Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa, founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, the governor of the Cape Colony. 10 years later, in 1690 the Huguenot refugees settled down in the area, they brought from France the tradition of growing grapes and making wine, it was the beginning of South African wines.
Nowadays Stellenbosch offers to its visitors a great combination of beautiful wine estates, outdoor activities, fine restaurants, and beautiful scenery. The town can be visited as a day trip from Cape Town, it’s only 50 km away, you can spend here a couple of days and visit Franschhoek as well or stop here on the way to the Garen Route.
Different ways to visit Stellenbosch from Cape Town
Renting a car is the easiest way to move around in South Africa to rent a smallish car for a couple of days is not expensive especially if you’re a couple of people traveling together or a family with small children. To drive around Stellenbosch you don’t need a big 4×4 car (unless you want to do some off-road driving) all roads are tarred.
Suggested cars to rent for the trip
If you don’t want to rent a car the best way to visit Stellenbosch and its surroundings is by joining a day tour from Cape Town. The tour includes transportation, visiting five wine estates and wine and food pairing. If you’d like to visit Stellenbosch and Franschhoek in one day you can join another tour from Cape Town that takes you to wine estates in Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Paarl.
If you don’t like group tours you can do a private full-day wine tour from the Mother City.
If you don’t have one day to visit Stellenbosch you can do a tour from Cape Town that combines driving around the Cape Peninsula and wine tasting in Stellenbosch. This tour will take the whole day but it’ll be full of highlights like Cape Point National Park, Chapman’s Peak drive, penguins at Boulder’s Beach and vineyards of Stellenbosch.
If you’re planning to travel alone joining a 5-day Cape Town and Winelands tour by Intrepid Travel might be a good option this way you’ll get to see the city and its surroundings, meet new people and have some fun.
Places to stay in Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch is a real paradise for those who like outdoor activities, good wine, and delicious food, there are several places around the town that are perfect for travelers with children. If you wonder what to do in Stellenbosch here are our suggestions.
Best foody things to do in Stellenbosch
There are really many wine estates and restaurants in Stellenbosch, we haven’t been to all of them but every year when we come to South Africa we try to visit a couple of new places.
If you’re want to enjoy a perfect wine and food pairing and visit some of the finest wine estates in the area you can join Mystery Food Tour that includes tasting, transportation from your hotel and back you don’t have to drive yourself.
Enjoy breathtaking scenery at Tokara Wine Estate
In my opinion, Tokara is one of the most beautiful wine farms in Stellenbosch, the drive itself from the town to the farm is spectacular and their wines are just as great as the view. The estate is located at Helshoogte Road one that offers the most scenic drive in the area.
Don’t miss the selfie spot on the top of the hill in the vineyards. If tasting or buying wines is too expensive for you, it’s worth just coming here for the scenery. Wine tasting here is from ZAR75/US$6 for 5 wines. There is a restaurant with a great view where you can have lunch or dinner.
Jump on a hop-on-hop-off wine bus
Hop-on-hop-off wine bus is a great way of visiting several wine farms and doing tasting without being worried about drinking and driving, you can taste as much as you want. The bus stops at big and renowned wine estates like Spier to smaller handicraft farms like Alto Estate as well as at the Van Ryn’s Brandy Distillery. A chilled day of wine tasting, stunning views of the vineyards and great wine are guaranteed.
Admire surroundings and taste fine wines at Delair Graff
Another wine estate with amazing scenery and great wines. Delair Graff is probably the fanciest wine farm in Stellenbosch. A visit to this place is a must-do for wine connoisseurs and art lovers. Walking around its beautiful gardens and halls you’ll find interesting canvas and sculptures. Needless to say, the restaurant at the estate offers exquisite cuisine you can have lunch or try their tasting menu and wine pairing.
There are a couple of luxurious cottages at the estate where you can stay for a night it looks amazing though it’s very expensive, a kind of place to stay for a very special occasion.
There are more luxury accommodation options nearby for a more affordable price like Clouds Estate Hotel.
Delair Graff wine tasting
Indulge in sparkling wine tasting
House of JC Le Roux is a dream place for sparkling wines lovers, here you can taste sweet and dry sparkling wines, wines made by Methode Cap Classique (champagne), do a pairing with rose nougat, chocolate truffles or fresh oysters. All wines in pairing a pre-selected for you by the cellar master. We don’t drink sparkling wine that much but we really enjoyed visiting this farm, tasting their wines and sweets.
