Knysna, , pearl of the scenic Garden Route, is situated between George and Plettenberg Bay. Perennially green thanks to a Mediterranean Maritime climate with rain falling throughout the year, Knysna is mantled by indigenous forests extending into the Tsitsikamma National Park area.
Nestled between the impressive Outeniqua Mountains and the Indian ocean, the culinary capital of oysters and other delectable seafood is a compulsory stopover on every travelers’ itinerary. At the heart of Knysna is a lagoon protected from the sea by the monolithic sandstone "Heads" – best explored on board a catamaran or from along hiking paths in the Featherbed Nature Reserve. A hotspot for art and craft, as well as adventure activities such as tree canopy gliding, kloofing and abseiling, Knysna offers something to everybody.
The peculiarity of the origin of the place-name Knysna is commonly explained with a light-hearted joke of two German tourists travelling to Knysna, and upon reaching the lookout point on the eastern Knysna Head, the one says to the other: 'Nice, na?'. On a more serious note, Knysna is believed to be derived from a Khoi word for place of wood, or fern leaves, but most probable straight down or hard to reach - referring to the steep Knysna Heads.
Located in the middle of the Garden Route Knysna is easily accessible from Cape Town (about 500 km) and Port Elizabeth (about 270 km).
The major bus companies serve Knysna on their run from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth. The Baz Bus stops here too.
The nearest airport is in George, while for international flights you have to go through Cape Town.
There is no passenger train service to Kynsna
The old railway station is adjacent to the waterfront shopping and restaurant complex, a couple of blocks from the centre of town. Up until 2006 the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe ran to George via Wilderness and Sedgefield ; however, heavy rainfall and severe flooding in 2006 and again in 2007 caused major damage to the railway route resulting in this train service being suspended. The train was the last-remaining scheduled steam-hauled train service in South Africa, and a not-to-be-missed experience. The train line itself still provides opportunities for viewing and photography: the Kaaimans River bridge (the most-photographed railway bridge in the world) and the bridge over the Knysna lagoon.
There is a railway heritage museum in George, alongside the train station.
Walking around is the best option or rent a bicycle for longer distances. Except the minibuses there is no public transport so you have to take a taxi if you want.
Traffic can become extremely busy during the tourist high season and long queues in and out of Knysna are common.
The Western Head at sunset
- The lagoon: about 18 sq. km and home to at least 200 species of fish is connected with the Indian Ocean through a turbulent channel between "The Heads", two sandstone cliffs. Tour around on one of several boats or just take a coffee at "the Heads". Take a boat across to the Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Heads (this is an organised tour because it's a private reserve, but it's a good way to spend some time on the lagoon than take a walk in the reserve).
- The Knysna Forest: about 80.000 ha are now under conservation. The ‘King Edward VII’ tree (at Diepwalle forest station) is an estimated 600 years old, 39 m at height, and has a circumference of 6 m. The most famous animals are the Knysna elephants. Currently research, involving DNA testing of dung, is being done to see how many of them may still rumble in the jungle, please report any "dung" sightings! Remember to always take care. There are several hiking trails but you need a car to access the forest. Don't forget the conservation motto "Take only photographs, leave only footprints!".
- Pledge Nature Reserve: offers 3.5 km of pathways through scrub forest and hillside fynbos with fine views over the lagoon and is just 500 meters of the town centre. A nice place for a walk in the afternoon.
- Millwood Gold Fields: Site of one of the first gold rushes in South Africa, the Millwood Museum and Materoli Tea Room (be sure to try a piece of Jayne's World Famous Chocolate Cake) offers a unique and fascinating view of the greed, entrepreneurship, energy, and ultimate failure of the first gold discovered in South Africa during the late 1800's. Tours through the old gold diggings are available.
- Walk along the lagoon, take a coffee at one of the many shops at the waterfront and head straight on for The Heads.
- There are many golf courses around, often with stunning settings or views. Pezula Championship Course and Golf Club, Simola Country Estate, Golf Club and 5-Star Hotel and Knysna Golf Club. You can also book fully organised or self-drive golf tours in and around Knysna with Platinum Golf .
