The town of Stellenbosch in South Africa is a beautiful place with many amazing things to do. One can find here a variety of activities from wine tasting and fine dining to mountain biking and hiking. There are plenty of things to do in Stellenbosch for any traveler.
Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa. It was 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. Stellenbosch is definitely the place to include in your Cape Town itinerary.
Nowadays Stellenbosch offers its visitors a great combination of beautiful wine estates, outdoor activities, fine restaurants, and breathtaking 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 explore the Cape Winelands or stop here on the way to the Garen Route.
Best things to do in Stellenbosch
There are many wine estates, restaurants, and outdoor activities in Stellenbosch. We haven’t been/done all of them but every year when we come to South Africa we try to visit a couple of new places.
You can visit Stellenbosch and do a wine tasting with a tour from Cape Town
- From Cape Town: Stellenbosch Four Estate Full-Day Wine Tour
- From Cape Town: Cape Winelands Full-Day Private Tour
- Winemakers Way Reserve Wine Tour
Taste local wines
Local wines are the main reason most tourists come here. Winetasting is the main thing to do in Stellenbosch. Even if you don’t like wine or don’t drink alcohol just driving around the area, stopping at wine estates for lunch or coffee is still worth the visit.
There are hundreds of wine estates around Stellenbosch and most of them offer wine tasting. Choosing a handful to visit is difficult. Here are some of our favorite places.
Stellenbosch winetasting tours
- Full-Day Afrivista Wine Tours from Stellenbosch
- Daily Different small group WINE tour – from Stellenbosch
- Opening hours – Mon-Sun from 10 am to 6 pm
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 which offers one of the most scenic drives in Cape Town.
Don’t miss the selfie spot on the top of the hill in the vineyards. There is a restaurant with a great view where you can have lunch or dinner.
- Opening hours – Mon-Sat from 10 am to 5 pm, Sun from 10 am to 4.30 pm
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.
- Opening hours – Mon-Sun from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm
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 a 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.
- Opening hours – Mon-Wed, Sat, and Sun from 10 am to 5 pm, Thu and Fri from 10 am to 6 pm
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, with strong pineapple-tropical fruit aromas. You can add a cheese platter to your wine tasting.
- Opening hours – Mon-Sun from 10 am to 5 pm
Waterford is the place not to miss in Stellenbosch. The farm and the surroundings are absolutely beautiful. The main farmhouse reminds an Italian villa somewhere in Tuscany. For a moment you forget that you’re in Africa. Local wines are definitely worth tasting. There are different tasting options here. We really enjoyed the Jem Tasting experience.
There is an inside tasting room but I’d recommend finding a table on the patio with a fountain.
You can find more information on local wines in our detailed Stellenboch wine guide.
Jump on a hop-on-hop-off wine bus
Hop-on-hop-off wine bus is a great way of visiting several estates and tasting wines without being worried about drinking and driving, you can taste as much as you want. Another advantage is that you don’t have to rent a car if you’re one or two people the bus works out cheaper. 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.
There are three different bus routes if you stay in Stellenbosch for several days you can do a different route every day.
Try wine and chocolate pairing
- Opening hours – Sun to Wed from 9 am to 5 pm (last tasting at 4 pm); Thu to Sat from 9 am to 6 pm (last tasting at 5 pm). Booking is required
Suggested Stellenbosch wine and chocolate tours
The pairing is an amazing experience for wine and chocolate lovers. In our opinion, a visit to Spier is a great way to start wine tasting around Stellenbosch. For the tasting, you get three different wines (two red and one white) and three chocolates (white, milk, and dark), and a glass of sparkling wine to clear the palette. The chocolates are made especially for the tasting to complement the wines. You get a detailed explanation about the wines and the tasting. We enjoyed the experience so much that we ended up buying all three wines and chocolates to repeat the tasting at home.
You can stay at Spier Hotel and Wine Farm for a couple of days to enjoy the beauty of the area.
Enjoy a family day at Fairview
- Opening hours – Mon to Sun from 9 am to 5 pm
Fairview is probably the busiest farm in the area and one of the favorite places for families. If you travel with children it’s one of the best things to do in Stellenbosch for you. It’s an all-in-one estate where you can taste wines, cheese, and chocolate, do hiking and cycling, see some farm animals, etc. You can spend half of a day or even a full day here trying and exploring.
At Fairview, adults can taste several local wines and cheeses, delis, and farm products. There are different pairing combinations to choose from. Children love watching cute little goats that walk in the enclosure next to the tasting room, there are small wooden bridges and a tower where goats like climbing. If you want to have a break between tasting experiences you can go on a farm tour with Farmer Donald or on a guided mountain walk. After tasting, exploring, and playing the whole family can enjoy lunch at Goatshed restaurant.
