Vast mountain views, gorgeous natural surroundings and old-world charm awaits any traveller seeking solace in Clarens. Situated in the heart of the Eastern Free State Highlands, this nature lover’s haven and artistic hub is certainly one of South Africa’s top tourist destinations. That’s why TravelGround is hitting you with the top spots in Clarens, giving you ample reason to pack your bags and hit the road to visit this magical mixture of South African splendour!

1. Walk the walk 

The Cannibal Trail


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This two-day hiking trail will definitely leave you flabbergasted at the beauty that is this Free State gem. The route kicks off just outside Clarens, circling sixteen kilometres through the Rooiberg and Witteberg Mountains. The first day’s trek covers nine kilometres through lush grass plains, dried-up riverbeds, forests, rock pools and past a few overhangs. After a night in a cave, you’ll face a seven-kilometre return journey, starting off with a climb up the mountain, following the plateau down into the valley and all along the Caledon River.

2. Adrenaline shot

Clarens Xtreme


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Calling all the adrenaline junkies! If you’re looking for an activity that will get your heart racing and your blood rushing, look no further than Clarens Xtreme. They’ve dubbed themselves the “great adventure people”, offering abseiling, archery, enduro trails, mountain-bike trails, paintball, putt-putt, quad biking, wall climbing, white-water rafting and Zipline. With the majestic Maluti Mountains as your backdrop, a Free State stay can’t get more adventurous than some Clarens Xtreme fun!

3. Home brewed

Clarens Brewery


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This brewery, cidery and distillery set in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, is the perfect spot to catch your breath after some thrilling adrenaline fun. Clarens Brewery’s brewer, Stephan Meyer, found his beerspiration during a visit to the UK in die 90s. Meyer built most of the brewery himself using reclaimed vessels from the dairy and chemical industry ─ a feat he takes great pride in. The brewery produces eight ales and three seasonal beers. Both whiskey and apple brandy is also distilled at the brewery, and an array of craft gins, ciders, juices and liqueurs are produced yearly under their Red Stone Cider label. Visitors to Clarens can stop by the brewery for free tasters and a brewery tour, and enjoy a delicious German-style lunch at the Clarens Brewery’s restaurant. This is definitely an experience that will delight each and every beer lover.

4. Quench your thirst

Highland Coffee Roastery


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This micro-roastery takes great pride and care in roasting 100% Arabica coffees in small batches to absolute perfection and top-notch taste. The roastery, shop and espresso bar is located in On The Square Centre, where visitors can sit, relax and unwind with a freshly roasted and perfectly prepared cuppa Joe while enjoying a beautiful view of Mount Horeb. There’s certainly nothing like a cup of hot Mountain Blend to kick off a day in cosy Clarens.

5. For the love of art

Robert Badenhorst Art Gallery


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If you’re looking for a visual stimulant in the art epicentre of the Free State, you needn’t look any further than Robert Badenhorst’s Main Street art gallery. Badenhorst’s father, Francois Badenhorst, was a well-known painter and his mother, Kathy, a gallery owner. His own gallery houses an amazing array of paintings, sculptures, hand-blown glass candles and centrepieces, photography, ceramics and candelabras. So, if it’s a feast for your eyes you seek, be sure to pop in at Robert’s gallery. You might even leave with a few collectables! 

6. Starry, starry nights

The Nelsbells Cottage

This rustic Victorian-style homestead accommodates six guests in the main house and two adults in the garden flat. It is a beautiful house, offering self-catering accommodation within walking distance of the heart of Clarens and is perfect for travellers looking for a small-town escape within easy reach of shops and amenities. 

Lola’s Luxury Self-Catering Accommodation

Lola’s Luxury Self-Catering Accommodation offers quality accommodations for your next trip to the Free State Highlands. The town square is only a two-minute walk away and it’s perfectly safe to venture during the day and night. This house offers luxury lodgings for weary travellers wanting to bask in the bliss Clarens’ beauty.

Ridge Road Estate

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Ridge Road Estate offers accommodation in a 6 sleeper cottage or a 12 sleeper country house just ten kilometers outside Clarens along the R711. The country house is an award-winning French-style farmhouse with a natural rock pool and pets are also welcome by arrangement! Have a braai and take in a view of the lush surroundings from the pool area. The Karoo-style cottage is just as charming and sports a covered braai, a pool and pets are allowed by arrangement.

With so much to enjoy during a Clarens visit, it’s no wonder this quaint little town is known as the jewel of the Eastern Free State. Come winter rains or summer suns ─ Clarens is the place to be all year round!

Feature image: Bigstock

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