10 quaint and quiet towns worth exploring in the Western Cape

Posted on 25 July 2023

These quiet towns offer a blend of natural beauty, cultural heritage and a slower pace of life, making them perfect for exploring and unwinding in the Western Cape.

1. Koringberg 

Koringberg is a small village located just 15 kilometres from Moorreesburg along the N7 to Piketberg and an hour’s drive from Cape Town. It is an enchanting dorpie surrounded by winter green and summer gold wheatfields.

Formerly known as Warren’s Camp, Koringberg developed its own identity after seceding from the Dutch Reformed church in neighbouring Moorreesburg and Hopefield. While it is a lesser-known Swartland village, it is gaining popularity thanks to the thrilling Koringberg mountain biking trail. The scenic route takes riders through fynbos, wheat fields and klipkoppies, culminating in an adrenaline-pumping descent with sharp hairpin bends.

Koringberg’s distinct personality gradually put it on the map, attracting visitors looking for a hidden treasure.

Quiet towns worth exploring - Koringberg
Picture: Moorreesburg & Koringberg Tourism / Facebook

2. Porterville

Porterville is a peaceful town in South Africa’s Western Cape province, located at the foot of the Olifants River Mountains. It is located 27 kilometres southeast of Piketberg and 155 kilometres northeast of Cape Town and provides a tranquil respite from city life.

The region, which is known for its wheat production, features vast golden fields that dominate the agricultural landscape. Piketberg, Saron, Eendekuil and Citrusdal are just a few of the charming towns that surround Porterville.

Porterville welcomes visitors to enjoy its natural beauty while providing a peaceful retreat for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a break from city life.

Quiet towns worth exploring - Porterville
Picture: Porterville Tourism / Facebook

3. Greyton

Greyton is located at the base of the picturesque Riviersonderend Mountains, with beautifully preserved thatched-roof cottages, tree-lined streets and a stunning nature reserve. It is an ideal location for leisurely walks and cycling adventures.

While the village retains its rustic charm with mostly dirt roads, the infrastructure is modern, with excellent food shops, a pharmacy and medical services. You can find affordable, high-quality meat, fresh produce and freshly baked bread here, ensuring a relaxing stay in this quaint village.

Quiet towns worth exploring - Greyton
Picture: Greyton Tourism Bureau / Facebook

4. Moorreesburg

Moorreesburg, founded in 1879 on the Hooikraal farm, is now part of the Swartland Local Municipality in the Western Cape’s West Coast District Municipality. The town is a significant wheat and oat processing centre as well as a logistical hub for these crops.

Moorreesburg may appear unassuming at first glance, but it has more to offer than meets the eye. The town is a lively community with a thriving agricultural sector. The Wheat Museum, one of only three in the world, is one of its most notable attractions. In addition, the local high school has established an art gallery, which displays the works of over seventy talented local and nationally recognised artists.

Moorreesburg is a hidden gem worth exploring because it combines agriculture and culture. Its rich history and contribution to the wheat industry, as well as the growing popularity of its art scene, enrich its small-town charm.

Quiet towns worth exploring - Moorreesburg
Picture: Moorreesburg & Koringberg Tourism / Facebook

5. McGregor

McGregor is a tranquil retreat surrounded by vineyards and mountains, with charming architecture and a laid-back atmosphere. Explore the timeless beauty of the village by stepping into a picturesque nineteenth-century watercolour painting. The town exudes serenity with its white-washed houses, lush gardens and wide, winding roads.

McGregor blends country living and nature and retains its authentic village feel, free of commercialism. Cafe corner shops, delis and cosy country restaurants stand in place of chain stores and fast-food restaurants.

The church bell tolls and the cheerful greetings of neighbourhood roosters set the tone for life in McGregor. Embrace the leisurely pace of this enchanting village, where time seems to stand still and peace pervades the air.

Quiet towns worth exploring - McGregor
Picture: McGregor Tourism / Facebook

6. Stanford

Stanford exudes charm with its Cape Victorian and Edwardian-style houses nestled along the tranquil banks of the Klein River. This historic village, only 23 kilometres from Hermanus, forms part of the scenic Overberg region.

