Discover small town South Africa (2023)

South Africa is famous for its gold and diamonds, but if you want to discover its real gems, head to the little off-the-beaten-path towns and villages – the heart of the country.

Discover small town South Africa (1)

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Often a haven for artists and creatives who need peace and quiet to flourish, small towns offer travelers a chance to socializecolorful local characterswho still have time to talk and attitudes that can take your breath away.

  • Westkap
  • Purchase cap
  • Mpumalanga
  • free state
  • northwest


Located on the Garden Route inWestkapThe seaside town of Knysna offers stunning views of the lagoon and sea, as well as the famous forest that is home to elusive elephants.

At Knysna Heads the sea breaks through a narrow rocky outcrop and feeds the waters of the lagoon - a breeding ground for all kinds of marine life, such as the tiny Knysna seahorse. Recently voted best small town in South Africa in a competition, Knysna is full of art galleries and great cafes and restaurants. Then there's the Festival of Oysters, both lagoon-raised and wild-collected.

The people of Knysna are by far the most colorful attraction, from the obvious artists to the Rastafarians - the entire settlement - as well as the fishermen and the wealthy who have found paradise on South Africa's Garden Trail.

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In the heart of the Cape Winelands, Franschoek is a little piece of France in Africa. Settled in the 18th century by French Huguenots fleeing religious persecution, the town is known for its restaurants, five-star guest houses and superb vineyards. This area is the second culinary heart of South Africa after Cape Town. Homemade cheeses, preserves, chocolate, pastries and breads are on display in all local shops and the town has an extensive art gallery.

Simonstown near Cape Town has a maritime tradition. From its inception, the city acted as the Royal Navy's main base in the South Atlantic before becoming the headquarters of the South African Navy. Visitors can explore the fascinating Naval Museum, stroll the streets soaking up the atmosphere and relax in one of the many maritime restaurants and bars by the sea. Whales and great white sharks patrol these waters and sightings are common.

The small town of Darling, situated between the West Coast and the Swartland region of the Western Cape, is one of South Africa's most important artists' colonies. Easily accessible from Cape Town, it first attracted attention for its carpets of wildflowers that bloom in spring.

Since then, rustic restaurants and cafes, a theatre, many inns and countless shops have sprung up in this picturesque setting. The city also has a famous ambassador, Ms. Evita Bezuidenhout - also known as a South African actress and comedianPieter-Dirk Uys.

Visiting the west coast town of Paternoster, just north of Cape Town, is like stepping into a living painting of brightly colored fishing boats, fishermen's cottages, summer cottages and huge boulders overlooking the bay. Everyone gathers at the local hotel to share stories, and the beach BBQ with lobster and fresh local fish is a tradition, and the sunset over the sea provides the perfect setting.

Home to the local ostrich industry and the annual Klein-Karoo National Art Festival, Oudtshoorn is set in an arid but spectacular setting in the shadow of the Western Cape's Swartberg mountains.


The mansions built by the ostrich feather farmers of yesteryear are a must-see, as are the spectacular Cango Caves, which often host choral performances. Enjoy ostrich dishes at local restaurants and shop for ostrich leather goods.

Today the station is a testament to Victorian grandeur and has become a small town thanks to one man - James Logan. A Cape Government Railways officer suffered from a chest discomfort. Moving to the Karoo proved so beneficial that he decided to stay there, farming and buying land, including the area around Matjiesfontein railway station.

He realized that locomotives going inland were thirsty for water, as were their passengers. He pumped water from his farm's boreholes to the station and served food and drinks to passengers in his restaurant when the locomotives were being refueled. The restaurant gave way to Lord Milner's majestic hotel, which he built in an elegant Victorian style. It is as fashionable today as it was then.


Noah Bethesda
A Hollywood movie was even shot in this tiny filmKaroSettlement honoring its most famous resident - Helen Martins. An artist and loner, she created fantastical creatures out of glass and cement and caused a stir in the city with her eccentric behavior.

Her home, known as the House of the Owl, is a museum where giant carvings of camels, sages and owls bear witness to her vision and passion. It has become a place of pilgrimage for artists and travelers.

The Ibis Gallery on Nieu Bethesda's main street offers contemporary South African art and the local pub is home to the area's more colorful locals.

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Port St. Johns
Port St Johns is a swashbuckling, storied village on the Pondo side of the Wild CoastPurchase cap. It's also one of the top spots on any international backpacker's itinerary due to its natural setting, frontier feel, and appeal to adventurous young travelers.

