Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden Cape Town, South Africa by

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens in Cape Town, SA

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The Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden is a must-see attraction in Cape Town, South Africa. Lush with colorful blossoms and vibrant landscapes, even a short visit to the Cape Town botanical gardens is worth the effort! 

On our trip we were uncertain, at first, whether or not to include visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden in our robust Cape Town Itinerary. We were traveling without a car and had a long list of sights we wanted to see. 

Locals, however, assured us that the Cape Town gardens were worthy of a visit…and they were right! The gorgeous gardens, which were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, are an absolute delight. To help fellow travelers make the most of their time at the famous botanical gardens in South Africa, we are sharing top tips and important details.


History of Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens Cape Town

The formal botanic garden was established in 1913 with the purpose of preservation and the study of indigenous plants. That said, there are plants – specifically, a hedge – within the park boundaries that pre-date the inception of the garden. The hedge was planted in 1660 as a property boundary for the Dutch colony. Therefore, it can be said that Kirstenbosch history encompasses nearly 400 years of plant study and research. 

The 1,300 acre site is a branch of the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The park has a firm focus on the region’s vegetation and animal life. The abundant flora is, naturally, the highlight. Additional Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens main features are the elevated Canopy Walkway in the treetops and the intriguing art installations. 


Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden

Before you visit the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, you need to know the essentials – like the entry fee, opening hours and location. 


Kirstenbosch Entry Fee

There isn’t just one set price for Cape Town Botanical Gardens tickets. Kirstenbosch prices vary by category.  

  • Adult Kirstenbosch Gardens Entry Fee: 220 rand ($11.50 USD)
  • Kirstenbosch entrance fee for students 6 to 17 years of age: 40 rand ($2.75 USD)
  • Kirstenbosch Gardens prices for children up to 6 years of age: Free
  • Group Discounts: There are no discounts on the Kirstenbosch Gardens entrance fee at this time
  • Kirstenbosch Tickets (and Kirstenbosch Membership Cards) can be purchased at the main entrance or online


Kirstenbosch Opening Times

While open 7 days a week, Kirstenbosch Gardens opening times vary by season. Note that the Conservatory is open daily from 9am until 5pm. 

  • Summer (September to March) Kirstenbosch Hours: 8:00am to 7:00pm
  • Winter (April to August) Kirstenbosch Opening Hours: 8:00am to 6:00pm


How To Get To Kirstenbosch Garden Cape Town

The park is located at the foothills of Table Mountain, nestled on the eastern-facing slope. The distance to the garden from the Cape Town CBD is about 8 miles. Visitors with a car can use this Google Map for driving directions from Cape Town City Centre. 


Getting There Without a Car

Unfortunately, there are no public buses that go to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. Travelers without a car can take a taxi or rideshare. There is also an option to join an organized tour that visits multiple top attractions, including the garden.

However, we think the most economical way to reach the park is on the City Sightseeing Cape Town Bus. The double-decker tour bus features a route that makes several stops at Kirstenbosch. Find more about using the Cape Town Tour Bus for transportation to the park. 


What To Do: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens South Africa

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: The intricate pincushion flower

We think the best way to enjoy the area is simply to wander the many trails that crisscross through the gorgeous landscapes. That said, there are a few garden attractions that are not to be missed! 

We are highlighting the best things to do at the Cape Town Botanic Gardens. The sights are listed in order to create an ideal route through the park. To see all of the recommended attractions, visitors should plan on spending about 3 hours at the garden. 


Main Pond

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: The Main Pond and majestic mountain in the background

Begin your exploration at the Main Pond. Take in the sweeping views across the water that encompass majestic Table Mountain in the background. If your timing is right, the mountain will be draped in the famous “tablecloth” clouds.


The Dell 

A stream running through The Dell, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

Ease your way into The Dell. Ranking as the oldest – and most beautiful – part of the park, The Dell is dense with vegetation. Trees tower overhead, providing shade on hot, sunny days – and water flowing in the streams keep The Dell cool and fresh. 


Tree Canopy Walkway

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: The Tree Canopy Walkway winds through the treetops

The Canopy Walkway curves high above the trees of the Arboretum, providing outstanding views of the scenic terrain. Designed to resemble a snake, the 425 foot-long elevated walkway slithers through the treetops. Note that it’s free to walk the Tree Canopy! 


Proteas Garden and Fynbos Walk

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: The King Protea is the national flower of South Africa...and the name of the Cricket team!

The Garden of Proteas – which are native South African flowering plants – is a highlight of the park. Blooming in the winter and spring, the bright and intricate Protea blossoms are magnificent! 

