Sizzling tips for a chilly winter weekend in Clarens

Summer may be all about swimsuits, sunbathing and sundowners, but winter in SA is no less exciting. One great way to spend your wintry weekends is to head out and explore some of the quirky highlights and quaint towns tucked away across the country.

And Clarens is right at the top of the list! Sitting pretty between bustling Jozi and sunny KZN, it’s no wonder the quaint town of Clarens is known as ‘the jewel of the Free State’. Picture avant-garde art galleries, eccentric craft stalls, charming coffee shops, trendy restaurants − and you’ve got the hottest spot to spend your winter weekend.

Here’s how you can get #HotInClarens this winter.

Go your own Way
The best way to get to know a little town like Clarens inside and out is to explore it on foot. Take a stroll and discover hidden gems around every corner. Pop in for a quick coffee at an offbeat eatery, soak up the lovely scenery in the town square and meet some locals at the German craft brewery. Don’t want to miss a thing? Pick up a copy of the “Clarens and Surrounds Visitors Guide” for an in-depth look at the town’s many attractions.

Get Arty
Clarens isn’t known as the “art mecca of South Africa” for nothing! With over 20 local art galleries to choose from, even the most discerning art buffs will find a masterpiece or two to satisfy their culture craving.

Feeling creative? Pop in to one of the craft shops for a beginner’s art class, or simply shop for a beautiful souvenir to take home from your trip.

Choose your own Adventure
More of an adventurer than an artist? Clarens has plenty to offer you too! Choose from a range of heart-racing activities including zip lining, archery, water rafting and abseiling. Then catch your breath with a scenic hot air balloon ride over the mountains or a leisurely game of golf. Contact Clarens Xtreme or Outrageous Adventures to get your adrenalin going.

Take a Hike
Surrounded by the impressive Maluti Mountains, Clarens truly is a hiker’s paradise. Go for a light stroll with the family throughout the lower gentle slopes. Or get your blood pumping with a challenging hike up the steeper cliffs. Purchase a map of the hiking trails from the local hotels and shops, or get more information online from the Clarens Village Conservancy.

For game drives, horse-back riding and dramatic mountain hikes, don’t miss a trip to the beautiful Golden Gate Highlands National Park nearby.

Turn up the Heat
After a long day on your feet, adventuring or exploring the outdoors in the cold winter weather, you’ll need something tasty to take the chill off.

Protea Hotel by Marriott Clarens has whipped up a one-of-a-kind menu of indulgent hot cocktails that will have you feeling toasty in no time. Try the decadent “Cookie Monster” with hot chocolate, chocolate liqueur and chocolate Oreos. Or savour the “Mexican Coffee” with coffee and coffee tequila for an extra kick, topped with whipped cream, caramel sauce, cinnamon and churros. Since the area is famous for its cherries, we’ve created the “HOT ‘Popping’ Cherries” shake with hot chocolate, cherry liqueur and creamy Amarula, topped with cream, a maraschino cherry, and caramel cherry popcorn. Yum!

Whether you drink your hot cocktails virgin or with an alcoholic kick, they’re guaranteed to beat the winter chills. Cheers!