The town was founded by the Dutch East India Company in 1745 in order to exercise control over independent frontiersmen who migrated over the Hottentots Holland Mountains at the beginning of the 18th century. A landdrost was appointed and a Drostdy and other building were erected. The district and town were named after the reigning Governor of the Cape, Hendrik Swellengrebel, and his wife, Helena Ten Damme. 

In time, a village was established opposite the Drostdy, across the Koornlands River, where artisans, including numerous wainwrights, and traders settled. To travellers and explorers, the services of these village folk were indispensable, as Swellendam was the last outpost of civilisation on the eastern frontier. By the middle of the 19th century, the eastern districts had been colonized by the British settlers and Swellendam was a thriving metropolis. The town served as a useful refreshment station on the long, slow journey up the coast.

Explore Swellendam

Cultural Activities

Cultural Activities

There are many old buildings dating back to the 18th century, with more built during the town's boom years in the mid-19th century. The town has some interesting 20th century buildings, most noteworthy being the Dutch Reformed 'Moederkerk' with its eclectic architectural features, including Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque & vernacular Cape elements.

Arts and Crafts

Arts and Crafts

The open-air complex of the Drostdy Museum consists of several historic buildings including official, town and country dwellings. The Drostdy itself reflects the official history of the district from a Dutch East India Company outpost to a prosperous town under British Colonial Rule. It is renowned for its fine collection of late 18th and early 19th century Cape furniture. There are restaurants, a craft shop and a gallery at this complex.

Adventure and Sports

Adventure and Sports

All the usual sporting facilities are available and visitors are welcome to join the members at the various clubs. In addition, horse-riding, gliding, canoeing and other water sports can be arranged. Rafts for larger groups are on the Buffeljachts Dam and also the Breede River. There are also mountain bike trails in the area.

Nature and Outdoor

Nature and Outdoor

Scenic routes may be followed along the foothills of the mountains (swimming opportunities along the way) or through the nearby Bontebok National Park. 

Living in Swellendam

Areas near to Swellendam

Arabella Country Estate, Arniston, Bettys Bay, Bredasdorp, Caledon, Cape Agulhas, Elgin, Gansbaai, Greyton, Hermanus, Kleinmond, Napier, Onrus, Pringle Bay, Rooi Els, Stanford, Struisbaai, Villiersdorp,


The peaceful atmosphere of Swellendam, where people of all races live in harmony, is probably the reason people want to stay here. Its inhabitants have changed over the years and are mostly people from the city requiring the quietness of the country and elderly people who are retiring. 


The climate in Swellendam is very mild with a summer temperature average of 29ºC and a winter average of 17ºC.


You’ll find a range of healthcare professionals, from dentists to doctors and physios, as well as the Swellendam Hospital and clinic. 


Swellendam is just over 2.5 hours away from Cape Town International Airport.

Overberg festival 28-30 October 2016

“Swellendam has much to offer, and notably has been recognised for its well-run municipality, earlier this year receiving a Certificate of Excellence from the Auditor General as well as a Gold Certificate of Excellence from the Western Cape government. The cherry on top was the town also being declared the best municipality in South Africa.”




For example Camps Bay or Mauritius