Situated at the foot of the Boland Mountains and in the heart of the Cape winelands, the bustling town of Stellenbosch is popular amongst tourists and locals alike. Founded by Simon van der Stel in 1679, it is the second oldest town in South Africa and is filled with spirit and steeped in history. Traditional Cape Dutch buildings, museums, galleries and historic buildings are scattered along the picturesque oak lined streets.
Stellenbosch is a university town and offers a vibrant nightlife, live music and variety of coffee shops and good restaurants in and around town that serve both typical South African and international cuisines.
The area is one rich in scenery and nature and offers many outdoor activities including world-class golf courses and several mountain biking and hiking trails. Not to be forgotten, and indeed one of the main attractions of the area, are the 200 or more wine estates which dot the valley where visitors can enjoy cellar tours and wine tastings in beautiful surroundings and amongst sprawling vineyards.
We take you on 24 hours spent in this beautiful town.
Breakfast at Basics
Enjoy breakfast at Basic Bistro, a quiet and simple bistro located at the heart of Stellenbosch on the beautiful Church Street. Basic Bistro is a cozy restaurant which offers a wide variety of food with the focus on simplicity and quality.
Sit back and enjoy finely selected music as you relax in the shadows of the beautiful oak trees of Stellenbosch, or venture inside where the aroma of Arabica Beans, being freshly ground for a cappuccino, fill the air.
Visit Stellenbosch's Art Galleries
After your breakfast head down Church Street to visit the galleries and speciality stores in the area. Church Street is home to the Stellenbosch Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery which houses various art exhibitions.
Running parallel to Church Street is Dorp Street, a beautiful street, lined with oak trees and old Victorian houses. The street has numerous antique stores, art stores, and coffee shops. Make a stop at the Stellenbosch University Art gallery which is housed in an old church building and regularly hosts contemporary art exhibitions.
Oom Samie se Winkel
A couple of hundred metres down Dorp Street is Oom Samie se Winkel, an old trading store selling a variety of goods ranging from kitsch to vintage, and where the adventurous can sample moerkoffie (strong coffee) and bokkoms. This particular trading store was started in 1904 and has become somewhat of an institution in Stellenbosch - hundreds of visitors pass through its doors to browse the crowded shelves filled with an interesting array of products.
Lunch at Moyo at Spier
For a unique and elegantly African dining experience, a visit to moyo at Spier Estate is a must. The restaurant is located in a magical setting amidst ancient Oak trees with tables set in beautifully lit tents with others on platforms high up in the trees.
Guests are treated to a truly memorable experience with traditional African face painting, drumming and a range of entertainment - not to forget the mouth-watering feast of African dishes from freshly baked breads and salads to an array of meat dishes, fish, curries and traditional favourites such as samp and beans, bobotie and Zulu cabbage.
The moyo shop offers a range of moyo-made products, from meticulously crafted mosaic table tops to sophisticated African art and craft.
Explore the estate at Spier
Eagle Encounters is a bird-of-prey rehabilitation, conservation, education and eco-tourism project that takes in birds that have been injured or poisoned and works to rehabilitate the birds for re-release into the wild.
The Eagle Encounters centre at Spier is open to visitors and offers four shows daily where guests can enjoy an interactive experience. The entrance fee is R30 per person, with an additional fee for certain activities. Alternatively, purchase the ALL day pass for R50 which allows entry to all the displays and activities. Visitors can also enjoy the picnic area (buy a picnic at the Spier Deli next door), and the super children's playground.
Visit the Cheetah Outreach Centre at Spier for an up-close encounter with a cheetah. The centre is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year and aims to raise awareness of the plight of the cheetah, and to campaign for its survival. Entrance is R10 on weekdays, and R5 on weekend and public holidays
The centre uses captive-born cheetahs that have no chance of release into the wild, and uses them to educate the public about cheetahs. Visitors can also enjoy a one-on-one experience with the adult and cheetah cubs for an additional fee.
Tours of the facility are offered throughout the day, every hour on the half-hour.
Stellenbosch is synonymous with its wine farms, and there are plenty to choose from. It's advisable to pop into the tourist information centre in Mark Road, and get a map of all the different wine farms around the area. Most of the major wine farms offer cellar tours and wine tastings. Alternatively, go to a smaller wine farm for a more relaxed and personalized feel.
Dinner at the Big Easy
To end off the day, enjoy dinner at the lovely Big Easy restaurant on Dorp Street. The restaurant is named after the owner Ernie Els, the famous golfing legend. The Big Easy is housed in 'La Gratitude', an old Cape Dutch gable that was built in 1798 by the first Reverend of Stellenbosch. The building has been gently and tastefully renovated to provide the home for Ernie Els's new signature wine bar and restaurant.
The restaurant serves a wide selection of more than 170 wines, some of which you can sample from the cellars of the owners. If the finest cuisine prepared with the freshest ingredients whets your appetite, then dinner at this laid back restaurant, with a hint of history is sure to be the ideal end to your day.