To Do & To Dine
Swellendam is situated in the Western Cape Province, 220km east from Cape Town. The town is roughly halfway between Cape Town and George/Knysna and is bordering on the famous Garden Route and the Route 62, bringing many tourists to Swellendam each year. The beautiful historic town of Swellendam is one of a kind. It’s a safe and friendly town, famous for its Cape Dutch architecture. If you stroll down the streets, you will find lovely boutique stores and a well-known (open-air) museum that are worth a visit. For lunch, drinks or dinner, Swellendam offers multiple quality restaurants and welcoming bars to choose from. Prepare to enjoy good food and good wine in a pleasant atmosphere.
Excited to go on a day trip? Take a hike to a hidden waterfall or head out to the coast to spot the whales and enjoy the beautiful beaches. Hop on a wine- and olive oil tasting tour in the Robertson wine valley, or, why not take a canoeing trip down the Breederivier! Find out more about what To Do and where To Dine.
During your stay with us, you have to enjoy some fine dining in one of Swellendam’s quality restaurants or have a cold drink with a bite on a sunny outside terrace. Take a look at our preferred restaurants in the lists below and let us know if we can make a dinner reservation for you! Pre-booked dinner reservations are essential in December, January and February. Please send us an email and we will arrange a dinner reservation at the restaurant of your liking for you!
The renowned Drostdy restaurant as part of the historical museum is highly recommended (reservation required). The French chef prepares deliciously refined and varied meals, all very well presented and combined. The Trio of Game is a best seller! The historic 1757 heritage building and its matching tasteful interior as well as its romantic outside terrace with candle lights makes it an evening you will remember. Drostdy is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
La Sosta restaurant
La Sosta restaurant is Italian cuisine at its finest (reservation required). Swellendam is proud to be the home of this countrywide renowned restaurant! La Sosta offers a unique fine dining experience in a small-scale setting situated in an astonishing Cape Dutch building.
Field & Fork restaurant
Field & Fork restaurant is also part of the museum complex what makes this well-known sophisticated restaurant breath history. The meals are distinguishing and very well presented (mainly meat). An evening at Field & Fork is an experience in itself. Open 6 days a week (closed on Thursdays).
Woodpecker Pizza Deli
Woodpecker Pizza Deli offers the town’s best pizza and pasta meals in a friendly atmosphere! It’s opposite the street of Swellendam Country Lodge which makes it an ideal place to stroll to after a long day. Woodpecker also offers tasty burgers and salads. Meals can be enjoyed either inside, outside, or as take-away. Open 7 days a week (until 7 PM on Sundays).
Republic is renowned for its craft gin and tonic and has a large outside terrace in the middle of the historical part of town. Meals include burgers and pizza’s. The contemporary interior is refreshing. Closed on Mondays.
Koornlands Restaurant, named after the Koornlands river running through Swellendam, offers you fine dining with an African twist! Their steaks are “braaied” to perfection. Or try their crocodile sashimi. It’s intimate, roofed outside dining area with white cloths covered tables (limited seating available) is an especially pleasant place to enjoy your evening out! Koornlands restaurant is closed on Tuesdays.
Christelle’s Bistro serves authentic French food with a unique South African flair. Truly the best of both worlds! Not only the food is tasty, so is the French décor! Hosted by the charming French owner, Christelle. The restaurant has a large back garden (children and dogs welcome). Also open for coffee and lunch. Closed on Sundays.
The Garden Shack
The Garden Shack is a unique seafood & sushi ‘beach’ restaurant. Although it’s situated in the centre of town, you may enjoy your meal with your feet in the sand. The Garden Shack is open for lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday.
Just Amy restaurant
Located outside Swellendam on the beautiful R60 Highway, Just Amy is the perfect affordable romantic dining experience. It’s on the estate of the 5-star Jan Harmsgat Historic Farm & Country House surrounded by pomegranate trees and vineyards. In Season, Just Amy restaurant welcomes guests for both lunch & dinner 7 days a week!
La Belle Alliance
La Belle Alliance offers the best spot to enjoy a coffee or lunch due to its unique location next to the Koornlands river.
Tredici is a popular and contemporary lunch restaurant and beautiful shop. Quick bites, delicatessen stocked with baked goods and an extensive European cuisine personalized with African flair. Very tasteful interior.
Grace & Merci eatery
Grace & Merci has a magnificent outside terrace under old oak trees. Enjoy the view of the extraordinary white Dutch reformed church while enjoying a very well-presented meal or homemade cake/pastry. Inside, everything is decorated with an eye for detail and the little shop is an attractive visual experience.
Oil Mill restaurant conveniently located next door to Swellendam Country Lodge and has a large outside seating area and children’s playground.
Dutch Reformed Church
As Swellendam was the last outpost of Dutch civilisation on the eastern frontier, the services of the residents of the town were of utmost importance, and so the Dutch Reformed church was built. It is a greatly impressive building that has been famed to be the most photographed church in South Africa. Visitors are welcome to walk through the church-building, however, be sure to check viewing times prior to your visit.
