Swellendam Top Attractions

1. Swellendam History

As one of the oldest towns in South Africa, Swellendam is well known for its many historical buildings and rich history. In particular, the town’s well-preserved Cape Dutch vernacular buildings give an insight into the area’s colonial past. However, the area’s history is also made up of centuries of human settlement before the arrival of the Dutch in Cape Town in the mid-1700s. The names given to places in the area also reflect the history of South Africa’s indigenous history in particular the Khoi and San people, who were also an integral element of the development of the present day community. The Drostdy Museum complex is made up of several buildings which reflect this history and can be visited throughout the year to learn more about Swellendam’s unique history. History of Swellendam


2. Swellendam Restaurants

Swellendam is located in a rich agricultural area and this is quite evident in the variety of local produce available. From wine estates in the surrounding area to the town’s various daytime eateries, Swellendam is an ideal place to eat traditional Cape cuisine and take advantage of the abundance of fresh produce in the area. Some of the most popular restaurants are located along the main road, many in well-maintained or restored historical buildings. These include an award-winning Italian restaurant and others that are housed in rebuilt farmhouses and even a Masonic lodge next to the Koornlands River. Specialities include lamb shank, oxtail and other traditional dishes such as bobotie and curries. Swellendam Restaurants 


3. Swellendam Festivals

Swellendam is famous for being a beautiful place to escape to which also makes it popular for outdoor festivals and events. One of the most popular festivals is Up the Creek, a music festival that takes place just outside of Swellendam on the nearby Breede River. Taking place in late January to early February every year, the festival is extremely popular, so tickets are often sold out in advance. Other nearby festivals include Swellenberry Weekend (including the Wildebraam Berry Festival) and the Swellendam Poetry and Music Show, which took place in March this year. Other important events include the Agri Expo Swellendam Show in March and other smaller community events which take place throughout the year. Events in Swellendam


4. Hiking Trails of Swellendam

Situated at the foot of one of the Western Cape’s most prominent mountain ranges, Swellendam is a prime location for hiking and walking. Various hiking trails can be done in the adjacent Marloth Nature Reserve which holds several trails. These include shorter day walks and indigenous forest walks that take you to secluded rock pools and waterfalls surrounded by ancient trees. Other longer trails include hikes to the “Plaat” or mid-band of the mountain or to the famous Clock Tower Peaks. Longer trails like the 4-6 day Swellendam Hiking Trail cater for those looking for a more challenging and self-sufficient experience with more rustic amenities. In the greater Swellendam area, hiking can also be done in and around Barrydale and guided marine walks and hiking trails can also be done along the coast at De Hoop Nature Reserve. Hiking Trails in Swellendam


5. Nature Reserves in Swellendam

In addition to the Marloth Nature Reserve right next door to the town of Swellendam with its variety of walking trails and scenic offerings, the greater Swellendam area is home to a few nature reserves and marine protected areas. The Bontebok National Park which is also located just a short drive outside of the town, is an area declared to protect its once prolific in the area namesake animal, the bontebok antelope. The reserve is also home to other species of game such as caracal and red hartebeest, and there are important historic monuments in the reserve that celebrate the area’s Khoi ancestry, such as Lang Elsie’s Kraal. The De Hoop Nature Reserve along the coast near Cape Infanta and Witsand is also an important nature reserve and one of the best places to view whales in season. Nature Reserves in Swellendam


6. Outdoor Adventures in Swellendam

With an abundance of natural surroundings, Swellendam is a popular destination for outdoor events, especially given the diversity of terrain that makes up the greater Swellendam area. No different to other parts of the Western Cape where mountain biking and trail running has become a popular pastime, several outdoor events take place in Swellendam every year. These include The Whale of Trail event, which is a 53km run along the coast in the De Hoop Nature Reserve. Other outdoor events include the TransCape Mountain Bike Race and the Coronation Double Century Race that finishes in Swellendam. With the Breede River close by, there are also canoe races that take place along this section of river annually, like the Breed River Canoe Marathon. Outdoor Things to Do in Swellendam


7. Swellendam is Family Friendly

South Africa, in general, is a family-friendly destination and Swellendam is not different. Easily accessible by foot or bike, there are many things to do to keep the whole family occupied. From walks in the nature reserves to visiting the town’s famous fairy sanctuary to a visit to the nearby berry farm, there are many options to keep families happy and entertained. In the greater Swellendam area, there are also a variety of family activities on offer like whale watching in the De Hoop Nature Reserve in season, pulling yourself along a historic Pont at Malgas, horse riding or taking a drive to see some game in the Bontebok National Park. Things to do in Swellendam


8. Discover the local products in Swellendam

In an area focused on agriculture, Swellendam is famous for its local produce and other culinary offerings. Many boutiques and cafes sell local produce such as pastries and other baked goods and there is a monthly market where local vendors sell a range of locally sourced products. Swellendam also has a proactive apiarist community and local honey and beekeeping equipment is available for purchase in the town. In addition to food and other curios, Swellendam is also famous for its day spa, where you can indulge in a pampering massage treatment and buy a range of organic and ethically sourced beauty products, including handmade soap that is handcrafted by local residents. Local Produce in Swellendam


9. Swellendam Accommodation

Swellendam is famous for its historic architecture and many guest houses and hotels are housed in heritage buildings. Staying in one of these heritage-listed buildings can give you an insight into the area’s history which all have a unique charm and architectural designs that reflect the availability of material and various elements of a bygone era. Accommodation ranges from upmarket hotels to guest houses that offer a more personalised experience. Additional accommodation options include staying in guest houses that are run in conjunction with award-winning restaurants, as well as uniquely designed accommodation options that focus on modern design. Visitors also have the option to appreciate Swellendam’s natural surrounds by staying in a cottage on a nearby berry farm or in one of the many different accommodation options available in the greater Swellendam area. Accommodation in Swellendam


10. Architecture of Swellendam

Swellendam holds several well-maintained historical buildings which will provide many viewing opportunities for those interested in architecture. From the elaborate Dutch Reformed Church on the main road opposite the town’s Church Square to the many Cape Dutch style homes, there are many examples of different architectural eras in the town. Many of Swellendam’s business also operate from restored heritage buildings including the town’s museum complex and several restaurants and guesthouses along the main road. Other interesting examples of architecture include an old Masonic lodge that now operates as a restaurant as well as the old Drostdy building, which retains many original features of the building including the peach pit floors. About Swellendam