An artist’s dream and adventurer’s paradise – welcome to Clarens

22 Sep 2016

Are you looking to get away? Do you feel the need to be inspired by the charms of a small town and to lose yourself in the most breathtaking scenery? The Free State holds many wonders, one of which is the ever-enchanting town of Clarens. 

Situated next door to the beautiful Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the mighty Drakensberg, Clarens is what can be described as “artist’s hideout”. You can easily see why the creative souls of the world feed off its unique charms.

The town proper

The town itself is a buzz of local arts, restaurants and general relaxation. Sink your teeth into a homey pub lunch, sip on craft beer from the local brewery and then find all the arts and crafts your creative heart could desire.

It’s not a big place. You can easily walk the length and breadth of Clarens in an hour, but that’s not why you’re here. You’re here to take it easy. You’re here to amble through and forget about all the stresses of life at home. This is what small towns like Clarens are for. They help you appreciate the value of slowing down.

Many of the homes, restaurants and shops in Clarens were crafted from sandstone, contributing to the town’s appeal. Make a point of popping into the local arts and crafts stores. Ask about the Artists Amble, a fun route that incorporates a number of galleries run by local artists. If you’re in the mood for shopping, be sure to check out the colourful traditional Basotho blankets, and other arts and crafts found in pretty much every corner.

Ask any of the store owners for a copy of the local community magazine, “The Speckled Bean”, which has loads of information on activities in Clarens, as well as insights into various social and community projects in the area.

Adventure and scenery

Once you’ve got the slow life down, you may want to get out and explore the surrounding areas. When it comes to this part of the Free State, this is the height of the province’s beauty. If you haven’t heard of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, here are a few windows into what you’re missing:


We all know that beautiful scenery tends to go hand-in-hand with incredible adventures. Nowhere is this truer than here. Obviously there are many hikes to traverse as you make your way up and down the mountainous terrain. It’s also the perfect place for cycling, game driving, trout fishing, birding and just good-old exploration. 

You can also get your adrenaline pumping with a little white-water rafting. Going down this 18km stretch of the Ash River will take you about a day (or a half-day on the 9km option). The river has grade three and four rapids, including the Car Wash, Fish Pond and Big Surprise (because the river makes a 90-degree bend and then, surprise, there’s a waterfall).

The time is now

If this sounds like the ideal getaway for you, then don’t hold back. There are plenty of travel options. Check out some of our amazing Clarens-related travel deals