From one of Africa's most interesting airstrips, you can see the famous Gates of St. Johns (Mounts Thesiger and Sullivan) on either side of the river. Three fine beaches, excellent fishing and an overall live-and-let-live vibe have made the seaside village a popular destination for young travelers seeking adventure on Africa's wild side.


Blunt Flow
Dullstroom, the trout fishing capital of South Africa, is just two hours from Johannesburg and offers city dwellers the perfect weekend getaway. Founded 120 years ago by Dutch settler Volterus Dull, the town offers beautiful scenery, great bird life, great decorations and antique shops, and lots of local color.

Don't miss the creperie in the city center or some of the livelier pubs and bars. There are one or two excellent restaurants in the area and accommodation ranges from rustic to fabulous five star accommodation. And Dullstroom's Bakery is the best in the country.

pilgrim rest
The entire town of Pilgrims' Rest has been designated a National Monument. The city was founded in the 1880s after gold was discovered on the banks of Pilgrims Creek. It is a living museum that gives visitors a glimpse of life in the early days of the gold rush in South Africa.

The cemetery is a must-see because of the historical tombs like the robber's tomb and the buildings take us back in time. The Royal Hotel in particular preserves the dignified splendor of the past that is still alive today. Not far from the Pilgrims lies some of the most spectacular scenery in the country.

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Kaapschehoop is a sanctuary for South Africa's last wild horses, which roam freely in the city. Harem, a young artist, is the city's most famous son after Richard Branson of Virgin Airlines discovered his work. Walk through the maze of sheer cliffs overlooking Swaziland. Many artists live here permanently and the city has many nice guesthouses and other accommodation options for all budgets.



Discover small town South Africa (2)

Home to potters, actors, artists and many local art projects, this small town offers visitors a relaxed yet lively atmosphere. The road between Clarens and Fouriesburg is one of the most scenic in the country. Just outside of town is Golden Gate National Park with breathtaking mountain peaks, clear streams and wildlife. Clarens also offers farm lodging, offering visitors an authentic Free State Farm experience.

free stateA landscape delights my heart no matter what my mood is,” Nelson Mandela once said. "When I'm here, I feel like nothing can slow me down and that my mind can wander to the horizon."


Toller Marico
Groot Marico in north-west South Africa is famous for mampoer - a distilled and strong liquor made from peaches - and for its most famous citizen, author Herman Charles Bosman, who sets many of his works in the district. In October, the city hosts the annual Herman Charles Bosman Literary Weekend, which brings visitors from across the country to Marico to celebrate some of South Africa's best-loved stories.

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Those:South Africa tourism

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What is the best Dorpies in the Western Cape? ›

Montagu. Voted by the people of the Western Cape as the Best Dorpie in 2021, Montagu is back this year to retain its crown. This picturesque dorpie on Route 62 in the Klein Karoo offers the best of both worlds: wine from the Cape winelands and the absolute peace and tranquillity of a Karoo night sky.

Where is the smallest town in South Africa? ›

Mier Local Municipality
Location in the Northern Cape
Coordinates: 26°20′S 20°20′E
CountrySouth Africa
23 more rows

What is the most quiet town in South Africa? ›

1. Clarens, Free State. There's nothing more relaxing than being in 'a free state', and what better place than in Clarens, the 'jewel' of the Free State. Located in the foothills of the Maloti Mountains, this valley offers its vast, golden expanse for peaceful reflection.

What is the most remote village in South Africa? ›

Clanwilliam, South Africa (23 March 2023) – Clanwilliam in the Western Cape is almost the end of the World and for international travellers, considered quite remote which is why a wilderness reserve there, has been named one of the 50 Most Remote and Beautiful Places in the World.

What is the safest small town in the Western Cape? ›

Paarl, the third oldest city as well as a European settlement, is a town in the Western Cape of South Africa. This small town has a population of 112,045 inhabitants.

What is the nicest area of Cape Town? ›

The Best Areas To Stay In Cape Town
  • V&A Waterfront. The Waterfront, while not technically a neighbourhood, is a hub of activity where you'll find upmarket hotels, restaurants, and bars all conveniently in the same place. ...
  • City Bowl. ...
  • Woodstock. ...
  • De Waterkant. ...
  • Green Point. ...
  • Clifton and Camps Bay. ...
  • The Deep South. ...
  • Hout Bay.

What is the cleanest town in the Western Cape? ›

Oudtshoorn in the Western Cape has the best air quality in South Africa, with some of the lowest air pollution levels in the world, however, other areas across South Africa have poor air quality.

