The best stops along South Africa's N1 highway

The thrill of the open road could be calling you, and what South African doesn't love a good road trip.

But if you're looking for something a little more hardcore - why no take on the whole of the N1, from Cape Town to the border of Zimbabwe or vice versa.

Along the way, you'll see a big chunk of South Africa across six provinces and there are many spots along the way that's worth a stop on this whirlwind tour.

SEE: World's longest wine route in South Africa features in Top 15 Instagram road trips 

Here are our top picks:

Western Cape

Stellenbosch Brewing Company

Just outside of the city limits this brewing company is right next to the highway on Joostenberg Farm where you can stock up on brewskis for your stayovers along the way.

Butterfly World

See the most beautiful insects and reptiles from around the world - and if you wear a little flowery perfume they might come and sit on you.

Paarl

The highway goes straight past the Boland town of Paarl, where many a wine farm and famous brandy distillery might entice you to stop over for the night. 

Slanghoek

This part of the Breedekloof Valley has the famous Goudini Spa right next to the N1, or try your hand at pasta making alongside lovely wine at Picardi Place. 

READ: #FindYourEscape: Run away from the city to Rawsonville 

De Doorns

This dorpie offers wine, padstal goodies, a golf club and nearby 4x4 trails if you want to step off the tar road for a bit.

Aquila Private Game Reserve

One of few Big 5 game reserves in the Western Cape, take a detour to see their wildlife or indulge in some self-care at their spa.

Matjiesfontein

A town stuck in time, this popular train stop is most well-known for its Lord Milner hotel serving up great breakfast and ghost stories.

Anglo Boer War Blockhouse

Just outside Laingsburg make a stop at this monument from a bygone era which is quite interesting to look at.

Beaufort West

Known as the Capital of the Karoo, this dorpie would make a great long stop to wander its streets, check out the local museum, see the dam and enjoy platteland cuisine.

READ: Jaffles, pancake, biltong and cheese: How to eat yourself silly in the Karoo 

Northern Cape

The Three Sisters

When you see the Three Sisters - distinct hills look very similar to each other - you'll know if you crossed provinces. 

Richmond

This small Karoo town has a horse museum, traditional farm fair and art galleries and projects that make it more than just a drive-through dorpie.

Karoo Padstal

Remember to stop at this adorable padstal just outside Richmond - worth turning off to the dusty road.

Hanover

A popular stopover for travellers of the N1, it's right in the middle of Cape Town and Johannesburg - opt for a stay in one of their classical Karoo guesthouses. 

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Colesberg

Go visit the local Colesberg Kemper Museum or dine out at the cutesy Inni Kraal Restaurant for classic local food.

Gariep Eco Reserve

Get a taste of the farm life at this guest farm, where cows and gemsbok wander the grounds while at night stars light up the Karoo night sky.

Orange River

Take a quick break at the bridge to take in South Africa's longest river, which is also the border between Northern Cape and the Free State.

READ: From fishing in Kroonstad to bird-watching in Bloem, discover the hidden gems of the Free-State 

Free State

Springfontein

In this farming town you can reflect on the past at the Springfontein Concentration Camp monument, buy snacks at the Kuilfontein Farm Stall and stay over at the Rondefontein Guest Farm.

Trompsburg

Slow down a bit in this town and recharge your batteries at the Snobs Coffee Roastery where they also offer tastings of their artisanal product. 

Tierpoortdam

Take a dip while stopping over at this dam, where you'll also find Tom's Place Resort for some watersports fun.

Mangaung

One of South Africa's capital cities, you'll see many spots along the highway that might pique your interest - like the Windmill Casino for some entertainment or stretch your legs in the Free State National Botanical Garden - both close to the N1. 

SEE: A Day in the City of Roses: 10 Things to love about Bloem 

Winburg

This is one of the oldest settlements in South Africa north of the Orange River and houses a lot of history - also check out Jakkalsdrift Padstal if you're hungry. 

Sandrivier

The river winding next to the N1 has a monument that commemorates the moment when Great Britain recognised the independence of the Boers north of the Vaal River. There's also a padstal and bundu camp.

Kroonstad

One of the bigger towns, it has a golf course and you can find Dutch stroopwafel at the Wafelhuys near the N1.

READ: What kind of long-distance driver are you? 

Gauteng

Vaal River

The river's bridge is the border between the Free State and Gauteng nearby Vanderbijlpark - this crossover has many holiday resorts for a stopover, good food at MiMi se Plaaskombuis and even a winery - Pont de Val.

Johannesburg

You've finally hit the big city, and will use the N1 Western Bypass through Roodepoort, Fourways and Woodmead - you can take any detours if you want.

Pretoria

Eventually you'll pass through Midrand to Pretoria through Menlyn - definitely stop for some food at Menlyn Maine near the N1.

Dinokeng Game Reserve

Across from Hammanskraal you'll find more wildlife at this game reserve if you're looking for something a little wilder than the city.

WATCH: A day in Pretoria for an easy weekend itinerary 

North West

Carousel Casino

This will be your quick stop in North West before the road hits Limpopo

Limpopo

Bela-Bela

With a quick detour you'll find the province's famous hot springs town - perfect for soaking your sore muscles from all the driving.

Mookgophong

Formerly known as Naboomspruit, this town has a golf course, 4x4 trails to check out and wondrous hiking trails like Bokpoort Pass when you've had enough of the car. 

Polokwane

The N1 winds past the capital of Limpopo, where the Meropa Casino and Entertainment World is situated right next to the highway.

SEE: Your guide to Limpopo’s best lodges for the ultimate in bush bliss 

Tropic of Capricorn

If you blink you might miss it - the N1 crosses the Tropic of Capricorn and you can take a selfie at the monument near Mphakane.

Louis Trichardt

Another of the province's big towns, you can opt to skip it for the natural beauty of Hanglip Forest Reserve just past it.

Nzhelele Nature Reserve

For a big stretch of the N1 it will pass through this reserve, and you might spot a few hiking trails or picnic spots along the way to let the weary soul rest.

Musina

You've finally made it to the end of the N1! Or this might just be your start - but either way celebrate with a drive through Musina Nature Reserve or drive right up to the Beit Bridge border post.

SEE: 5 Safari breaks just beyond SA’s borders 

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