5 Unmissable Garden Route Highlights

5 Unmissable Garden Route Highlights

Are you planning a Garden Route itinerary and wondering which Garden Route highlights not to miss? If so, you’re in luck! In this guide, I’ll cover the best places to explore on the Garden Route and help you plan the perfect self-drive Garden Route trip.

The Garden Route is world-renowned as one of South Africa’s most spectacular drives. And for very good reason. Here, you are completely surrounded by natural beauty. With the cool waters of the Indian Ocean on the one side and the Outeniqua and Tsitsikamma mountain ranges on the other, this unique 300-kilometer stretch of road is simply stunning.

The Route, which stretches from Mosselbay in the Western Cape to Storms River in the Eastern Cape, is home to ten nature reserves with varied ecosystems, excellent beaches, and numerous outdoor activities, making it an excellent add-on to your Western Cape itinerary. For those of you coming from Cape Town, you might also want to check out these great things to do before heading down to the Garden Route.

Make the most of your South African adventure by adding the Garden Route to your must-see list. To help you explore this diverse area, we’ve highlighted the best places to explore on the Garden Route here in this guide.

In a rush? Pin these Garden Route highlights for later.

South Africa / The Garden Route // Discover the best places to explore on the Garden Route - one of South Africa's most scenic drives. #southafrica #gardenroute #westerncape #knysna #tsitsikamma #travelguide #traveltips #travelguide #travel

Disclaimer* Please note this post probably contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, I may receive a tiny commission at no additional cost to you.

Garden Route Highlights: Best places to explore on the Garden Route

Storms River Mouth Nature Reserve

Stormsriver Mouth Nature Reserve is a firm favorite on the Garden Route among hikers, thrill seekers and nature enthusiasts.

One of the most revered Garden Route highlights is undoubtedly the Storms River Mouth Nature Reserve. The reserve lies in the heart of the Tsitsikamma National Park and boasts with fynbos, lush forest vegetation, rugged rock formations, and spectacular ocean views.

There are so many wonderful things to do at Storms River – from hiking, adventures sports or simply just relaxing.

The very first stop to make is at the beautiful little beach. Here you can watch the crashing waves, swim or snorkel. Those looking to get close with nature, can choose from several hiking trails ranging in length and skill level! Another great draw to the area is its slightly scary suspension bridge. So, if you are brave enough and would like to get a bird’s eye view from a unique vantage point, don’t forget to head over to the bridge for amazing views of the river mouth.                                     

For those of you looking to experience the charms of the Tsitsikamma Forest sans the crowds, head over to the Garden Route’s best kept secret spot Natures Valley.

Opening hours: 7:30 am – 6 pm Monday to Sunday.

Entrance fee: Adults ZAR49 and children ZAR24, per day (SA citizens) | Adults ZAR196 (US$15) and children ZAR98 (US$7), per day (tourists)

Alternatively, spend a few nights here. The Storms River Mouth Rest Camp has a cozy camping area, as well as cute bungalows nestled in front of the ocean. For more information on accommodation types and the most accurate prices, be sure to visit the SAN Parks website. 

Keurbooms Beach

Keurbooms Beach offers visitors to the Garden Route peaceful settings, quiet beaches and stunning ocean views.

If you want to get away from the crowds in Plettenberg Bay, Keurbooms Beach is a Garden Route must do. The area boasts with white sandy beaches stretching as far as the eye can see and is a playground for boating, windsurfing and fishing enthusiasts. If luck is on your side, you might even spot dolphins playing in the water or whales during whale season.

One of our favorite things to do after meandering on the beach is to pop in at Enrico’s. This amazing little restaurant is an absolute must visit if you are in the area. They serve mouth-watering seafood and excellent cocktails, accompanied by gorgeous ocean views.

Robberg Nature Reserve

Robberg Nature Reserve is one of the best Plettenberg Bay attractions.

Just 8 kilometers south of Plettenberg Bay, hikers and nature lovers can also enjoy the beauty of the Robberg Nature Reserve nearby. Recognized as a World Heritage Site, the reserve is home to a unique variety of fauna and flora, and an ideal place to spot Cape Fur seals, dolphins, whales, and even the rare blue duiker. Moreover, it’s one of the best Garden Route attractions.

