Grahamstown has a surprising amount of touristic activities. Both for locals and foreigners this list looks at the Top 10 touristic spots all worth a visit. The list includes activities for fans of culture as well as nature enthusiasts. Also, the activities on this list are spread throughout the entire town.
- Cathedral of St Michael & St George
From almost any part of Grahamstown, you can see this grand Cathedral at the end of High Street. The Cathedral is the centre of the shopping district. The central location of the Cathedral emphasizes the grace of the church. It is absolutely worth it to have a small look inside and smell the old Bibles and find the colourful biblical stories in the stained glass.
- The Observatory Museum
It doesn’t seem that this museum receives a lot of tourists but that’s what makes it even more interesting. The story goes that in this cute Victorian building back in the 1800’s there once lived a local watchmaker and his whole family. At top floor is the magical Camera Obscura. In this room you can watch, through a system with a mirror, almost every street around the museum. The purpose of this is to watch pedestrians and spot landmarks. The family also looked for the doctor or other people in town whom they needed. This museum is at Bathurst Street, located right behind the Cathedral.
- Albany Museum
Haven’t spotted the Big Five yet? Go to the Albany Museum and you will see all of them. And beside these animals, there are some dinosaurs. You can also read about the amaXhosa and Settler history and there is some artwork and information about the galaxy. This Natural Sciences Museum would be nice for kids as well. You can find it next to the Drostdy Arch on Somerset Street. There is also a History Museum nearby.
- Rhodes University
Rhodes University is one of the smallest campuses in South Africa and it does look like you’re literally living in a dream. The entrance is through the Drostdy Arch at the top of High Street. Its emphasis is the Humanities, but there are other departments as well. It’s nice to have a look at the fountain behind the Clock Tower. Are you keen for a theatre show? Ask at the Drama Department . There are occasionally shows up the hill at the 1820 Settlers Monument.
- Experience the township
Go to Makhaya’s Place at E Street in Fingo Village or have a braai at Mfana Ndini Place at Kwandancama and Aqalo Court & Nobebe’s Tavern at Extension 6. Ask at Makana Tourism Office on Bathurst Street for directions. They may also be able to organise transport.
- Botanical Gardens
This place is off Lucas Avenue and is a peaceful place to have a walk. There are many benches to sit on if you need some rest. It is also a good place to have a romantic picnic or a sporty run. At the entrance to the Botanical Gardens is The Provost, a coffee shop in an old military prison. You can drink your coffee in one of the cells, on the terrace, or on the swing outside.
- Kisma & Co
Do you want to buy a souvenir for yourself or your friends or family back home? Kisma & Co is the perfect place to go. There are at least 50 local artists and crafters who sell their work in this quaint shop. The owner Tracy Jeffery is always up for a chat and to give some background information. You can find the street in the alley next to the coffee shop Mad Hatters on High Street. Click here to read a profile-story about the owner.
If you are totally into animals, this is the best place to spend your morning or afternoon. Play with the cats and take the dogs out for a walk. It’s a bit far for a casual walk, but a good bicycle will get you there.
- Settler’s Dam
Settler’s Dam is a gorgeous lake in the middle of the mountains. It is an amazing place to spend a sunny day. You can swim in the lake or rent a sailing boat or canoe to discover the small area. After an active day, it’s possible to have a braai and watch the sunset. It is a half an hour drive from Grahamstown. Follow the N2 and turn right when the signs say ‘Settlers Dam’.
- 1820 Settlers Monument
Are you in for a little hike and an incredible view of Grahamstown? Go to the Monument, especially for sundowners or a romantic tryst. Discover the top of the hill and spot the cannons and artwork on display. It’s a great hike for the fit.