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Unforgettable Things To Do In Knysna (Restaurants, Adventures & More)

things to do in knysna

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It was after my holiday to South Africa’s Garden Route that I made the big decision to move away from rainy Scotland. The small taste of South Africa’s vibrant lifestyle was enough to convince me that this is where I want to live.

I decided to settle down in Hermanus, which is a town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It’s quiet, stunningly beautiful and a prime spot for whale watching. It’s also 412 km (256 miles) from one of my favourite places in the country – Knysna.

Located in the Garden Route, Knysna is small enough to be considered a quaint town, but big enough to cater to food lovers, adventure junkies, and nature enthusiasts alike.

If you’re travelling to South Africa’s coastal regions, this is one stop you’re going to want to make. During my travels, I made a list of some of my favourite spots in the hopes that fellow travellers could have the same experience I did.

8 Best Things to Do in Knysna (Eat, Shop, Play)

There are honestly so many things to do in Knysna, so it was difficult to narrow them down for this list. Here is what I would like to experience again and again.

1. Indulge at the Knysna Oyster Festival

I was lucky enough to be visiting Knysna in July, which meant I could attend the famous oyster festival. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Knysna.

There’s nothing quite like sipping on a glass of crisp white wine, indulging in some of the best oysters in the world and taking in the views of the blue lagoon. The many yachts in the bay are something to behold and will have you dreaming about a different kind of life.

2. Take in breathtaking views from the Knysna Heads

Featherbed Nature Reserve in Knysna is a stunning natural retreat, known for its beauty

Not only is this a must, but it’s free! Take a drive up to the Knysna Heads viewpoint – it’s unforgettable and only a 10-minute drive from the CBD. These two large sandstone cliffs are the entrance to the Knysna Lagoon. With the expansive views of the ocean and Featherbed Nature Reserve,and the cool ocean breeze, it’s hard not to get lost in daydreams.

These infamous Heads were once also one of the most dangerous throughways for ships. This is because the sea just beyond the Heads is incredibly rough and tricky to navigate.

3. Shop local at the Wild Oats Farmers’ Market

This award-winning market is located just outside Sedgefield, next to the scenic Swartvlei Lake, which is roughly a 30-minute drive from the CBD. I had the opportunity to indulge in some true South African cuisine. The vetkoek was my favourite, and still is.

As you bask in the warm sun, browse the many stalls, which are stacked with goods from local farmers, including creamy cheeses, grass-fed meat, and fine wines. If you love cooking and want a local taste of Knysna life, this market takes place every Saturday.

4. Experience the majesticness of whales

Ocean Odyssey in Knysna is worth visiting for its captivating boat tours that offer a unique opportunity to explore the diverse marine life of the Garden Route

If you’re looking for things to do in Knysna between June and November, you may get the chance to spot some whales. As you can imagine, this is one of the most popular things to do in Knysna. If you’re like me and don’t love big crowds, opt for a smaller tour boat.

This makes the experience more intimate and a little less overwhelming. I went out with Ocean Odyssey. They were knowledgeable, friendly, and really went the extra mile to make our experience unforgettable.

You’ll never feel smaller than when your boat passes by one of the ocean’s most majestic creatures.

5. Get lost in indigenous forests

Located on the Western Head, the Featherbed Nature Reserve is a must-see! Take a short ferry ride to the reserve where you can enjoy a guided walk through indigenous coastal forest. You’ll be completely lost in thought and feelings of awe as you adventure through this space.

The birdlife is also something to behold! Aside from Swaziland, this is one of the few places in the world where you can see the green Knysna Lourie. I would highly recommend bringing along a pair of binoculars if you’re into bird-watching

6. Spend time at Brenton-On-Sea

This is one of the most pristine beaches I have ever visited. A mere 20 minutes from the Knysna Waterfront, Brenton-On-Sea is secluded and perfect for a day in the sun. There is also a gorgeous restaurant called Butterfly Blu, which has full views of the ocean and serves everything from sushi to pizza.

As you can imagine, their seafood is fresh, and their wine selection – amazing! Another fun fact is that this is the only place in the world that has the endangered Brenton Blue Butterfly.

Take a stroll along the beach after lunch to wind down with just the sound of the waves breaking on the shore.

7. Explore the Knysna Estuary on a SUP

Ocean Odyssey and Knysna Charters are just two of the companies that hire stand-up paddle boards on Thesen Island. This is one of the best ways to explore the Knysna estuary at your own pace while enjoying the fresh sea air.

SUP boarding is one of my favourite activities because it’s relaxing and helps me work up an appetite – the perfect excuse to try yet another one of Knysna’s incredible restaurants. I would suggest you start with some of the spots on the Knysna waterfront.

8. Taste a few local gins

While the Knysna Gin Distillery is unassuming from the outside, it’s a grand experience once you step through the doors. Inside the distillery, you’ll find pristine copper equipment, jars of fresh, local ingredients, and knowledgeable staff. Grab a seat in the small garden outside as you enjoy a gin-tasting board and mingle with locals and tourists.

Each bottle of gin is made with the finest natural botanicals & spring water. This is one stop where you’re definitely going to want to arrange a ride back to your accommodation.

