If you are planning a holiday in South Africa it can be difficult to decide where to stop. The official Garden Route is between Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay. And is an incredibly scenic drive. However, this article will take a look at the different towns between Cape Town & Port Elizabeth. And what they have to offer. So that you can choose the best stops on the Garden Route for you.
The best way to experience the Garden Route is to drive it. Here are some tips for driving in South Africa. Whilst it would be incredible to visit each of these places. It is unrealistic given the length of most holidays! Remember that you do not need to stay everywhere. Try to plan your route so that you can break your driving in places that interest you.
Cape Town is the perfect place to start or finish your trip. You can even start and finish your trip in Cape Town! Remember to leave some time to explore the city and the surrounding area. If you are starting and finishing in Cape Town then consider staying in two different areas of the city.
Stellenbosch is a beautiful town just 50 km from Cape Town. The University is the joint oldest in South Africa. You’ll find the oak tree-lined streets are home to boutique shops, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes. Stellenbosch is surrounded by the vineyards of the Cape Winelands and the mountains of Simonsberg & Jonkersheok nature reserves.
Situated in the heart of the Cape Winelands, the small town of Franschoek is known for its stunning scenery and world-class restaurants. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit quieter, then this is the place for you. It is just 80 km from Cape Town and 37 km from Stellenbosch. The Franschhoek Wine Tram is the best way to explore the centuries-old vineyards.
Founded in 1687, Paarl is the largest town in the Cape Winelands. It is the perfect place to explore the Drakenstein Valley. Drakenstein Prison is located just outside of Paarl, and is where Nelson Mandela spent his final years in captivity. If you are interested in culture and heritage then you should definitely visit Paarl.
The small seaside town of Hermanus is great for whale watching. If you want to see whales without going out on a boat then this is the place for you. You can also go shark cage diving here. Planning to spend a few days in Hermanus? There are some beautiful beaches, and some spectacular coastal walks to enjoy.
The fishing village of Gansbaai is also a great spot for whale watching and shark cage diving. It is about 88 km from L’Agulhas. If you enjoy outdoor activities, then Walker Bay Nature Reserve is close by. You can also find Klipgat Cave in the reserve.
L’Agulhas is the southernmost village on the mainland of Africa. Cape L’Agulhas is the southern tip of Africa. If you want to put each foot into a different ocean at the same time. Then this is the place to do it! The Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet here.
Also known as the valley of wine and roses, Robertson is another town on Route 62. Otherwise known as the Wine Route. The town has many fruit farms, and vineyards. Try to time your visit so that you can visit the farmers market. If you have an interest in history, there are some provincial heritage sites. The oldest being the Pink Church, which dates back to 1859. If you are serious about hiking, consider the Arangieskop trail.
If you’re looking for the perfect place to stop between Cape Town and Oudtshoorn. Then look no further than the small town of Montagu. Situated on Route 62, Montagu has plenty of outdoor activities to choose from. It is also known as the Mountain Mecca, due to the vicinity of the Langeberg mountains. Montagu is also known for its rock formations, hot springs, and vineyards.
Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa. If you are a history enthusiast you will love the Drostdy Museum. Nature lovers can enjoy Marloth Nature Reserve. If you are up for a short hike then Duiwelsbos is certainly worth it.
A coastal town on the official Garden Route. Wilderness has some great trails and broad beaches. You can see the outstanding Outeniqua Mountains, Kaaimans River, and the Indian Ocean from the lookout spot known as The Map Of Africa. There are loads of outdoor activities to enjoy in Wilderness.
Situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, Mossel Bay is a port town. It is known for having one of the mildest all-year climates in the world. If you enjoy seafood, then be sure to indulge in the mussels and oysters that the town is famous for. Mossel Bay claims to have the first post office in South Africa, dating back to 1500. I didn’t think that this was one of the best stops on the Garden Route. But I do not like shellfish!
Best known for its ostrich farms, Oudtshoorn is found on Route 62 in the Klien Karoo. A semi-arid area between the Swartberg and Outeniqua mountain ranges. If you enjoy a scenic drive, then you will love the Swartberg pass. Remember to check out the Cango Caves. A 20 million-year-old cave system.
Established in 1811, George is the second biggest town in the Western Cape. And is a great base to explore the surrounding area. If you like surfing, both Heralds Bay and Victoria Bay are close by. There are 10 golf courses in George, therefore it is no surprise that it’s one of South Africa’s premier golfing destinations. However, if you prefer a walk without the clubs, be sure to check out the Garden Route Botanical Gardens.
Having an enviable position in the heart of the Garden Route. The small town of Knysna enjoys both forest and seaside suburbs. This is another great base to explore the surrounding area. If you are a bit of a foodie, you will love the cuisine ranging from fine dining to farmers’ markets. The temperature ranges from about 12°C in winter and 30°C in summer, so it is perfect for outdoor activities all year round.
Plettenberg Bay is a seaside town on the Garden Route. Early Portuguese explorers called it “beautiful bay”. Today its fondly known as Plett. If you are looking for a beach break during your holiday, then this is the perfect place. Plett has 6 blue flag beaches, so you will be spoilt for choice. There is also a lot to do in the area. You can visit Nelson Bay Cave, which dates back to the stone age. Birds of Eden is an ethical free flight bird sanctuary. If you like hiking then there are plenty to choose from at Robberg Nature Reserve. In my opinion, Plett is definitely one of the best stops on the Garden Route.
Located on Algoa Bay in the Eastern Cape province. Port Elizabeth is the 5th largest city in South Africa. It is very well located, so you can easily drive to the Eastern Cape safari reserves. Or the coastal towns of the Garden Route. The city is a major port and is known for its many beaches. I don’t think that it’s one of the best stops on the Garden Route. However, there is plenty to do. There are regular flights to Cape Town and Johannesburg. Making Port Elizabeth a convenient place to start or finish your holiday.
Eastern Cape Reserves
There are lots of game reserves in the Eastern Cape. Which is perfect if you want to include a safari stay on your holiday. It is easy to drive to them from places like Knysna and Plett. Remember to leave plenty of time to get there. Ideally, you’ll want to arrive in time for lunch. Afternoon safari drives usually depart from the lodge around 15.30.
All of these places have different experiences to offer. However, you’ll find that you can do many of the same activities in several of the towns. I prefer to spend more nights in fewer places. Instead of switching hotels every day or two, and having to pack and unpack! This means that you can explore the surrounding area. For example, if you decide to stay in Stellenbosch, why not visit Franschoek for a day. Or even stop there for lunch on your way to Hermanus. This can also help with better rates for hotels. Remember to check if there are better rates for staying longer.
What is your favourite place to stop on the Garden Route? Please tell me in the comment section below.