9 Unique Things to do in the Garden Route

Things to do in the Garden Route

The Garden Route is one of South Africa’s most picturesque areas. It makes an amazing road trip and holiday destination– for the whole family. Sandwiched between the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma Mountains on the one side, and the Indian Ocean on the other, the route snakes along a narrow coastal road between Mossel Bay in the Western Cape and Storms River (Tsitsikamma) in the Eastern Cape. The 300 kilometre green forested route is interspersed by rivers, lakes and lagoons and is flanked by sandy beaches and pretty little towns. A large section of it also forms part of the Garden Route National Park.

We've visited the Garden Route several times. On our last trip, we flew to Port Elizabeth and went as far as Knysna however we've been as far as Mossel Bay on other trips. There is an abundance of things to do in the Garden Route .

1. Go ziplining in the Tsitsikamma National Park

Things to do in the Garden Route

Tsitsikamma National Park (cc: Wikimedia Commons)

This spectacular park lies in the heart of the Garden Route. It incorporates a rocky coastline, a mountainous region with valleys covered in fynbos, and high forests with deep river gorges leading to the sea. The more adventurous can glide through the magical forest between 700-year old trees on an exhilarating treetop canopy tour.

2. Get intimate with the Storms River

Things to do in the Garden Route

Storms River Banks

The Storms River is a playground for water adventures like kayaking, snorkelling, rafting and tubing. The river adventures will take you deep into the park where you can see the ancient forests, the dark caves, and serene pools.

3. Visit the Big Tree

Things to do in the Garden Route

The Big Tree (cc: Wikimedia Commons)

The Big Tree is an eight hundred- year-old Yellowwood tree which towers over the rest of the canopy. You will see a turn-off directing you there on the National Road to Tsitsikamma which runs between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.

4. Take a Hike

Things to do in the Garden Route

Robberrg Nature Reserve

The Garden Route is a hikers paradise with long and short hikes amid some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. On some of these hikes, you may be lucky enough to see seals, dolphins, great white sharks and humpback whales. The Otter Trail is one of the most popular hikes. It is a five day trail that follows the scenic Garden Route coastline. Be sure to book in advance, as it has a one year waiting list. For shorter hikes do visit the Robberg Nature Reserve. We went on a hike there and it was one of the most beautiful we've ever been on.

5. Bungy Jump off Bloukrans Bridge

Things to do in the Garden Route

Bloukrans Bridge

This one is for the extreme adrenaline junkies. 216 metres above the Bloukrans River Valley is the Bloukrans Bridge, which holds the record for the highest commercial bungy bridge in the world. (This position was previously held by the Victoria Falls Bridge). A jump from here is certainly a bucket list item to be ticked. But if you have no desire for your insides to be churned as you are hurtled from dizzying heights, then you can just walk along the walkway under the bridge to get to the arch of bridge, where you can experience the extreme heights without the heart-stopping jump!

6. Relax on the beach

Things to do in the Garden Route

Plettenberg Bay Beach

The Garden Route has a plethora of beautiful beaches, like Buffalo Bay, George, Sedgefield, Wilderness and Plettenberg Bay beaches. You can build sand castles, go for a swim or learn to surf, or you can just lie on the sand, relax and read a book.

7. Go back in time at The Bartholomeu Dias Museum Complex

Things to do in the Garden Route

Bartolomeu Dias Museum

The Mossel Bay museum is named after Bartolomeu Dias, the 15th century Portuguese explorer who sailed around the southern tip of Africa. It contains a life-size replica of Dias’ ship, the Dias Caravel. The complex also houses the Maritime Museum, the Shell Museum and the aquarium. It makes a fascinating journey back in time.

8. Play Golf

The Links at Fancourt

The Links at Fancourt

Golfers will be pleased to learn that the Garden Route has some beautiful and challenging golf courses. With more than a dozen courses to choose from, golfers will be spoilt for choices. One of the most renowned courses is The Links at Fancourt, which is constantly rated among the best golf courses in the world.

9. Explore Knysna

Things to do in the Garden Route

Knysna Heads

Knysna is a natural paradise, where the ancient forests and mountains, exquisite lagoon, and vast ocean all come together.  You can go up the Knysna Heads for splendid views, and cruise from the lagoon into the open sea, where you could see whales and dolphins.  Knysna is also known for its annual oyster festival, but even if you’re not there during the festival, you can still indulge in delicious fresh oysters at the waterfront restaurants at any other time.

These are just some of the things to do in the Garden Route . Other activities include game drives, skydiving, paragliding, canoeing, or just take long drives to soak in the beauty around you. Just make sure that you visit the Garden Route.

Where to stay in the Garden Route

Plettenberg Bay

The Plettenberg

Sky Villa Boutique Hotel


The Lofts Boutique Hotel

Premier Resort The Moorings (Knynsa)


Fancourt Hotel

Click here for more accommodation in the Garden Route or click here.

What are your favourite things to do in the Garden Route ?

Click here for more things to do in South Africa .

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22 comments on “9 Unique Things to do in the Garden Route”

  1. The Garden Route looks amazing and an awesome place for outdoor activities! I’d love the hiking, zip lining and kayaking. I’ve never been to South Africa but would love to visit especially after learning about this region. 😁

  2. If you want to explore garden route then staying at the homestay will be the best option. This will help you to explore the place from all aspects such as food, culture tourism and all. Also, the best part of homestays is that they make you feel like home in other places too.

  3. Informative post. South Africa's Garden Route is filled with exciting activities for all ages.
    - Africanoceans.co.za

  4. I’d love to go on safari with a tour guide and see all the animals roaming free. I think you would find out a lot more information that way and learn some new things. South Africa has so much to offer tourists. I’d love to take a Safari along the Garden Route, looks like an incredible location and once in a lifetime opportunity.

  5. Garden Route looks like an all-around great place to visit. Love the wide variety of things to see and activities to do, and certainly looks very picturesque!

  6. I always just associate Africa with the Serengeti, but when I see pictures like yours I remember how many different biomes are in Africa. I would love to hike in the national park.

  7. You have provided a comprehensive list of things to do when in Garden Route. But honestly, the place is so beautiful, I guess if I ever head there, I will be more or less captivated by the natural beauty. I will like to find a retreat and just relax here.

  8. I love the formatting and how simple your reviews were to read. I absolutely love golf and traveling and I hope to be able to play there someday! That's a bummer about the fire. I hope they can get back to normal soon. Happy Travels!

  9. The Garden Route is just so beautiful! Dying to go back and spend some more time there!

    Cassidy x

  10. We are planning our first-ever trip to South Africa next year and driving along the Garden Route is so high up on the list of things to do! I'll definitely be checking out your blog for more ideas of things to do and national parks to visit.

  11. Always wanted to explore the beauty of South Africa and this post gave me the right motivation. I'd like to play golf even if I'm not so good with it lol
    Beautiful location in every aspect 🙂

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