What is the safest town in South Africa? ›

The city of Cape Town, known as the Mother City, is consistently ranked as the safest city in South Africa. While its crime rate is not lower than many other cities in the country, there are lovely safe areas to explore.

What is the cheapest town to live in in South Africa? ›

Nelspruit seems like the cheapest place to live in South Africa since renters here spend an average of 15% of their salaries on rent. The city also offers acceptable job opportunities with one job on offer for every 292 locals.

What is the friendliest place in South Africa? ›

Cape Town Named One Of The Friendliest Cities In The World!
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Dec 24, 2022

Where do most foreigners live in South Africa? ›

South Africans are known for their friendliness, and you'll be made to feel welcome and at home. Although the country has 11 official languages, most locals speak English fluently. Most expats live in Johannesburg, Pretoria or Cape Town – the country's financial and political centres.

Which town in South Africa is the happiest? ›

Residents of Cape Town are considered some of the happiest in the world, whereas in Johannesburg people tend to sleep better than most.

Where do rich South Africans live? ›

Richest suburbs in South Africa

The most affluent suburbs of Cape Town include Bakoven, Bantry Bay, Bishopscourt, Camps Bay, Clifton, Constantia, Fresnaye, and Llandudno. Slightly further afield, there are also significant numbers of wealthy individuals residing in Somerset West, St. James, and Tokai.

What is South Africa's oldest town? ›

Cape Town is South Africa's oldest city. It serves as the country's legislative capital, being the seat of the South African Parliament. It is the country's second-largest city (after Johannesburg) and the largest in the Western Cape.

What is the poorest village in South Africa? ›

Muyexe is known as the poorest village in South Africa. The men spend their time under trees in long discussions about what needs to be done to develop their area, which borders the Kruger National Park at the Punda Maria Gate and the proposed Shangoni Gate.

Is it safe to walk downtown Cape Town? ›

Is Cape Town Safe at Night? Walking around at night in Cape Town is only advisable if you are in a resort or a place full of tourists. Go in groups if you have to go out after dark; otherwise, avoid going out in the city once the sun sets.

Which province has the most crime in South Africa? ›

In 2022, Pretoria (South Africa) ranked first in the crime index among African cities, with a rating of roughly 82 index points.

Where do most expats live in Cape Town? ›

The southern suburbs of Cape Town. Around 10km south of the city center around the back of Table Mountain, the southern Cape Town suburbs are more packed with expats than the suburbs in the north.

Where do the middle class live in Cape Town? ›

Ottery. Ottery is a southern Cape Town suburb not far from other popular areas like Plumstead, Wynberg, Kenilworth, and the vast Cape Flats. This residential area is convenient to main highways that run into and out of the city center, and it receives frequent service from public transportation.

What is the white only place in Cape Town? ›

Coverage generally describes Orania as culturally backward, racially intolerant, and separatist. Descriptions of Orania frequently call it "whites-only", since the town only accepts white Afrikaner residents.

What is the ghost town in Western Cape? ›

Uniondale is a small town in the Little Karoo in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. The town was formed in 1856 by the joining of two towns, Hopedale and Lyons. Its primary claim to fame is the ghost story of the Uniondale hitcher.

Are there great whites in Cape Town? ›

A strange phenomenon began to happen in the seas around Cape Town, South Africa. Dead great white sharks began to wash on the beaches near the city. A particularly gruesome aspect of the carcasses was that the livers had been torn out. Over seven years later, it is now known whose handiwork it was.

What is the most beautiful city in South Africa? ›

Cape Town's claim to being the most beautiful city in South Africa is undisputed. And seasoned travel writers readily accept the merit of Cape Town's claim that is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The city is blessed with unrivalled gifts of nature.

What is the most peaceful town in Africa? ›

In 2022, the capital city of Rwanda, Kigali, was the safest city in Africa. It had a score of roughly 75.7 points in the safety index, making it the African city with the lowest crime incidents.

Which is the healthiest city in South Africa? ›

According to new research by Discovery Vitality, Cape Town is the healthiest city in the country. The company gathered its data by analysing almost 300 000 Vitality Health Checks which were completed across South Africa in 2022.

Is it cheaper to live in America or South Africa? ›

The average cost of living in South Africa ($832) is 62% less expensive than in the United States ($2213). South Africa ranked 104th vs 5th for the United States in the list of the most expensive countries in the world.

