10 best small towns that will make you love South Africa

10 best small towns that will make you love South Africa

South Africa is a country rich in diversity. With its majestic landscapes, vibrant cityscapes, the friendly nation, and ‘lekker’ local food, it’s easy to fall in love with this beautiful country. Situated at the tip of Africa, South Africa spans an impressive 1.22m km². Which might make choosing exactly where to go (especially with limited time) extremely difficult. Added to that, no visit to South Africa would be complete without spending time in Joburg, Cape Town, the Garden Route and of course the Kruger National Park. But, beyond the bustling cities and excitement of the Kruger, there’s so much more to explore. South Africa’s real character and charm lie in fact, in its ‘klein dorpies’ or towns. So, if you really want to get a taste of South African culture and hospitality, visiting the charming small towns of South Africa is an absolute must.

We’ve handpicked the best small towns in South Africa worthy of being added to any destination hit-list! If you’re into quirky little towns, off the beaten path traveling, natural settings and stargazing, this list is for you!

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The best small towns in South Africa


Photo by Dennis Lange.

Roughly 145km north of Cape Town lies one of the oldest fishing villages in South Africa – Paternoster. Here, tiny white-washed fishermen’s cottages line the scenic bay, which is renowned for its jagged cliffs and white-boulders. Paternoster is simply beautiful and most certainly one of the prettiest small towns in South Africa.

Don’t leave Paternoster without…

  • Eating freshly caught lobster and Cape Bokkoms (dried fish).
  • Swimming in the chilly West Coast waters, and lastly
  • Having a picnic at the Cape Columbine Nature Reserve.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Paternoster here.

De Rust

De Rust is so small that you’ll barely even notice it driving along the N12 on your way to Oudtshoorn. But, what really makes this little town so unique is its quaint Victorian architecture. And of course, it’s close vicinity to Meiringspoort – one of South Africa’s most beautiful gorges and an absolute must on any South Africa itinerary.

Don’t leave De Rust without…

  • Stopping in at Tolbos, famed for its beautiful glass work,
  • Sampling the locally crafted dessert wines and cheeses, and
  • Driving through Meiringspoort.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in De Rust here. 


Photo by Marinda Streicher.

This isolated village in the Karoo, just 60km from Graaff-Reinet is any stargazer’s dream come true. The town only has two dirt roads in and out of the village, and it is the perfect escape from South Africa’s bustling urban life. With its rustic charm and dusty streets, Nieu-Bethesda is one of the best small towns in South Africa and one we highly recommend you visit.

Don’t leave Nieu-Bethesda without…

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Nieu-Bethesda here.

Cape Agulhas

Only 170km southeast of Cape Town lies the sleepy town of Cape Agulhas. This little ‘dorp’ marks the most southern tip of Africa. And, it is also here where the Indian and Atlantic oceans meet. The town is notorious for its rugged coastline, rocky beaches, and shipwrecks which dot the coastline.

So, what shouldn’t you miss? Don’t leave Cape Agulhas without…

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Cape Agulhas here.


Photo by Claire Brear on Unsplash.

When the hustle and bustle of city life get too much, locals from Joburg, Bloem, and even Durban flock to Clarens. And for very good reason. This little town is most probably one of the most famous and picturesque small towns in South Africa. Set at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Free State, Clarens is well-known for its scenic views, cherries, and up-and-coming art scene.

Don’t leave Clarens without doing at least one of these…

  • Checking out the local art galleries.
  • Trekking down dinosaur fossils on a Dinosaur Tour, and
  • Taking a closer look at the sandstone formations at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Clarens here. 


Looking for some off the beaten path places in South Africa? We’ve got you covered. Discover ten of the best small towns in South Africa which you simply shouldn’t miss. #southafrica #africa #smalltowns #offthebeatenpath #quirkytowns #towns
Photo by Guillaume Flandre on Unsplash

The small town of Napier lies between Caledon and Bredasdorp in the Western Cape. Its unique blend of old-fashioned cottages and modern housing makes Napier a must-visit small town in South Africa. But apart from this, the small town is surrounded by rolling wheat and barley farmland, whilst the Soetmuisberg serves as its backdrop, making it even more appealing to locals and tourists alike!

Don’t leave Napier without considering these must-do’s…

  • Taking a selfie at the town’s giant sundial,
  • Admiring the beautiful solid yellow copper pipe organ at the Dutch Reformed Church,
  • Sampling some good old fashioned ‘karringmelk beskuit’ (buttermilk rusks) at one of the farm stalls,
  • And lastly, visiting the Napier Brewery nearby is another must for avid beer enthusiasts.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Napier here. 


Cullinan is only a 20minute drive from South Africa’s capital city, Pretoria. Which makes this small town an easy getaway for Gautengers and tourists alike. The town is home to one of the biggest diamond mines in South Africa, and most noteworthy, it is here where the Cullinan Diamond (the biggest diamond in the world) was discovered.

Don’t leave Cullinan without…

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Cullinan here. 


Dullstroom is another great small town that you’ll undoubtedly love. The town is one of the best fly fishing spots in South Africa and boasts with a rich history dating back to the Dutch settlers. If you are on your way to the Kruger, do spend a few days here to enjoy this small town’s trout, rustic charm, and amazing surroundings.

