The Garden Route: A Guide On Where it Starts and Ends
4 hr 25 min From Cape Town (384,4 km) via N2
38 min from Mossel Bay (49,7 km) via N2
15 min from George (15,8 km) via N2
20 min from Wilderness (22,8 km) via N2
23 min (24,8 km) from Sedgefield via N2
29 min from Knysna (32,4 km) via N2
Storms River Mouth
54 min from Plettenberg Bay (65,8 km) via N2
The Garden Route is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in South Africa. It starts at Mossel Bay and goes to Storms River, making its way through Plettenberg Bay and Knysna.
This area is known for its lush forests, rolling hills, pristine beaches, and stunningly clear waters. If you’re looking for a breathtaking vacation spot that offers something for everyone, look no further than the Garden Route!
Download our Garden Route map with distances —>
How long will the Garden Route take to explore?
Garden Route travellers and tour operators agree that three to fourteen days is an ideal time to see the region’s many sights and attractions. However, you are free to take as much time as you need!
How to Get There from Cape Town
To get to the Garden Route from Cape Town, take the N2 national road. The Garden Route is located about 400 kilometres east of Cape Town. The easiest way to get there is by car, but you can also take a bus or fly into George.
Best Garden Route Towns To Visit
Mossel Bay is a small town on the Garden Route in South Africa. It’s known for its stunning beaches, rich history, and delicious seafood. Mossel Bay is the perfect place to start your Garden Route road trip, as it offers something for everyone.
Top 5 Attractions In Mossel Bay
- St. Blaize Trail: Starting at the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse, hikers may embark on the famous 13.5-kilometre-long (six-hour-long) St. Blaize Trail follows the 30-meter contour all along cliffs heading westward.
- Santos Beach: The waves here are minimal since the beach is well-protected. If you have little children, this is an excellent option.
- Bartolomeu Dias Museum Complex: Visit this museum; it’s worth it. Exceptionally well-kept, and the people working there are all very kind. Additionally quite reasonable in price. Further, take a stroll in the garden; the scenery is breathtaking!
- Diaz Express: Along the Garden Route in South Africa, the journey from Hartenbos to the Great Brak River on the Diaz Express offers passengers a beautiful view of the landscape. This railway line weaves its way through a tunnel, across bridges, and past sheer cliffs and native plant life, all while providing stunning vistas of the Indian Ocean.
- Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre: This is a fantastic bird rehabilitation facility! At Mossel Bay, you should make time to stop by this sanctuary.
Located halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, George is a famous Garden Route stop for tourists and locals alike. The town surrounds the Outeniqua Mountains, woods, rivers, and scenic agriculture. From here, visitors may easily explore the region’s many sights thanks to the area’s excellent road, air, and train connections to the country’s main cities.
Top 5 Attractions in George
- Redberry Farm: At Redberry Farm, the most popular place for families on the Garden Route, you can indulge in some of the region’s best strawberries, artisanal cuisine, and exciting outdoor activities.
- Outeniqua Transport Museum: The history of Transnet is presented interestingly at the Transnet Transport Museum’s one-of-a-kind exhibit. Look at these historic Iron Ladies and learn about their contributions to South African railways.
- Victoria Bay: In South Africa’s Western Cape region, there is a tiny bay known as Victoria Bay. The closest major cities are George and Wilderness, both of which are located on the Garden Route. It is a well-known destination for surfers because its right-hand wave resembles a reef and rolls for approximately 200 meters over rocks resembling tiny boulders.
- Herold Wine Estate: Located on the Garden Route, Herold Wines is ideal for a day trip or weekend escape through Montagu Pass, one of South Africa’s most beautiful drives.
- Outeniqua Pass: This area is named after a KhoiKhoi tribe that formerly resided there and is gorgeous after the rains. The pass is a must-see.
Even though Wilderness is just a little hamlet, the magnificent backdrop of forests, rivers, hillsides, and beaches makes it seem like an everlasting paradise. Within easy driving distance of both Sedgefield and George, Wilderness is a year-round vacation hotspot.
North are the Outeniqua Mountains, south is the Indian Ocean, west is the Kaaimans River, and east is the Goukamma Nature Reserve. Wilderness is just 10 kilometres from George upon the N2 across the Kaaimans River Pass for easy access to commercial malls and other services.
Top 5 Attractions in Wilderness
- Wilderness Beach: This magnificent coastline has views that go miles and miles. Pay a visit to Flat Rock, a spectacular natural feature. Beaches and walkways that are perfect for swimming are abundant.
- Wilderness National Park: a forest and coastal Reserve that includes the Touw River est
- Map of Africa Viewpoint: The ‘Map of Africa’ offers a stunning vantage point at Wilderness Heights. Driving towards Knysna on the N2 highway, you’ll pass through the little town of Wilderness, which is around 15 kilometres from George. As someone who has driven this route several times, I can assure you that as soon as you cross the Kaaimans River Bridge, you will see paragliders.
- Half-Collared Kingfisher Trail: The Half-Collared Kingfisher Trek is an out-and-back trail that spans 8 kilometres and is situated close to Wilderness. This trail is suitable for hikers of all ability levels and has a beautiful waterfall.
