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The Ultimate Garden Route Road Trip Itinerary


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Sybila Reavis



The Garden Route in South Africa is a stretch of road that runs along the stunning coastline of the Western and Eastern Cape provinces. It is an iconic road trip destination, offering breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife, and unforgettable experiences. Whether you’re a nature lover, adventure enthusiast, or simply in search of relaxation, the Garden Route has something for everyone.


Stretching for approximately 300 kilometers, the Garden Route boasts a picturesque landscape characterized by lush forests, pristine beaches, towering mountains, and charming coastal towns. This scenic route has become a popular choice for road trippers, both locals and tourists alike, seeking to explore the beauty of South Africa’s natural wonders.


Embarking on a Garden Route road trip allows you to immerse yourself in the rich biodiversity and cultural heritage of the region. You’ll have the opportunity to spot fascinating wildlife such as whales, dolphins, and various bird species. Additionally, you can take part in thrilling activities like bungee jumping, zip-lining, hiking, and kayaking.


One of the great advantages of the Garden Route is its accessibility. It starts just a few hours’ drive from Cape Town, making it a convenient and easily achievable adventure for travelers. Whether you have a week or just a few days to spare, you can tailor your itinerary to suit your preferences and time constraints.


In this ultimate Garden Route road trip itinerary, we will guide you through the must-see attractions, recommended stops, and hidden gems along the route. So, fasten your seatbelt, pack your camera, and get ready for an unforgettable journey filled with natural wonders, thrilling adventures, and memorable experiences.


Day 1: Cape Town

Your Garden Route road trip begins in the vibrant city of Cape Town. Spend the day exploring the iconic landmarks and soaking in the lively atmosphere before hitting the road.


Start your day with a visit to Table Mountain, one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. Take the cable car to the top and enjoy panoramic views of the city, coastline, and surrounding mountains. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also embark on a hike up the mountain.


Next, head to the colorful Bo-Kaap neighborhood, known for its brightly painted houses and rich Cape Malay culture. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, visit the Bo-Kaap Museum, and indulge in a traditional Cape Malay meal at one of the local restaurants.


No trip to Cape Town is complete without a visit to the vibrant Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. Browse through the shops, enjoy waterfront dining, and catch a glimpse of the resident seals lounging on the docks. Don’t forget to take a ferry to Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned, for a fascinating historical tour.


In the afternoon, drive to the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, located at the southwestern tip of the Cape Peninsula. Take a scenic drive along Chapman’s Peak, stopping at lookout points to admire the breathtaking coastal views. Once at the reserve, hike up to the Cape Point lighthouse and be rewarded with panoramic vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and False Bay.


End your day by visiting Boulders Beach, home to a colony of African penguins. Watch these adorable creatures waddle along the sandy shoreline and swim in the crystal-clear waters. Take some time to relax on the beach and appreciate the unique beauty of this coastal paradise.


After an action-packed day in Cape Town, spend the night in one of the city’s charming accommodations.


Min Length: 180 words


Day 2: Cape Town to Hermanus

After a thrilling start in Cape Town, it’s time to hit the road and continue your journey along the Garden Route. Today, you’ll make your way from Cape Town to the charming coastal town of Hermanus, known for its incredible whale watching opportunities.


Start your day by driving along the scenic coastal route of Clarence Drive. This breathtaking road offers stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, rugged cliffs, and dramatic landscapes. Keep an eye out for dolphins and seals playing in the waves.


Once you reach Hermanus, head to Walker Bay, one of the best places in the world for land-based whale watching. From June to December, southern right whales migrate to these waters to calve and mate. You can spot these magnificent creatures from the shore or take a boat tour for a closer encounter.


After whale watching, explore the quaint town of Hermanus. Stroll along the Cliff Path, a picturesque trail that stretches for several kilometers along the coastline. Admire the stunning views, enjoy the fresh sea breeze, and keep an eye out for dolphins and seals along the way.


For lunch, indulge in fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants overlooking the ocean. Hermanus is renowned for its excellent seafood offerings, so don’t miss out on trying dishes like grilled line fish, seafood chowder, or delicious prawns.


