Only 56km from Cape Town, Paarl offers historical charm, culture, architectural heritage, wine and fruit farms, breathtaking scenery and many cycling and nature trails. The magnificent countryside, good wines and friendly people welcome you to a town where a feeling of tranquility still transcends modern day living.
Paarl offers many attractions – from visits to the Afrikaans Language Monument, the youngest language in the world and Paarl Mountain, with its rocks which are remains of granites which rose and broke through slate and sandstone formations about 500 million years ago, to sampling some local olive oil.
Opening in late 2008, the first phase of Paarl’s exciting new heritage tourism venue, De Poort Heritage Village, is almost complete. Visitors can observe heritage artisans; see a forge in operation; try out the skill of the blacksmith and watch a cooper or farrier. The Drakenstein Heemkring archive is housed in De Oude Woning in Paarl. The collection includes valuable manuscripts, photographs, books, genealogical records and research on original Huguenot farms.
Paarl has a large area of unspoilt natural beauty at its doorstep. The Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve has a picturesque landscape of fynbos vegetation dominated by massive rounded granite rock formations set among wild olives, rock candlewoods and wagon trees. Fishing, hiking, picnics, climbing and mountain biking is possible.
Paarl Arboretum boasts with 4500 trees (750 species) from 6 continents on 32 hectares of land along the Berg River. Enjoy a quiet moment while spotting the colorful Malachite Kingfisher in the 45 hectares of paradise at the Paarl Bird Sanctuary with its 140 species of birds visiting throughout the year.
The Limietberg Nature Reserve is nestled by the Du Toitskloof Mountains. This nature reserve offers superb outdoor opportunities like a day- or multi-day trail, within a pristine natural environment.
A picture house of architecture is found along the 2km stretch of the main street, starting at the Strooidak Church – the oldest Dutch Reformed Church in the country still in use. Zeederberg Square is surrounded by picturesque Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian houses.
The Paarl Museum – where you can view Cape Antiques, artifacts, documents and photographs which reflect the cultural diversity and development of the town.
Paarl also offers endless outdoor entertainment – explore our attraction route and discover the wide variety of animal attractions that Paarl has to offer – Butterfly World, Die Vonds Snake Centre,Drakenstein Lion Park, Le Bonheur Crocodile Park, and Paarl Bird Sanctuary.
For the adventurous – enjoy a hot-air balloon ride, go mountain biking, climb Bretagne Rock or enjoy a guided horse ride in the mountains.
The enthusiastic shopper will be delighted with the choice of hand crafted gifts and souvenirs – handspun Mohair and Karakul wool rugs, ceramics and art, reflecting the lifestyles of our local community, from Ikhwezi Community Centre. Paarl also offers a number of arts and crafts shopping outlets, as well as art galleries – Hout Street Gallery & Gift Shop and De Kraal Gallery and Studio. The Paarl Flea Market takes place every Saturday from 09h00 to 13h00 at Jan Phillips Square.
The culinary delights of Paarl range from traditional fare to exquisite international cuisine. Restaurants and eateries are diverse in character and range. Cooking styles reflect individual personalities, the result being a diversity of cuisine from the most formal and elegant to the simplest, yet well-prepared dishes. You can also feast your senses on some strawberries, cheese, olives and olive products from our farms, factories and outlets in Paarl.
In addition to the may various delights to the visitor, Paarl houses the headquarters of a number of large agricultural, manufacturing and financial companies and some of the oldest schools in the Cape are found here. Paarl is the home to the Boland Cricket Park which hosts international events.
The town made headlines when President Mandela was released from the Victor Verster Prison, on the outskirts of town, to freedom and the start of the new South Africa.
The historic town of Wellington nestles at the foot of the Groenberg, in a picturesque valley including the well-known Bainskloof Pass. This pass was surveyed and built by Andrew Geddes Bain, using convict labour and primitive tools to hack and blast the way through almost impossible terrain.
It took 23 days per kilometre, from 1849 to 1853 to open the way to Ceres and the Karoo beyond. Today, much of Bain’s original dry course stonework is still visible. The pass was tarred in 1935 and declared a National Monument in 1980.
The Wellington Museum offers an exceptional Egyptian collection alongside traditional ethnic artifacts, Stone Age objects and pioneering history.
Ouma/Granny’s House Museum is a beautiful Victorian cottage and houses a valuable collection of antiques. In 1853 Lady Loch Bridge, a wooden bridge named after the Governor’s wife, was used for access between Cape Town and Paarl across the Berg River.
In 1910 it was replaced with an iron bridge and became the first iron bridge in South Africa. The original wooden pillars are now at Wellington Museum.