recommended by Sabine from The Travelling Chilli | Follow her on Instagram
recommended by Elaine and Dave from Show Them The Globe
Known as the gem of the Karoo, the charming town of Graaff-Reinet is one of our favorite towns in South Africa. It’s the oldest town in the Eastern Cape and the fourth oldest in South Africa and is home to over 200 National Monuments. The atmospheric town is surrounded by the Camdeboo National Park and has retained many of its original features including beautiful Cape Dutch, Victorian, and Karoo architecture.
The highlight of Graaff-Reinet is the incredible geological phenomenon known as the Valley of Desolation – the vertical cliffs and the freestanding hundred meter high columns are breathtaking and the sunsets over the Karoo Plains are spectacular. We also loved the Agave Distillery which produces tequila from the agave plant. We stayed at the beautiful Drostdy Hotel, built at the beginning of the 19th Century and often described as one of the finest hotels on the Eastern Cape.
recommended by Chlio from Your Next Big Trip | Follow her on Facebook
Knysna is a large town on South Africa’s famous Garden Route. Its sleepy, laid-back atmosphere make it a perfect overnight stop whether backpacking or driving the Garden Route.
I spent one night at Island Vibe backpackers, conveniently located on the Baz Bus route. My first stop was a night time visit to Knysna Heads. The Heads are a pair of cliffs overlooking Knysna Lagoon and are one of the most famous Garden Route landmarks.
At night it was the perfect place to look at the stars- it was one of the few places in South Africa where I could perfectly make out the Southern Cross.
If you are interested in religion or culture, a visit to the Rasta Village is a must. The village began when a number of Rasta families decided to buy neighboring plots of land. Now Judah Square has a creche, school and temple. For me it was interesting to learn more about the Rasta faith and to hear about how they have expanded so much that their school now even provides education for non-Rasta children in the area. However, a word of caution- you will not be permitted to enter the temple if you are dressed “inappropriately” (for me this meant workout leggings and a baggy hoodie so bring something to wrap around you if unsure.)
Possibly the most relaxing part of my whole South Africa trip was the morning I spent canoeing on Goukamma River, a nature and marine reserve. I can highly recommend Southern Cape Tours for this – the owner, Renee, was a mine of information on birds, wildlife and South African politics. We spent about 4 hours canoeing down the river, stopping on the banks for a picnic lunch where we even saw an eagle flying overhead! While it wasn’t the most exciting stop on my trip (the bungee at Bloukran’s Bridge takes that prize!), Knysna was the perfect place to move at a slower pace and be immersed in nature.
recommended by Erin from Sol Salute | Follow her on Facebook
We saw a lot of South Africa on our month-long road trip from Kruger to Cape Town, but Paternoster really stood out. I wanted to end our long trip relaxing on the beach, not in a city, and not waking up at 5 am for a safari.
The small fishing village of Paternoster was just what the doctor ordered. It’s located two hours west of Cape Town and was an easy getaway from the Mother City. The village is made up of adorable white stucco cottages with accents in shades of blue, almost like a Greek island. The beach seemed to be endless.
We went for a long walk along the coast and I collected opalescent dark purple shells that were left behind by seagulls who had broken them open looking for dinner. We watched the birds pick them up and take them into the air, dropping them over and over until they finally broke open. Why am I telling you this? Because that’s how relaxing our weekend in Paternoster was. We sunned ourselves on the beach, drank delicious South African wine, and watched seagulls.
The restaurants book up in advance so it’s a good idea to reserve your meals ahead of your trip. I recommend reserving a table for dinner at Voorstrandt, right on the beach, listening to the waves and watching the gorgeous sunset. If you want to disconnect, definitely add Paternoster to your South African itinerary.
recommended by me, Jenny from Discovering Legacies
I always compare Stellenbosch to Santa Barbara in California because of its college town vibes. A forty-five-minute drive from Cape Town, the town founded in 1679 is the “second oldest European settlement in the province, after Cape Town” (Wikipedia). Because of the many colonial-style buildings, you may feel like you’re in Europe. Stellenbosch is full of cute and delicious restaurants and bakeries you should check out. The Village museum gives you a glimpse into life during the early 18th century.
Stellenbosch is also one of the most famous wine regions; therefore, you can’t leave without visiting Meerlust, for example. Try their Rubicon and thank me later. Have lunch or dine at Delaire Graff Estate because the views are unmatched!
For additional (instagrammable) beach stops of top cities to visit in South Africa, go to
- HERMANUS – for whale watching
- KLEIN BRAK RIVER – a local’s secret
- MOSSELBAAI – lunch by the beach
- PORT ELIZABETH – the windy city