[Updated August 2022]
Exploring the Garden Route is a brilliant family trip since it caters to a wide range of interests from outdoor adventurers to amazing views and foodies can bond over a memorable meal of fresh-off-the-line seafood or locally-cultivated wine. This is a great way to make friendly connections with various types of people; meet the makers, the ceramicists, the artisans and the general friendly conservationists. But don’t forget to slow things down and be in the moment, fully appreciating all the wonders around you. Take in every sunset and let the Garden Route work its magic.
Escape the city or your familiar old town to the invigorating salt air of the Garden Route. Enjoy 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 discovered 21 things that you can do in the Garden Route the next time you visit!
1. Enjoy a wonderful lunch with bubbles between the vines!
“This place never fails to deliver – excellent food and excellent service. The ambiance is one if the best one will find” (June 2022). Generous, well-priced tapas (R84 – R167) accompanied by homemade 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. They have a diverse selection of tapas -olive tapenade, prawns wrapped in pastry, generous cheese and pear salads, springbok carpaccio, the list goes on. Their dry MCC has notes of apple and icing sugar and will turn any event into a celebration.
Open every day from 11:00 to 17:00, however, the kitchens close at 16:00. Please note that times may differ on public holidays.
Phone number: 073 833 8183. Email address: [email protected]
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. You can also get up close to the seals and take a swim with the region’s African Cape Fur Seal colony, an interactive activity for all the family (R750 per person). Please note, that the minimum age is 6 years old.
Book here: https://bit.ly/3vDv8Ld
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 R275 per adult and R100 per child aged 4 to 12 years. Please note that this package is temporarily unavailable but will be available again from 1 October 2022.
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, R750 per adult and R350 per child.
For more options visit: https://featherbed.activitar.com/products
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. Whilst you are there you can go on some spectacular hikes around the nature reserve.
To book at the Fountain Shack call: 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
Tickets range from R320 for adults and R160 for kids aged 3-12. Children under 3 have free entrance. They have 3 sanctuaries: Jukani, Monkeyland and Birds of Eden. Jukani subscribes to responsible tourism principles and has won many awards.
7. “The Best combination of Adventure and Outdoor Fun”
Canyoning, Abseiling, zip-lining and waterfalls, optional jumps, swimming in natural rock pools… what’s not to love! It’s for all adventurer levels, so if you are first-timers and novices there’s no need to be nervous, you will be safe in the hands of professionally trained guides, allowing you to have your most fun. However, the minimum age requirement is 8 years old. So you can enjoy an epic family adventure!
Prices are from R720 and they provide all the equipment. All you have to do is bring shoes to swim in or you can rent from them for R70. Make sure to book and see trip times beforehand, you don’t want to miss out: this will be an adventure like no other!
For more information visit their website: https://www.africanyon.com/
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.
R750 for adults and R350 for kids aged 4 to 12 years.
Contact number: 082 892 0469
For serious oyster lovers, be sure to diarise the Knysna Oyster Festival towards the last week of June each year. 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. You will 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 meters 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. R695 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 400 if you book online with Face Adrenaline. Truly one of the most thrilling experiences of your life!
Contact: 042 281 1458
12. Fresh fish right out of the ocean at the Lookout Deck and Restaurant in Plett
It’s the perfect spot for a seafood lunch or sundowner-cocktails, right on the beach. The restaurant works on a first-come, first-served basis, so be sure to get there early in summer!
Open Monday to Wednesday from 11am to 12pm; Thursday to Saturday from 9am to 10pm and Sunday from 9am to 7pm.
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
Rent a self-catering cottage in Brenton-on-Sea just 15 km west of Knysna. This little hamlet offers a quiet oasis from the bustle of nearby Knysna. This is a great place for sunbathing and sunset walks and it is popular with paragliders. Check out Castle Rock, a large rock formation, it is the favourite fishing spot for locals.
15. Visit the Book Nook in Plett followed by a croissant at Le Fournil or tiramisu ice cream at the Ice Palazzo
All can be found in the Lookout Centre on Main Street in Plett. Treat yourself to all-day breakfasts, fresh tartines, homemade 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. Have a lovely sunset dinner 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.
R220 per person for an hour and R155 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: from R695 for adults and from R350 for children aged 4-14 years.
19. Explore the Crags with Hog Hollow Horse Trails
Visit animal sanctuaries and eco-adventure spots and take the half-day “Ride, Wine and Dine Trail” package. Travel on horseback through fynbos, forests and across the Salt River to the stunning Newstead Lund Family Vineyards; award-winning local wineries. Thereafter, you can enjoy a relaxing lunch with tapas and wine tasting before heading back along the foot of the Tsitsikamma mountain range.
Cost: R1 550 per person.
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). Ensure you also pre-plan and discover what days they are open. This quaint, high-quality restaurant scored 5-starts on tripadvisor, don’t miss out this opportunity whilst you there!
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!