The Best Parks and Gardens in Cape Town (many of which are FREE)

Parks and Gardens

With a walk in the park pretty much the only available activity on offer in the Cape these days, Capetonians are hitting the outdoors for the much-needed tranquility and restorative beauty of nature. Thankfully, we are blessed with an abundance of such places, from the Alphen Trail, Kirstenbosch Gardens, and Newlands Forest in the Southern Suburbs to the Company Gardens, Green Point Urban Park, and De Waal Park right in the city centre. Here are dk villas’ favourite Cape Town gardens and parks to visit….


De Waal Park, Oranjezicht

Where: Camp Street and Orange Street, Oranjezicht, Cape Town
Opening Times: 24 hours a day

One of De Waal Park’s lovely, tree-lined pathways (source: Wikimedia Commons)

De Waal Park is a community park and off-the-leash dog park located on the leafy periphery of the City Bowl in Oranjezicht. It’s a wide-open expanse of gently undulating grass dotted with large trees for shade (and birdlife). On any given day, you’ll find people walking their dogs here or sitting on picnic blankets under the shade of a tree, watching their kids chase each other. At the centre of the park, there is an old Victorian fountain, which also serves as an unofficial watering hole for the pooches. And then, around the periphery of the park, there’s a pathway that makes for a good jogging track. So, whether for fitness or a day of picnicking in the shade of a tree (or both), De Waal Park is a blissful, atmospheric oasis!


Alphen Trail, Constantia Green Belt

Where: 31 Alphen Drive, Constantia, Cape Town
Opening Times: 24 hours a day

Embarking from Alphen Drive, just off the M3 highway in the Cape’s historic and leafy suburb (and winelands) of Constantia, the Alphen Trail leads you on a meandering path alongside the Diep Rivier and the Constantia Green Belt that carpets its flanks. At only 20 to 25 minutes’ walk to its end point at Le Seuer Meadows (40 to 50 minutes’ return), it’s a super short and easy trail but its spectacularly rich and verdant surroundings (particularly in winter) explain its popularity. In fact, the Alphen Trail is widely regarded to be the most beautiful walking route in Constantia.


The Company Gardens, City Centre

Where: 19 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town City Centre
Opening Times: Open daily from 07:30 to 20:30 in summer and 07:00 to 19:00 in winter.

The Company Gardens
View of Table Mountain from the front of the Company Gardens, right outside the Iziko Natural History Museum.

Originally, in the 1600’s, all manner of fruits and vegetables were grown in the Company Gardens to supply and restock the Dutch East India Company ships that were travelling to Asia, via the treacherous Cape of Storms. Today, its one of Cape Town’s most historic attractions, complete with bird aviaries, fountains, and friendly squirrels! These sprawling lawns, rose gardens, and tree-lined avenues offer visitors long, pleasant, and atmospheric walks, with the added benefit of being within a stone’s throw of downtown Cape Town, as well as the Iziko Natural History Museum, National Art Gallery, and Planetarium. The Company Gardens are a great place to bring the family for a picnic. Make sure you bring peanuts for the squirrels: they will eat right out of your hand!


Newlands Forests

Where: Off the M3 highway, Newlands, Table Mountain (Nature Reserve)
Opening Times: 24 hours a day

Newlands Forests
A tumble of pine trees on the eastern flanks of Table Mountain mark the canopy of the Newlands Forest (image source: Wikipedia Commons)

Not more than a 10-15 minute drive from the city centre (assuming there’s no traffic), right off the M3 highway, you’ll find the lush woodlands of Newlands Forests. Criss-crossed with long, leisurely, pine needle-carpeted walkways, this forest offers a shaded and peaceful destination for Capetonians desperate for a little tranquility and escape. Many of these paths, which climb the eastern flanks of the Table Mountain Nature Reserve, end in scenic viewpoints.

Newland forest (named after its home suburb) also offers an expansive picnic area with fire pits for braaiing and concrete tables and chairs, so plan for a long afternoon of relaxing after your walk! Do note that there is a small entrance fee per vehicle and per person; also, visitors are advised to walk in groups for safety.


Green Point Urban Park

Where: 4 Wiltshire Crescent, Green Point, Cape Town
Opening Times: Monday to Sunday, 07:00 to 19:00

Green Point Urban Park
The Green Point Urban Park spreads out to the west of Cape Town’s regal stadium, as seen from the air (source: www.Pixabay.com)

The Green Point Urban Park sprawls out quite lavishly to the west of the Cape Town Stadium, offering Capetonians a serene, wooded park with a tangle of trails for walking, jogging, and biking. Located right in the heart of one of Cape Town’s most highly urbanised suburbs and nightlife districts—Green Point—the park is a veritable lush oasis with the added benefits of the Tot-Lot Play Park for families with kids, a biodiversity garden, adventure and heritage gardens, a golf course, and even a fish-stocked lake!


Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens

Where: Rhodes Drive, Newlands, Cape Town
Opening Times: 08:00 to 19:00 in summer (September to March) | 08:00 to 18:00 in winter (April to August)

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens (Image source: Mattias Hill, Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia Commons)

Located on the eastern flanks of Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch’s sweeping, emerald gardens are a spectacular and colourful celebration of life. Visitors here can get to truly appreciate the majesty and diversity of the Cape floral kingdom by navigating its complex network of pathways that lead through protected Fynbos, kalaeidescopic gardens, ancient forests, edible food gardens, and more. When you get hungry, you can stop in at the Kirstenbosch Tea Room (ktr.co.za) for a lovely menu of family-friendly treats. Just be sure to check the website to make sure their regular services and facilities are available during COVID-19.