Prince Albert is easily one of the Western Cape’s most beautiful historic towns. Victorian, Karoo, Cape Dutch and unique gabled buildings are a plenty and an absolute feast for architectural lovers. I loved wandering up and down all the side streets and appreciating the stunning details and features.
One doesn’t really need a guide to Prince Albert as most shops, restaurants and businesses are dotted along the main road and it’s easy to pick whatever sparks your interest. However there are a few gems that are tucked away and I wanted to share these, along with some of the highlights from my whirlwind visit to this picturesque town.
Prince Albert is on the Swartberg Circle Route® and links the Great Karoo to the Klein Karoo. I arrived via Meiringspoort mountain pass which is undeniably magnificent. Look out for the sign and be sure to pause at the waterfall rest/picnic spot. There’s ample parking and it’s only a short 5min walk to a stunning waterfall and pool where you can have an invigorating dip.
The other scenic route to Prince Albert is via the iconic Swartberg Pass which offers spectacular views and natural beauty. It takes about 1 hour to drive the entire length of the 27 km-long gravel road with its steep inclines.
For the first night, I camped at Bushman Valley private nature reserve which is well maintained and has a fantastic setting. It’s literally a 5 minute drive outside of the town which makes it incredibly accessible. They also have a few cottages and are open for day hikes.
The next 2 nights were spent at the beautiful Dennehof Karoo Guesthouse which was a luxurious treat. You can also join for a decadent breakfast whether you are an overnight guest or not (depending on their availability, so do call ahead to check).
Lazy Lizard is a bustling and vibrant coffee shop and became my daily go-to for snacks, deli goods and light bites and simply to observe all of the town’s comings and goings.
I picked African Relish for dinner and thoroughly enjoyed a tasty wood fired pizza in their garden. Complete with fairy lights and views onto an olive grove, all on a balmy summer eve, it felt a little as though I was in my own version of Eat Pray Love.
For coffee, head to Hope Warriors Coffee Bar at The Pop Centre. It’s run by an enterprising group of young locals that decided to make a difference during lockdown. They make an excellent flat white and were serving delicious home baked pasteis de nata when I visited. There’s a small selection of second hand books too, so it’s a win for me. I bumped into author Stephanie Rohrbach here and we had a lovely chat. She’s written a fantastic guide, The Great Little Book of Prince Albert Microadventures, which contains so much valuable information and inspiring ideas, it’s well worth grabbing a copy.
“Micro adventures are for everyone – young and old, tall or small, fit or funky. Pull up your socks and get out of your comfort zone. Discover gorgeous views and endless vistas; feel the silence, listen to the wind and greet the sun. Meet the tortoise and the kudu. Connect with nature and your inner adventurer; open your eyes & meet the people – have loads of fun!”
For the book lover, make your way to BoekHuis which you’ll find on the corner of Meiring and Devenish. There’s a room dedicated to brand new books and one for second hand books. Open daily, you are welcome to drop by whenever you feel like browsing however to make sure, please phone Marlene, 083 308 6305.
Prince Albert Art Gallery is another must. Also situated on the main road, it’s easy to spot with its eye catching graffiti and beautiful arched windows. The graffiti was done by artist Falko. There are a number of his elephants around town (I counted 7 and I’m sure there may be more) so take yourself on a visual art hunt as an incentive to explore the town.
Diarise the Prince Albert Open Studios which will be taking place from 16 – 19 June. During this time, blue A-frame boards pop up all around the town and mark the home studios of around 30 local artists, offering visitors a feast of visual delights. For further info and workshop details, visit the website here.
And as for functional art, nearly all the dustbins in Prince Albert are hand-painted with information about the town, the area, or the history of the building they are placed in front of. Many of the newer designs were done by artist Kevin de Klerk.
To enjoy all of the town’s offerings, book at least a 3 night stay and give yourself enough time to take in the Karoo lifestyle and its charm.
All photography: Lana Kenney ©