- Knysna Elephant Park, (Halfway between Knysna and Plettenberg Bay on the N2), ☎ +27 44 532-7732 ([email protected]), . Offers the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with African elephants. The elephants here are orphans from various SAN Parks and further afield, and they are so used to humans now that it is possible to feed them and actually touch them! Buy a bucket of fruit at the entrance and the elephants will pick up bits of fruit that you offer to them in your hands, or far more likely, they will take it straight from your bucket when you're not looking! You can also (if you book well in advance) take an evening or morning walk with the elephants. If you have the time, this is an experience not to be missed. edit
- Orbit Day Trips, ☎ +27 (0)44 382-1546 (, [email protected], fax: +27 44 382 1549), . Departures Daily from Knysna at 8:30. 4 Safaris in the Knysna and Plettenberg bay area. *Safari 1: Monkey, Bird & Elephant Safari. *Safari 2: Game, Whale & Dolphin Safari. *Safari 3: Site-seeing Day Tour (Also ideal for rainy or drizzly weather days). *Safari 4: Customise My Tour (Minimum 6 people) edit
- GoVertical Mountaineering Adventures, Waterfront Knysna, ☎ +27 82 731-4696, . Abseiling, Rock climbing, Kloofing, Trekking, Canoeing, Hiking and Slackpacking adventures in the Garden Route Knysna edit
- Knysna Fine Art, Thesen House, 6 Long Street, ☎ Tel: +27 44 382 5107, . 9h - 17h. Knysna Fine Art is one of South Africa’s finest galleries. Shows contemporary South African art in a variety of media, although a number of international fine artists are exhibited. Entry is free and you can purchase Painting, Sculpture, Ceramics and Photopgraphy. The gallery also handles the work of the South African masters and works closely with vendors and collectors. Recent sales include major works by Gerard Sekoto, J.H Pierneef, Lucas Sithole and Robert Hodgins. http://www.finearts.co.za/ edit
- Knysna Oyster Festival. Mid July every year. edit
- Gastronomica Festival Knysna. End September - First week of October every year. edit
- Pink Loerie Mardi Gras. 1 May to 4 May. edit
- Edge of Africa (Volunteer Projects), 42 Queen Street, ☎ +44 3822554, . 9am-5pm. EDGE of AFRICA offers short and long term volunteer programs in and around Knysna for visitors that want to make a real difference to our beautiful environment and community. edit
Shops line along the Main St. and the Waterfront.
Many restaurants line the main street and the waterfront area.
There are so many good restaurants in and around Knysna that you will be spoilt for choice!!
- The Dry Dock', Waterfront, . Great ambiance and delicious food. edit
- Ile de Pain, Thesens Island, . Delicious dishes with various kinds of home made bread. edit
- Zachary's Restaurant', . The highly acclaimed Zachary's is a sophisticated world-class gourmet restaurant under the helm of Executive Chef Geoffrey Murray, who delights in serving up local ingredients inspired by global influences. edit
- Persello's Pizzeria, Memorial Square (By Knysna Public Library), ☎ +27 44 382-2665, . Italian pizzeria with wood-fired ovens, home-made pasta, lasagne, cannelloni, crostoli, crisini and other gourmet treats all under a charming atmosphere. edit
- Mitchell's`s Brewery, Arend Street, ☎ +27 44 382-4685, . Offers tours around the brewery and tastings of their beer edit
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
|| Under R500
|| R500 to R1000
|| Over R1000
Many guesthouses, hotels and B&Bs compete for the visitor in off-season, but in high season prices rise and places fill early so book ahead. There are also several nice options out of town (like Brenton-on-Sea and Buffalo Bay) for those with their own transport.
- Jaynie Court, Hunters Home, 9 Bolton Street, ☎ +27 44 384-0937, . Bamboo the Guest House Knysna provides affordable Knysna accommodation in the South African Garden Route. edit
- Jaynie Court, Hunters Home, 9 Bolton Street, ☎ +27 44 384-0937, . Bamboo Guest House is perfectly situated midway between two award winning golf courses, and 5 minute drive to Knysna's bustling town centre with vibrant waterfront and restaurants. edit
- Elephant Hide of Knysna Accommodation, Cherry Lane, Welbedacht, Knysna (From George:), ☎ +27 44 382-0427, . checkin: 14h00; checkout: 11h00. Situated on top of the Welbedacht Cliff Tops 3km from Knysna Town, the Lodge overlooks the Knysna Lagoon and the Outeniqua mountains. The theme of the Lodge is one based on natural beauty with stone and wood architecture combining to give that comfortable earth feel. The surroundings attracting numerous bird species. All the suites have double showers with views and are private. The lodge is a family run business that prides itself on personal service. from 740.00. (34.01.59.3,23.00.38.9) edit
