When traveling to South Africa for a couple of weeks, driving the garden route is a must! It is a 700 km long route along the coastline of this beautiful country. Some even say that this route is one of the most beautiful routes worldwide. As we rented a car for 6 weeks, we decided to drive the garden route as well. We didn’t only wanted to visit the most well-known places, but were also looking for the hidden gems. So here you will find our itinerary and what places to visit!
Even though it is said that the garden route officially starts in Swellendam, we decided to start off in Barrydale. Barrydale is a small town, close to Swellendam. In this little town, you can find the most delicious meat pies of South Africa! The best place where to get them is at Diesel & Crème. The restaurant is very pretty and unique, it looks like an old vintage petrol station and the food is amazing!
The next place we went to is called Mosselbaai. Mosselbaai is a town located at the beach, so it is an ideal place for surfers. Mosselbaai is also the place where we have tried Biltong for the first time! For those who don’t know: biltong is dried meat with all kind of spices. It is quite safe to say that almost every South African eats biltong at least once a week! We were lucky enough to try this local specialty at the best Biltong shop of Mosselbaai. The owner of the shop, Brent, even showed us how to make this delicious meat. You can watch the video by clicking on this link!
So, when you are in Mosselbaai, make sure to stop by at Biltong&Braai to get the best biltong ever!
From one surfer’s town to the other. We headed further to the east-side to a place called Wilderness. This place is located next to a town called George. Officially, George is the place to go to, when following the official garden route. However, we decided to stay in Wilderness because we just loved the vibes there! The beaches are beautiful, and the small centre is full of nice cafés and restaurants. If you are lucky, you can even spot dolphins from the beach!
From Wilderness we drove all the way to Knysna. Knysna is a lovely place too, as it is quiet but lively at the same time. Here, we did an amazing hike and discovered a beautiful hidden beach! The beach is called: Noetzie Beach. We drove up the hill to the parking place, from there you had to walk all the way down to the beach. Of course, we didn’t walked the right way and ended up walking in someone’s garden. The garden was under construction, and so the guys who were working there, were so friendly to walk us all the way down. This wasn’t the most easiest path we have ever walked on, as there was no path at all :-). But, once arrived on the beach, it was totally worth it! The beach was surrounded by old castles (who are for sale by the way), and the best part is, that we had all of that to ourselves! There was nobody!! We took a refreshing swim and chilled at the beach the whole afternoon. Luckily we did found the right path, when we were walking back to the car ;-).
From Knysna we drove to Tsitsikamma national park. Tsitsikamma will give you a real jungle vibe as everything looks so green, and you will see monkeys crossing the roads all the time! Here you can do the most wonderful hiking tours! The most famous one is a walking trail to the suspension bridge. This hiking trail is breath taking! And walking on the bridge makes it even more special. There are also possibilities to do a kayak tour at Tsitsikamma. We stayed for a couple of nights in the park, and decided to do another hiking trail at a place called Plettenberg. This trail is amazing as well, it will lead you to hidden beaches and one of the most amazing views ever! You can even spot some seals chilling at the rocks of the Plettenberg.
From the national parks, we drove more towards the beach again. We stayed at a place called Jeffreysbay. Here you can relax at the beach, do some walks, and stroll around in the city center.
From Jeffreysbay we went to the last stop of the garden route, Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth, also known as P.E., is quite a big city in comparison to the other places of the garden route. So here we felt the city vibes again. In P.E. you can go to museums, the beach or walk around in the centre.
From Port Elizabeth we had to drive all the way back to Cape Town, and we decided to stay at some different places this time. The first place we stopped on our way back to Cape Town, was St. Francis bay. We were told that you can find the best calamari of South Africa at this place, so we HAD to try it ourselves! We loved the calamari we had there, it was so soft and crispy at the same time. You could really taste that it was prepared on the spot!
From St. Francis bay we drove again to Plettenberg, and from Plettenberg we went again to Mosselbaai. We just had to buy more biltong at our favourite biltong shop. Brent started to laugh when we walked in, and told us that he knew that we would come back.
From Mosselbaai we drove to Struisbaai, a small place right next to L’Agulhas. We LOVED this place, and also the hotel we stayed in. We stayed at Cape Algulhas Backpackers, and trust us, it is the most colourful hotel you will ever see! The staff is very friendly and you will feel at home from the minute you walk in. In Struisbaai we decided to walk around, and we came across a small harbour at the right time. The fisher boats came back from the ocean, so we enjoyed seeing the fresh catch of the day. While waiting for the boats to come in again, we walked a little in the water. Then, we notice that some real big stingrays were swimming right next to us. We had never seen such big stingrays before, and we could even touch them!
From Struisbaai we went for a 1-night pit stop at Gansbaai before we headed back to the Mothercity Cape Town.
While driving this beautiful route we met a guy who was doing the garden route as well, except he was doing it by bus instead of car. This is a good option too if you don’t have your driver’s license, or if you just don’t like to drive. However, we were very happy that we had a car as it gave us all the freedom to drive whenever to whatever place we liked. This also gave us the possibility to drive to the more “unknown” places that lead to the best experiences!
The car we drove in, was a rented car. We rented the car from Bidvest, the same company we rented a car from in Namibia. We definitely recommend this company to use when renting a car. They are very helpful, when our car broke down in Cape Town they ensured we got a new car within 2 hours! Besides that, all the procedures went smoothly. From picking up the car to returning it, everything went quick and efficient.
If you would like to see more about the garden route, check our vlog below! Please show us some love on YouTube and subscribe to our channel, thank you so much!
If you are looking for good and affordable accommodation during your garden-route travel, find here the hotels we stayed in!
Barrydale: Barrydale backpackers
Mosselbaai: Hotel Portao Diaz
Wildernis: The Wild Farm
Knysna: Jembjos Lodge
Tsitsikamma: Tube ‘n Axe Boutique
Jeffrey’s Bay: Sea Echo Accommodation
Port Elizabeth: Peace love and Joy
St. Francis: the Sandriver Lodge (no website)
Struisbaai: Cape L’Agulhas backpackers
Gansbaai: Oom Piet accommodation