How much money do you need to live comfortably in South Africa? ›

What is the average cost of living in South Africa per month? Based on my personal experience, the average cost of living in South Africa per month in 2021 is R8,000 for a single person living in one of the major cities – excluding rent.

Is South Africa a good place to retire? ›

The good climate means there is a range of outdoor sports and recreational activities that more active retirees can partake in at relatively low costs. Those that want a more relaxing lifestyle upon retiring to South Africa can enjoy the array of beaches, national parks, and vineyards.

Where do most of the whites live in South Africa? ›

The largest white population centre is Port Elizabeth, which houses over half (170,000) of the Eastern Cape's white population. Other major white populations exist in East London, Grahamstown, Graaff-Reinet, and a number of smaller towns.

Where is the most peaceful place in South Africa? ›

The West Coast

The towns of Yzerfontein, Churchhaven and St. Helena Bay on the sparsely populated west coast are among the safest areas for expats to live in South Africa. These areas are an ideal place for expats in search of a peaceful lifestyle.

How long can a US citizen live in South Africa? ›

Under the current visa-exemption scheme, American citizens can stay in South Africa for 90 days without a visa. If an American citizen wishes to stay longer than 90 days, for tourism or business purposes, or plans to reside long-term in South Africa, they will require a long-stay permit.

Can a US citizen live in South Africa? ›

Yes, you need to obtain a South Africa visa to move to South Africa. Anyone wishing to move to South Africa for over three months (90 days) must apply for a visa. South Africa offers different visas depending on the purpose of your travel. However, for long-term stays in the country, you must apply for long-term visas.

Where do Americans live in South Africa? ›

These are the cities with the largest expat communities in South Africa: Cape Town. Durban. Johannesburg.

What is the best climate in South Africa? ›

Gauteng is said to offer one of the world's best climates: summer days are warm and wind free and winter days are crisp and clear. Johannesburg and Pretoria differ in temperature by about 2% (Pretoria being the warmer of the two).

Does South Africa have a good quality of life? ›

South Africa had the highest Digital Quality of Life index score in Africa in 2021 and 2022.

Which is the happiest place on earth in the world? ›

1. Finland: For the sixth year in a row, Finland is the world's happiest country, according to the World Happiness Report. Aleksanterinkatu (Aleksi Street) in Helsinki is pictured.

Where do millionaires hang out in South Africa? ›

Revealed: Top 10 SA Hotels where the richest of the rich check in
  • Lost City and Sun City, North West - 900. ...
  • The Michelangelo, Johannesburg - 700. ...
  • The Table Bay Hotel, Cape Town - 600. ...
  • Sandton Sun, Johannesburg - 500. ...
  • Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town - 400. ...
  • Cape Grace, Cape Town - 400. ...
  • One&Only, Cape Town - 400.
Jan 29, 2015

Which US state has the most South Africans? ›

The highest number of South Africans in the US live in California, notably Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego, while smaller populations reside in the Mid-Atlantic and the Pacific Northwest.

Which city has millionaires in South Africa? ›

The wealthiest cities report reveals that Johannesburg, South Africa's most populous city with 6.2 million people, hosts 14,600 high net-worth individuals. Thirty of them are dollar centi-millionaires and two are dollar-billionaires.

What was South Africa's old name? ›

The South African Republic (Dutch: Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek or ZAR, not to be confused with the much later Republic of South Africa), is often referred to as The Transvaal and sometimes as the Republic of Transvaal.

Which is the lost city of South Africa? ›

The Lost City of the Kalahari is a historical mystery of exploration and archaeology dating to the end of the 19th century. The history reports the existence of a ruined city found in the Kalahari Desert in southern Africa.

What country was South Africa before? ›

The two European countries who occupied the land were the Netherlands (1652-1795 and 1803-1806) and Great Britain (1795-1803 and 1806-1961). Although South Africa became a Union with its own white people government in 1910, the country was still regarded as a colony of Britain till 1961.

What is the biggest slum in South Africa? ›

In the Khayelitsha slum of Cape Town, one toilet is shared by five families on average. Most people use open fields or bushes to do their business, which contributes to the spread of diseases like cholera within communities. It's also the best place for criminals to attack.

Is South Africa considered a Third World country? ›

1 Defining the Third World

The Third World includes all countries of Africa (except South Africa), Asia (except Japan), and Latin America and the Caribbean, and some states and territories of Oceania.

