You may or may not know that Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa and is fondly referred to as ‘Eikestad’ or city of oaks. While visiting this town your eyes will be drawn to the gorgeous examples of Victorian, Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture that line the streets. Take you time and walk down Dorp Street which is a national monument and a real treasure.
Stellenbosch isn’t only a wine region it is also home to the University of Stellenbosch and so on any given day you’ll find plenty of students making their way to and from campus, which also means that the town has an active nightlife – so be sure you’re ready for a jol!
Because it is only an hour away from Cape Town this means you can easily pop into an event, perhaps one of the Oude Libertas Summer Season Concerts or take in a film or two at the Cape Winelands Film Festival. If you’re staying for more than a day we’ve come up with 10 wonderful suggestions of things you can busy yourself with in this historical town …
Who doesn’t love these amazing creatures, the cheetah is (in my opinion) one of the most magnificent out there and this is your chance to have a personal encounter with a hand raised ambassador cheetah. Spier has generously made land available to a group of hand-raised cheetahs in the care of the Cheetah Outreach Programme.
When you visit you will have two options, you can either get up close and personal with these cats or learn all about them from a distance. Don’t forget that your entrance donation helps fund this programme. Don’t forget your camera – this is an experience you’ll want to remember.
Address: Spier Estate, Lynedoch Road (R310), Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands
Telephone: 27 (0)21 809-1188
Opening hours: Open daily from 10h00 to 17h00 (extended to 18h00 on weekends during high season).
View the exclusive and unique private art collection of Anton and Huberte Rupert that can be found on the banks of the Eersterivier in the picturesque vineyards. The building was commissioned in 2003, but Huberte Rupert and it elegantly compliments the history and natural beauty of the area. The museum opened in 2005 and now houses more than 350 artworks with a premier selection of contemporary South Africa art from 1940 to 1970.
View works of art from some of the most well known South African artists, for example Irma Stern, Walter Battiss, JH Pierneef, Elza Dziomba and many others. Also see some gorgeous pieces from major European artists such as Auguste Rodin, the sculptor and Jean Lurçat who is known for tapestries.
Address: Rupert Museum, Stellentia Avenue, Stellenbosch
Telephone: +27 (0)21 888-3344
Opening hours: Weekdays from 09h30 to 13h00 and 14h00 to 16h00
Saturdays from 10h00 to 13h00 and closed on Sundays and public holidays.
If you visit in the Cape summer season you’ll be met with warm weather and the perfect opportunity to pick some fruit – this makes for a great family activity or go with a group of friends and use your pickings to make some summer cocktails on your return home.
At the Mooiberge Farmstall you can laden your baskets as full as you like because you’ll be charged per kilogram of strawberries you take home. Spend some time outdoors and reconnect with nature as you get your hands a little dirty. If you don’t want to ruin that manicure then you can pop into the famstall housed in a historic building from 1909 and purchase some berries that have already been picked, as well as a number of other locally produced goods.
Address: Mooiberge Farmstall, R44 (Btw. Stellenbosch and Somerset West), Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)21 881-3222
Opening hours: 08h00 to 18h00 Call to confirm, season dependant.
If plants are you thing then step in to the beautiful Stellenbosch Botanical Gardens, which also happen to be the oldest university botanic garden in the country. Not only is the garden meticulously maintained by it also is home to three glass houses (succulent, tropical and karoo), a Japanese garden, herb garden, fish ponds and an arboretum.
This garden has rare plants imported from all around the world, because it is widely regarded as an open-air laboratory and is a centre for training, science, recreation and conservation. So what are you waiting for? Pay them a visit …
Address: Botanical Gardens, Cnr Van Riebeeck & Neethling Street, Stellenbosch.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 808-3054
Opening hours: Daily from 08h00 to 17h00. Closed on some public holidays.
Pop down to Oom Samie Se Winkel (Uncle Samie’s Store for those who don’t understand Afrikaans). This shop has become somewhat of an institution in Stellenbosch as you’ll be able to find a myriad of items anything from clothing to fruit and veg, handcrafted straw yard broom and arts and crafts.
In keeping with the tradition of a rural trading post why not stop by and leisurely browse through the shops wares and when the shopping gets a bit much you can rest your legs on the bench on their veranda and reminisce the old days.
Address: 84 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 887-0797
Opening hours: Monday to Friday from 08h30 to 17h30; Saturday and Sunday from 09h00 to 17h00.
One of my favourite markets to visit on a Saturday … the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods Market is a wonderful array of just what the name suggests – fresh goods.The courtyard and building are jam packed with both stalls offering delicious home made treats as well as clothing, fresh fruit and veg, arts and crafts and other items that you’ll be itching to purchase.
The market does get incredibly busy so I suggest going rather early on and checking what is available before making your purchases, once you’ve got some of the tasty food find a spot on the grass and chill out a bit before going in for more shopping!
Address: Oude Libertas Estate, Stellenbosch, Cape Winelands.
Telephone: No telephone number supplied.
Opening hours: Open Saturdays from 09h00 to 16h00 (all weather).
If you’re in Stellenbosch and don’t make a visit to the Moederkerk (meaning Mother Church in Afrikaans) then you’ll be missing out. The building is impressive and stands tall and proud at the top end of the town. The Neo Gothic Tower was completed in 1863 and designed by the German, Carl Otto Hager, while the oldest part of the building dates back to 1735.
The organ was place in 1953, but some of the mahogany cabinet as well as some of the pipes are the originals from 1863. What an amazing piece of history you’ll be able to visit. Marvel at the beautiful stained glass windows and manicured gardens. As you enter the church you can pick up an information leaflet that will give you more detailed information.
Address: 2 Drostdy Street, Stellenbosch, 7600, Cape Winelands
Telephone: +27 (0)21 883-3458 or +27 (0)21 887-0012
Opening hours: Monday to Thursday from 08h00 to 15h30; Friday from 08h00 to 13h00.
Feel like a kid again when you visit the The Toy and Miniature Museum in Stellenbosch. Why you ask? Because this museum is home to a collection of 1:12 scale miniatures, room boxes, miniature houses, cars, cuddly toys, antique dolls and more. Come and see a one of its kind in the country – an incredibly details and life-like miniature of the famous South Africa Blue Train.
Watch as the train makes its journey from Stellenbosch through the Cape Winelands and the mountains, through to the Karoo where it passes Matjiesfontein before it returns to Stellenbosch. It is pure joy!
Address: Behind the Visitors Bureau in Market Street, Stellenbosch
Telephone: +27 (0)21 887-2948
Opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 09h30 to 17h00; Sundays from 14h00 to 17h00; Closed on Sundays in Winter (May to August).
Stellenbosch wouldn’t be part of the Cape Winelands if there wasn’t plenty opportunity to visit wine farms and estates and taste delicious wine from the region. Well why not do this but pair it with something a little different? Biltong!
This traditional South African cured snack of salted and dried meat is a local favourite and Stellenbosch Hills Wine Estate has created a unique tasting experience that showcases how a wine varietals can be complimented by the intense yet subtle flavour of various biltong varieties. Take your wine tasting to a new level with a blast of citrus chardonnay rounded off with a piece of Kudu biltong. Flavour perfection!
Address: Stellenbosch Hills Estate, Vlottenburg Rd (off R300 or R310) Vlottenburg, Stellenbosch.
Telephone: +27 (0)21 881-3828 or +27 (0)21 881-3829
Opening hours: By appointment only on Monday to Fridays from 08h00 to 17h00
Saturday from 10h00 to 15h00. Closed Easter Friday, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day.
With such a fantastic variety of activities to keep you busy in Stellenbosch you might need to extend your trip …
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