At the heart of the scenic Garden Route, Knysna is a charming holiday town popular with tourists and locals alike. With the Knysna lagoon and the spectacular Knysna Heads as a backdrop, Knysna offers a myriad of activities to enjoy.
The town is surrounded by lush forests, indigenous Yellowwood trees and untouched beaches making it an ideal getaway for the outdoor enthusiast. Visitors can enjoy fishing, boating and canoeing and a lagoon cruise, including trip to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, is well worth taking in. The lagoon is a sanctuary for the rare Knysna Seahorse which breeds in the estuary.
To view the many different accommodation options in Knysna visit Knysna Accommodation.
Start your day with breakfast at the Ile De Pain, a wonderful and trendy bakery on Thesen Island. The restaurant has a wood fired oven which produces large, dark loaves of Companio bread which you can expect to enjoy with poached eggs and wilted spinach or scrambled eggs and bacon. The selection of pastries is equally impressive and simply too good to resist. Liezie Mulder, the co-owner, draws from her love of local ingredients to create menus that are thoughtful, simple and unique for everyday enjoyment. At Ile De Pain bread complements Liezie's food - and breakfast and lunch take centre stage. On your way out remember to buy a loaf (those 'in the know' reserve one or two before sitting down).
Knysna Elephant Park
After breakfast head to the Knysna Elephant Park. Knysna and the surrounding indigenous forests were once home to herds of Knysna elephants who wandered freely in their natural forested habitat. Due to man's interference over the years, the numbers have decreased significantly.
The Knysna Elephant Park now provides a refuge for orphan elephants, and visitors are given the chance to feed and interact with the elephants while they learn about their history in the Knysna area. Tours are conducted daily on the half hour from 8:30 onwards, and last up to an hour. Visitors are taken on a tractor ride to the elephants' custom built boma, where they will have the opportunity to touch, feed and spend time with these large but gentle giants. The Park also offers guests the opportunity to ride on elephant back while guides lead you through the forest and the indigenous fynbos.
The cost of the daily tours is R190 per adult and R100 per child. The elephant back safari through the forest costs R815 per adult and R390 per child.
The Knysna Lagoon and the spectacular sandstone cliffs which form the Knysna Heads are one of Knysna's most recognised landmarks. Home to a large diversity of marine life, including the Knysna seahorse and over 200 species of fish, the Featherbed Nature Reserve is a unique 150 hectare private nature reserve that is made up of the whole of the Western tip of the Knysna Heads.
The Knysna Featherbed Company runs daily tours into the reserve, which is one of South Africa's Premier Natural Heritage sites. The tour begins with a 30 minute educational cruise of the lagoon, en route to the reserve. Once in the reserve, guests can stop for lunch under the Milkwood Trees, or join a 4x4 ride to some excellent vantage points where spectacular views of the lagoon and surroundings can be enjoyed. The final part of the 4-hour tour is an optional 2 km walk back down to the ferry where the knowledgeable guides will tell you more about the area and you may even be lucky enough to spot a Knysna Loerie or a Blue Duiker.
The tour is booked through The Featherbed Company Knysna, and costs R395 per adult and R180 per child, including a buffet lunch.
Browse Art Galleries
Knysna is home to variety of different art galleries, showcasing local, national and international artists. Two galleries to visit are the Knysna Art Gallery and the Knysna Fine Art Gallery.
The Knysna Art Gallery is located on the corner of Queen and Main streets, situated in the Old Goal Complex. The gallery was started 50 years ago and has a variety of fantastic art on display. Many local artists display their works here on a regular basis. Contact them on 044 382 7124. The gallery is open weekdays from 9.30 to 16:30, and from 9.30- 13:00 on Saturday.
The Knysna Fine Art gallery is one of South Africa's finest galleries. It specialises in contemporary South African art in a variety of media although a growing number of international fine artists are also exhibited. The gallery is open from 8:00 to 17:00 on week days and from 8:00 to 13:00 on Saturdays.
Watch the sunset on Noetzie Beach
Situated just outside of Knysna at the end of a dirt road is Noetzie beach, a small, pristine cove. The beach is secluded and was made a conservancy as the very rare African Black Oystercatcher home on this beach. In the 1930s modern-turreted castles were built along the beach, and currently stand resolute on the edge of the beach. Noetzie offers a wonderful place to watch the sun set and be completely surrounded by spectacular scenery and nature.
Knysna is known for its wonderful Knysna oysters and fresh seafood which can be enjoyed at many of the local restaurants around the town. Find somewhere to enjoy some fresh oysters and champagne, or one of many other options if you don't enjoy seafood.
With live bands and a warm fireplace, Quay Four on Thesen Island is all about keeping you entertained and giving you a space to relax, unwind and enjoy a good meal. Experience a fish-braai and enjoy fresh oysters on the deck with an outlook of the lagoon, stretching to the Knysna Heads.
Quay Four offers a variety of light meals and salads, as well as hearty pub fare for those with a bigger appetite, although the emphasis is on sumptuous seafood. Visitors can spend a leisurely day on the deck drinking cocktails and enjoying delicious oysters while soaking up the views.