In the afternoon, visit the Old Harbour Museum to learn about the history of the town and its relationship with the sea. Explore the exhibits, including the old fishing boats and equipment, and gain insight into the maritime heritage of Hermanus.


If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also try your hand at shark cage diving. Gansbaai, a short distance from Hermanus, is known as the “Great White Shark Capital of the World.” Take a guided tour and experience the thrill of being up close to one of nature’s most formidable predators.


After an exciting day in Hermanus, relax and unwind at one of the cozy guesthouses or boutique hotels, taking in the peaceful ambiance and anticipating the adventures that lie ahead on your Garden Route road trip.


Min Length: 220 words


Day 3: Hermanus to Mossel Bay

On Day 3, bid farewell to beautiful Hermanus and continue your journey along the Garden Route towards Mossel Bay. Today’s drive will take you through picturesque coastal towns and scenic landscapes, offering plenty of opportunities for exploration and relaxation.


Start your day with a visit to the coastal town of Kleinmond, located just a short drive from Hermanus. Kleinmond is known for its beautiful beaches, tranquil lagoon, and pristine nature reserves. Take a walk along the beachfront promenade, go for a swim in the refreshing waters, or spot birds and wildlife in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.


As you continue your drive, make a stop in the charming town of Betty’s Bay. Here, you can visit the famous Stony Point Penguin Colony, home to a large colony of African penguins. Take a stroll along the boardwalks and observe these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat.


Next, head to the coastal town of Sandbaai, known for its stunning beaches and rock formations. Take some time to relax on the sandy shores, soak up the sun, and perhaps even try your hand at some beach activities like surfing or paddleboarding.


Continue your journey along the Garden Route, passing through the picturesque towns of Gansbaai and De Kelders. These coastal gems are known for their magnificent whale watching opportunities, rugged cliffs, and pristine beaches. If you’re visiting during whale season (June to December), keep an eye out for the majestic southern right whales that frequent these waters.


As you near Mossel Bay, make a stop at the Cape St. Blaize Lighthouse. Perched atop a cliff, this historic lighthouse offers panoramic views of the coastline and is a great spot for stunning photographs.


Arrive in Mossel Bay and take some time to explore this coastal town. Visit the iconic Dias Museum Complex, which houses a replica of Bartolomeu Dias’ caravel that arrived here in 1488. Learn about the town’s maritime history and enjoy the beautiful views from the museum’s vantage point.


End your day by relaxing on the pristine beaches of Mossel Bay or indulge in fresh seafood at one of the many seaside restaurants. As the sun sets over the horizon, reflect on the beautiful sights and experiences of the day and look forward to the adventures that await on the next leg of your Garden Route road trip.


Min Length: 310 words


Day 4: Mossel Bay to Wilderness

As you continue your Garden Route road trip, Day 4 takes you from the coastal town of Mossel Bay to the enchanting destination of Wilderness. This leg of the journey offers a perfect blend of stunning coastal landscapes, outdoor activities, and natural wonders.


Start your day by exploring the hidden gem of Dana Bay, located just outside of Mossel Bay. This quaint coastal town is known for its pristine beaches and remarkable biodiversity. Take a leisurely walk along the shoreline, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and keep an eye out for dolphins and whales playing in the waves.


Next, venture further along the Garden Route to the charming town of George. Surrounded by lush forests and mountains, George serves as the gateway to the Wilderness area. Take a detour and visit the Outeniqua Transport Museum, which showcases a fascinating collection of vintage trains and locomotives.


Continue your journey to Wilderness, a nature lover’s paradise. Here, you’ll find an abundance of outdoor activities to enjoy. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on one of the scenic hiking trails in the Wilderness National Park. The park is home to indigenous forests, rivers, lakes, and exquisite birdlife.


For a unique experience, take a paddle along the tranquil Touw River in a kayak or canoe. As you glide through the waterways, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty and may even spot otters, birds, and other wildlife.


If you’re seeking a more adrenaline-fueled adventure, head to the Map of Africa viewpoint. This iconic rock formation offers panoramic views of the area and is a popular spot for paragliding. Soar through the sky and take in the bird’s-eye view of the picturesque landscapes below.


