While I’m convinced that Knysna is more of a sleepy village than a bustling town, it’s still an excellent place to spend a day – or more, if you’re lucky. There’s a list of activities and attractions along the entire Garden Route, but spending at least one day in Knysna is an absolute must.
When we visited for our honeymoon, we stayed at the Cliffhanger Cottages, which was just a short drive out of town. While we divided our week up between enjoying the surrounding nature and experiencing other things to do along the Garden Route, we chose to dedicate a full day in Knysna itself.
And we were not disappointed.
Here’s how we suggest you enjoy your time in this green, friendly town.
24 hours in Knysna itinerary suggestion
Hopefully, you’re as lucky as we are and get to stay somewhere along the Rheenendal Ramble, or at least close by. But there are many fantastic places to stay in Knysna as well, so base yourself as near the ramble as you like to allow an early start.
7 am: Brisk morning walk in Jubilee Creek
A few kilometres off Rheenendal Road is the Jubilee Creek Nature Reserve. You’ll pay just under R40 to enter the reserve, and then drive (or walk) up to the creek. The road is gravel, and it winds – a LOT. Our little city car managed, but barely. So walking is a good idea.
On the way, you’ll pass the Dalene Matthee Big Tree. Here, you can stop for a moment to take in the magic, and then start one of the hiking trails that start near the tree. There is a large picnic area next to the tree as well, if you need to sit and enjoy a coffee before you start.
If you’re not up for walking, and your car will handle the road, simply continue driving all the way up to the creek. Once at the creek, take some time to breathe in the clean air and enjoy the soft sounds of the forest.
Either way, an early morning hike through the dense forest is bound to be the ultimate way to wake up.
9 am: Late breakfast at Totties Farm Kitchen
You could not find a more spectacular corner to enjoy breakfast. Totties Farm Kitchen is along Rheenendal, on the way to town. From the outside, it looks like an ancient petrol stop. But inside – think tea in the secret garden!
The portions here are massive, and the food is that heart-warming, homey type that makes us all happy and healthy.
10 am: Photo stop at the Red Bridge
Once the only way to get from the Phantom Pass into Knysna, the Red Bridge is a pedestrian-only bridge. It’s just a short drive from the N2 on the Phantom Pass.
You’ll have to park your car and walk about a kilometre down a gravel road to reach the bridge. On a clear day, you’ll likely find many a cyclist and other visitors enjoying the views.
Whether you’re a photography pro, or just looking to take a few iconic holiday pics, this spot is ideal.
11 am: Coffee stop at the Tin House Cafe
You need to buy some time for our next stop, and there are many places you can sit and wait it out – but I’d suggest Tin House. Rumour has it they have some of the best coffee in Knysna! Only one way to check if the rumours are true…
12:30 pm: Take a lunchtime cruise
Whatever you do, do not miss this opportunity! A lagoon cruise on any of the Featherbed Co. boats is an absolute must.
We took the John Benn, which ended up being a slow 1.5-hour-long cruise through the lagoon. We went up to the heads and then turned around and went back. All the way, we enjoy insights and informational facts about the featherbed and Knysna in general – over an intercom speaker.
The boat has two levels, we chose to sit at the top for the views (I then learnt that the bathroom was on the first level and had to gain my balance in the rocking boat to head down the stairs – pros and cons).
There is a bar on each level, and a full lunch menu available. The most popular food on order was the renowned Knysna Oysters. But since neither the Beer Guy nor myself are really into slithering seafood, we opted for the chicken schnitzel. Served with chips or salad, it was divine!
Note: the booking process for this was slightly confusing. We used their website and clicked on Book Now for our chosen cruise. And then thought we were booked – but hadn’t heard anything from them. So I phoned them, and it turns out the ‘book now’ is actually ‘enquire now’. Which just means they send you an email with the info that you find on the website.
So – if you’re going to book (and since spaces are limited this is advised) I suggest you phone them: +27 (0)44 382-1693 and book your cruise. You pay at the Cruise Cafe, which is where the cruises depart from. You can also buy tickets at the harbour, if you’re on a spontaneous trip.
2:30 pm: Knysna Fine Art
Once your feet are back on land, it’s time to see a little more of what this enchanting town has to offer. Immerse yourself in a bit of a culture lesson and pop in to view some of the fascinating works of art in the Knysna Fine Art museum.
Home to an impressive collection of contemporary South African artists, as well as some top international artists, the gallery is one of South Africa’s finest. They’re open every day except Sundays.
3:30 pm: Millwood House Museum
Enjoy a bit more beauty at the Millwood House. A quaint building sitting under a gorgeous Jacaranda tree, with some spectacular items on display.
This yellowwood house was originally built in the Knysna forests in the 1880s – during SA’s short modern-era gold mining boom. It was later dismantled and moved into town, where it now sits and plays its part as one of five buildings that make up Knysna Museum.
4:30 pm: Drinks at the Red Bridge Brewery
Of course, my very own Cape Beer Guy could not visit Knysna without stopping in at their very own brewery. This rustic bar/brewery was a welcomed refuge on our rainy evening in Knysna.
Not only do they serve their very own beers (which are brewed right in the back), but they also had some delicious pink Knysna Gin on tap too.
We had the best chat with the owner Carl, who imparted some wisdom on how best to enjoy Knysna with us, and we got to soak in the mood of the barn-turned-brewery.
There’s also a small cafe in the front of the property, which has some great-smelling coffee (yes, the gin distracted my caffeine addiction). They also had some delicious-looking treats. Homemade rusks, biscuits, and lemon curd, to name but a few.
6 pm: Dinner at The Bell Tavern
This old world English pub is located in the Belvedere Hotel. It may be the smallest pub in Knysna, but it’s still quite a popular one. Enjoy a delicious dinner along with magnificent views, and the most welcoming atmosphere.
I can’t think of a better way to end the day.
Here’s an easy Knysna map to follow for the day:
You may have noticed that this itinerary doesn’t include much adventure activity. That’s mostly because we’d rather browse a museum than go ziplining. But there are tons of more active things to do in Knysna. However, if you’re more like me – this day will be the perfect blend of nature, coffee, and culture.