Hermanus Travel Guide

Experience the Elegance of Hermanus: Where Scenic Beauty Meets Culinary Excellence

Hermanus is a picture-postcard destination in every sense of the word: just 122km from Cape Town, this gorgeous town boasts incredible scenery, astounding views, one of South Africa’s most stunning national parks, and a surfeit of excellent bars and restaurants guaranteed to satisfy even the fussiest of gastronomes. The nearby Hemel-en-Aarde Valley is the source of South Africa’s finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Today, Hermanus is a thriving and universally popular resort town, yet its history is relatively short by the standards of the Western Cape. The wider region was first discovered in the 15th Century when the Portuguese explorer Bartholomeu Dias sailed to the Cape from West Africa. His successor, Vasco de Gama, sailed past what we today know as Cape Town. However, the Portuguese explorer Antonio de Saldanha was the first to coin the name Table Mountain in the 16th Century.

The Arrival of European Settlers

In the 17th Century, the Western Cape rapidly became a magnet for European settlers and religious groups, such as Huguenots (protestants) looking to escape persecution in their native France. They were welcomed to the Cape with open arms, mainly as they boasted valuable viticultural expertise primarily responsible for kick-starting the thriving wine industry South Africa enjoys today.

In the early 19th Century, the British (one of the key groups involved in colonizing the Cape) annexed the region in 1806. Of course, this immediately caused escalating tensions with the Boers (descendants of the Dutch settlers) and the native Zulu tribes, who eventually went to war in 1880.

However, earlier that Century, a Dutch teacher, Hermanus Pieters, arrived in what we today know as Hermanus in 1815 and settled in the town of Caledon. He was recruited by Dutch farmers, concerned that the English language was taking over the local culture, to teach Dutch to the next generation of farmers and their children.

The Discovery of Hemel-en-Aarde Valley

Pieters is also credited with ‘discovering’ the Hemel-en-Aarde valley – known then as Elephant’s Pass – as the perfect site for farmers to graze their livestock in the summer months. After that, a growing number of farmers took his lead, including fishermen who helped to turn Hermanus into a permanent settlement in the 19th Century.

The settlement was originally named Hermanuspietersfontein until 1902, when the postmaster shortened the name to just Hermanus – the thriving fishing village subsequently received official municipality status in 1904. Yet its future prosperity would not derive from fishing but from tourism and its reputation as an ideal location for rest and recuperation spread by doctors in London. In 1902, the town’s first hotel, The Victoria, opened and soon became a massive hit with the British upper classes looking to escape the dreaded winter back home.

Meanwhile, after the defeat of the Boers in the Second Boer War, a new era dawned for Cape Town after the Union of South Africa was created in 1910. Sadly, much of the 20th Century in South Africa would subsequently be defined by apartheid, a political movement to divide the nation based on color and ethnicity.

The New Era of Hermanus

Thankfully, in the early 1990s, recently elected president FW de Klerk set about dismantling apartheid, and Nelson Mandela became president of a newly united and optimistic South Africa in 1994. Since that day, Hermanus has prospered as a major tourist destination and a gateway to the magnificent Hemel-en-Aarde wine region – perhaps the greatest source of Pinot Noir outside of Burgundy. Indeed, the region’s beautiful wineries and vineyards are a fitting introduction to Hermanus itself; prosperous, proud, and inviting, they are a suitable poster child for South Africa today.


  • A Fusion of Cultures in the Cuisine
    A Fusion of Cultures in the Cuisine

    Gastronomy and Wine


  • Hamilton Russell Vineyards

    The jewel in the crown of the magnificent Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, Hamilton Russell is producing some of the finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in South Africa today. Run by the congenial Anthony Hamilton Russell, this superstar winery welcomes visitors with open arms.

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  • Fernkloof Nature Reserve

    The Western Cape’s most beautiful national park, Fernkloof is famous for the variety of its flora and fauna, not to mention the stunning views of Walker Bay. A must-visit for any nature lover.

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  • Whale watching

    Hermanus is the Western Cape’s whale-watching capital; September and October are the best months for spotting the world’s most majestic animals, with regular trips from Hermanus.

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More information

If you would like us to customize an exclusive luxury tour, contact us and let us know your travel plans. We offer luxury food and wine tours for private groups of a mininium two guests. In addition, all of our private, chauffeured tours are available year-round upon request.

Cellar Tours Private Luxury Food & Wine Tours

Cellar Tours

Welcome to Cellar Tours, the premier Luxury Travel Specialist since 2003. Our goal is to provide you with the ultimate food and wine vacation experience, with exclusive Mercedes chauffeured tours that showcase the best of local cuisine and wines.

Our team specializes in crafting bespoke, custom-designed vacations, events, and incentives tailored to your unique tastes and preferences. Travel is not just about seeing new places - it's about creating unforgettable memories and indulging in the finer things in life.

As members of Slow Food, OTAVA (Travel Agency Association in Spain), and the IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals), we promote sustainable tourism and support local communities. We work closely with top-rated hotels, restaurants, and wineries to provide you with the highest level of service and attention to detail.

Whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or a corporate retreat, let Cellar Tours be your guide. With our passion for food and wine, extensive knowledge of local culture, and dedication to exceptional customer service, we're confident we can exceed your expectations.

Contact us today to start planning your dream vacation – we can't wait to hear from you!

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