Written by blogger, Anje Rautenbach of Going Somewhere Slowly
Darling is like a fine wine; a soft yet crisp experience on the West Coast, best enjoyed with good company, at a slow speed, with an explorer’s undertone and a good balance of fun and laughter all together with a blend of uniquely South African.
Good things take time and like a glass of well-aged red, the picturesque town of Darling transformed from an 18th century farming community into the Darling we are familiar with today: a boutique cellar with a collection of some of the West Coasts finest festivals, performances, art, landscapes, wine, beer, food and activities.
An Endless List of Things to do in Darling
1. Wild Flowers
Mother Nature laughs in flowers and during spring the fields and reserves in and around Darling explode with colour and brag with brightly-coloured petals in all shapes and sizes. Year after year the Darling Wildflower Show celebrates the species of the Cape Fynbos Kingdom (Renosterveld, Rietveld, Sandveld and Strandveld) as the West Coast becomes one big floral bouquet.
Travel Tip: A great photo opportunity at Tienie Versveld Wildflower Reserve – a slow 10 minute drive between Darling and Yzerfontein
2. Evita se Perron
You can’t visit Darling without stopping by Evita se Perron where satirist, Pieter Dirk Uys, turned the old Darling station into a theatrical experience. The restaurant, exhibition hall, garden displays and theatre is home to Uys’ alter ego, Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, and it shine some much needed humorous light on South Africa’s political history.
3. Wine Time with Ormonde Private Cellar
Red, white, sweet or dry…Darling is truly the land of milk and honey as it is home to a selection of exceptional wines from independent wine estates. Find your way to the vineyards for a wine tasting experience and swirl a bit of the West Coast around in your mouth in the town of Darling. Drive down the Main Road and turn up in Mount Pleasant Street and you’re heading straight to the tasting door of Ormonde Private Cellar with a collection of 30+ award-winning wines.
Other wine spots to visit is Groote Post, Darling Cellars and Cloof Cellars.
Travel Tip: Ormonde is open Monday to Saturday. They do wine tastings, chocolate & wine pairings and delish picnic platters. Call to book on 022 492 3540.
4. Darling Museum
A walk through Darling Museum feels like a walk through the 18th century. The displays are beautifully portrayed in different sections which give visitors a detailed yesteryear glimpse of what houses looked like as well as different areas of the town like the post office, church and bar. There is a whole section in the museum dedicated to the history of Darling Butter and Darling Creamery with butter mixers, molds and wooden machinery.
Travel Tip: Open 7 days a week. No need to book. Find the museum on the corner of Hill and Pastorie Street.
5. Beer o’clock
Craft beer has taken South Africa by storm and Darling Brew is the leader of the pack in the craft brewery industry. It all started with a simple dream of brewing beer and it blossomed, in true Darling spirit, into the unique concept of Slow Beer where the slow fermentation process goes hand-in-hand with the area’s peaceful lifestyle.
Also try their #TravelTuesday special: R60 buys you 330ml Slow Beer, biltong and a brewery tour (12pm and 1pm) every Tuesday. Add to your experience by tasting the first carbon neutral beer of (South) Africa: Their new Blood Serpent. Tastes as good as it is for the environment 🙂
Travel Tip: Bookings are highly recommended. Call them on 021 286 1099 to book your spot at their NEW Tasteroom and Brewery on 28 Caledon Street, Darling.
6. Eat your heart out, Darling!
One thing is for sure, you won’t go hungry in Darling and you won’t go thirsty. Grab a breakfast and a healthy glass of Kombucha at the Chicory Cheese Café and a light bite at The Flying Pig where they specialise in cured products. If you have a sweet tooth make sure to pay Darling Sweet a visit for delicious creamy old-fashioned handmade toffees and witness the whole process of toffee-making, cutting and packing. Bistro Seven’s warm ambiance is the perfect end after a day of exploring with hearty country-cooked meals and a great selection of fine wines.