- Wilderness Lagoon: Wilderness Lagoon is a great place to go swimming, fishing, or canoeing, and it also has a gorgeous boardwalk with lots of seats along the route.
South Africa’s Garden Route town of Sedgefield is tucked between George and Knysna, only 490 kilometres from Cape Town. Lakes, dunes, pine woods, the Swartvlei Estuary, and the Indian Ocean border it.
As a tranquil little community bordering the Goukamma Nature Reserve and Wilderness National Park, Sedgefield offers many opportunities for visitors to see birds and take walks through the area’s native flora and wildlife.
Top 5 Attractions in Sedgefield
- Wild Oats Community Farmers Market: Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m., locals and tourists may peruse the wares at the Wild Oats Farmers and Food Market. Every Saturday morning, regardless of the weather, you can speak directly with the people who create our locally-grown food.
- Gericke’s Point: The spectacular sandstone cliffs at Gericke’s Point have been worn through time and are essentially fossilized dunes; some of the tallest dunes in South Africa can be seen right here.
- Scarab Village: A delightful and peaceful walk through a hamlet packed with vendors selling art and craft products, delectable cuisine, and local artisanal beverages.
- Sedgefield Craft Brewery: The Sedgefield Craft Brewery is a small-scale craft microbrewery. ‘ A family-run business that specializes in handcrafted beers of the highest quality.
- Groenvlei Lake: If you’re looking for a place to get away from it all, go no farther than Groenvlei Lake in Wilderness.
The sandstone cliffs at Knysna, located along South Africa’s famous Garden Route, contrast the peaceful lagoon and the tumultuous waves of the Indian Ocean, making the town a standout attraction. In addition, it is the location of the country’s most significant natural forest. (see our best Knysna Lagoon accommodation options)
Take a trip through the most beautiful parts of the area by getting on a boat. A magnificent picnic setting may be at the Millwood Mines on Jubilee Creek, the epicentre of an enormous gold rush in 1885. During the world-famous yearly event, don’t forget to sample some fresh local oysters.
Top 5 Attractions in Knysna
- Knysna Heads: A prominent feature along the Garden Route called the Knysna Heads divides the Knysna Lagoon from the ocean.
- Knysna Elephant Park: Orphaned African elephants initially found a home in South Africa at the Knysna Elephant Park, which opened in 1994. About 40 elephants have been reared in the park in the past 25 years.
- Featherbed Nature Reserve: Listed as a South African Heritage Site No.59, Featherbed is a privately run and certified Nature Reserve. It is located on Knysna’s Western Head and is a natural sanctuary accessible only by ferry. To preserve the natural splendour of the Reserve, entry Reservericted. Visitors must go with one of the Reserve’s experReserves only in the Reserve’s restrictedreserve.
- Knysna Gin Distillery: Traditional methods are used to distil Knysna Gin, including using a flame and a copper pot still. The Knysna Lourie’s favourite delicacy, the Num Num berry, is one of nine natural botanicals used in its creation.
- Thesen Island: The Knysna estuary is home to the award-winning marina complex Thesen Islands. In addition to the lovely waterfront, yacht harbour, and Knysna town centre, it is connected to the mainland through a causeway and bridge.
Plettenberg Bay, located on the Garden Route’s easternmost point, is a popular vacation destination for wealthy tourists from South Africa. In addition to the numerous excellent restaurants, there is a diverse selection of fun things to do.
For the more adventurous, there are plenty of activities such as hiking, biking, and zip-lining. There are also many opportunities to go whale and dolphin watching.
Top 5 Attractions in Plettenberg Bay
- Robberg Nature Reserve: The Robberg Nature Reserve is a beautiful place to hike with stunning coastline views. It lies about 8 kilometres south of Plettenberg Bay, a wildlife reserve and a World Heritage Site. In winter, you can sometimes spot Great White sharks patrolling the waters looking for seals.
- Birds of Eden: The South African Animal Sanctuary Alliance includes Birds of Eden (SAASA). As the world’s most giant free-flight aviary, Birds of Eden is home to more than 2,300 birds of prey. Nearly 3500 formerly confined birds of more than 200 species may be seen flying free and enjoying their everyday lives on almost a kilometre of pathways in the sanctuary.
- Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre: Tenikwa has become one of the biggest and most active wildlife rehabilitation centres in the Western Cape, taking in both terrestrial and aquatic mammals and birds. Injured or abandoned wild animals are rescued and rehabilitated before being returned to the wild.
- Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary: Capuchin, Squirrel, Howler, Spider and Vervet monkeys, Saki, Gibbons, Ring-tailed Lemurs, and Black-and-white Ruffed Lemurs are just some of the primates that call Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary home. The sanctuary has 12 hectares of indigenous forest and is home to over 500 primates from nine different species.
- Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour: There are platforms erected around 700-year-old Outeniqua Yellowwood trees! The Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
So there you have it, a quick guide to the Garden Route. This is one of South Africa’s most beautiful areas and worth a visit. With so much to see and do, you’ll never be bored. Whether you’re looking for adventure or a relaxing vacation, the Garden Route has something for everyone.