Exploring the charm and character of small towns across South Africa

The town’s horses chilling in front of the local church in Greyton. Picture: INSTAGRAM

The town’s horses chilling in front of the local church in Greyton. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Published May 21, 2023


From bustling cities to quiet rural escapes, this country is a treasure trove of hidden gems.

Across every province, you'll find charming little towns that are steeped in history and culture, offering the perfect escape from the fast-paced city life.

It's time to embark on a journey and explore these enchanting towns, where you'll encounter breathtaking landscapes, architectural marvels, and a tapestry of local traditions.

Join us as we delve into the heart of South Africa's towns, where history and charm intertwine.

Greyton, Western Cape

Greyton. Picture: INSTAGRAM

There’s a reason why Greyton appeared on Real Housewives of Cape Town. Tucked away in the Riviersonderend Mountains, Greyton is a picturesque village known for its tranquillity, natural beauty, and Victorian-style cottages. The moments you drive into the town you’ll notice the greenery and life within this town.

The town is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, visitors can explore the Greyton Nature Reserve with its scenic hiking trails. You can also enjoy mountain biking while admiring the beautifully manicured gardens.

If you happen to be there over the weekend, you can visit the Greyton Saturday market which starts at 9am. Enjoy a meal at one of the cozy cafés, browse through local craft shops, or attend one of the community events, such as the Greyton Rose Fair.

Franschhoek, Western Cape

Franschhoek is known for its stunning vineyards, breathtaking scenery, and rich French heritage.

Visitors can explore the numerous wine estates, indulge in delicious cuisine at top-notch restaurants, browse art galleries, and enjoy scenic hikes or bike rides in the surrounding mountains.

Franschoek Wine tram. Picture: INSTAGRAM

This town is for all wine enthusiasts and foodies, one particularly famous trend in Franschhoek is the wine tram, it’s a combination of a tram and a bus, similar to the red bus experience. It covers 10 different wine routes that consist of 8 wine farms, you can get off and on at any farm you want,

Port St Johns, Eastern Cape

Silaka Nature Reserve. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Located on the Wild Coast of the Eastern Cape, Port St Johns is a charming coastal town renowned for its natural beauty. With its pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, and lush forests, it offers a range of activities for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Visitors can enjoy hiking along scenic trails, exploring the stunning Silaka Nature Reserve, or embarking on boat cruises to admire the breathtaking coastal landscapes. Fishing enthusiasts can try their luck in the Mzimvubu River or deep-sea fishing excursions. With its laid-back atmosphere, Port St. Johns provides a relaxing escape.

Hogsback, Eastern Cape

Hogsback, nestled in the Amathole Mountains, is a picturesque village known for its enchanting landscapes and mystical atmosphere. Surrounded by indigenous forests, cascading waterfalls, and rolling hills, it is a haven for nature enthusiasts and hikers. Visitors can embark on various hiking trails, visit the stunning Madonna and Child Waterfall, or immerse themselves in the magical atmosphere of the Arboretum Gardens.

One of the most Instagrammable moments in Hogsback is sitting in an outdoor bath, gazing at the beautiful views of the Mountain Queen while sipping on a drink. The town’s association with J.R.R. Tolkien, who found inspiration here for “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, adds to its allure. Hogsback offers a tranquil and naturally beautiful escape for those seeking serenity.

Springbok – Gateway to Namaqualand

Springbok is a picturesque town in the Northern Cape, South Africa, known as the “Gateway to Namaqualand”. This charming town attracts visitors during the spring months when the Namaqualand region bursts into a vibrant display of wildflowers. Additionally, people are generally friendly and would welcome visitors with open arms.

Visit the Klipkolk Hiking Trail for panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The town also offers historical attractions, including the Springbok Museum and the Klipkolk Ghost Town. Taste traditional dishes like biltong and roosterkoek at local eateries. Springbok provides various accommodation options, including guest farms, self-catering cottages, and in recent years a hotel development situated close to the towns ‘dorpie’.

Kakamas: Gateway to the Green Kalahari

the naMe may sound funny but it’s a charming town nestled in the Northern Cape, situated on the banks of the Orange River, Kakamas offers lush greenery and beautiful landscapes.

The Orange River Wine Route is a well-known attraction, known for its vineyards and exceptional wine production. Take a tour of the local wineries and wine cellars, where you can indulge in wine tastings and learn about the art of winemaking.

Kakamas Hotel. Picture: INSTAGRAM

Nature enthusiasts will find plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in and around Kakamas. Explore the Orange River by going on boat cruises, canoeing, or fishing. The river offers tranquil waters and stunning views, making it perfect for leisurely activities. For the more adventurous, the area offers hiking trails, 4x4 routes, and mountain biking opportunities.

Immerse yourself in the local culture of Kakamas by visiting the Kakamas Museum. Learn about the town's history, including its role in the development of the region's agriculture and wine industry. Discover the traditions and customs of the local communities, and perhaps even catch a glimpse of traditional Nama dances and music.

Visitors will find a range of accommodation options, from guest houses and lodges to camping sites and self-catering cottages. Don't miss the opportunity to savour delicious local cuisine, including traditional South African dishes and fresh produce from the fertile agricultural lands surrounding the town.

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