Visit Stanford’s art galleries, antique shops and scenic nature reserves. The village centre features a charming market square as well as tree-lined streets characterised by Victorian homes. Enjoy friendly conversations and delectable treats from local restaurants where time seems to stand still.

Stanford can accommodate both romantic getaways and family adventures. Allow the serenity of the Klein River and the natural beauty of the surrounding area to enchant you as you discover the timeless allure of this village.

Quiet towns worth exploring - Stanford
Picture: Stanford Village / Facebook

7. Riebeek Kasteel

Riebeek Kasteel is a historic town in the Riebeek Valley that offers a blend of culture and natural beauty with its Cape Dutch buildings, olive groves and vineyards.

Riebeek Kasteel and its sister town, Riebeek West, have significant historical significance in South Africa. Dutch explorers first documented the valley in 1661 and the prominent Riebeek Kasteel Berg mountain was named after Cape Commander Jan van Riebeeck. The settlements on its slopes were named after this landmark. The area’s first settlers arrived in the 18th century and Riebeek West was established as a Dutch Reformed Church parish in 1858.

Explore Riebeek Kasteel’s rich heritage, where tradition meets artistic expression. Admire the Cape Dutch architecture, stroll through galleries and indulge in the region’s culinary delights. The Riebeek Valley serves as a beautiful backdrop for exploration and relaxation.

Picture: The Royal Hotel – Riebeek Kasteel / Facebook

8. Tulbagh 

A scenic 90-minute drive from Cape Town, Tulbagh is a rural village nestled among mountains and an unspoiled valley. This charming destination is not only appealing all year, but it also serves as an excellent base for exploring the Cape Winelands and surrounding areas.

Spring in Tulbagh greets you with blooming arum lilies and a colourful array of fynbos flowers. Summer brings abundant harvests; autumn colours the vineyards russet and gold; and winter blankets the landscape in greenery and mist, adorning the mountains with snow.

Tulbagh is surrounded by Gouda, Wolseley, Ceres and Prince Alfred’s Hamlet. Wellington, Paarl, Franschhoek and Stellenbosch are all within easy driving distance. The town is located at the northern end of the Tulbagh Valley and the Great Winterhoek Mountains, which rise 2 077 metres above sea level and make for a beautiful backdrop.

Its fertile soil produces exceptional wines, olive oil, peaches, pears and plums, and locals’ warm hospitality adds to the charm and the valley is a popular destination for weddings and conferences.

Picture: Saronsberg Cellar / Facebook

9. Montagu

Montagu is known for its hot mineral springs, elegant Edwardian and Victorian architecture and tranquil countryside surrounded by majestic mountains and vineyards.

Located in the scenic Langeberg region near the renowned Robertson Wine Valley and the Breede River Valley, Montagu offers a variety of relaxing experiences. Aside from its famous hot springs, the town is ideal for eco-conscious, wellness-seeking people, as well as adventure sports enthusiasts and those looking for golfing vacations, fine wines and culinary delights.

A visit to Montagu is an opportunity to indulge the senses with the sounds of nature, the vibrant atmosphere of the local market, the flavours of fresh fruits and the aroma of Muskadel wine and mountain air.

Picture: Montagu, Western Cape / Facebook

10. Wellington 

Rich fruit orchards, sizable wine estates and picturesque olive groves surround the town of Wellington. Historic Cape Dutch homesteads and well-maintained gardens will greet you as you walk through its streets.

The famous Bainskloof Pass, where nature reveals its hidden treasures, is one of Wellington’s highlights. While it’s beautiful just to drive, those who hike along the pass find themselves experiencing the wonders of fynbos and the diversity of indigenous fauna and flora.

Wellington is also well-known for its guided wine walks and horse trails, which provide visitors with an idyllic tour of the region’s exquisite wine estates. Explore the vineyards and savour the aromas of ripening grapes on a leisurely stroll guided by experts. Horse trails meander through this charming town, allowing riders to enjoy the beauty of the landscape while indulging in the finest wines Wellington has to offer.

Written by Sarah du Toit

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