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Travel Review: Must-See Places in Picturesque Paarl

In October 2014,  I had my first real acquaintance with the beautiful, picturesque town of Paarl. I have returned many times since and Paarl remains a firm favourite of mine.

As I have explored Paarl quite extensively, I want to share some personal highlights and must-see  places for visitors to check out in pretty Paarl.

Though each place deserves its own post, I hope this post is enough to whet your travel appetite!

The Pearl of the Cape Winelands: Paarl

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Paarl is the third oldest town in South Africa (after Cape Town and Stellenbosch)  and the largest of the Cape Wineland towns.

Translated from Afrikaans, Paarl means ‘pearl’. Though its name is drawn from its well-known, unique granite rocky outcrops that make up Paarl  Mountain (also known as Pearl Mountain or  ‘Paarl  Rock’),  it is nevertheless a fitting name.

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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaille

For, with its beauty, magnificent mountain surroundings and natural rock formations  (the  second  largest  granite  outcrops in  the  world); wonderful,  internationally-acclaimed  wine  estates;  and Cape Dutch-style architecture to name but a few of its treasures – Paarl is indeed a pearl of the Cape Winelands.

It is great to visit,  if only for a day or a quick day trip.

 

1) Fairview Wine and Cheese Estate

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First up is the wonderful Fairview Wine and Cheese  Estate. This third generation wine- and goat-farm, owned by the Back family, is famed for its quality wines and cheeses.

Fairview is well-named, as it is one of the more beautiful farms that I have visited.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

With its bright orange strelitzia flowers, pretty gardens and famous Goat Tower before you, Fairview charms from the moment you enter into its confines.

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Award-winning Cheeses

The Backs  first  introduced goats to  Fairview  in  1980. Over the years, they have become local icons and a key part of the farm. Especially as Fairview is home to  beautiful  does  (female  goats)  who provide the milk for the estate’s goat cheese.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

I can personally attest to the excellence and variety of Fairview’s award-winning, beautifully packaged cheeses; they are sublime!

Outside of the estate, Fairview cheeses are available in leading supermarkets if you wish to try some.

Plenty to See and Enjoy

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There’s  so much to see and enjoy at Fairview. Above all,  its old-fashioned,  relaxed  country atmosphere is pure bliss.

The  walled,  fairytale-sque  Goat  Tower  (built  in  1981) and bridge,  where  its  equally  famous  bearded  inhabitants live,  is  one  of  the estate’s main  highlights.  It  delights  both  children  and adults  alike.

The estate’s well-stocked shop and deli, bakery, tasting room and charming gardens are just a few more on-site attractions.

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Family-friendly Dining

For sitdown meals, there is  The  Goatshed Restaurant, a slickly run, family-friendly eatery.

The Goatshed has an  amazing,  easy-going  atmosphere and offers wonderful views of the ground and Goat Tower. You can  sit  indoors,  out  on their  veranda  or  beneath  the  lovely  vineyard  pergola.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Note: Prior  booking  is  essential  if  you  plan  on  enjoying  Fairview’s  The  Goatshed Restaurant.  On weekends they are packed – and rightly  so!

We  were  fortunate  to  have  a  perfectly  positioned  table  overlooking the goats and their tower.

For lunch,  we  enjoyed  a tasty  selection  of  their  famous  produce, as we  ordered  cheese, charcuterie and  bread  platters.

goatshed-platters
Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

The platters consisted of a mix of  freshly  baked  breads and cold meats, with an  assortment  of  top  Jersey  cow-  and  goat-milk  cheeses. Some  of  my  favourite cheeses had  sweet  chilli,  fig,  black  pepper  and  even  cranberry  inside them.

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We paired  our food with  a  glass  of  rich,  ruby  red  Fairview  wine. True to Fairview’s reputation, this was also great.

Based on the food and wine, service and ambience,  The  Goatshed  gets  a  10/10 rating from me.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Virtually  everything  from  the  herbs  used  in  the  dishes  to  the  famous  wine  and  cheeses is  produced  locally  on  the  farm. (Or  sourced  from  other  local farms.)

They also have a close to zero waste policy. This is because Fairview  strives to be  eco-friendly  in its  farming  methods.

The Goatshed is open Wednesday to Sunday, 09:00 and 17:00 pm.

The eatery is open on public holidays – but closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

For   The  Goatshed  bookings  and  enquiries,  please  visit   their  website.

