Just like a pearl, the town of Paarl is unique and very special. Nestled between beautiful mountains and vineyards, with the Berg River running through town, this is a must-see destination for travelers to the Western Cape.
When entering Paarl coming from Cape Town on the N1, you will have the Afrikaans Language Monument (Afrikaanse Taal Monument) on your left up on a hill overlooking the valley. This spot has stunning vistas over the vineyards and mountains and you can even see Table Mountain all the way from here.
This very prominent monument was officially opened on 10 October 1975 and is a wonderful place to stop. Have a coffee served with a spectacular view and learn more about the history of Afrikaans, while exploring the monument and gardens. Furthermore (if you’re looking for something to do in the evening) this is also the venue of the now already famous full moon picnics. Or you can attend one of the many music festivals held at the monument.
The photos below are of the Afrikaans Language Museum / Afrikaanse Taalmonument – you just actually have to see it in real life. Actually, the photos don’t do it any justice. Visit their Facebook Page for more updates on events.
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Here in summer, you will often have days during January and February reaching above 30 degrees in temperature. Winter mornings get cold but it also makes for beautiful vistas of snow-capped mountains in the distance. It does not snow in the town or on the lower Paarl Rock Mountain.
The fertile soil and the Mediterranean-like climate of this region provide perfect conditions for farming, so you will find vineyards everywhere, along with orchids and vegetable farming. Right in the heart of Paarl’s main road, you will find the KWV Head Office and Emporium.
KWV is synonymous with Paarl. Do a Wine and Brandy Tasting and book a cellar tour. The world-renowned Cathedral Cellar is part of the tour and you can ask for German, Spanish, and Swedish guided tours. Normally tours are done in English (with a bit of Afrikaans if the crowd allows it.)
Take a drive down the 12 km long main road. Yes, Paarl has the longest main road in South Africa. The oak tree-lined road has many examples of Cape Dutch, Victorian, Edwardian, and Art Deco architecture. I think you’ll find a few interesting shops and restaurants along the way to stop and enjoy. Amongst others, you will also find the “Toringkerk” and “Strooidak Kerk” (As the locals call them in Afrikaans.)
Autumn is lovely as the weather is fantastic and the vineyards’ leaves turn autumn colors. Summer is very hot, but if you combine it with time spent at the beach, which is not far away, it makes for an awesome summer holiday. From Springtime everything in the “Boland” (as locals refer to the area) turns green. Winter mornings can get pretty cold, but some people say the best days in the Cape are the sunshiny winter days.
I think the Berg River which runs through the town, is really beautiful during winter. (You can safely walk along Berg River Boulevard and enjoy the scenery.) Furthermore, the Berg River Canoe Marathon takes place annually over a distance of some 240 km. You can be part of the fun. It takes place in July each year, from Paarl to the small harbor of Velddrif on the West Coast.
Paarl is only about 45 minutes from Cape Town International Airport (CPT). We would highly recommend renting a car at the airport. Set your GPS to ‘main roads’ and follow the R300 and then the N1 to Paarl. (About 61 km.) Uber is available in Cape Town.
When visiting the Western Cape, we would really recommend having your own car with GPS (see below the reason why).
Paarl is home to many wine estates and is famous amongst other things, for its wine route. These estates are often also very popular wedding venues.
Wine Cellar Tours and Wine Tasting should be on the top of your list when visiting Paarl. In my opinion, you simply must stop at the Fairview wine and cheese farm. The kids will love this because of the goats but they do offer many activities which the whole family can enjoy. (E.g. a Deli, Bakery, restaurants, the goat tower, and wine tasting.)
The Alpaca Loom Coffee shop and Weaving Studio is an interesting stop and so cute. Adopt an Alpaca and do the walking tour where you get to meet all the woolly friends. Shop for Alpaca wool items (like a scarf for winter back home) and donate food for the Alpacas. This is really a special experience and the kids will also love the animals.
The Spice Route – is not an actual route you follow on a map, but a farm offering wine, beer, chocolate, and spirits tastings as well as a beautiful restaurant and more.
This town in the Western Cape might still be an un-discovered “pearl of the Cape” to many travelers.
The endless list of accommodation in and around Paarl has options for every budget. From 5-star luxury hotels (like The Grande Roche) to self-catering, guesthouses, lodges, or farm-stays; you will find it here. There is something for all budgets.
Free Accommodation is an exciting initiative that allows you the opportunity to stay for free at establishments across the country. How do you get Accommodation for FREE?
When booking accommodation in Paarl you are quite central to places like Montague, Ceres, Tulbagh, The Riebeeck Valley, Malmesbury, Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and then the rest of Cape Town closer to Table Mountain.
Paarl is only 45 minutes (62 km) away from Cape Town itself if you take the N1 main route.
This means you are also only 52 minutes away from Bloubergstrand and 57 minutes from Strand (a beach town called ‘Strand’) next to Gordons Bay.
Robertson and Worcester is about a 45 to 50 minutes’ scenic mountain drive away.
All of these are easy day trips you can plan and explore. And that is exactly why we would recommend that you rent a car. You can follow this easy-booking link to compare prices. Link to arrange your Car Hire.