Here are our top picks for things to do in Dullstroom…

  • Exploring the countryside on horseback,
  • Giving fly fishing a go, and
  • Trying the local beer at Anvil Ale House.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Dullstroom here. 


Graskop is a small forestry town in Mpumalanga. Standing at the tip of the Drakensberg escarpment, it offers magnificent views over the lower lying valleys. If you love the great outdoors, this is one town you should definitely not miss. Added to that, Graskop is close to some of South Africa’s most prized scenic wonders. Such as God’s Window, the Blyde River Canyon and some pretty spectacular waterfalls to name a few. Not to mention, the town also serves as a gateway to the Kruger. In less than an hour’s drive, you can enjoy the roars of the Kruger, which is yet another reason to love Graskop.

Don’t leave Graskop without giving some of these options a go…

  • Checking out the Graskop Gorge Lift for a bird’s-eye view of the surroundings,
  • Enjoying ice-cream and chocolate sauce pancakes at Harrie’s Pancakes, or
  • Buying some African art at one of the curio stores in town.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation in Graskop here. 


Looking for some off the beaten path places in South Africa? We’ve got you covered. Discover ten of the best small towns in South Africa which you simply shouldn’t miss. #southafrica #africa #smalltowns #offthebeatenpath #quirkytowns #towns

Kaapsehoop is just a short drive from Nelspruit, the capital of Mpumalanga Province. This quaint and quirky town oozes with greenery and charm. But, it is perhaps its age-old gold rush history and free-roaming wild horses that make this small town even more attractive to locals and tourists alike.

By the way…if you want to know more about Kaapsehoop, take a deeper look from a local’s perspective here Kaapsehoop: The best place to spend your day.

Don’t leave Kaapsehoop without doing all of these…

  • Catching a glimpse of the wild horses,
  • Devouring the pancakes at Koek ‘n Pan, and
  • Drinking a glass of wine next to Salvador’s fireplace.

More info: Find the perfect accommodation around Kaapsehoop here.


There’s no doubt that South Africa has something to offer all traveling styles and interests. Whether your traveling solo, with friends or loved ones…there are plenty of hidden gems and quirky small towns waiting to be explored within its wide open spaces.

For those of you who are exploring the country with family, here are some great options for the best child friendly hotels in South Africa.

Also, be sure to check out these awesome destinations in South Africa should you wish to travel further in the country.


Have you visited any of these small towns in South Africa? Let us know in the comments below.

Also, if you think we’ve missed a really cool town which should be on this list, we’d love to know!

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Looking for some off the beaten path places in South Africa? We’ve got you covered. Discover ten of the best small towns in South Africa which you simply shouldn’t miss. #southafrica #africa #smalltowns #offthebeatenpath #quirkytowns #towns
Looking for some off the beaten path places in South Africa? We’ve got you covered. Discover ten of the best small towns in South Africa which you simply shouldn’t miss. #southafrica #africa #smalltowns #offthebeatenpath #quirkytowns #towns

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23 thoughts on “10 best small towns that will make you love South Africa”

  • Oh wow…these are small places! I passed through SA without learning of any of them! I’m sure I’ll be back there at some point

    • Haha, yes Tony these are really, really small places. But, all worthy of a visit. One of the best ways to explore SA is on a road trip…whenever I go back home I make a point of driving around as much as possible. There are so many small towns to discover. Hope you can go back soon to enjoy some of these small towns, too!

  • SA is beautiful and I’d love to visit one day for Kruger, braai, ostrich and authentic Amarula. The small towns are really beautiful. Just not sure I’d be welcome there, if you know what I mean. I’d prefer the cities with more diversity.

    • The Kruger is an absolute must. In fact, no visit to SA would be complete without spending a few days there! And, no need to worry, you will be more than welcome anywhere in SA! South Africans are one of the friendliest nations in the world (I should know…being South African and all. LOL). I do hope you can experience all the great things in SA one day, Kemi…from the people to the beautiful scenery and yes, let’s not forget the braai and Amarula!

  • Wow all of these towns seem like such amazing places to visit! I literally accidentally came across a post earlier today telling me about 10 beaches that would make me want to go to South Africa. So now I HAVE to go to South Africa ASAP lol.

  • I just love the way this blog has been written. When it comes to travel in Africa, SA doesn’t get much love compared to its counterparts, but this country seems to be really rich in history and culture.

    • Thank you Anshul. So true. SA is quite burdened with its past and today crime and corruption thrives. But if you look past all that, it is such an amazingly diverse country (from its beauty to its friendly nation & food & wine). It has a lot of potential to be an even more amazing country and travel destination.

      I hope you get a chance to see it one day!

    • Thanks Annie. You couldn’t be more right, the landscape in SA is just gorgeous. And quite unique too. Every part of the country has its own charm. It’s totally worth exploring every inch of it!

  • We haven’t been to South Africa yet, but it’s definitely high on my list. This will definitely come in handy for deciding where to go when it comes time to plan. Thanks for the helpful guide!

  • Wow! All these villages look so lovely and your amazing pictures completely justify their magical beauty. I haven’t been to South Africa yet, but I’m glad I came across this post before my visit. I love the white-washed cottages of fishermen and the fields full of flowers in Paternoster. The scenic views of Clarens are breathtaking. Kaapsehoop would be my favourite with its green farms, quaint houses, rich history and wild horses.

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