Or contact  them  at:  goatshed@fairview.co.za, +27  (021) 863 3609.

Fairview Contact Details

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Fairview  is  one  of  the  Cape’s  finest  offerings. It comes  highly  recommended  with  a  firm  10/10 overall  rating!

I love  every  single  minute  spent  there. If you  visit,  I’m  sure  you  will  too. 🙂

For   more   information, please   contact   Fairview   on   +27   (021)   863   2450  or   email   them   at: info@fairview.co.za.

 

2) Nederburg Wine Estate

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Another Paarl wine farm gem is one of South Africa’s oldest, most internationally renowned  wine  estates: Nederburg  Wine  Estate.

With  its  excellent  wines  and  time-honoured  winemaking  methods, Nederburg has won numerous awards over the years.

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Nederburg  was apparently established  in  1791  by  German  settler,  Phillipus Wolvaart. It  changed  hands  quite  a  few  times thereafter before  it  was  purchased  in  1937  by Johan  Graue. His  “forward  thinking  approach  and  new  techniques  established  Nederburg  as  the leading  producer  of  quality  wines  in  South  Africa.”

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With  its  plethora  of  Cape  Dutch  buildings,  lovely  circular  rose  garden, expansive  lawns and ancient  oak  trees, the estate offers  truly  gorgeous  views  of  the  imposing  Drakenstein mountains. Almost  every corner of the garden and estate is breathtaking.

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Another highlight is the Cape  Dutch-style,  thatched  Manor  House. It was finished in  1800 by Wolvaart  and  recognised  as  a  National  Monument  in  the  late  90s.

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Outside of the gardens and grounds, guests can enjoy wine tastings, wine blending, picnics at the Manor and of course, dining at The Manor Restaurant.

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Overall, I  truly  adored  Nederburg’s  old-world  charm and  beauty  and  award  it  a  10/10 rating.

Nederburg Wines Contact Information

Nederburg Wines is open Monday, Wednesday – Friday from 09:00 am – 17:00 pm. It is closed on Tuesdays.

On weekends, the estate is open from 09:00 am – 16:00 pm.

The estate is open  on  all  public  holidays,  except Good  Friday,  Christmas  Day and New Year’s Day.

For  more  information on  the  available estate offerings,  please  contact  them  on   +27  (021)  862  3104 or info@nederburg.com.

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3) Meulwater Botanical Garden

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Although the road up to the garden (and Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve) is not great – it does offer stunning views across Berg  River  valley and the distant mountains that encircle this region.

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The first time I visited the reserve in 2014, we mainly explored Meulwater Botanical Garden.

This public garden, which is free to visit, offers tranquil, family-friendly picnic- and braai-sites and rich flora and fauna.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Rich in Plant and Birdlife

Inside the garden, you  can apparently see  fifteen varieties  of protea  flower and rich birdlife, including  sugar- and sun-birds.

With  the  unique  granite  boulders  that  edge  the  pretty, flowing  water  and  interesting  garden  paths  that  wind  through  the  fragrant,  beautiful  natural shrubbery  and  flowers,  you feel  a  bit  like  Alice  in  Wonderland.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

There  really  is  a  kind  of  magical feeling  about  the  place. It  gently  breathes  beauty,  tranquillity  and  above  all,  a  prevailing  sense  of calm into you.  🙂

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Natural Beauty and a Family-friendly Atmosphere

Due  to  its  natural beauty  and  safe,  family  atmosphere,  I  give  the garden a  8/10  overall  rating.

 

4) Afrikaans  Language  Monument (‘Taal  Monument’)

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The Taal  Monument  was  built  in  1975  by  Jan  van  Wijk. It significantly “acknowledges  the  influence  of  a  variety  of  languages  such  as  Dutch,  Malay,  Malay-Portuguese, Arabic,   French,   German,  English  and  the  indigenous  Khoi  and  African  languages,  on  the development  of  Afrikaans”.

Guided Tours, Full Moon Picnics and Stargazing Fun

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Pre-booked guided tours are available but  it is just as fun to  enjoy just with  friends  and  loved ones too.

Within you  find  an exotic  garden,  rolling  green  lawns,  telescopes  and  raised  wooden  decks  for  viewing.