House of CJ Le Roux wine tasting
|Mon-Fri||9am-5pm||from ZAR 80/US$5|
Wine and dine at Jordan Wine Estate
Jordan wine estate was rated several times as one of the top wine farms in South Africa. The location of the place is great, in the middle of the vineyards with fantastic views. They have a variety of tasting options from the standard 5-wine tasting to reserve wine tasting, cellar tour, harvest experience, 3-course branch with local white wines, etc. There is a restaurant and a bakery at the estate. You can have lunch or dinner with wine pairing.
It’s a perfect place for a romantic stay as well they have beautiful rooms overlooking the vineyards. You can enjoy great local wines, delicious food and the tranquility of the place for a couple of days. The farm is about 20min. drive from Stellenbosch.
Jordan Estate wine tasting
|Mon-Sun||9.30am-4.30pm||from ZAR 55/US$4|
Discover the variety of local wines at Simonsig Estate
If you want to find a wine farm where you can taste the whole range of South African wines Simonsig Estate is the right place. Here you can find a wide range of wines from sparkling and sweet to Chennin Blanc and Pinotage. It is a beautiful place, hidden in the vineyards, with a nice restaurant and a lovely outside area for tasting. We really liked the Brut (though we’re not the biggest sparkling wine lovers). Their white wines are fruity and will go well with ice on a hot summer day. Chardonnay was our favorite here, the Chenin Blanc was very fruity, strong pineapple – tropical fruit aromas. You can add a cheese platter to your wine tasting.
|Mon-Fri||10am-6pm||from ZAR 75/US$5|
Visit Route 44 market at Audacia farm
We absolutely love this market, it’s one of our favorite markets in the Cape Town area. It gets quite busy but it’s always a lot of fun to be here. The variety of food and drinks is incredible from locals’ favorites like grilled steak or lamb chops to vegan food and exotic Lebanese cuisine, from Mexican tacos and burritos to Japanese sushi, Italian pizza, and Chinese noodles. There are many vegetarian and vegan dishes, sweet stalls, ice creams, juices, craft beer, wine, and coffee. The best way to try as much as you can is to buy many different dishes and share them. Most places accept only cash, there are ATMs inside the market.
It’s a great place to come with children there is a huge children’s area with jumping castles, climbing ropes, small pools, etc. kids love it here. Don’t come here early before 10am there is not much going on till then. If you’re a group of people and would like to get a table it’s better to be here between 10am and 11am.
Route 44 market
Go local at Stellenbosch Slow Market
This Saturday market is much smaller than Route 44, it’s more like coming to a friends’ picnic party where everybody knows each other. Here you can find home-made preserves, products from local farmers, regional wines, handy crafts, and souvenirs, over 100 local producers. The Market takes place at The Oude Libertas.
Stellenbosch for history and culture lovers
Explore the historical part of Stellenbosch on foot
Stellenbosch’s historical center is not big you can get walking pretty much everywhere. Things not to miss in the town:
The University Campus – there is always something special in visiting big Universities. Stellenbosch University is a group of beautiful buildings with a nice courtyard. To get into the student spirit go and drink coffee at the Neelsie Student Center, they have good coffee and pastries.
The Botanical Garden – a small but beautiful and quiet garden run by the University with a nice coffee shop inside.
Dorp Steet – one of the main tourist streets in Stellenbosch, old oak trees on both sides of the road, old houses built in the Cape Dutch architecture style, many restaurants, art galleries, and craft shops.
The Rupert Museum – a private art museum with a collection of paintings and sculptures of South African artists.
If you’d like to know more about the history of Stellenbosch you can join a historical walking tour. On the tour, you’ll learn about the foundation of Stellenbosch, different inhabitants of the area, and the famous graduates of the University. The tour is a nice introduction to the town and its history.
Wander through Dylan Lewis’ sculpture garden
Dylan Lewis is a famous South African sculpture. His studio is located near Stellenbosch, the garden is a part of the studio where you can see some of the artists’ works. The garden, the surrounding scenery, and the sculptures coexist in perfect harmony.
only by appointment
(last entry 3.30pm)
|Adults – ZAR 150/US$10
Children – free
Visit Stellenbosch Village Museum
If you want to know more about life in the region 300 years ago, to see one of the oldest preserved Cape Dutch houses, to learn more about traditional lifestyle a visit to the Village Museum is highly recommended. The museum consists of four old restored houses with an authentic interior.
|Mon-Sat||9am-5pm||Adults – ZAR 80/US$5.5|
|Sun (April-August)||10am-1pm||Children – free|
Recommended South Africa books and guidebooks
Adventure & outdoor activities in Stellenbosch
There are many hiking trails around Stellenbosch including hikes in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, there are a couple of wine estates that have walking routes through vineyards and mountains as well.
