Are you planning to take your family to a wonderful vacation? Do you already have a country or town in mind? Or perhaps you are still wondering which one is worth visiting? Well, look no further than Knysna. This small yet interesting town has all the wonders and gems that any traveler could ever imagine. Whether you have visited this place or not, this guide can help you big time. Through it, you will know the many things to do in Knysna, bars to check out, places that locals prefer when it comes to food, Knysna attraction things to do, and a whole lot more.
So before you book that next trip, make sure to give this guide a look-see. Without further ado, here it is.
Introduction to Kysna
Knysna has its origins from the Khoi language, which either means “fern” or “place of wood.” While it is true that the meaning has not really been pinned down in some ways, there is no doubt the town is abundant in both. In fact, it is packed with lots of forests and indigenous farm heritage — qualities that give it a possible link to the said language.
Knysna,which is pronounced “Nize-nah,” is located within around 157,000 hectares of the titular Garden Route National Park. It is also flanked by the huge estuary of the Indian Ocean and Knysna River. Thanks to the coastline and dense forest,the country offers a vast and varied combination of flora and fauna, as well as a balanced marine life — something that many countries and/or towns of the same fail to magnify.
For any Knysna backpackers, they will easily fall in love with this small town,especially since it only has a population of about 52,000. It is well-known fora lot of things, from hiking to fishing to diving to mountain biking to whale watching to canoeing to cultivated oysters, just to name a few. The popularity of the latter is arguably one of the things to do Knysna. By essence, it culminates the annual oyster festival that runs over weeks. And while it features a lot of things to do in Knysna, the most celebrated one is none other than the “Best Dressed” oyster competition, which highlights local restaurants,including the contest of eating the most in a minute.
Top 10 Things To Do In Kysna
As mentioned, there are lots of things to do in Knysna, let alone the best Knysna places to stay. We’ll get into that later,so do not fret. For now, here are the top 10 things to do in Knysna. We encourage you to give two or more of them a try when you visit the town. You will definitely love each one of them!
1. Board a Catamaran, Cruiser, or Ferry
The idea here is to simply take a leisurely trip on a ferry that will take you across the lagoon and straight to the heads. Plus, you will get to see the beauty of the town’s sandstone cliffs, which is responsible for separating the ocean from the lagoon. But if you want to take the whole experience to a whole new level, you better try a catamaran ride that sails out straight into the ocean.
The heads, in particular, are known for having thwarted a number of rambunctious sailors. But for the locals, it is something that you should not really be afraid of. This exploitation barely happens these days. Anyway, try a slow-paced cruise that will take you to the lagoon. From there, you could enjoy some snacks with your family. You could also enjoy a trip during summer, where the views make an unforgettable experience. So if you are wondering about the Knysna attractions things to do, make sure you include this in your list.
2. The Featherbed Nature Reserve
This one, though, is only accessible via ferry. Another go-to attraction preferred by locals, it is all about experiencing a private nature reserve located on the western head. It is where you will get to see an abundance of wonderful view sand, at the same time, includes insights into the town’s history. Guides there will take you to a 1.3-mile walk. It may seem tiring but the experience takes that away. From the eco drive to a must-see coastal forest, it is definitely worth trying out.
3. Forest Walk
If you want to know some of the places to stay in Knysna, this one is part of them.Your goal here is to trace the steps of Dalene Matthee’s words and characters,all of which are popularized in her novel. The latter basically highlights a sight of exploited woodcutters and forest elephants, not to mention the awe that the forest itself offers. The dense rain forest offers you a magical playground, one that is akin to a movie or fairy tale. You have the option to go with a tourist guide or simply do the visit on your own. But if you choose the latter, there is no need to worry, especially since there are clearly marked signs.
4. Spectacular Viewing Point
This one is pretty straightforward. You just need to drive straight up to the Conel Glen viewing point, which is located on the eastern heads. From there, you can experience a breathtaking view of the lagoon, as well as two world gems,namely, the Indian Ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains. This is a must-activity for all Knysna backpackers out there!
5. Whale Watching
Of course, it is a crime not to include whale watching in this list of top 10things to do in Knysna. It is, after all, one of the most recommended activities by the locals. All you have to do is hop on a small boat that goes out to the sea, so you will have the chance to spot whales. The best months to do this is between July and December when most whales are active and can easily be seen. The local Bryde’s whale, in particular, is a local resident. And during these months, you will get to see some of the southern right and humpback whales, all of which can be viewed up close. And oh, make sure you are ready to get wet because it will really happen. So before you book that trip and check some of the things to see in Knysna, make sure you have those waterproof cameras ready.
