Top picnic spots in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban
South Africans are picnic devotees. If you want to find us on a hot, summer’s day, look no further than a green lawn and a shady tree. Add picnic blanket, basket and an array of food and drink, and we’re happy.
Our major cities might be concrete-filled but look closer and you’ll find green lungs that are perfect for down time and picnics. After you have booked your stay in Cape Town, hotel to overnight in Durban or your lodging in Johannesburg you can start planning what to put in your picnic basket!
Here are our Top picnic spots in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban:
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
It doesn’t come better than this – the perfect spot at the foot of the eastern slopes of Table Mountain. Families head here when the sun comes out to drape the available lawns on the slopes of the gorgeous gardens with picnic blankets, so get there early. Enjoy streams, trees, accompanied by a floral kingdom of note.
Silvermine Nature Reserve
At the crescent of Ou Kaapse Weg find the entrance to this part of Table Mountain National Park, where the reservoir is a favourite and incredibly scenic spot around which to picnic. There are many picnic spaces, but it’s popular so get there early. The sedate trail around the dam is perfect for after lunch.
A firm favourite for sundowners and summer evening picnics, Signal Hill is protected from Cape Town’s wind and has the most incredible views over the Atlantic Seaboard and Robben Island. The City Sightseeing bus runs a sundowner trip to the summit during summer – well worth doing.
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Quite the most beautiful drive between Noordhoek and Hout Bay, there are numerous spots at which to stop along the 9km ‘Chappies’ route (with 114 curves) where you can only gawp at the sheer drops below, down to the sea, and the mountains behind you. Great spots to picnic.
There is something about Deer Park that makes it elusive even to those who live near Vredehoek – it’s difficult to find. But the park lies under the shadow of Table Mountain – a collection of paths, mountain trails, indigenous flora, wonderful trees and the odd table and bench just perfect for picnics.
Oudekraal or Clifton’s 4th beach
There are many beaches of Cape Town on which a picnic is possible, but Oudekraal during the day is one of the few that manages to remain relatively people-free, whilst Clifton’s 4th beach in the evening is very popular and protected from the wind. The catch is that to reach it entails a long series of winding stairs.
Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens
Think picnic in Jo’burg and this will be one of two places that come first to mind. These beautiful gardens and lawns come with an incredible waterfall, a couple of breeding black eagles, a nursery and a restaurant. When it comes to picnic spots, this is the business.
The rose garden of the Johannesburg Botanical Gardens is a weekend hangout for wedding photographers, but the banks of the dam are where you’ll find the picnic crowd. Combined there is over 100 hectares of space. So whilst you may picnic and play cricket on the lawns, after your meal you can take to the dog walking areas or watch canoeists on the water.
A popular spot to row boats and walk your dog, it’s also the site of the monthly Artist under the Sun art exhibition. The bonus is its location right in the heart of Rosebank and plenty of grass for big picnics. Afterwards, row across the lake.
Whilst Gillooly’s interchange is a constant peak hour traffic bottleneck, the large grassy section on the eastern side of the city is a wonderful, calm backdrop for picnics – particular popular over weekends (Saturdays you might want to give it a wide berth if peace and quiet are your thing).
Rietfontein Nature Reserve
An inner city Nature Reserve in the heart of Paulshof, this 25 hectare green space has a quartzite koppie and the advantage of allowing you to feel as if you’ve stumbled into the bush despite being at home. The bird life is amazing, there is some game, and a blanket and picnic basket are welcome on the lawns or on top of the ridge.
Another inner city nature reserve, Melville Koppies has some amazing views over northern parts of the city in Melville. It’s a favourite for hikers and contains a Stone Age camp with artefacts dating back 50 000 years. Picnic wherever it grabs you, under a variety of indigenous trees or a wild pear tree, although the central section is open only four Sundays a month and then for just three hours.
With guided tours around the garden, permaculture garden tours and Old Mutual Music at the Lake during summer, this oasis is hardly without guests, but the 150 year old garden paths, fountains and ponds are a consistent draw card to locals and visitors. Picnics can happen anywhere in the gardens.
Kenneth Stainbank Nature Reserve, Yellowwood Park
This 237 hectare nature reserve is filled with yellowwood trees, the reason, one would imagine, for the suburb name in which it is located. It is filled with walking and mountain bike trails and a wonderful space in which to spot birds and some game. Sit and watch zebras whilst you eat your picnic.
Umgeni River Bird Park
The birds are the stars of the show here and the park is rated as one of the top three of its kind in the world (there are walk-through avaries and a ‘free flight’ bird show).
Green lawns, shade trees and rose bushes galore, Jameson Park is just across the road from Mitchell Park in Morningside. At its best between September and November, because of the roses, the lawns beg for picnics and photographs.
Burman Bush Nature Reserve
Set in the heart of residential suburbs in Umgeni, Burman Bush is a small reserve – the remains of coastal bush. It is popular for its three walking routes, wonderful vegetation and remarkable bird life. There are picnic sites (don’t feed the monkeys or let them steal your food).
Krantzkloof Nature Reserve
Not directly in the city, Krantzkloof lies on the escarpment between Pinetown and Hillcrest and offers over 500 hectares of dense forest, vegetation and grasslands, including an array of wildlife and birds. But the picnic area is the highlight at the head of the Kloof Falls.