Stellenbosch (pop. about 100,000) is a city in the Western Cape of South Africa and is the heart of the Cape Winelands, South Africa's prime wine region.


The Stellenbosch Powder House, surrounded by the oaks for which the city is famous

Stellenbosch (founded in 1679) is about 50 km east of Cape Town and is the second oldest town in South Africa. It was named (like Simon's Town) after the former Governor Simon van der Stel. The town is situated on the banks of the Eerste River ('First River') and has some fine examples of Cape Dutch architecture. It is also known as 'Eikestad' ('Oak City') because of its oak tree lined streets. Wines from the Stellenbosch region are known internationally and rank among the best in the world. Stellenbosch is also home to one of the country's oldest established universities with over 25000 students. There is a bustling night life during the university term-time, with many night clubs catering for young people.

Get in

By bus

A van service runs from hostels in Cape Town to Stellenbosch for about R120/pp, depending on how many passengers there are (just one and it's R200). The main bus companies also go to Stellenbosch.

By train

MetroRail operates a regular train service to Stellenbosch from Cape Town via Bellville. Check the schedule, as trains do not run very often. It is also advisable to travel in groups and avoid busy travel times in the morning and evening on weekdays. The train station is on Adam Tas Street, on the western edge of town ; it is only a few minutes walk from the station to the city centre.

By plane

Stellenbosch has its own airfield but the nearest international airport is near Cape Town. Cape Town International airport is about 35 minutes away by car and airport shuttle service is available. Most hotels and guest houses will arrange transfers on request: expect to pay around R400-500 for up to four people.

By car

Stellenbosch lies approximately 60km from Cape Town. Drive on either the N1 or N2 highway. If on the N1, exit at the R304 towards Stellenbosch. If on the N2, exit at the R310 (Baden Powell Drive) and follow the signs. The N1 is generally considered to be the safer route, particularly at night.

Get around

Stellenbosch is small enough that the entire city centre can easily be covered on foot. The Tourism Bureau also has a few cycles to rent. A curiosity is that there are no street signs. If you look closely you will see that the street names are indicated in yellow (in Afrikaans) on the edge of the sidewalks.

Unlike many larger South African cities, the centre of Stellenbosch is completely safe at night. There is no need to take taxis for safety - although if you want to eat (and drink) at one of the outlying wine estates, you'll have to.


A walking tour of Stellenbosch provides fascinating glimpses of colonial Dutch architecture. The Stellenbosch Tourism and Information Bureau, 36 Market St., organizes one and a half hour guided tours at 11.00 and 15.00 Monday to Friday (R80pp) and special groups can also be arranged for on request. Alternatively, buy the brochure "Historical Stellenbosch on Foot" from the Bureau for R5 and guide yourselves.



Wine tours

Vriesenhof Vineyards in Stellenbosch wine country


Stellenbosch is not short of tourist shops. If you are tempted to take some of the local wine home, don't forget that it will not be accepted in airline hand luggage!


There are many good restaurants in the town. The area around Church Street is informally known as the local restaurant district, with approximately 19 venues within a four-block radius.

A friendly scarecrow at Mooiberge Farmstall in Stellenbosch, South Africa.


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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, October 23, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.