Go on a challenging Panorama route hike at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
Going on a challenging hike following the 17-km Panorama route in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, about 10km outside of Stellenbosch. The hike involves a steep climb up to the top of the mountains with a subsequent steep descent all the way down to the bottom. It’s a challenging hike that requires good physical conditions. It takes between 6 and 7 hours to complete the route. Hikers must bring enough water 1,5l per person and some snacks. This hike will take pretty much half of the day, in summer it’s highly recommended to start early morning to complete the ascent before it gets too hot.
It’s not a recommended activity if you have only one day in Stellenbosch you simply will have no time left to do anything else. We wouldn’t recommend hiking alone if you have no company at least try to hike on the weekend when there are more people on the route. We’ve done this route several times and never had any bad experience but it’s always better to take precautions.
Hike one of the shorter and easier routes at Jonkershoek
If you don’t have much time or just don’t want to spend the whole day hiking you can still visit the reserve and do one of the shorter hiking routes, that will take you about 2 hours to complete. The Tweede Waterfall is a great short hike, it’s a 6,5-km return route that finishes with a waterfall and a pool where hikers can cool down after the walk. The Swartboskloof to Sosyskloof route is a 7-km hike with moderate ascents and descents. It offers some great views of the area, especially from the look-out point.
If hiking doesn’t sound exciting enough you can try to free-wheel down the slopes (not very steep though) on a downhill scooter tour through the Jonkershoek reserve. Enjoy the effortless ride, the breathtaking scenery, and a fresh breeze and don’t forget to stop for photos at several look-outs on the way.
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
|Daily||7.30am – 4pm||Adults – ZAR 50/US$4
Children – ZAR 30/US$2
Do a hike or two at Heidelberg Farm
A family-run farm, 12km from Stellenbosch with several short and one long hiking trails. It might be a better option for travelers with small children than Jonkershoek. There are five different hiking routes;
- Green Route – 1,8km, easy, 50min.
- Red Route – 4,5km, moderate-easy, 1h20min.
- Yellow Route – 5,8km, moderate, 2h.
- Blue Route – 9km, moderate, steep uphill, 3h30min.
- Brown Route – 11km+, difficult, 4-9 hours, depending on how far you walk on the top.
The three longer routes offer stunning views over the area you can see Table Mountain and the ocean. There is a lovely tea garden at the farm where you can get a light meal or cake with coffee after hiking.
|Daily||8am – 5.30pm||Adults – ZAR 50/US$4
Children – ZAR 25/US$2
Exploring HERO adventure trails at Spice Route
This is probably the best place to come for families with children because there are so many things to do, to learn and to try here besides hiking. You can pretty much spend here the whole morning and nobody will be bored.
The hiking trails range from short 2,5km routes to 35km tracks (catered for cyclists);
- Chok-o-track – a 100m pump track for kids
- Young Farmers – 2,5km, a short and easy trail
- Mountain Valley – 5km with some ups and downs
- Olive & Oaks – 10km route that goes to the far end of the farm
- Die Vlatkes – 20km trail with ascents and descents that will take at least half of a day to complete
- Back’s Farm – 35km route too long for walking the whole way more suitable for cycling.
|Daily||9am – 5pm||Adults – ZAR 80/US$5.5
Children – ZAR 40/US$3
Visiting Dirtopia Trail center at Delvera Farm
The farm is located 10km outside Stellenbosch. The trail center has all sorts of sports events like MTB races, trail running, full Moon hikes and more fun activities. You don’t have to take part in any of the events you can just come here for a couple of hours and do your own thing. There are three hiking trails at Dirtopia:
- The Delvera Vineyard Trail – 10km route that takes hikers to the top of Klapmutskop and offers breathtaking views of Cape Town and the Winelands.
- The Vineyard Walk – 6km trail through the vineyards you get a chance to see red and white wine cultivars.
- The Bird Walk – 1,3km short trail to the dam that is highly recommended for bird lovers, here you can see different ducks, geese, weavers, pheasants, etc.
Dirtopia Trail center
|Daily||8am – 5pm||Adults – ZAR 50/US$4
Children – ZAR 20/US$2
What to take/to wear for hiking in Stellenbosch
- Comfortable shoes you won’t need heavy boots but a good pair of hiking shoes (if you’re planning to do one of the longer routes in the mountains) or just comfortable trail running shoes.
- A cap or a hat to protect your head.
- A small day-pack to put water, snacks, sunscreen etc.
