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Philadelphia in South Africa: A Quiet Retreat in the Western Cape

Philadelphia is more than just a picturesque town – it’s a journey through time and a celebration of South Africa’s cultural tapestry.  During our visit to the Western Cape, we came across this little hidden gem.
Philadelphia sign

About 33 km from Malmesbury, and 40 km from Cape Town, in the Western Cape province of South Africa, you will find this tiny village called Philadelphia.  Now, Philadelphia SA is nothing like Philadelphia in the USA.  Here in South Africa, it is a peaceful haven for all who need to escape city life…  A quiet drive out into the country over the weekend, and a quick stop if you’re on your way to the West coast.

In this peaceful village, free from the chaos of traffic lights and with just a handful of shops, you truly step away from the hectic pace of city life. The ideal time to immerse yourself in the calm is during the weekends, spanning from Friday to Sunday.  During summer time the area is lush and green and you get a cozy feeling.

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Where to stay / Is this an easy day trip from Cape Town?

While you’re in the area, you might want to stay along the coast at maybe Melkbosstrand and then take a drive out to Philadelphia and the Swartland area for the morning.  It is an easy day trip (or morning trip) from Cape Town, so you can even stay in Camps bay or Bloubergstrand.

What to expect

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De Malle Meul in Philadelphia SA

First on our list was De Malle Meul.   Locals told us that this is where they offer the best Sunday buffet and shows.  Unfortunately, our timing was a bit out, but we will definitely make time to visit in the future.  According to their website, a good menu and a wonderful wine list to accompany your meal make this a stop worth your while.  

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The Peppertree Art Stable and Coffee shop

The Peppertree Art Stable and Coffee shop normally entice you with the smell of delicious home-baked bread but now also launched their new initiative of “Pick-up-a-Box”.  

  • Fresh produce (organic fruit and veg)
  • Baked goods (a variety of artisan bread and pastries made with stoneground flour and wood-fired)
  • Grass-fed dairy products
  • Free-range poultry & eggs
  • Venison
  • Free-range pasture-fed lamb
  • Products from their shop and deli

Obviously all packed as they source it from their suppliers – the local farmers.  (Orders via Whatsapp – check out their website.)  

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In Peppertree’s own words: 

“In winter we light a fire in our little Dover stove and strive to entice you with the smell of our own home-baked bread and soup. Come and enjoy some of our locally produced preserves, and honey from our local beekeeper.” 

In summer:  “Come and enjoy fine home-cooked cuisine under a huge Pepper Tree at the very popular Peppertree Coffee shop in this homely, country-style setting. Delicious, home-baked cakes and light lunches served with the finest roasted coffee, teas, and homemade juices under the shade of the big Pepper Tree.”

The Dutch Reformed Church, Church Square, Philadelphia, SA

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This village was like many towns in South Africa, started out at first as a farm, and thereafter it grew into a small community with the church as the central point.  The “NG Kerk Philadelphia” (Dutch Reformed Church) dates back to 1863, still seen as the most impressive building in the village, and is beautiful.  Did you know that the town’s name is also of biblical origin, meaning:  “brotherly love”.  

Philadelphia in South Africa may be a tiny village, but come the weekends, it becomes a cute destination for those seeking an authentic taste of South African country life or just a genuine South African cup of “Boeretroos” (Locals often refer to coffee as “Boeretroos” in Afrikaans).  

What is Boeretroos Wat is Boeretroos why is coffee called boeretroos in South Africa

What is Boeretroos?

“Boeretroos” is an Afrikaans term that translates to “farmer’s consolation” or “farmer’s comfort” in English. It is often used to refer to coffee. The term reflects the historical and cultural significance of coffee as a comforting and essential beverage, particularly in the context of South African farming communities. The phrase “boeretroos” highlights the role of coffee as a source of solace or comfort.  South Africans love to “kuier” (sit and chat) with a cup of coffee – especially on a “stoep” in the Swartland with views of the agricultural land.  It is something you have to experience along with their open and friendly hospitality.

Nearby:

  • Durbanville Wine Valley: If you enjoy wine tasting, the Durbanville Wine Valley is nearby, offering a variety of vineyards and wineries where you can sample some of South Africa’s finest wines.

  • West Coast National Park: Head west to experience the stunning landscapes and biodiversity of the West Coast National Park. It’s known for its birdlife, beautiful beaches, and spectacular seasonal wildflowers during spring.

  • Riebeek Valley: A bit to the north, Riebeek Valley is known for its olive farms, wine estates, and charming small towns like Riebeek Kasteel and Riebeek West.

  • Swartland Region: Explore the Swartland region, known for its wheat fields, charming towns, and wine farms. It offers a more rural and agricultural experience.  Here you can visit places like Moorreesburg.

  • Atlantis Dunes: If you’re into outdoor activities, consider visiting the Atlantis Dunes for some thrilling sandboarding or simply to enjoy the unique desert-like landscape.

More things to do:

  • Wine Tasting at the beautiful Capaia Wines Estate, and stop for some fabulous alfresco dining at Mariella’s Restaurant with sweeping views across the magnificent Swartland.
  • About 14 min (12.8 km) away, via Van Schoorsdrif Rd, you can do some horse riding.  Mountain View Horse Trails offer beautiful trials and they promise that their horses are well-trained to look after even the most novice riders.
  • Explore the nearby towns like Durbanville or take a drive further out into the Swartland countryside to Moorreesburg, Malmesbury, Koringberg and Piketberg.
  • Or take the open road out to the seaside and enjoy places like Langebaan on the West Coast.

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