Ticking off your Stellenbosch bucket list

Stellenbosch may be famous for its university, but for most students, the moments between attending class and studying are the ones best remembered. And here’s where the City of Oaks impresses with its varied attractions.

From history and art to wine tasting, natural beauty and outdoor activities, Stellenbosch rewards you time and again. Whether you are a freshly landed first-year student, a new arrival to town or a visitor to the Winelands, make time in your schedule for our line-up. These Stellenbosch experiences distil what makes our home town a great place and ought to be on any newcomer’s bucket list.

Sip at Street Soirée

The Stellenbosch Street Soiree series is a must-visit for everyone wanting to celebrate and enjoy our beloved town’s renowned wine route. Picture by Francois Lombard

When the closed-off-to-traffic signs, wine barrels topped with Chardonnay and yellow flags fluttering above Drostdy Street appear, students know it’s time to celebrate Stellenbosch as a wine town in its own right.

The annual Street Soirée series is a yearly highlight on the Stellenbosch social calendar. Every soirée is an opportunity to taste a wide selection of locally made wine in the heart of town. Along with a customised tasting glass bearing the famous slogan, “Think Quality. Drink Stellenbosch”, you’ll receive tokens to try 10 wines from any of the 25 participating Stellenbosch Wine Routes farms.

Browse the wine and food stalls as you listen to live music, enjoy the festive atmosphere and take photographs for that all-important Street Soirée Instagram post.

There are Street Soirée events scheduled for 7 February, 21 February, 6 March and 20 March. Book your tickets and enjoy an evening of wine with friends before continuing your festivities in town.

Have scones at Lanzerac

Over the years, Lanzerac Wine Estate has become famous for their freshly baked scones. Picture supplied

Lanzerac Wine Estate is a historic landmark and Stellenbosch icon. Established in 1692, the estate is a mere 13 years younger than the town itself. What better way to celebrate your newfound Stellenbosch life than with a freshly baked treat?

Served with soft Jersey cream, strawberry jam and grated Huguenot cheese, Lanzerac’s famously big serving of buttermilk scones has earned it a following among locals.

The scones are based on a recipe from executive chef Stephen Fraser, who has turned the Lanzerac Deli into a must-visit for anyone new to town. While a single order consists of two scones big enough to share, the best decision would be to take your second one home to enjoy later.

Sitting on the shaded terrace with friends, enjoying a freshly baked scone and warm cup of coffee — all while overlooking the Lanzerac vineyards — is the perfect way to indulge in the easy living that’s central to Stellenbosch.

Hike to the Second Cross

As Coetzenburg is located in an easily accessible area, locals and students enjoy daily walks or hikes on the mountain. Picture by Karla de Bod

Located on Coetzenburg Mountain and popular among students due to its shorter duration, the Second Cross hike will carry you up to an extraordinary view of Stellenbosch. From up here you can see almost the whole town spread out before you, as well as Simonsberg rising to the east.

The starting point for the hike is at Coetzenburg Stadium, where you’ll make your way across the rugby fields in the direction of the mountain. After walking up the stairs, passing the dam and carrying straight on, you’ll find the First Cross. Keep right and continue along the same dirt road to reach the Second Cross trail.

While regulars suggest the hike is an easy to moderate climb, you might find yourself reconsidering your journey halfway up the mountain. There are some relatively steep uphill sections along dirt roads. But don’t give up! The view is worth it and the single-track paths through fynbos are just beautiful. If you take it slowly, you’ll finish at the top after some not-too-tiring scrambling and plentiful water breaks.

The entire hike will take you between two to four hours, depending on your fitness levels and mood. Make sure you take along great company – it will make the rocky climb and picturesque view from the top all the more worthwhile.

Dorp Street Sunday Market

The Dorp Street Sunday Market is open every Sunday from 9:00AM to 15:00PM.

A wholesome stroll through the oldest street in Stellenbosch, accommodated by fantastic live music performances, 60+ incredible pop-up shops and quirky local artisans ought to be a must on your Stellenbosch bucket list.

The Dorp Street Sunday market takes place every Sunday in Dorp Street, with stalls lining down the street selling everything from plants, homemade arts and crafts, leather creations, thrifts and so much more.

While the Market began in October 2020 aiming to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, it has since grown into a large-scale Sunday activity that continues to support local businesses.

Sundowners at Coetzenburg

Watching the sunset on Coetzenburg mountain while enjoying a picnic basket and drinks with friends is the perfect Stellenbosch way to end your day. Picture by Pexels

Sharing a picnic blanket, enjoying a drink, playing soft tunes on the Bluetooth speaker, and watching as the sun sets will never not be a pure Stellenbosch moment.

Coetzenburg Mountain has various locations that are perfect for spreading open a blanket and having a picnic as the sun goes down. To find one of the spots most popular with students, cross the field behind the Danie Craven Stadium. Here are stairs leading up to the edge of the mountain and a prime picnic spot among the trees.

You don’t need much to enjoy the Stellenbosch sunset as it bursts into vivid shades of pink and orange. Good company, a drink in hand and a blanket for two will do just fine.