- A water bottle. Tap water in Cape Town is fine to drink but for stream or river water, I’d recommend using a filter.
- Sunscreen is strongly recommended imply when doing any outdoor activities in South Africa.
Exploring the area around Stellenbosch by bike is another popular activity. There are many cycling and MTBking routes of different lengths and difficulty.
Travel from Stellenbosch to Franschhoek on an electric bike
A nice activity that doesn’t require a good cycling shape you can enjoy an easy ride on an electric bike, admire the beautiful scenery of Cape Winelands, taste some of the finest wines in the country and enjoy a delicious lunch. It’s a great way to spend a day out, to meet new people and to discover some hidden gems of Stellenbosch and Franschhoek. Don’t worry, you don’t have to cycle back a shuttle bus that takes you back from Franschhoek to Stellenbsoch is included in the tour.
Cycle to the historical sights and wine estates of Stellenbosch
If you want to see the highlights of the town, visit a couple of wine farms and spend a day cycling through the beautiful vineyards – the Historical bike and wine tasting tour is a perfect option for you. During the tour, you get to visit two wine estates, to do one wine tasting and one chocolate/wine pairing and a cellar tour.
Renting a bicycle and exploring Dirtopia cycling trails
Dirtopia at Delvare Farm might be the best place in Stellenbosch to come for MTB or cycling because you can rent a bicycle here. You can rent a normal bike or an electric one. There are two cycling trails;
- Porcupine Trail – 15km with some ups and downs
- The Farm Trail – 6km, an easy route, good for beginners
Cycling through the vineyards at Spice Route
Pretty much every trail of the Spice Route I mentioned in the hiking section can be cycled as well, it’s a fun place to come for the morning there are many things to do and to try from chocolate and coffee to wine and cheese. It’s probably one of the most family-friendly farms in Stellenbosch. The only problem, they don’t rent bikes here you’ll have to bring a bike. You can rent bikes in Stellenbosch.
Go on a MTB adventure
MTBking through the Paradyskloof plantation. This is more of a wild experience, the track (a narrow dirt path) goes through the forest, sometimes it’s quite steep it’s not for beginners. The distance of the single track is 11km. You’ll need your own bike, there are a couple of places in Stellenbosch where you can rent it for a couple of hours.
Exploring the Coetzenburg MTB Trails. Another single-track trail on the slopes of the Stellenbosch Mountains through the Eden forestry area. There are 5 tracks all require some skills and experience. There is no infrastructure nearby, it’s a cool place to come for an adventurous ride but not suitable for a family activity.
Enjoy the scenic drive over the Helshoogte pass
Scenic drives are one of the highlights of traveling in South Africa Stellebosch area is not an exclusion here you can find some breathtaking roads and passes. The Helshoogte pass is not to miss one, the road winds up between the Stellenbosch mountains all the way to Franschhoek. The scenery is spectacular; green hills, vineyards, flowers, and amazing look-outs. Many famous wine estates in Stellenbosch are located along the route, tasting at most of them is quite pricey but it’s worth stopping there just for the views. Tokara is one of our favorites here.
Go on an off-road adventure
Off-road driving is quite popular in South Africa. Many people have big 4×4 cars that they like taking on challenging drives on the weekends. If you feel confident enough you can rent a 4×4 and try driving one of the routes around Stellenbosch, several wine estates and farms in the area have tracks for off-road driving.
Helderberg Farm has a network of tracks for off-road driving. We went with our friends there and some parts of the track were quite hectic and required some skills. We went with two cars (it is recommended in case one gets stuck along the route): Toyota Fortuner and Toyota Hilux. You can rent a car in Cape Town just make sure it is 4×4.
If you’re not a very confident 4×4 driver but still want to experience an off-road drive you can do a private 4×4 tour with an experienced guide-driver. The tour includes transportation from your hotel in Stellenbosch, a 4×4 drive, and wine tasting at 3 or 4 wine estates.
Visit a game reserve
If you want to see African animals roaming free in their natural habitat don’t miss the opportunity to visit one of the private game reserves near Stellenbosch. There are several estates where you can see animals but if you want to see the famous Big 5 (lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, and rhino) you should go to Aquila Game Reserve, they have all these and many other African animals. The reserve is about 150km from Stellenbosch. You can stay at Aquila for a night it’s an amazing place quite pricey though but the stay includes full board and game drives.
Another option to combine wine tasting with watching African wildlife is to join a 3-day Wildlife Safari and Winelands Tour from Cape Town. During the tour, you’ll visit a couple of wine estates, do wine tasting, do 4×4 safari drives to spot the Big Five and bush safari walks.
