Famous for its spring flowers, this charming village also hosts numerous festivals that attract tourists and day-trippers all year long.
When someone mentions West Coast spring flowers, Darling is one of the first places to come to mind. The small farming town is known for the Darling Wildflower Show and the flower reserves on surrounding farmland that become a glorious carpet of colour in August and September. It’s on the map year-round for overseas visitors and local weekenders, and while it retains its rural appeal and friendly village charm, it’s no longer a sleepy backwater.
“We’ve seen a lot of changes over the years. Darling used to be the kind of place where people had a weekend cottage, whereas now a lot more families are living here and putting down roots,” says Dianne le Roux, who has lived in the area for 30 years. “It’s close enough to Cape Town to be able to commute, and a number of people do. Others find things to do in the town, like opening a restaurant or an artisan business. Tourism is quite big in Darling.”
Within the town, artisans Darling Brew, Udderly Delicious Darling, Darling Sweet, and The Flying Pig charcuterie provide plenty of local flavour. Add to that an independent wine merchant, a thriving bookshop and a country museum and you can easily while away a day exploring.
“Our guests love that everything is within walking distance,” says Stephan Moser, Darling Lodge Guest House. “And the old village is just a gem when it comes to picturesque gardens and Victorian houses.”
Visitors keep coming back to the area for the series of annual events on offer, such as the Darling Wildflower Show in September, the Rocking the Daisies music festival at nearby Cloof Wine Estate in October, and the Taste of Darling festival of beer, wine, food, music and art in April. And Darling’s very own theatre, Evita Se Perron, attracts weekend visitors as Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout, aka Pieter- Dirk Uys, entertains with trenchant wit and cabaret flamboyance.
But it’s the tranquillity and surrounding nature that attract permanent residents. “We wanted to be a quick drive away from Cape Town,” says Nina Monda, Maison de L’amour guest house. “Darling seems very far away, but yet is so close. We love the quiet village life.”
And with the beach at Yzerfontein and the beautiful Langebaan Lagoon in the West Coast National Park a short drive away, and rolling farmland all around, Darling offers an enviable country lifestyle.
We love the quietness, nature and the wonderful people, whether they belong to old Darling families or have moved to Darling from other parts of the country or even from overseas.
-Stephan Moser, Darling, Lodge Guest House.
Things to do in Darling, Western Cape:
- Visit Evita Se Perron cabaret theatre restaurant and be entertained by Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout.
- Enjoy a family-friendly treasure hunt on the Darling Mystery Trail.
- Visit the Darling Museum and learn about the area's rich history.
- Enjoy a tasting experience at Darling Olives.
- Visit !Khwa ttu for an insight into San culture and history.
- Explore the mountain bike trails at Wolwefontein and !Khwa ttu.
- Visit the Groote Post Country Market on the last Sunday of the month for delicious and beautiful country offerings.
- See beautiful orchids during open days at Duckitt Nurseries.
Eating out in Darling, Western Cape
- Darling Brew Tasteroom: for a casual lunch with great beers
- Bistro Seven: for affordable and fresh country cooking
- The Marmalade Cat: for tasty lunches, and wood-fired pizza on Friday nights
- The Flying Pig: for delicious deli products and West Coast roasted coffee
- Chicory Cheese Cafe: for fresh baked goods
- Brig’s Barn: for delicious desserts
- Cafe Mosaic: for tasty bistro and cafe fare
- Hilda’s Kitchen at Groote Post: for delicious country food
Wine estates near Darling, Western Cape
- Groote Post
- Cloof Wine Estate
- Darling Cellars
Darling is not just popular with tourists, many families are buying property in Darling and moving to the town permanently.
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.