Under normal circumstances, it’s easy to be fooled into believing that seaside locations are reserved for enjoyment in the summer months. But, here in Knysna, with the temperate climate we enjoy year-round, nothing could be further from the truth!

Thesen Island is an idyllic holiday destination, no matter the time of year, and to prove it, we’ve put together a list of fun, winter-friendly things to do in Knysna that you can enjoy near The Turbine Hotel & Spa.

Knysna Sightseeing:

1. Take a stroll in the Knysna Forest

The Knysna Forest is a sanctuary for nature enthusiasts. This indigenous forest is home to various hiking trails that are perfect for a scenic walk. The tranquility and peacefulness of the forest are unmatched – with its lush vegetation and unique birdlife, you will feel a sense of harmony with nature whilst exploring these ancient woods.

The Turbine Water Club offers guided hikes through the forest on our “Circles in the Forest” route. Pop across the street from the hotel to make enquiries.

2. Go on a whale-watching tour

Winter is the perfect time to go on a whale-watching tour. The southern right whales migrate to the coastline of Knysna from May to December, so you are bound to spot a few of them. There are several whale-watching tours that will take you on a guided boat trip to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

We also offer Lagoon Cruises and Sunset Cruises if you’re looking for something a bit more leisurely to enjoy with friends and family. We advise taking a warm jacket as it can get nippy out on the water. However, the beauty of this natural space isn’t diminished in the slightest by the cooler weather. In fact, we think that winter sunsets have a crisp clarity to them that those hazy summer days sometimes lack.

3. Indulge in local cuisine

Knysna is renowned for its fresh seafood. The town boasts several award-winning restaurants that serve delicious seafood platters. You can also visit one of the local markets to get a taste of the freshly caught seafood. Whether you prefer oysters, prawns, calamari, or fish, Knysna has got it all.

A famous cruise to enjoy is aboard the John Benn, which involves a few hours on the Knysna Lagoon and ends with a spectacular view of the Knysna Heads from the water. Whilst aboard, indulge in some delicious wine and oysters – this is what the John Benn is famous for!

Note: This year’s Knysna Oyster Festival is from 30 June – 9 July. Book your accommodation at The Turbine Hotel & Spa early to avoid disappointment. You really don’t want to miss out on the spectacular line-up of events (and food!) this year.

4. Explore the town on a bicycle

Knysna has a fantastic network of cycling trails that makes the town ideal for exploring on two wheels. You can rent a bicycle from The Turbine Water Club and hit a few scenic trails that will take you through forests and along coastal paths with picturesque scenery.

5. Visit a local vineyard

When you think of South African wine, you might think of the Cape Winelands, but Knysna also has a lot to offer in this department. You’ll find the wines we produce here to be extra fresh and crispy, thanks to our coastal location.

There are several vineyards nearby that offer tasting tours. You can indulge in the rich, red South African wines while enjoying the picturesque view of the surrounding mountains.

Again, just enquire at reception. We’d be more than happy to organise a wine-tasting tour for you or simply recommend a few of our favourite local farms.

Must-visit Knysna destinations:

  • The Knysna Heads – These two gigantic cliffs flank the Knysna Lagoon and offer a breathtaking view. The Eastern Head is home to the Featherbed Nature Reserve, where you can take a ferry ride to explore the area’s unique flora and fauna.
  • Simola Hill – For a panoramic view of the town, make your way up to Simola Hill. This viewpoint overlooks the whole town and offers a spectacular view of the Knysna Lagoon. It’s a perfect spot for a sunset picnic or just to enjoy the scenic beauty of the town.
  • The Friday Market – Held every Friday, this lively market offers a selection of local produce, crafts, and entertainment. It’s a great place to mingle with the locals, sample some of the fantastic food, and buy traditional African crafts.
  • Ile de Pain – This charming bakery and cafe is a must-visit in Knysna. The bread and pastries are freshly baked daily and are a real treat. The cafe also offers a wide range of light meals and snacks, and you can enjoy your food with a view of the beach.
  • Leisure Isle – A quiet and peaceful retreat, Leisure Isle offers a scenic view of the Knysna Lagoon. Here, you can take a stroll on the beach, enjoy a round of golf at the local course, or have a picnic with your family. The island is also the perfect spot for some bird watching and a visit to the local museum.

After reading the above, we hope you’ll agree that Knysna is no one trick pony! And we’ve only touched on a few adventures you can have on the Garden Route during winter. There are also elephants to see, the Cango Caves (if you don’t mind a bit of a drive), monkeys, birds of paradise, zip lining and bungee-jumping, if you’re feeling brave.

With its serene forests, whale watching tours, culinary experiences, cycling trails and vineyards, there is something for everyone in Knysna. An added bonus? You’ll be avoiding the summer crowds and enjoying off-season prices, too!

Stay with us:

If you’d like to stay within the luxurious walls of a refurbished power station, look no further than The Turbine Hotel & Spa, one of the best 5-star accommodation offerings on Thesen Island.

We’re a stone’s throw away from all the exciting activities mentioned above and also offer plenty of our own, thanks to The Turbine Water Club.

Our friendly reception team would be more than happy to put together a bespoke winter-friendly itinerary just for you, should you need it.

Book online using our seamless booking platform by clicking here or get in touch directly.

Contact details:


+27 (0) 44 050 3500 | +27 (0) 62 403 0493

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