The Knysna Quick Travel Guide

Why go?
Knysna at the heart of South Africa’s Garden Route, has to be the ultimate stop on any Garden Route trip. Nestled between lush indigenous forest and the striking Garden Route coast line the small(ish) town of Knysna has plenty to offer everyone. Whether you are looking to while away days on beautiful beaches, hike through stunning Garden Route scenery or sample a great range of cuisines at one of the many excellent Knysna restaurants and bars Knysna really does have it all. Cruise the famous Knysna Lagoon, explore the trendy Knysna Waterfront, play a few rounds of golf or simply relax and unwind, the choice is yours!


Who for?
Knysna is a popular spot for people of all ages and from all walks of life and anyone stopping in Knysna is bound to find something to entertain them. Knysna also makes a great base from which to explore other Garden Route towns such as Oudtshoorn, GeorgePlett and Port Elizabeth. Families will find plenty of beaches and wildlife and nature things to do in and around Knysna and couples and older visitors are well catered for with a good number of Knysna restaurants and cafes, some great golf courses and a good range of Knysna accommodation.

Knysna, like most of the Garden Route and Eastern Cape, is an excellent year round destination. Summer time (December to March) is generally sunny and warm and winter time tends to be mild. We would recommend avoiding Knysna during the Christmas holiday period (December to end of January) unless you like a lot of people around and busy hotels. February can be very hot weather-wise in Knysna, but is a nice time to visit as is March.

How long?
How long to spend in Knysna all depends on what you’d like to do and how much of the surrounding Garden Route areas you’d like to see. You could easily spend all of a two week holiday in and around Knysna, enjoying the many water sports, hiking trails and other things to do in Knysna and the nearby Garden Route towns. We would suggest basing yourself in Knysna for a week or so and renting a car so that you can make day trips to nearby Garden Route attractions, this will also give you plenty of time to relax in Knysna itself and explore this naturally beautiful Garden Route paradise.

Must see/do?

  • Cruise around the Knysna Lagoon – we’d suggest hopping on an organised cruise or renting a houseboat for a few days – the Knysna Lagoon is an absolutely stunning spot!
  • Take a trip into the indigenous Knysna Forest where you’ll find some good hiking and mountain biking trails as well as the abandoned Millwood Gold Mines which are interesting for anyone keen on a little local history – you can also enjoy scones and cream tea at the little cafe at the museum.
  • Visit the Knysna Waterfront – there are lots of great restaurants and trendy little shops here for a spot of food whether it be lunch or dinner time.
  • Keep an eye out for the famous Knysna Loerie – the signature bird of this Garden Route town - can often be spotted at Leisure Isle Coffee Shop.
  • Head out to Buffalo Bay and spend the day splashing about in the Indian Ocean and relaxing or playing on the beach.
  • Stroll down Knysna’s Main Street – again there are lots of good restaurants and bars to enjoy.

Knysna Full Travel Guide (for those who want a little more info!) 

Knysna Overview
The fantastic Garden Route town of Knysna has recently been internationally recognised as one of the top 100 holiday destinations in the world, and when you arrive you’ll understand why. Situated between lush forests, the Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian Ocean, Knysna is a town of unparalleled beauty and this increasingly popular Garden Route holiday spot offers a wide range of activities, a great choice of accommodation as well as excellent cuisine, including the world-famous Knysna oysters.

Two mighty sandstone cliffs, known as ‘The Knysna Heads’, tower the entrance to the wide and breathtaking Knysna lagoon which is home to some of the best tasting oysters in the world. Whether you just want to relax on the beach or hike through the area’s indigenous forests and discover the flora and fauna, including the unique South African ‘Fynbos’, Knysna is a place not to be missed.

How to get to Knysna
By air
The nearest airport to Knysna is George airport, the Garden Route’s main gateway. George aiport is approximately 60km from Knysna and South African Airways as well as some of the low cost carriers such as Kulula fly regularly into this Garden Route airport.

By car
Another popular way to get to Knysna is to drive from or Port Elizabeth, this way you get to see a lot more of what the Garden Route has to offer. Hiring a car and exploring Knysna and the many other beautiful Garden Route towns makes for a very memorable trip.

