If there’s one thing Stellenbosch is known for, it is wine. One of the top food and wine destinations in South Africa, Stellenbosch is a sprawling wine valley, roughly half an hour’s drive from Cape Town.
With a history dating back 300 years, Stellenbosch is an elegant historical town speckled with Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture. It is the second oldest municipality in South Africa, after Cape Town, and unlike many other historic towns, Stellenbosch feels old in a good way.
The region was established by governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel, in 1679 on the banks of the Eerste River (First River) and became famous for its rich soil needed for growing vegetables and wine grapes. Wheat was the major crop grown by early settlers, but vineyards now blanket the surrounding hills.
Our regional travel experts have given us the low down on one of the oldest wine producing valleys in South Africa, including the best time to visit, the finest hotels, tours and top wineries you just can’t miss...
How to get there
Stellenbosch is just twenty minutes drive away from Cape Town International Airport and central Cape Town itself is just 40 minutes away. If you’re already in Johannesburg or Durban, Internal flights with domestic airlines, take around two hours.
If you’re coming in by road, you are well served, with both the N1 and N2 (national roads) linking to Stellenbosch.
The currency here is the Rand. Currently, there are around 19 Rand to £1 Sterling and 14.5 Rand to 1 USD, so it’s a great time to go as your money will go far!
When to go
Stellenbosch enjoys the temperate climate of the Western Cape of South Africa. Summers are dry and hot, with some February days rising to over 40 °C. Winters are cool, rainy and sometimes windy, with daytime temperatures averaging 16 °C. Spring and autumn temperatures hover in the twenties.
Make sure you visit Stellenbosch old town, a charming, historic university town in the heart of the region. Concertsin the Endler Hall and art in the Sasol Gallery and Rupert Museum cater for cultural tastes here. The centre of town features a craft market and Church Street is the tourist shopper’s Mecca. Mountains tower above the vineyards and the sea with its glorious beaches are only minutes away.
For wine lovers, five wards within Stellenbosch showcase differences in microclimate. Elegance and finesse are keywords for wines from sea-cooled Helderberg in the south, whereas in Greater Simonsberg in the north, you’ll find wines with more power and richness (See here for our wine tours in the region). If you’re in Stellenbosch in late January or February, make sure you go to the Annual Stellenbosch Wine Festival!