From a distance, you see the Afrikaans Language Monument on top of a glistening granite outcrop from which this historic town, the third oldest in South Africa, gets its name (meaning "pearl").
The Paarl Wine Route, renowned for its rich, full-bodied, spicy red wines and crisp white wines, is the second-oldest wine route in the country. The area is best known for the quality of its shiraz, chenin blanc, chardonnay and pinotage, with viognier and mourvédre increasingly well regarded.
Paarl has played an important role in the establishment of the wine industry with the establishment of KWV, the first commercial wine cellar, dating back to 1918, and the introduction of cold fermentation to promote wine quality in 1937 by the then owner of Nederburg, Johann Georg Graue (a viticulturist, brewer and tea specialist). In 1975 the Nederburg Auction of Rare Cape Wines came about when Günter Brözel introduced noble late harvest wines. His legendary dessert wine, Edelkeur, is still offered exclusively at this annual auction.
More recently, Paarl also made headlines with the first bottling of viognier, a Bordeaux blend and nouvelle in South Africa. On the international front Paarl is home to the first white pinotage, pinotage-fortified dessert wine and the first wine blend of tempranillo, tannat and tinta amarella.Contact Us
Adventure tourists can enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, horse riding, polo, golfing, canoeing, bass fishing and fly-fishing, as well as visits to the Drakenstein Lion Park and Le Bonheur Crocodile Farm.
The Paarl Wine Route hosts a number of festivals and concerts throughout the year. The OmmiBerg ("Round the Rock") festival in March is a definite highlight. Also look out for picnics and musical events at the Afrikaans Language Monument, as well as various harvest festivals on individual farms in this route.
Paarl offers a wide variety of eateries for visitors, from unpretentious family steakhouses to gourmet offerings for foodies, and everything in between. Try the Bertus Basson restaurant at Spice Routes, The Red Table restaurant at Nederburg, or take the whole family to The Goatshed at Fairview, where the children can enjoy the relaxed country setting.
Many wine farms offer delis or picnics during the summer months, so be sure to come hungry when you explore this piece of the Winelands.
As a bustling Winelands town, Paarl offers a good selection of beauty salons and walk-in spa experiences. For those looking to take a day off and relax completely, there is the Santé Hotel & Spa, just outside town.
There are few towns and villages that offer the eclectic mix of accommodation that Paarl has to offer. Those looking for luxury in the heart of the town can try the Grande Roche Hotel, Zomerlust Guesthouse or Pontac Manor Hotel. Find accommodation on wine farms and stay in beautiful gabled historic buildings such as Palmiet Valley Wine Estate & Boutique Hotel, or try something more rustic, such as De Leeuwenhof Estate or Landskroon Self-Catering Cottage.
The town has many examples of Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian and Cape Dutch buildings, and wide variety of fine restaurants and coffee shops spread along the 12km-long Main Street. Visit wine farms to stock up on local wine, cheese and olive products, or enjoy the local museums and monuments.
Things To See And Do
Wine tasting and cellar tours: enjoy guided cellar tours at two of South Africa's best-known wine cellars, or experience one of the smaller farms with a winemaker
Food-and-wine pairings: enjoy a food-and-wine experience at the majority of our wine farms
Heritage trail: the oak-lined, 12km-long Main Street takes you along one of the best-preserved 19th-century streets in South Africa
The Mandela statue at Drakenstein Correctional Centre: just outside Paarl is the prison where Nelson Mandela spent his last years of incarceration, and from where he completed his long walk to freedom
Arts and crafts route: visitors can look forward to a collection of arranged routes that offer visitors unique arts and crafts, and experiential tourism attractions
Paarl Nature Reserve: Paarl is blessed with an area of unspoilt natural beauty on its doorstep. The picturesque landscape of fynbos vegetation is dominated by massive rounded granite rocks set among ancient wild olives, rock candlewoods and wagon trees. The water in the storage dams contributes to the tranquility
Hiking trails, mountain biking trails and downhill cycling trail: the natural beauty of the surroundings offers endless activities for the outdoor enthusiast, with hiking and MTB trails in the nature reserve and on wine farms
Abseiling: Paarl Rock, the second-biggest granite outcrop in the world, is the perfect spot for rock climbing or from which to abseil
Horse riding: Enjoy guided horse rides in the mountains, or visit one of the many wineries on the Paarl Wine Route
Quad bike rides: for an adrenalin rush, explore the vineyards with a guided tour and wine tasting
- Animal attractions: Le Bonheur Crocodile Park, Alpaca Loom, Drakenstein Lion Park and Butterfly World
The Paarl Wine Route, renowned for its rich, full-bodied, spicy red and crisp white wines, is the second oldest in the country. The area is best known for the quality of its shiraz, the climate particularly favouring this variety. Visitors can explore landmark labels such as KWV and Nederburg, as well as a host of smaller but also well-known wine farms.
Explore South African Wine Routes
Here you will find the inspiration and a million reasons to go beyond the well known. You will find hidden gems, uncover local secrets, hear the stories best told by the locals and travellers in the know, and discover that we have a lot more to offer than good wine.