The Ultimate Garden Route Itinerary (with map) (2023)

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Stretching from Storms River Mouth in the Eastern Cape to Mossel Bay in the Western Cape the Garden Route is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the world and, having driven the Garden Route from Cape Town and Port Elizabeth on numerous South Africa trips, we’ve put together our recommended Garden Route itinerary. This is our guide to the Garden Route and includes things to do, where to stay and where to stop along the way. It’s the route we used when we visit South Africa and is the perfect guide for planning your Garden Route Itinerary.

Garden Route Itinerary
The beautiful beach at Plettenberg Bay

The Ultimate Garden Route Itinerary

We’ve listed our itinerary in a loop coming from and returning to the Cape Town/Western Cape. Reverse the order if you are starting the journey coming from Port Elizabeth or the east of South Africa!

How long for the Garden Route

Having driven the Garden route a number of times we recommend 2 weeks for exploring the Garden Route. We find 2 weeks to be the perfect length of time as you can explore everything the Garden Route has to offer at a leisurely pace, with short drives between each destination.

Best Stops on the Garden Route

The Garden Route begins at Storms River Mouth and the nearby Bloukrans Bridge is the perfect spot to brave one of the world’s highest bungy jumps! Plettenberg Bay, a beautiful coastal town on the Indian Ocean is the next stop followed by Knysna, famous for its sea cliffs, the Knysna Heads. The Map of Africa in Wilderness is the perfect short detour of the Garden Route followed by Mossel Bay where the Garden Route comes to an end.

Garden Route Itinerary
Knysna was one of our favorite places on the Garden Route

Extending the Garden Route Itinerary

Most visitors join the Garden Route either from Cape Town or Port Elizabeth and there are some fantastic stops at either end to extend your Garden Route itinerary including safari, Route 62 and the Cape Winelands.

Renting a Car

Renting a car in South Africa is the best way to explore the country and the Garden Route, plus driving is relatively easy in the country. Having your own car gives you the flexibility to travel at your own pace a see place that are simply not possible on group tours or public transport.

We’re huge fans of road trips and have driven rental cars in almost 50 countries so we have a lot of experience renting cars in foreign countries. Book your car now with, where you will find great rental car prices

Book your rental car for South Africa now

Garden Route Itinerary
Our rental car in South Africa

Garden Route Itinerary Route Map

Our recommended route for the Garden Route is as follow:

Cape Town (1) – Hermanus (2)/Gansbaai (3) – Cape Aghulas (4) and Mossel Bay – Wilderness (5) – Knysa (6) – Plettenberg Bay(7) – Storms River (8) – Addo Elephant Park  (9) – Amakhala Game Reserve (10) – Oudtshoorn (11) – Stellenbosch/Franschhoek (12) – Cape Town (1)

South Africa Garden Route Map
Map of the Garden Route Itinerary

Click here for the Google Maps version of the route

Day 1 and 2: Hermanus/Gansbaai

Hermanus and Gansbaai are stunning stopovers en route from Cape Town to the Garden Route and their natural beauty is mesmerising. The rugged coastline is as spectacular as the sea life in its waters: whales, seals, penguins and sharks are abundant in the area and it’s known as the Great White Shark capital of the World.

Things to do: in Hermanus and Gansbaai

  • Whale watching is a must do in Hermanus
  • Gansbaai is one of the most popular spots for cage shark diving if you so desire!

Drive time: 90 mins Cape Town to Hermanus, 30 minutes from Hermanus to Gansbaai

Garden Route Itinerary
Sunrise views in Gansbaai

Where to stay in Hermanus and Gansbaai

  • Misty Waves Boutique Hotel – beautiful boutique hotel where it’s often possible to spot whales from the balcony! – check prices now!
  • Bellavista Country Place –If you’re visiting the Garden Route you have to stay in this  – incredible – check prices now!
  • Bellamente Serene –A stunning hotel located right on the beach in Gansbaai – check prices now!

 Click here for Hermanus Hotel prices

Garden Route Itinerary
The infinity pool at Bellavista Country Place

Day 2: Cape Aghulas (optional) and Mossel Bay

Cape Agulhas requires an optional detour down to the coast between Hermanus and Mossel Bay before driving to Mossel Bay to spend the night and explore the town the following morning.