In the evening, make your way to the Wilderness Beach and watch the vibrant hues of the sunset paint the horizon. The beach is known for its unspoiled beauty, dune fields, and recreational activities like surfing and kiteboarding.


As night falls, savor a delicious meal at one of the local restaurants, indulging in fresh seafood or a hearty South African braai (barbecue). Relax and unwind at one of the accommodations in Wilderness, surrounded by the tranquility of nature.


Min Length: 290 words


Day 5: Wilderness to Knysna

On Day 5 of your Garden Route road trip, you’ll leave behind the peaceful town of Wilderness and head towards the picturesque town of Knysna. This leg of the journey will take you through breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches, and iconic attractions.


Start your day by visiting the Kaaimans River Bridge, a scenic spot that offers mesmerizing views of the river gorge and lush forest surroundings. Take a leisurely walk across the bridge, appreciating the natural beauty of the area and perhaps even catching a glimpse of the cascading waterfall.


Next, make your way to the stunning Victoria Bay, famous for its secluded beach and perfect surfing conditions. Spend some time soaking up the sun, swimming in the clear waters, or simply enjoying the peaceful ambiance of this hidden coastal gem.


Continue your journey along the Garden Route and head to the town of Sedgefield. Here, you can visit the Sedgefield Market, held every Saturday. Browse through the stalls offering fresh produce, local crafts, and delicious food. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and interact with the locals.


As you approach Knysna, be prepared to be mesmerized by the iconic Knysna Heads. These two enormous sandstone cliffs guard the entrance to the picturesque Knysna Lagoon. Take a walk to the viewpoints and marvel at the breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean crashing against the cliffs.


Once in Knysna, explore the charming town and its surroundings. Take a leisurely stroll along the Knysna Waterfront, lined with shops, galleries, and restaurants. Enjoy a delicious lunch while overlooking the glistening lagoon, and perhaps sample some fresh oysters, a local delicacy.


In the afternoon, take a cruise on the Knysna Lagoon. These relaxing boat tours offer a chance to explore the diverse ecosystem of the lagoon, see the famous Knysna Heads up close, and spot birdlife and marine creatures.


End your day by visiting the indigenous forests surrounding Knysna. Take a short drive to the Garden of Eden, a beautiful nature reserve filled with ancient trees and lush vegetation. Enjoy a tranquil walk along the boardwalks and immerse yourself in the serenity of the forest.


As the day comes to a close, find a cozy accommodation in Knysna and savor a delectable dinner, reflecting on the scenic wonders and memorable experiences of the day.


Min Length: 315 words


Day 6: Knysna to Plettenberg Bay

As your Garden Route road trip continues, Day 6 takes you from Knysna to the picturesque coastal town of Plettenberg Bay. This leg of the journey is filled with breathtaking scenery, exhilarating outdoor activities, and opportunities to spot wildlife.


Begin your day by visiting the Knysna Elephant Park, located just outside of Knysna. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to get up close and personal with these gentle giants. Take a guided tour and learn about the conservation efforts to protect these magnificent creatures.


From there, venture to the scenic town of Wilderness and explore the mesmerizing Kaaimans River Gorge. Embark on a hike or paddleboarding adventure in this pristine natural landscape, surrounded by towering cliffs and a winding river.


Continue your journey along the Garden Route, passing through the charming town of Sedgefield. If visiting on a Saturday, you can stop by the Wild Oats Community Farmer’s Market, a vibrant market offering an array of organic produce, freshly baked goods, and local crafts.


As you approach Plettenberg Bay, make a stop at the famous Bloukrans Bridge, home to the highest commercial bridge bungee jump in the world. If you’re feeling daring, take a leap of faith and experience an adrenaline rush like no other.


Once in Plettenberg Bay, soak up the sun and relax on the pristine beaches. Robberg Beach is a popular choice, offering beautiful views of the rugged coastline and crystal-clear waters. You can also take a leisurely walk along Robberg Nature Reserve, a peninsula teeming with diverse flora and fauna.


For a unique wildlife encounter, visit the Tenikwa Wildlife Awareness Centre. Take a guided tour and get up close to various indigenous animals, including cheetahs, African wildcats, and servals. Learn about the conservation efforts and the importance of protecting these incredible species.


