Best small towns to live in South Africa

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Small towns in South Africa breed warmth and familiarity. They are worth visiting to experience the country’s diversity, different climates, people and very rich culture. From our experience visiting small towns is always a great experience. Whether you looking for the best small towns to live in South Africa or just for a visit here is our list of some of the favourite small towns in South Africa by our travel experts.

1. Coffee Bay, Eastern Cape South Africa

Coffee Bay South Africa
Hole in the Wall

To begin with, Coffee Bay is one if the must visit small coastal towns in South Africa on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It got its name after a shipwrecked on the Wild Coast spilling coffee beans on the shores. The town is popular with travellers because of its natural beauty, warm sea and the famous Hole in the Wall. The remote village is quiet and a perfect getaway destination from the city noise. By the way, the Eastern Cape is Nelson Mandela’s home province.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Coffee Bay

2. Darling, Western Cape South Africa

Secondly, Darling is a charming and quiet small town located on the West Coast region of the Western Cape in South Africa. The Darling Museum is a fascinating local museum with a wondrous collection of artefacts and tourist information. Lastly, if you love good beer and good food then you must visit Darling Brew which has a pleasant atmosphere and there is a play area for kids.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Darling

3. Clarens, Free State

Kiara Lodge
Kiara Lodge (Clarens Free State) Photo Credit: Handri Bekker

The scenic small town of Clarens in the Free State province of South Africa is situated between the high sandstone Rooiberg and the foothills of the Maluti Mountains. Clarens is a must-visit for its spectacular scenery, tranquillity and good weather. Finally while in Clarens make sure you pass through Addy and Hoyle Art Gallery to view the amazing artwork by various local artists.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Clarens

4. Bulwer, KwaZulu Natal

Small towns in South Africa
Bulwer photo credit: Monique van der Walt

Escape to Bulwer a remote beautiful small town located in the Midlands area of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa. Bulwer is a must-visit because of its hospitality, indigenous forests and the rolling hills that surround this farming town are such a beauty to behold. This countryside destination has lots of activities to do like paragliding, fishing, horse riding, birding and hiking.

Accomodation: Where To Stay in Bulwer

5. Williston, Northern Cape

Williston is a little rural town in the Karoo area of the Northern Cape province of South Africa. Here you will enjoy being away from the hustle and bustle of the city as this small town is a great off the grid destination because of its warm hospitality, farming and roadside flowers that bloom during springtime.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Williston

6. Graaff Reinet, Eastern Cape

small towns in south africa
Valley of desolation

In the Eastern Cape province, there is also a gem of a town called Graaff Reinet. The town is the fourth largest town in South Africa. Graaff Reinet because of its architecture like the Dutch Reformed Church which is so easy to see on the main road of the town. Make sure you explore the top things there especially the Valley of Desolation and also taking a tour around the town to learn about the town’s history.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Graaff Reinet

7. Franschhoek, Western Cape South Africa

Cape Winelands
Haute Cabriere Wine Estate

Franschhoek is definitely a must include on your travel bucket list for small towns in South Africa. It is a small town in the Western Cape province of South Africa. Also known as the French Corner the town is a beautiful holiday destination that is surrounded by picture-perfect views. It’s not only a must-visit for all wine lovers but also for food lovers because of the award-winning restaurants in the town. While in Franschhoek make sure you also visit the Huguenot Memorial Monument.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Franschhoek 

8. Bela Bela, Limpopo

Bela Bela is a town in the Limpopo province of South Africa.  The name of the town means the water that boils or Warmbaths because the town was built around the hot springs. Lastly, the hot springs are not the only reason to visit this small town because it is also a true bushveld getaway and a gateway to a region of remarkable beauty and diversity.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Bela Bela

9. Magaliesburg, Gauteng


If you pass through Gauteng province which is very likely to happen then you have to visit Magaliesberg. The town is located below the Witwatersrand mountain range in Gauteng in South Africa. Magaliesburg is one of the must-visit small towns in South Africa as it has so much to offer like taking to the skies in a hot air balloon, go on a journey of discovery at Maropeng Centre or visit the Magaliesburg eco-friendly fly fishing venue.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Magaliesburg

10. Hogsback, Eastern Cape

Hogsback photo credit: passportofjoy

Last but not least is Hogsback, a tranquil small village in the Eastern Cape’s Amatola mountains. So much beauty can be seen from the top of Hogsback and you can go on hikes, trail walks and what is more amazing are the beautiful pictures of the famous three flat-topped mountains you can take while there. Lastly, the village also has many art craft shops showcasing the work done by local artists.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Hogsback

11. Hermanus, Western Cape South Africa

Hermanus whale watching
Hermanus whale watching

While in Cape Town make sure you visit Hermanus, a seaside town south-east of Cape Town. Besides the beautiful sea and mountain views, the town is a very popular whale-watching destination especially between June to December. This is the best time to watch whales because that is the time when the whales start migrating to the South African shores.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Hermanus 

12. Howick, KwaZulu Natal Midlands

Howick South Africa
Howick Falls

Finally, the last must-visit of the small towns in South Africa is Howick in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands area. While in Howick some of the things to do there include visiting the Howick Falls and by the way, Howick is where Nelson Mandela was captured then afterwards spent 27 years in prison. The Nelson Mandela Capture Site is a must-visit cultural and historical site to learn a lot about South Africa’s journey to freedom.

Accommodation: Where To Stay in Howick 

In conclusion hope you will enjoy visiting the small towns in South Africa. On your visit you will also discover that the above are some of the cheapest small towns to live in South Africa. Let us know in the comments section below which small towns are on your travel bucket list.

Also, read our Best Things To Do in Northern Cape