Attractions / Ten (10) to Inspire / The Garden Route

Garden Route Small Towns – We explore the Best

Updated Sunday, 9 December 2018

These Garden Route small towns are some of the most popular towns in South Africa. It isn’t difficult to imagine why they’re often busy.

The self-drive Garden Route is high on most visitors must-see lists when they arrive in South Africa.

The route stretches from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (although it ‘officially’ starts at Mossel Bay), dotted with seaside town upon beach hamlet. In between is some of the country’s richest mountain strewn, forest-dense and valley plush scenery you are likely to find in the country.

Here are our favourite Garden Route small towns …



This perfectly placed town on the edge of a lagoon is the Garden Route’s darling, and never more so than after the fires which recently ravaged parts of the community.

The Heads, the Knysna forest, Benton-on-Sea and Noetsie all add to the already long list of things to do here. Make sure to visit the Goukamma Nature Reserve and Buffalo Bay beach as well.

Buffalo Bay Beach

Plettenberg Bay

A more glamorous town than other more low-key hamlets, like Nature’s Valley and Storms River, Plettenberg Bay serves as a seaside playground for the more affluent, and as a post-matric party destination (you’ll want to avoid town during the annual Plett Rage Student Festival in early December).

The beaches, though, are incredible. And despite its busy times, Plett remains one of the most popular towns along the Garden Route.

Plettenberg Bay


The Outeniqua Mountains, George’s backdrop, almost steal the show, but not quite.

This large, slightly inland, town is the shopping mecca of the Garden Route with more than a smattering of historical buildings.

It’s also really close to both Herolds Bay and Glentana beach. So, a good base for exploring the Garden Route.


Mossel Bay

Mossel Bay has shaken off its industrial character, with a stream of coffee haunts, vintage, antique and second hand shops in the Old Quarter and harbour side of town.

Combine this already enticing list with blue flag beaches, and a series of historical buildings, and you’ll soon see the sense of a stay here.

Garden Route Small Towns - Mossel Bay


This town is blessed with every one of the Garden Route’s highlights – natural lakes, bird-rich estuaries, long sandy beaches, lagoons and mountains.

As a result, it’s an outdoor lover’s destination with some of the most wonderful drives and hikes, and plenty of places to stay.



Don’t make the mistake of assuming Sedgefield is little more than the charming retirement town it first appears to be.

Because just in front of the lagoon and sand dunes are some five beaches that stretch six kilometres along sand perfect for strolling at low tide. It’s a more artsy stay, but a wonderful one nonetheless.

Garden Route Small Towns - Sedgefield

Nature’s Valley

The Garden Route’s retreat, Nature’s Valley lies in a once inaccessible valley dominated by the Tsitsikamma Mountains, indigenous forest, a river and tidal estuary, and incredible beaches.

The village is small and most of its houses hidden in amongst undergrowth that consistently threatens to reclaim its space.

Natures Valley

Storms River

Surrounded by the Tsitsikamma National Park, Storms River Mouth is a town that lies almost on the coast, the river the main source of its tourist attractions that include blackwater tubing and incredible hiking routes.

Blue Horizon in Tsitsikamma

Have you explored any of these Garden Route Small Towns? Please shame your experiences with us…