One often forgets that Paarl, in the Cape Winelands, is only about an hours drive from Cape Town. The town has a unique feel to it because it maintains a strong country feel although it is the size of a small city. The Afrikaans Language Museum plays a large part in the towns history as it has brought recognition to the Afrikaans written language.
Paarl also houses a collection of some of the most beautifully restored buildings in Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture, which includes the Strooidak Church which is the oldest Dutch Reformed Church in the country.
Not only is the town steeped in architectural history but it also has plenty of delicious wine and magnificent vineyards that you can visit, all which ensure it is a popular stop on the Cape Winelands route. If you’re lost stop off at The Paarl Wine Route Office in Main Street because they are really helpful and can supply you with a free brochure and map of the area.
10 Popular Things to Do When Next in Paarl
Picnic at Nederburg
What better was to spend a perfect afternoon in the sunshine than having a picnic, well I’ve got one better. Why not have a picnic at one of the Cape Winelands most loved wine farms in the historic property of Nederberg? Don’t forget to pack you big picnic blanket and some chairs and bring your friends and family.
You can feast on the Flavours of the Cape picnic selection which is piled full of bread that has been freshly baked, locally produced cheeses, cold meats, smoked Franschhoek salmon trout, homemade pâté, dips, salads and more the treats are endless. There are also kiddies and vegetarian options available.
The baskets can be accompanied by the delicious wine from the vineyard so make sure you have plenty of time set aside, because you’re not going to want to leave. Baskets need to be booked at least two days in advance.
Address: Sonstraal Road, Dal Josafat, Paarl, Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)21 862-3104
Play or watch Polo at Val de Vie
An exhilarating sport to both watch or play and only 40 minutes from Cape Town. Home to the BMW International Polo Series this is the ideal polo destination.
If you’d rather stand on the sidelines and watch do this with a glass of the estates fine wine in your hand and when you find yourself needing a rest from the activities take refuge in the Sabrage Restaurant and Bar which is both chic and relaxed. Polo is for everyone and this is certainly what the estate tries to showcase and instil in their visitors.
You are welcome anytime to play or join players, residents, international and local guests for a post-chukka drink and chat. There is also a coach available who can teach you some useful techniques when you’re out on the field. Booking is essential. We include sticks and helmets and of course the horses!
Address: Val de Vie Wine and Polo Estate, on the R301 between Paarl and Franschhoek, Paarl, Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)21 863-6170
Opening hours: Booking is essential. Tuesday to Sunday. Lessons by booking only. Chukkas and matches are weather dependant, so it is safer to call before hand.
Red Hot Glass
Visit one of the very few Venetian-style glass blowing studios in the country. The magnificent glass art is demonstrated by the master artists Liz Lacey and David Jackson who delight visitors with one of the oldest crafts on earth.
Their work graces some of the top hotels and galleries in the world and when you’ve seen it you will certainly understand why – from gorgeous hand blown perfume bottles, to delicate vases and abstract statues you’ll find something that is both beautiful to the eye and a marvel in its creation.
You’ll leave the studio knowing that you’ve just watched something magical happen in the creation of these gorgeous pieces.
Address: Seidelberg Wine Estate, Suider-Paarl Road, Paarl, Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)21 863-0330
Opening hours: Open 7 days a week from 09h00 to 17h00.
Visit Butterfly World
These stunning creatures of flight can be visited at Butterfly World. You’ll find it on Route 44, just off the N1 and with more than 24 species of exotic butterflies and a large variety of birds you’ll be spending a good few hours marvelling at the wonder of nature.
What is great about Butterfly House is that you’re allowed to take photographs and videos of these creatures so you can go home and show friends and family these lovely beauties. Stay a while and enjoy some refreshments at the onsite restaurant. Learn all about the life cycle of the butterfly from the various displays and if you’re lucky enough you might see a butterfly emerge from its pupa!
Address: Route 44, Klapmuts (near Stellenbosch and Paarl), Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)21 875-5628
Opening hours: Daily from 09h00 to 17h00. Closed on Christmas Day.
Visit the KWV Wine Emporium
This is one of the first places I went on a wine tasting and I have been back a number of times since then, every time I learn something new! Here you will be able to experience perfect South African wine at this renowned cellar tour that features the Cathedral Cellar which has high vaulted ceilings and some of the worlds largest vats in the worlds largest cellars!
Now isn’t that cool? After the tour you’ll be treated to a wine tasting where you taste not only the award-winning wines, but brandy and fortified wine. There are daily scheduled tours available in a variety of languages so you won’t miss out on any of the details.
The tour is approximately 75 minutes and takes you through a barrel maturation cellar, the Cathedral Cellar, five big vats and concludes with an informal tasting of six products.
