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A Traveller’s Guide to Stellenbosch

Stellenbosch, Western Cape, a student town with a rich heritage, is a favourite among tourists. This town is diverse, featuring picturesque scenery, beautiful Dutch architecture, and a wide variety of cultures and languages.

The town of Stellenbosch is the second oldest town in South Africa. Founded in 1679 by Simon van der Stel (who named the town after himself), it is one of the most well-known towns in the country. Stellenbosch is home to Stellenbosch University, one of the leading tertiary institutions in SA. Established in 1685, the student body now numbers approximately 30 000. The university has ten faculties and a wide variety of sports clubs.

There’s a lot to do in Stellenbosch. Here are a few attractions every traveller should add to their Stellenbosch bucket list:

Eat

Meraki

Meraki, “a place to gather and feast”, is one of the chicest cafés in town. It serves locally sourced coffee, freshly baked pastries, and a great variety of heartwarming meals (try the brisket burger with pickles, or the peppered mackerel with a baked sweet potato). The restaurant has a welcoming ambience and it usually buzzes with students. The decor is modern and minimalistic with potted plants giving the place a homey atmosphere.

De Warenmarkt

De Warenmark, situated in a cherished 18th-century historical building in the centre of town, is a small indoor food market. Entering through the bar area, you go to a larger market room. Here, you recognise De Warenmarkt’s inspiration: the Cape of Good Hope’s legacy as trade post along the route to Asia. The market area comprises of a collective of stalls offering speciality meats, baked goods, coffee, Saldanha Bay oysters and more. Not only is this place’s food great, but also its drinks, from craft beer to sparkling Simonsig MCC wine.

Trumpet Tree

Trumpet Tree is a buzzing social café serving pizzas, ribs, burgers, and beers. The restaurant is open till late and it is a great venue for birthday or year-end parties, pre-drinks with a big group, or even dates.

The Gypsy Collective hosts a vintage market there monthly, so keep an eye on The Gypsy Collective’s Facebook page to find out when the next market will be.

Genki

For something completely different, try Genki Sushi. This cosy restaurant serves fresh sushi and Japanese tapas. Genki also offers a large range of individually-chosen local wines that complement their menu. You can either sit inside or outside, underneath the oaks.

Explore

Wine route

First of all, visiting at least one of Stellenbosch’s wine farms is a must. Stellenbosch is part of the Cape Winelands, SA’s primary wine-making region. The wine tours in this area are highly recommended. Notable wine farms include:

  • Spier Wine Farm (a popular venue for concerts)
  • 300-year-old Lanzerac Wine Estate
  • Blaauwklippen Wine Estate
  • De Zalze Winelands Golf Estate (as well as its neigbouring Kleine Zalze)
  • the fabulous Delaire Graff Estate

Besides wine tasting, the farms also offer other activities such as picnics, horse riding, strawberry picking, Segway tours, and outdoor music festivals.

Root 44 Market

On the Audacia wine farm just outside Stellenbosch, next to Route 44, the ROOT44 Market entertains locals and tourists alike every Saturday and Sunday. The popular market, surrounded by beautiful vineyards and trees, offers live music, craft and homeware stalls, and a wide selection of delicious food and drinks.

Furthermore, if you turn up on Saturday mornings at 8:00 am, you can join ROOT44’s weekly parkrun. These free 5 km timed runs are suitable for serious athletes as well as leisurely strollers.

Oom Samie se Winkel

Oom Samie se Winkel (meaning “Uncle Sammy’s Shop”) is a Victorian-style store that has been in Stellenbosch since 1904. It is now a national monument. The quaint shop offers all sorts of fascinating knickknacks and food products, such as rare antiques, broomsticks, old remedies and boiled sweets.

Botanical Garden

Stellenbosch University Botanical Garden, which is situated in the historical centre of the town, has a multitude of plants from all over the world – from SA’s unique fynbos (“fine bush”) to unique Bonsai trees to America’s carnivorous plants such as the Venus Flytrap. The garden, open daily to the public, is a nice retreat from the busy town. Visitors can walk around, relax on a bench or on the grass, or go to the café.

Party

Catwalk

Catwalk is an upmarket nightclub with three different dance floors (house, Afrikaans/sokkie and trance music respectively), three lounge areas and two bars. It is open six nights a week from 20:00-02:00 and it is busiest on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Expect a lot of students and a (relatively) sophisticated vibe.

Bohemia

Bohemia is a popular, eclectic student hangout serving affordable drinks and well-known pizzas. It is open from 11:00 in the morning already, but at night the place is crowded with students enjoying the live music and good wine. Moreover, the decor is bohemian, adding to the venue’s laid-back atmosphere.

Nu’Bar

Nu’Bar has established itself as an upmarket nightclub for students and the working class alike. Although Nu’Bar Stellenbosch is quite small, it’s a great place to dance the night away and mingle with other young people.

Aandklas

Old school-themed Aandklas (“Evening Class”) is a favourite among fans of rock and alternative music. It has pool tables and it often hosts live music performances by local favourites such as Francois van Coke, Majozi, Uncle Spike, Haezer and Medicine Boy. Additionally, it has cocktails and good food, most notably its pizza and snack baskets. On Thursdays, have a go at their Thursday Quiz Night!

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