- Happy Hill, Mc. Clelland Circle 21 (Knysna-Heights), ☎ 044-3826627, . checkin: 02pm; checkout: 10am. upmarket and spacey apartment that suits 4 people very well. It offers mountain views from the sleeping rooms and lagoon views from the dining/living room and the balcony. There are a few selected DSTV channels too. In the garden an entertaining area with deckchairs around the saltwater pool, 2 lapas and a braai place are waiting for you. 225-400 Rand p.P. (-34.029858,23.035873) edit
- 9 on Heron Bed and Breakfast ([email protected]), 9 Herons Way, Old Place (Just turn off the N2 main road into Bokmakkierie Road, then right into Herons way, you'll see the sign on the left, 200 meters down the road.), ☎ +27 44 382 9964, . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10.30AM. 3km from the Knysna Quays, set in a quiet, secure, garden-like suburb. From R295 pp. (34° 02’ 34.79’’S,23° 04’ 14.68’’E) edit
- Knysna Backpackers @ Edge of Africa Lodge, 42 Queen Street, Knysna (From George turn left onto queen street just after the old Anglican Church), ☎ +27 44 3822554 ([email protected]), . Comfortable accommodation in an old victorian national monument, within walking distance to town. Dorm, double and family rooms available. From R200pp. edit
- Bliss Self-Catering Units, 12 Faure Street, Westhill, ☎ +27 44 382-4569 ([email protected]), . Two self catering units and a bed and breakfast unit. Centrally located with stunning views of the Lagoon and the Knysna Heads. Bliss has well appointed accommodation and is ideal for couples. From R250pps. edit
- Franverleigh Self-catering chalets, (Towards Karatara and Ruigtevlei), ☎ +27 44 356-9022 ([email protected]), . A low-density resort with two identical log chalets set in their own secluded garden. We have named them after our resident birds - Hoopoe and Lourie. From R175pp. edit
- Highfield Backpackers, 2 Graham Street, Central, ☎ +27 44 382-6266 ([email protected]), . A nice place with a pool a little bit off main street and offers dorms, private single and double rooms. Dorm bed R90, twin and family rooms R125pps. edit
- Monks Caravan Park and Camping, (1km from the centre of town towards the Port Elizabeth side of town), ☎ +27 44 382-2609 ([email protected]), . Monks Caravan park is situated on the edge of the lovely Knysna Lagoon and is in walking distance of the town. Affordable camping accommodation edit
- Prospect Cottage, 23 Agnar Street, Paradise (From the N2/Main Street turn into Short street, the second street left is Agnar Street and is a cul-de-sac.), ☎ +27 44 386-0152 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. A charming three bedroom home suitable for up to 6 people. Sip drinks on the elevated wooden deck with panoramic views of the lagoon and the 'Heads'. Easy access to the Garden Route and Klein Karoo. A three minute walk to central Knysna and the lagoon. From R600 for 2 people, R100 per additional person (max 6). (34° 2' 6.68 S,23° 2' 22.72 E) edit
- Amber Guest Lodge, 11 Duthie Street, Rexford, ☎ +27 44 384-1478 ([email protected]), . Amber Guest Lodge offers four-star bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation in Knysna. From R350pps. edit
- Big Tree House self-catering, 56 Milkwood Drive, Upper Old Place, ☎ +27 44 382-5604 ([email protected]), . The Big Tree House is unique. You are invited to enjoy a memorable holiday in this timber frame double storey home 6 person unit R850. edit
- Forest Valley Cottages, Rheenendal (Rheenendal), ☎ +27 84 606- 0813 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Cottages sleep 4 to 8, with brilliant valley views. From R550 per unit. edit
- Bush Baby Forest Lodge, 52 Main Road ("""), ☎ +27 84 843-3236 ([email protected]). checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Chalets sleep 2 to 4, Situated in the centre of town, walking distance to Malls, restaurants and shops, set in a lush forest garden that gives you the ambiance of being out of town. From R350 pps. edit
- Knysna Manor House, 19 Fichat Street, Central, ☎ +27 44 382-5440 ([email protected]), . checkin: 14h00; checkout: 11h00. Knysna Manor House is a 3 star, AA Highly Recommended Knysna guesthouse offering B & B accommodation on the Garden Route. The charming 100 year old Victorian mansion overlooks the Lagoon and is within walking distance to the centre of town. R330 - R440 pps. edit
- Knysna River Club, Sun Valley Drive, Costa Sarda, ☎ +27 44 382-6483 ([email protected]), . Situated on the water's edge of the Knysna Lagoon, the multi-award-winning Knysna River Club is a private enclave of charming, self-catering log chalets. Surrounded by shady trees and well-tended gardens, the resort offers security, privacy and comfort for guests looking to unwind, and is the ideal venue from which to explore Knysna. From R900 per unit. edit
- Knysna Terrace, 4 Star Guest House (just off the N2 from George), ☎ +27 44 382-6460 ([email protected]), . Guests can stroll leisurely from Knysna Terrace to the nearby picturesque village of Knysna which boasts a selection of shops and restaurants. edit
