Located in the Western Cape Province, Stellenbosch South Africa is just a short 30 miles from Cape Town. It's easy to fit a trip to Stellenbosch into your vacation as a side trip from Cape Town, but it's also a popular South Africa destination in its own right. The major draw? Stellenbosch wine, produced from numerous local wineries. Wine isn't the only attraction, however; Stellenbosch offers its visitors hiking trails, restaurants, slow-food markets, and museums and galleries.
Founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel, then Governor of the Cape Colony, Stellenbosch South Africa is now part of the Cape Winelands region, the largest of South Africa's main wine regions, as is the nearby city of Franschhoek. Stellenbosch has a mild Mediterranean climate that is ideal for winemaking, and touring the Stellenbosch wine route is a popular activity. There are 106 cellars, the majority of which are open to the public for wine tours or tastings. Stellenbosch was at one point nicknamed the City of Oaks because of all the oak trees founder Simon van der Stel planted, and the city is still filled with oak trees, perfect for a shady picnic with a bottle of your favorite Stellenbosch wine.
Stellenbosch's downtown area is centered on Dorp Street, where Stellenbosch University is located. After sipping your way through a leisurely day, you can get a taste of South African dining near Church Street, where you'll find cafes, bistros, and markets. If your Stellenbosch vacation puts you in town on a Saturday, visit the city's slow-food market, the Stellenbosch Fresh Goods market. You'll find fresh, seasonal, locally grown food including fruits, vegetables, breads, meat, fish, olive oils, jams, and honey.
When night falls, there are several Stellenbosch hotels to choose from, including bed and breakfasts, cheap hotels, and luxury hotels. To save money on accommodations, look for vacation packages. Or, if you want to make your Stellenbosch vacation a mere day trip, it's quite easy to reach Stellenbosch from Cape Town—take either a bus or train, or drive your rental car. The closest international airport is in Cape Town, making the city easily accessible by air as well.
Stellenbosch South Africa is a great place for walkers and hikers, with many trails ranging in length and difficulty. One spot for easy walks is Granny's Forest at the Helderberg Farm. More challenging hikes include the Panorama Trail and Swartboskloof Trail. The former is about 10.5 miles, and the latter is just over eleven miles. For an even longer hike, try the fifteen-mile Vineyard Hiking Trail, which winds through forest plantations, olive groves, vineyards, and coastal land. This is an especially beautiful trail in spring and autumn.
Stellenbosch also boasts a variety of cultural attractions, from museums and galleries to the country's oldest music school, the Stellenbosch Conservatoire. The Stellenbosch Village Museum, the Stellenbosch University Museum, and the Sasol Art Museum are just a few of the museums and galleries that are popular among visitors, especially those interested in art and in the history of South Africa.
Stellenbosch holds obvious appeal for wine-lovers, but the city also has many other attractions, from cultural and historical museums to beautiful meandering hiking trails and tasty cafes and restaurants. Whether your Stellenbosch vacation is a day or a week, it is sure to be a relaxing, memorable trip, and this destination is well worth including on the itinerary for your South Africa vacation.