Paarl was the third European settlement to be established in South Africa, after Cape Town and Stellenbosch and is, today, the largest town in the Cape Winelands. It is situated about 60km outside of Cape Town and is renowned for its haunting scenic beauty and deep viticulture and fruit growing heritage. Today Paarl boasts one of the highest ranking regions on the Cape Wine Route.
Paarl was the third European settlement to be established in South Africa, after Cape Town and Stellenbosch and is, today, the largest town in the Cape Winelands. It is situated about 60km outside of Cape Town and is renowned for its haunting scenic beauty and deep viticulture and fruit growing heritage. In the 1600s the French Huguenots arrived in the Western Cape and began to settle on farms in the area. The fertile soil and the Mediterranean-like climate of this region provided perfect conditions for farming. The settlers planted orchards, vegetable gardens and above all, vineyards. Thus began Paarl's long and continuing history as a major wine and fruit producing area of South Africa.
Paarl gained international attention when, on 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela walked out of Victor Verster Correctional Centre (now known as Drakenstein Correctional Centre) in Paarl, ending 27 years of imprisonment and beginning the march to South Africa's post-apartheid era and multi-racial elections. Mandela spent three years in prison here and, today, a bronze statue of Mandela stands outside the prison. The district is particularly well known for "Paarl Rock", a huge granite rock that is formed by three rounded outcrops that make up Paarl Mountain and has been compared in majesty to Uluru in Australia. This enormous granite boulder is a mecca for experienced mountain climbers.
- Paarl is one of the most significant stops on the Cape Wine Route - home to a number of famous wineries.
- The area that is now known as Paarl was first inhabited by the Khoikhoi and San people thousands of years ago.
- Known for attractive Cape Dutch architecture, beautiful gardens and streets lined with old oak trees.
How to Get there
Ideally, visitors travelling around the Western Cape are advised to make use of a rental car, particularly if wanting to explore the wine route. Paarl is about 60km from Cape Town, most easily accessed from the City itself along the main motorway, N1 North; however, there are also scheduled train and bus trips that transport people between Cape Town and Paarl. Sun Safaris takes pleasure in organising guests' transportation in and around the wine route, starting at Cape Town International airport.
Activities in Paarl
Paarl's reputation as one of the most significant wine tasting regions in the Western Cape puts it in a primary position on the Cape Wine Route. Visitors travel from far and wide to observe the scenic beauty and to taste the world-renowned wines born from Paarl's exceptional vineyards. The town and its surroundings attract many visitors with an array of activities and interests. There are magnificent Cape Dutch buildings, scenic drives, hiking trails and the many wine tasting opportunities (including vintages from the famous Nederburgestate) and excellent restaurants. The "Paarl Rock" is a popular destination for rock climbers. Nowadays protection is afforded by bolts in the granite and there are a few dozen spectacular, beautiful and difficult routes that attract the best climbers of the current generation.
Paarl attracts locals and tourists alike with its culutural heritage and the tribute paid to its natural beauty and organic resources. Every year, there are fantastic events held to celebrate these features and visitors to Paarl are bound to be kept busy in between their exceptional wine tasting experiences. Horse, cycling and quad bike trails; hot air ballooning; organic markets; nature reserves and wildlife attractions; delectable cuisine at well-reputed restaurants and coffee shops; beauty treatments at salons and spas; and of course, what brings visitors to this superb Western Cape town - the vineyard and winery tours, as part of the Cape Wine Route.
De Leeuwenhof Estate
De Leeuwenhof is a wine farm providing guests with accommodation and a beautiful scenery. The estate is family run which has been running since 1698. The guesthouse offers views of Drakenstein Mountains and the Paarl Mountain.
Cascade Country Manor
Cascade Country Manor is situated amongst olive orchards, vineyards, and buchu land and is an idyllic and luxurious private retreat. A small stream flows through the estate and “cascades” down a little waterfall which creates a serene atmosphere.
Palmiet Valley Estate
Palmiet Valley Estate is a 300 year old wine farm with a luxury 5 star boutique hotel located in Paarl Valley, Cape Winelands. The hotel is an example of Cape Dutch architecture and surrounded by world renowned golf courses and attractions.
Grande Roche Hotel
Grande Roche Hotel is a 5 star graded accommodation located within Paarl. The hotel offers a variety of accommodation, ranging from studio suites to garden suites. The hotel offers magnificent views of the Drakenstein Mountains.
Oak Hampton Guest House
Oak Hampton Guest House is situated in Paarl Main Road, lined with 350 year old oak trees and within walking distance of the Paarl central business district, that boasts a vast collection of Cape Dutch buildings and architecture.