Is Prince Albert, SA, Worth Visiting? Here’s 21 Things to Do

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Ever found yourself dreaming of a quiet spot tucked away under vast skies and sprawling landscapes?

Let me introduce you to Prince Albert, a charming town on the edge of the Karoo desert, just four hours northeast of Cape Town. Imagine a place that feels like it’s stepped right out of a quaint olde-world storybook.

Is Prince Albert worth adding to your South Africa adventure list? From personal experience, it’s a resounding yes! We spent five fantastic months living there during a house-sitting stint, and it was an experience filled with discovery and local charm.

Plus, it’s conveniently located just two hours north of the well-trodden Garden Route, making it an ideal stop on any South African road trip.

Prince Albert, with its vintage charm that could grace any vintage fudge tin cover, beckons travellers to delve deeper.

So, why not explore what makes Prince Albert worth visiting? Here’s our guide to all the things to do in Prince Albert.

What to Do in Prince Albert: Quick Overview

  On Seekoegat Road, at sunset, walking away from Prince Albert town ©Lifejourney4two

Best Tours in The Area

We’ve collected all the best 5-star tours in the Western Cape; most depart from Cape Town and include day trips and longer tours to explore the area safely and with a guide.

From wine tasting in the Stellenbosch area to visiting Boulder’s Beach penguins and from a Cape Town food tour to a safari and exploring the famous Garden Route.

You’ll find something to enjoy in this best of list we’ve gathered together for you.

Our Prince Albert Story

We decided to take a break from camping and arranged a house sit in this beautiful town. Our timing just so happened to coincide with South Africa’s Covid lockdown, and our 5-week planned stay morphed into 5 months.

Many South Africans who we’d come across whilst we were heading for Prince Albert sang its praises.

Words such as charminghistoricalVictorian and quaint were tossed around us like confetti, giving us an inviting idea of where we would spend five weeks house-sitting.  

We were bound for Prince Albert, looking forward to some pet cuddles and exploring the town, giving us a break from Bucky’, our 4×4 bush camper. 

It’s not that we don’t love our camper, Bucky, but having access to a private toilet, shower, and a bed you don’t need to climb into was a luxury we were looking forward to.

Prince Albert @Lifejourney4two

Planning a Trip to South Africa?

Getting to Prince Albert

Whether you’re arriving from within South Africa or journeying from overseas, reaching Prince Albert is an adventure in itself, set against the backdrop of the country’s stunning landscapes.

Here’s how you can make your way to this charming Karoo town:

By Car from Cape Town

Driving is the most scenic and flexible way to reach Prince Albert. The town is about a four-hour drive northeast of Cape Town. Take the N1 highway, heading towards Worcester.

From there, follow the R60 and then the R62 towards Oudtshoorn before turning onto the R407, which leads directly to Prince Albert.

The journey takes you through breathtaking mountain passes and wine regions that are well worth a stop.

Cape Town to Prince Albert route

For detailed tips on navigating South African roads, read our guide on driving safely in South Africa.

By Car from the Garden Route

If you’re coming from the Garden Route, Prince Albert is just a two-hour drive north. This route is particularly straightforward—head north on the N12 from George and continue until you reach the turn-off for the R407 to Prince Albert.

This route takes you through Meiringspoort – stop on the route and look at the waterfall.

George-to-Prince-Albert-route via Meiringspoort Waterfall
George to Prince Albert route via Meiringspoort Waterfall

If you’re feeling adventurous, after Oudtshoorn, take the R238, which leads you through the Swartberg Pass. Check it’s open, though, as conditions can be treacherous in winter, and sometimes rock falls may have blocked the way.

George to Prince-Albert-via-Swartberg-Pass

Tips for Travelers

  • Car Rental: Renting a car allows you to explore Prince Albert and its surroundings at your own pace. Consider a 4×4 vehicle with higher clearance if you venture into the mountainous areas, where roads can be rugged.
  • Best Time to Travel: The road to Prince Albert is spectacular in spring (August to October) when the wildflowers are in bloom or autumn (March to May) when the weather is cooler.
  • Stay Updated: Before your trip, it’s wise to check local travel advisories and road conditions, as weather can affect travel routes, especially through mountain passes.

Prince Albert – On the Edge of the Desert

And so it was that we found ourselves in Prince Albert, a remote town amongst the desert scrublands of the Karoo at the foot of the incredible Swartberg Mountains.