The Marmalade Cat, Darling
Open daily for breakfast and lunch and on Friday nights for pizza, this unique eatery is popular with locals and visitors alike. Easy to spot on Darling’s main road, here guests are greeted by the enticing aromas of freshly baked goods and a kaleidoscope of gifts and collectables. Start your day with one of their delicious omelettes, enjoy a leisurely lunch in the flower-filled courtyard or pop in for afternoon tea – this quirky venue is sure to put a spring in your step. Contact: +27 (0)22 492 2515 | www.marmaladecat.co.za
Travel Tip: The new Darling Sweet is located in Darling’s original General Dealer Store (aka ‘Retief se Winkel’) built in 1900. Watch how they now make toffees here! The building is located in Long Street, off Main Road. The original Darling Farrier Building is located next to the HQ of Darling Toffees.
7. Take a stroll
Darling is a town best enjoyed at a slow pace, preferably on foot or with a bicycle. Stop by at the museum and sign up for the Darling Mystery Trail to make your stroll around town even more exciting. You will be provided with a map and riddles along the way to find the ideal trail to the treasure.
Travel Tip: Available 7 days a week. Add an extra 90min to your Darling visit and do the fun Darling Museum Mystery Trail. No need to book and starts from the museum on the corner of Hill and Pastorie Street.
8. Go the distance
There’s more to Darling than meets the eye. The !Khwa ttu San Culture & Education Centre is a short drive from town and offers an unique opportunity to experience and learn more about the San culture and heritage through a guided tour, a cultural display and even a language session with qualified San guides. If you want to experience nature (especially during flower season) head to the Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve or visit Yzerfontein for some fresh ocean air.
Travel Tip: !Khwa ttu is open 7 days a week. Make a restaurant booking for breakfast and lunch by calling them on 022 492 2998.
9. Adventure is out there
Darling is no stranger to adventure and the West Coast Way offers unique outdoor experiences with their multi-day slackpacking trails. Visitors can enjoy the best of the West Coast and walk through coastal villages, ride along scenic landscapes, soak in West Coast culture, indulge in home-cooked meals and taste the area’s best wines.
10. Get Festive
Darling is a festive town and boasts many ongoing events where all the people of Darling are involved in offering different acts including dance, musical and drama genres, comedy, storytelling and magic! A Saturday will often offer a pop-up restaurant in the Main Road, a music and beer festival at Darling Brew and a grand show at Evita se Perron.
Travel Tip: Find all the top events in the Cape West Coast on the West Coast Way events calendar
Darling is like a fine wine; sit back, raise your glass and enjoy everything this quaint town has to offer.
Where to stay:
Situated on a quiet, tree-lined street and built in 1890, Disa Lodge is one of the very first houses built in Darling. In the typical “farm house” style of that time, the building has beautiful wooden floors and high ceilings and all the charm of yesteryear. A large communal patio has a built-in braai and there is also a splash pool to cool you off in the heat of summer.
• Accommodation • Child Friendly • Braai Facilities • Pool • Trip Advisor • WiFi •
Where: Lang Street, Darling
Contact: +27 (0)22 492 3561 | [email protected] | www.disalodge.co.za
Darling Lodge Guesthouse
This beautifully restored Victorian country home is an oasis of peace and tranquillity. The main house, offers three individually decorated country style rooms and the more modern garden annex consists of three further generously appointed rooms with a grape-vine covered patio overlooking the sparkling pool.
• Swimming Pool • WiFi • Honesty Bar • Relaxing library • Concierge Services
Where: 22 Pastorie Street, Darling
Contact: +27 (0)22 492 3062 | www.darlinglodge.co.za | [email protected]
Take the road less travelled in the West Coast Way
For more information on West Coast Way Routes and the list of 101+ Things To See And Do in the Cape West Coast, visit our eventspage. Choose to go on a self-guided adventure drive by following the routes, or book an air-conditioned trip to top West Coast attractions in South Africa.