In the evening, explore the bustling town of Plettenberg Bay. Visit the vibrant Main Street filled with boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Indulge in a delicious seafood dinner while overlooking the bay, savoring the flavors of the Garden Route.


As the day comes to an end, find a comfortable accommodation in Plettenberg Bay, relax, and reflect on the wondrous sights and thrilling experiences that filled your day.


Min Length: 305 words


Day 7: Plettenberg Bay to Tsitsikamma National Park

On Day 7 of your Garden Route road trip, you’ll leave behind the beauty of Plettenberg Bay and make your way to the magnificent Tsitsikamma National Park. This leg of the journey is filled with stunning landscapes, thrilling outdoor activities, and a chance to reconnect with nature.


Start your day by visiting the iconic Birds of Eden, located near Plettenberg Bay. It is the largest free-flight aviary in the world, home to a vast array of colorful bird species from around the globe. Take a leisurely stroll through the sanctuary’s lush gardens and enjoy the captivating sights and sounds of these magnificent creatures.


Next, make your way to the nearby Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary, an enchanting haven for rescued monkeys and apes. Take a guided tour and learn about the various primate species, their behaviors, and the importance of conservation. It’s a great opportunity to observe these fascinating creatures in a natural and ethical environment.


Continue your journey towards Tsitsikamma National Park, a coastal paradise known for its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and ancient forests. Upon arrival, embark on a hike along the famous Otter Trail, which meanders through the lush vegetation and offers breathtaking views of the rugged coastline.


For an exhilarating adventure, try the Tsitsikamma Canopy Tour, a unique ziplining experience through the indigenous forest. Soar through the treetops, taking in the panoramic views and seeking glimpses of wildlife along the way.


Another must-visit attraction in Tsitsikamma National Park is the Storms River Mouth. Take a thrilling kayak or lilo adventure along the Storms River, passing through the impressive gorge and immersing yourself in the untouched beauty of the area.


Finish off your day with a walk along the suspension bridge that spans the Storms River Mouth. From here, you can marvel at the breathtaking views of the river, estuary, and the crashing waves of the Indian Ocean.


As the day comes to a close, find accommodation in or near Tsitsikamma National Park and relish in the serenity and tranquility of the surroundings. Reflect on the awe-inspiring natural wonders you’ve encountered and the unforgettable moments that have unfolded along your Garden Route road trip.


Min Length: 305 words


Day 8: Tsitsikamma National Park to Jeffreys Bay

On Day 8 of your Garden Route road trip, you’ll bid farewell to the breathtaking beauty of Tsitsikamma National Park and make your way to the renowned surfing mecca of Jeffreys Bay. This leg of the journey offers a mix of natural wonders, outdoor activities, and the chance to catch some epic waves.


Start your day by exploring more of the Tsitsikamma National Park. Take a hike along one of the many trails, such as the popular Waterfall Trail or the Nature’s Valley Trail. Marvel at the ancient forests, sparkling streams, and cascading waterfalls, immersing yourself in the tranquility of nature.


Next, make your way to Bloukrans Bridge, home to the highest commercial bungee jump in the world. If you’re feeling adventurous, take the plunge and experience the exhilarating freefall from a height of 216 meters. It’s an adrenaline rush like no other!


As you continue your journey, stop by the Storms River Bridge and take in the breathtaking views of the gorge and the tranquil river below. This is also an excellent spot for some stunning photographs and a moment to appreciate the natural beauty of the area.


As you approach Jeffreys Bay, prepare to immerse yourself in the surfing culture that the town is famous for. Known for its world-class waves, Jeffreys Bay offers surfing conditions that attract both beginners and seasoned surfers from around the globe.


Spend the afternoon exploring the many surf spots in and around Jeffreys Bay. Main Beach, Supertubes, and Boneyards are just a few of the iconic surf breaks that have made this town a world-renowned surfing destination. If you’re not a surfer yourself, find a cozy spot on the beach and watch the pros carve up the waves.


