From forests, mountains and lagoons to art galleries and flea markets, Knysna is a must-see on South Africa’s Garden Route.
With indigenous forests, placid lakes and striking mountains, Knysna is a destination of natural beauty. Visit the town for everything from leisurely relaxation and high-energy sporting adventure to shopping and haute cuisine. Knysna is a popular stop on the scenic Garden Route.
Knysna’s town center is compact, and museums and galleries, markets and fashion boutiques beckon with a welcoming charm. Admire the work of contemporary South African artists at Knysna Fine Art. Learn about the town’s gold mining history at the Millwood Museum. Shop for handicrafts and try artisanal food at weekly markets.
Go to the picturesque Knysna Waterfront to find cafés, restaurants and curio shops. This is a good place to sample Knysna’s famous oysters, served direct from a hatchery located in the town lagoon. In the evening, crowds gather on the open-air terraces to watch the sunset while sipping on a glass of wine or locally-brewed beer.
Stroll around Knysna Lagoon to two large sandstone headlands, which connect the town with the Indian Ocean. Explore a shipwreck and spot seahorses on a scuba diving excursion. Follow a trail to the summit of the eastern head for panoramic views of the town and coastline. Between June and November you’ll have the chance to see southern right whales. Ride the ferry across to the western headland, where you can join a guided walk or jeep tour of Featherbed Nature Reserve.
The nearby mountains and forests lend themselves to plenty more outdoor pursuits and adventure. Walk with African elephants at the Knysna Elephant Park. Spot over 90 species of birds while traversing the walking trails of Pledge Nature Reserve, or take a zip-line tour through the tree tops of Tsitsikamma National Park.
Knysna is situated 160 miles (260 kilometers) west of Port Elizabeth and 300 miles (480 kilometers) east of Cape Town. Bus companies operate a regular service between Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Knysna. Consider renting a car to explore other destinations on the Garden Route, such as the beach towns of Mossel Bay and Plettenberg Bay.