History of Paarl and Surroundings
The first Dutch commander of the VOC (Dutch East-India Company) at the Cape of Good Hope, now Cape Town, was Jan van Riebeeck whose landing signaled the beginning of European settlement in South Africa on 6 April 1652.
Approximately 60 km from Cape Town, Paarl, the third oldest European settlement in South Africa, was founded in 1687 and named after the way in which the boulders on Paarl Mountain shimmer after winter rains. The area was predominantly used for farming, but also produced most of the wagons with which the interior was to be explored.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, Paarl played an important role in the development of Afrikaans and saw the publication of the first Afrikaans newspaper. The spectacular language monument on Paarl Mountain, the Afrikaans language museum, and the fascinating Paarl museum, are some of the town's most interesting historical sites.
The town is still filled with an array of historical buildings - varying in style from Cape-Dutch to Georgian and Victorian. The 'Strooidak kerk' is the oldest Dutch Reformed church still in use in South Africa.
In 1990 Paarl made world news headlines when Nelson Mandela was released from Victor Verster prison - now Drakenstein prison - where he was held from 1988.
Within 45minutes drive from Cape Town, Paarl nestles in the picturesque Berg river valley in the heart of the Cape Winelands. The town lies stretched out between the spectacular Du Toit's Kloof Mountains to the east and Paarl Mountain on the west and is cut in two by the Berg River. Paarl is also proud of his nearly 12 km Main Street which is one of the longest in South Africa.
Paarl Mountain is home to the world's second largest granite outcrop. The town is named for the way in which these boulders sparkle like Pearls in the winter sunshine. The mountain is also home to an exquisite variety of fynbos and protea flowers.
With a diverse population of over 100 000 Paarl is one of the larger towns in the area, making it a hub for industry, without compromising on its historical charm.
Paarl is surrounded by some of the Cape's finest wine farms and is home to the KWV, the cornerstone of the South African wine industry.
With its rich cultural heritage, Mediterranean climate, charming old buildings, prestige schools, quality golf courses, and expanding commercial sector, Paarl presents an excellent prospect for homebuyers and investors alike.
Paarl invites you to discover our beautiful valley.
A 40-minute drive from Cape Town, at the foot of the second largest granite outcrop in the southern hemisphere, you will find the scenic town, Paarl.
At the foot of the cluster of remarkable granite domes from which it takes its name - Paarl is an important agricultural & commercial centre.
The wonderful countryside, good wines and friendly people welcome you to a town where a feeling of tranquility still transcends modern day living - non-commercial experiences await you, our visitor to the Cape Winelands.
Paarl, a mere 60 km from Cape Town, is renowned not only for its illustrious past and unrivalled beauty. Paarl also presents visitors with an array of attractions, scenic drives, hiking trails, wine tasting opportunities, excellent restaurants, and an architectural heritage spanning three centuries, a variety of accommodation establishments, as well as friendly and honest hospitality.
Enjoy a quiet moment while spotting the colorful Malachite King Fisher in our 45-hectare paradise with its 140 different species of birds.
The Paarl Bird Sanctuary was established within the Paarl Waste Water Treatment Works. The sanctuary itself contains five large shallow ponds with islands. The foliage consists of reed beds, grassed banks, with weeds and exotic trees such as eucalypts and acacias. 140 species have been recorded with predominance for water birds.
Nestled by the Du Toit kloof Mountains, Limiet berg Nature Reserve offers superb outdoor opportunities within a pristine natural environment.
Enjoy a day hike or multi-day trail and you could spot klipspringer, baboon, dassie, the occasional caracal and even leopard. Interesting historical features include Bushman paintings, disused manganese mine, the original toll road from Franschhoek to Villiersdorp and a cross, erected by an Italian prisoner of war. Make use of the facilities such as camping and picnic areas together with braai spots while enjoying activities such as fishing and a variety of hiking trails some of which contain rock pools.
The Berg River that flows through the Valley is its life artery.
Nestled between the neighborhoods are historic farms, contributing to the refreshing country atmosphere and lifestyle of this valley, making this town the perfect getaway?
Paarl Vintners invites you to discover the diversity of our beautiful valley.
Our winemakers produce a wide range of wines and styles so whether you are looking for fresh or fruity, or dark and brooding we'll be sure to have a wine perfectly suited to your taste. While Shiraz has been chosen as our signature cultivar, a wide range of other styles also performs extremely well. This strength in diversity was again proven recently when major awards were bestowed on such relatively unknown varietals as Petit Verdot and Malbec. Many of the estates also offer added attractions- enjoy lunch under old oak trees, sample cheeses and olives, watch glass blowers in action or just sit back and let the natural beauty wash over you!