Cape Aghulas

Cape Aghulas is the most Southern point in the African continent (it’s often touted as the Cape of Good Hope but it is the most South Westerly point in Africa) and marks the dividing point of the Indian and Atlantic Ocean. The rugged wilderness, the crashing waves where two oceans meet and the stunning African sunset took our breaths away – after all it’s not every day you stand at the most Southern tip of Africa!

Garden Route Itinerary
The most southern point in Africa

Mossel Bay

The seaside town of Mossel Bay is a step back in time and our highlight was the Post Office Tree. The story goes that in 1501 a Portuguese sailor sought refuge in Mossel Bay during a storm and he left a written account, with an address, in an old boot. The report was found by the person it was addressed to and the tree then served as a post office – it’s still possible to post letters at the old tree today!

Drive time: 90 minutes from Gansbaai to Cape Aghulas and 3 hours from Cape Aghulas to Mossel Bay. Driving directly from Gansbaai to Mossel Bay will reduce the journey time to just over 3 hours.

Garden Route Itinerary
The Post Office Tree

Where to stay in Mossel Bay

  • Bar-t-nique Guest House: panoramic views of the harbor and Outeniqua mountains with nice home made breakfast – check prices here!
  • African Oceans Manor on the Beach – great guest house, rooms have beautiful views of the Indian Ocean – check prices here!

 Click here for  Mossel Bay hotel prices

Day 3: Wilderness

The coastal town of Wilderness is home to two of our favourite sights on The Garden Route, the Map of Africa and Kaaimans River Bridge. The sleepy little village of Sedgefield, close to Wilderness, draws visitors to its lagoon.


The Map of Africa is a viewpoint where the flow of the river has formed a piece of land shaped exactly like a map of the African continent. It has a spectacular view overlooking the Kaaimans River Basin and is as intriguing as it is beautiful. The mix of mountain, forest and river is a beautiful sight!

Garden Route Itinerary
Spot Africa in the trees!

Close to the Map of Africa sits the Kaaimans River Bridge in Wilderness. The curved bridge passes over the amber coloured water at the mouth of an estuary and is a beautifully photogenic stop on the Garden Route. A steam train operated on the line until 2009 but the railway bridge is iconic even in its absence.

Garden Route Itinerary
Kaaimans River Bridge


The sleepy little village of Sedgefield, about 20 minutes from Wilderness, is surrounded by lakes, vegetated sand dunes, an Estuary and the beautiful Indian Ocean. Its lagoon is popular for fishing, swimming, canoeing, bird watching and riverside walks and the Saturday morning Wild Oats farmers market is unmissable.

Drive time: 45 minutes from Mossel Bay to Wilderness, 20 minutes from Wilderness to Sedgefield

Where to stay in Wilderness

  • Oceans Wilderness: a beautiful beachfront guesthouse with an amazing design, great breakfast and magnificent views, our favourite! – check prices here!
  • Lodge on the Lake: amazing lakeside views, great rooms and an infinity pool – check prices here!

Click here for Wilderness hotel prices

Day 4 and 5: Knysna

Famous for its oysters Knysna, a waterfront town along the Garden Route, is home to the Knysna Heads and is a beautiful spot to relax for a few days on the Garden Route. The Knysna Heads are two imposing sea cliffs which protect the entrance to the Knysna lagoon from the unrelenting Indian Ocean. The boat journey to view the heads often results in a sea drenching but it’s spectacular to watch the sea thrash through the narrow gap amid the stunning scenery.

Things to do in Knysna:

  • Take a boat trip on the lagoon and check out the Kynsa Heads
  • Take the ferry to the Featherbed Nature Reserve with spectacular viewpoints and a nice hike

Drive time: 40 minutes from Wilderness to Knysna

Garden Route Itinerary
Knysna Heads

Where to stay in Knysna

  • Villa Afrikana Guest Suites: Offering panoramic views across the bay this is one of the best options for staying in Knysna and close to the restaurants – check prices now!
  • Augusta Bay Guest House: Beautiful guest hotels with views over Knysna Bay – check prices now!