Prince Albert is truly an oasis in the desert that feels like a mirage, a town that feels strangely out of place. You do not expect to find a picturesque Victorian-era town among the barren, low-growing scrubs of the Karoo desert, but there it is nonetheless.

Prince Albert is nestled in the Karoo Mountains ©Lifejourney4two

Whether you are visiting Prince Albert just for a day or a week or two, it is a place that, once under its veil of serenity and calm, you’ll want to rest there a little longer.

It’s a place to escape to—a sanctuary amongst the surrounding mountains, a haven to shelter in and enjoy nature, relaxation, and all this pretty town and its surroundings offer.

Prince Albert surrounds ©Lifejourney4two

Two weeks into our house sit, South Africa went into strict lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Our five weeks in Prince Albert became five months.

Although being in Prince Albert during COVID-19 restricted our thorough exploration, five months gave us ample time to get the ‘vibe’ of this town.

Unlike many towns in South Africa, Prince Albert does not have high-security fences with barbed wire. Many locals leave their windows open and doors unlocked, so there is no fear of assaults or carjacking.

Prince Albert Koppie Plant

There are plenty of things to do in Prince Albert and its surrounding area. Hopefully, you’ll be there long enough to feel the town’s heart—the locals’ pride, interesting stories, and bottomless generosity and friendliness.

There is a sense of solidarity in Prince Albert, often missing in many parts of South Africa, where the divides between white and black skin seem too marked and broken.

We hope you enjoy your time there as much as we did.


Prince Albert Interactive Map

How to Use This Map

To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side, and you will find the key on the left-hand side. Prince Albert’s things to do are marked with purple icons, and the surrounds are marked in yellow.

Cape Town is about 4.5 hours southwest of Prince Albert, and the nearest major city is George, about 2.0 hours south along the well-visited Garden Route.

Things to Do in Prince Albert and Surrounds

As you drive along Prince Albert’s main street, Church Street, you immediately sense its inviting ambience.

The quaint Victorian and Edwardian style architecture, the Karoo cafés inviting you to try their daily specials, and the curios, museums and galleries that line the thoroughfare of the town all tastefully tout their presence.

(Note: We did do most of these, but for the benefit of you as our reader, we have included available activities but were unfortunately unable to do due to lockdown and Covid restrictions – we have noted which we did not do for transparency sake).  

1. Book Into One of the Many Beautiful B&Bs

There are plenty of B&Bs and guesthouses to choose from in Prince Albert, and we recommend choosing one with a garden—especially if you are a keen birder.

Being in lockdown for five months, we were kept gainfully entertained by the numerous birdlife that frequented the garden.

Sunbird, Prince Albert ©Lifejourney4two
It’s not all about the birds … Field mouse ©Lifejourney4two
Sunbird on aloe ©Lifejourney4two

🛏 Find beautiful guesthouses and hotel accommodations in Prince Albert: click here.

2. Admire Prince Alberts Architecture

Wander the tree-lined streets of Prince Albert and admire the mix of Victorian and Edwardian architecture, along with the Cape Dutch and Prince Albert gables. (the former being the more ornate of the two).

Prince Albert also has 17 Provincial Heritage Sites listed, one of which is the Swartberg Hotel in the centre of town. The Prince Albert Dutch Reform Church takes pride of place along the aptly named main street, Church Street.

You can get more details about the listed buildings from the Prince Albert tourist office on Church Street.


Prince Albert Dutch Reform Church ©Lifejourney4two

3. Drive in the Swartberg Mountains

Two main ways to get to Prince Albert are through the Meiringspoort Pass or the Swartberg Pass. 

Both are beautiful drives in their own right, but if you like a little more adventure, the Swartberg Pass isn’t to be missed.

Views on the Swartberg Pass ©Lifejourney4two
Swartberg Pass views ©Lifejourney4two
The northern section of Swartberg Pass ©Lifejourney4two
prince-albert-red-protea with a bee on it
Protea lining the road along the Swartberg Pass ©Lifejourney4two
Brunia noduliflora in the Swartberg Reserve ©Lifejourney4two

The Swartberg Pass, just 5km from Prince Albert, is part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas UNESCO World Heritage Site, and apart from its stupendous views and many rare species of plants, if you are lucky, you’ll come across one of these cute klipspringers, as we did.

