The Garden Route
Kurland Hotel garden
Country House at Hunters
Hog Hollow outdoor dining
Known as South Africa’s Garden of Eden, the Garden Route is ideal for luxury family holidays. Stretching from Swellendam, the third oldest town in South Africa, to Tsitsikamma, and inland to the Karoo region of Oudtshoorn, it ranks amongst the world’s greatest of coastal drives. With wildlife in abundance, deserted sandy beaches, sheltered lagoons, bush land and mountains, this 200km stretch of the Western Cape coastline is an area of spectacular beauty and a natural adventure playground. There are three main seaside towns, Mossel Bay, an old-fashioned seaside resort, Plettenberg Bay, popular with South Africa’s elite, and Knysna, famous for its markets and local oysters.
The Robberg Beach Lodge
The Robberg is a secluded and tranquil, boutique-style, beachside haven.
An understated, private retreat, The Robberg Beach Lodge boasts 5-star luxury accommodation, with 29 rooms in four adjacent villas at on Plettenberg Bay, one of South Africa’s finest seaside resorts. Cordovan Villa has interconnecting rooms, which are perfect for families. There are two outdoor pools and a braai...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Rothman Manor is a stylish, boutique-style homestead located on a country estate.
Swellendam in the heart of the Overberg is South Africa’s largest town. It makes a great stop over and is only two hours from Cape Town. Rothman Manor offers a unique setting on one of the largest historic estates. There are six rooms ranging from a smaller double room to the large penthouse, each design is a mix of...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Summer Sun / See this Hotel & Book »
Country House at Hunters
The Country House at Hunters is a luxurious retreat within an idyllic setting, right in the heart of the Garden Route.
Exuding charm and elegance, Country House at Hunters is an award-winning grande dame of the Garden Route situated between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. This family-friendly hotel consists of a grand manor house with 19 individual thatched cottage suites (some with private pools,) set in the midst of magnificent gardens...Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Toddler-friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
A luxury, boutique hotel on an elegant polo estate, Kurland Hotel is bursting with old world charm and is within easy reach of several beaches.
This Anglo-Dutch Kurland Hotel overlooks the Tsitsikamma Mountains and is located on a huge, private estate, complete with its own polo club. It is a family-friendly hotel with buckets of character and an endless menu of things to do. There are 12 spacious colonial style cottages, some with loft rooms, which provide...Baby-friendly / Family-friendly Spa / Pre-Teen friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
Hog Hollow is a country lodge with spectacular views, renowned for its outstanding cuisine, creative style and warm hospitality.
Just 18km from Plettenberg Bay lies Hog Hollow, set on a private nature reserve with magnificent views. 16 African-styled suites feature private balconies and hammocks, and there is a pool, a bar and three lounge areas. The two-storey loft suites, which have specially designed high balconies, are ideal for families....Baby-friendly / Pre-Teen friendly / Toddler-friendly / See this Hotel & Book »
La Cantina at Fancourt
Fancourt, Montagu Street, Blanco, George
For relaxed family dining in a gorgeous location, La Cantina at Fancourt Hotel in George is a great spot. Highlights on the children’s menu include homemade pastas and pizzas. There is even a pizza dough play area.
The Cafe Gannet
Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex, Corner Church and Market Streets, Mossel Bay
Located near the harbour in Mossel Bay and part of the Old Post Office, The Cafe Gannet is a charming restaurant acclaimed for its local seafood specialities. There’s a bouncy castle on weekends, colouring activities and a extensive children’s menu.
East Head Cafe
25 George Rex Drive, Eastern Head, Knysna
This is a great spot to relax and enjoy the impressive views over Knysna lagoon. Indoor or outdoor seating is available. The café style menu offers simple but delicious choices, using fresh local produce. There’s a kids’ corner for little ones to play in and a kids’ breakfast and lunch menu, which includes fish and chips, toasted sandwiches and virgin mojitos.
Main Beach, Keurbooms Strand, Plettenberg Bay
This family-run Italian restaurant on the shore at Keurboomstrand has a laid back atmosphere and is in a location that’s hard to beat. It’s in a prime position for watching dolphins and whales or for a walk on the beach, and is the perfect spot for lunch or drinks at sunset, followed by a simple but tasty Italian meal. Specialities include local oysters, Kudu and avocado and line-caught fish of the day.
Bramon Wine Estate
N2 The Crags, Plettenberg Bay
Set on the pioneering Bramon Wine Estate in the Crags, overlooking the Tsitsikamma Mountains and The Elephant Sanctuary, this family run restaurant offers locally-sourced food that will awaken the senses. Enjoy an afternoon of first-class local wines, cheeses, oysters, meats and decadent desserts. Bramon also provide a menu suited to kids. Children will love running around and playing between the vines.
Beaches along The Garden Route
The Garden Route has miles of unspoilt beaches to discover and plenty of adventures to be had, with plenty of little towns to explore along the way. Popular spots are George, Wilderness, Sedgefield, Knysna, Plettenberg Bay, The Crags, Nature’s Valley, Storms River and the Tsitsikamma National Park. Great beaches for families include Herolds’ Bay and Victoria Bay near George, Bollard Bay Beach and Buffalo Bay just before Knysna.
Garden Route activities for families
There’s horse riding, golf, surfing, mountain biking, hiking, hot air ballooning and golf, whilst thrill seekers can go bungy-jumping off Bloukrans Bridge or Gourits River Bridge, and skydiving or cage diving at Mossel Bay.
The Ostrich farm at Oudtshoorn
Ostrich farm at Oudtshoorn, dubbed ‘Ostrich capital of the world’ in Little Karoo are definitely worth a visit. Red Berry Farm just outside George is perfect for younger kids. They can pick strawberries, ride ponies and ride on a little train. Older kids will love zip-lining through the Tsitsikamma Forest on Fufi slides.
Stop off for a spot of lunch at one of the farm stalls along the route. Child-friendly farms stalls include Houw Hoek, Blue Crane, Nature’s Valley Farm Stall, Timberlake and The Heath. These have good playgrounds, gardens to explore and space to run around.
The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train
The Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam train from Knysna to George is a fabulous trip or take a boat across Knysna lagoon to Featherbed private nature reserve. The Cango Caves are incredible (try the adventure tour if you have older kids).
The Garden Route is accessible from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, which has flights to Johannesberg, Cape Town and Durban. The area is malaria-free. When swimming, please swim in safe areas, be mindful of sharks, rip tides and the sun. Whilst it might be hot during the day, nights are often cooler, so bring a few extra layers. The Garden Route is a long way from South Africa’s crime hotspots and is traditionally one of the safer parts of the country, but you should avoid driving in rural areas at night, don’t walk in the dark and avoid townships. In case of an emergency, there are provincial hospitals in George and Kynsna, with the main hospitals in Cape Town. Private hospitals are excellent, but make sure you have adequate travel insurance.
When to go
The Garden Route is a popular mid-winter destination from the UK, with sunny weather and only one-hour time difference. It has a Mediterranean-like climate with moderately hot summers and mild winters. A factor to consider might be the Southern Right Whale season, which commences in May and goes through to November.
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