6. Visit Local Rastafarian Community
Want to experience the heartwarming welcome of the locals in Knysna? If so, then make sure you include in your top things to do in Knysna the Judah Square Rastafarian community, which is located in the Khayeletu South township. Deemed the largest community of Rastafarians in all South Africa, this ever-growing community has found a way to rise in terms of stature from its humble beginnings of informal settlement, which dates back to 1993. Since then, they have grown into a formal community, with a goal to further improve and make themselves sustainable in an ever-changing world. On your way there, try to stay over at the Sista Keri’s B&B, which is a perfect place for Knysna backpackers thanks to its bunk-style accommodation.
7. Noetzie Beach
It holds true that this will take you to a secluded cove, but it is not necessarily far from Knysna. Noetzie is the kind of place that offers quiet beaches, including an array of estuary and opportunities you to gaze birds and fauna. And do you know why many locals deem it among the things to see in Knysna? That is because it is packed with a variety of holiday homes, all of which are specifically built in the same fashion of castles, adding an element to your intrigue. While the waters are all dark and still, the Noetzie River offers waves that seem to crash every now and then on rocks, making the whole sight both wild and lively to look at.
So you really golf is not something to try in Knysna? Well, that is where you are wrong. Apart from being a must-do activity in the town, it is also among the many places to visit in Knysna. And mind you, it is where you will be introduced to championship-caliber golf courses, all of which welcome both recreational and competitive golfers. With its setting next to breathtaking grounds, all Knysna backpackers will grow fond of it. There is no doubt that the two really has something big to offer in the country.
9. Eat Oysters
As mentioned above, oysters are among the wonderful Knysna attractions things to do. Keep in mind that the town is best known for its wild yet cultivated oysters. And you should not let yourself or your family go home without trying a plate or two. The local restaurants in Knysna tend to spend a year just to perfect their recipes. Not only do this because they want to perfect each and every dressing, but it is also a culture that embraces Knysna. Besides, doing so is proven to enhance the succulent and briny little oysters. All restaurants are expected to compete against each other, as they try to claim the title of the best-dressed oyster at the annual Knysna Oyster festival. Whether you are a huge fan of oysters or not,there is no doubt that you are going to like the entire festival. It is packed with friendly competition, with locals smiling at you as you try their recipes.Above all, you get to experience the true nature and spirit of Knysna. This festival is definitely one of the top 10 things to do in Knysna, so you better include it in your itinerary!
10. Thesen Island
The Thesen Island got its name from Arnd Leonard Thesen, who was known to be a timber merchant hailing from Norway. According to the locals, Thesen arrived in Knysna in the late 1880s. Soon enough, he found a number of reasons to stay and decided to form a family there. Interestingly, the island was a former processing plant that was started by Thesen’s son. Now, it is recognized as a residential marina specifically built for the sensitive ecology around the area. But the island is more than just a pretty face actually. That is because it is home to some of the best Knysna places to stay and enjoy, including a variety of shops and restaurants. Pro tip: Do not think about leaving the town without paying the humble yet extremely famous bakery-establishment called Ilede Pain!
Nightlife In Knysna
Apart from the many places to visit in Knysna, the town is also packed with lots of bars. And if you are someone who is from a big city, you will be surprised with how colorful the nightlife in the town is despite being small. But unlike its contemporaries, the town and its bars are more about quality than quantity. Sure,it may not have the same number of local bars compared to other cities in the world, but each of them will not let you down.
For starters, Main Street is the first one in the list. It is where you will be introduced to lots of great dancing spots, making it a must for Knysna backpackers. The Zanzibar is without a doubt the preferred bar for many locals in town – and it is where you will get to experience a lot of fun. If you are into a more slightly older crowd, the Bloo should get you going. And mind you,it is just a walking distance from the Zanzibar; hence, you can visit them both in one night.
Fora great Friday night, nothing can surpass the greatness that is Blend, which is located on George Rex Drive. It is where you can have a wood fire pizza while listening to a number of Knysna local bands. And believe it or not, despite not being a dance, you will not have the energy to resist the temptation to dance to the boogie in the floor.
If you are in the mood for a much greater show – and perhaps you would love to know more about one of the go-to Knysna attractions things to do – you better try the N2 and The Barnyard Theatre. Of course, there is nothing wrong about exploring the other bars in between these establishments. From there, you can enjoy a picnic with your group of friends and celebrate life with a bottle of wine. The cozy and laid back setting will definitely get your spirits up,especially if you have been dying to relax and unwind. It is a setting perfect for Knysna backpackers who want to enjoy life from a different perspective.
Here are some of the go-to bars in Knysna. They are all worth visiting, especially since many locals consider them among the top places to visit in Knysna.Remember to include them in your list!
It is where you get to experience the local electronic music from a variety of DJs playing different commercial beats. Plus, there are pool tables and lots of food!