Click here for Knysna Hotel prices

Day 6 and 7: Plettenberg Bay

Plettenberg Bay, or Plett Bay as the locals refer to it, is a South Africa hidden gem overlooking the Indian Ocean and the perfect base for a few nights along the Garden Route.

The architecturally stunning Bloukrans Bridge is close to Plettenberg Bay and, at over 200 metres, is the highest in Africa and arches dramatically over the gorge below. As well as being visually stunning, it is also home to one of the highest bungy jumps in the world. Dave immediately signed up, leaped off that bridge like a pro and had the time of his life so if you’re feeling brave … bungy jump!!

Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary and the Birds of Eden free flight bird sanctuary are both great places to visit while in Plett Bay.

Drive time: 30 minutes between Knysa and Plettenberg Bay

Garden Route Itinerary
Dave doing the Bloukrans Bridge Bungy!!
Garden Route Itinerary
Plettenberg Bay at Sunset from the Singing Kettle Beach Lodge

Where to stay in Plettenberg Bay

  • Singing Kettle Beach Lodge: We stayed at this gorgeous beach lodge and toasted the beautiful sunset from our balcony – check prices now!
  • The Plettenberg Hotel: 5 star luxury on the Garden Route with infinity pools and ocean views – check prices now!

 Click here for Plettenberg Bay hotel prices

Day 8: Storms River

Storms River Mouth is the dramatic starting point of the Garden Route where the Storms River enters the Indian Ocean. Tucked away off the main road in the Tsitsikamma National Park sits this breathtaking stretch of coastline where the Indian Ocean relentlessly pounds the headland. There are some amazing hikes up through the gorge and a stunning rope bridge for the adventurous types!

Drive time: 45 minutes from Plettenberg Bay to Storms River

Garden Route Itinerary
Rugged beauty at Storms River Mouth

Where to stay in Storms River

  • The Fernery Lodge & Chalets– located at the base of the Tsitsikamma Mountains, The Fernery boasts amazing views over the Sandrift River gorge – check prices now!
  • Misty Mountain Lodge and chalets– surrounded by ocean, forest and mountains this property is a real treat on the Garden Route –  check prices now!

Click here for Storms River hotel prices

Safari (Optional)

Safari is always a good idea in South Africa! Kruger and Sabi Sands are our safari favourites but they’re a long drive or a flight away. If you want to squeeze in some safari while exploring the Garden Route we’d recommend making extra stops at the Addo Elephant Park and the Amakhala Game Reserve.

Day 9: Addo Elephant Park

Addo Elephant Park, just outside Port Elizabeth, is home to one of the densest elephant populations on earth as well as rhino, lion, buffalo and leopard. With 450 elephants the elephant encounters can be truly magical – we will never forget the moment a family of elephants walked alongside our car in the setting sun.

Drive Time: 3 hours from Plettenberg Bay to Addo Elephant Park

Garden Route Itinerary
Wildlife at Addo
Garden Route Itinerary
Magical elephant encounters

Where to stay in Addo Elephant Park

  • Gorah Elephant Camp– You can stay right in the park with the elephants at Gorah elephant camp – check prices now!
  • River Bend Lodge– another option for staying in Addo park itself! – check prices now!

Day 10 and 11: Amakhala Game Reserve

A malaria-free safari option, just outside Port Elizabeth, the Amakhala Game Reserve is home to the safari big 5 of lion, elephant, buffalo, leopard and rhino as well as cheetah, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest and plenty of antelope species.

Where to stay in Amakhala Game Reserve

  • HillsNek Safari– on the banks of Bushman’s River the luxurious tented chalets have panoramic views of the plains – check prices now!
  • Woodbury Tented Camp: in the heart of Amakhala, the accommodation comprises en suite canvas tents with views of the valley – check prices now!

Book your safari stay now

Returning to Cape Town

Many visitors return to Cape Town via Route 62 after exploring the Garden Route. Here are some extra stops to add some variety to the drive back.

Day 12 and 13: Oudtshoorn

Known as the ostrich capital of the world, Oudtshoorn is home to Ostrich Farms, the spectacular underground Cango Caves and the Swartberg Mountains which are part of the Cape Floral UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also home to the Meerkat Adventures, a dawn tour to hopefully see some adorable meerkats waking up to a new day.

