Explore the oak-lined streets of Stellenbosch, a well-preserved university town renowned for its museums, art galleries and thatched, Cape Dutch-style houses. This beautiful university town, roughly an hour’s drive east of Cape Town, was founded in 1679 by Dutch governor Simon van der Stel. The second oldest town in South Africa, Stellenbosch is known for its many oak trees, hence the nickname ‘Eikestad’ (city of oaks).
Its streets are lined with some of the most beautiful surviving examples of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture in the Cape. The entire Dorp Street is a national monument – spend an idyllic morning strolling around this charming old part of Stellenbosch, with its secluded lanes, water furrows, cosmopolitan restaurants and coffee bistros with superb views of mountains vineyards and orchards.
The name Stellenbosch is almost synonymous with the South African wine industry. Not only does it have the oldest wine route in the country and arguably the most famous, but the town also has one of the most modern experimental wineries in the world and South Africa’s only viticultural and oenological university department.
South Africa’s oldest music school, the famous Stellenbosch Conservatoire, has its home in this important cultural centre, and there is a collection of galleries and museums housing national and international art collections worth viewing, especially the Rupert Art Museum. Another must-see is the Dorp Museum, a collection of four restored houses including staff in period dress, which depicts life in Stellenbosch from 1710 to 1850.
For the nature lover there are a number of excellent hikes and mountain-bike trails in the nearby Jonkershoek Nature Reserve. For a unique experience, head to Vergenoegd Wine Estate to admire the estate’s 1 070 runner ducks hard at work keeping the vines naturally snail and bug free.
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