Things To Do In Paarl

things to do in paarl

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As the sun dips behind the Drakenstein Mountains, the vineyards of Paarl take on a copper hue. When that happens, you’ll truly grasp the essence of the Cape Winelands. I regularly found myself lounging on the veranda of a vine-clad estate, a glass of the region’s finest in hand, reflecting on a day spent exploring.

From the rich tapestry of cultural sites to the simple joy of a market trawl, Paarl is full of experiences.

Join me as we uncover the best things to do in this charming town, ensuring your adventure is as full-bodied as the wine that beckons from its cellars.

Why Paarl?

In the heart of the Cape Winelands, Paarl stands as a beacon of cultural heritage and wine-making. It’s a place where every winding road leads you to another story, each vineyard holds a history, and every sunset creates a memory. If you are seeking a blend of adventure and tranquillity, Paarl offers some of the best experiences in South Africa.

  • Culture: Paarl’s extensive tapestry of culture is evident in its architecture, with a streetscape that whispers tales of Dutch, French, and British influences. It’s a town where the Afrikaans Language Monument looms with a significance as profound as the views of the valley it overlooks.
  • Wine: As a jewel of the Cape Winelands, Paarl invites connoisseurs and novices alike to indulge in wine-tasting adventures that are as educational as they are sensory.
  • Nature: The scenic beauty of Paarl is undeniable. With a backdrop of mountains, countless trails lead to breathtaking vistas, perfect for those looking to connect with nature.
  • Food: The gastronomic landscape in Paarl is vibrant, offering flavours that cater to the palates of foodies, with a fusion of local and international cuisine.

In Paarl, the warmth of the community can be felt the same way you’d feel the heat on a summer’s day. Plus, the hospitality is as rich as the wines. Here, the things to do in Paarl are more than just activities; they’re invitations to immerse yourself in the essence of the Western Cape.

Whether you’re meandering through vineyards or soaking in the heritage, Paarl is a place to do more than just visit; it’s a place to live, even if just for a moment.

Wine Tasting Adventures

The sun-kissed valleys of Paarl are a wine maker’s dream, and for the wine enthusiast, it’s nothing short of paradise. My journey through the Cape Winelands led me to some of the most exquisite wine estates I’ve ever had the pleasure to explore.

Each estate in Paarl is a world of its own. A place where the wine is a storyteller, recounting tales of the earth, the climate, and the passionate people who make every bottle. Here, wine tasting is a journey through the senses, a narrative of discovery, and an intimate encounter with the best of the Cape Winelands.

Nederburg Wine Estate

Nederburg Wine Estate is a vinicultural treasure, where centuries of winemaking tradition merge with modern craftsmanship, offering a captivating journey through lush vineyards and a historic cellar
  • Location: Sonstraal Rd, Paarl

My adventure began at the historic Nederburg Wine Estate, where the legacy of winemaking dates back over two centuries. The estate’s Manor House, a national monument, stands as a testament to time, and the wines here are as rich as the history.

The guided cellar tour was an education in the art of winemaking, and the tasting session that followed was full of new aromas and tastes.

Fairview Wine and Cheese

Fairview Wine and Cheese is a culinary delight, where the synergy of award-winning wines and artisanal cheeses creates a sensory experience, inviting visitors to savor the perfect marriage of flavors amid the scenic vineyards
  • Location: Suid-Agter-Paarl Rd, Suider, Paarl

Next, I found myself at Fairview Wine and Cheese, where the pairing of wine with artisanal cheeses is an art form. The Goat Tower, inhabited by the estate’s mascots, is incredibly charming. The tasting room, with its welcoming ambience, offered a flight of wines that were a revelation, each sip a discovery of the estate’s innovative spirit.

Spice Route Destination

Spice Route Destination is a sensory haven, where the aromas of spices, flavors of artisanal chocolates, and the richness of craft beverages converge against the backdrop of the Paarl Mountains
  • Location: Suid-Agter-Paarl Rd, Southern Paarl, Paarl

The Spice Route Destination is a celebration of flavours, and the wine tasting here is an immersive experience. With a view of the vineyards and mountains, I savoured some really great-tasting wines. The Malabar wine, exclusive to the estate, was a standout with its complex layers, a true homage to the winemaker’s craft.