Historic town of Swellendam
The lovely small town of Swellendam offers many boutique shops with local souvenirs and -products. Don’t forget the restaurant Tredici; they have a lovely gift shop upstairs.
A must-see! The beautiful partially open-air Drostdy museum gives you a virtual visit to the South African heritage. You will take a journey back in time when visiting the former residence and headquarters for the Landdrost; the Ambags Werf, where old craft work is displayed; and the ancient jail (“gaol”). Click here for more information.
Bukkenburg Pottery Studio is a fine pottery studio and a heritage house situated in a delightful country garden. Here, South African studio potters work in the tradition of high temperature, reduction-fired pottery (stoneware and porcelain) since 1973! Take a stroll around their workplace or sign up for a workshop! Click here for more information.
Swellendam has a 9-holes golf course with the most spectacular mountain views! It’s rated as one of the top nine-hole golf courses in South-Africa with a good variety of difficulty. It will most probably be one of the most memorable days of playing golf in your life. Click here for more information.
Whale Watching, Beaches and Coastal trails
De Hoop Nature Reserve is only 1.5-hour drive away and is famously one the best whales watching spots in the country. From June until November, the greatest concentration of Southern Right Whales on South Africa’s coast can be found in these coastal waters as it’s an important breeding area for these species. All year round De Hoop Nature Reserve is celebrated for its magnificent white dunes and beaches (very “instagramable”!) as well as for its diverse flora, fauna and animals (zebra’s, bonteboks, ostriches, etc.). There is an 8 km long trail along the cliffs of the De Hoop Vlei (Lake), and day trails of various lengths on Potberg Mountain. Click here for more information.
What’s more to explore on the coast?
If you always dreamed of setting foot at world’s end, Cape Agulhas is worth a visit being the Southernmost tip of Africa! This is the only place in the world where the Indian- and Atlantic Ocean meet. One can still see the remains of the Japanese fishing vessel that ran aground in 1982. This part of the coast is notoriously dangerous and has caused many a ship to settle in its final resting place. Due to this dangerous coastline Agulhas is home to the third oldest lighthouse built and the second oldest lighthouse still in operation. Click here for more information.
Swellendam MTB Trails
Mountain bike enthusiastic and fun seeking mountain bikers will find a mecca in Swellendam! Various trails in stunning parts of the town are set out for any level of difficulty or preferred distance. You get to enjoy the most astonishing views of the Langeberg Mountains on your way! Official signboards are set up along the trails, no permits are required. Please, respect the trails as you go and be mindful of the joggers, they share the fun! To find out more about all of the Swellendam trails, please click here.
Hiking in Marloth Nature Reserve
For the active types, a hiking trail in the Marloth Nature Reserve is one for your list! Extending from the edge of town to the top of the Langeberg Mountains, Swellendam’s Marloth Nature Reserve is a botanist’s dream. The Nature Reserve is also home to klipspringer, duiker, antelope and the leopard, although hiking is completely safe when following the trails! Hiking trails vary from short, easy walks to longer, more strenuous routes. The refreshing hike into Indigenous forest is called Duiwelsbos (click here for more information) and is popular among all ages. A “plaat hike” brings you higher up and treats you to spectacular views. All hiking trails start and end at the reserve office, where vehicles can be parked. Click here for more information.
Wine- and olive oil tasting
The nearby Robertson wine valley has vast vineyards and olive orchards producing world class wine and olive oils. This increasingly popular route offers a landscape of flower fringed roads, majestic mountains, the mighty Breede River and spectacular vineyards. In recent years, the valley has won great acclaim around the world for the production of outstanding white (Chardonnay, Colombar, and Sauvignon Blanc) and red wines as well as “Method Cap Classique” sparkling wines. At the various estates, many tasting opportunities for both wine and olive oil are offered as well as a chance to experience its production process. An absolute must-do is the local Wine Valley Safari Tour including convenient pick-up and drop-off at the lodge (Saturdays and Sundays only). Click here for more information.
Horseback riding in the mountains
Young, old, experienced or beginner? There’s no more magical way to experience Swellendam’s countryside then on the back of a horse. You will remember this beautiful riding experience for a lifetime. Please, send us an email if you would like to book a horseback riding trail and we are happy to arrange accordingly.
Ready for some wildlife?
Just outside the town, cradled between the Langeberg Mountains and the Breede River, lies the Bontebok National Park, proud to be the smallest national park of South Africa. The park was set up to prevent the Bontebok from extinction. Inside the park, you have a very good chance on spotting the bontebok, the blesbok, the Cape Mountain Zebra, and many more… Bird watchers should look out for the secretary birds and fish eagles. You can either hike, bike, or drive around the park. Picnicking or angling (permit only) can be enjoyed by the riverside. Click here for more information.