Things to do for families with children
Wine tasting is not one of the children’s favorite things to do but in Stellenbosch there are some places where parents can enjoy wine and cheese tasking while kids playing and running around watching animals.
Meet cute goats at Fairview wine farm
It’s probably the busiest farm in the area and one of the favorite places for families with small kids. At Fairview, adults can taste several local wines and cheeses, delis and farm products. There are different pairing combinations to choose from. Children love cute little goats that walk in the enclosure next to the tasting room, there are bridges and even a tower where goats like climbing. After tasting and playing with goats the whole family can enjoy lunch at Goatshed restaurant.
Taste, eat and learn at Spice Route
If you have to choose one place to visit with children Spice Route probably will be the best option here you can taste pretty much anything from local wines and beers for adults to chocolate and ice-cream tasting for kids. There are several artisans studios where you can learn about latte art, glassblowing, winemaking, etc. If you and your children get tired from tasting and learning you can venture on a hike following one of the HERO adventure trails. If you get hungry there are a couple of restaurants and coffee shops with diverse menus.
Visit the Giraffe House
A visit to the Giraffe House near Stellenbosch might be an interesting experience for you and your children especially if you don’t have any safari drives planned for your trip. This place is not the same as a safari park you won’t be able to see the Big 5 here but you’ll see many other local animals like giraffes, zebras, all sorts of antelopes, meerkats, foxes, jackals, caracals, ostriches and more.
|Mon-Sun||9am-5pm||Adults – ZAR 55/US$4
Children – ZAR 35/US$2.5
If you want to visit Fairview, Spice Route and Giraffe House in one day or even try to squeeze more child-friendly activities there is a perfect day tour from Cape Town that will be very interesting and entertaining for both adults and children. The tour includes transportation from your hotel in the city, a visit to the Two Oceans Aquarium, the Fairview wine farm, Spice Route and Vengenoegs Wine Estate where children can see daily duck run.
Pick and eat strawberries
Do your kids like strawberries? If yes, they will enjoy the Polkadraai strawberry farm near Stellenbosch. Picking up berries is not the only fun activity here there are more like pony or tractor rides, face painting, mini-golf, and a big playground for the small ones. You can stop here on the way from Cape Town to Stellenbosch. This activity is available from September to January, in the strawberry season.
|Mon-Sun||9am-4pm||From ZAR 40/US$3|
Admire hundreds of beautiful butterflies
If you and your kids love butterflies you should visit the Butterfly World near Stellenbosch, the place looks like a real paradise. A massive greenhouse filled with tropical plants and flowers, small ponds and hundreds of colorful butterflies flying around. Except for butterflies here you can see exotic birds and reptiles.
|Mon-Sun||9am-5pm||Adults – ZAR 88/US$6
Children – ZAR 49/US$3.5
Stellenbosch travel cost
Accommodation – from ZAR160/US$13 for a dorm bed (Stumble Inn Backpackers, not in booking.com). Double room prices start at ZAR480/US$40 for a small en-suite apartment to ZAR2500/US$200 for a luxury room or cottage at a wine estate.
Eating out – there are plenty of fancy restaurant options in the town and around. If you’re on a limited budget rather cook yourself and try to eat out only once a day, it will cost you between ZAR200/US$16 and ZAR500/US$41 pp for a meal. If your budget is not very limited and you enjoy good food and wine your food budget can be anything between ZAR600/US$50 and ZAR1500/US$125 pp.
Activities – all depends on what you want to do. Hiking and MTB are your cheapest options here, average you pay ZAR40/US$3 pp for a permit. Wine tasting depending on a farm between ZAR30/US$2 to ZAR100/US$8 pp for 3 – 6 wines. If you visit 3 wine estates in Stellenbosch it will cost you between ZAR100 and ZAR200 pp. As a money saving tip if you’re a couple do tasting for one person you get enough in your glass to taste for both and one usually drives anyway.
Transport – rent a car is the easiest option to move around the farms and get to hiking trails. No need to rent a big 4×4 for this trip, a normal sedan car will be more than enough. If you’re on a tight budget go for one of old VW Chico Golf, they are usually the cheapest option, from ZAR149/US$12 per day (if rent for 7 days). If you’d like to explore wine estates in a fancy way why not to rent a Porsche Cobra at least for a day?! These are two extreme options a normal car will cost from ZAR250/US$20 per day. It will cost you quite a bit more, from ZAR2800/US$230 per day. Remember don’t drink and drive if you’d like to do a proper tasting rather join a tour or rent a car with a driver.
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