Vrede en Lust Estate

Vrede en Lust Estate in Paarl is a captivating blend of natural beauty and viticultural excellence, where lush vineyards meet historic Cape Dutch architecture, inviting visitors to indulge in superb wines, gourmet cuisine, and panoramic views
  • Location: Intersection R45 and Simondium-Klapmuts Roads, Franschhoek Wine Route, Simondium

At Vrede en Lust, the fusion of the old and new creates an authentic wine-tasting experience. The estate’s commitment to sustainability is as palpable as the vibrancy of its wines. Tasting their flagship red blend, I understood the essence of Paarl’s terroir – a perfect balance of fruit, tannin, and oak.

This estate is located halfway between Franschhoek and Paarl (around a 16-minute drive from Paarl).

Cultural and Historical Sites

Paarl is draped in the cultural richness of South Africa. As I meandered through its streets, I was transported to a time when each building, monument, and museum was a chapter from the past, waiting to be read.

In Paarl, things to do extend beyond leisure; they become a journey through time. The town is a custodian of stories, safeguarding the essence of what it means to be South African. Here, the past is not just remembered; it is celebrated, learned from, and given the reverence it deserves.

The Afrikaans Language Monument

  • Location: Gabbema Doordrift St, Paarl

Perched on the slopes of Paarl Mountain, the monument is an ode to a language and a beacon of cultural identity. Its design, resonating with the linguistic diversity of South Africa, offers one of the best panoramic views in the region. Standing there, the language of the landscape spoke to me as profoundly as the stories encapsulated within the monument’s walls.

Paarl Museum

  • Location: 303 Main Rd, Bertville, Paarl

A treasure trove of historical artefacts, the Paarl Museum reveals the layers of the town’s past. Each exhibit, from the indigenous Khoi people to the arrival of European settlers, narrates a tale of evolution and resilience. It’s a place where history is told through dates and facts, and through the lived experiences of its people.

Laborie Estate

Laborie Estate is a charming escape where historic Cape Dutch architecture meets lush vineyards, offering a serene ambiance for wine enthusiasts to savor award-winning vintages and experience the essence of South African winemaking
  • Location: Taillefer Street, Laborie Wine Estate, Paarl

Although known for its wines, Laborie Estate is a historical gem in its own right. The manor house, a testament to Cape Dutch architecture, stands as a reminder of the 17th-century settler days. Walking through its halls, I felt a connection to the generations that walked before me, their legacy etched in the gables and thatched roofs.

Paarl Rock

Paarl Rock is a colossal granite formation with a cleft that symbolizes the legendary tale of Lady Du Toit's horse
  • Location: Devine St, Hoog-En-Droog, Paarl

The granite domes of Paarl Rock, significant to the Khoikhoi and San people, are landmarks of natural and historical importance. The rock formations, sculpted by the elements over millennia, are silent witnesses to the region’s history.

Outdoor Activities and Nature

In the Cape Winelands, Paarl is a sanctuary where embracing nature is an integral part of the experience. My quest for adventure led me to Paarl’s rugged landscapes, where the air is crisp and the views of the valleys are as intoxicating as the region’s wines.

Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve

While going up the trails of this reserve, you can see the diverse flora and fauna unique to the Western Cape. The fynbos is a botanical region that carpets the slopes in loads of colour and texture. The best part? The summit rewards you with a panorama that rivals any postcard of Cape Town.

Bird Watching

Bird Watching in Paarl

Paarl’s avian life is something you can’t afford to miss. In a quiet corner of the reserve, I found myself amidst birdwatchers, our binoculars trained on a ballet of birds in the sky. There are moments when the only sounds are the call of the fish eagle and the rustle of wings against the wind.

Cycling Routes

Cycling Routes in Paarl

The terrain around Paarl is a cyclist’s canvas, painted with routes that cater to both the leisurely rider and the mountain biking enthusiast. Pedalling through the vineyards at dawn, the cool mist around me, I felt a freedom that only comes with being on two wheels in a landscape as inviting as this.

Hot Air Ballooning

As dawn broke, I found myself aloft in a hot air balloon, vineyards and estates receding beneath me. I witnessed all the magic of Paarl from the air.

Culinary Delights

FABER at Avondale is a culinary gem, where farm-to-table dining meets innovative gastronomy, offering a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere amidst the picturesque Cape Winelands

Paarl’s culinary scene is full of unique flavours. Each restaurant a has story, and every dish is a memory in the making. Among the things to do in Paarl, indulging in its food culture is a must.

