The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most gorgeous regions comprising coastal areas located within both the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. It’s a must-do for any South African lover. The Garden Route boasts many exciting activities as well as good restaurants and beautiful wine estates. Here’s a list of the top 15 things to do while visiting the Garden Route:
1. Falcon’s View Manor
Firstly, I’d recommend staying at Falcon’s View Manor in Knysna. This is a lovely boutique hotel and guest house with gorgeous rooms, amazing food and great service.
2. Knysna Seahorses at SAN Parks Office
Visit and view the beautiful Knysna Seahorse up close at the Knysna SAN Parks Office located on Thesen Island. This gorgeous little creature is one of the Knysna 5.
3. Bramon Wine Estate
If you’re keen to try some lovely MCCs, while snacking away on delicious tappas, be sure to visit Bramon Wine Estate located between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. Their calamari is absolutely amazing.
4. Freshline Fisheries
For a seafood treat, you need to visit Freshline Fisheries. A once hidden gem, only known to locals, Freshline Fisheries has now become one of Knysna’s most popular restaurants. Be sure to book in advance and feel free to bring your own wine at no corkage fee.
5. Garden Route National Park – Birds of Wilderness
If you enjoy going for walks and being out in nature, the Half Collared Kingfisher Trail in the Wildness is a great experience. It’s 9km long stunning shady walk through the Wilderness forest to the top of a waterfall - perfect for those who like a nice easy hike (like me). If you're lucky enough you may even spot the beautiful Knysna Loerie (another one of the Knysna 5). The Knysna Loerie has a very unique and distinct, almost monkey like, call. So listen to it beforehand (online) to ensure you're familiar with the sound; this will help you look out for and eventually spot the Knysna Loerie.
6. 34 South at Knysna Waterfront
If you enjoy visiting the Knysna Waterfront be sure to stop over for some seafood at 34 South. They have a lovely seafood platter for two to three people. But be warned, they’re very busy during peak holiday seasons and don’t take bookings.
7. Knysna Heads
Knysna Heads is such a beautiful and unique sighting; one that simply can’t be missed when visiting the Garden Route. Whether you hike up to the top or take a boat cruise through to the mouth of the lagoon, you need to witness these spectacular two giant crags.
8. Buffels Bay/Buffelsbaai Beach
If you’re looking for a stunning quiet beach, be sure to visit the smaller Buffelsbaai Beach (not the main one). Whilst the main beach might be better conditions for swimming, the smaller beach is far more quiet and relaxing.
9. Sirocco Knysna
If you’re looking for an all-round great restaurant with a variety of offerings, Sirocco is your answer. They serve amazing sushi, steak, seafood and cocktails. Their mussels are a must-try; simply superb.
10. Tsitsikamma National Park
Another must-do on the list, is Tsitsikamma National Park. This is one of the most beautiful National Parks in the country with so much on offer. There are numerous walking/hiking trails, Storms River Suspension Bridge, canopy tours, canoe trips and much more.
11. Luka Vineyards
What a quaint little beautiful boutique winery. It’s conveniently situated half way between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna and overlooks the Knysna Elephant Park. They offer a small section of wines for tasting as well as splendid food. Be sure to give their cheese, meat and bread board a try. One of the very best I’ve ever had.
12. Garden Route Wolf Sanctuary
This is a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for wolves as well as huskies offering interactive and guided tours through the enclosures. The wolf sanctuary is based just outside of Plettenberg Bay.
13. île de païn
île de païn (meaning ‘island of bread’) is a lovely bakery boasting an array of delicious breads and baked treats. They’re based on Thesen Island in Knysna and well worth the visit.
14. Birds of Eden
Birds of Eden is the world’s largest natural dome shelter comprising two hectares of indigenous forest, boasting more than 280 bird species which roam and fly freely. It’s a beautiful 2km boardwalk (that’s also wheelchair friendly) through this SAN Parks forest region located about 16km from Plettenberg Bay.
15. Sedgefield Paragliding & Bloukrans Bungy
I’ve grouped these two activities and placed them last on the list because you’ll never catch me doing them, since I’m terrified of heights. But I couldn’t put together a list of the best things to do in the Garden Route without taking the adrenaline junkies into account. So, for those of you who don’t have a fear of heights, I’d recommend experiencing tandem paragliding (with an instructor) in Sedgefield and for the very brave (or insane), perhaps bungy jumping off of the world’s highest bungy bridge.