Taste sparkling wines
- Opening hours – May to September Mon – Thu, Sun from 10 am to 4 pm; October to April Mon – Thu from 10 am to 4 pm, Fri – Sun from 10 am to 5 pm
House of JC Le Roux is a dream place for sparkling wine lovers, here you can taste sweet and dry sparkling wines, wines made by Methode Cap Classique (champagne), 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 and tasting their wines and sweets. Sparkling wine is a good way to start a day of wine tasting.
If you like tasting local wines and discovering new places you might enjoy driving the Breedekloof Wine Route or visiting Durbanville wine farms, both areas offer great winetasting experiences and beautiful scenery.
Visit Route 44 market
- Opening hours – Sat and Sun from 9 am to 5 pm
We love the Route 44 market it’s a not-to-miss thing to do in Stellenbosch if you come here on weekend. 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 10 am there is not much going on.
If you’re looking for more places to visit in the Cape Winelands the charming town of Franschhoek has many things to do including fine dining and wine tasting.
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Blend your own wine
- Opening hours – Mon-Sun from 10 am to 4.30 pm. Booking is essential.
If after visiting Stellenbosch wine farms you got inspired to try blending your own wine Midvlei Wine Estate is the place to come. During the workshop, you get to learn how wine is made, taste a couple of local wines and blend your own wine. You get a blending kit to make one bottle of wine. You can get a personalized label to make your bottle of wine even more unique. It’s a great and fun experience for two people. It’s a great and fun activity that takes about 1,5 hours. For me, it was a new experience. Campbell during his University years spent a lot of time making his own wine.
Besides blending your own wine there are many other things to do at Midvlei such as wine tasting, tapas, and wine pairing, dining, etc. They have some fun activities for kids as well including feeding farm animals, making their own juice, playing in a sandpit, etc.
Explore the historical Stellenbosch
Stellenbosch has a beautiful historical center a visit to which is 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 about 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.
Dorp Steet. It is one of the main tourist streets in Stellenbosch with old oak trees on both sides of the road, old houses built in the Cape Dutch architecture style, and many restaurants, art galleries, and craft shops.
Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden is a beautiful place in the center where you can see plants and flowers growing outside and inside greenhouses.
The Rupert Museum is a private art museum with a collection of paintings and sculptures by South African artists.
The Stellenbosch museum is a history and cultural museum with expositions and displays dedicated to different topics all related to the history of the town.
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, the different inhabitants of the area, and the famous graduates of the University. The tour is a nice introduction to the town and its history.
Hike in Jonkershoek Nature Reseve
- Opening hours – 1st May to 31st August from 8 am to 4 pm; 1st September to 30th April from 7 am to 4 pm. Gates close for exit a 6 pm.
- Entrance fee – adults – ZAR 50/US$2,7, children – ZAR 30/US$1,6
Stellenbosch hiking tours
- Day hikes in Franschhoek, Paarl and Stellenbosch mountains
- Stellenbosch: Half-Day Guided Nature Hike and Wine Tasting
The Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is situated just 10 km outside Stellenbosch. There are several hiking trails of different lengths and difficulties.
Our favorite is a challenging 17 km hike on the Panorama route in the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. The hike involves a steep climb up to the top of the mountains with a subsequent steep descent all the way down. It’s a difficult route that requires good physical conditions. It takes between 6 and 7 hours to complete it.
You can visit the reserve and walk one of the shorter routes, which will take you about 2 hours to complete. The Tweede Waterfall is a great short hike, it’s a 6,5-km return trail that finishes at a picturesque waterfall with 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 lookout point.
Hikers must bring enough water 1,5l per person and some snacks. Exploring the reserve can take from a couple of hours to half of the day depending on the chosen route. In summer it’s highly recommended to start hiking early in the morning before it gets too hot.
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.
If you enjoy the outdoors make sure to include in your Cape Town itinerary Lion’s Head hike and one of the hiking trails up Table Mountain these are the most popular hikes in Cape Town.
What to pack 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.
Explore Spice Route
- Opening hours – Mon-Sun from 9 am to 5 pm
Visiting Spice Route is another great thing to do in Stellenbosch for families with children. There are many things to try and taste and plenty of adventure and learning activities. You can spend here the whole day and nobody will be bored. At Spice Route, you can taste pretty much anything from wines, spirits, and beer to chocolate, cured meats, and spices. While you enjoy food and drinks children can run and explore. There is a big outside children’s play area with obstacles, swings, etc.
Hiking is another popular thing to do here. 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.
