Just like you, your four-legged friend truly enjoys a change in scenery, or just meet up with some friends. And as Capetonians, we are fortunate to have such easy (and relatively cheap) access to beautiful, dog-friendly nature reserves in the country.
There's nowhere better for your pooch to experience some freedom and fitness in the Mother City than a great on or off-leash area or walking trail. Luckily, there are a variety of dog-friendly parks and walks in Cape Town that will welcome you and your furry friend with open arms.
De Waal Park, Oranjezicht
Ideal for an escape from the hustle of the City Bowl, De Waal Park in Oranjezicht has always been a haven where furry friends can run, play and socialise to their heart's content. This well-maintained community park draws a strong crowd of pet lovers, so your dog can bank on meeting some new mates and socialise with a huge variety of other dog breeds whenever you visit.
The bonus feature includes a dog pond around the Victorian fountain, lots of bins and poo bags, and some handily placed seats, perfect for the owners of extra energetic pups. There is no entry fee to the park although donations to ‘Friends of De Waal Park’ are welcome.
Where: Camp Street and Orange Street, Oranjezicht, Cape Town
When: Monday to Sunday, 24 hours a day
Seapoint Promenade, Sea Point
Seapoint Promenade is a firm favourite for both locals and visiting tourists looking to soak up some sun and Atlantic Ocean seaviews. This epic paved pathway is regularly improved and features kids play areas, a free outdoor gym, and, at its southern end, a selection of ice cream, beverage, and food stands.
There’s also an open patch of grass adjacent to the Mouille Point lighthouse where dogs are allowed to run free off their leashes.
The views of the peninsula mountains, the Atlantic Ocean, and Robben Island are spectacular from every point along the winding promenade. Weekdays are generally quieter with less foot traffic which also allows well-mannered dogs to go leash-free, while leashed dogs are recommended for weekends.
Where: Parallel to Beach Road, stretching from Mouille Point to Seaoint, Cape Town
When: 24 hours a day
Newlands Forest, Newlands
Newlands Forest is a conservancy area of thick pine trees interspersed with indigenous vegetation and one of the greatest places to hike in the city. What makes it so special is you’re welcome to bring along two dogs (with a Level 1 permit) for your hike.
There are trails for all fitness levels, whether you’re after a leisurely low-intensity walk, or a more rigorous hike. And seasoned walkers have plenty of flowing streams for pets to drink from located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
The forest is easily accessible from the M3 highway and, higher up, offers beautiful views over the Cape Flats.
Please note: Dog walkers require permits/activity cards, as per Table Mountain National Park rules. Find out more here.
Where: Off the M3 highway, Newlands, Table Mountain (Nature Reserve)
When: 24 hours a day
Alphen Trail, Constantia
While it's an on-leash area only, Alphen Trail in the Constantia Valley along Diep River should be on your list of dog-friendly parks to try in Cape Town.
But in addition, this Cape landmark is also a great space for local dog owners while their pawed pals sniff and explore this popular natural oasis. The starting point is a short and easy walk of only about 20 to 25 minutes, ending at the verdant Le Seuer Meadows.
That means your pet will reap in a fair amount of exercise as trail runners pass by.
Where: 31 Alphen Drive, Constantia, Cape Town
When: 24 hours a day
Leadville Dog Park, Sunningdale
As one of the few dedicated dog parks in the city, Leadville Dog Park in Sunningdale has evolved as the ultimate playdate and meet-up spot for dogs.
The facility is buzzing with various breeds after 4pm as owners unwind after work while giving their pets some much-needed exercise.
Let your dog run free amongst other dogs, making friends and enjoying some time outside at the same time.
With separated sections for different sized dogs, you can sit back stress-free and enjoy a cup of coffee and some food at Reload, the espresso bar located on the property, as well as a variety of services for your dog.
Where: Leadville Way, Sunningdale, Cape Town
When: Monday to Sunday, 7am to 8pm
Tokai Plantation, Tokai
Tucked away in Table Mountain National Park, the Tokai Plantation or Arboretum is a peaceful and magical nature reserve on the slopes of the Constantiaberg in Cape Town.