Be sure to stop at Ronnie’s Sex Shop in Barrydale en route to the Cape Winelands. Despite the name it is actually a famous dive bar with graffiti plastered walls on Route 62 and a fun stop for a cold beer and a stretch of the legs.

Drive Time: 4 hours 30 minutes from Amakhala Game Reserve to Oudtshoorn

Where to stay in Oudtshoorn

  • Hlangana Lodge: a small lodge in a beautiful setting with great breakfast – check prices now!
  • Earthbound B&B: quiet, well equipped and spacious guest rooms at an excellent price – check prices now!

Click here for Oudtshoorn hotel prices

Day 12 and 13: Cape Winelands – Stellenbosch and Francschhoek

The Cape Winelands are a collection of historic towns famous for their wine production and are the perfect stopover on the way back to Cape Town.  Wine tasting, delicious food, incredible landscapes and beautiful architecture are synonymous with the region.

Stellenbosh and Franschhoek are its two most popular stopovers and the heart of its wine industry. Stellenbosh, South Africa’s second oldest town, is a charming university town and Franschhoek a charming village filled with galleries, restaurants and wine shops. Hop on the wine trams to explore the vineyards and indulge in some wine tasting and admire the whitewashed Cape Dutch architecture prominent in the region.

Drive time: 4 hours 15 minutes from Oudtshoorn to Franschhoek and 4 hours 30 minutes from Oudtshoorn to Stellenbosh

Garden Route Itinerary
A beautiful vineyard in the wine region

Where to stay in Cape Winelands

  • Asara Wine Estate, Stellenbosch: Beautiful location in the rolling hills of Stellenbosch, lovely rooms and good value for money with wine tasting on site – check prices now!
  • The Corner House, Francschhoek: amazing value with excellent rooms and a great location – check prices now!
  • La Residence, Franschhoek: set in a private estate, La Residence is the ultimate in luxury. Luxurious rooms and peacock’s roaming around the grounds, this is one for the bucketlist – check prices now!

Click here for Cape Winelands hotels

24 thoughts on “The Ultimate Garden Route Itinerary (with map) (2023)”

    • Hi Geraldine, I’m not sure how much we spent in total but, depending on the hotels you pick, food, drinks, gas etc are quite cheap so it was quite reasonably priced overall. We’re Europe based so have a strong exchange rate on our side at the moment!


  1. Hi,

    We are planning a 4-day tour of the Garden Route in September and we are coming from the US. We are not sure if we should go with a tour company or rent a car and do it on our own. I think if we rented a car we would miss the cultural and historic info about the region. Would appreciate any suggestions. Thanks.

    • Hi Charmaine

      We really enjoy the independence of having our own transport – we picked up some Cape Town and Garden Route guide books to give us the context and history which helped! It’s an awesome trip, hope you enjoy!


  2. loved reading your itinary and we are going to base our own route loosely around yours
    as we have been to Cape own twice before and stayed in De Kelders and Pearly Beach we have been to Cape Aghulas we have bits we can change but your whole concept is one of the best I have seen

    In reply to Geraldine once you are in South Africa everything is so cheap, Food, drinks, car hire, fuel and of course accommodation whale watching is a must a sight so worth seeing

    In reply to Charmaine
    what Elaine has said the flexability of your own transport really cant be faulted being able to come and go as you please is so much better

  3. hi Elaine,

    i love layout of your itinerary, im planning on using it for my upcoming trip in December with my family( spouse and 3 kids). we are planning a 15day trip and i was wondering if you can give to some advise on where we should stop and spend the night. For example are the places we should spend stay 3 nights in a lodge /resort and use that as a mini base to visit a couple of the stops at a time… it will be difficult sleep in a new hotel every night with kids…

    any suggestions will be welcomed.

    thanks alot.


    • Hi May,

      delighted to hear you like the itinerary. You could base yourselves in Knysna and explore the Garden route from there for a few days. From here you could visit Mossel Bay, George, Oudtshoorn, Plettenberg Bay and Kysna itself. Knysna was one of our favourite stops on the route. Check out family friendly hotels here

  4. Hi!

    Are 4 days enough for Garden Route?

