When you hear of Stellenbosch, think of art, scenery and really good wine.
Nestled an hour’s away from Cape Town, this small province is home to one of Africa’s best Universities: The University of Stellenbosch. And like many University towns, it’s home to many great culinary finds, trinkets, and probably the best wine in the entire Cape.
Because the Cape was highly influenced by both the French and Dutch, you’ll find Stellenbosch resembling a small province of Northern France with many people riding bikes and conversing in English (though Afrikaans is still widely spoken).
We came to this town with little expectation, as I learned in Africa, and was amazed by the art in this area. I spent more time in its small gallery than actually walking around, ignoring our tour guide’s insistent search for good chocolate. When I did get the chance to walk around by myself, I quickly fell in love with its many boutiques and great coffee.
Aside from the wine, here’s what you can do in Stellenbosch:
1. Eagle Encounters
If you’d like to see and interact with eagles or owls that can only be found in South Africa, this would be a great place to start! However, if you’d rather do outdoor activities that don’t involve this, the sanctuary also offers bike tours for you.
2. Explore the botanical gardens at the University of Stellenbosch
Since the town is mostly taken up by the University, a tour to their botanical gardens is a must-see! It’s picturesque and allows you a good view of the mountains surrounding Stellenbosch as well.
3. Visit the Rupert Museum
As a lover of art, I can say you’ll enjoy the Rupert Museum. Here you’ll find some traditional and modern African paintings or statues. Aside from those, you’ll also find some art that’s distinguishly for or made by an old resident of the town.
Address: Stellentia Rd, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa
Phone: +27 21 888 3344
4. Stellenbosch Toy and Miniature Museum
If anything, it’s a little unusual to find a gallery or museum like this. The Toy and Miniature Museum has small figurines crafted by African toy-makers, alongside ones that dictate their own history.
Address: Market Rd, Stellenbosch, 7600, South Africa
Phone: +27 79 981 7067
5. Equus Gallery
The Equus Gallery encourages young, local artists to share their art with the town and some even do get to send their works to Cape Town. They also have public space sculptures, and beautiful true to form art scattered all over the town.
Address: R44 Strand Road, Stellenbosch 7600, South Africa
Phone Number: +27 21 855 3218
Just saying, this is probably the only town during the entire tour where I bought a pack of chocolates of different flavours, full of spices and organic products catering to South African ingredients. For what it’s worth, every chocolate shop Stellenbosch is pretty great!
Moving on with our lives….
Restaurants: Top Picks
The Restaurant at Clos Malverne
Nestled in the middle of a vineyard, fall in love with the food at this place while looking over their mountains. Although the food here is quite pricey, you’ll have a fine selection of everything the Western Cape has to offer.
Address: Devon Valley Road | Devon Valley
Number: +27 21 865 2022
Stellenbosch Kitchen Restaurant
Though they mostly serve intercontinental food, reviewers tell you – it’s still the best one in the market with a unique twist!
Address: Dorp Street | Corner Dorp Street and Andringa Street
Number: +27 21 883 2893
Rust en Vrede Restaurant
This is where our tour group ate lunch! And I can honestly say, eating at a villa while looking through the buffet table, trying to decide which dish to try. Oh, and it also helps that they serve really good pudding here!
Address: Annandale Rd
Coffee Shops: Top picks
Did you honestly think this would be a post without coffee? Ha. Stellenbosch actually has really good coffee! At least with the coffee shop I got to try (Java Cafe), and so I decided to scout the inter galactic webs on where to find other good coffee places too.
Right at the centre of town, where I admittedly got lost, lies Java Cafe. At night, it’s full of students and artists while during the day it’s so quiet. I’d recommend getting a coffee to go as you scout for the nearby art gallery I’m sure you’ll fall in love with.
Address: 7 Jan Katz Building | Church Street
Postcard Cafe Restaurant
If you love coffee with a view, look no further than the Postcard Cafe! You’ll not only have good food here but also a well-made cafe au lait.
Address: Stark-Conde Wines | Jonkershoek Valley
Number: 27 21 861 7703
Lanzerac Wine Estate Experience
I refuse to talk about other wine tasting experiences around Stellenbosch when I’ve only gone around Lanzerac. And so, here’s something to put a little bit of context into the entire experience:
There’s drinking wine. And then there’s drinking wine properly. It takes a lot to learn how to do the latter as I didn’t even have the slightest clue how to drink wine properly before. Sure, give me beer and good coffee then I’m your girl. I loved Sangria (it’s not the same, I know) and I enjoyed the little bit of wine I got to taste while in France. But that’s it.
I had no idea you’d have to stir your wine, drinking it slowly but steadily too. I had no idea how to take things slow — which is what wine drinking is about.
So, you can imagine my surprise at how much I loved South African wine since I didn’t even enjoy much of the wine I got to taste while in Europe. Apparently, the entire experience will teach you about how wine is grown, processed, and contained. After, you’ll enter a small dining area where they’ll let you try a sample of each their best wine.
Mind you, I didn’t even know how to spell Sauvignon while I was here. Honest!
They’ll start you with the white, then rose, and later when you’re still up for it – their red. What I love about this is you’ll gradually get accustomed to the flavours and see for yourself which taste suits your palette. I found myself loving the Cabernet-Sauvignon.
The servers don’t bring out the Pinotage despite Lanzerac being the original grower for this bottle. Luckily, our tour guide bought us a bottle to try so we’d know whether it’s worth the purchase. It is. In case you were wondering.