In the evening, stroll along the bustling streets of Jeffreys Bay and explore the surf shops, boutiques, and local establishments. Indulge in some fresh seafood at one of the beachfront restaurants, savoring the flavors of the ocean.


After a day of surfing and beachside vibes, find accommodation in Jeffreys Bay and relax, reminiscing on the epic waves and the vibrant surf culture that you’ve experienced along the Garden Route.


Min Length: 330 words


Day 9: Jeffreys Bay to Port Elizabeth

On the final day of your Garden Route road trip, you’ll leave behind the surf capital of Jeffreys Bay and head towards the vibrant city of Port Elizabeth. This leg of the journey offers a blend of coastal beauty, cultural experiences, and a glimpse into South Africa’s history.


Start your day by catching the early morning surf at one of Jeffreys Bay’s legendary surf breaks. Ride the waves, soak up the energy of the ocean, and savor your last moments in this surfing paradise. If you’re not a surfer, take a leisurely walk along the beach, collecting seashells and enjoying the tranquility of the coastline.


As you depart Jeffreys Bay, drive along the scenic coastal route towards Port Elizabeth. Along the way, make a stop at the Van Stadens Wildflower Reserve, a botanical wonderland filled with a vast variety of indigenous flora. Take a walk through the reserve, marveling at the vibrant wildflowers and enjoying the serene surroundings.


Continuing your journey, visit the Donkin Heritage Trail in Port Elizabeth. This historical walk takes you through the heart of the city, showcasing its rich history and cultural heritage. Explore landmarks such as the iconic lighthouse, the Donkin Reserve park, and the Pyramid Monument. From the top of the lighthouse, you can get panoramic views of the city and the bay.


Next, make your way to the bustling Boardwalk precinct, located on the shores of Algoa Bay. This vibrant entertainment hub offers a variety of restaurants, shops, and entertainment options. Enjoy a delicious lunch at one of the waterfront restaurants, or try your luck at the Boardwalk Casino.


In the afternoon, visit the South End Museum, which provides insights into the history and heritage of the South End neighborhood, once a vibrant multicultural community that was forcibly removed during the apartheid era. Learn about the resilience and spirit of the people who lived here, and gain a deeper understanding of South Africa’s past.


End your day with a relaxing stroll along the beautiful Port Elizabeth beaches, such as Hobie Beach or King’s Beach. Take in the breathtaking views of the ocean, breathe in the fresh sea air, and relish your final moments on the Garden Route.


As the sun sets, find a comfortable accommodation in Port Elizabeth and reflect on the incredible journey you’ve had along the Garden Route. Recall the natural wonders, thrilling adventures, and unforgettable experiences that have made this road trip truly exceptional.


Min Length: 350 words



The Garden Route road trip is a journey of a lifetime, offering a perfect blend of breathtaking landscapes, thrilling adventures, and memorable experiences. From the vibrant city of Cape Town to the charming coastal towns of Hermanus, Mossel Bay, Knysna, and Plettenberg Bay, all the way to the natural wonders of Tsitsikamma National Park and the surf mecca of Jeffreys Bay, this route showcases the best of South Africa’s scenic beauty.


Along the Garden Route, you’ll discover stunning beaches, lush forests, towering mountains, and diverse wildlife. From whale watching in Hermanus to bungee jumping at Bloukrans Bridge, every day presents new opportunities for adventure and exploration.


Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of the region, from the lively streets of Cape Town’s Bo-Kaap to the historical significance of Robben Island. Sample the delicious seafood, fresh produce, and local delicacies that each town along the route has to offer.


Whether you’re chasing the perfect wave in Jeffreys Bay, seeking tranquility in Tsitsikamma National Park, or simply taking in the natural beauty surrounding you, the Garden Route road trip will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime.


Remember to plan your itinerary according to your interests and time constraints, allowing for flexibility to explore hidden gems and spontaneous adventures along the way. Pack your camera, sunblock, and adventurous spirit, and embark on a road trip that promises an unforgettable experience.


The Garden Route awaits, ready to showcase the spectacular beauty and wonders of South Africa’s coastal treasures. So, hit the open road, soak in the panoramic views, and let the magic of the Garden Route unfold before you.


Min Length: 250 words