The beautiful little town of Stellenbosch, roughly an hour from Cape Town, lies surrounded by the Stellenbosch Mountains in the Jonkershoek River Valley in one of the most picturesque settings in the Cape.
The second oldest town in South Africa has fondly been called ‘Eikestad’ or city of oaks and its streets are lined with some of the most beautiful surviving examples of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture in the Cape. Dorp Street is a national monument and taking the time to walk around this cosy old part of Stellenbosch, with its secluded lanes, water furrows, cosmopolitan restaurants and coffee bistros, with superb views of mountain, vineyards and orchards, is an idyllic morning venture.
The name ‘Stellenbosch’ is almost synonymous with the wine industry. Not only does it have the oldest wine route in the country, and arguably the most famous, but the town has one of the most modern experimental wineries in the world, and the only viticultural and oenological department in the country at its university.
South Africa’s oldest music school, the famous Stellenbosch Conservatoire, has its home in this important cultural centre, and there is a collection of galleries and museums housing national and international art collections worth viewing.
For the nature lover there are a number of excellent hikes in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. The full-day Vineyard Hiking Trail, a fairly new 24 kilometre long trail, starts on the slopes of the Papegaaiberg and winds its way through vineyards, forests, olive groves and coastal renosterveld.
The Stellenbosch Tourist Information Office and the Stellenbosch Wine Route Office are in Market Street – start to your tour here! Many of the historical buildings are close by and it is possible to discover some of Stellenbosch on foot.
The Toy & Miniature Museum is situated behind the Information Bureau and is the only one of its kind in South Africa. Close to Market Street is the town square, known as Die Braak, where there are some interesting buildings. The VOC Kruithuis (Powder House) (1777), the Old Rhenish Mission, the Church of St Mary (1852), the Coachman’s Cottage and the old Burgerhuis (1797) are all worth visiting.
The Cape Wine Academy in Stellenbosch offers visitors a wonderful opportunity of learning about local and international wines. Beginner courses will allow visitors an insight into the local wine industry before embarking on a tour of the wine routes.