Swartberg Pass Klipsringer 1
Klipspringer along the side of the Swartberg Pass ©Lifejourney4two
Swartberg Pass Klipsringer
Klipspringer keeping an eye on us ©Lifejourney4two

4. Tour the ‘Bin Art’

In 2012, Prince Albert celebrated 250 years since its founding in 1762, and local artists and schoolchildren decorated the bins as a celebratory project.

Therefore, while wandering through Prince Albert, you can find 107 painted bins – an interesting take on street art.


Street art on the bins in Prince Albert ©Lifejourney4two

5. See a Show or a Movie in Prince Albert’s ‘Showroom’

The Showroom has various live performances and has a Friday night Classic Movie screening. You can also grab a bagel and coffee at the Showroom Cafe.

For a schedule of shows, times, dates and prices, check out their Facebook page here.

6. Sample the Culinary Delights of Prince Albert’s Cafes and restaurants

There is certainly no shortage of cafes and restaurants along Prince Albert’s main strip.

Lazy Lizard: One of the most popular with residents and travellers alike is the Lazy Lizard, an unpretentious café on the left as you enter the southern part of town. Here, you can sit outside in the shade and enjoy their famous apple pie or partake in their just as delicious carrot cake that people come from miles around to try.

We can attest that both hit the spot. And I must say, carrot cake was consumed more often than was probably healthy during those five months – but when in lockdown…?

The Lazy Lizard also do a great takeaway menu on Monday (Burgers), Wednesday (fish and chips) and Sunday (pizza).

Prince Albert Bush Pub: Just off the main thoroughfare, on Pastorie Street, you’ll find Prince Albert’s Bush Pub. We had several meals there, and the food was top-notch—and there was plenty of it.

Our favourite local café, the Lazy Lizard, in Prince Albert ©Lifejourney4two

7. Visit Local Artisans

At the art galleries and curio shops, you can admire the artwork and handmade crafts of the region.

Karoo Handgemaak

There is also a women’s cooperative run in Prince Albert, Handmade Karoo, whereby local women make a variety of handicrafts for sale.

Knitted stuffed animals - bunny nurses and doctorsfrom Prince Albert Women's cooperative

Some of their items are on sale in the Lazy Lizard Café, and they also have an online shop, so you can order from anywhere in the world and support this fabulous local community enterprise.

Knitted stuffed animals from Prince Albert Womens cooperative


Avoova, a local treasure of the Karoo, is a company with its factory (and recently opened shop in Prince Albert), that produces functional home and giftware made from ostrich shell mosaics. 

They source the ostrich eggs from unfertilised or hatched eggs, making the process both sustainable and environmentally friendly. 

You can find Avoova at 16 Magrieta Prinsloo Street, Skaapies Einde, Prince Albert. 

8. Take a Walk in The Mountains

With mountains all around Prince Albert, there is no shortage of walks for those who enjoy hiking. But if you don’t want to go too far, we recommend climbing the Koppie (hill) at the edge of the town, which was one of our favourites.

The Gordon Trail starts here, and you’ll find a pathway up to the top, which overlooks Prince Albert. Here you get a wonderful view of the town and the Karoo desert.

The start of the Koppie Trail in Prince Albert ©Lifejourney4two
Us at Prince Albert’s Koppie ©Lifejourney4two

9. Visit the Local Dairy

At the top of town, you’ll find Gays Guernsey Dairy. Gay, the cheery owner, started the dairy in 1990 with only three cows, but her family business has now become an integral part of Prince Albert. The dairy supplies many of the local cafes and the local Spar.

You can take your own container straight from the raw milk pump or buy a prefilled bottle. We stocked up on Gay’s fruit yogurts and cheeses – many of which have won international cheese awards. All of the products are natural, unpasteurised and free of hormones and antibiotics.

You can find out more and check opening times here.

10. Enjoy The Spectacular Sunsets

One of our favourite things to do while living in Prince Albert was to go for an evening walk along Seekoegat Road. A winding, dusty road that leads into the mountains.

The golden hour along that strip of road is beautiful as the light sets the mountains aglow and sprinkles Prince Albert in gold.