The best way to experience the subtle pleasures of the Paarl Valley is to stay over for a night or two.
As a tourist-orientated town, Paarl offers accommodation to suit the visitor's every need and pocket! Sprawling vineyards surround many establishments, though situated in the heart of Paarl, with mountain ranges as a backdrop.
Hotels, Guest Houses, Bed & Breakfasts, Home stays and Self Catering establishments offer an atmosphere that may vary from the most elegant Cape Dutch and Victorian, to art deco and interestingly ethnic.
Although the uniqueness of Paarl lends a country atmosphere even to those establishments situated within the town, many guesthouses are nestled among rolling vineyards, on the foothills and along riverbanks. Paarl is indeed a town to visit for all reasons; we look forward to welcoming you to our Valley.
Tours and Agencies
Paarl offers the ideal location for exploring the Cape Winelands.
From Paarl you'll be able to book day- and half day historical, wine, adventure or floral tours and arrangements can be made for tours to be conducted in English, German, French and Afrikaans.
Paarl´s close proximity to Cape Town, the Cape Town International Airport, its country atmosphere; well developed hospitality industry and range of commercial services are some of the factors making it an excellent base for conferences.
The various venues and their staff have the capacity to assist you in both the planning and implementation phases of your conference. Adequate venues exist for exhibitions and because of the array of outdoor activities; Paarl is the ideal location for holding team-building exercises.
each year Paarl is host to numerous events - some of which have been going for many years. Cultivaria the fest with finesse, staged for fast 3 years and still growing usually by the end of September each year.
The Berg-River Canoe Marathon in July when hundreds of canoeists set forth from Paarl on one of the country's greatest and one of the world's most demanding canoe races. In December we host the annual Festival of Lights for the Drakenstein Community - and many more wine festivals during the year.
Paarl offers historical charm, culture, architectural heritage, wine and fruit farms, breathtaking scenery and many cycling and hiking trails.
Paarl has a large area of unspoilt natural beauty at its doorstep: visit the Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve for hiking, picnicking, climbing, mountain biking and Paarl Arboretum with 4 500 trees next to the Berg River or the Paarl Bird Sanctuary with its 140 species of birds visiting throughout the year.
A picture house of architecture is found along a 2km stretch of the Main Street, starting at the Strooidak Church and ending at the Paarl Museum.
Adventure and Sport
The variety of adventure and sport activities in Paarl is endless. Go Mountain biking, go hot-air ballooning or climb Bretagne Rock.
Take a vigorous hike; follow one of the many walking trails after which you can hang your pavement-pounding feet in a sparkling mountain stream. Catch trout or bass in one of the dams on top of Paarl Mountain, enjoy the exhilarating feel of of a horseback ride through the vineyards or play a round of golf at PearlValley Golf Estate & Boschenmeer Golf estate
Dinning and Entertainment
The culinary delights of Paarl range from traditional fare to exquisite international cuisine.
Restaurants and eateries are diverse in character and range from elegant Cape Dutch Manor to Victorian villa, Country cottage and family eatery.
Cooking styles reflect individual personalities, the result being a diversity of cuisine from the most formal and elegant to the simplest, yet well prepared dishes.
Add to this, some of the finest wines available in the world today, and you have a unique culinary experience, custom-made for you, the discerning diner!
Health and Wellness
Paarl offers the visitor a comprehensive selection of relaxation, detoxification and rejuvenation options.
Whether you just need some time out to recharge your batteries, or are recovering from illness and surgery, there are fewer healthier places to relax and recuperate than in Paarl. So, why not make the best of your trip and return home rested, energized and healthy - perhaps even a little bit more beautiful after a visit to our region.
Visitors and Services
Paarl provides a comprehensive range of services to assist both the national and international traveler to Paarl.
You'll find Paarl Tourism banks, taxis, clinics and hospitals, postal services, the local newspaper and many other service centers readily available to assist you.
Delightful day trips can be made in or around Paarl and the local travel services, e.g. Travel Agencies, Tour Operators, Car Rental Agencies and taxi services will assist you in planning your trip - and even fetch you from the airport. All the major South African Banks have branches in Paarl. Paarl Mall is a well known shopping centre in this area and will satisfy most of your shopping needs.