Jagged mountains and gnarled old oaks, the curve of a Cape Dutch gable, long rows of vineyards or fruit trees, a farm dam – these are the memories you’ll bring home from Tulbagh. In the Cape Winelands just a 90-minute drive from Cape Town, it’s a place to discover history and magnificent scenery, to explore 17 things to do in Tulbagh.
2. Visit a museum
Quick tip: Tulbagh Tourism’s info centre is in the same building so it makes a good place to start. Pick up a map of the town and surrounding area and attractions.
At 14 Church Street is a Victorian Period House that depicts the lifestyle of the rural middle-class family at this time, with its dark velvet drapes, florid wallpaper and overstuffed chairs.
22 Church Street, built in 1803, was originally a postmaster’s house and is now the Pioneer House Museum. There’s a red-walled period kitchen with open hearth, a simple room with rietdak ceiling, a more formal voorkamer with wooden ceiling, and an eclectic collection of old kitchen implements, furniture and china.
3. Stay over
4. Go wine-tasting
At Lemberg, you’ll be greeted by rows of white roses if you visit in October as we did. The modern tasting room offers a chance to savour wines named after the estate’s dogs, like Lady, Spencer and Louis. Lemberg produces wine from the harsevelu cultivar, so unusual and sought-after that there was none left for tasting. They were particularly proud of the Tim Atkin (master of wine) score of 95 recently awarded to the Louis 2015 blend.
Montpellier wine estate is a must if only to appreciate its gorgeous little chapel in the vineyards and its restful garden. Unlike Lemberg or Saronsberg, the tasting room here is in a historical old Cape Dutch gabled house, or you can sit in the garden to enjoy your tasting. Apart from Krone, where the tasting was free, this was the cheapest at R45 (though we bought six bottles so didn’t pay the tasting fee).
5. Wine by Bike
6. Do an olive oil tasting
You get to taste plump kalamata olives, a delicious tapenade made with capers instead of anchovies (it’s less fishy and slightly less salty than usual, which I liked), as well as two cold-pressed extra virgin olive oils – delicate and intense. Oakhurst uses up to ten different varieties like leccino, frantoio and carotina in the oil blend for complexity. The delicate oil is very buttery but with a peppery bite in the back of the throat. The intense oil is stronger flavoured and also peppery on aftertaste.
We bought a litre of olive oil, a few jars of tapenade and a 250ml bottle of oil as a gift.
7. Enjoy a relaxing spa treatment
8. Explore the art route
9. Indulge your chocolate passion
You can do a tasting/pairing of three chocs of your choice, paired with tea, coffee, Amarula, port or brandy. The tea pairing is R40, brandy R60 and the rest all R50. With two of us selecting three chocolates each, we got to taste six different ones before deciding what to buy for later. Some flavours included marzipan, Amarula, Dutch caramel, cappuccino, lime and eikeberry.
Given how charming and helpful Berry was, how delicious the quality chocolates and how peaceful the setting on a farm, this was another highlight. The tot of Amarula didn’t hurt either.
Quick tip: A craft brewery will open soon near Moniki at Klipfontein once it gets its licence.
10. Go hiking
11. Go horse-riding
12. Eat out
The Olive Terrace at the Tulbagh Hotel on Van der Stel Street is a very popular venue so you might need to book ahead on the weekend. The prize seats here are definitely on the pretty terrace, but you can sit inside if the weather doesn’t co-operate. Our hake-and-chips and pork belly filled our tummies but the crackling was like leather.
[Update May 2018: the famous Paddagang has now reopened under new management and a friend reports that the 'ambience is seriously cosy' and it is 'serving the kind of food you're happy to travel from the Cape to experience'.]
13. Go on a tractor ride
14. Zipline the cobwebs away
15. See a Boer War blockhouse
16. Visit Bosjes chapel and gardens
17. Drive Bains Kloof Pass
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