highly effective beach picnic pros
The best picnic spots in Cape Town
This is, of course, a totally subjective topic but we’ve collated a few that are accessible, beautiful, spacious and conducive to celebratory vibes. Fittingly enough, since we’ll be going through a step-by-step guide to beach picnics later on in the article, most of our favourite spots at the moment are beachy and pretty peachy.
Llandudno & Oudekraal
One of Cape Town’s genuine gems, Llandudno possesses all of the natural splendour of Clifton and the Atlantic Seaboard, but a lot less of the tourist fanfare. Massive boulders also provide shelter from the elements, which is good news for picnic-goers. Low-key and spacious, Llandudno is a surfer’s and sunset chaser’s paradise. About 2km back on Victoria Road, Oudekraal is fully-geared with braai facilities but it’s also a pristine location for swimming, snacking, snorkelling and picnicking.
Depending on where you’re coming from, Diaz Beach at Cape Point is quite a drive but saying that the commute is well worth it is an understatement of epic proportions. The location has a “Treasure Island” feel and just getting down there requires a bit of effort. All of the best things do though. As well as a feeling of seclusion, there are also genuine touches of opulence about this place, making it a breathtaking and potentially romantic picnic location that you won’t forget in a hurry.
Beta, Barley & Bakoven beaches
Just beyond the windy chaos and general hubbub of Camps Bay, you’ll find a triumvirate of beaches in a cosy bay packed with kelp, namely Beta, Barley (a smooth pebbly beach, which is a dream for those that hate sand) and Bakoven.
“Rush hour” at Beta is usually around 3 pm on weekends but you’ll get plenty of opportunities to have the place all to yourself, and it’s relatively sheltered too.
Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
“To champion the exploration, conservation, sustainable use, appreciation and enjoyment of South Africa’s exceptionally rich biodiversity for all South Africans.”Kirstenbosch’s mission & motto, updated in 2004
It doesn’t get much more tailor-made for a picnic than Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, one of the most heralded gardens of its type in all of the world, a location whose grandeur and sheer size is unparalleled. If you’re picnicking at this World Heritage site (and you really should at least once even if you’re a local), arrive ready with your favourite Sol’s hamper to avoid exorbitant prices and disappointment.
If you’re an avid Kirstenbosch fan, look into becoming a member of the botanical society and check out more about the recently newly-built treetop canopy walkway. Kirstenbosch really is one of South Africa’s most treasured natural wonders.
We often make a short but rewarding mission up Constantia Nek via Cecilia Forest and the reward is often a convenient picnic halfway up the summit. If you’re new to Cape Town, it’s always fun going up the Cable Car but sometimes food can become a bit of a dilemma up at the top. If you’re keen on rather keeping it exclusive with your friends we’d definitely suggest that you take your own snacks. Just take turns carrying the heavy backpack with the precious cargo, it’s only fair.
We recently put together a collection of our favourite Cape Town hiking routes to pencil into your summer schedule. Some of them are taxing enough that you’ll certainly need some delicious fuel to keep you going. Kasteelpoort is one such route that offers up numerous stunning viewpoints with flat surfaces that are screaming out for a picnic crew.
What is the best picnic food?
The short answer is delicious, beautifully packaged, fresh local produce. Sol’s picnic hampers seem like the easiest, most convenient solution to this problem (a nice problem to have, mind you). As you can see, we’ve adopted the more rustic approach to casual mountain picnicking in the past with a board, some bread, a few jars of antipasti and something sweet to get us over the finish line. The only real rule of thumb is to make sure that your choice of food matches up with your choice of mission. Bring an edged plate along if you’re going to the beach, keep your luggage light if you’re ascending the mountain (think sweets & biltong) and pack a lighter meal if it’s a summery day out.
If you’d like to go the extra yard and make your own picnic snacks instead of packing a hamper that’s ready to go, you could do worse than putting together a few of our rustic canapés from a crash course we posted back in August. This is a particularly prudent strategy if you’re not travelling especially far and it’s easy enough to keep your canapés intact for the ride. These are bound to impress your guests.
As for what you’ll need to bring along other than food, keep reading.
The seven habits of highly effective beach picnic pros
Beach picnics are just like regular picnics, but there is a need for additional logistical planning and forethought in terms of what you wear, how you get there and so on. Beach days are beautiful as they are, but they become that much more memorable when you’ve got premium snacks and quality company to celebrate and enjoy at one of the best free venue types across the whole province. Here’s how to make the most of the experience:
- Get an Uber. Parking around Cape Town’s most popular beaches is often a nightmare in summer so build a playlist for the drive, alleviate the stress and hop out at your destination with picnic basket in arm.
- Take a large cooler box. This way, you can fit everything you need in one place, including ice bricks to keep your wine, charcuterie and cheese cool.
- Stick to predominantly ready-to-eat finger foods, but there’s no harm or hassle in bringing a knife and small board along so that you can slice bread and cheese with ease.
- Don’t forget to bring towels. This is an obviously important thing to bring to the beach, but you’ll also need extra blankets/towels/throws on which you can lay your snacks. An extra tea towel or two might also come in handy to mop up moisute in your cooler box or any mess that might occur.
- Bring sun protection. An umbrella is part of the beach aesthetic and also provides much-needed respite from the harsh sun, and it’ll also make your beach picnic scene that must easier to photograph minus the glare. And even though you’ve got shade from the sun, sunscreen is a given, as is comfortable headwear.
- Bring tumblers. They’re perfectly fine for wine and are more wind-resistant than their taller conventional wine glass counterparts.
- Clean up after yourselves. This is self-explanatory really, but it still needs to be said.
Now that you’re armed with the basic knowledge, where are you headed for your first beach picnic in the summer of 2021 in Cape Town?