31 Jan Five Places You Must Visit in Clarens, Free State
This is a relief for those of you who are sick of my book review content. Over the course of November D and I made the decision to head out on a stop-over road trip on the way to his family for Christmas. Lockdown, and well pretty much all of November, had us in our feelings and down in the dumps and we needed some EPIC cheering up.
So we decided to take a trip through the Free State to Clarens, a small dorpie (town) that can be found at the foot of the Maluti Mountains; it was also named for Clarens in Switzerland. It also happened to be the small town Paul Kruger spent his last days of exile before his death – also the town where the war against the Basotho tribe ended. It is a gorgeous little place, its history is not something I am for, but right now it was a perfect escape.
Because this seems to be a town where only those who know it, visit it, I thought that I’d share my favourite places to go in Clarens, and ones you should check out if you are ever near.
I also have a top places to visit in Clarens guide on Instagram, you can find that here.
Without further adieu, here is the list:
A comfortable, upmarket restaurant that caters to families. For breakfast, lunch or dinner, this busy restaurant is so worth a visit. The staff are friendly and the setting is truly gorgeous. Don’t get a fright if you find a cat or three wandering around, it’s all part of the charm (and the story of this delightful small town restaurant). Anything you eat here will tickle your taste buds – you can sit back, be served and wash it all down with a gin or local brew. So worth a stop by.
Once you have filled your belly with wonderful food, head up the street (on foot because it’s so gorgeous) to the most dainty second-hand bookshop. This family owned bookshop is a book lover’s delight, from rare books to something new and thrilling to read – you are bound to find something here to make your bookish soul happy. There is also a market on Saturdays outside the shop that’s also worth a visit.
For those who love a good shop – I mean who doesn’t? – head to the opposite side of town (again on foot, you may as well take in the sights). There, not even a full 2km from Bibliophile, you will find The Purple Onion. A farm-stall, deli-but-bigger situation, The Purple Onion has everything from pesto to truffles and, quite recently, even added a coffee shop. I cannot stop myself filling my boots with sauces, gimmicks and magnets – it’s a wonderful place to buy goodies to remember your trip – or, you know, just eat.
Visiting Clarens means you’ll obviously need somewhere to stay. This little gem of a B&B was a stunning find that I’m only too happy to recommend. A super luxurious but homely accommodation with picturesque views of the Lesotho Maluti Mountains. Breakfast is amazing and it’s just so affordable. Please stay here!
This was a new discovery for us on this trip, as we headed out on the road the next morning we opted to avoid the traffic and highways of all the coastal holidaymakers so the Golden Gate route was the best option. What an incredible experience. With our road trip playlist blaring as we looped through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, just driving its wonderful winding roads was beautiful and, all the while, we imagined taking this place up on its offers of accommodation, hiking, picnics, and horseback riding.
Strongly recommend to anyone taking a drive, to point your card towards Clarens (about 3 hours drive from JHB). Grab a coffee, your mask and hit the road. It’s a small escape and a real balm for the soul during these pandemic days. If you find other places worth knowing about, please let me know!