The town of Heidelberg was established in 1855 after churchgoers got permission to build their own Dutch Reformed Church in the area. After negotiating with farm owner, Louis Fourie, they bought the farm Doornboom for 5000 pounds and Heidelberg was born. The town got its name from the Heidelberg catechism and the German town of Heidelberg. The town gives you an authentic hands-on nature and art experience with the Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve and Conservancy; Heidelberg Bird Route; Mountain Bike Trail Network; Inspired Creations; Nona Rosa Bush Camp, Hooikraal Tented Camp and Star Nation Art Studio. Travel off-the-beaten-track…it’s time to explore Heidelberg and the Explorer’s Garden Route. 

Situated on the banks of the Duivenhoks River, between the beautiful Langeberg Mountains and warm Indian Ocean, this quiet hamlet and second oldest town in the Hessequa lies in one of the most scenically preserved regions of the Western Cape. The town was established in 1855, forming around the Dutch Reformed church that drew farmers from as far afield as Swellendam and Riversdale. It was named in honour of the German town of Heidelberg, because of the Heidelberg catechism practiced in the church.

While it may have had a particularly pious beginning, there is a lot of humour and a sprinkling of wholesome mischief to be found among the residents who love a good story and are known to indulge in colourful descriptions of the characters and every day happenings of the area. During your sojourn you will no doubt get to experience ‘platteland’ lifestyle at its best – with slow organic cooking, long chats and leisurely exploration of the quaint art galleries, antique stores and coffee shops.

Heidelberg is also the gateway to Grootvadersbosch, one of South Africa’s most well-preserved indigenous forests and home to an array of mountain biking and hiking trails. The Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve is 250 hectares of indigenous forest along the Langeberg Mountain and was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004. The nature reserve is an excellent bird watching-, hiking-, and camping destination, with the spotting of bushbuck, baboons, yellowwood trees, the emperor butterfly and the rate ghost frog as highlights of your visit. 

The newly launched Heidelberg Bird Route will take you through a loop of areas covering the town centre and outskirts – with the spotting of bird species which calls Heidelberg their home. 

The town also boasts with unique farm stays and bush camp camping facilities which makes for the ideal authentic holiday. 


Quick facts

  • Founded: 1855
  • Population: 8 259

Heidelberg Info

Explorer’s Garden Route
Telephone: +27 (0)28 713 8000


Police: +27 (0)28 722 1910
Ambulance: 10177
Doctor: +27 (0)28 722 2034

Not to miss

  • Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve & Accommodation Site 
  • Newly Defined & African Pickers
  • Star Nation Art Studio
  • Biltong Factory
  • Fresh Frames & Bags
  • Nona Rosa Bush Camp 
  • Inspired and SOON Furniture
  • Grootvadersbosch Conservancy & MTB / Hiking Trails
  • Hooikraal Tented Camps
  • Akasha Retreat 
  • Skeiding Guest Farm 
  • Heidelberg Bird Route 
  • Day Trip to Slangriver and Witsand