One of our favourite places to visit – Clarens is situated in the eastern Free State at the foot of the Mulati mountains. It has positioned itself as a creative hub and is full of art galleries, furniture makers, crafters and artists.
Most of the places to rest and play are situated around the village square in buildings made from the local sandstone, with the Rooiberge forming the backdrop. There are lovely shops to browse, good places to eat and a great craft brewery where you can do a beer and cider tasting.
Clarens reportedly has the best trout fishing waters in South Africa – but not being fishermen, will leave it for those who are to discover!
Hedonist Hippy Recommends
The Artist’s Cafe – coffee and eatery situated in the Windmill Centre in a lovely stone building under corrugated roof. Good coffee and breakfasts!
278 on Main – slightly off the square but worth finding. Charming building with “lounge” area on stoep complete with chandeliers hanging from the corrugated roof. Comfort food all day is their credo.
Blou Donki gallery/Johan Smith gallery – owned by the same people and showcasing a good cross selection of art. Closed Tuesdays.
Dahla Hulme Gallery – showcasing her work that’s made in their workshop in Rosendal. Fantastic furniture creations and sculptures in a mixture of wood, glass and metal. Also featuring stunning lithographs by Kobus Rossouw and oils by Grace Cotzee.
Art & Wine Gallery – at the top of the square, one side houses a great contemporary art gallery and one side a boutique wine shop that sells some delicious vintages from around the country. Tasting of wines is also available.
Mona Lisa Garment gallery – find this decadent garment gallery in the Windmill Centre – gorgeous vintage clothing at reasonable prices.
Clarens Brewery – 6 different home-brews to choose from or taste. Great building and basic menu of sausages and rolls or cheese/meat platters. Open 7 days a week.
It’s worth basing yourself here for a day or two to experience this “jewel in the Free State” properly and to use as a base to wander the country roads or visit the nearby Golden Gate National Park (https://www.sanparks.org/parks/golden_gate/).
For accommodation choices and more information, visit their tourism website https://clarens.co.za
Where to find it