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Your guide to Paarl
All About Paarl
Located 45 minutes northeast of Cape Town, the town of Paarl sits in the Western Cape province under a mountain topped with a rounded granite outcrop resembling its namesake pearl. Paarl Rock, also known as Paarl Mountain, has several trails to discover. From the summit, you can take in expansive views across the landscape toward Table Mountain. The Paarlberg Nature Reserve has a number of picnic areas and trails leading up to the rock itself.
The town’s pretty streets wind up the mountains and through vineyards. Paarl is considered the heart of the Cape Winelands District Municipality, with many grape varieties thriving in the warm, temperate climate. Golf is taken almost as seriously as wine here, with several internationally acclaimed courses nearby. The town center is home to trendy coffee shops, art galleries, and independent stores. Weekly farmers’ markets and craft fairs allow you to buy local goods directly from the source.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Paarl?
In South Africa, summer lasts from December through March, and winter runs from June through August. Winters in Paarl are cool, wet, and often overcast, whereas summers are warm, dry, and generally clear. February is the hottest month, and July is the chilliest. If you book your Paarl accommodation for early March when the Harvest Celebration takes place, you can enjoy tractor rides through vineyards, guided cellar visits, and plenty of tastings.
What are the top things to do in Paarl?
The Paarl Museum, in a traditional Cape Dutch home dating from 1787, is packed with artifacts and curiosities that piece together the story of the town. The house itself retains many of its original fixtures and fittings. The exhibitions are a combination of antiques, family treasures, and apartheid resistance information — capturing the heritage and essence of Paarl.
Paarl Wine Route
The second-oldest wine route in the country, encompassing 19 farms, is known for its crisp whites and full-bodied reds. Although best known for their Shiraz, Paarl vineyards also produce pinotage, viognier, and chardonnay wines. Consider pairing your wines of choice with a sample of the local goats’-milk cheese and olives.
Afrikaans Language Monument
This aesthetically unique monument designed by an acclaimed local architect sits atop Paarl Mountain. Its curling, tapering abstract towers represent the roots of the Afrikaans language, which is based on Dutch with origins in Europe, Asia, and Africa. The center has an exhibition area and spectacular views from the top of the mountain. Just 20 minutes away, between Paarl and Franschhoek, you’ll find the Nelson Mandela Statue outside the Drakenstein Correctional Centre, paying homage to the South African anti-apartheid leader and president who was released from the prison in 1990.