Go on a tree-top adventure
- Opening hours – September to April Wed-Sun from 9 am to 6 pm; May to August Wed-Sun from 9 am to 5 pm.
Acrobranch Tree-top adventure is situated on Klein Joostenberg farm and winery just outside Stellenbosch. They have tree-top courses for adults and children. You can combine tree climbing with zip lining.
There are four different tree-top experiences;
- The Acro-twigs (The yellow course) with 3 fun ziplines and 15 fun obstacles for children from 3 yo.
- The green course is a more challenging course with 17 obstacles.
- The Swinging Tarzan course is suitable for 7+ yo and adults.
- Full Acrobranch Experience is suitable for 9 years and older.
After completing one of the courses, you can enjoy lunch, wine tasting, or picnicking at Klein Joonstenberg farm.
Visit Dylan Lewis’ Sculpture Garden
- Opening hours – Tue – Sat from 8.30 am to 5 pm, by appointment only
- Admission fee – adults – ZAR200/US$10, children – free
Dylan Lewis is a famous South African sculptor. His studio is located near Stellenbosch, the garden is a part of the studio where visitors can see some of the artists’ works. The garden, the surrounding scenery, and the sculptures coexist in perfect harmony. The sculptor is known for his animal sculptures many of which you can see at wine estates around Stellenbosch and Cape Town.
The garden is a perfect place to come to spend a couple of hours in a beautiful peaceful environment surrounded by impressive artworks.
Go on a cycling/MTB adventure
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, do one wine tasting and one chocolate/wine pairing, and have a cellar tour.
MTBking through the Paradyskloof plantation. This is more of a wild experience, the track (a narrow dirt path) goes through the forest, and 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 that 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.
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; 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.
Venture on a 4×4 drive
Off-road driving is a popular activity 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.
Where 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. Out of many amazing places to visit in Cape Town Stellenbosch is one of the best to come for wine tasting and fine dining.
- Low-end | Olive tree private apartment | Pelikaan 9 | The Little Hideaway Guesthouse |
- Middle price | Absolute Bosch Guest House | Besigheim | Kleinbosch Lodge |
- High-end | River Manor Boutique Hotel | Summerwood Guest House | Coopmanhuijs Boutique Hotel & Spa |
How to get to Stellenbosch?
Renting a car is the easiest way to move around in Cape Town. Renting 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.
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 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 Cape Town. If you don’t have a full 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 the vineyards of Stellenbosch.
Trip planning resources
- Make sure to include some of the best wine estates in your itinerary | Stellenbosch wine tasting – a guide to the best wine farms |
- Explore more of the Cape Winelands | Best things to do in Franschhoek |
- Add the best activities to your Cape Town itinerary | Amazing things to do in Cape Town |
- Find the best places to stay in Stellenbosch | Hotels, apartments, and B&Bs in Stellenbosch |
- Where to rent a car in Cape Town | Best car rental deals |
- Where to eat in Stellenbosch | 23 best restaurants in Stellenbosch |
The pretty half of Stingy Nomads, responsible for all our land adventures (hiking, climbing, walking the Camino) and following them write-ups. Alya loves walking since she was a child, she prefers to walk 1000 km with a backpack rather than to do a 10 000 km road trip (actually any road trip). Alya is a big fan of Latin America, the Spanish language, and dancing. Every time we go away she desperately misses our dog Chile.
Friday 22nd of June 2018
Is it practical to use ride share services (like Uber) to be picked up and dropped off in Stellenbosch wine country?
Saturday 23rd of June 2018
Hello, Michelle! Thank you for the question! Many people in Cape Town use Uber service otherwise it's quite tricky to mover around without a car by public transport. In Stellenbosch you'll need a car again to visit the wine farms as they are quite far apart you can't walk there or take a bus. It's possible to do a wine tour where you get picked up by a mini bus from Cape Town and visit a couple of wine estates in one day it's easier and cheaper. Another option is to rent a car like most tourists in South Africa do, to rent a small car (with the airport pickup) for 3 days will cost you US$55 plus petrol, which is much cheaper than using Uber. Enjoy the wine country!
Thursday 19th of April 2018
That's awesome that you guys did so much hiking in the region! We were only there for a few days and really just boozed it up, lol! Thanks for sharing your adventures. You guys were a real inspiration for us when we traveled to Namibia in March 2018. Keep up the great work!
Friday 20th of April 2018
Hi, Natalie! We love hiking around Stellenbosch, there are many great trails there. Luckily we live in Cape Town and cam drive to Stellenbosch any time. Thank you for reading our blog and good luck in your future adventures! Cheers!