Driving in Stellenbosch, South Africa
The historic city of Stellenbosch is located about 50km east of Cape Town in the Western Cape. It’s an important centre of the Cape Winelands and is the second oldest city in South Africa. The name Stellenbosch means Stel’s Forest – this is the colloquial name for the ‘City of Oaks’, due to the large number of oak trees lining the streets.
Stellenbosch was founded in 1679 and was the second largest colony in the country after Cape Town. It was named after its founder Simon van der Stel. When more immigrants arrived, including the French Huguenots who brought grapes, the fertile land of the Stellenbosch area became the centre of the South African Winelands and continues this tradition to the modern day.
What to see in the Stellenbosch area?
No trip to Stellenbosch would be complete without visiting Stellenbosch Village Museum. This is made up of four recreated historic houses, each depicting a different era in the city’s development. Each one has been lovingly decorated and furnished and all are surrounded by well-kept gardens.
As the heart of the wine producing region, Stellenbosch is a wine-lovers dream holiday location. You can visit a number of vineyards in the Cape Winelands and perhaps see the Spier Wine Centre and enjoy sampling the produce, although don’t try too much if you’re driving!
As well as rich and fertile land for successful vine growing, the city is home to Stellenbosch Golf Course, one of South Africa’s top golfing destinations. If, on the other hand, you fancy a spot of retail therapy you can check out Oom Samie se Winkel, a tourist shop in the centre of Stellenbosch. You can pick up a souvenir or too here as it sells everything South African – local wines, antiques, sweets and even some furniture.
Another popular museum in Stellenbosch is V.O.C Kruithuis, which has a lot of war memorabilia on display, while the Toy and Miniature Museum exhibits antique toys, dolls, miniatures and trains.
Helderberg Nature Reserve has a fantastic location – on the slopes of the majestic Helderberg Mountain. This is home to smaller African wildlife but if you want to see the big cats and elephants you’ll have to go as far as the 54,000 hectare Sanbona Wildlife Reserve which is located over 100km away to the east.
Why not hire a car?
The N1 (Cape Town-Johannesburg and Pretoria) and the N2 (Cape Town-Port Elizabeth-Durban) national road routes both pass within 20km of Stellenbosch. The R304 and R44 links Stellenbosch with the N1 and from the N2 you can follow the R44 or the R310 to the city. Cape Town is the nearest International Airport – about 35km away.
Inner Stellenbosch is small enough to explore on foot; however, the best way to discover the magnificent countryside and the Cape Winelands is to hire a car so you can check out our Car Rental Stellenbosch page or the nearby Car Rental Cape Town page.