Stellenbosch - South Africa
I totally fell in love with this place pretty much as soon as I landed in Cape Town International and I saw the mountains leading the way towards Stellenbosch. Surrounded by stunning landscapes and vineyards as far as you can see, the sunsets are what dreams are made of. A young and vibrant atmosphere is about the place due to the infamous Stellie's University, and the coffee culture is booming.
Now where do I start with this one...
This is a little out of Stellenbosch in Franshoek - but definitely worth the drive. Terbadore coffee roasters and restaurant serves amazing food and has a beautiful tranquil garden for brunch or lunch. The south africans are very proud of their Terbadore coffee - and quite rightly so!
You can get yourself an incredible flat white and savoury pastry here - the wifi is strong, your baristas are always smiling and you can choose to sit outdoors in their sunny courtyard or indoors in their rustic wooden bar stool set up.
Located in Stellenbosch Square - you can get your self a pretty good latte and a giant slice of fantastically moist carrot cake here. The slices are huge and could easily feed 3 people, they are worth the journey alone if you're into your cake!
The Blue Crane & the butterfly
Another good spot for a coffee and super tasty salads for lunch. Their cheese scones are also a little bit of magic in your mouth.
Nestled in the centre of Stellies, this is a lovely quaint little restaurant / cafe that has an array of teas to choose from. The decor is fresh and modern and they serve beautiful brunches until 12pm. Good business 'meet' spot.
As you will very quickly realise when visiting Stellenbosch - this is the wine region of South Africa!
You have an exceptional range of wine farms to choose from, all with beautiful gardens and views. Before I came to South Africa, I had never tried South African wine, but now, I can't stop drinking it. These guys have got their wine (and gin) DOWN!
The symmetry of the vineyards is just oh so pretty, and quite a few of them have restaurants and spa's attached to them also. Here is my pick of my favourite ones...
Asara Wine Estate
Asara is a very picturesque spot, it will blow you away the second you drive through their gates and up their perfectly tended garden track surrounded by roses. I also would like to highly recommend the Gin tasting here, and make sure you go at sunset, as it is in an idyllic position over looking the damn in the hotel grounds with the mountains in the background. (The restaurant also serves a melt - in - your - mouth Malaysian Lamb Curry of dreams.)
Gents if you are trying to impress a lady - this is where you want to take her. Ok?
This little Gem has an amazing selection of different wine tasting menus to choose from with large glass walls overlooking the vineyards. In the winter it has a stunning open fire to keep you cosy and the summer it lets in heaps of that beautiful south african sunlight. You can also do Olive Oil tasting here along side your wine tasting which I found quite fascinating realising how different olive oils could be.
Spier Wine Farm
Spier is a big wine farm with a lot to do. The gardens alone are beautiful to walk around, there is a small bakery within the grounds you can stop for a coffee too. You can do a seg-way tour of the vineyards there and there is also a 'eagle encounters' bird sanctuary with many different types of owls and eagles which have been rescued.
Lanzerac Deli - Serves a great breakfast and has a deli counter that will make you drool. I literally would of bought and eaten every pastry going if I could. The eggs Beni is top notch here and the whole place has a real country english vibe to it. They serve the famous Terbadore coffee!
Creme de Levain
The gelato here is AMAZING - located in the centre of town on Church Street. The Strawberry Sorbet is especially good.
Other must do's...
Oude Libertas Market
This market is awesome! I went to 'pop in' and ended up spending 4 hours there! They had amazing live music, craft ales, local wines and heaps of delicious food stands. The fresh fruit and veggies stand is amazing to get your weekly greens from! It is every Saturday Morning until 2pm.
The mountain trails up Coetzenberg by Stellenbosch University are ace fun. Great for trail running or just an evening stroll. I ended up going up here 3 times during my stay because I loved it so much. At sunset its a super beautiful (and romantic) walk, in the mornings its a great hike or trail run for views over the whole of Stellenbosch. You are also allowed to mountain bike here as some of the trails are pretty wide.
So, hear me out on this one - the supermarket 'Spar' is freaking awesome. Their produce is real fresh and their 'Made to order Sushi platters' are heavenly. They also have a little cafe at the front that don't serve a bad coffee! So...go visit Spar.
Manoush - Lebanese restaurant in the town centre - great service and hearty Lebanese food - big portions so beware!
The Open Kitchen - Incredible breakfast and also know mainly for their fantastic eggs Benedict served in various ways. They serve Terbodore coffee here - therefore you know you are onto a winner!
Calcaccio - OH MY WOW THE BEST PIZZA EVER! It also has a cracking wine selection.
Although Franshoek has most definitely cottoned on to the fact that tourists love it - so is therefore my expensive than Stellies itself, there is a reason why, and it is surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Beautiful just to drive through, and again full of many stunning vineyards for wine tasting, walking and views.
So this is a good 1 hour 20mins drive from Stellenbosch - but I had to put it in! If you are about in Stellenbosch in September / October - you should try get to Hermanus to see the Whales. Over this period the whales all come to give birth and you are pretty guaranteed to see them! I went right at the end of the season and saw whales consistently for hours. It was an amazing experience, you don't need to book on a tour, you can literally turn up and see them from the shore whilst having lunch in one of the coastal restaurants.