Surrounded by indigenous forest where elephants once roamed free, lies the lagoon town of Knysna. Oysters and champagne at the Knysna Lagoon? Say no more, our mouths are watering already with this un list of things to do in Knysna – a gem in the heart of the Garden route.
Knysna is one of the most beautiful places on the Garden Route and very popular amongst South Africans. This is a place of pure rest and relaxation, with the best restaurants at the lagoon side, multiple adventure activities to pick and choose from, and of course, the white sandy beach at Buffels Bay.
A Fun Guide to Knysna: Things To Do
There are many fun things to do in South Africa and in and around the Garden Route, but for now, these Knysna attractions should climb right to the top of your to-do list.
What To Do In Knysna
There are multiple fun activities in Knysna for every type of traveler. Enjoy scenic hikes with views over the calm waters of the turquoise lagoon. Would you rather admire the beautiful views from a boat? That’s also a great option! We’ve put together a list of the trendiest Knysna activities on offer.
The Featherbed Hiking Trail
Featherbed Nature Reserve is open again after the wildfires that devastated Knysna in June 2018. After months of rehabilitation, the fynbos (indigenous plant of the Cape region) is thriving again. This privately owned nature reserve is a South African Heritage site and definitely deserves its place on any list of top things to do in Knysna. So put on your hiking shoes and enjoy the splendour of the outdoors on this magical hike.
Visit The Knysna Elephant Park
The Knysna Elephant Park was the first facility in South Africa who cared for and housed orphaned African elephants. All of the elephants found here were once rescued by the park to ensure the wellbeing of these magical creatures.
You’ll have the opportunity to get up close with the elephants – on their terms of course! Visits to the elephant park include Elephant Walks, Daily Elephant tours or Elephant Picnic Walks. If you want to wake up to the beautiful sight of elephants grazing the fields, book a stay at The Elephant Lodge.
Circles In The Forest Hiking Trail
Close to the Goldfield State Forest, just outside of Knysna, you can find the Circles In The Forest Hiking Trail. The name was changed from Woodcutter’s trail to Circles in the Forest (Kringe in ‘n Bos) in memory of Dalene Matthee.
Matthee was a famous South African writer, widely known for her four forest books, where the Knysna forest is used as a backdrop for the unraveling story. The big tree, named after Dalene Matthee, refers to an 800-year-old yellowwood tree that reaches up to 40m high. You can find this tree at the picnic site at Krisjan-se-Nek.
There is a 3km or a 9km hike to choose from, both starting at the picnic site. Expect to see giant yellowwood and ironwood trees, while you listen to the sound of the Knysna loerie (an indigenous bird) occupying the forest.
The Friday Market
Every Friday from 4 pm to 8 pm the Knysna Friday Market takes place. The Friday Supper and Craft Market is a local family favourite. Join them and indulge in pizza, pancakes, or delicious Thai dishes. There is a bar available, so getting a drink won’t be a problem. You had us at live music and bonfire!
Knysna House Boats
Be the captain of your own holiday and hire a houseboat for that authentic lagoon-living lifestyle. On a sunny day you’ll get to gently cruise along the lagoon, take a dip in the water or fall asleep on the deck sunbathing under the South African sun.
On a rainy day, you can still be inside your houseboat and build some great memories playing board games or reading a book. This one is a favourite among couples and families!
Pezula Golf Course
For everyone traveling with their clubs and putters, take a trip down to the award-winning Pezula Championship Golf Course. This award-winning golf resort is a stunning place to hit the next hole-in-one. So amateur and addicted golfers, make your way down to the kilometres of fairways and greens calling your name.
If it doesn’t go too well with the 18-holes, you can still visit the clubhouse for a drink or a light meal to lift the spirits.
The Heads Of Knysna
The Knysna Heads is a must-see for travelers from all around the world. The heads create a breathtaking passage for the water crashing against its rocky mass and it’s a beautiful sight to behold.
You can see the Knysna heads from a number of restaurants, or if you’re partaking in watersport activities. You can easily access the East Head, either entering from Leisure Isle following the signposts or by car. Visit East Head Cafe during the day for a delicious seafood lunch with a view. The view over the local landmark from the cafe is a magical experience.
John Benn Double-Decker Floating Restaurant
For your daily dose of lagoon cruises, we recommend the John Benn Experience – a Knysna favourite. This double-decker floating restaurant offers you the best of both world – a cruise and a meal combined!
Indulge in fresh Knysna oysters and sparkling wine or choose something delicious from the menu, as you’re approaching the magnificent Knysna Heads. There are two full bars available on deck, so maybe a second sunset cruise option won’t be a bad idea.
Photo courtesy of John Benn Double-Decker
Top Restaurant Picks in Knysna
If you consider yourself somewhat of a foodie, it can be quite difficult to pick a restaurant in an unknown location. Here are some of our favourite options for dining in Knysna – the gem of the Garden Route.
Île de Païn Artisan Bakery – Lunch & Breakfast Restaurant
You can find this lovely restaurant at Thesen Island, at the Boatshed. The smell of freshly baked goods rise up from the kitchen and will make your empty stomach growl.
This award-winning restaurant serves creative visual plates, never compromising flavour, and showcase the fresh, seasonal ingredients found in the region.
For breakfast, get the trout tartine with soft boiled egg, pickled red onion, and horseradish mayo served with micro greens. If you missed breakfast, swing by for lunch – the steamed bun with sticky pork belly, pickled cucumber and a carrot and pickled ginger salad will make you beg for more.
Other Favourite Picks:
- Kilzers Kitchen Restaurant | 3-course meal prepared in front of 70 guests | 3 &% Roos Bolton Crescent, Knysna Heights
- The Olive Tree | Local Bistro Fare | 21 Main Road, Knysna
So get ready to make a trip down to the jewel of the famous Garden Route, Knysna, and explore all the wonderful little things this town has to offer. With spectacular views, amazing restaurants, beautiful hiking trails, and the magical lagoon, this location should make it to the top of your Garden Route bucket list – and hopefully our guide on all the top things to do in Knysna will help plan your trip.