Introducing Stellenbosch

Also known as ‘Eikestad’ (Town of Oaks), Stellenbosch is the oldest town in South Africa after Cape Town, a 45 minute drive away. Founded in 1679 by governor Simon van der Stel, the Stellenbosch Wine Route is the country’s oldest and arguably the most acclaimed. Having been established in 1971, it now boasts 106 cellars in the magnificent Jonkershoek valley.

Modern-day Stellenbosch is a buzzing town populated by university students, academics, business people and their families. Don’t miss Dorp Street, a national monument with one of the longest rows of historically preserved buildings – including Georgian, Cape Dutch and Victoria architecture – in South Africa.

With scores of open-air cafes, restaurants, art galleries, shops, hotels and guest houses – many housed in these historic buildings – it’s the perfect base for a winelands adventure. Then there’s the wine route itself, with over 130 wineries and five sub-routes, known for their wine production – notably Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinotage and Chenin Blanc. The 5 sub-routes are Bottelary Hills, Greater Simonsberg, Helderberg, Stellenbosch Berg and Stellenbosch Hills.

Half and full day wine tours are very popular and can be booked at the tourism office. Alternatively, you are more than welcome to drive yourself to any of the wine estates although that would mean the driver missing out on sampling any of the wine.

There is a wide range of accommodation on offer in Stellenbosch with everything from camp sites, youth hostels, B&Bs right up to luxury hotels. The needs of every type of traveller are catered for in Stellenbosch which is ideal of the independent tourist to use as a base to explore the many attractions of the Western Cape.

The best way to orientate yourself in Stellenbosch is to join one of the regular walking tours that depart from the tourism office that depart at 11am and 3pm every day. Alternatively, you can explore on your own and footmaps are available. As Stellenbosch lies in a valley, there are also hiking routes outside the town which allow you to take in some of the wonderful scenery and nature of the Cape winelands.

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