Things to do in Swellendam
With a variety of things to do in the area, Swellendam is a popular destination along the Garden Route. Those looking for a relaxed getaway can eat at one of the many restaurants in the town and surrounds or spend time learning about Swellendam’s rich history. For those who prefer a more active getaway, there are many adventure activities on offer in the area, from canoeing along the Breede River to horse riding and hiking in the surrounding Langeberg Mountains.
As one of the oldest towns in the country, Swellendam is famous for its many historical buildings. Several of these were built in the traditional Cape Dutch gable style and there are several examples of these kinds of buildings in the town that have been well maintained and reflect the town’s beginnings as a colonial outpost in the mid-1700s. Lending to its unique aesthetic, Swellendam is situated at the foot of a mountain range. This means that apart from being a picturesque area in which to enjoy an al fresco meal at one of the areas many restaurants and wine farms, a general emphasis is placed on the area’s accessibility to nature.
For outdoor enthusiasts, there are mountain biking and hiking trails in and around the town, several of them in the adjacent nature reserve. Other mountain biking and hiking options are also available in the greater Swellendam area, including in Barrydale where you can go hiking or do a botanical scenic walk. Other outdoor activities include canoeing and river rafting in the nearby Breede River, historically one of South Africa’s only navigable rivers. Riverside resorts in the area as in Buffeljachts, also offer boat cruises. Along the coast at Cape Infanta, there are also a number of outdoor activities like fishing and whale watching in season, especially in the area that forms part of the coastal nature reserve.
Swellendam is popular for its regular Saturday markets and various annual events which include outdoor races, outdoor expositions, an airshow, a bowls competition and a variety of annual agricultural shows. The town is also home to artists and potters and there are several art galleries in the town as well as a pottery studio. Art exhibitions regularly take place at these galleries which focus on promoting new artists as well as encouraging interest in old masters and investment art.
Swellendam is a small town, but has a selection of bars and venues that contribute to the town’s nightlife. These bars are located along the main road and include pubs where you can watch live sports or where you can sit around a roaring outdoor fire. Many restaurants also have bars available where you can choose to enjoy a drink before or after your meal. Many guest houses are available for private functions and regular community events mean that there are many opportunities to socialise. With an established local community, Swellendam is also home to a number of clubs, including the local golf and flying club.
Swellendam has a number of accommodation options available from self-catering cottage rentals to cosy family-run B&B’s and luxurious guest houses. As many of the town’s accommodation establishments are located along the main road, visitors can easily navigate the town by foot or can rent a bike form the local tourism office and explore the area at their leisure. Further outside of the town, in the greater Swellendam area, visitors can also stay in a variety of accommodation from secluded cottages on berry farms to quirky inns with a focus on design. Although Swellendam is a popular destination for visitors year-round, it is noticeably quieter during the winter months.