What’s more, full  moon  picnics  and  stargazing  evenings  are  popular events  held here so keep an eye on their website events and social feeds.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

As  we  discovered  during our visit,  this venue  is also excellent  for all  kinds  of private  and commercial  photo  shoots  alike.

Then of course there is  the  main museum and monument  itself and its two incredible amphitheatres; these are well worth a visit.

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With  its  unusual  water  features,  flute-like  shapes  and  giddying  heights and  size,  this  proud,  swirling monument  is  a  wonderful, truly  interesting  structure  to explore.

I  particularly  liked  the  inside, looking up. The  top  of  its  chimney-like  opening offers  a  pretty lighting pattern, especially  as  the  day  draws  to  a  close.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Paradise Found at Taal Monument

The  Taal  Monument  is  an  unexpectedly  beautiful  place. It is certainly  worthwhile  and enjoys the  most  breathtaking  views  of  Paarl  and  indeed, the  beloved, distant Mother City.

It  is  well  worth  a  visit, especially near sunset.  The sun’s  slanting, golden  rays  and  the  breathtaking  views that we  witnessed  through  and  around  the sturdy  structures,  meant our first-time visit was certainly  golden.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

I need to explore the monument and its attractions more fully in the  future – but, based on what  I saw, it  easily  deserves  a  10/10  overall  rating.

The Taal Monument is open Monday to Friday from 08:30 am – 16:45 pm.

It is  closed  on weekends, public holidays and from Christmas to  New  Year’s.

Note: You pay a minimal per person entry fee to access the Taal Museum and Monument.

For  more  information,  please  contact:  +27  (021)  863  0543 or  admin@taalmuseum.co.za. You can also visit  their  website.

 

5) Paarl Rock Hike

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If you are looking for a gentle, family-friendly hiking experience in Paarl, there can be no better option than the beautiful Paarl Rock Hike.

The hike starts at the Meulwater Botanical Garden. You can either drive right up the dirt road or, if you prefer a full nature experience, cycle or walk up it. The road takes you right to the main Paarl Rock, as well as Bretagne and Gordon’s Rocks.

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The Paarl Rock is situated within the wonderful Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve. It is a massive granite outcrop that you can walk onto and enjoy the most incredible views across Paarl and the Winelands beyond.

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It can get very windy on the Paarl Rock so don’t stray too close to the edge and keep a firm hold on your children.

Explore the Beauty of Paarl Rock and Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve

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If you carry on up the road, past shrubs and proteas, you reach  Bretagne and Gordon’s Rocks Heritage Site/View Point. You can climb up Bretagne – but it takes some courage and good hiking shoes so we gave it a miss. Near there, you will also find a pretty wooden walkway that leads down into a little forest.

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This hike makes for a beautiful day trip and you can finish it off with a peaceful picnic or braai at Meulwater. For more information on the Paarl Rock hike, check out my full review here.

For any additional information or queries, please contact: +27 (021) 807 6231, 073 748 6325, Lindsay.Lewis@drakenstein.gov.za.

 

6) Avondale Wine

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One of my favourite Paarl wine farms is the stunning Avondale Wine. Not only are they one of the most eco-friendly and organic estates around but they are also one of the most beautiful.

With amazing gardens, wine tastings and picnics, the spectacular FABER restaurant, Avondale Bike Park, an equestrian centre, nature walks, Ochre Deli and even an eco wine safari, this estate is not short on attractions for all ages to enjoy.

Fabulous FABER at Avondale

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Even years later, one of my most memorable Cape Winelands food and wine experiences remains our visit to FABER at Avondale. This sustainability-driven eatery is one of the most impressive and well-situated restaurants in all the Cape Winelands.

Set amid the estate’s lush gardens that are a mass of shrubs, trees and blooms, and overlooking the distant mountains beyond, a meal at this farm-to-fork restaurant is unmissable.

FABER’s menu is influenced by the seasons and guests can choose between seasonal delights or the a la carte menu.

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Their plating and food is impeccable so it is a culinary experience for all the senses. A meal at FABER is not complete without the addition of some of the estate’s certified, organic wines.

Note: FABER might be elegant fine dining at its best but they also cater to children and have a lovely kids’ menu.

For more information or to book, please contact: +27 (021) 202 1219, faber@avondalewine.co.za or visit their website

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Wander through Avondale Wine’s Estate Gardens

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Avondale has incredible gardens. Although the private estate gardens are generally only open to the public once a year for their annual open day event – you can still enjoy the garden beauty around the restaurant and main buildings/parking area.

