[Updated January 2019]
The Garden Route really is a brilliant family destination as it caters for a wide range of interests – outdoor adventurers and shoppers can bond over a memorable meal of fresh-off-the-line seafood or locally-cultivated wine. Make connections – meet the makers, the ceramicists, the artisans, the conservationists. Slow things down, catch your breath, take in every sunset and let the Garden Route work its magic.
Escape the city to the invigorating salt air of the Garden Route. Misty indigenous forests, excellent cafés and shops, fresh seafood, and a wide selection of outdoor activities are the reason this trail of holiday hamlets prove so popular.
Not only that, but you can encounter elephants, cheetahs, Cape Fur Seals, a honey badger and a Great White Shark all in one day.
Plett, Knysna, Wilderness and Sedgefield are an easy drive from George Airport and a slightly longer drive from P.E. Just a 6-hour drive from Cape Town, you’ll be stuck for a reason not to head to the Garden Route over a long weekend or during the holidays.
We’ve highlighted 21 things to do in the Garden Route the next time you visit!
1. Cosy up at Bramon Wine Estate
Generous, well-priced tapas accompanied by home-made bread just out of the oven… the restaurant at Bramon Wine Estate in Plettenberg Bay is ideal for family lunches and lazy afternoons sipping wine by the fire. Olive tapenade, prawns wrapped in pastry, generous cheese and pear salads, springbok carpaccio, the list goes on. Their dry MCC with notes of apple and icing sugar will turn any event into a celebration.
Open every day from 11:00 to 17:00.
073 833 8183
2. Spot a Great White Shark stalking seal rock in Robberg
You’ll hear the canine bark of the Cape Fur Seals before you see them. On a perfect winter’s day, we traced the movements of a Great White as it skirted the clear shallows in search of a seal. I can’t think of anywhere else where you’d get an elevated view of nature in action quite like this.
3. Take a Featherbed ferry to the Knysna Heads
A popular must-do, Featherbed cruises are synonymous with the Knysna lagoon. If time is short, then the 75-minute Three Legs River Cat cruise makes the most sense at R156 per adult and R86 per child aged 4 to 15 years.
You can also book a cruise on the only traditional paddle-driven cruiser in South Africa. Choose the 3-hour eco-experience at the Knysna Heads with a return ferry trip, 4×4 drive to key viewpoints in the reserve and an optional guided walk to the sea caves, R499 per adult and R116 per child.
Contact: 044 382 1693
4. Spend the night in the beautiful, electricity-free cabin on Robberg promontory
The Robberg Nature Reserve boasts the cosy Fountain Shack for overnight hikers. It can accommodate up to eight people, and offers unparalleled views and enjoyably rustic facilities.
Book at the Fountain Shack: 021 483 0190
5. Coffee and a knock-out breakfast at Roost in Old Nick Village
After a delicious breakfast, pick up great ceramic finds in Prêt à Pot and quality cotton jerseys in Indalo clothing.
Open 07:00 to 18:00 daily.
6. Visit rescued wild cats and a honey badger at the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary
R260 for adults, R130 for kids. Get a discounted ticket to visit Monkeyland and Birds of Eden too at R410 for adults and R205 for kids. This ticket is valid over 3 days. Free for kids under 3. Jukani subscribes to responsible tourism principles.
7. Do a short hike or trail run in the breath-taking Tsitsikamma Storms River Mouth
Choose between the Loerie and Blue Duiker trails or hike to the pristine waterfall. Check the SANParks website for more info.
8. Toast to the sea with oysters and wine on the Oyster Tour on Knysna Lagoon
Take a tasty and informative oyster tour of the Knysna lagoon. It is a 1.5-hour long cruise and includes oysters and wine.
R600 for adults, R180 for kids aged 4 to 12 years.
Contact: 082 892 0469
For the serious oyster lovers, be sure to diarise the Knysna Oyster Festival towards the last week of June each year. This year it takes place between 21-30 June 2019. Accommodation fills up quickly, so book yours in advance.
9. Tea time delights and fresh farm bread at Thyme and Again farm stall
Pop in for delicious home-baked treats, jams, breakfasts, wraps and a freshly-brewed cup of coffee. Find it just off the N2 by the Keurbooms turn-off.
10. Whizz through the trees on the original treetop canopy tour in SA
Glide through the Tsitsikamma forest 30 metres above the ground through 700-year-old Yellow Wood trees! If you’re lucky you may even sight the flash of an elusive Narina Trogon. R595 per person.
Located at the Storms River Village – a 45-minute drive from Plett.
Call 042 281 1836
11. Tackle your bucket list – bungee jump off the world’s highest bridge at Bloukrans
Pay R1,350 if you book online with Face Adrenaline. Truly one of the most thrilling experiences of your life!
Contact: 042 281 1458
12. Eat fresh fish and chips at the Lookout Deck and Restaurant in Plett
The perfect spot for a seafood lunch or sundowners right on the beach. The restaurant works on a first come, first served basis, so be sure to get there early in summer!
Open every day between 09:00 and 22:00
Contact: 044 533 1379
13. Spend a couple of days in surf heaven in secluded Victoria Bay
Take a sharp left after Wilderness and turn down a windy road to secluded surf hotspot Victoria Bay. Buy an ice cream from the only café and walk along the quay past signs that say “No dogs allowed- not even small ones” and “Be nice to sharks”.
14. Enjoy a sunset to remember at Brenton-on-Sea
15. Visit the Book Nook in Plett followed by a croissant at Le Fournil/ tiramisu ice cream at the Ice Palazzo
All can be found in the Lookout Centre in Main Street in Plett. Treat yourself to all-day breakfasts, fresh tartines, home-made waffles and Italian gelato.
16. Pizza with a helluva view at Enrico’s in Keurbooms
After your meal, take a walk along the Keurbooms beach to the left of Enrico’s and throw a stone through the gap for luck. Bookings are advisable, especially during high season.
Address: 296 Main Street, Keurbooms
Contact: 044 535 9818
17. SUP on Knysna’s lagoon
Gain a new perspective and hire a stand-up paddleboard to explore the highways and byways of the canals on Thesen Island and the Knysna estuary.
R180 per person for an hour and R130 per subsequent hour.
Contact Ocean Odyssey on 044 382 0321
18. Meet gentle giants at the Elephant Sanctuary – the Crags
Walk with the gentle elephants, trunk in hand, in an educational and interactive experience. Tours are 60 minutes long.
Rates: R625 for adults, R310 for kids aged 4-14 years.
19. Explore the Crags with Hog Hollow Horse Trails
Visit animal sanctuaries and eco-adventure spots on a half or full day “Cruise the Crags” package, or do a full day Crags Winelands Trail, visiting award-winning local wineries.
Both trails cost R1,650 per person for a full day.
Contact: 082 771 3745
20. Finish off your Garden Route adventures with a fabulous meal at Fynboshoek cheese farm restaurant
Hosted by award-winning cheesemaker, Alje van Deemter, you can take part in cheesemaking classes, stay overnight in the cosy farm cottage, and enjoy lunch in the restaurant between 12:00 and 16:00 (by appointment only).
Located 7km from Storm’s River.
Contact: 072 342 0445
What is your favourite thing to do along the Garden Route? Let us know in the comments below!