There are 3 trail options, ranging in length and difficulty allowing visitors to experience the beauty of the reserve at their own pace and skill level.

If you aren’t much of a hiker, consider packing a picnic basket to bring along on your visit. Then, head down to the cute little beach, just behind The Gap, for a relaxing afternoon and a swim in the somewhat chilly waters.

Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm Monday to Sunday.

Entrance fee: Adults ZAR40 (US$3) and children ZAR20 (US$1.50).

Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden is a unique wet forest situated between Plettenberg Bay and Knysna. It forms part of the lush Tsitsikamma forest and is a great place to take a relaxing stroll. In fact, it’s one of our favorite Garden Route highlights. So, definitely try to add it to your list of Garden Route things to do list!

Here you can follow wooden boardwalks through the lush forest filled with stinkwood and other forest types and bridges over streams. The walk is entirely wheelchair friendly and because it only runs for 1km, both young and old can enjoy the gorgeous forestry here.

Garden of Eden is a stunning nature reserve filled with ancient trees and lush plant life.

Opening hours: 8 am – 5 pm Monday to Sunday.

Entrance fee: Adults ZAR12 (US$0.70) and children ZAR7 (US$0.50). Visitors can enter the grounds after hours, for free.

The Knysna Heads

The Knysna Heads is a must when exploring the quiant town of Knysna.

Visiting the Heads is a must for visitors planning a Garden Route itinerary. Two cliffs line the entrance of the Knysna Lagoon entering the Indian Ocean. The Eastern Head offers terrific views of the lagoon, Leisure Isle and Knysna. Visitors here will be pleased to learn that the lookout point from the Eastern Head is open 24/7 and there is no entrance fee, making it ideal for budget travelers.

However, if you do want to visit the Heads at night, please remember to always be aware of your surroundings and keep your valuables safe. And as a matter of fact, we wouldn’t recommend you visit here after dark. South Africa has been struggling with high crime rates over the past few years, so just keep that in mind.

If you would like to visit the Featherbed Private Nature Reserve on the Western Head, tours depart daily from the Knysna Waterfront and the trip takes around 4 hours. For more information, visit the reserve’s website, here.


Have we missed any of your favorite places to explore on the Garden Route? Do you have any other Garden Route highlights to add to this list? If you have any tips for travelers planning a Garden Route itinerary let me know if the comments below.

And finally…

Head on over to our South Africa section of the blog to learn more about this rich and diverse country.

Loved these places to explore on the Garden Route? Maybe your friends will too. Share it with them here.

South Africa // Garden Route // Discover the best places to explore on the Garden Route - one of South Africa's most scenic drives. Here's our guide on what not to miss! #southafrica #gardenroute #westerncape #knysna #tsitsikamma

13 thoughts on “5 Unmissable Garden Route Highlights”

  • This is my first time to read about the Garden Route (but I have heard of plenty of great places to visit in South Africa) and it looks like such a great place to explore. Storms River Mouth and Robberg Nature Reserve seem like an amazing area to take in the scenic view!

  • This is such an amazing post and the pictures look stunning. Love the color of the water. Definitely adding this on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing.

  • It’s the first time I hear about the Garden Route in South Africa, but I like the idea very much. Keurbooms Beach is definitely the place I would enjoy most as it’s a remote, isolated beach with pristine waters.

  • I can’t believe I have never heard of the Storms River Mouth Nature Reserve. I’m glad I stumbled upon your blog because I’ve added something new to my list. Thank you for providing information about cost and time!

  • These places look amazing! I would really love to visit South Africa: I have seen so many beautiful pictures and great articles from there. It seems to be a great destination with everything one needs; sun. beaches, wine and beautiful views.

  • Wow. Wow! We never thought of considering a road trip in South Africa and thanks for sharing such a beautiful jewel with photos that would make postcards blush. Such an intriguing road trip that we have bookmarked for a future trip.

  • Wow! These photo are just absolutely stunning! I’ve thought about visiting South Africa but I’ve never heard of any of these beauties before and I’m definitely adding them all to my bucket list. Also love that the lookout point from the Eastern Head is always open. Seems like you could really enjoy beautiful sunrises and sunsets there! Thanks for sharing!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *