6 things to do in Parys, the Free State’s adventure capital

Posted by Anita Froneman on 14 January 2022

If you haven’t been to Parys, you better make a plan. This small Free State town is not only loved by Joburgers who seek a weekend’s reprieve from the hot city streets, it’s also a haven for residents from surrounding towns who are keen for a taste of adventure.

This Parys also has an Eiffel Tower. Picture: Matthew Sterne

Although I don’t like to compare apples to pears, some would argue a trip to Parys is even more sought-after than a visit to the French City of Love that bears the same name in Afrikaans.

The Vaal River is absolutely stunning, especially in the early morning. Picture: Mohd Rizal Abdullah/Flickr Commons

In the Free State’s Paris, you can do anything from shopping for antiques and art, to kayaking down rapids in the Vaal River and hiking where a meteorite struck Earth. Here are six options to kick off with.

1. Go thrift shopping in town

Book store

Picture: byronv2/Flickr Commons

If you like taking to the streets, there are ample antique stores, second-hand book and clothing stores and great coffee for recharging in between. Just park in the main street, start from one end and work your way all the way through.

2. Unwind at a spa

If you’re on holiday, there’s nothing wrong with a little pampering. Picture: Pexels

No break would be complete without de-stressing at a spa. Belle Foi Spa just outside town is one of the best, and offer a wide range of indulgent treatments.

3. Go river rafting

You might get a little splash here and there. Picture: Matthew Sterne

Real Adventures offers exactly that. The Vaal River has excellent white water rafting spots, and it’s great fun. Make sure to double up on sunblock, and take a dip in the cool waters when you get a chance.

4. Hike the Vredefort Dome

Picture: Ossewa/Wikimedia Commons

Over two billion years ago, one of the largest meteors to ever hit the Earth collided with a spot 10km from the centre of Parys. It left behind the largest-known crater on the planet with an indentation 40km deep and 360km wide, and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can explore it on a hike with Fagala Voet.

5. Do a wine tasting at Pont de Val

Wine outside of the Western Cape? You bet! Pictures: Pexels

When you’re done hiking and river rafting, reward yourself with impeccable wine at Pont de Val. Their wine is produced on-site and is nothing short of fabulous.

6. Go hot air ballooning

Hot air balloon

Get a different point of view. Picture: Unsplash

For those looking for even more, Hot Air Ballooning SA will take you to the skies. You’ll be able to experience the beautiful Vaal River, the Vredefort Dome and the surrounding farmlands from above.

Stay here

The Parys Golf & Country Estate, Unit 3003 is a marvellous double-storey eight-sleeper for families or friend groups.

Picture: Parys Golf & Country Estate, Unit 3003

Situated right on the river bank, your view is a bright green burst of willows and your soundtrack is the bubbling of the rapids over rocks.


Kick up your feet! Picture: Anita Froneman

You can wake up to this every morning and dip your feet in the river, right from the lawn.

Vaal River Parys

Picture: Anita Froneman

The estate also offers one of the best golf courses in the area, for those eager to hone their skills with a few rounds or just get some practice on the driving range.


Road trip from Cape Town to Parys and back via Karoo and Garden Route



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