When to go
Knysna is a great holiday destination all year round, however the most popular time to visit Knysna is between December and March, when temperatures tend to sit around 25°C and it is fairly dry. We would suggest avoiding December and early January if you can help it as Knysna gets very busy during the South African school holidays. There are rain showers throughout the year but the months between August and November are when Knysna sees the most rain. During the peak season (December to March) accommodation tends to get a little pricey and hotels and B&Bs can fill up quickly, so it’s worth booking a place to stay before you arrive in Knysna.

Things to do in Knysna
Knysna is one of the most popular Garden Route destinations for tourists from both within South Africa and from abroad, and deservedly so. The wide range of activities, attractions and other things to do make Knysna and surrounding areas a great all year round destination.

Spend some time on a houseboat
A great way to explore the beauty and diversity of Knysna’s lagoon is to hire a Knysna lagoon houseboat. The houseboats offer an exciting way to enjoy your Knysna holiday, are easy to pilot and you can cruise at your leisure visiting the many secluded bays, taking in the scenery and perhaps doing a spot of fishing, but remember you will need to buy a fishing license first which can be purchased easily from any Knysna post office.

Scuba diving
For those who’d like a little underwater action, there is some excellent scuba diving to be found in Knysna, both in the tidal lagoon and out by the famous Knysna Heads. Diving along the Knysna coastline is a unique and wonderful experience, offering a kaleidoscope of colours and spectacular coral reefs. Nudibranchs, sea spiders, Toothed decorator crabs, colourful corals, fish and sharks are but a few of the wonders to be seen. The famous Knysna seahorse can be found in the Knysna lagoon, which has the highest diversity of organisms of any estuary in South Africa.

For those who prefer to remain on top of the water, Knysna offers plenty of other water sports and activities. Try taking a sailing boat charter and let the experienced crews sail you around the beautiful Knysna waters, perhaps you will even be lucky enough to spot a dolphin or two on your trip.

Water sports and beaches
The Knysna lagoon and river are also perfect for a spot of canoeing or waterskiing and the nearby beaches of Bollard Bay (Leisure Island) and Buffalo Bay are good beaches for family days out and swimming.

Mountain biking
Mountain biking in and around Knysna is a fun way to explore the area and there are many great trails and organised .

Golf in Knysna and indeed the whole of the Garden Route is excellent. There are several good golf courses in and around Knysna and many people come to the beautiful Garden Route just to tee-off at some of these great courses.

Wildlife and nature experiences in Knysna
Knysna is also a very popular destination for nature lovers. Hiking through the beautiful countryside along stunning hiking trails is a great way to explore the flora and fauna of the Garden Route and there are many organised hiking tours available. Bird watching is also a favourite activity amongst visitors to Knysna and the Garden Route is home to many wonderful species of bird. A visit to South Africa would not be complete without seeing some traditional African wildlife and Knysna’s elephant park offers visitors a great opportunity to get close to these majestic giants.

Other worthwhile things to do in Knysna
A trip to Knysna’s Mitchell’s Brewery always makes for a fun activity and includes the chance to taste some of the locally produced ale. The Millwood gold mines (a little ghost town north of Rheenendal) where gold was discovered in the 1880s are also worth a visit. You can see the small Museum, grave sites, mine shafts and mining equipment used, during an action-packed mine tour. Knysna is also home to many great markets. The Wild Oats Market in nearby Sedgefield is great fun for all the family.

Eating out and Nightlife in Knysna
Knysna is home to many great restaurants, cafes and bars and you can enjoy some of the best food the Garden Route has to offer in Knysna. Knysna's nightlife scene is vibey and casual - a great Garden Route town for a night out. Both the Main Street and the Waterfront are home to some excellent Knysna restaurants although there are also some great eateries to be found a little outside of town too – the Red Barn on the Rheenendal Road just outside of Knysna is worth a stop as is the Leisure Isle Coffee Shop on the picturesque Leisure Isle.

Where to stay in Knysna
Knysna definitely has no shortage of hotels and B&Bs, however accommodation does get quite busy, especially in the peak season between December and March so it’s worth booking your Knysna accommodation in advance. There are some excellent family and couples Knysna accommodation options based in and around the Knysna Forest for those looking for a more relaxed experience - we like Bamboo, the Guest House, Forest Edge and Teniqua Treetops for this, and the town area of Knysna offers up some excellent accommodation options for those looking to be nearer the action.

Plan your trip to Knysna in the Garden Route now!
With so much to offer Knysna really is well worth a visit. We hope to see you soon in this beautiful Garden Route town.

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