The dazzling orange Pincushion Proteas blooms were among our favorite in the garden. The King Protea, which serves as the national flower of South Africa, is also quite stunning. Here’s a fun fact: The National Cricket team is named in its honor!

While winding through the Proteas Garden, visitors should use the Fynbos Path, which passes through natural shrubs of South Africa, which they call bush. 


Boekenhout Trail

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: Silver trees glisten and shimmer in the sunlight

 The Boekenhout Trail is one of the best forested treks in the park. Enveloped in trees – of which the Cape Beech tree is the most significant – the hike is one of the short (yet moderate) trails at Kirstenbosch. 


Braille Trail and Fragrance Garden

The Braille Trail is another path that winds through indigenous forest. Designed to aid the visually impaired, the route is free of steps and utilizes ropes as guidance – plus, all of the signage features Braille. All garden guests are invited to use the path – and to use their senses beyond sight to enjoy the sounds and scents in the special garden. 

At the end of the Braille Trail, be sure to step into the Fragrance Garden an inhale the aromatic scents of the plants.


Sculpture Gardens

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: Stone African artwork on display in the Sculpture Garden

One of the most beautiful places within the South African Botanic Gardens is the Sculpture Garden. Unique and original stone artwork is situated among the green flora. The collection of sculptures on display is constantly changing – and new pieces are often designed on the grounds. 


Animals at the Park

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: a tortoise wandering the paths, just like us

As you traverse the park, be sure to keep an eye out for birds and other animals. During our visit, we saw and incredible number of critters! We caught sight of a Spotted Eagle Owl sitting on a branch, numerous frogs hopping alongside the water, lizards slithering through the plants and a tortoise freely roaming the path.

The mama Spotted Eagle Owl keeps a close watch on her young baby


Frequently Asked Questions and Travel Tips

Visiting Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden Cape Town South Africa JetSeting Fools

Now that you know what to do at the Cape Town Botanic Garden, we are answering a few of the most frequently asked questions and sharing top tips about planning your trip.


Are there Park Tours? 

Yes! Knowledgeable guides lead participants on 90 minute tours of the garden. The tours depart from the Entrance 1 Gate on weekdays at 10am and 2pm. Best of all, the Kirstenbosch Botanical Society tours are free! 


Are there Restaurants at Kirstenbosch?

Absolutely! In fact, there are three Kirstenbosch Restaurants within the park grounds. Moyo at Kirstenbosch is a sit-down restaurant that features a menu of African produce.

The Kirstenbosch Tea Room offers lighter fare and a relaxed atmosphere, while Vida e Caffe is a good choice for coffee, pastries and treats. 


Can I Have a Picnic at the Park?

Yes! One of the best ways to enjoy an afternoon at the botanic gardens is with a relaxed picnic lunch. You can bring your own food and drinks (but chairs, tables, umbrellas, tents and barbecues are not permitted).

Of course, if you would rather, the staff at the Tea Room and Moyo restaurants can assemble a fabulous Kirstenbosch Gardens picnic lunch for you (including some great Cape Town Wine!). 


Where Can I Find a Kirstenbosch Gardens Map?

A Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens map is useful when planning your trip to the park. Use this Kirstenbosch trail map for creating your route.


Does the Garden Host Special Activities? 

Yes! Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens hosts incredible events. One of the top activities is garden concerts, however, options range from interactive kids’ activities to bird-spotting walks to informative lectures. Check the current KNBG calendar for upcoming events. 


How Can I Attend Kirstenbosch Concerts?

The Kirstenbosch summer concerts are a favorite festivity in the park. The Kirstenbosch sunset concerts take place on summer Sundays and feature a variety of artists. A special ticket is required to attend the Kirstenbosch gardens concerts and can be purchased online


What is Kirstenbosch Weather Like? 

Like all of Cape Town, the weather at Kirstenbosch can quickly change any time of year. Bring a lightweight rain jacket or travel umbrella in case of passing showers – and wear sunscreen, your favorite sunglasses and a hat with a wide brim on sunny days. 


What Do I Need To Visit Kirstenbosch?

Those who plan to spend a few hours at the Botanical Garden in Cape Town will want to make sure they are prepared. 

It is essential to wear the right shoes. Ensure you pack a good pair of travel shoes for your Cape Town trip that you can also wear to the park. 

Visitors who want to capture the beauty of the gardens should bring a real travel camera. We use a Canon Rebel, which is an excellent DSLR camera on a budget

Finally, for your day of discovery, use a versatile travel day bag to hold everything you will need – including a packed picnic lunch! 

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