Stellenbosch is arguably one of the most scenic towns in South Africa. It is home to some of the oldest wineries in the country, one being Blaauwklippen Vineyards, which was founded in 1682, making it the oldest in Stellenbosch and second oldest in the country. As the seasons change, so does Stellenbosch because of the vineyards surrounding it. The once lush, green leaves of canopies which protect the grapes from the warm sun takes on a beautiful collage of red, yellow and brown in Autumn.
Stellenbosch abounds with things for guests to do. It goes without saying that you are spoilt for choice when it comes to wine tasting but that is not all there is to do. We came up with 51 things for you to experience and enjoy.
1. Visit the Blaauwklippen Family Market.
Obviously! The market which is located on the scenic route 44, which runs through this pictureque town, has become popular with people from all over the globe. It boasts an impressively delectable variety of prepared foods with flavours from traditional South African, to international delicacies. Carefully selected arts and crafts stalls are will enable you to find the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one.
Situated in the centre of town, these gardens provide visitors with the opportunity to view some of South Africa’s indigenous plant life as well as some exotic varieties. The extensive Bonsai collection at the gardens is really magnificent. If you are lucky and look carefully, you may even spot some wildlife…a student taking a nap in the shade of a tree!
3. Take a selfie with Danie Craven and his dog, Bliksem
Danie “Doc” Craven was and still is one of the most respected and popular figures in South Africa’s favourite Saturday afternoon past time: rugby. He was one of the most successful coaches of the Springboks. Some say if you listen carefully enough you can still hear the shrill of his whistle and the bark of Bliksem on the fields of Coetzenburg.
4. Taste some wine
The doors of Blaauwklippen are also open during the week for wine tasting. You not only have the option of formal, informal tasting but could also do a chocolate and wine pairing.
5. We all scream for ice cream!
Stellenbosch is known as the gourmet capital of South Africa. No visit to this town is complete without popping in at Cold Gold Artisan Ice Cream and Sorbet. Owner and executive chef, Janine van Zyl conjures up the most delectable ice cream made with only natural ingredients sourced from the surrounding areas.
6. Take a walk down Dorp Street
Dorp Street is the oldest residential street in South Africa and is home to many interesting little shops and restaurants, many of which are situated in historic buildings. It’s the perfect stroll for a foodie!
7. Enjoy a cold one at De Akker
De Akker is one of the oldest pubs in South Africa. It’s located on Dorp Street and has a couple of benches right next to the side walk. What better place to soak up the beauty of Stellenbosch as well as observe the habits of the indigenous wild life, the student…
8. Guns Blazing
Stellenbosch is filled with many interesting museums, one being the V.O.C Kruithuis. Built in 1776, the function of this building was to house gunpowder for the Dutch East India Company and to protect the town from attacks. Due to a lack of action in this peaceful town, the cannons have never been fired in an act of war during its 300-year history. The building lost its importance and became the venue for a Friday market (Fun fact!) Today the building serves as a museum filled with guns and cannons of the past.
Stellenbosch is fortunate enough to be surrounded by three excellent golf courses, one of which, the Stellenbosch Golf Club, can lay claim to being the 4th oldest gold course in South Africa. Both Stellenbosch and the De Zalze golf courses have frequently rated in South Africa’s top 100 courses and have been privileged to host some of South Africa’s premier tournaments. Not to be outdone, Devonvale boasts an impressive championship course that will test both your skills and fitness if you decide to walk it.
10. Enjoy a lunch at the Bistro at Blaauwklippen
It’s all about easy dining here. You can choose between a selection of 4 platters consisting of fresh produce, cured meat, cheese, fresh bread and dips.
11. Go mountain biking
Stellenbosch is surrounded by numerous mountains peaks, which means loads of mountain biking trails! The one at the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is rated as one of the top in the country. Other notable trails are Bothma’s Kop, Coetzenburg, Pappagaaiberg and Eden.
12. Visit the Stellenbosch Village Museum
The Stellenbosch Village Musuem consists of four buildings, namely Schreuderhuis, Blettermanshuis, Grosvenor House and O.M Bergh House. Each of these houses represents a particular period in history. Not only does it illustrate and depicts how people lived during the period but also illustrates how architectural designs changed over the years.