Prince ALbert lat sunset 1
On Seekoegat Road, looking towards Prince Albert town
Prince Albert sunset ©Lifejourney4two

11. Be Spooked on a Local Ghost Tour

Even before arriving in Prince Albert, we had heard the rumours of ghosts inhabiting the town. And when you arrive, it seems to be the setting that bodes well for ghostly tales. And no one seems to know the tales and history behind these accounts as much as local story weaver Ailsa Tudhope.

You can find out more about her tours here.

(We did not take the tour)

12. Learn About the Town’s Leiwater System

One of the most interesting systems that operate in Prince Albert and that intrigued us was the town’s lei water system for irrigation.

Along the sides of the road and along the borders of properties, you will see what looks like a canal system.

Prince Albert water system, channelling water to the homes from the Swartberg Mountains ©Lifejourney4two
Water channeling ©Lifejourney4two

These water channels link throughout the town, providing a continuous water source to residents with water rights.

The historical Leiwater channels are filled with water runoff from the Swartberg mountains. Each property has a set day and time to open its water slot and direct the water into its property.

The property has a holding area from which more channels can be opened and closed to direct water into various parts of their garden.

13. Visit the Fransie Pienaar Museum

Discover Prince Albert’s rich heritage at the Fransie Pienaar Museum, a cultural gem founded on the late Fransie’s personal collection of artifacts.

Highlights include rare Victorian clothing, a unique collection of musical instruments, and fascinating historical displays about the Swartberg Pass construction.

Don’t miss the museum’s own ‘witblits’—a traditional South African moonshine distilled on-site.

This engaging museum captures the spirit of the community, continually enriched by contributions from local residents. It won the Best Museum in the Western Cape award in 2018.

14. Star Gaze and Practice Your Astrophotography

The lack of light pollution in Prince Albert makes it the perfect location to look to the skies. If you are a keen photographer, it is also the perfect place to practise astrophotography.

Lars captured this image of the Milky Way on Seekoegat Road, leading out of Prince Albert. (See Map)

Milky Way over the Swartberg Mountains ©Lifejourney4two

15. Visit Local Wineries, Olive and Fig Farms

The area around Prince Albert is known for its culinary specialties, including olive oil, figs, apricots, and Karoo Lamb. It also has a couple of wineries.

Locals recommend a visit to:

  • Welterede Fig Farm
  • Kredouw Olive Farm
  • O for Olive
  • Fernskloof Wines

16. Drive The Meiringspoort Pass and Falls

Meiringspoort Pass was one of my favourite drives in the area – and we went through it a few times when we had to drive to Oudtshoorn for supplies not available in Prince Albert.

prince-albert-meeringspoort falls
Meiringspoort Pass Falls ©Lifejourney4two

 The mountains enclose you as you drive through, and the shapes and colours are incredible. There is also a high chance of seeing a troop of baboons — either on the rocky crags above you or playing down by the riverbeds you pass.

Stop at the Meiringspoort Falls – there is a dedicated car park and a small hut with posters explaining more about the Falls.

It was the dry season when we were there, so the falls were more of a trickle, but the scenery was no less spectacular. If you are there on a sunny day — which is likely because the area has a high amount of sunshine, the reflections in the pools are mesmerising.

Meeringspoort Pass ©Lifejourney4two

17. Visit Oudtshoorn

Ostrich head
Ostrich at Chandelier Ostrich Farm

Oudtshoorn is known as the ostrich capital of the world. The town thrived in the late 1800s and early 1900s due to the popularity of ostrich feathers in ladies’ haute couture worldwide.

Oudtshoorn is still famous for its ostrich farming, but the rich pickings of the early 20th century, when the price of ostrich feathers almost matched the price of gold, are long gone.

The ostriches are now farmed for their meat (which is low in fat), their leather, and feathers for dusters and the like.

There are several ostrich farms that you can visit in the area to learn more about this flightless bird; we visited Chandelier Ostrich Farm.

For more on Oudtshoorn and things to do while in town, click here.

Ostrich-egg bigger than a hand
2 ostrich

18. Visit Cango Caves

The Cango caves, discovered in 1700, have been forming for 4500 million years. On the tours, you learn about the various formations that fill the caves and the people who once lived there.  Two tours are available: a Heritage Tour and the Adventure Tour (not for those claustrophobic, under 6, or with high blood pressure).

For more details, check out their website here. 

19. Visit Gamkapoort Dam

Many locals in Prince Albert suggested we take a trip to Gamkapoort Dam. Just follow the signs they said.

