5 Reasons to Explore Stellenbosch

Stellies, as Stellenbosch is fondly called by the locals, is a historic town in the heart of the scenic Cape Winelands. This pretty university town has a mellow, yet vibrant feel to it, offering a nice balance between relaxation and excitement.

Here are five reasons to get inspired in Stellenbosch, located a mere 50 kilometres from Cape Town.

1. Wine Not?

One of five wine regions across the globe to be nominated for the 2013 ‘Wine Region of the Year’ category of the international Wine Star Awards. The Stellenbosch Wine Route has made it onto the Wine Enthusiast Magazine shortlist, a real honour as this is the largest wine and lifestyle magazine in the world.

Wine tasting by Damien du Toit

The Stellenbosch Wine Route is one of the pioneering regions of the South African wine industry, considered one of the most important. This locally and internationally acclaimed wine region is also one of South Africa’s oldest and has been producing fine wines for over four decades now.

Stellenbosch is the largest of the Cape’s three wine routes, the other two official routes being Paarl and Constantia. The Stellenbosch area is particularly known for its top-class Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, as well as its Chenin Blanc.

The Stellenbosch Wine Route is home to some 140 wineries!

The following are just a few examples of wine tasting combination tours to be indulged in:

  • Wine and chocolate – Waterford Estate in Stellenbosch
  • Wine and cheese – Fairview Wine Estate and Simonsberg Estate
  • Wine and olives – L’Olivier Wine and Olive Estate
  • Wine and nuts or wine and biltong – Stellenbosch Hills Wine Estate

Most of the wine farms also offer divine snacks and tasty cuisine to accompany your wine tasting experience.

You can also set off on a wine tasting by bicycle tour or go horse riding in the vineyards.

Wine farm in Stellenbosch by slack12

2. An Artsy Scene

Stellenbosch features an impressive assortment of art galleries, local crafts shops and boutique stores.

Peruse the array of art galleries, including: Die Dorpstraat Gallery, Smac Art Gallery, Stellenbosch Art Gallery, Art On 5 Studio Gallery, The Fine Art Gallery, The Studio Gallery, Coetzee Johan Art Gallery, Kanonkop Gallery and Hess Museum of Contemporary Art. Or simply walk around this quaint town browsing local arts and crafts, gift shops and boutiques. Some of the wine estates even boast their own art collections.

Gallery by Steve Crane

3. For the Nature, Oaks

Surrounded by nature, Stellenbosch (known as the town of oaks), offers visitors plenty of nature and outdoor activities. You can choose the outdoor experience that suits you best, whether it be a stroll in the vineyards, a hike in the fynbos covered hills or trekking in the surrounding mountains.

Go hiking, mountain biking or fishing in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, and even try downhill mountain biking on Delvera wine farm. Other activities range from hang-gliding, hot air ballooning and abseiling to canoeing, horse riding and spring flower tours.

Jonkershoek by Jono Hey

Stellenbosch is also a great destination for golfing in scenic natural surroundings, hosting three world-class golf courses.

At Spier Wine Estate you can go on a Segway tour through the vineyards and visit Eagle Encounters, a rehabilitation and release project for birds of prey. Or explore Stellenbosch and surrounds on horseback, setting off from the Eagles View Equestrian Centre at Klein Lanzerac.

4. It’s History

Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa, hosting old Cape Dutch architecture, and a list of monuments and heritage sites longer than your arm.

Cape Dutch House by Anne-Lise Heinrichs

You can take a guided historic tour, walking through Stellenbosch from historical residence to national monument to museum. Visit the Village Museum and Voorgelegen, a 19th century Georgian home flanked by historic houses on both sides.

Take a walk down Dorp Street, the most historic street in town, where the early 18th century home, La Gratitude, is found. Explore the antique shops, visiting Stellenbosch Antiques (the oldest antiques spot in town) and Oom Samie se winkel for antiques, as well as local arts and crafts.

Historic highlights include the Rhenish Complex, considered one of South Africa’s most noteworthy restoration projects, and D’Ouwe Werf, one of the oldest boardinghouses in the nation.

Heritage Building by Clive Reid

5. Foodie Delights

Eat out:

Stellenbosch is packed with a dizzying variety of superb restaurants and side-walk cafes to delight the foodie.

Choices range from hearty traditional Afrikaans meals, to stylish and contemporary cuisine and the real African dining experience. Hop from deli to deli sampling local specialities and treats, tuck into mouthwatering country dishes or snack to your hearts content on the wine farms.

Go to the markets:

  • For all foods fresh and local go to the Stellenbosch Slow Food Market on a Saturday morning. Sample homemade confectioneries and treats, as well as micro-brewed beer and of course, wines. Goodies include organic vegetables, fruits, breads, meats, cheeses, pastries and olives.
  • The Blaauklippen Family Market is held on Sundays, selling interesting foods, fresh produce, plants, craft beer, homemade goods and wines from the estate.
  • The Slaley Farm Market, on the last Sunday of every month, is another family-friendly market selling fresh produce, biltong and baked goods, among other local delights.
  • The Woodmill Night Market on the last Friday of every month features live music and events, along with delicious food, drinks and luxury lifestyle products.
  • Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market with its super fresh fruit and vegetables, flowers, snacks, wines, cheeses and chocolates, along with artworks and more.

Delicious treats in every corner by SAVenues

Have a picnic:

Soak up the beauty of Stellenbosch and its wine farms by going on a picnic beside a stream, overlooking a lake, in an orchard or inside a nature reserve. Several wine estates offer gourmet picnics in beautiful settings, including Spier, Hartenberg, Hazendal, Longridge, Warwick and Waterford. Alternatively you can shop at the local delis and grocers and head into nature on your own.

You can also visit the Mooiberge Strawberry Farm to pick strawberries in season and, of course, feast to your hearts content at many of the wine estates!

Find out more about the Cape Winelands.