13. Attend a show at the Oude Libertas Amphitheatre
During the summer months, the amphitheatre at Oude Libertas hosts a range of summer concerts. From popular local musicians to one man plays and stand-up comedy. The venue is set amongst the vineyards, which makes for beautiful scenery all around.
14. Strawberry picking at the Polkadraai Farm Stall
Strawberries have become big in Stellenbosch. The Polkadraai Farm stall allows you to pick your own when they come in season from October to January.
15. Have a picnic at Blaauwklippen
You can create your very own picnic from goods found at the market every Sunday. If you cannot make the market, then why not allow Blaauwklippen to create a picnic for you.
16. Check in at the Hydro
The Stellenbosch Hydro offers an ideal opportunity to relax and detox after all the excellent food and wine tasting when you visit this beautiful town. It is situated in the Ida’s Valley, which is a National Heritage Site, so the beauty and calmness of nature will guarantee finding the optimal level of relaxation.
16. Go Greek
Giros is the newest addition to the culinary adventure that Stellenbosch has to offer. They offer traditional Greek food - freshly prepared every day. We suggest that, should you decide to visit them, go hungry as the portions are big and you cannot help but to eat more than you should.
If you are a horsy person, a visit to Pete’s Adventure farm is a must! Experienced riders will escort you on a 90min ride through the farm.
18. The Rupert Museum
The Rupert Museum showcases the private art collection of Anton and Huberte Rupert. Some of South Africa’s most celebrated artists’ work such as Irma Stern, JH Pierneef and Anton van Wouw is on display.
19. Go on a cellar tour at Blaauwklippen
Learn about the art of wine making on this 300-year-old wine farm. The tour will take you on an informative journey through their historic wine cellar. Note that your tour has to be booked in advance.
20. Visit “Oom Samie se winkel”
The hipster of Stellenbosch because Oom Samie se winkel was cool before Stellenbosch was cool. It is imperative to visit this shop if you are a first timer to Stellenbosch. The shop is filled with all sorts of odds and ends, from straw brooms to clothes and other curiosities.
21. Watch a Varsity Cup rugby game
As Danie Cruwen once said, “If the Maties and Western Province play well, the Springboks play well.” The Varsity Cup takes place early in February of each year when pitting South African universities against each other. Many a Springbok has played in this competition. The indigenous wild life of Stellenbosch, the student, is in an abundance here. It’s a great opportunity to listen to their hilarious banter and observe them in their natural habitat.
22. Beer o’ clock
Stellenbosch is known for wine but the town also has two craft breweries within its boundaries. A visit to Stellenbrau and Wild Clover come highly recommended. See how beer is made and taste each brew master’s take on the amber liquid.
23. Roosterkoek at De Stomme Jonge
Roosterkoek has made a big comeback recently. De Stomme Jonge has taken this traditional lunch option and added a gourmet twist to it.
24. Werewolves beware!
Every month from September to April, Dirtopia hosts a full moon hike at Delvera. This is an ideal opportunity to view the Stellenbosch winelands at sunset and even see Table Mountain! Enjoy a delicious picnic when you reach the top of the koppie while watching the full moon rise over winelands.
25. Gin tasting at Blaauwklippen
Gin has made a huge comeback! It is the “in” drink at the moment. Blaauwklippen launched their estate gin, the The Triple Three, recently. Three types of gin - 100% Juniper Berry, Citrus Infusion and African Botanicals can be tasted at the spirits room.
27. Spotted Wildlife
The Giraffe House Wildlife awareness centre provides an opportunity to experience and learn about African Wildlife in the Stellenbosch Winelands.
28. You quack me up!
Every day at 09h45 and 15h30, Vergenoegd Wine Estate has a Duck Parade! Yes, ducks. Between 700 – 800 ducks go on a parade on the farm. They are used to control the snail and pest population amongst the vineyards.
29. Take a foodie tour on foot
As mentioned, Stellenbosch is the gourmet capital of South Africa. If you have trouble making up your mind on where to go, why not contact the good people of the Bites and sites cultural food tour. They offer, amongst other tours, a foodie foot tour through Stellenbosch which allows you to experience the sites, sounds and tastes of Stellenbosch.