Standing in the middle of a rugged mountain valley, Stellenbosch is full of architectural, historical and scenic gems. Founded in 1679, this is South Africa’s second-oldest town and its history is displayed in the well-preserved Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. Oak tree-lined Dorp Street is where you’ll find some fine examples, such as the Oom Samie se Winkel antique shop and Old Lutheran Church.
Learn more about the town’s heritage at the Village Museum, a collection of four restored houses dating from 1709 to the mid-1800s. Spot work by South African artists at the Rembrandt van Rijn Gallery, housed in a Cape Dutch mansion. Check out the collection of weaponry at the VOC Kruithuis. Kids will enjoy the displays of antique cars and toys at the Toy and Miniature Museum.
Stellenbosch is synonymous with wine and home to South Africa’s oldest wine route, which represents over 130 wineries. Rent a car or join an organized tour and visit the wineries for tastings, cellar tours and picnics on pristine lawns. If you don’t have your own transport or time to visit the wine route, there are bodegas in town that offer tastings.
For nature lovers there are plenty of hikes in the Stellenbosch region. The Vineyard Hiking Trail is a full-day hike that leads through vineyards, forests and olive groves and presents spectacular views of the Stellenbosch Mountains. Go mountain biking in Jonkershoek Nature Reserve or get a bird’s-eye view of the region on a hang-gliding flight or hot air balloon ride.
Stellenbosch places an emphasis on cultural events. Celebrate all things wine-related at January’s Stellenbosch Wine Festival. Enjoy live music at an open-air amphitheater during the Oude Libertas Summer Season Concerts. Combine music, wine and food at the Jazz and Cheese Fondue Festival.
Stellenbosch is a 40-minute drive from Cape Town and accessible via train. With a rented car you’ll have the freedom to explore the wine route and neighboring Western Cape towns.