While many of us prefer to opt for a beach vacay, the more popular tourist destinations are usually packed full. So, why not consider setting your sights on one of the many smaller, charming South African towns?

From meandering the forests that inspired Tolkien to cycling wide-open dirt roads with panoramic views, here are some of our choice small-town destinations to plan a visit around.


Rosendal is a small farming town and arts colony located in the Free State, about a 3 hour drive away from Johannesburg. Surrounded by the Maluti mountain range, this tiny town is the artist/creative’s ultimate musing destination.

Pick from exploring one of the town’s tiny art galleries (you’ll discover real gems here), opt for a hike through the rolling farmlands, enjoy the local food and gift shops, have a picnic, and even opt to explore the entire town by foot (this is entirely possible, Rosendal isn’t very big).

As a safe and peaceful destination, Rosendal is the perfect spot to unwind from the bustle of city life. Rent out one of the town’s charming old buildings for accommodation (we recommend looking at The Old School House) and relax.

This destination is all about enjoying the peace and quiet with family. Eating great food (pick from one of the town’s local restaurants, or pack some groceries for a homemade countryside meal) and explore what this little gem has to offer.


Swellendam, located in the Overberg district, and is the third oldest town in South Africa. This is yet another destination boasting a beautiful backdrop of mountains and farmlands.

About a two-and-a-half hour drive from Cape Town nestled between the Langeberg mountains and Breede river, immerse yourself in the sweeping views of the nature reserves and farmlands surrounding the town.

Take a dip at the Marloth Nature Reserve, bike around town (safely) and marvel over the architectural significance of some of the town’s oldest buildings, including gorgeous Dutch reform churches. If you’re hungry, the town boasts over 30 restaurants.

This is the perfect spot to reconnect with nature, family in tow. While you’re there, take the kids for a visit to Sulina Faerie Sanctuary, where all kinds of magic waits to be discovered.


Ever wanted to explore the spot that inspired the setting of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? Here’s your chance to visit one of the most magical places you could visit locally. Located in the Amathole mountain range in the Eastern Cape, there’s so much to marvel over in Hogsback.

Famous for its three flat-topped mountains, the destination boasts an array of breathtaking views and waterfalls.

Hogsback is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway, which will bring you perfect sunsets and sunrises and winding nature hiking trails in the indigenous Tyumie forests. You will also pass by ancient trees populated by Cape Parrots and Knysna Loeries!

If you’re looking for timeless charm that will renew your senses, reconnect you with nature, and replenish the soul, then look no further than this dream spot.


How about waking up in the heart of nature, surrounded by mist? You’re only about 2.5 hours from Johannesburg, but the cool climate and clean air gives the illusion of being hundreds of kilometres away from any sign of city life.

A choice getaway for Gauteng locals, Dullstroom boasts a host of great experiences to pick from. From taking a soft stroll along the rivers (the fly fishing mecca of SA), or making your way up the rocky escarpments and stumbling upon the most phenomenal scenery.

Stroll around the town and get a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants, take in the beautiful 19th and 20th century architecture of Dullstroom, and relish in a break from all things city.

From nature adventures, mountain bike and trail running routes, art galleries and health spas, you’re spoiled for choice at this gem of a favourite.

Written by Savanna Douglas for Women&Home

Feature Image: Instagram / @rosendaltown