Stellenbosch (founded in 1679) is about 50 km east of Cape Town and is the second oldest town in South Africa. It was named (like Simon's Town) after the former Governor Simon van der Stel. The town is situated on the banks of the Eerste River ('First River') and has some fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture. It is also known as 'Eikestad' ('Oak City') because of its oak tree lined streets. Wines from the Stellenbosch region are known internationally and rank among the best in the world. Stellenbosch is also home to one of the country's oldest established universities with over 25,000 students. There is a bustling night life during the university term-time, with many night clubs catering for young people.
A van service runs from hostels in Cape Town to Stellenbosch for about R120/pp, depending on how many passengers there are (just one and it's R200). The main bus companies also go to Stellenbosch.
MetroRail operates a regular train service to Stellenbosch from Cape Town via Bellville. Check the schedule, as trains do not run very often. It is also advisable to travel in groups and avoid busy travel times in the morning and evening on weekdays. 1 Stellenbosch station is on Adam Tas Street, on the western edge of town; it is a few minutes walk from the station to the city centre. If heading to the northern parts of town, alighting at 2 Du Toit station might also be an option.
Stellenbosch has its own airfield but the nearest international airport is near Cape Town. Cape Town International airport is about 35 minutes away by car and airport shuttle service is available. Most hotels and guest houses will arrange transfers on request: expect to pay around R400-500 for up to four people.
Stellenbosch lies approximately 60km from Cape Town. Drive on either the N1 or N2 highway. If on the N1, exit at the R304 towards Stellenbosch. If on the N2, exit at the R310 (Baden Powell Drive) and follow the signs. The N1 is generally considered to be the safer route, particularly at night.
Stellenbosch is small enough that the entire city centre can easily be covered on foot. The Tourism Bureau also has a few cycles to rent. A curiosity is that there are no street signs. If you look closely you will see that the street names are indicated in yellow (in Afrikaans) on the edge of the sidewalks.
Unlike many larger South African cities, the centre of Stellenbosch is completely safe at night. There is no need to take taxis for safety - although if you want to eat (and drink) at one of the outlying wine estates, you'll have to.
A walking tour of Stellenbosch provides fascinating glimpses of colonial Dutch architecture. The Stellenbosch Tourism and Information Bureau, 36 Market St., organizes 1½ hour guided tours M-F at 11:00 and 15:00 (R80pp). Special groups can also be arranged for on request. Alternatively, buy the brochure "Historical Stellenbosch on Foot" from the Bureau for R5 and guide yourselves.
- 1 Stellenbosch Museum, 37 Ryneveld St, ☏ . The Stellenbosch Village Museum consists of four adjacent houses of historical interest. Each of these homes represents a different period in the architectural development of the city. The houses, their interiors and their gardens have been restored, and furnished, to illustrate the particular style and taste of the time.
- 2 The Powder House, Blom Rd (close to the Information Centre). Powder, lead and flint were supplied to the inhabitants of Stellenbosch. During the first quarter of the 18th century the annual allowance was 150 pounds of gunpowder, 100 pounds of lead bullets and 300 flintlock stones. This was delivered at the end of September each year for distribution to the citizen army. To avoid damage to the city in the event of an explosion the Powder House was situated away from the main town. These days it houses a small collection of weapons. R5.
- Fick House, 40 Blom Rd (corner Bloem and Alexander). Well-preserved Dutch house. Inside is an excellent collection of traditional furniture, kitchen equipment, etc. that can be visited in office hours
- Theological Seminary, Dorp St. On the site of the original settlement, which was on an island in the Eerste River until one of its watercourses was filled in. This became the first university-level institution in 1859. The garden contains two pines from Norfolk Island, near Australia, which the university's students sometimes like to climb!
- Stellenbosch University Conservatoire (SU Konservatorium (Afr)), c/o Victoria and Neethling St, ☏ . The Stellenbosch Conservatoire is home to the Music Department of the Stellenbosch University. It features the acclaimed 550 seat Endler Hall as well as various other performance and lecture venues. Various concerts take place every week ranging from student concerts and ensembles to performances by renowned artists, both locally and internationally. It is also home to the world-renowned Stellenbosch University Choir.
- Klein Libertas Theatre, Bergzight Plein, Du Toit St (Next to Van Der Stel Sports Complex), ☏ .
- Luhambo Tours, Cape Town, ☏ . Specialised in wine tours to Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, leaving daily from Cape Town. Small groups with specialised wine guides.
Stellenbosch is not short of tourist shops. If you are tempted to take some of the local wine home, don't forget that it will not be accepted in airline hand luggage!
- Oom Samie se Winkel means "Uncle Samie's Shop" in Afrikaans. The shop is situated near the lower end of Dorp Street. You will find wines from the local wine estates, antiques, confectionary, sweets, jams, furniture and curios.
- Champagne (Chabivin (Champagne & MCC house)), Blaauklippen road (Paradyskloof) (www.chabivin.co.za), ☏ . Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM. Relax at Chabivin's Eucalyptus amphitheater while live music and cold bubbles make you appreciate the finer things in life. Either outside on the lawn on giant pillows or in their rustic tasting room.
There are many good restaurants in the town. The area around Church Street is informally known as the local restaurant district, with approximately 19 venues within a four-block radius.