Lars was keen on seeing the Fish Eagle that we’d heard frequented this part of the Karoo, so we set off along Magrieta Prinsloo Street (just off Church Street). 

At least we found the Gamkapoort Reserve … now where is the dam?  ©Lifejourney4two

We followed the signs and our directions on Google Maps, but we never did find the dam that day. We finally gave up our search after travelling along one road that was too rocky and another that just seemed to disappear.

We did enjoy the tranquillity of the Karoo landscape but never found the  Dam … ©Lifejourney4two
Gamkapoort mountains ©Lifejourney4two

Later, we discovered that had we continued along the road (the left fork), which we thought was too rough (and therefore couldn’t possibly be the way), we would have come across the dam with a short walk for the view. However, we returned and took the other road, which came to a dead end.

That dead-end was just in from the river edge, but the water was so low that we couldn’t see it due to the drought. The green trees were evidence there was some kind of water flow there, but definitely not a dam;)

Gamkapoort Dam ©Lifejourney4two

When you enter the reserve from Prince Albert, the roads lead to a remote part of the dam.  The road was initially used to access the temporary construction village when the dam was built.

The last few kilometres are a rough track, so you will need a 4×4. Once in the reserve, you will find a fork in the road. The left fork takes you to where we were trying to get to and the right fork takes you where we ended up.

Gamkapoortdam map and direction

Once in the Reserve, the left fork leads to the dam – the right to the river. 

A Prince Albert local, Jonathon Spence, told us that visiting the dam, 

…won’t provide a great shore experience, although the juxtaposition of the harshness and the almost certain utter solitude is atmospheric. One might get to do a bit of 4x4ing to get there. Some non-motorised watercraft is the best bet.

He also kindly provided us with these incredible pics of the dam.

Gamkapoort Dam
Gamkapoort-dam-with bare green grey mountains in the back ground
Gamkapoort Dam

Note: if the area has been in drought or summer, you might not see much water. Also, what might seem to be a bone-dry dam bed is often just a crust over gooey mud that could suck down a vehicle or person, making escape extremely difficult. 

There is also another route (the main route) that takes you to the other side of the dam on the R62, turning inland between Calitzdorp and Ladismith – this route takes you through the scenic pass of Seweweekspoort Pass.

I guess we need to go back and try this route next time.

20. Hire a Mountain Bike

Mountain or gravel bike riding, including foodie/ride combos, is popular in the area. Imagine yourself on a remote gravel road disappearing over the horizon.  

The go-to guy is Arno Botha at Prince Albert Cycles, who can make all of this happen. 

Additionally, MTB Africa (based in Prince Albert) runs a three-day social, cycling and culinary experience for limited numbers. They include luxury accommodation, excellent local cuisine, wines and craft beer in their Karoo Gravel Grinder events.

21. Hike the Swartberg Nature Reserve

The hiking trails in the Swartberg Nature Reserve include a variety of terrains, ranging from easy to very rugged.

They are self-guided, but you need to get a permit from Cape Nature. 

Check here for full details.

Why It’s Worth Visiting Prince Albert  … That’s a Wrap

Prince Albert town was home for five months while we house-sat two cute dogs, Maggie and Murphy. It was the perfect place for us Aussies to chill during a Coronavirus Lockdown.

It’s a great place for both South Africans and tourists to visit.

With so many things to do in Prince Albert and its stunning mountain surroundings, it’s the ideal destination for nature lovers and those looking for a relaxed and laid-back break away from it all. 

We absolutely loved our time in this gorgeous gem of the Karoo.

▶ For more on House Sitting, read how we’ve saved over $100,000 by house sitting and more of our stories and experiences from house sits.

The golden hour in Prince Albert ©Lifejourney4two

 As always, please ask us any questions. We’d love to hear from anyone who has visited Prince Albert and what their favourite thing to do, see, or visit is either in the town itself or surrounding areas. 

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Shelley, a former primary school teacher with a law degree, and her husband Lars co-own Lifejourney4two. Their adventure began in Perth, Australia, and has since taken them through Europe and Africa in motorhomes and bush campers. Shelley's travel guides combine practical advice with engaging stories, mirroring their shift from 'One Day' to 'Day One'. Together, they aim to inspire others to embark on their own travel dreams.

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