Franschhoek Wine Tram Navy Line
Cape Winelands,  DESTINATIONS,  Franschhoek,  Western Cape

The Franschhoek Tram Navy Line: A Useful Guide

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is a fantastic way to explore the Cape Winelands, offering the flexibility to hop on and off at various wine estates along different color-coded routes. With so many fantastic routes to choose from, though, it can be really tricky trying to decide which one to choose. That’s where I come in. After trying all the Franschhoek tram lines, I can confidently say that the Navy Line is my top pick. Why? For starters, it features three of what I consider the best Franschhoek Wine Farms: Camberley, Bartinney, and Plaisir. Plus, it’s incredibly convenient since the Navy Line is currently the route offered on the full-day tour Hop On Hop Off Wine Tram Tour from Cape Town. The tour provides transportation from and to the Waterfront in Cape Town, along with tram tickets.

In this guide, I will first take you through practical information for the Franschhoek Tram line, such as booking tickets and transportation to Franschhoek. Then, I’ll share three of my favorite wine farms on the navy line and what makes them special.

Practical Information for the Franschhoek Tram Navy Line

Franschhoek Navy Route Wine Farms

The Franschhoek Navy Line features a selection of 8 wine farms along its route, providing you with a variety of options to explore.

For detailed information about each estate, you can visit the official Franschhoek Tram Navy Line website. There, you can find details about wine tastings, pairings, and other activities available at each specific estate.

You can choose which wine farms to visit and how long to stay at each with the hop-on-hop-off tram system. It’s best to visit only 3 or 4 farms per day to fully enjoy them. On the navy route, the tram or bus returns to pick you up every hour from where you were dropped off. If you happen to miss the tram or wish to stay longer, you’ll need to catch the next tram, which arrives two hours after your initial drop-off, and continues in the same pattern.

Note: As Boschendal estate is large, allow 2 hours or more. A bus will take you through a working estate to the wine-tasting area, which is +/- 20 min from the tram platform.

How to read the tram timetable

The Franschhoek Wine Tram is actually a combination of an open bus and tram. Whether you start with the bus and end with the tram, or vice versa, the Navy Line STARTS at the Groot Drakenstein Terminal. This terminal is a quick 12-minute ride (or 14 km) from Franschhoek. But donโ€™t worry about getting there on your own. Your tram ticket includes a shuttle service from the Franschhoek Terminal to Groot Drakenstein.

There are two timetables for the Navy Line – a bus first timetable and a tram first timetable.

Franschhoek Tram Navy Route
Franschhoek Tram Navy Line (Bus first) – Image taken from https://winetram.co.za/hop-on-hop-off/navy-line/
Franschhoek Tram Navy Route - tram first
Franschhoek Tram Navy Line (Tram first) – Image taken from https://winetram.co.za/hop-on-hop-off/navy-line/

The order in which it passes each estate depends on whether you start with the tram or the bus. This might matter if you want to time a lunch stop at a specific estate, for example.

Your timetable will also include a summary of the offerings for each wine farm on the route. Activities marked in red require pre-booking.

Franschhoek Wine Farms Activity summary
Franschhoek Tram Navy Line list of activities and booking requirements – Image taken from https://winetram.co.za/hop-on-hop-off/navy-line/

The official wine tram site also provides a very useful guide to reading and understanding the timetable, which I have copied below:

how to read the franschhoek tram timetable
Understanding the timetable – Image taken from https://winetram.co.za/hop-on-hop-off/navy-line/

Booking your tickets for the Franschhoek Navy Tram line

To be sure you don’t miss out, I recommend booking your tickets ahead of time. You can buy Franschhoek Wine Tram tickets online or directly from their ticket office located at 32 Huguenot Rd, Franschhoek.

Getting to Franschhoek

Franschhoek is approximately an hour’s drive from Cape Town. The most convenient way is to rent a car at Cape Town airport. This way, you can collect it upon arrival and return it before departure. If you don’t have a car, consider using a shuttle service or tour operator like the Franschhoek Wine Tram Explorer Tour with City Sightseeing. The City Sightseeing Bus provides transportation to and from Franschhoek. Another great option is to stay in the town of Franschhoek itself, making the trip to the terminal much quicker and easier.