Address: The KWV Wine Emporium, Kohler Street, Suider Paarl, Cape Winelands.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 807-3007 or +27 (0)21 807-3008
Opening hours: Tour Times are Monday to Saturday 10h00 (English), 10h15 (German); 10h30 (English) and 14h15 (English). Sundays at 11h00 (English).
Visit the Drakenstein Lion Park
A visit to Paarl wouldn’t quite be complete without a visit to the The Drakenstein Lion Park. This is a Sanctuary for captive born predators that was established in 1998 and provides lions in distress a place a sanctuary. The lions live free from abuse and are treated with the compassion and respect they deserve.
You’ll visit part the park which is 50 acres of sprawling lion habitat. The park isn’t involved in any commercial breeding or trading and it offers lifetime care for all of it’s animals, so when a lion is brought into the park it will be allowed to live out its natural life in this safe environment because all of the animals brought into the park are captive bred / hand reared and are therefore not able to be rehabilitated into the wild.
Address: Drakenstein Lion Park, Old Paarl Road (5km off the R44 on the way to Stellenbosch), Cape Winelands.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 863-3290
Opening hours: The Park is open daily from 09h30 to 17h00. We are closed on Christmas Day.
Feeding Times are on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 16h00.
Balloon over the Vineyards
If you enjoy the freedom of flying then make sure you book yourself a hot air balloon tour of the Cape Winelands, because there is no better way than seeing these magnificent vineyards from high up above. The tall Drakenstein Mountains will stand taller when you breeze past, while the Hottentots Holland Mountain Range pays respect at your feet.
Take in a new perspective of this beautiful country because if you thought it was stunning on the ground wait until you see it from high up above. After an hour of ballooning you’ll be lowered to the ground and be collected and taken back to your vehicle at the Grande Roche Hotel where you’ll enjoy a scrumptious breakfast spread before you depart.
Wineland Ballooning is a South African registered non-schedule airline operating since 1990. Licensed and check by the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) with a reputation of over 1600 records of safe flights).
Address: Wineland Ballooning, Main Street, Paarl, Cape Winelands.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 863-3192
Opening hours: Daily November to April. Booking essential.
Dine at Bosman’s Restaurant
Everyone needs to eat so why not do it in style at the only restaurant in South Africa to once again earn the “Best of Award of Excellence” awarded by the American Magazine, Wine Spectator. This is the highest award received by a South African restaurant for its wine list.
The restaurant is house in the manor house at Grande Roche and is the heart of the hotel. Here fusion food meets strong traditions and the food will excite the most discerning of palates. When the weather is great you can dine on the terrace or patio and enjoy all that the Cape Winelands has to offer.
If you’re a group of eight or more persons the banqueting department will help you choose a menu to suit both the guests and occasion. This is not a place to rock up in your jeans and slip slops as the dress code is smart – however no “Jacket and Tie” requirement.
Address: Grande Roche Hotel, 1 Plantasie Steet, Paarl, 7646, Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)41 407-1000
Opening hours: Booking is essential.
Hout Street Gallery
Experience a bit of culture at this art gallery that was established in 1975. Although it doesn’t have a very long history, in terms of the town’s history, it started with humble beginnings and has grown to be the foremost of its kind in the Western Cape.
Showcasing works from both established and new South African artists the gallery is unique and special. The shop front is also something to visit purely because it is the oldest orginal shop front in Paarl. There are four large exhibition rooms as well as a gift shop which offers a variety of crafts, ceramics, hand blown glass and bronzes.
Address: 270 Hout Street (Corner of Main and Hout), Paarl, Cape Winelands.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 872-5030
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 08h00 to 17h30
Sunday from 10h00 to 17h00.
Carriage Ride around Rhebokskloof Estate
Who can say they wouldn’t enjoy a carriage ride? Take a step back into the old days and enjoy a slower pace in life … Here you can take one of the many different trails that last anything from an hour or two to a half day tour with wine tasting and lunches in the gorgeous countryside. If you’re strapped for time you can take a quick 15 minute drive around the estate.
If you’re in the mood for a lovely breakfast idea why not enjoy the Champagne breakfast trail which is approximately an hour and a half, the half day trail includes three wine tastings on different estates. Other options include a full day trail with four tastings or a sundowners and snacks trail with a tasting and snacks after the carriage drive.
Address: Rhebokskloof Wine Estate, Wine Route No. 8, Agter Paarl, Cape Winelands.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 869-8687 or +27 (0)83 226-8735
Opening hours: Bookings essential. Please contact us to book.
With so much to do in Paarl, you’re a little bit spoilt for choice. But life is about indulging every now and then! Let us know your Paarl favourites in the comment section below.
Useful Paarl Links:
- Paarl Attractions
- Things to Do in Paarl
- Paarl Hotels
- Paarl Accommodation
- Cape Winelands Accommodation
- South Africa Accommodation
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I love staying in Paarl when visiting my family; it’s such a beautiful setting.