We’re so full of love for Clarens. It’s romantic and intriguing; a picturesque little village at the foot of Mount Horeb in the Free State. It has lashings of character and is convenient for being on the Free State Highlands Route, near the Golden Gate National Park. What a winning combination.
And, because it’s only three or four hours from Johannesburg, Clarens makes for a gorgeous stop-over or a lovely destination for a weekend getaway.
We’ve put together some awesome Clarens accommodation, things to do, and restaurants to try out while you’re in Clarens.
For Groups and Larger Families
Sleeps: up to 6 people
Indulge in a little slice of French-style heaven at this cottage, where luxury is a given and time seems to stand still for a while. There are three bedrooms, each with its own entrance, as well as an open-plan country-style kitchen. Gorgeous views are best enjoyed from the pretty garden or from the fire pit and braai area.
Sleep: up to 6 people (+ 2 children)
Enjoy its idyllic locale in a valley at the foot of the Maluti Mountains, with only the landscapes of the Free State as your constant companions. Claridge House is special. It has three bedrooms, heated floors, percale linen, a spacious patio and built-in barbecue. There’s even a day bed and shower outside to take advantage of these views.
Sleeps: up to 8 people
This four-bedroom house is spacious and a little quirky. There is a fireplace in the living room and a fire pit in the garden. The mountain views are awe-inspiring, and Hopton House is close to the town and its restaurants, shops and tourist attractions.
Sleeps: up to 8 people
On the Clarens Golf and Trout Estate, this upmarket home has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a fully-equipped kitchen and ample living area. The outdoor patio and covered braai area are irresistible for the surrounding beauty and views. The golf course is a must for anyone that loves a day on the fairways.
Sleeps: up to 8 people
With its classic Victorian elegance, the Nelsbells Cottage in Clarens is a real treat for groups or families of six. A wrap-around balcony, indoor fireplace, satellite TV and veranda all make for an impressive base from which to explore the little village.
Sleeps: up to 10 people
Perched on the slopes of the Maluti Mountains, with awe-inspiring views of the Free State, this self-catering home has four massive bedrooms, an open-plan living area, well-equipped kitchen, and a balcony with a built-in braai. It’s the perfect retreat for those that just want to breathe in the fresh mountain air and feel the calming influence of the bush.
You probably deserve a bit of a spoil after this year, and this 4-star hotel has some beautiful features that make it extra-special. The views of the Maluti Mountains are spectacular and each room has air-con or a fireplace. The day spa is a must for tired bodies and minds.
The name of this gem isn’t surprising when you see the view of the mountains. It really is quite beyond description. The Rustic Red Studio here is ideal for a couple and is completely open-plan to maximise on space and uncomplicated style. Sitting in front of the fireplace is the perfect way to finish off a day of exploring the village or tackling some of the surrounding trails.
Choose from a number of rooms in this classically elegant home. Surrounded by picturesque gardens, the Double Rooms have French doors that lead out onto the garden or balcony, while the Deluxe Rooms have an inviting fireplace. All rooms have heated floors, electric blankets, and a TV. Country breakfasts are best enjoyed in the sun-drenched dining room.
These tasteful units have great amenities, home-from-home comforts, and excellent views; at a budget-friendly rate. Have coffee together under the tree, amble around the lush garden, or head out for a day of quad-biking, hiking and fly fishing. There are even some Bushmen paintings nearby for ‘culture vultures’ that want to experience the heritage of Clarens.
Whether you’re looking for a moreish meal after working up an appetite exploring the mountain trails or a light coffee to start your day, Clarens is home to a number of must-try eateries. These include:
- Adamo Restaurant – indulge in a little fine dining next to a crackling fireplace for a foodie treat.
- 278 on Main – touted to serve the best breakfast in Clarens, this little spot prides itself on farm-fresh produce and some international influences.
- The Gourmet Shed – contemporary tapas and deli-style cuisine is the order of the day here. The pretty setting doesn’t hurt.
- Clementines Restaurant and Bar – simple and a little rustic, with a touch of class, this venue is full of surprises.
- Clarens Brewery – unique craft beers and ciders are available alongside popular brands for thirsty travellers that want to combine fun and the ultimate in refreshment.
- Highland Coffee Roastery – try the coffee that is made using 100% Arabica beans that are expertly brewed on site.
Clarens is only 20 minutes from the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which is a highly recommended attraction for just about any Free State travel itinerary. This park is home to springbok, eland, oribi, vulture and the rare bald ibis. Self-guided game drives, bird watching expeditions, night safaris and walking trails are all part of the park’s allure.
Other local attractions include the Basotho Cultural Village (providing an authentic glimpse into the South Sotho people and their way of life), the Clarens Golf Estate and the Motouleng Caves (which have become somewhat of a centre for spiritual awakening).
GO TO CLARENS
To get the very best out of Clarens, visit SA-Venues.com, where accommodation, attractions, restaurants, and more are listed. All of the Clarens accommodation featured above (as well as other venues listed on the website) is available on an instant-booking basis.