It isn’t every day that you discover a market with its very own visiting steam train… I mean, talk about cool! Well, the Elgin Railway Market, one of the Cape’s finest markets, offers just that – and plenty more besides.
This apple-warehouse-turned-steampunk-station-market, situated in the gorgeous Overberg Region, is an incredibly interesting and above all, fun Cape market to explore.
Not only because of its mesmerising interiors, with the vast hall and lofty balcony overlooking the railway line, and fascinating stalls, tempting you with everything from fresh-cut flowers to dreamy carrot cake and local wine! But also due to the segway tours, ziplining, stunning accommodation offerings and glamping situated a stone’s throw away from it. This all helps cement it as something of an adventure and R&R capital, too!
The market possesses its own kind of magic – and that’s saying a lot, considering it is tucked away in the leafy reaches of one of South Africa’s most beautiful and fertile regions: the Elgin Valley.
This verdant, fruit-growing valley – famed for its apples, cider and cool climate wines – is yet another Overberg gem. Further complemented by the addition of this market – a wonderful scheme dreamed up by inventive businessman, Roger Orpen.
So, now that you have the backstory… Here are my eight best things to do in and around the Elgin Railway Market:
1. Cool Climate Wines, Craft Beer and Gin
Elgin is famous for its delicious cool climate wines, craft ciders and annual Elgin Cool Wine and Country Food Festival, which is always a hugely popular event.
But it is also home to an impressive array of quality wine estates like Almenkerk, Elgin Vintners, Oak Valley, Paul Cluver and South Hill to name but a few.
So if you are a wine lover, be sure to explore these estates first-hand and sample their incredible wines! To read more about the local estates, see here.
And, as luck would have it, you can also find excellent wine-, beer-, cider- and gin-tasting offers at the Elgin Railway Market itself… All thanks to the downstairs bar, L-Gin artisanal gin bar and upstairs Sóvinhos wine shop. 🙂
2. A Steampunk Experience… with a Steam Train!
The market’s vast hall offers a vintage steampunk experience of note with its ornate rafters, glowing lamps, intricately woven railings and more. It is truly entrancing, as both the upstairs and downstairs levels offer a unique and memorable experience.
Add to that, the railway line just outside and a frequently visiting steam train… and you have a wholly unique market experience!
This is because the Ceres Rail Company runs an incredible weekend train trip from Cape Town to the Elgin Railway Market.
I have not personally been on this train journey as yet (hopefully someday though!) – but I have heard wonderful things about it. I can also say that it is so magical watching it pull up to the station, as you wave from the sidelines.
This special, once-in-lifetime train trip is the perfect excuse to leave the car parked at home and live out that ultimate childhood fantasy.
For additional info, please see the Ceres Rail Company website.
3. Adventure Central (Think: Ziplining, MTB Trails and Segway Tours)
If you are more an adrenaline junkie, then you are in for a treat… Because, not only do some pretty epic tours operate from the market (you have to find Elgin Adventure Centre) – leading you through the nearby woodlands and farm paths – but there are many other rich, outdoor experiences to enjoy.
These include the nearby Cape Canopy Tour ziplining, hiking, stand-up paddleboarding, MTB trails and more.
In many ways, Elgin and its surrounds have become an adventure capital in the Cape… And the Elgin Railway Market is the perfect place to use as your base from which to explore!
4. Unique Accommodation Offerings
With the likes of Old Mac Daddy, Cherry Glamping, Houw Hoek Hotel, Elgin Country Lodge and Oak Lane Cottages to name but a few of your local accommodation offerings… it is safe to say there is ample, varied accommodation near Elgin and Grabouw.
A number of the local wine estates also offer beautiful accommodation, so you can linger longer in this beautiful part of the world in both style and country comfort.
You have a choice of everything from cosy lodges to glamping tents, quaint country cottages and airsteam trailers.
For more information on nearby accommodation options, please see here.
5. Food, Food and More Food
The market offers a wide, endlessly enticing array of foods – everything from wood-fired pizza to cakes, ice-cream, mouthwatering curries and other delicious eats to keep you salivating for days. There is also a great fresh fruit and vegetable section, perfect for stocking up on the healthy, good stuff!
And nearby, you can find the Peregrine Farm Stall (in operation since 1964) and Hickory Shack, Elgin’s very own smokehouse. They are considered top foodie pit-stops – and are unmissable if you have the time and hunger for more. Plus, both are ideal for stocking up on road trip supplies or enjoying a leisurely meal.
6. Gift and (Home) Shopping Galore
The Elgin Railway Market is a great place to shop for thoughtful gifts, precious keepsakes and home improvement goods.
With an assortment of fresh flowers, clothing items, jewellry, leather goods, pottery, woodwork and furniture pieces, you are spoilt for choice.
I was so impressed by the quality, owner dedication and beauty of all we saw on display. It is definitely the market to keep in mind for Christmas (or birthday) gift shopping!
Elgin Railway Market is a treasure trove for shoppers – and even if you don’t buy anything, the browsing experience is enchanting in and of itself.
7. Epic Outdoor Climbing Wall
Best of all, at Elgin Railway Market, families with kids are certainly catered for.
In addition to the great outdoor play facilities, spacious picnic benches for dining and chatting and watching the train’s exciting arrival, there is also an incredible outdoor climbing wall (handily suitable for both kids and adults) and other fun ideas to keep both young and old entertained.
There are constantly children running and playing outside and it is definitely one of the most family-friendly markets around.
I also love the soothing ambiance of the live music (normally over weekends) and constant market buzz. The vibe is exciting and lively without being too loud or distracting.
8. A Quirky, Mobile Bookstore
Another great find at the Elgin Railway Market is the oh-so-cosy book bus, owned and run by Grabouw’s own curated Liberty Books bookshop.
Housed within a cosily decorated 1970s provincial library bus, the Book Bus is an enchanting stop. It offers books for both children and adults – and you can even find a spot to sit and read.
Before or after you have visited the market, head to the Book Bus and browse a surprisingly wide range of well-loved classics and great, new novels alike.
This is every book lover’s dream come true so be sure to bring your wallet along!
Important Market Info
This chic, fun market is definitely worth the trip alone – but I love that there are so many wonderful activities, accommodation offerings and food and drink experiences to enjoy in and around the Elgin Railway Market.
So, if you are looking for an awesome, family-friendly experience, look no further than this Overberg gem!
- Mondays – Fridays (Ground Central Coffee Shop): 08:00 am – 17:00 pm.
- Wednesdays (a limited selection of food vendors): 16:00 – 21:00 pm
Bar (beer and wine): 16:00 – 21:00 pm.
- Fridays (limited selection of food vendors): 17:00 – 21:00 pm.
Bar (beer and wine): 17:00 pm – 21:00 pm.
- Saturdays and Sundays (full market experience): 09:00 am – 17:00 pm.
Contact: +27 (021) 204 1158, firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: Elgin Railway Market, Oak Avenue, Elgin, Western Cape, South Africa.
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.