Heart of the Swartland
Malmesbury is the largest town in the Swartland and only a 45 minute drive from Cape Town. It is known as a popular stay over for people travelling on the N7 between Cape Town and Namibia, offering an opportunity to indulge in the warm hospitality of the Swartland. The local Afrikaans dialect has a characteristic guttural 'r' not found elsewhere and this unique accent is fondly referred to as the "Malmesbury Brei".
The tranquil town has a rural setting with wheat, sheep and fruit farming, and more recently wine and olive farms joining in as the backbone to the economy in the area. These farms and a mountain backdrop provide beautiful scenery, that changes throughout the year, from wintery green and gold to multi-coloured Spring wild flowers.
Visitors to the area can taste the wines of the Swartland on their journey of the Swartland Wine Route which starts here. The secret to the Swartland wines is the cool sea breeze from the Atlantic Ocean and the low-yielding bush vines that do so well in dry land. Olive and wine tasting is the order of the day in Malmesbury!
The town also offers a wonderful historic walking route which takes you through the local Museum and the fifth oldest congregation in the country, the towns Dutch Reformed Church. Also on offer in the vicinity, especially for the outdoor enthusiasts are a couple of scenic hiking trails, mountain bike trails, nature reserves with game viewing and even an 18-hole golf course. Above all, the town provides the opportunity for a relaxing and peaceful get-away.
Malmesbury has a range of accommodation on offer including Guest Farms, B&B’s, self-catering, Hotels as well as backpacking and caravanning and camping facilities.
Places to Visit
Things to do and see
- Hofstraat Kelder
- Spekulasie Wine Estate
- Abbotts Hill Wines
- Malmesburg Historic Route
- Malmesbury Museum
- Swartland NG Church
- Annexkloof Wines
- Annexkloof Farm Stall
- Bartholomeus Klip Renosterveld Reserve
- Bothmaskloof Pass
- Malmesbury Golf Course
Malmesbury receives approximately 403 mm of rain annually with the majority of its rainfall occurring during the winter months.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 15˚C and 30˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 5˚C and 16˚C.
There are daily flights into Cape Town International Airport. Malmesbury is approximately 65 km away along the N7. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
May – Riebeek Valley Olive Festival: A must for olive and wine lovers! For one weekend only, a number of farms in the area will open their doors to tours and tastings allowing visitors to learn, taste and buy olive-related produce. The Olive Emporium, a grand marquee set up in the centre of Riebeek Kasteel town, offers numerous sampling and buying opportunities for all sorts of deli type treats.
November / December – Malmesbury Christmas Lights Festival & Market:Join the locals in celebrating the start of the festive season which begins with a street parade, carols and lighting of the main street lights. After the opening, the Xmas shopping can commence at the numerous stalls offering gifts, home-baked goodies, food and drink and an array of other products.
Before any exploration of the area, it was inhabited by the Khoi and San people. The first expedition in the area of present day Malmesbury was in 1655 by the order of Commander Jan van Riebeek. Three years prior, van Riebeek and the Dutch explorers colonized the Cape.
The veld in the area was covered in Rhenoster bushes, which appear black at certain time of the year, and the area was quickly called “het Zwarteland” (the Black Land).
The original settlers where drawn here by a sulphur chloride mineral spring renowned healing abilities. By 1745 the Dutch Reformed Church was established with only a mere 24 people living in the vicinity of the mineral spring. The mineral spring is still situated in the town’s centre, but is only a small fountain now. The congregation was known as the “het Zwartelandskerk” until 1829 when it was proclaimed a town by former Governor, Sir Lowry Cole and renamed “Malmesbury” in honour of his father-in-law Sir James Harries, first Earl of Malmesbury in England.
In June 1860, the town gained municipal status and in 1896 the town council was established. The town developed quickly and today is the biggest town in the area, known as the “Heart of the Swartland”.
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