The second oldest town in South Africa, founded by Simon van der Stel in 1679 and renowned for its Cape Dutch buildings, university and wines, Stellenbosch lies in a fertile valley surrounded by vineyards, orchards and mountains.
It is an academic and farming community and one of the best preserved towns in South Africa. Stellenbosch is affectionately known as “Eikestad” – town of oaks
Stellenbosch is situated in the fertile Jonkershoek river valley and boasts a mild Mediterranean climate with rainy winters and hot summers. The Eerste River that flows through the town, has it origin in the nearby Jonkershoek mountains and flows into the Sea at the Strand in False Bay, 20 kilometers away.
The Stellenbosch mountains form a link in the chain of mountains along the south coast of the Western Cape, to the southern tip of Africa (Agulhas). The Stellenbosch valley was the first to be settled and cultivated by the Dutch as they moved from Cape Town towards the interior.
The areas offers superb scenic views over mountains, vineyards and orhards covered with wild flowers in spring. The magnificent mountains ranges reach heights of 1600 metres, forming a spectacular backdrop to the town.
Stellenbosch is a haven for tourists who have time to walk around and savour the atmosphere of this unique town with oak-lined streets and ater furrows. Open-air restaurants and cosy coffee shops line the shady streets and secluded lanes, inviting people to linger and observe the everyday activities of this bustling village.
Of the towns founded in the Cape during the period of control by the Dutch East India Company, Stellenbosch is the best preserved. This becomes apparent when walking along Dorp Street, a national monument, which has one of the longest rows of surviving old buildings in South Africa. Dorp Street is a gracious blend of Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian architecture.
Many of these historic buildings currently house art galleries, restaurants, shops, guest houses and hotels. Talented artists and craftmen find inspiration in this stimulating yet serene environment.
The University of Stellenbosch is an intergral part of the history and atmosphere of the town. As the Second oldest university in South Africa it is dedicated to preseving its heritage, while at the same time preparing the leaders of the future.
Coetzenburg, the university sports grounds, has nurtured some of South Africa’s top athletes and sportsmen and women as well as being the scenic venue for many other events such as the Pavarotti concert and music festivals.
Annual Events that take place are: Athletics meetings at Coetzenburg (February and March); University Rag (February); Stellenbosch Festival – street and music festival (September and October); Simon van der Stel Festival (October) and the Food and Wine Festival (October). Thousands of vistors flock to the village to join in the festivities with the locals!
The viticulture centre of Southern Africa, Stellenbosh boasts the oldest Wine Route in the country, established in 1971.
For a wider appreciation of the area enjoy spectacular views whilst traversing the four passes which make up the fruit route. Starting with the Helshoogte Pass to the Berg river valley, over the Franschoek Pass to the upper Riviersonderend valley, then over the Viljoenspass to Elgin and finally back to Stellenbosch down the Sir Lowry’s Pass.
Stellenbosch with its beautiful art galleries and interesting shops is also part of the Western Cape Arts and Crafts Route.
Stellenbosch Tourism Information is situated at 36 Market Street.