Knysna Travel Guide, Garden Route, South Africa

Villa Afrikana - view of Knysna Lagoon.

This quaint Garden Route town is eternally popular because it has something for everyone. The great climate and scenic beauty draws visitors of all ages year round to enjoy many Knysna attractions and activities.


Knysna Travel Guide

This vibrant and colourful town is ideal for a Garden Route holiday. The charm of Knysna appeals to visitors of all tastes and interests. History, gourmet restaurants, golf, watersports, adventure, the great outdoors, art, craft and entertainment - it's all here as well as healthy fun for the kids too on a Knysna holiday.

Surrounded by the Outeniqua mountains, lush indigenous forests, rivers and sandy golden beaches, visitors can discover unique fynbos (wild shrubs), the famous Knysna Loerie, Narina Trogon, endangered Dwarf Chameleon and the Brenton Blue Butterfly.

Knysna Forest is the largest indigenous forest in South Africa. Forming the vast closed canopy are many ancient tall trees including Yellowwood, Stinkwood and Cape Chestnut. Down below grow thick ferns, creepers and wild flowers. Great herds of Knysna Elephant once lived here, only one female remains now in the Knysna Elephant Park.

The Knysna Lagoon is home to the endangered Knysna Seahorse and delicate Pansy shell as well as around 200 species of fish. Resident Dolphins can be seen in the waves on the coast and visiting Humpback and Southern Right Whales from May to September.

Famous landmarks are the Knysna Heads, great sandstone cliffs on either side of the estuary which forms the Knysna Lagoon. The greater Knysna area includes Buffalo Bay, Brenton, Belvidere, Rheenendal and Noetzie as well as Sedgefield.

This Garden Route town is built around historical sites and National Monuments. Its first resident, George Rex had a mysterious connection to the British monarchy. The timber industry, Gold Rush era and harbour trade have all marked the passage of time. Visitors can enjoy historic rambles, sidewalk cafes and great shopping all in one day in Knysna.

Knysna is a 5 hour drive from Cape Town and 3 hour drive from Port Elizabeth. The nearest airport is in George which is an hour away by car or longer in peak season.

Knysna Accommodation

Knysna accommodation establishments, like the attractions and activities, cater for all tastes and budgets on a Garden Route holiday.

For a Knysna holiday or stopover, families and backpackers, honeymooners and sporting enthusiasts will find what they need in a variety of settings in the forest, by the waterside, at the beach or floating on the lagoon. From camping to luxury Knysna golf resorts or opulent retreats and Spas, Knysna has them all.

Sometimes referred to as the "secret season" winter in Knysna is a delight - crisp sunny and wind-free days and snug nights around a crackling fire - mid year specials are offered by many Knysna guest houses, hotels and bed and breakfasts. Each season has something different to offer, but year round Knysna is always green making a welcome break from the big cities and with plenty of Garden Route accommodation. Read more about Knysna Guest House options

Knysna Attractions

Apart from the many scenic Knysna attractions, this is a charming seaside town and home to talented and enthusiastic residents. Local markets, art and crafts provide visitors with a variety of treasures to enjoy on a Knysna holiday.

Local Is Lovely

Fabulous fresh foods and refreshments, organic produce and home made goodies to take home can be found at the local markets held weekly in and around Knysna and in Sedgefield. Art galleries abound as do craft outlets and stalls and there is also a Craft Route to follow. Timber products also form part of Knysna history and character.

Food Lovers

Knysna has more than 80 restaurants - a gastronomic delight! The Knysna Lagoon is one of a few places in the world to host an Oyster Hatchery - a top Knysna attraction! Local and international visitors enjoy what are reputed to be the tastiest Oysters on the planet.

Festival Fun

Where there is great food, festivals aren't far behind. The popular Knysna Oyster Festival takes place in July; the decadent Pink Loerie Mardi Gras, for gay fun and parties in April / May; and Gastronomica Knysna for a fresh food extravaganza in September.

The Natural World

The Knysna Heads stand between the lagoon and the sea, the Eastern Head has a fabulous lookout point for views of the town, lagoon and Leisure Isle. The Western Head is the site of a private nature reserve called Featherbed Bay. Other reserves include the Brenton Blue Butterfly Reserve and the Goukamma Reserve. No-one should leave Knysna without enjoying a forest walk to see the Big Tree (giant Yellowwood).

Knysna Activities

With around 280 days of sunshine a year, visitors are sure to find any number of exciting or relaxing Knysna activities. This Knysna guide has some ideas for holidaymakers:

Swimming

Families on a Knysna holiday enjoy the shallow waters of Bollard Bay beach, Leisure Isle which is on the Knysna Lagoon. For safe swimming and surfing, Buffalo Bay is the closest and has life guards on site in season. Brenton Beach also has life guards in high season although there are rip currents; it's a great beach for walks.

Watersports and excursions:

There are around 8 beaches and several lakes around Knysna, so visitors can be doing something different everyday. Options include surfing, canoeing, yachting, boating, lagoon ferry rides, hydro-biking, jet-skiing and fishing. Sea safaris are very popular to get closer to Dolphins and the visiting Whales in season, also for interesting coastal trips and private fishing charters.

Up close and personal:

Dolphin and Whale watching - the resident Dolphins are often seen along the Knysna coast and the Whales come between May and September. Sea excursions can be booked to get closer to them on a Knysna holiday.

Knysna Elephant Park - visitors of all ages can touch, feed, walk and ride an Elephant and also see the last remaining Knysna Elephant.

Eagle Encounters - a sanctuary and rehabilitation centre for birds of prey where visitors of all ages can see a flying display and enjoy personal encounters.

History and Culture

The Millwood Museum and Knysna Museum / Old Gaol and Angling Museum in Queen Street provide interesting information. Further north past Rheenendal are the Millwood Gold Mines where visitors can enjoy a cuppa in the tea garden, a great picnic spot at Jubilee Creek and a number of forest walks. Cultural and Heritage tours are also offered within the local communities on a Knysna holiday.

Golfing and guided walks

There are 4 Knysna golf courses, 3 have superb 18-hole fairways and fabulous scenery to admire and 1 has 9-holes which is perfect for beginners and younger players. Visitors who prefer guided walks will find a number of guides for personal Knysna tours and nature rambles on a Garden Route holiday.

Adventures and biking

Visitors who love adrenalin sports can abseil off the Knysna Heads or paraglide in the area. Bike enthusiasts can tackle a number of great mountain bike trails and cycling routes in the forest and surrounds. There are regular bike challenges held during the year for all ages. Horseriding is also a popular as well as walking and hiking. There are many excellent hikes around lakes and in the forest, the longest being 9km / 6 miles.

Rainy days and Day trips

There is plenty to do when it does rain! Visitors can enjoy Knysna Spa therapies, art galleries, museums, craft outlets, Brewery and Oyster tours, log fires and pubs, book shops, movies or dress up for the Knysna Playhouse Theatre shows. Day trippers can set off for great outings around Knysna visiting destinations like Rheenendal, Millwood Mines, Sedgefield, Plettenberg Bay to name a few. Contact a Siyabona Africa Consultant and book your Knysna holiday today!