What to see in Knysna

What to see in Knysna

The seaside town of Knysna, infamous in France since the 2010 Football World Cup for being the town where the French national team players went on strike and “didn’t” get off the bus, has a lot more charm than that. Discover places to see, streets to explore and iconic experiences.



Knysna lies along the beautiful and famous South African Garden Route, in the Western Cape province. People come here to relax, chat with friendly locals, and enjoy adventures, experiences and parties like their incredible Annual oyster festival held in July, lasting around 10 days. The town is surrounded by lush, green native forests and azure lakes. A little corner of paradise that gives it the air of a country town lost deep in the forest.

I invite you to consult all our other articles on South Africa to help you prepare for your trip:








Knysna’s lush forests cover a total area of 60,500 hectares, between Mossel Bay and Humansdorp.

If you’re passing through Knysna you can stop off at The Heads, the highest point, offering several breathtaking panoramic views of the lagoon. The Indian Ocean rushes against the rocks and mixes with the water of the lagoon. On the Leisure Island side, you’ll see beautiful houses, and on the open sea side, red cliffs tumble into the sea. The scenery is even more splendid at sunset, when these cliffs take on pinkish or orange hues. At certain times of the year, along the coast, it is sometimes possible to observe dolphins at large, mais aussi des baleines franches australes who visit the shores of the Coast. A dolphin-spotting boat trip might include a stop at Robberg Peninsula near Plettenberg Bay, to visit a noisy seal colony. You can quench your thirst in the on-site restaurants and cafés.

Take the opportunity to take a stroll through one of the most beautiful and lush sections of Knysna Forest, “The Garden of Eden “. This waymarked path allows you to observe incredible flora and numerous birds via wooden footbridges. There’s also an abundance of wildlife, apparently including shy leopards, wild pigs, baboons, vervet monkeys, ratels (a type of badger), bushbucks and duikers (small antelopes), as well as Oupoot, an elephant who is the last survivor of the herd that used to live in the forest.

For nature lovers and walkers, I also recommend a visit to Jubilee Creek. An easy walk will take you to a waterfall where you can take a dip and why not have a picnic along the stream. You also have the Circles in the Forest accessible to all thanks to small wooden bridges. Two loops are available in this immense forest filled with ferns and streams: a 3km walk or a 9km walk.





Knysna sits on the edge of a lagoon. Take a stroll around the waterfront marina, home to numerous stores, cafés and restaurants. The view is very pretty. It’s a place where you can really relax and enjoy the view of the boats while discovering the city. This is also where you can taste the country’s famous oysters.

To appreciate the scenery this lagoon has to offer, it’s best to book a cruise, and there’s plenty to choose from: a day on a catamaran, a sunset cruise on a sailboat or dine aboard the Paddle Cruiser, the country’s only paddlewheel boat.

We tested the company « The Featherbed Compagnand »which takes you on a 4-hour tour to discover the Featherbed nature reserve on the other side of the lagoon. Discover the footpaths and the view over the mouth of the lagoon and the Indian Ocean. We did it in grayish weather, but that didn’t detract from the beauty of the landscape. The tour ends with lunch on the beautiful terrace of their island restaurant, featuring a hearty and tasty buffet.





The Knysna Elephant Park is a private elephant reserve located away from the city. After viewing the safety instructions for working with pachyderms, you’ll climb into a small train that will take you to the elephants. You can feed, stroke and interact with the elephants if they agree. You can walk alongside them with the guides who are always present. An experience to live with your children in this very beautiful frame.

Just to clarify, this reserve is not comparable to the Kruger reserves. The elephants are semi-tame and have been brought to this sanctuary because they were used in circuses or were previously mistreated. They’re not exactly free-ranging or wild, but visits help finance their rehabilitation. Today, they live a better life in the park and are treated very well.





Knysna is also a great stopover for golfers, with a number of world-famous courses including:

  • the Simola Golf & Country Estate
  • the Pezula Golf Club
  • the Plettenberg Bay Country Club
  • the Knysna Golf Club.
  • The Links de Fancourt, in the country.
  • Montagu and Outeniqua on the same estate.