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Additionally, since I visited, Avondale has added farm walks to the mix. These farm walks can be enjoyed every Saturday morning from 09:00 am – 12:00 pm. For adults, there is a R25 per person fee but the walks are free for kiddies to enjoy.

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Avondale Contact Information

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Avondale Wine is open to the public Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 am – 16:00 pm.

For more information on Avondale and its estate experiences, please contact +27 (021) 863 1976, wine@avondalewine.co.za.

 

 

7) Spice Route Destination

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Another excellent and extremely popular destination in Paarl is the scenic Spice Route Destination. Here, visitors can enjoy everything from a selection of eateries (including Jewell’s Restaurant and La Grapperia Pizzeria and Bistro); wine, chocolate and beer tastings; delis and other lovely boutique and artisanal shops; and a number of unique experiences, like preserve making.

Fun for All

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Spice Route Destination is vast, with lovely views and a tranquil lawn and tree setting that makes it perfect for all ages to enjoy. It is a really fun spot to visit as a couple, family or group of friends.

Best of all? This local attraction is free to visit so you only pay for food, drinks and any goods purchased on-site.

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Spice Route Destination Contact Information

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Spice Route Destination is open to the public from Monday to Sunday, 09:00 am – 17:00 pm.

It is open on all public holidays, except Christmas and New Year’s Day.

For more information on Spice Route Destination and its offerings, please contact: +27 (021) 863 5200, info@spiceroute.co.za.

 

8) Rhebokskloof Wine Estate

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Photo credit: Rhebokskloof Wine Estate

Another hugely family-friendly, pretty Paarl estate is Rhebokskloof. When we visited a few years ago, I really liked everything about this wine farm. It offers so much for guests to enjoy and really allows you to explore your more adventurous side.

Be Adventurous in Paarl

rhebokskloof-restaurant

In addition to its curated food and wine offerings – which include a lovely, family-friendly restaurant, pizzeria, wine tastings and beautiful picnics – guests can also enjoy quad biking and horse riding; hiking/trail running; and incredible MTB trails too.

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This scenic farm is also available for functions and weddings and is a popular Paarl wedding venue.

Rhebokskloof Contact Information

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Rhebokskloof Wine Estate is open to the public Monday to Sunday, from 08:00 am – 17:00 pm.

Note: The trails open daily from 07:00 am.

For more information, please contact: +27 (021) 869 8386, restaurant@rhebokskloof.co.za.

 

9) Glen Carlou 

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Glen Carlou is another special Paarl wine estate that I have such fond memories of. Although they mainly specialise in food and wine offerings, the estate also has a beautiful art gallery and can host different functions and celebrations, including weddings.

Views for Days

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From the Restaurant @ Glen Carlou and indeed their tasting room, you can enjoy the most breathtaking views. In terms of setting, Glen Carlou is one of my top wine farm picks.

Add to that, truly incredible, quality food and wines at reasonable pricing and you have a truly memorable outing on your hands.

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Finer Dining

Although the restaurant is not fine dining, it definitely captures an element of ‘finer dining’. Honestly, he plating and dishes are both visual joys and culinary winners.

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The Restaurant @ Glen Carlou is open for lunch Monday to Sunday, from 12:00 pm – 16:00 pm.

For more information, please contact: +27 (021) 875 5528, restaurant@glencarlou.co.za. 

Glen Carlou Contact Information

Glen Carlou is open for wine tastings and wine sales from Monday to Friday, 09:00 am – 17:00 pm and on 
weekends and public holidays from 10:00 am – 17:00 pm.

The Restaurant @ Glen Carlou is open Monday to Sunday, from 12:00 pm – 16:00 pm, while the gallery is open Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 am – 17:00 pm.

 

In Closing

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

There  are  so  many  sights  and  places  to take  in when you  visit  Paarl  but  these  are  surely  some  of the  best to start with!  🙂

Sources and Photo Credits:

Many  thanks  to  Discover Cape Winelands for  the  additional  information and facts used  for this post.

Thank you also to my travel companions, Alicia Chamaille and Non Stop Destination for some of the lovely photos used herein.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust – Travel Writing and Photography, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. Despite having a national diploma in Journalism and working as a content writer by day, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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