    We are planning to do the Garden Route from Cape Town. If we rent a car, are we able to return the car at George airport or should we drive back to Cape Town? Is driving your own car doable if coming from the States?

    Any info will be useful.

    • Hi Riz,

      4 days would allow you to do some of the Garden route and with that time we’d recommend returning the car the George airport. This will give you the most time on the route. With 4 days you could aim to see Mossel Bay, Kysna and Plettenberg Bay. The initial drive from Cape Town will take one day, with the rest for sightseeing. Driving a rental car in South Africa is very straight forward. We’ve driven in over 40 countries and the Garden Route in South Africa relatively easy. Check out our post here for tips on driving in South Africa

  5. Hi,
    Really enjoying your blog we have found it really informative. We have 14 days booked in South Africa in April 2019. We have four nights in Cape Town which we are basing our itinerary on yours.We then have three nights in the wine region staying near Stellenbosch.

    We have 3 days to plan before staying for the remainder of our holiday at Pettenberg Bay for the remainder of our holiday.

    Of all the places that you have visited where would you recommend that we visit and stay for the days between Stellenbosch and Plettenberg. We have a rental car and fly home from Port Elizabeth.

    • Hi Pete

      Great to hear you are enjoying the content. Cape Town and Stellenbosch are fab, I hope you enjoy! I’d probably stop in Mossel Bay or George for 1 night to split the drive and see some of the sights. Then I’d follow up with two nights in Knysna. Safari would be another great option – you could spend two nights in somewhere like this Gondwana lodge on the way to the Garden Route and then spend one night in Knysna.

      Hope that helps, have a great trip!

  6. Hi, thanks for the great itinerary. We are planning a trip from PE to CT over 4 nights. Not as much time as we would like but that’s life! Just wondering if you’d recommend 1 night in Plettenberg Bay AND 1 night in Knysna or just 2 nights in Knysner, given they are so close? Both towns look great. Also, if we plan our last night to be in Hermanus, which town between Knysna and Hermanus you recommend for our 3rd night? Something like Wilderness or Mossel Bay?

    Thanks very much

    • Hi Adam, glad the itinerary is useful! I’d spend two nights in either Knysna or Mossel Bay (to avoid having to pack up and move!). My personal preference is Plett Bay as it’s really nice and laid back but you’ll probably spend a whole day in Knysna so I’d actually stay there – you’ll have more choice of restaurants etc as it’s much bigger. Knysa is beautiful and has a really nice vibe for tourists. We’ve stayed in Swellendam to split the journey before (but definitely stop by Wilderness for the map of Africa en route!). We stayed in Arumvale Country House. Mossel Bay would also be fine but you still have a longish drive to Hermanus after.

      Hope that helps

  7. We are two ladies in our late 50’s planning on hiring a car to go from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth in June. We have heard lots of horror stories about hiring a car in South Africa and are a bit concerned. What is your opinion on our safety should we hire a car? Thanks

  8. Hi,

    Great blog, very helpful!

    What time of year did you go? I am planning on going in mid July and I’m not sure if it will rain everyday.


  9. Hi, everything here is really useful. We are trying to put together an itinerary.

    Leaving Cape town With Stop at Oudtshoorn,then Plettenberg Bay and onto a safari,before returning to Cape Town. We had thought about then stopping at Knysna.

    Are Plettenberg Bay and Knysna to close together and can you suggest another stop off point



    • Hi Mark

      They’re about 30 minutes drive – we’ve stopped in both on previous trips as they’re both lovely. From Plet Bay you can visit Storms River, Bloukran’s Bridge etc and the leave the Knsyna sights until you return. We stayed in a Protea in George before – it’s a little closer to Cape Town if you want to shorten the drive.


  10. hi
    thanks so much for this information. We will be in Cape Town for three days in January, before an overland tour from Victoria Falls back to Cape Town. Then we have 12 days to do the garden route, probably self drive.
    Thanks for the ideas

    • Hi Bronagh

      So glad it was useful! Victoria Falls is one of the most magical places we’ve visited, I do hope you enjoy!

      12 days is plenty of time for the Garden Route, you could maybe look into a safari or another few days in Cape Town depending on which you prefer.



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