Think of this bar as a combination of drinks and seafood recipes. But hey, they are not just about booze actually. Ristorante Enrico also offers a line of pastas and pizzas, just to name a few.
Lock Out Deck & Restaurant
When talking about things to do in Knysna, it is hard not to include Lock Out Deck& Restaurant in the topic. And there is a reason why locals call it “a legend in its own right.” Being one of the pioneers in the town’s nightlife industry, the establishment offers an overlooking look perfect for some romantic or feel-good setting.
Cornuti Al Mare Restaurant and Bar
Another popular Italian restaurant in Knysna, this one right here comes with a great range of classic Italian fare. If you are fond of Italian classics, you will also enjoy there.
Long Barn Tavern
Are you looking for a simple yet compelling pub-style restaurant? If so, then you better give the Long Barn Tavern a visit. And unlike its competitors, it offers a competitive setting. For starters, it serves food both in the morning and evening, not to mention the inclusion of live music. There is every reason to give Long Barn Tavern a try!
Quay Four Tavern
Have you heard some locals in Knysna talking about the phrase “Quay Four?” Actually,the story behind it is quite interesting, but we will not spoil it for you.Just try to say the name and one or more locals will approach you. To put it simply, there is an interesting story to tell when it comes to the Quay Four Tavern.
Fisherman’s Cabin Restaurant
If you are more into a unique culinary experience – the type that no other culinary mainstream archetypes could top – then the Fisherman’s Cabin Restaurant is the place to go. Not only is it considered among the Knysna places to stay and enjoy, but it is also highly recommended for its laid back atmosphere.
Knysna Hiking Trails
Yes,you read that right – Knysna is not just about partying and food. It also has lots of outdoor activities to offer – one of which is hiking. With that said,it is interesting to see just how many hiking trails it could offer to all Knysna backpackers out there. This part here will introduce you some of the best hiking trails in town, all of which are considered Knysna attractions things to do. So, without further ado, here are them!
Eden To Addo Hike
Ask many locals there – particularly those who hike every now and then – and they will definitely recommend this hiking trail. This is due to the fact that it is considered as the longest – and even the toughest – hiking trail in all of South Africa; hence, it is highly held as a “mega” hike. So just how tough and daunting it is? Well, it is going to take you at least 18 days, depending on how fast and determined you are, though.
Terblans Hiking Trail
If you are more into a circular day walk, this hiking trail is a must-try. It is even deemed one of the things to do in Knysna. But what makes it really interesting is its atmosphere, which is built for the family. Yes, that is right – it is a hiking trail that could be the best experience with the whole fam!
Drupkelders Hiking Trail
It is time to get your whole family together, so you all can pack a picnic. But hey, do not ever forget to bring along your swimming gear. These are all a requirement when trying to go to the Drupkelders Trail. Being a fantastic forest trail, which offers more or less 40 minutes long, the Drupkelders Hiking Trail is the perfect family getaway. And oh, the last ten minutes of the trail will introduce you to a quite steep leading. Just a heads up!
Elephant Walk Trails
Hiking is fun, but it can be more when the setting is tweaked a bit. Well, that is exactly what the elephant walk trail is all about! It is where you get to enjoy beautiful sceneries courtesy of the fun forest in Diepwalle Forest. This fantastic trail can be completed in about 3 sections, so feel free to decide how you and your friends are going to get the job done. But regardless, there is no doubt that you will fall in love with this trail.
Of course, it would be a shame not to include the Blombos Trail. Your starting point here is the popular Goukamma Nature Reserve Finish, with a duration that would require at least 15 km. The Blombos Trail is one of the six trails you can move forward with from the said starting point. But of all of them, this should be the first one you need to try.
The Knysna Experience
There is really no set of words that could best describe the experience in Knysna. From the many things to do in Knysna to the top Knysna places to stay, it is difficult to summarize everything. Perhaps it is subjective, especially since you can always craft an itinerary based on your own preference. Regardless, there is no doubt that you are going to crave for more of this town.
It holds true that Knysna has many facets to offer, each of which can be visited at any time of the year. And what is more is that they can cater to different levels of vacation or trip. If you are looking for a simple camping trip, then go ahead and do it. You will not regret it. If you want a more blow the budget holiday kind of thing, the town will not disappoint you.
As mentioned, the many Knysna attractions things to do are best enjoyed with the family. This is due to the town’s natural environment, which is perfectly complemented by a wide range of accommodation. Couples will not even enjoy a romantic getaway, but they will also be introduced to a fine choice of dining venues. Whether you are love hiking or you are a simple guy who just wants to get close to nature, you can never go wrong with Knysna.
Remember that when you visit Knysna, do not just pay Knysna places to stay. You have to enjoy and experience each of them.More importantly, do not forget to taste the oysters and, as much as possible,get a proper brew in one or more of the town’s great pubs. Enjoy!