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Beyond Wine: The Essential 7 Things to Do in Stellenbosch

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2 weeks ago

Stellenbosch is considered South Africa’s second-oldest town, so it’s no surprise that there’s a few more things to do in Stellenbosch beyond enjoying the amazing wine selection at its many wine farms. If you have more time to spend in Stellenbosch (maybe you’ve realised that even a week in Cape Town isn’t enough), we’ve uncovered the best that Stellenbosch has to offer so you can enjoy the beauty of the winelands from every angle.

Although Stellenbosch is only a short 45-minute drive from Cape Town, there is so much to explore in Stellenbosch alone. Even the drive to Stellenbosch itself is an experience, with the rolling hills entering your view on the approach. Having said that, Stellenbosch boasts over 150 wineries so you won’t be short of wine-related activities if that is all you’re after.

Stellenbosch is the wine region, but within the region of Stellenbosch is a picturesque university town named Stellenbosch. It’s worth taking an hour to explore Dorp Street, the main drag in the town, but much of the best of Stellenbosch is outside the town.

See the Winelands and Wildlife on Horseback

Although the best safari experiences are to be had in Kruger National Park, you can see wildlife including giraffes and zebras on horseback in Stellenbosch. Horseback riding is a great experience in the Winelands to complement your stops at the amazing wineries of Stellenbosch.

There are only a few places that you can go horseback riding in Stellenbosch, but make sure you’re choosing an organization that treats its horses well.

Learn how to E-foil

South Africa is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and one activity South Africans love is e-foiling. For the uninitiated, e-foiling is the use of an electric surfboard about 80 cm over the water surface. Jetpacks are still a little out of reach for most, but e-foiling gives you the sense of flying on water – and what better place to do it than in Stellenbosch within the beauty of the winelands.

E-foiling looks harder than it is, so, even for beginners, it’s one of the best things to do in Stellenbosch beyond wine.

Paraglide in the Winelands

It is not an uncommon site in Cape Town to see paragliders landing on the beach in Sea Point. And although Cape Town is a great place to paraglide, one of the best things to do in Stellenbosch is to paraglide through the winelands. You will get to see the entire region and surrounds from a totally new perspective that you won’t soon forget.

Many of the best tandem paragliding experiences will see you jump from Paarl Rock or Franschhoek Pass. Some will offer jumps from Signal Hill in Cape Town, but paragliding enthusiasts confirm that the paragliding in Stellenbosch is far superior.

Visit the World-Class Rupert Museum

Set on the banks of the Eerste River, the Rupert Museum is always exhibiting inspiring and thought-provoking pieces from modern South African artists. The building itself is a beautiful mix of modern and the centuries-old Cape Dutch style of architecture, providing a perfect place for the contemporary pieces within.

Since its renovation, entry to the museum is free, and if you want an extra special experience, it is absolutely worthwhile to explore the museum with a guide. The guided tours are infrequent, unfortunately, but, fortunately, are free as well. Given South Africa’s troubled history, it adds a heightened color to the visuals if you have a guide with you who is able to provide context to the works on display and the artists who made them.

Try an Olive Oil Tasting at Tokara Estate

Tokara Estate is considered by locals and frequent visitors to Stellenbosch alike as one of the more underrated wine farms in Stellenbosch. Aside from the breath-taking views from the vineyard, an art gallery, deli and great restaurant, a little-known experience that can be even more fun than tasting wine is sampling the olive oil.

Tokara Estate has called its olive oil tasting the “Tokara Olive Oil Odyssey” which includes both food and olive oil. Most of us are aware of how a dish paired with an appropriate wine can significantly enhance the flavor and experience, and it’s surprisingly the same with olive oil.

Tokara’s olive oil tasting is one of the best things to do in Stellenbosch beyond wine but, given the tasting is on Tokara Estate, you would be remiss to not indulge in their wine tasting as well.

Shop at Lourensford Market (summer only)

We wish Lourensford Market were an all-year market, but unfortunately it is just for the summer season (which more or less begins in September in South Africa). It is usually in the early evenings on Fridays, and during the day on Saturdays and Sundays.

Many of the vendors who set up shop at Lourensford Market are selling produce and goods grown or made in the local area, so it’s a great way to experience some of the best of Stellenbosch. Everyone is happy to share the story of their goods which makes everything just that much better.

One of the other reasons why visiting Lourensford Market is one of the best things to do in Stellenbosch is because it is a snapshot of Western Cape society. There is usually live music by artists from the area and always tasty food, including South African foods and desserts that you won’t find as good elsewhere.

Enjoy a Wine + Chocolate Tasting at Hidden Valley

Locals and visitors alike love Hidden Valley Wines for a number of reasons. One of those reasons is the excellent wine + chocolate tasting which is unique among the wine (only) tastings you’ll find throughout the region. But it isn’t just your run-of-the-mill chocolate. The wine + chocolate tasting at Hidden Valley is thoughtfully curated in much the same way you’d expect your wine and food to be paired at a restaurant.

The Hidden Valley chocolatier handmakes chocolate to pair with each glass of wine. She first tastes the wine and then makes a chocolate which properly complements the profile of the wine, so quite a lot of effort goes into every flavor that you’ll try.

This means you’re not just getting a piece of chocolate with your wine, you’re getting a combination of flavors and textures which each serve to elevate the other.

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