Memorable Markets: Top Country Markets to visit this year
2023 is already in full swing, and many of us may have set a New Year’s Resolution to get out and about more this year – to travel, make memories and experience all that this beautiful country has to offer. If you are planning your “experience itinerary” and are not already a regular at the multitude of country markets which attract visitors in their droves, then be sure to add this to your list of must-do’s!
Here are some ideas of must-visit markets right on Cape Town’s doorstep that are situated in gorgeous country locations that offer a jam-packed weekend away or day trip deluxe!
The CEX Community Market in the beautiful town of Porterville takes place every month and the next event will be on Saturday 12 February with a Valentine’s Day theme. Visitors can look forward to hand crafted wares, artisanal foods, arts, live music and warm country community hospitality. There truly is something for everyone at this market – invest in some art; stock up on, and taste, fresh local produce and other delicacies, enjoy a delicious snack, relax and savour small town life – the list goes on.
Porterville is an increasingly popular village nestled on the slopes of the Olifant’s River Mountains at the base of the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area. The area offers a variety of wonderful hiking trails and mountain bike routes. There is an uphill waterfall trail dotted with 22 waterfalls snaking their way down the mountainside, interspersed with crystal clear pools. Porterville boasts an artisanal gin distillery in the mountains above the town and a variety of eateries to suite all tastes in the village. An art experience is highly recommended as Porterville is home to a large community of artists.
A short drive from Porterville will take you into the mountains above the neighbouring town of Piketberg. The area, known as Piket-Bo-Berg, is home to a hugely popular monthly market which takes place from 9am to 12pm on the Kruistementvlei Farm on the last Saturday of every month – the next one takes place on 28 January. The Piket Bo-Berg Farmers Market has become an institution for locals and visitors alike – who are drawn to the hand-crafted items and delicious goodies, ranging from crispy croissants and baked treats to artisanal charcuterie meats and the valley’s own fresh fruit, as well as olive oil on tap and mead made the traditional way. There are also stalls that sell items such as books, olive products and beautifully crafted wooden games and items for the home.
The town of Piketberg itself, which is nestled at the foot of the Piketberg Mountain range, offers stunning natural surrounds and abundant outdoor activities for hikers, mountain bike enthusiast, trail runners and fun-seeking families. Piketberg boasts a unique and fascinating self-guided tour – the Piketberg Historical Route – which is the best way to experience the heritage of this town, with its meticulously restored cottages and the imposing neo-gothic style Dutch Reformed Church. A visit to Org-de-Rac, the local organic winery, is a must to sample their wine and cheese pairing, as well as the fresh oysters served with Methode Cap Classique.
And while in Piketberg, don’t miss Piketberg’s increasingly popular Last Friday – a food and art festival that takes place across the village on the last Friday of every month – the next event takes place on Friday 27 January. Visitors can expect a celebration of arts, culture, live music and delicious artisanal foods and drinks.
Piketberg’s neighbouring town of Goedverwacht, which was established in 1889 as a Moravian Mission station also offers a wonderful authentic market experience. The Goedverwacht Organic Market, next taking place on Saturday 5 March, offers fresh organic produce, food stalls, home-made products, freshly baked roosterkoek, tractor rides and more.
This fascinating little settlement, with its historic whitewashed thatched homes and brightly painted windows and doors, boast a beautiful old water mill – now the Mill Museum – a parsonage, as well as the imposing Moravian Church (all National Monuments). Visitors can also enjoy a picnic in the picturesque surrounds.
Not far from the towns of Piketberg and Goedverwacht is Koringberg, which hosts the wonderful monthly Farm Stall Market at the Desert Rose Farm Stall. The next market takes place on Saturday 11 February and market-goers can expect live music, wine and beer tasting, and sales, baked goods, fresh produce, delicious food, great coffee, arts and crafts, as well as a kids corner with face painting and a play area.
Moving further towards the coast, market and memory-making seekers will come to the town of Velddrif, and neighbouring Port Owen, with its monthly Port Owen Market (which takes place on the first Saturday of the month) that offers unique and local wares, as well as handmade artisanal products and fresh produce – all presented in the beautiful setting of the Port Owen mariner.
The popular West Coast village of Velddrif is one of the post popular bird-watching sites in South Africa, and the area offers abundant water-sports and fishing opportunities. The Fisheries Museum is well worth a visit to find out about the colourful history of the fishing industry along this coast. The area also offers 4×4’ing, hiking, mountain climbing, and more.
A boat cruise up the river is a must-do experience, and Bokkomlaan – the oldest road in the town that snakes up the edge of the Berg River – is a great place to relax and sip artisanal coffee or a cocktail. Also visit the art gallery and eclectic shops dotted along this quaint dirt road. Velddrif is a foodie’s paradise and some recommended experiences include wine and biltong tasting, Bokkom tasting, a craft beer tasting, gin tasting, and an artisanal cheese tasting.
From markets and bustling rural village life, to wide open spaces and breath-taking scenery, these towns within the Bergrivier region, situated right on Cape Town’s doorstep, have it all. Make 2023 one of your most travelled and memorable yet by getting out there and experiencing all that is on offer in this adventure capital – starting with the markets!
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