Things to do in Nieu Bethesda
  • Nieu Bethesda

Last Updated: March 2017

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  • Longitude: 24.552565813065
  • Latitude: -31.867207309027
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About Things to do in Nieu Bethesda

Nieu Bethesda is overlooked by Compassberg, the highest mountain in the Eastern Cape, and is lined on either side by hills.  In this fertile valley lies a village waiting to enchant and beguile.  Night skies are clear, velvety and unforgettable and the air is crisp and enlivening. Ancient pear trees and quince hedges edge the roads and fields. And even though the village has no streetlights, it is safe to walk at any time of the day or night.  An eternal spring bubbles on the plateau just above Nieu Bethesda. Its water rises up from the village to flow downhill and through the village’s network of furrows, one of the last working furrow systems still operating daily. The babble of water is a fitting soundtrack to the serene pace of life in this small village, where the streets remain untarred and the locals greet visitors like friends.

1.  Visit the weird, wonderful and world famous Owl House created by Helen Martins in the 50’s and made famous by Athol Fugard in “The Road to Mecca”.

2.  Pop in at the James Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre situated next to the Owl House and learn more about South Africa 253 million years ago during the Permian Period.  Take a half-hour stroll with a guide to the nearby Gats River bed to find real fossils.

3.  Visit Ganora Guest Farm's Fossil Museum and go on a fossil and rock art walk

4.  Climb the Compassberg (highest free-standing peak in the Cape)

5.  Walk to the spring or just follow the leivore (forrow system) around the village

6.  Jakob’s Donkey Cart Tours - You can’t miss Jakob van Staden as he rides the most distinctive transport in the village. Leaving from the Owl House, Jacob’s guided tour includes Pienaarsig and is a highlight of any visit to Nieu Bethesda. Prior bookings essential

7.  Browse through local Art Galleries

  • Frans Boekkooi’s Sculpture Studio and Gallery - Meet this acclaimed sculptor and see work by top Eastern Cape artists in the adjoining gallery
  • Nieu Ceramics Studio & Gallery - Acclaimed SA artist Charmaine Haines works within the realm of figurative clay, using abstract and stylised symbols and motives to embellish her sculptural and utility forms. Martin Haines produces plates and platters in a rich peasant pottery style.
  • First People Artists @ the Bethesda Arts Centre - The First People Artists are a collective of fifteen professional artists from the township community in Nieu Bethesda. Trained at, and working full-time from the Arts Centre, they work collaboratively in textiles, printing, and sculpture.

8.  Search for a book in Dust Covers Bookshop.  This welcome addition to the village offers a large variety of books in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Pop in for a cup of coffee and a chat, and if there is any book that you have been searching for, Victoria will find it for you!

9.  Discover locally Karoo brewed craft beer, locally made farm cheeses and hand roasted coffees at the Sneeuberg Microbrewery and 2 Goats Deli.

10.  Wander through the local Cemetery - With graves dating back hundreds of years, many of them unmarked save for their beautiful local stone, this is a peaceful and pretty place to spend a quiet time. 

11.  Discover the historic Dutch Reformed Church still lit by gas chandeliers that pre-date the arrival of electricity in the town, the imposing white church asserts its presence over the entire valley.

12.  Enjoy Nieu-Bethesda's wide range of food options at one of the local restaurants and eateries.

  • The Karoo Lamb - Enjoy local Karoo lamb, venison and seasonal vegetable in this colourful establishment opposite the Owlhouse.  Open for teas and coffee, breakfast, lunch & dinner.
  • Antie Evelin se Plek - Traditional food served with township style. Antie Evelin lives in Pienaarsig (the township area) where she operates her restaurant from home. In summer meals are served on her stoep overlooking the community sports field; in winter you sit in a gaily painted tin shack, warmed by a heater and the adjacent oudoor stove. The menu varies and could include traditional bredies, samp-and-beans, roosterkoek and lekker poeding.
  • Bruno's Alfresco Pizzeria Restaurant - World Famous in Nieu-Bethesda and serving the best pizza's around
  • The Ibis Lounge - The Ibis Lounge is open for meals seven days a week, from 8am to 8pm (or late), and has a diverse menu that includes lamb shank, oxtail, steak, vegetarian and burgers.  Try their 26 different varieties of coffee, delicious home-made dessert, cake, pies and ice-cream. We have credit card facilities.

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