The city of George is in the Western Cape province of South Africa. It is approximately 420 kilometres east of Cape Town and is known for its stunning natural grandeur, diverse cultural heritage and outdoor recreational opportunities.
George was named after King George III of England and was founded in 1811. It began as an outpost for timber merchants who were attracted to the region’s extensive forests. The town developed slowly until the construction of the Montagu Pass in 1847, which connected George to the country’s interior, and the subsequent discovery of gold in the vicinity. These events resulted in a period of accelerated growth and development, with the town becoming an important commercial centre for the surrounding area.
George is the business and events hub of the Garden Route, and is connected to South Africa through the domestic terminal, the George Airport, as well as to major road arterial the N2.
Things to do
George is known for its premier golf courses at Fancourt, the George Golf Course, Oubaai and Kingswood. One of the courses, the Links at Fancourt, frequently takes the highest ranked spot in the country.
The Links at Fancourt is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and important architectural accomplishments. Hasso Plattner, the owner of Fancourt, tasked Gary Player with the difficult task of designing and constructing a one-of-a-kind and distinctive five-star golf course. The result was something really significant for the sport of golf in South Africa.
Dramatic, radically different holes, undulating fairways, pot bunkers, and links-style greens in a range of forms and altitudes combine to create this one of golf’s contemporary marvels.
There are also golf pros and clinics to help improve a keen golfer’s game. But the area offers so much more.
HISTORY AND CULTURE
George is a melting pot of cultures, with a variegated population that speaks Afrikaans, English and Xhosa.
George has a strong Koi-Koi people identity and tribe, who were the original inhabitants of the area. The Koi-Koi people have strong ties to the Pacaltsdorp community, where there is a guided walking tour. Ancient rock paintings can also be visited in Herold with a cultural site guide. The word ‘Outeniqua’, from the ‘Outeniqua Mountains’, originates from the Khoi language, interpreted as ‘they who bear honey’ or ‘man laden with honey’.
The town’s history is further commemorated through two museums, guided historical walks and tourism preservation sites like the Old Toll House. The Outeniqua Transport Museum is an intriguing attraction. It highlights the history of transportation in South Africa and features a variety of vintage trains and vehicles in addition to a remarkable collection of model trains. Other historical attractions include the George Museum, which examines the history of the town, and the Montagu and Outeniqua Passes, which provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and mountains.
There are further cultural experiences available such as Dine with a Local and local township tours by foot or bicycle.
The natural grandeur of George is one of its most prominent features of the city. Encompassed on one side by the magnificent Outeniqua Mountains and forests, and on the other side, the warm Indian Ocean, the city is a sought-after lifestyle destination.
George has over 2,000km of mapped hiking, trail running and mountain biking routes. The Pepsi Pools in George, named after the dark colour of the river, as well as the trails at Witfontein leading up to the mountain top, are regularly traversed by locals and visitors alike.
Visitors can also explore the pristine beaches of Victoria Bay, Herolds Bay and Gwaing which offer surfing, swimming and angling opportunities. Victoria Bay is particularly known for being a surfing hotspot and features Surfing South Africa competitions annually.
The Garden Route Botanical Garden is another must-see attraction, with a collection of indigenous flora, a bird hide, and a scenic, forested walking trail. The Garden Route Birds of Prey Rehabilitation Centre is also situated inside the gardens, and there is a family and dog friendly restaurant next door. Every Saturday, there is a 5km park run.
Not many visitors to the area know about the hidden local favourite the Garden Route Dam. As the main water catchment and water source for the city, the dam is a spectacular spot for walking and mountain biking.
George Arts Theatre: The George Arts Theatre is a non-profit organization and local community theatre, where it is made possible for members of the community to pursue their interests in the playhouse and to put on amazing productions of their own creation. The theatre is also a venue for visiting professional artists.
The Pottery: A one-of-a-kind garden café and pizzeria in the heart of George, good vibrations are constantly honoured here! The proprietors are Jocelyn and Dillon Marshall, a surf-loving couple who want to create a laid-back eating experience in a really ambient atmosphere. Their surf and art themed café is inspired by their travels as well as their love of fresh, seasonal cuisine. The vivacious staff of chefs, baristas, and waiters takes pleasure in their job and are happy to share their innovation and passion for nutritious cuisine.
The Pottery is situated on the Wonki Ware factory grounds and preserves all of the true charm of a real pottery workshop. Visitors may relax at the café while enjoying a cappuccino and watching the potters at work. In the tranquil city-center garden paradise, guests may also enjoy wood-fired pizza served fresh from the oven.
Wonki Ware: They have been in operation for approximately 20 years and employ approximately 80 individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have all become accomplished workers in their respective fields and valuable community contributors. The proficient potters are currently instructing novices in the art of creating Wonki Ware. Wonki Ware is synonymous with George and a popular choice for a take-home gift.
Bomkisi’s mission is to produce exquisitely crafted functional art that will adorn the walls and surfaces of countless residences, restaurants, and celebrations around the globe. Individuals with a fervent devotion to their craft and a sense of pride in their daily creations meticulously construct this work of art. The emphasis is always on maintaining originality and provoking thought while ensuring practicability. Combining aesthetics and functionality, the artwork is intended to be utilized in a deliberate and purposeful manner.
There are also many different and interesting art galleries in the area, which any art-lover and interior decorator can appreciate.
George is known for being a very family friendly city, with many schools and sought after neighbourhoods. Redberry Farm is George’s most loved attraction for families. It is a commercial berry farm that offers a range of outdoor experiences in a magnificent farm setting.
Pick strawberries fresh from the fields, catch a train ride of the miniature express, and enjoy the other activities like pony rides, bubble ball and bumper boats on the dam, pedal go carts and a massive outdoor playground. There are also several eateries on the farm – the Noshery pizzeria and deli, the Boplaas tasting room, Framboos handcrafted ice cream, the Red Shed coffee and berry bar, Bounty restaurant and the Redberry Farm tea garden.
The farm also boasts the largest permanent hedge maze in the Southern Hemisphere, and a gigantic strawberry structure where you are rewarded with scenic views after climbing the internal spiral staircase. Indoor play centers and the local farmer’s market are also available to guests with children, and there are many eateries with playgrounds.
There are coffee and chocolate combos at Caloroso, wine tastings at Herold Wines, Donegal, and Boplaas, making your own gin at 10 Oxes, farm stalls like the one on the airport road ‘Elvis Brew’ owned by famous South African musician Elvis Blue, and Kaukou tea pairings at Herold Meander.
Chefs Kitchen Queen and the Francois Ferreira Academy both offer lessons on how to cook. Taste George’s coffee beans from Caloroso Café or Root Coffee, sweet treats from Prince of Tarts, cold cuts from Mastro Dario, and berries from Redberry Farm. People in the area love Van Rensburgs, the neighborhood butcher. Stop by to get some tasty biltong and a pack of peach boerewors for a braai.
There are several incredible restaurants in the area owned or run by world-class chefs, such as 101 Meade, Portobello, the Fat Fish, La Cantina and many more.
George has a full events calendar year-round. Annual highlights are the George Old Car Show, the MUT by UTMB, George Agricultural Show, Outeniqua Wheelchair Challenge, the George Tens, the Vic Bay Quad and many others to look forward to.