It's a town people tend to pass through on their way to the Garden Route. But by only stopping for a milkshake or a quick bite to eat, you miss the essence of this wonderful place.
I insist you stay a night or two.
Barrydale is a small dorpie, located on the border of the Overberg and Klein Karoo regions of the Western Cape. And it is as klein dorpie as it gets!
About three hours from Cape Town, the drive on the R62 is one that should be done slow and steadily. Stop off in Robertson on the way to pick up some wine at Graham Beck or Springfield, or grab a homemade pie at one of the many farm stalls on your way, like Affieplaas Farm Stall.
Montagu is also on your way, so be sure to stop and take a quick walk through this beautiful historic town flanked by the Langeberg mountains. The retro Montagu Country Hotel is also a must visit for tea.
Entering Barrydale, the main road plays host to an OK Grocer, the local church, the hotel and, of course, a few liquor stores. But the charm of the town is truly found in its people, who are friendly, open, and who are sure to approach you asking you where you are from.
Because here, everyone knows everyone.
Entering the liquor store to buy a few beers to drink on our Airbnb's veranda in the Karoo heat, the sales assistant immediately states, "You are not from here...welcome!"
The other 'main road' is Tennant Street, which is lined with eateries where you can grab a gourmet milkshake, a burger or some freshly baked roosterkoek. Also visit the Barrydale Weavers for handmade goods that are out of this world!
The Blue Cow is excellent for breakfast, as here you have a stunning view of the valley. Fresh croissants, good coffee and a view - what more do you need?
Oh, and be sure to expect in-depth conversations with the bubbly staff. Right off the bat, you are part of the family as you find yourself discussing the area's drought, meet the town's superstar learner who passed Matric with five distinctions, and chat about the nearby attractions as if you've known each other for years.
Then head for dinner at Mez Karoo Kitchen for some authentic country-style grub after you've grabbed drinks at the Karoo Art Hotel. Sit on the stoep with your G&T and let that Klein Karoo feeling wash over you.
Go swimming in the Tradouw Pass which joins the towns of Barrydale and Swellendam. Here, you feel truly isolated, without feeling scared. The wonderfully rugged terrain allows you to immerse yourself in nature as you swim, suntan and sit there, stumped by the beauty that surrounds you.
Barrydale is a great place to pass through, sure. Though, pit-stopping here for a few days gives you pause. The pause you sometimes need in life, the perspective that only nature can give you, and interactions with people who are just as much in need of your tourism as any other small town in South Africa.