We list six of the most interesting artistic towns you could visit on your next tour of South Africa. Each town features many small galleries and craft shops and is renowned for its character, delightful eateries, and general ambiance.
In the heart of the Cape Winelands is the whitewashed Huguenot town of Franschhoek. Alongside the many cafes, restaurants, and wine cellars that line the town's main street are several art galleries and ateliers with a spectacular diversity of art from around the country. Local artists have captured the beautiful 'Boland' landscapes for centuries, and Franschhoek has numerous up-and-coming painters and sculptors among its ranks. The town also hosts an art festival in October every year, where local art houses, galleries, and studios come together to showcase the town's most inspiring art.
The small town of Riebeek Kasteel in the 'Swartland' region, one hour north of Cape Town, is a gem of a village with a unique architectural and artistic scene. Victorian and Cape Dutch houses dominate the town, with vineyards and other farms surrounding it in this isolated corner of the region. The town has excellent restaurants and many art galleries and studios while retaining its village atmosphere. It is less popular a tourist destination than Franschhoek since it is off the beaten track, but it is certainly worth a visit, if not for the town's charm, then for the beautiful landscapes.
Near the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the grassy slopes of the Drakensberg mountains in the Free State Province of South Africa lies a well-known art town of Clarens. The town is home to fine oil paintings, friendly locals, and scenic views of the surrounding mountains. Clarens has unique influences - the only entry not found in the Western Cape. Aside from the wines, restaurants, and art galleries, the town also has exciting adventures for travelers looking to explore the mountains.
Though not strictly a town, the iconic Bo-Kaap area of central Cape Town is rich in history, culture, and art. The brightly painted houses of Bo-Kaap sit on the slopes of Lion's Head overlooking the city center and have a powerful Cape Malay influence going back centuries. Today, it is a center for tourism and art in Cape Town. Several art galleries, street artists, and museums make this a must-visit destination. The Iziko Bo-Kaap Museum here takes you through the place's rich history, while the South African National Gallery and District 6 Museum are only a 5-minute drive downhill from here.
Prince Albert is a beautiful little town bordering the Greater and Little Karoo. The Swartberg Pass between Oudtshoorn and Prince Albert is the perfect entrance to this quaint little town. It has towering cliffs and unrivaled natural beauty leading you into the town's main road with its art galleries, hotel, restaurants, and antique shops. 'Rieldans,' a local dance form inspired by millennia-old Khoisan dance tradition, is unique to experience here, as is the Prince Albert Art Gallery, which has an extensive collection of Karoo and South African art.
Stellenbosch is the largest town in the Cape Winelands and is renowned as a tourist attraction. Among the many culinary experiences, beautiful views, and wonderful wines the town offers are numerous art galleries, museums, and a vibrant cultural scene. Many art galleries and studios can be found near Church Street in the town's center, but perhaps the Rupert Museum is the flagship attraction for art enthusiasts. The museum, born out of the private collection of the Rupert Family, has a huge collection of South African 20th and 21st-century artworks, including one of the world's largest collections of Pierneef's paintings.