  • Farm-to-table eateries: Paarl’s commitment to fresh, local produce is evident in its farm-to-table eateries. Dining at FABER at Avondale, I savoured a salad so fresh it must have been picked just as I placed my order.
  • Gourmet experiences: The town is home to some of the best gourmet experiences in South Africa, where chefs are like alchemists. They practically turn local ingredients into gold. The fusion of international techniques with local flavours is nothing short of culinary magic. I’d recommend checking out Grande Roche Restaurant, the food here is heavenly.
  • Traditional Afrikaans cuisine: For a taste of local heritage, traditional Afrikaans restaurants offer a hearty welcome with dishes like bobotie and melktert, each bite a lesson in the rich tapestry of South African history. Knus Karoo Kombuis is your best bet if you’re looking for authentic Afrikaans bites.

In Paarl, the culinary delights are as diverse as the landscape. Each meal is a journey through the senses.

Events and Festivals

Paarl’s calendar has plenty of events that reflect the heart and soul of the Cape Winelands. From the infectious laughter at comedy nights to the rhythmic beats at live music gigs, there’s an energy in Paarl that you can feel.

  • Arts and culture: The town’s cultural scene is a hive of activity, with theatre productions and musical events that showcase local talent against the backdrop of Paarl’s scenic beauty. Always keep an eye out for arts and culture events in Paarl.
  • Festivals: The festivals here are a celebration of life, wine, and food. I’d suggest planning your trip around one of these events so you can really get the full Paarl experience when visiting.
  • Markets: The local markets are a feast for the senses, brimming with artisanal crafts and the freshest produce, echoing the community’s spirit. I’d recommend checking out Freedom Weekend Market.

Practical Tips

  • Best time to visit: While Paarl is a delight year-round, visiting between September and March offers pleasant weather, perfect for outdoor activities.
  • Local delicacies: When in Paarl, trying the traditional ‘boerewors’ at local eateries is a must. It’s a South African sausage that’s a culinary delight. If you’re particularly adventurous, I’d recommend going for a safe dining option like The Hussar Grill Paarl.
  • Stay connected: While the town has good cellular reception, grabbing a local SIM card at the airport is the best way to stay connected and access local rates.
  • Safety first: Like any destination, it’s essential to be cautious. Avoid isolated areas after dark and keep valuables in a safe place.
  • Local markets: Paarl has some vibrant local markets. Visiting on a weekend morning will introduce you to local crafts, foods, and the community spirit.
  • Eco-conscious: Paarl is a town that cherishes its natural beauty. Travellers are encouraged to respect the environment, ensuring they leave no trace behind, as the region has experienced issues related to cleanliness in the past.


Are there family-friendly attractions in Paarl?

Absolutely! Paarl is brimming with activities for the whole family. One of the top recommendations is the Paarl Heritage Walk, where you can explore the town’s rich history. From museums to parks, there’s plenty to do. Trust me, it’s a haven for families looking to visit and create lasting memories.

What are the must-try wines or vineyards in Paarl?

Paarl is renowned for its full-bodied and spicy wines. Shiraz is the standout varietal, but don’t miss out on the Pinotage, Mourvèdre, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay, and Viognier. Babylonstoren, about an 18-minute drive from Paarl, is one of the oldest Cape Dutch farms and is a must-visit for wine enthusiasts.

Is it possible to explore Paarl’s natural attractions without a guide?

Certainly! Paarl offers numerous self-guided trails. Whether you’re hiking in the mountains or strolling along the Berg River, the natural beauty is evident at every turn. If you do opt to explore without a guide, be sure to exercise caution at all times.

What’s the significance of the Afrikaans Language Monument in Paarl?

In the Western Cape, the Afrikaans Language Monument stands tall as a symbol of the Afrikaans language’s birth and evolution. It’s a symbol of Paarl’s cultural significance in the country’s linguistic history.

How far is Paarl from Cape Town and is it easy to travel between the two?

The charm of Paarl is its proximity to Cape Town, just about 60 kilometres away via the N1. The journey through the more scenic routes takes around 57 minutes, making it a convenient escape from the city’s hustle.


As the sun set behind the Drakenstein Mountains, my heart remained full of the adventures Paarl has offered. From the lush vineyards of the Cape Winelands to the many cultural sites, the best of South Africa is captured here. The things to do in Paarl are much more than just activities; they’re experiences that etch themselves into your soul.

Whether you’re sipping on wine or exploring the great outdoors, Paarl is one of the treasures in the Western Cape, promising a memorable story at every turn.

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