- 1 Basic Bistro, 31 Church St, ☏ . Offers a variety of international cuisine. Reviewed by Rossouw's Restaurants - 7/10 food, 8/10 service
- 2 The Farmer's Kitchen at Mooiberge Farmstall, cnr R44 and Annandale Road, ☏ . A modern take on many traditional South African food, set in a quirky location next to Mooiberge Farmstall, a pick-your-own strawberry farm and store, where you'll be greeted by their "friendly scarecrows."
- 3 Binnenhof (Zest), 2A Ryneveld St, ☏ . Formerly known as Zest. Has a lovely hidden courtyard at the back of the old house.
- 4 [dead link] Fandango, Bird St, ☏ .
- 5 Java Cafe, 25 Church St, ☏ .
- Stellenbosch Kitchen (Corner of Dorp and Andringa Streets), ☏ .
- Slowfood Market, Corner of Bosmans & Distilery rd. Sa 9AM-4PM.. There is a festive atmosphere and a variety of local foods to choose from. Come and see what the locals are up to and indulge in a aray of fresh produce, seafood, luxury bakes and fresly baked breads
- 6 Wijnhuis, Cnr Church and Andringa, Central, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Wijnhuis offers a wine tasting lounge, wine shop and restaurant in a charming setting situated in the heart of the old town. It is a bustling meeting place for visitors to Stellenbosch, locals and students alike.
- Banghoek Place, 193 Banghoek Road, Campus, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Great value double rooms with en suite bathrooms, swimming pool and safe on site parking. Dorm available too. Very helpful and friendly staff. Guests are rather relaxed and calm. From R100pp.
- Cultivar Guest Lodge, Bonniemile Road, Off M12 (25 km from Cape Town International Airport. They are easily accessible from the N1 in Cape Town, and N2 in Cape Town, George, and Somerset West. If you are coming from Franschhoek or Paarl, you can take the R310 or R44, respectively.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. All rooms equipped with cable television, air-conditioning, Private patio in select rooms, Fully equipped kitchen/kitchenette and dining area in select rooms. Some of its facilities and services are room service, barbeque facilities, massage treatments, swimming pool, laundry service, secure parking, shuttle service and daily excursions and airport transfers, on request. From R1230.
- Bertha's guest flats, 16 Helderberg St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From R200pp.
- [dead link] BellaBosch B&B & Self Catering, 7 School St (5 minutes walk from the centre), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Friendly hosts, comfortable beds, and excellent breakfast. From R300pps.
- Oude Werf Hotel, 30 Church St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Formerly "D'Ouwe Werf". Offers 44 very good rooms and has an excellent restaurant although it's just a short and completely safe walk from many others. Also 5 apartments on site sleeping up to 4; good value if travelling as a group. From R900 per room.
- 1 Eendracht Hotel, 161 Dorp St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Historic house in the oldest part of town in Dorp Street. From R395pp.
- Evergreen Manor & Spa, 11 Murray Street, Central, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From R650pps.
- iKhaya Stellenbosch Backpackers, 56 Bird St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. From R130pp.
- [formerly dead link] Oude Leeskamer Guest House, 182 Dorp St (historic town centre), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From R500pp.
- [dead link] Protea Hotel Dorpshuis & Spa, 22 Dorp St (c/o Dorp and Strand Road), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 27-room boutique hotel with spa, small pool, restaurant and luxurious lounging areas. WiFi and room service available. From R550p/p.
- Stellenbosch Traveller's Lodge, Corner of Dorp and Stadler Streets, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. dorm R150pp.
- Stumble Inn Backpackers Lodge, 12 Market Street, Central, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Great value backpackers lodge with double rooms and dormitory beds, swimming pool and safe on site parking. From R130pp.
- [dead link] de Oude Ryneveld, 71 Ryneveld St (5 minutes walk from the center), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Cosy three-star guesthouse with various neat double rooms. Private toilet, washbasin and bath/shower. Good breakfast with the current newspaper, possibly with English breakfast and/or fruit with muesli and delicious yogurt. Can also be eaten outside. Very friendly service, quiet location. Optionally you can rent a bike, a relaxed beach cruiser. On the rooftop you can enjoy the setting sun. Each room has a desk and free internet. From R400pp.
- 2 Batavia Boutique Hotel, 12 Louw St (historic town center of Stellenbosch), ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Boutique hotel. From R 1,350.
- 3 Life and Leisure, 20 Van Riebeeck St (Central Stellenbosch), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11AM. Apartment and guesthouse accommodation. From R750.
- 4 Fynbos Villa Guesthouse, 14 Neethling St (Central Stellenbosch), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10:30AM. Rooms are clean and non smoking and in an idyllic location. Offering safe off street parking for guests, and a beautiful solar-heated swimming pool is available on premises. From R395.
- Visit the nearby vineyards of the Cape Winelands. Maps, information on vineyards that receive and accommodate visitors and advice on getting to them is all available from the very helpful people at the Tourism and Information Bureau. There are many companies and individuals offering organised and customised tours - or more simply and cheaply, you can take the Vine Hopper minibus which picks up anywhere in central Stellenbosch and takes circular routes around 12 local vineyards (6 each on alternate days). Get off the bus where you want, stay as long as you want, and get on a later bus to take you to the next vineyard or - if you've had enough daytime drinking - back to Stellenbosch. Tickets for the Vine Hopper cost R200 and are available from the Tourism and Information Bureau or the larger hotels. Other activities available in the area include whitewater rafting and tour organizers can also be found at the Bureau.