There’s a large Rastafarian community outside Knysna, in a place called Judah Square.

You’ll have an appointment with brother Zebulon says Zeb, one of the original founders of Rastafari community (Judahsquare) in Knysna, which brings together 25 families and around 40 children in the heart of the township. Having lived in the town since 1990, we were given the opportunity to discover the customs of this culture!

In front of frescoes representing the various Rastafari symbols, he explained this religion, its foundations and its beliefs, which advocate respect for nature and respect for one another. A rare moment, but also a funny one, because our guide Zeb is not only very endearing, but also “inhabited” by Jah (the Rastafarian God)

The tour ended with a magnificent view of the Township and a visit to the local store selling the stuff that is illegal in South Africa, but revered by Rasta: ganja! ! A totally offbeat moment to experience with your eyes open.





Thanks to its exceptional location right on the Indian Ocean, Knysna’s beaches stretch for hundreds of meters, attracting surfers and lovers of peace and quiet alike. The most famous beaches are :

  • Brenton Beach
  • Bollard Beach
  • Sparrebosch Beach
  • Buffalo Bay
  • Noetzie Beach.

The Notzie Castles on Noetzie beach, ten minutes from Knysna, are strange castle-like constructions located along the beach. Apparently, it’s possible to rent one to stay in.




If you want to make an unforgettable visit, I suggest a tour of the Township with the agency Emzini Tours.

Emzini means “at home”, and I can confirm that we felt right at home with them. Your visit will allow you to learn more about the Township’s culture, but also to support the work of two extraordinary women, Penny and Ella who do so much in their own way to support the 19 children they have taken in, as well as the children in difficulty in the Township.

The visit began with a nursery school, which gave us an insight into the South African school system and a chance to have a laugh with the children, who were brimming with energy and happy to sing us songs including the country’s national anthem.”Shosholoza “

We then stopped at one of his containers that you’ll find all over the Townships, serving as shops, including one of the many local hairdressers. A very convivial moment.

Then came tea time at Ella’s, who taught us Xhosa (prononcez KOSSA also called le click language, un son produit par la bouche avec des clicks), language Township. We listened to some wonderful local songs. A moment of simplicity and sharing in the home of the woman who took in 12 orphaned children from the Township. We have some wonderful memories!

You can also support its action by purchasing jewelry at the end of the tour, but also from France.


| Visit Emzini Tours video and all our travel videos on our Youtube channel



Practical info | Knysna


There are plenty of accommodation options in Knysna to suit all budgets. You can stay in town B&Bs, boutique or oceanfront hotels, a barge on the lagoon, a log cabin near the beach, a log cabin in the forest, a Cape Cod-style mansion, or a popular hotel off the main road. We had stayed in a charming Victorian-style mansion, a backpacker hostel that we loved, the knysna Backpackers.

To find your accommodation in Knysna, please check availability:


The summer months between October and April are the most popular. Remember to book in advance, as November and March are the most popular months on the Garden Route.

  • The maquis: restaurant run by 2 Corsicans 14B Gray Street
  • East Head Café: 25 George Rex Dr, The Heads
  • The Olive Tree: Knysna Central
  • Pembrey’s: Brenton Road, Belvidere Estate


  • île de païn – lunch & breakfast : 10, The Boatshed, Long St, Thesen Island.
  • Nadines Corner: 12 Kings Way, Leisure Island, hidden behind an antique store.
  • Café Dubois: 6571, 9 Gordon St
  • White Washed: 5 Noble St, Knysna Industrial




By road:

  • The town is 6 hours from Cape Town and 4 hours from Gansbaai (home of the great white shark).
  • A stopover in Knysna is a must for those travelling the Garden Route, as the town is crossed by the N2 national road linking Cape Town to Durban.
  • Find here your cheapest car rental


By plane:




Please note that as an accredited bespoke tour creator, I offer to accompany you in the creation of your tailor-made stay in South Africa and create a personalized itinerary tailored to your needs. Please send me an email at : contact@mademoiselle-voyage.fr

Before you leave, I also invite you to read our various articles to prepare your trip to South Africa:





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