Garden Route Travel Guide


Dramatic river cut gorges, beautiful beaches, rocky headlands and deep tangled forests are the quintessential Garden Route images. Stretching from anywhere between Stilbaai and Mossel Bay in the west, to Stormsriver or Port Elizabeth (PE) in the east, it's a gorgeous stretch of coastal paradise strung out along the N2. Purists will squash it up between Mossel Bay and Stormsriver but, as the popularity of the Garden Route grew and small towns at its edge realised the marketing potential, it just seemed to spread. No problem - it spread to some cool places.

The towns generally accepted to be part of the Garden Route are Mossel Bay, George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay and Stormsriver. Stilbaai and Albertinia have snuck in on the West and Humansdorp and even Port Elizabeth are muscling in from the east. Inland, the Little Karoo and Route 62, which have no pretensions to being the Garden Route, are often treated as the same destination, as it's pretty easy zigzag between them by driving the many scenic passes over the Outeniqua Mountains. Initially the Garden Route was seen as very much a beach and/or family holiday destination, which it is, but there is also so much to do. There's great hiking, with rambles ranging from an hour to a few days covering rocky coasts, deep forests, pretty fynbos and long sandy beaches. The diving is good, as is the surfing, and there are some fun sea kayaking and flat water paddling trips. Some of the country's best mountain bike trails snake through the forests, and there are horse trails for every taste and level of ability. Tandem skydiving, paragliding, and a range of scenic flights all offer different birds eye views.

The Garden Route offers some of the best boat based whale watching in the world, flower lovers and birders will also have a field day traipsing off through the forest or the fynbos, and there are numerous national parks and nature reserves. Steam buffs will love the narrow gauge Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe. For the more culturally inclined, there are township tours, museums, lovely old buildings, funky craft shops, markets, art galleries and loads of live music venues. And, of course, a flotilla of great restaurants - many of which specialise in seafood - in each town. The Garden Route is a golfer's dream destination - you could play a different course every day for a week and still have a few left over.

Of course, this is not all good news as golf courses use an exorbitant amount of water and take up vast amounts of space but, as long as the golf-estate-building spree fizzles out soon, there should be sufficient space remaining between the fairways for a bit of forest, perhaps some shops and even a house or two. But that's not your problem, is it? If you fancy a round in paradise, get in now before it closes down. And if golf is too slow for you - there are more international standard polo fields in Plett alone than there are in the rest of the country put together. You could spend anything from a weekend to a month at a tailor-made polo clinic.

But what the Garden Route is most suitable for is relaxation - and even that's been somewhat institutionalised with almost every second hotel housing a wellness centre or spa. Not that that's a problem, mind. After a hard day on the beach you'll probably need a chocolate mud bath, colour therapy or hot stone massage.

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Accommodation near Garden Route

*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling distance.

from R650
1 night, 2 adults

Purple Gate Accommodation

Sleeps 3 Dana Bay Self-catering in Dana Bay

Situated in the little seaside village of Dana Bay, Purple Gate Accommodation is a great option for ...

from R1100
1 night, 2 adults

Beyond the Blue

Sleeps 2 Piesang Valley Self-catering in Piesang Valley

Luxury self-catering apartment in Plettenberg Bay, on the Garden Route. The apartment has a luxuriou...

from R1600
1 night, 2 adults

9 Admirals View

Sleeps 6 Brenton on Sea Self-catering in Brenton on Sea

9 Admiral's View is a luxurious Log Chalet ideally positioned 200 meters from the beach in Brenton o...

from R1980
1 night, 2 adults

493 Silwerboom Place

Sleeps 13 Brenton on Sea Self-catering in Brenton on Sea

This is a spacious self-catering house with a beautiful view of the sea. Situated in the resort town...

from R750
1 night, 2 adults

Azure House

Sleeps 16 Paradise Bed and Breakfast in Paradise

Stylish suites have an uninterrupted view of the Knysna Lagoon to the famous Heads. Enjoy breakfast ...

from R1000
1 night, 2 adults

The Islander

Sleeps 14 Leisure Island Self-catering in Leisure Island

The Islander is a charming guest house situated in Leisure Island, a peaceful suburb of Knysna. It ...

from R380
1 night, 2 adults

Adagio Self Catering

Sleeps 10 Stilbaai Self-catering in Stilbaai

Adagio 3 Star Graded accommodation is located in the heart of the Stilbaai harbour area within walki...

from R470
1 night, 2 adults

Smokey Mount

Sleeps 4 George Central Self-catering in George Central

Smokey Mount is a neat and spacious one-bedroom flat in a secure complex. It is centrally situated ...

Knysna Loerie
Whale In Plettenberg Bay
Fynbos - Outeniqua Heather