The Ultimate Guide on Attractions and Activities in the Garden Route Holiday
With its incredible coastline, thick national forests and overall small town charm, the Garden Route is an ever popular destination for South African’s and overseas tourists alike. Around 300km in length and stretching from Mossel Bay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, the Garden Route offers visitors plenty of attractions.
In fact, the easiest part of your holiday will be browsing our fantastic Garden Route packages and deciding where you will be staying. That’s why we’ve gone the extra mile and put together a thorough list detailing our top picked Garden Route attractions and activities.
Best Garden Route Attractions
Robberg Nature Reserve, Plettenberg Bay
This absolutely iconic peninsula in Plett is a must visit. At the visitor center you can learn about the history of the area, what fauna and flora is found here, and view prehistoric rock and Stone Age relics. There are two hiking options, one is a gentle 2km stroll with some great viewing points or the more challenging 10km hike around the peninsula. On a clear day you might be lucky enough to spot the ‘Robberg Express’, an enormous great white shark, swimming around the bay.
There are many activities to be enjoyed in the Knysna Lagoon, which is technically an estuary. The Heads, two towering sandstone cliffs, guard the entrance from the ocean to this scenic lagoon. Here you can go on boat and yacht cruises and even out to sea through the Heads (weather permitting), or go the whole hog and do the Oyster Tour. This cruise takes you around the lagoon where you learn about these unique Knysna mollusks while indulging in complimentary white wine and freshly-harvested oysters. Spoil yourself or your loved ones with a shopping experience on the edge of the lagoon at the Knysna Waterfront. There are also restaurants with incredible views of the lagoon to splash out at.
This incredible holiday destination by the ocean has become a firm attraction for those visiting the Garden Route. Just 10min outside of Knysna is this hidden stretch of unspoiled beach. And if you can peel your eyes away from the magnificent ocean and turn around, you’ll find a row of unique and eclectic “castles” facing you. A fun destination to spend the day exploring and relaxing.
Old Nick Village, Plettenberg Bay
This fantastic shopping destination is a landmark in Plettenberg Bay. Known for its collection of shops featuring local artists, designers and manufacturers, Old Nick’s makes a fantastic destination for the whole family. Eat at the resident restaurant there, Nice Neighbour, who use only the freshest local ingredients to bring you warm, hearty meals. Take a tour of the Mungo Mill, which opened in 2017 and is open to the public. Wander through the gardens and browse through the eclectic shops.
Elephant Sanctuary, The Crags
Offering a hands-on educational elephant experience, the Elephant Sanctuary is a special encounter with the African elephant in the Garden Route. Guides will take guests through the sanctuary on foot and impart knowledge and information on the African elephants as well as the special stories of the resident elephants. You can choose from a few tour options that include walking with the elephants, brushing them or going on one of the two Informative Wildlife programs.
Birds of Eden, Monkeyland, and Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, Plettenberg Bay
These three sanctuaries are a must visit for everyone. Monkeyland was the first sanctuary in the world to introduce free roaming multi-species primates to the public. Immerse yourself in the world of lemurs, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and so many more. Birds of Eden is another magical experience, where exotic and previously caged birds live a life of freedom in the form of this free-flight sanctuary. And finally the Jukani Wildlife Sanctuary, home of rescued big cats. Admire these majestic animals at Jukani. Here the cats are either rescued or they’ve been re-homed to the sanctuary.
This 23km long, gravel road pass, is a must visit for the incredible scenery. From breathtaking views 1583m above sea level, to winding through incredible swirling red, rocky cliffs, the awesome beauty of the Swarberg Pass is well worth the drive. Pack a picnic and enjoy this unique Garden Route attraction.
Garden of Eden, Knysna
Situated off the N2 just outside of Knysna, this forest walk is the perfect venture into the Knysna forest. Follow a 1km walkway made of wooden boards and bridges allowing you to gain some insight into the many wonders that are native to the Wet Highforest of Knysna. The walk is wheelchair friendly and makes for the perfect picnic stop.
Wild Oats – Community Farmers Market, Sedgefield
An award winning farmers market set in tranquil Sedgefield, this is a landmark you’ll not want to miss. Here you can find everything from free-range meats and cheeses, freshly baked goods, local artists to unique, local flora for sale. The market is open every Saturday of the year (unless Christmas and New Year falls on a Saturday and then it is moved accordingly). In summer the times are 7:30 – 12 noon and in winter it is 8:00 to 12 noon. Visit for an authentic and social experience.
Best Garden Route Adventure Activities
Tsitsikamma Canopy Tours
Find the exhilarating experience within the Tsitsikamma indigenous rainforest. Expect to spend about 2 – 3 hours ziplining over and through this magnificent rainforest. The elevated platforms are built around Outeniqua Yellowwood trees, some are almost 700 years old.
Bloukrans Bungy Jump, Tsitsikamma
3, 2, 1 bungee! Get ready for the ultimate thrill on top of Africa’s largest bridge. Find yourself 216m above the Bloukrans river as you get ready to bungy jump with some of the most spectacular scenery around.
Cango Caves, Oudtshoorn
Found at the foothills of the Swartberg range, this natural landmark makes for an exciting activity. Considered as one of the great Natural Wonders of the World this system of hidden chambers and fascinating rock formations is over 20 million years old. You can choose your adventure with either a standard tour, fitness level = easy. Or the Adventure tour, not suitable for those suffering from back issues or claustrophobia.
Take to the skies and get 360 degree views of majestic Wilderness and surrounds. There are quite a few paragliding companies to choose from in Wilderness, all with excellent safety records and professional pilots. There are typically 4 different launch sites you can choose from in Wilderness, namely; Map of Africa, Kleinkrantz, Serpentine and Wilderness Beach Hotel.
Blackwater Tubing, Storms River
This is where adventure activities in the Garden Route all began some 50 years ago. Navigate down the exciting Storms River Gorge on inflatable river tubes and catch a glimpse of everything that makes Tsitsikamma so unique. It’s the ultimate Garden Route adventure activity.
Shark Viewing and Cage Diving, Mossel Bay
Mossel Bay is renowned for its abundant sea life especially that of the Great White Shark. These graceful and lethal sharks patrol the waters surrounding Mossel Bay and now you can get up close and personal with them. There are a few shark viewing and cage diving companies to choose from, all with years of knowledge and experience with Great White Sharks.
Puzzle Park, Plettenberg Bay
This fun attraction is perfect for the whole family. Explore and tackle the first 3D maze in South Africa. Sharpen your brain and stretch your legs on the Forest Puzzle Walk. Here you’ll wander through natural forest scenery including fynbos and all sorts of indigenous birds. A fun way to get out and about.
Now that you have your ideas for an itinerary be sure to browse through our Garden Route holiday packages and accommodation. Don’t hesitate to contact us for more information on where to stay. Happy travelling!