Wine, oak trees, art, students, historical buildings and sidewalks lined with coffee shops define South Africa's second oldest town.
Stellenbosch is close to my heart as I grew up and studied here. But being a tourist in your hometown can be quite an awakening experience. It can refresh your love for a place, and even leave you a little bit nostalgic.
Something that no one can deny about this town, however, whether you are a tourist, a local or just passing through, is that it's postcard-pretty.
And despite Stellies' variety of stunning museums, galleries and eateries like Fat Butcher, outside is where it's at. From walking it, to cycling it, to sitting in awe of it, this is a town best explored al fresco.
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Head here for a weekend breakaway with family or friends and take in some of the fantastic Cape Country Routes (CCR) properties and activities in both Stellenbosch and the surrounding areas, like Paarl. Started in 1997 by a group of enterprising independent hotels and country inns, the CRR aims to encourage visitors to explore the scenic, romantic and historic routes between the two harbour cities – Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. CCR’s collection of more than 20 privately owned hotels, lodges and guest houses, unusual places and attractions and activities and tours.
And Stellenbosch is scenic verby!
And what's really the most special thing about visiting CRR spots, is that you get to meet the people behind it. And what's a place without the people?
Here is a quick itinerary for 48 hours in Stellies and surrounds:
- Start by walking the town. The centre is pretty compact so you won't get (too) lost. Dorp and Church Street is where the buzz is as all the museums, coffee shops, restaurants and boutique shopping are scattered about these two streets.
- Visit a wine farm by bicycle - Adventure Shop offers guided cycle tours of Stellies. (And, luckily, fitness don't need to be at an advanced level). They will host you on a guided tour, informing you about the town's background and history. Spend a Saturday in the outdoors, as you get in some light exercise on your way to a few wine farms, like Lanzerac for chocolate and wine tasting or grab a view and some ice coffee at Postcard Cafe on the Conde-Stark estate in the Jonkershoek Valley.
I mean, this view makes me never want to go inside again...
- Then opt for an afternoon in the Stellenbosch surrounds. Paarl is a close drive from Stellies, so hop on over and go for a drink by the pool or a picnic by the waterfall at Cascade Country Manor. The most refreshing place to be on a warm Paarl day.
(Delicious quiches served at d'Olyfboom, Paarl. PHOTO: Marisa Crous)
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I spent two beautiful days in Stellies' 3-star Eendracht Hotel. Situated on the main road, Dorp, the street is lined with oak trees. The most desired location, it is very much seconds away from the action.
I remember passing by the hotel when I lived here, wondering what it looked like inside. And it certainly didn't disappoint.
(Eendracht Hotel, Stellenbosch. PHOTO: Marisa Crous)
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Charmingly decorated, the hotel is both modern and traditional in its details. One of my favourite things while staying here was the afternoon tea or coffee service, served with traditional-as-it-comes, milktart. (Complimentary for guests).
And then, you have this pool...
(Eendracht Hotel pool, Stellenbosch. PHOTO: Marisa Crous)
Another stay to consider is the Evergreen Manor & Spa. Situated close to the University, it is 4 minutes from town and next to the Botanical gardens - it's a luxe, romantic getaway for couples.
TIP: Chat to the owners, they have an excellent/hilarious story to share about the first day they opened their lovely spot.
48 hours might not be enough, frankly.
This pretty town has it all, and it is not just postcard-pretty, but the people are warm and inviting, just like a day spent outdoors in this one of a kind area of the winelands.
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