Sitting on South Africa’s Garden Route in South Cape DC, Knysna is sheltered by a sparkling lagoon and flanked by ancient forests where elephants roam. You’ll find golden sand beaches backed by towering headlands at its shores and a bustling small town at its centre. Twice voted the country’s number one town, this area is an ideal base for those who want to experience both the natural beauty of the Western Cape coast and the friendly, creative vibe of a small south coast town.
Most Knysna hostels are within walking distance of the main centre and its coast. Choose to stay in an artsy pad with a sunny swimming pool area and outdoor bar, or at a lakeside lodge with decks overlooking a lagoon. You can also find hostels with historic character, where original fireplaces and high ceilings add to the charm. Look out for a Knysna hostel with budget-friendly features like free breakfast, free Wi-Fi and communal kitchens or barbecue areas.
Knysna Central is the main hub and downtown area. Along its main street, you’ll find lots of shops, small boutiques and cafés. This is a short walk from the Waterfront, where you can delve into local eats with a view. You can take a trip over the bridge to Thesen Island for its restaurants and whale-watching tour operators. As you head south towards the edge of the lagoon, you'll come to Rexford, home to the area’s golf courses and The Heads, the area’s iconic limestone cliffs.
Leisure Island (a 15-minute drive from the town centre) is where you'll find one of Knysna’s best sandy beaches, Bollard Bay. A little further south from here is Coney Glen, a sheltered cove where you can go snorkelling in rock pools. Knysna Forest can be reached within a 30-minute drive from the centre. You can tackle this ancient forest by foot or by mountain bike to spot wildlife such as baboons, porcupines and elephants.
Cape Town is the nearest airport for international flights, while George airport (an hour's drive away), runs domestic flights. From Cape Town, you can take the bus into town (approximately 5 hours). You can also connect up to Port Elizabeth from Knysna by bus. While in town, you’ll be able to get to most places by foot in the downtown area, but if you want to head further afield you can hire a bike or get a taxi.