Swellendam (pop. 35.000) is in the Western Cape region. It's one of the oldest European settlements in South Africa. The town has over 50 provincial heritage sites, most of them buildings of Cape Dutch architecture.
Visitor information centre
There is no longer a Tourism Information office - a town directory www.swellendam.com is used by most people to find their way around, to find places to eat and sleep and to catch up on local news, jobs, and events.
- From Cape Town: It takes about 2.5-3 hours on the N2 to reach Swellendam by car from Cape Town (240 km).
Take the N2 highway towards Cape Town International Airport and carry on straight towards Somerset West. Follow the N2 past the town and all the way up and over Sir Lowry’s Pass. Once you are over the pass, carry on straight on the N2 past the towns of Grabouw/Elgin and Bot River.
Continue along the highway past Caledon and Riviersonderend until you come into the town which is well signposted. Depending on where you are staying you can access the town through either the first or second highway off-ramp. The second highway off-ramp will take you straight to many of the main tourist attractions.
An alternative route on the N1 through the Huguenot Tunnel, then the R60, through Worcester and Robertson takes the same time and is more scenic.
- From George: Take the N2 highway towards Mossel Bay and follow this highway all the way along the N2 until you reach Swellendam. The journey will take you all the way along the coast and then inland, passing through Riversdale and Heidelberg.
The major companies serve Swellendam on their run from Cape Town to the Garden route but the service isn't very extensive. Swellendam is also served by the Baz Bus on its way from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth.
By air or train
There is a small airport, Swellengrebel Airfield, used for pilot training and private planes. There is a railway - but the station no longer operates. A hospital train visits the town annually and private companies run tourism trips by steam engine.
The town is small so best viewed while walking through the oak lined streets. There is no public transport in the town except for the minibuses. The minibus stand is in Tritchard Street behind the main shopping mall.
- The Drostdy: the former magistrate's seat was built in 1747 and now houses a museum. It is a fine example of Cape-Dutch architecture.
- Bontebok National Park: A few kilometres out of town, this park offers nice scenery. Worth a day of hiking and a viewing of the flora and fauna. Bontebok National Park is where the rare bontebok was protected when it was close to extinction. The population has increased from 17 individuals in 1931 to a sustainable number today.
- De Hoop Nature Reserve: Beautiful little reserve, perfect for spotting whales!
- Marloth Nature Reserve: On the southern slopes of the Langeberg Mountains offers an abundance of wild flowers and fynbos, as well as some hiking trails.
- Visit the museum and then go to Bontebok National Park. For those with more time hiking in the Marloth nature reserve is worth a thought.
- Marloth Nature reserve offers a number of hikes, some of them partially shaded, needed in the summer heat.
- Twaalfuurkop Peak is about 12.4km, taking an estimated time 6 hours. Ascends to the Twaalfuurkop peak (1,450m) with great views of the Langeberg Mountain range, the Rûensveld and the Indian Ocean.
- Duiwelsbos Waterfall. A short 2km hike, taking an estimated 2 hours, it is shaded for the latter portion, and offers a small swimming spot at the end.
- Koloniesbos: 2km, an estimated 70m. It starts from the same place as the Duiwelsbos route, and it's possible to do both. A pleasant, mostly shaded route. It is possible to add on a few scenic but unshaded kilometres to both routes by starting at the Marloth Office, rather than the parking lot.
- Plaat Loop. 12km, an estimated 3 hours. Includes a number of streams to swim
- Appelsbos Loop. 21km, an estimated 5 hours
Eat and Drink
Several restaurants line the main street - Swellendam has many owner managed restaurants and very few 'fast food' joints, so food is generally of an excellent standard - with the personal touch,
- Drostdy Restaurant, 28 Swellengrebel St, email@example.com. French chef - high end food.
- Republic (Republic of Swellendam), 25 Swellengrebel Street, firstname.lastname@example.org. Traditional Afrikaans dishes served with a modern twist. This place has their own gin distillery and hand crafted beer.
- Aan de Eike Leisure Kitchen, 13 Swellengrebel Street, email@example.com. Light meals in a sunny open space
- Powell House Restaurant, 113A Voortrek St. Located in an old building, this restaurant features traditional South African dishes, such as curries and boboties, prepared with attention to detail, and a friendly host who will help make the evening enjoyable. It's a quiet place, and in the low season you might be the only patrons, but the food is good, the ambiance is nice, and the host is guaranteed to make the visit worthwhile.
- Woodpecker Pizzadeli, 270 Voortrek St. A pleasant pizza venue in the south of the town.
- Field and Fork, 26 Swellengrebel St, ☏ . Fine dining, the location forms part of the historic Drostdy Museum
- The Old Mill, 241 Voortrek Str, ☏ . Traditional South African cooking served in warm, rustic surroundings. Lovely, large patio area under vines for warm, balmy summer evenings. Great food, great atmosphere and friendly staff.
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||R500 to R1000|
- [dead link] African Shades Guesthouse, 11-13 Swellengrebelstreet, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. R295 - R380pps.
- Braeside Bed & Breakfast, 13 Van Oudtshoornweg, ☏ , email@example.com. A very nice Cape Edwardian building, enjoy the breakfast on the terrace. From R250 pps.
- [dead link] Heerden Huijs, 5 Swellengrebel St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Situated in the heart of Swellendam, offer the essence of hospitality. Although situated on the main road, the rooms are quiet and cool. Within walking distance of the historical sites and restaurants. Enjoy a scruptious breakfast either in the dining room or on the patio besides the pool. Dinner/braai (barbeque) by prior arrangement. Rates are R275pps, single on request..
- [dead link] Swellendam Backpackers Adventure Lodge, 5 Lichtenstein St, ☏ , email@example.com. Offers adventure and accommodation. Camping with own tent R50pp, safari tent R100pp. Dormbed R100pp, double room, standard and ensuite R350 and selfcatering cottage from R400..
- Swellendam Country Lodge Guest House B&B, 237 Voortrek St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. 4 stars (Tourism Grading Council of South Africa). The guest house has a unique atmosphere, the stylish characteristic interior is a combination of classic charm and modern style. The rooms are situated in a beautiful landscaped garden where you will enjoy the wide range of birds, trees, fruit and flowers. On warm summer days, the large sparkling swimming pool is a refreshment not to be missed. Off street parking. English, Afrikaans, German, Dutch spoken. From R360pps.
- Mountain View Guest House, 37 Drostdy St, ☏ . Well-located, large rooms with air conditioning. The area has access to a swimming pool as well.
- Bloomestate Luxury Retreat Guesthouse, 276 Voortrek St, ☏ , email@example.com. For lovers of style, modern design, beautiful surroundings and the finer things in life, Bloomestate will be your retreat of choice. On an estate of 2.5 ha, this guesthouse has seven stylish modern gardenrooms with large bathrooms. French doors open onto landscaped gardens with a tranguil dam, heated saltwater pool and mountain views. With a maximum of 14 guests, privacy, attentive service and supreme comfort are assured. The perfect hideaway to relax and unwind. Lounge area with open air Jacuzzi, conference facilities in the lounge. Stroll to restaurants, small platters on request. Wine estates and nature reserves nearby. From R575pps.
Local telephone area code: 028. Postcode 6740.
- The rest of the Overberg.
- Witsand, a small coastal town about 50 km from Swellendam, is one of the best whale viewing spots on the South coast as it is one the of largest whale nurseries in South Africa. The town sits at the foot of the Langeberg, and there are many hiking trails, ranging from day walks to a 5- to 7-day trails.