Knysna travel guide

Knysna Tourism | Knysna Guide

You're Going to Love Knysna

With its shimmering lagoon waters, beautiful nature reserves, incredibly fresh seafood cuisine, and thriving festivals as well as pleasurable climate year-round, it's easy to see why Knysna draws scores of South African and international tourists!

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Knysna

1. Spend Time on the Lagoon

Whether you book a houseboat or a spot on the organized tour run by Featherbed Nature Reserve on the Heads, plan to spend time taking in the stunning blue lagoon and its nearly 200 species of fish.

2. Head to the Knysna Elephant Park

You can observe these glorious creatures in their daily life or grab a bucket of fruit and make friends by feeding them!

3. Embark on a Mountaineering Adventure

For those who love an adrenaline rush, there is the GoVertical Mountaineering Adventures tour that features activities like rock climbing, hiking, and "slackpacking".

4. Don't Miss the Gastronomica Festival Knysna

If you come around the end of September, your stomach (and your eyes!) will surely thank you. This festival celebrates locally crafted wines, scrumptious South African cuisine, and features smaller live shows.

5. Visit the Millwood Goldfields

Take a tour through the old gold digging spots, browse through the Millwood Museum and relive South Africa's gold rush.

What to do in Knysna

1. Wander Into The Wild

...And never leave! The Garden Route National Park is one large amalgamation of two existing parks that, as of 2009, encompasses a whopping 470 square miles of wilderness and forest just waiting to be explored. The Garden Route National Park is the ideal place for casual hiking to more extreme back-country camping. It can take days or even weeks to explore this park's trails and lookout points to completion. And this is partially because its indigenous forests, rugged mountains, colorful pools and breathtaking views of the crystal water of the South Atlantic will capture you for more than an afternoon.

2. A Day Trip

Gorgeous coastlines and a whole host of activities await travelers who venture to this thriving seaside resort town, just west of Knysna. It's easy to jet around the island via its electric bike rentals, putting travelers within access of its sparkling blue lagoons, canals and the famous Thesen Estate. The town also has a variety of small restaurants and shops that can be browsed during a leisurely afternoon stroll. Those who want a bit of an adrenaline rush on their otherwise relaxing trip will enjoy sandboarding on its dunes or hydrofoiling. And for a connection with nature, visit the Brenton Butterfly Reserve, especially if you're visiting from October until December.

3. Natural Life In The Heart Of Knysna

The Steenbok Nature Reserve gives travelers that much needed "time out" within the city. It's a haven for those who wish to discover more than 200 species of flora, supported by a robust population of butterflies and birds such as the malachite kingfisher, heron, spoonbill and royal ibis, to name just a few. Spend your time at the reserve's two gardens: Indigenous Garden and the Entrance Garden, which are home to a score of little creatures who can be observed within their natural habitats. Stroll along the boardwalk with your own four-legged friend and stop at the point in the path where the lagoon begins. You can even break for a bit of stand-up paddle boarding, if you come prepared.

4. Home To The Majestic

A trip to South Africa is simply not complete without its emblematic creature, the elephant. Knysna Elephant Park knows this well and pays homage to the great animal by giving it a sheltered space, a natural reserve where these grand, gentle and wonderful creatures can live in peace and harmony. As part of the park's responsible tourism focus, visitors can undertake a safari or a tour with professional guides.

5. Hitting The Spa

If, after relaxing in the natural world, you find yourself craving a few lavish creature comforts, book a day with your friends or family at the Conrad Pezula and prepare to be pampered. This haven is a world-class spa facility that offers such services as facials, massages, fillers, access to its sauna and pools, a full golf course and even horseback riding.

1. Wander Into The Wild

...And never leave! The Garden Route National Park is one large amalgamation of two existing parks that, as of 2009, encompasses a whopping 470 square miles of wilderness and forest just waiting to be explored. The Garden Route National Park is the ideal place for casual hiking to more extreme back-country camping. It can take days or even weeks to explore this park's trails and lookout points to completion. And this is partially because its indigenous forests, rugged mountains, colorful pools and breathtaking views of the crystal water of the South Atlantic will capture you for more than an afternoon.

2. A Day Trip

Gorgeous coastlines and a whole host of activities await travelers who venture to this thriving seaside resort town, just west of Knysna. It's easy to jet around the island via its electric bike rentals, putting travelers within access of its sparkling blue lagoons, canals and the famous Thesen Estate. The town also has a variety of small restaurants and shops that can be browsed during a leisurely afternoon stroll. Those who want a bit of an adrenaline rush on their otherwise relaxing trip will enjoy sandboarding on its dunes or hydrofoiling. And for a connection with nature, visit the Brenton Butterfly Reserve, especially if you're visiting from October until December.

