12 Local Dorpies to Add to Your Springtime Travel Bucket List

As spring unfurls across South Africa, Flight Centre invites you to embark on a journey to 12 charming dorpies that promise unique experiences away from the usual tourist bustle. Swap the hotspots for hidden gems and dive deeper into our rainbow nation’s rich heritage this Tourism Month.


2min read

Published 1 September 2023


As spring unfurls across South Africa, Flight Centre invites you to embark on a journey to 12 charming dorpies that promise unique experiences away from the usual tourist bustle. Swap the hotspots for hidden gems and dive deeper into our rainbow nation’s rich heritage this Tourism Month.

Remember, our Travel Experts are on hand to help you plan the perfect all-inclusive escape.

1. Paternoster, Western Cape: Seaside Charm

Spring and the seaside go together like strawberries and cream. Paternoster promises a blissful beach getaway – did you know it’s one of SA’s oldest fishing villages and full of white-washed fishermen’s cottages? Talk about a fantastic backdrop for some Instagram-worthy holiday snaps.

How to get there? Take a leisurely drive from Cape Town – Paternoster is located just over one-and-a-half hours north of the Mother City.

2. Swellendam, Western Cape: Heritage Haven

Make the most of Heritage Day in Swellendam, the Western Cape’s ultimate heritage haven! This town, in the shadow of the Langeberg Mountains, is home to more than 50 provincial heritage sites. Rent a bicycle and explore at your own pace, take a horse-riding tour through the countryside, or pick some lavender while soaking up the sunshine.

How to get there? Road trip from Cape Town (it’s about a two-and-a-half-hour drive).

3. Nieu-Bethesda, Eastern Cape: Artistic Retreat

The artsy-fartsy who are in the know flock to Nieu-Bethesda every year. Originally founded as a church town, it now boasts the enchanting Owl House, a kaleidoscope of glass and light, and once the abode of renowned artist Helen Martins.

How to get there? Port Elizabeth International Airport is the nearest airport to this dorpie, so a road trip is (happily) unavoidable. Enjoy a laid-back drive spanning approximately three-and-a-half hours (you can also stop in Graaff-Reinet on your way – see below – and tick two of our top dorpies off your bucket list in one go!).


4. Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape: Packed with Nature and History

Nestled within the embrace of Camdeboo National Park, Graaff-Reinet is a paradise for nature lovers and history enthusiasts alike. Known as ‘The Gem of the Karoo’, it offers stunning vistas and the awe-inspiring Valley of Desolation.

How to get there? Fly to Port Elizabeth International Airport and enjoy the almost three-hour drive to your final destination.

5. Addo, Eastern Cape: Wildlife Wonderland

Addo National Elephant Park is the only national park worldwide where you can encounter the ‘Big 7’ – lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, buffaloes, great white sharks, and southern right whales. Insider tip: use lesser-known entrances like Matyholweni to escape the crowds.

How to get there? Fly to Port Elizabeth International Airport – Matyholweni gate is just over half an hour away.

6. Springbok, Northern Cape: Floral Fantasy

The moment spring arrives, Springbok comes alive with a mesmerising display of wildflowers. The largest town in the Namaqualand region, it forms part of the Northern Cape’s iconic Wild Flower Route.

How to get there? Consider yet another road trip by flying to Upington and taking a leisurely drive to Springbok (approximately three-and-a-half hours). Alternatively, extend the fun times on the road by driving approximately five-and-a-half hours from Cape Town.


7. Clarens, Free State: Thrilling Escapes

Clarens is lovingly known as the ‘Jewel of the Eastern Free State’, surrounded by sandstone mountains and known for its blissful spring weather. Guaranteed highlights of your trip? Experiencing the world of craft beers at Clarens Brewery and white-water rafting on the Ash River.

How to get there? It’s possible to drive to Clarens from Johannesburg (three-and-a-half hours) or Bloemfontein (three hours and 40 minutes).

8. Nottingham Road, KwaZulu-Natal: Culinary and Crafty Delights

Culinary enthusiasts will find their paradise in Nottingham Road, a town known for its wine cellars, cheese farms, and chocolate shops. Embark on the Midlands Meander to discover local craftsmen at work and relish gourmet dishes inspired by local produce.

How to get there? You can drive from Durban (two hours) or Johannesburg (five hours). Alternatively, fly to Pietermaritzburg Airport and enjoy a short one-hour drive to Nottingham Road.

9. Groot Marico, North West: Cultural Retreat

Groot Marico is ideal for both outdoorsy adventurers and those seeking cultural enrichment. Surrounded by towering blue gum trees, this gorgeous glamping destination promises a peaceful escape. Dive into the stories of Herman Charles Bosman at his dedicated museum and join locals for a taste of fiery ‘mampoer.’

How to get there? It’s an easy drive after landing at Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg – plan for just over two hours.


10. Cullinan, Gauteng: Sparkling Exploration

Uncover treasures beneath the surface in Cullinan, home to the renowned Cullinan Diamond Mine, the world’s most important source of ultra-rare blue diamonds. Take an underground tour to learn about unique geological finds and touch raw diamonds.

How to get there? Land at Lanseria Airport north of Johannesburg and drive just over an hour northeast.

11. Dullstroom, Mpumalanga: A Leisure Escape

Set in the serene landscapes of Mpumalanga, Dullstroom is a favourite for fly-fishing and other outdoor activities. It’s also home to Wild About Whisky, where you can savour various whisky, craft gin, and tequila tastings.

How to get there? Dullstroom is about a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. Alternatively, fly to Nelspruit Airport and then drive just under two hours to your final destination.

12. Haenertsburg, Limpopo: Rejuvenating Nature Retreat

Haenertsburg offers a spectacular nature retreat on the edge of the Great Escarpment. Known for its annual September Spring Festival, this town is a paradise for nature navigators, and admired for its lush biodiversity within Lekgalameetse Mountain Reserve.

How to get there? The quickest route is to fly in to Polokwane International Airport. It’s then just an hour’s drive to Haenertsburg.

Start Your Spring Adventure with Flight Centre!

From coastal serenity to wildlife wonders, cultural treasures, and more, these 12 towns hold the keys to unforgettable experiences. Whether you prefer self-drive holidays or convenient all-inclusive escapes, Flight Centre has your journey covered. Get a quote from our Travel Experts today.

Flight Centre

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