This wonderful dog-friendly destination boasts tall pine and gum trees that were originally planted in 1885. Dog owners can let their leashed paw friends explore nature, although a Level 1 My Activity Permit is required for entry.
Venture through a network of well laid-out tracks and trails through the forest while catching some fynbos, leopard toads, and unique bird life along the way.
Where: Tokai Road, Tokai, Cape Town
When: 24 hours a day
Rondebosch Park, Rondebosch
The Rondebosch Common is one of the more underrated dog-friendly spaces in Southern Suburbs.
The retreat covers approximately 40ha and is considered to boast ecological importance thanks to an ecosystem supporting over 230 species of indigenous plants, more than 40 bird species, many small mammals, frogs, lizards and snakes.
Several of the plants are recognised as rare and/or endangered. Water-loving dogs will delight and splash around in the ponds which are usually full in winter and spring, and the paths are still running with rivulets of water.
Where: Campground Road & Sandown Road, Rondebosch
When: Monday to Sunday, open 24 hours
Maynardville Park, Wynberg
Most movie lovers may know Maynardville Park for those magical open air movie nights, but the park is also a haven for dogs and their human friends during the day.
In addition to the many cultural attractions, Maynardville Park is well known and loved for its peaceful atmosphere, which is best enjoyed while having a picnic on the grassy areas, or exploring the many pathways on foot or bicycle. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are kept on their leashes.
Amateur botanical lovers will enjoy identifying the vast selection of flower and tree species. These include the stunning Mediterranean cork oak, swamp cypress and lemon-scented gum trees.
Where: 27 Piers Road, Wynberg, Cape Town
When: Monday to Sunday, 7am to 7pm in summer (September to March), 7:30am to 6pm in winter (April to August)
Company Gardens, Cape Town City Centre
There’s never a dull moment at Company’s Gardens in the Cape CBD, but it’s still a great option to get in some casual strolls or a run with your dog (on a leash).
The Company Gardens is a carefully manicured botanical garden with impressive monuments and a few points of National and historical interest dating back to the 1600s.
There is ample place to enjoy a picnic, park benches in shade and sunny spots and as well as the dog-friendly Tea Garden where one can enjoy an afternoon cuppa or light lunch.
Where: 19 Queen Victoria Street, Cape Town City Centre
When: Monday to Sunday, 07:30 to 20:30 in summer and 07:00 to 19:00 in winter
Liesbeek River Trail, Newlands
The Liesbeek River Trail is a truly beautiful suburban walk that starts at the lawns below Kirstenbosch’s main entrance on Rhodes Avenue all along the Liesbeek River, and finishes at picture perfect Josephine Mill in Newlands.
Locals often forget that the river is mostly canalised and the walkway lined with trees, making it ideal for your dog to get some daily exercise.
On the 5km walk you’ll bump into the occasional dog owners and lovers daily from noon, while the trail is buzzing with activity over weekends. It is recommended that dogs are leashed on your walk or run as the walkway is fairly narrow.
Where: Liesbeek Parkway green corridor, Newlands, Cape Town
When: Daylight hours
Greenpoint Park, Green Point
Not just a popular destination for families and outdoor fitness fanatics, Green Point Park is also a must-visit spot for furry locals keen to stretch their legs. Dogs are welcome, as long as they’re leashed and well-behaved.
The park is perfectly positioned within walking distance to the promenade, restaurants, and famous stadium precinct. Here, dog owners can walk or run with their pets in one of the many pathways nestled in this tranquil greenery space to de-stress and reconnect with nature.
Green Point Park offers child-friendly walking trails, picnic areas, open spaces, drinking fountains and of course, that iconic wetlands and biodiversity garden. Access to the Biodiversity Garden is prohibited for all dogs.
Where: 4 Wiltshire Crescent, Green Point, Cape Town
When: Monday to Sunday, 7am to 7pm daily