Charming Knysna (pronounced NIZE-na) is the Garden Route’s premier base. A small town, it’s set atop a gentle lagoon which is really the Knysna River, broadening out before inching between two sheer cliffs – known as ‘the Heads’ – to find the ocean. The Tsitsikamma Mountains provide an elegant backdrop. As well as scenery, Knysna seduces with its huge range of outdoor activities, stunning accommodation and famously high-quality oysters. Surfers, nature-lovers and families all congregate here.
In town, there are galleries and artisan woodcarvers, annual parties like the Knysna Oyster Festival, and lots of bars and restaurants. But the real treasure lies in the surrounding areas. That vast lagoon thrills anglers and birdwatchers (migrants visit in September-October), while local sandy beaches delight boarders (Buffalo Bay) and bathers (Bollard Beach) alike. The eastern Head boasts a plush golf course, and ferry boats chug out to its western counterpart for guided walks through the private, peaceful Featherbed Nature Reserve.
Both Heads make excellent viewpoints for dolphin and whale-watching (July-October), with boat trips also available. Hiking and mountain biking awaits in the forests further north, and children will enjoy riding and feeding residents of the Knysna Elephant Park. For the simplest pleasure of all, just take a drive in either direction and enjoy the heavenly scenery.
Most visitors drive up the N2 motorway from Cape Town in 5-6 hours, basing themselves in Knysna or Plett for three or four nights before moving on. For lovely alternative to the first section, take the longer, more-scenic Route 62 through the beautiful Winelands, and quaint towns like Paarl, Robertson and Montagu. Later joining the Garden Route, this is known as ‘the longest wine route in the world’.
Best Time To Visit
With a temperate climate even in winter (June-September) – the mercury rarely drops below 16°C – your decision can be based on other factors. The Christmas holidays are the busiest time, while beaches quieten between February and April. Summer (December-February) can be too stifling for hiking. Whale-watching season peaks in September.
High up on the Knysna Heads, this five-star luxury golf resort hotel is secreted within 2,500 private acres and offers outstanding views, and activities to match.
Perched on the edge of the Welbedacht cliff tops this family run luxury lodge overlooks the Knysna Lagoon and the Outeniqua mountains
Family-owned, five-star, bijou and award-winning, handsome Kanonkop occupies an enviable forest location just outside Knysna.
This trio of ultra-indulgent castles has forced dictionary-writers to redefine the word ‘luxury’.
An old power station that has been transformed into bespoke and sophisticated accommodation, located in the tranquil waterways of Knysna lagoon.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
How to make the most of every moment?
Local knowledge makes a huge difference! When I asked Ash at Best of South Africa to give me some guidance on how to make the most of our trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek wine valley, I felt sure she would be able to send me in the right direction. It never occurred to me that she would organise our ...