3. Natural Life In The Heart Of Knysna

The Steenbok Nature Reserve gives travelers that much needed "time out" within the city. It's a haven for those who wish to discover more than 200 species of flora, supported by a robust population of butterflies and birds such as the malachite kingfisher, heron, spoonbill and royal ibis, to name just a few. Spend your time at the reserve's two gardens: Indigenous Garden and the Entrance Garden, which are home to a score of little creatures who can be observed within their natural habitats. Stroll along the boardwalk with your own four-legged friend and stop at the point in the path where the lagoon begins. You can even break for a bit of stand-up paddle boarding, if you come prepared.

4. Home To The Majestic

A trip to South Africa is simply not complete without its emblematic creature, the elephant. Knysna Elephant Park knows this well and pays homage to the great animal by giving it a sheltered space, a natural reserve where these grand, gentle and wonderful creatures can live in peace and harmony. As part of the park's responsible tourism focus, visitors can undertake a safari or a tour with professional guides.

5. Hitting The Spa

If, after relaxing in the natural world, you find yourself craving a few lavish creature comforts, book a day with your friends or family at the Conrad Pezula and prepare to be pampered. This haven is a world-class spa facility that offers such services as facials, massages, fillers, access to its sauna and pools, a full golf course and even horseback riding.

Top activities & attractions in Knysna

Where to Eat in Knysna

With its fresh and local menu, the Drydock Food Co attracts hungry foodies from all around. Tuck into fresh coastal oysters, Queen prawns, or sizzling sirloin steaks. Two can dine comfortably for R500.

When to visit Knysna

Knysna in July
Estimated hotel price
£71
1 night at 3-star hotel
Knysna in July
Estimated hotel price
£71
1 night at 3-star hotel

Perfect at any time of year sums up the weather in Knysna. It rains on and off throughout and the best time to travel is February to April. Temperatures hover between 60 to 73.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Celcius (°C)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to Knysna

Plane

International flights land at Cape Town International Airport (CPT). From here, you can take a bus to Knysna, about six hours away.

Car

Traveling from Johannesburg to Knysna, head south using the N1 and N9; it's a 12-hour journey. From Cape Town, head east using the N2. This trip is much shorter, around six hours.

Bus

DMJ Transport offers a ride from Cape Town to Knysna for R210. Traveling from Pretoria to Knysna, book a seat on the Intercape for R569.

Airports near Knysna

Airlines serving Knysna

Qatar Airways
Good (932 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (663 reviews)
FlySafair
Excellent (39 reviews)
Cemair
Excellent (1 reviews)

Where to stay in Knysna

Those who want to live in style should book one of the cottages at the Eastford Country Estate. If you don't mind being located on the lagoon and want to experience variety, book one of the Knysna houseboats. Budget travelers will appreciate the central accommodations at Jembjo's Knysna Lodge & Backpackers.

Popular neighbourhoods in Knysna

Old Place - located right on the coast, Old Place has plenty of hotels, vacation residences, and quite a few tour operators that run expeditions like whale watching.

Knysna Central - the main hub, this is Knysna's downtown area, where you can find great little cafes, restaurants, and all the best shopping spots.

Rexford - perhaps the most well-known aspect of this neighborhood is the Eastford Private Nature Reserve, where you can take in more than just scenic views of the stunning Knysna lagoon. Watch for various rare and local birds, go on scheduled tours of the elephant park, and observe lemurs and capuchins.

Where to stay in popular areas of Knysna

Most booked hotels in Knysna

Amanzi Island Lodge
Excellent (9.4, Excellent reviews)
£64+
Premier Resort The Moorings, Knysna
Excellent (8.6, Excellent reviews)
£66+
aha The Rex Hotel
Excellent (8.5, Excellent reviews)
£45+
Protea Hotel by Marriott Knysna Quays
Excellent (8.4, Excellent reviews)
£61+
Pezula Nature Hotel & Spa
Excellent (8.1, Excellent reviews)
£96+
See all hotels

How to Get Around Knysna

Public Transportation

Knysna is small enough, locally, to get around on foot. There is no public transport.

Taxi

Taxis are the most popular (and only) option to get around with a vehicle. These are metered and start at a flat rate of R10, and it's R7 per mile thereafter.

Car

You can either rent a car with driver or get a self-driven car. If the latter, there are plenty of well-known companies like Europcar, Avis, and Budget. Fares start at R334, for a standard 4-door car.

The Cost of Living in Knysna

Shopping Streets

Knysna has a large area of shops located at the Waterfront and along Gray Street. Knysna Mall, with international brands, is just off Main Road (the N2).

Groceries and Other

Local supermarkets include Shoprite and Kwikspar. A quart of milk costs R12 and a dozen eggs costs around R25.

Cheap meal
£4.80
A pair of jeans
£47.44
Single public transport ticket
£0.51
Cappuccino
£1.37