The Best Places to Stay in Knysna

Div comment: I’d trim some content from the section below, rather list more things to do in knysna. We’d like have a dedicated page on where to stay in knysna entailing the best places to stay at. We could briefly mention that Knysna has incredible places to stay, for example, from hotels to lodges etc. Then we would link to our dedicated page. The link would be really valuable to our dedicated page and demonstrate the importance of the page by linking to it here in this micro section.

In case you haven’t already found a place to stay in Knysna, here are my top recommendations.

Two Angels

Two Angels Guest House in Knysna is a haven of charm and tranquility, set against a backdrop of lush gardens and offering amazing views of the Knysna Heads, creating an idyllic retreat for guests

If you’re travelling with your partner (as I was), I can’t recommend Two Angels enough! This romantic, French-style villa is on the Knysna Lagoon. Staying in their Lovers Nest room will allow you to enjoy the sounds of the waves as they lap against the shore during high tide. There’s honestly no better way to fall asleep.

You’ll also have access to their canoes, which you can take out when the water is high enough. This is the perfect way to start or end your day. You’ll get to row past the famous Knysna Heads as well as the stunning Featherbed Nature Reserve.

Peace of Eden

Peace of Eden in Knysna is a enchanting eco-friendly retreat nestled in a pristine indigenous fores

The very first vegan lodge in South Africa, Peace of Eden will take you back to your roots. Located 15 minutes outside Knysna, this lodge offers self-catering units, glamping, and even eco-camping. If you’re looking to reboot your body and mind, I would highly recommend this spot. The peaceful surroundings are brimming with birdlife along with other local fauna and flora.

Their experiences are also something else. Not only do they have a music studio, but they also offer pop-up dining, which gives local culinary experts the chance to showcase their talents at a temporary location. Their animal farm is a great way to experience some of the local wildlife in a natural setting. However, feeding the animals is discouraged – exactly how it should be.

Turbine Hotel and Spa

The Turbine Boutique Hotel in Knysna is a unique blend of industrial chic and luxurious comfort, set against the scenic backdrop of the Knysna Lagoon

Want something a little different? The Turbine Hotel and Spa is located in a former power station and is part of a heritage walk. This walk gave me a lot of insights into this quaint town and was an ideal way to spend a morning.

The hotel is the perfect blend of industrial and contemporary design. And, because it’s located on Thesen Islands, the views are amazing! You’re also a short walk away from a number of restaurants and boat touring businesses.

Teniqua Treetops

Teniqua Treetops in Knysna offers a magical and eco-friendly treetop getaway, allowing guests to immerse themselves in the enchanting beauty of the indigenous forest

Nestled in the indigenous Knysna Forest, this eco-friendly lodge is one you’ll never forget. The resort offers a unique glamping experience, fully immersing you in nature. This is an ideal option for anyone who would also prefer a self-catering experience.

Even though Teniqua is built in a gorge, the suites are on stilts ranging from two to six meters above ground. It’s rustic, tranquil, and a winner for anyone who loves nature. Pull up a chair on your balcony and listen as the wind moves through the trees around you – nature at its finest!

Dos and Don’ts When Visiting Knysna

As with any country, I discovered there are some essential dos and don’ts when you visit Knysna.


  1. Respect local customs. South Africa has a diverse cultural landscape. Respect local customs and traditions at all times. I found it really useful to learn a few local phrases in isiXhosa and Afrikaans.
  2. Explore safely. When it comes to natural attractions, it’s important to follow safety guidelines – always. Stick to designated paths and don’t swim in dangerous areas.
  3. Support local businesses. Knysna has a number of creative local markets. If you can, find ways to support local artisans. This supports the South African economy and will give you something authentic to take home.
  4. Respect the wildlife. Always keep a safe distance from wildlife and avoid feeding or disturbing animals.
  5. Be water-wise. Knysna went through an extended period of drought in recent years, so be mindful of water usage.
  6. Pick reputable tour operators. When looking for things to do in Knysna, there’s no shortage of touring operators. However, some operators are better than others, so be sure to read through some reviews.
  7. Protect your skin. As someone who came from a country where it rains most of the time, I found the African sun particularly harsh. Sunscreen is a must, even if it’s a bit cloudy outside.


  1. Don’t give money to beggars. While it’s natural to want to help, it’s generally recommended not to give money to beggars. Rather support local charities.
  2. Don’t carry your valuables with you. While Knysna is generally safe, crime is still present. Keep your valuables close to you at all times and avoid displaying expensive jewellery if you can.
  3. Don’t ignore health precautions. Stay informed about health precautions, such as vaccinations and potential health risks in the area.


Which nature reserves are closest to Knysna?

Apart from the Featherbed Nature Reserve, visitors to Knysna are close to the Garden Route National Park, the Knysna Elephant Park, and the Steenbok Nature Reserve. The vast Garden Route National Park encompasses the Tsitsikamma National Park, the Wilderness National Park/Section, and the Knysna National Lake Area.

When is the weather best for visiting Knysna?

This town has an oceanic or marine climate, resulting in less extreme temperature changes throughout the year. Summers are warm, with the average high being around 23° C, while winters are moderate, with temperature highs of about 17° C to 18° C. If you’re planning a visit between April and September you might not be hitting the beach every day, but the weather is generally pleasant enough to enjoy the area’s natural beauty.

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