- Lagoona Inn, 22a Dikkop Street, ☎ +27 44 382-4656 ([email protected]), . Every one of our bedrooms and apartments enjoys spectacular panoramic views of the mysterious beauty of Knysna. edit
- Lazy Leopard, Rheenendal, ☎ +27 82 965-5765 ([email protected]). checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Especially the 2 smaller cottages (just 2 persons) are very nice, both have bathrooms with lots of glass, as if you outside. From R600 per unit. edit
- Log-Inn (3 Star Hotel), 16 Gray Street, Central, ☎ +27 44 382-5835 ([email protected]), . The Knysna Log-Inn Hotel embodies an "indigenous" concept that combines the character and the spirit of the surrounding indigenous forests with Knysna's romantic history From R625pps. edit
- Sandybanks, Thesen Island (On Thesen Island, take the first left turn to the gatehouse), ☎ +27 44 382-4904 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. Sandybanks is a self-catering holiday home built in the style of a contemporary boathouse on the edge of the Knysna Lagoon. Great views and bird watching. Swimming pool. Kayaks and bicycles available. From R800per unit. (-34.0462945937204,23.0524921417236) edit
- Saffron Self-catering Holiday House, Thesen Islands, ☎ +27 44 382-0089 ([email protected]), . The house has 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, lounge, dining room, kitchen, scullery, single garage and patio directly over the Knysna Lagoon. edit
- Wayside Inn, Main Street, ☎ +27 44 382-6011 ([email protected]), . A very nice B&B in the centre of the town with charming rooms. From R355pps. edit
- Zauberberg Cottage, 28 Ridge Drive, Paradise, ☎ +27 44 382-5357 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. In a quiet suburb above town and offers self-catering and B&B in two traditional timber cottages surrounded by a lush indigenous garden and with a view onto the Knysna Lagoon. From R300pps. edit
- The GrayWood Hotel, Cnr Gray & Trotter Streets, Central, ☎ +27 44 382-5850 ([email protected]), . Exceptionally well positioned and within walking distance from the Knysna Waterfront and the popular town center. The three star Graywood Hotel opened its doors in mid-September 2004 and boasts 49 en-suite timber log rooms with a licensed bar, secure parking and a full breakfast available. From R690pps. edit
- Hide-Away Guest House, 114 Keerom, Paradise, ☎ +27 44 382-3317 ([email protected]), . 4 Star Guest house. Two Executive Rooms located on the ground floor and Three Superior Rooms on the first floor offer spectacular views of the Knysna Lagoon and Heads. From R560pps. edit
- House Hammond, 47 Howard Street, Hunters Home, ☎ +27 44 384-1524 ([email protected]), . 4 Star Guest house. Each custom built individual unit, with feature en-suite bathroom, is equipped with luxury bedding and stylish décor. A stone’s throw from local 18-hole Knysna Golf Course R450-R1200 pp Bed & Breakfast. (S 34° 3.569',E 23° 4.989') edit
- Lightleys Holiday Houseboats, Phantom Pass Road, ☎ +27 44 386-0007 ([email protected]). This Company has been Closed since December 2011 edit
- Parkes Manor Knysna, 1 Azalia Street, Paradise, ☎ +27 44 382-5100 ([email protected]), . A four-star rated guesthouse set in tranquil surroundings overlooking the Knysna lagoon and well-known Knysna Heads. From R1045. edit
- Pezula Resort Hotel and Spa, Lagoon View Drive, Sparrebosch, ☎ +27 44 302-3333 ([email protected]), . Pezula Resort Hotel & Spa is Africa's first truly luxury resort, a sanctuary of privacy and indulgence created to reflect the natural beauty of its surrounds. From R3025pps. edit
- Tonquani Lodge, Welbedacht Lane, Kanonkop, ([email protected]), . Rated best B&B/Guesthouse with Self-Catering in South Africa three times in a row. 5 Star accommodation at an affordable price and with excellent facilities. Family rooms from R395pp and double units from R795pp. edit
- Villa Afrikana Guest Suites, 13 Watsonia Drive, Paradise, ☎ +27 44 382-4989 ([email protected]), . checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. All suites enjoy fantastic views over the Knysna Heads and surrounding Lagoon. Reputably they are some of the most spacious suites in Knysna and the Garden Route with combined sleeping and seating area averaging 32 square meters of living space. R850 to R1050pp. (34°2 0.33 S,23°1 53.81 E) edit
The town has rolled out municipal wifi provided by Uninet. Access is restricted to 45 minutes per user per day.
Hike in the Kynsna forest or take a tour in the Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe steam-train to Knysna. Other options are a day tour to Oudtshoorn or the Noetzie castle a few km north east of town.
- Noetzie Castle - East of Knysna some Britons lost their castles on the beach. Worth some hours or more if you like the beach.
- Brenton-on-Sea - Less crowded than Knysna this sea-side village offers endless beaches
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