How can you not include a small town which has its own craft brewery? The hazelnut ale is worth a try and for the kiddies, the homemade cherry juice alone makes the trip worthwhile. Clarens is the perfect long weekend getaway for Gauteng-dwellers, where nature lovers can hike to their hearts content and spend their days surrounded by the stunning Maluti mountains. Those who prefer their getaways to be a bit more laidback can acquaint themselves with one of the town’s many restaurants or quirky shops, and the creatives amongst us will fall in love with the multitude of art galleries and crafts on offer.
The ‘original’ charming small town destination for those looking to escape the madness of Joburg and Pretoria, Dullstroom is anything but dull. A mecca for foodies and fly-fishers, Dullstroom is also home to Wild About Whisky, which boasts the largest whisky selection in the southern hemisphere. On top of that, there’s Art of Food, which is Mpumalanga’s top-rated restaurant and a real treat for foodies. While Dullstroom is normally a place you’d expect to find comforting farm-style food, Christine Hamman is cooking up a fine-dining storm in the quaint little town. Do yourself a favour and stop for dinner or a leisurely brunch, and stock up on their homemade jams from the deli too. Whatever you do, don’t forget to make a stop at Millies before you make your way home and buy some of their famous Dullstroom trout. Whether you opt for roulade, hot smoked fillets, pâté or whole trout it’s a Dullstroom tradition and one that you absolutely must partake in when you visit!
A true-blue West Coast fisherman’s village just 2.5 hours from Cape Town, Arniston comes complete with deep royal blue seas, white sands, and quaint thatched-roof fisherman’s cottages. Named after one of the many ships that used to wash up on the stretch of beach having fallen foul of the treacherous waters, this tiny town near the Cape Agulhas is one for people who really want to get away from it all in a back-to-basics weekend off. Bring shoes suitable for hiking and walking on slippery rocks, bring a good book and be prepared to experience a simple fisherman’s life. There are a couple of restaurants offering simply prepared but amazingly fresh seafood.
If Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are feeling a little too crowded and mainstream for you nowadays, Tulbagh might be your little slice of heaven. Like almost all of the Cape Winelands area, this Swartland town is nothing short of stunning, with whitewashed Cape Dutch architecture and expansive vineyards aplenty. It’s bordered by mountains on three sides and visitors to this historical town can indulge in wine, chocolate, and olive oil tasting, experience exceptional dining and take part in scenic horse and bike rides through the mountains. Take a stroll down church street to see all the beautifully restored buildings – each one of them declared a national monument when they were restored after the devastating 1969 earthquake.
Storms River Village
Though nearby Knysna and Wilderness steal a lot of the limelight away from Storms River, this little gem of a village inside the Tsitsikamma Forest is well worth going off the beaten track for. It’s one of the most active and adventurous little spots in the country, with everything from kayaking and river rafting to Segway tours, hiking, canopy adventures and mountain biking on offer. You’ll need it to burn off all the food from the quirky dining spots – there’s even a 60’s style American diner!
The home of Midlands hospitality, Nottingham Road is a delightful little town situated in the famous Midlands Meander. Visitors are spoiled with beautiful surroundings, gourmet cuisine, market stalls, outdoor activities from fishing to hiking to horseriding, as well as wine tasting and one of the country’s best small breweries for the beer-lovers. Browse through all the beautiful arts and crafts that you won’t find anywhere else, and retire to a quaint English-style room surrounded by greenery and rolling hills. Nottingham Road is within easy reach of Durban and Gauteng, and makes a wonderful winter getaway for those who need to escape the harsh Joburg winter nights.
Equally as famous for its freezing cold weather as its world-class stargazing, Sutherland is a destination for everyone. Science-lovers, snow-lovers and small-town lovers, there’s something to please you all. You don’t have to go it alone either. The SA astronomical observatory offers visitors the chance to do some guided night stargazing, and for only R80 per person (R40 for kids) you’ll get a tour complete with a guide who can tell you exactly what you’re looking at. You can even see some of the other planets! Remember to wrap up really warm though, because the telescopes are outside and Sutherland is coooold.