Note: As of January 2024, the Navy Line is a choice offered by City Sightseeing. Keep in mind that not all color routes are consistently available. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get in touch with City Sightseeing before your journey to avoid any possible disappointment.

So, where does the Franschhoek wine tram tour start?

You board the Franschhoek Wine Tram at the Franschhoek Wine Tram Ticket Office, located at 32 Huguenot Road, Franschhoek. Below is the procedure before boarding the Navy tram route:

Franschhoek Tram Terminal
  • Scan your pre-booked ticket. If you haven’t already made a reservation, you might be lucky to buy a ticket on the spot. As suggested before, though, I do recommend booking a ticket in advance.
  • Lines depart between 08:45am & 13:00pm (check the terminal of departure for the specific line). I highly recommend spending an entire day on the Franschhoek tram. For the navy route, this means arriving at the Franschhoek Terminal around 8.15am. Arrive early to allow time for parking, collecting tickets, and enjoying a coffee or a snack.
  • After scanning your ticket, a shuttle bus will transport you to the Groot Drakenstein Terminal.
  • At the Groot Drakenstein Terminal, you’ll either remain on the bus (if you selected the bus-first route) or switch to the tram (if you opted for the tram-first route).
The Groot Drakenstein Terminal, the start of the Franschhoek Tram Navy Line
The Groot Drakenstein Terminal

Franschhoek Tram Navy Route Wine Farms – My top 3 picks

We did some research ahead of time, so we knew exactly which estates we wanted to check out – Camberley for its red wines and intimate vibe, Bartinney for the amazing views and gin pairings, and Plaisir for its fascinating history.

Camberley Wine Estate: Reds, roses and friendly dogs

Camberley Wine Estate Franschheok Tram Navy Line

Camberley Wine Estate was our first stop on the Navy Line, and it turned out to be quite the gem! Started as a winemaker’s hobby driven by a love for wine, this family-run winery has now become a full-blown passion. Camberley stands out for its intimate feel and exceptional red wines. We had an excellent tasting on the small patio connected to the tasting room. As an added bonus there was the lovely rose garden next to the patio, which we strolled through while enjoying our wine. If youโ€™re into red wine AND love dogs, Camberley is even more perfect for you! Their dogs are not only gorgeous but also super friendly. It was wonderful having them join us during our wine tasting โ€“ added a whole lot of fun to the experience!

Take note of the tasting room times below:

Wed-Sat: Open for walk-ins: 10.00 – 17.00
Sun, Mon, Tues: By Appointment Only

Bartinney Wine Estate: The Best Views in the Valley

Bartinney Estate

Bartinney, known for the best views, lived up to its reputation. The highlight is the terrace with sweeping views of the Banhoek Valley, vineyards and mountains. We tried three wines – Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Despite not being a big white wine fan myself, Bartinney’s whites were truly exceptional. If you’re not into wine, they also offer Tempest Gin Tasting, a unique pale yellow gin served with flavored ice blocks and tonic of your choice. Bartinney also has a third and very unique tasting option, namely the wine and fynbos experience. This innovative tasting includes three estate wines, alongside native fynbos.

While walk-ins are generally accepted, reservations are recommended, especially during peak times. For the wine-fynbos pairing experience, booking is essential and can be made at tastingshed@bartinney.co.za.

Plaisir Wine Estate: Wine tasting with a rich history

Plaisir Wine Estate

With a 400-year winemaking history, Plaisir is a great stop on the Franschhoek Tram Navy Line. The estate has a historic Manor House and diverse vineyards, producing wines like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and more. You can try their flagship wines such as Grand Plaisir, Cabernet Franc, and Shiraz inside an 1823 barn or on a lovely outdoor patio. They also do artisanal wine pairing with nougat, chocolate truffles, and fudge. If wine isn’t your thing, there’s a great range of tempest Gin to choose from. Oh, and their cheese and charcuterie platters look really delicious, too!

To sum it up, the Franschhoek Wine Tram’s Navy Line is an awesome way to explore some of the regions best estates. From the friendly and inviting Camberley Wine Estate with its furry companions to the stunning views at Bartinney and the history-steeped ambiance of Plaisir, the Navy Line promises a mix of flavors, scenery, and stories.

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