Known as the City of Oaks thanks to trees planted centuries ago, South Africa’s Stellenbosch is a must on any Western Cape itinerary. It’s ideal for weekend getaways from Cape Town too. Think historic Cape Dutch buildings, wine farms and mountains, art galleries and restaurants – there’s no shortage of things to do in Stellenbosch.
1. Pop in to the Tourism Info Centre
Start your visit at the Tourism Info Centre at 47 Church Street to pick up a map of Stellenbosch’s main centre. If you ask nicely, the staff can also highlight things to do that suit your particular interests, whether you’re inclined to the historic, cultural or action-packed.
2. Take a walking tour
3. Visit Oom Samie se Winkel
4. Visit the Village Museum
Don’t miss the Village Museum in Ryneveld Street, where Schreuder House gives a peek into the way of life here in the early 1700s. This is the oldest restored and documented town house in South Africa. Two other buildings that are part of the museum are Bletterman House, which depicts what life was like in Stellenbosch in the late 18th century, and Grosvenor House, which represents the early 19th century.
5. Visit the Toy and Miniature Museum
6. Escape to the Botanical Garden
7. Visit a gallery or studio
8. Visit a sculpture garden
If you’re particularly keen on sculpture, spend half a day exploring the 7ha and more than 60 sculptures at the Dylan Lewis sculpture garden in Paradyskloof Road. Walk 4km of pathways to see some of his characteristic pieces set against the background of the indigenous gardens and the mountains beyond. It’s essential to book ahead. Your entry fee gives you access to the gardens for a self-guided tour, but you can book a 1.5-hour guided tour at an added cost.
9. Go wine tasting
10. Enjoy coffee shops and restaurants
There are many superb restaurants to enjoy in Stellenbosch and surrounds, offering everything from fine dining to bistros and coffee shops. For fabulous views, one of my favourite bistro-style eateries is the Postcard Café. For coffee and pastries try Meraki (ask for a double shot if you don’t like weak coffee) or Schoon. If you have an extravagant budget, there’s fine dining at the restaurant at Rust en Vrede, Terroir at Kleine Zalze or the Delaire Graff restaurant.
11. Enjoy a picnic
12. See a duck parade
13. Ride a Segway through the vineyards
14. Discover the Beer Route
With all the emphasis on wine in Stellenbosch, you may not realise that there’s also a Beer Route for lovers of things made with hops and malted barley. It includes breweries like Stellenbosch Brewing Company, LilyPatrick Brewery and Zebonkey.
15. Go strawberry picking
16. Visit the Babylonstoren garden
17. Get active at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
18. Enjoy an open-air concert
19. Visit a market
20. Join a cultural tour of Kayamandi township
For something completely different, join a guided township tour to meet the locals and learn about their lives, their food and their stories. Visit private homes, a church or school, a spaza shop and meet the creative people at craft shops. Try to support the local community and be respectful as you travel so your outing doesn’t cross the line into voyeurism or ‘poverty tourism’. Remember this is home for the people you’ll meet (Kayamandi means ‘Sweet Home’). Support local guides from the community by booking through Stellenbosch Township and Village.
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