Who is considered poor in South Africa? ›

National poverty line in South Africa as of 2022 (in South African rand)
CharacteristicValue in South African rand per person per month
Monthly food poverty line663
Monthly lower-bound povery line945
Monthly upper-bound povery line1,417

What are the best performing municipalities in Western Cape? ›

This is according to municipal financial sustainability index, Ratings Afrika, which tracked the financial performance of 104 of the largest municipalities and all eight metros for the year ending in June 2022. The Western Cape municipalities of George, Mossel Bay, Cape Town, Saldanha and Swartland scored the highest.

What are the most popular holiday towns in Western Cape? ›

Stellenbosch (a student town), Somerset West and Franschhoek are busy and popular, while the Boland towns of Paarl, Wellington and Riebeek Kasteel are quieter with many gems still to be discovered.

Where do the rich live in Cape Town? ›

The most affluent suburbs of Cape Town include Bakoven, Bantry Bay, Bishopscourt, Camps Bay, Clifton, Constantia, Fresnaye, and Llandudno. Slightly further afield, there are also significant numbers of wealthy individuals residing in Somerset West, St. James, and Tokai.

What are 2 important towns in Western Cape? ›

Its capital city and largest city is Cape Town, and some other major cities include Stellenbosch, Worcester, Paarl, and George.

What is the fastest-growing town in Western Cape? ›

Western Cape

More than 8,400 properties have been developed in Delft, the fastest-growing node in the province, situated next to the Cape Town International Airport, she said.

Where should I live in Western Cape? ›

Best cities in Western Cape, South Africa
  • Cape Town. #1 - Cape Town. Western Cape, South Africa.
  • Plettenberg Bay. #2 - Plettenberg Bay. ...
  • Stellenbosch NU. #3 - Stellenbosch NU. ...
  • Noordhoek. #4 - Noordhoek. ...
  • Franschhoek. #5 - Franschhoek. ...
  • Stellenbosch. #6 - Stellenbosch. ...
  • Paarl. #7 - Paarl. ...
  • Wilderness. #8 - Wilderness.

What are the fastest-growing small towns in Western Cape? ›

Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch

These three towns are in close proximity to each other. Combined, they form one of the fastest-growing areas in South Africa for HNWIs.

What is the oldest town in the Western Cape? ›

Further out of Cape Town, Dorp Street in Stellenbosch, the oldest town in the country, is a national heritage, with its Cape Dutch-style buildings.

Why is Western Cape so popular? ›

The Western Cape is well known for its scenic beauty and a wealth of flora and fauna. With an abundance of hiking trails you have a choice between coastal or mountain hikes.

Which celebrity lives in Cape Town? ›

Western Cape Celebrities
  • Chad Saaiman. Based in Cape Town. ...
  • Ian von Memerty. Based in Port Elizabeth. ...
  • Irma G. Based in Cape Town. ...
  • Jo-Ann Strauss. Based in Cape Town. ...
  • Kamini Pather. Based in Cape Town. ...
  • Loukmaan Adams. Based in Cape Town. ...
  • Mark Bayly. Based in Cape Town. ...
  • Michael Mol. Based in Cape Town.

What celebrities live in Cape Town? ›

From Hollywood royalty Sean Penn and Orlando Bloom, to the British royal family, Cape Town makes an ideal celebrity hunting ground. Katie Holmes, Charlize Theron, Sean Penn and Oprah are some of the famous faces, who call Mount Nelson home when in The Mother City.

Where do billionaires stay in South Africa? ›

In Cape Town, Clifton, Bantry Bay, Fresnaye, and Camps Bay are the richest suburbs in the city. The majority of KwaZulu-Natal HNWIs are concentrated in the beach city of Umhlanga, however, the residential towns of La Lucia, Ballito, and the city of Durban also contribute to the wealth of the province.

What of Cape Town is white? ›

Largest population centres
PlaceProvincePercentage %
Cape TownWestern Cape15.66%
Port ElizabethEastern Cape37.84%
63 more rows

What is the safest suburb in Cape Town? ›

Top 9 Safest Areas In Cape Town
  • V&A Waterfront. This trendy and well-liked district is also one of the safest areas in Cape Town. ...
  • Clifton and Camps Bay. ...
  • City Bowl. ...
  • Mowbray: ...
  • Kensington: ...
  • Pinelands: ...
  • Maitland: ...
  • Kirstenhof:
Feb 3, 2023

What is the first town in the Cape? ›

As the oldest town on the Cape, Sandwich first became a town in the 1600s. Known to this day for its once popular glass-making industry, the town's claim to fame all these years later is still the Sandwich Glass Factory. You'll also find a number of bed and breakfasts in the town and some beautiful, historic homes.


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