28 March 2011

Monday Spotlight: Stellenbosch

Over the past few weeks a lot of readers have mentioned that they'd love to see more photos of South Africa on the blog (thanks guys!) and so I've come up with the idea of doing Monday Spotlights!  Since I literally have thousands upon thousands of photos from all over the country, I think I will use every Monday to post on a different city or area of cultural interest.  Most often I'll try and post about some place that I've visited (and loved) and also include recommendations on where to stay, eat, drink etc, so that if any of you lovely readers ever plan on making a trip down here, you'll have a little head start on your travel research :)  Some weeks, I'll mix it up though and rather share a traditionally South African recipe or some fun fact about the country.

I thought the adorable town of Stellenbosch would be the perfect first Monday Spotlight, since it's Jurgen and my old stomping ground, where we first met and where I spent my first year and a half in South Africa.  Needless to say, Stellenbosch is very special to me and brings with it a host of nostalgic feelings and wonderful memories.

The University

Stellenbosch revolves around its University (University of Stellenbosch) and truly is a student's paradise.  The University sits in the very center of everything and almost all restaurants, bars, shopping, etc are within walking distance which means that international students and students without a car can get along perfectly fine.

On our way to explore town - these were are dorms, aren't they gorgeous?!

Stellenbosch is one of the oldest towns in the country that was settled by the Dutch and has maintained a great deal of its Dutch heritage which can be seen and felt in the architecture, culture and winelands that surround the area.  It's well known for it's beautiful red brick walkways and towering oak trees that line the sides of the streets.  There is also a huge cafe culture in Stellenbosch and when the weather is nice, people like to sit outside and enjoy a nice cappuccino and a good book.

Typical Cape Dutch Architecture

City Hall and Red Brick Sidewalks lined with Oak Trees

Where to Eat

There are so many delicious places to eat in Stellenbosch, but here are a few of my favorites:
  • Wijnhuis (Winehouse): is great for a first or last meal in the city.  It is one of the nicer restaurants in town and offers a fantastic wine selection and an even more fantastic menu - I highly recommend the Caprice Salad for a starter and the Ostrich Medallions (yes, Ostrich!) for a main - I promise it will be one of the top three meals you've ever had (unless you're vegetarian of course)!
  • Manouche: is by far my favorite place to eat in Stellenbosch and whenever we go back to visit, it is a must on Jurgen and my to-do list.  Manouche is a Lebanese restaurant and is fairly small with an open air vibe.  The food is very affordable, yet oh so tasty and there is often live music.  Book in advance for dinners if you don't want to wait though because the place fills up fast!
  • Java Cafe: is the perfect streetside cafe for sipping a cappuccino and people watching.  It's always busy, offers a lovely selection of food and also has prime outdoor seating.  I actually waitressed at Java for three months after I graduated, so I can vouch - the place really is worth visiting and their cinnamon pancakes are divine!
    At Wijnhuis on our first night in Stellenbosch
    Where to Drink:
    Since it's a student town, Stellenbosch has a killer nightlife and offers everything from more upscale cocktail lounges, to casual bars to places where you can dance the night away.  Here are three of my favorites:
  • Cubana: would fall within the upscale cocktail lounge category.  If your looking for a dressy night out with the girls then this is the place to be.  There isn't a dance floor, but there is a DJ, they have beautiful cocktails and you can also order snack platters for the table.  They also have hookahs and sell cuban cigars.  There isn't a dress code for girls, but guys have to wear long pants and close-toed shoes.
    The oustide of Cubana
  • Springboks: only normally gets going around midnight, but stays open all night long and has a dance floor, a bar and a pool hall.  It is somewhat of a legend in Stellenbosch, since everyone seems to convene there at 2am and it's every student's goal to "shut down Springbok" one night, i.e. stay there until 6am when the bar finally closes - I must admit I've never done this and most probably never will, but it's an ambitious goal for any of you night owls out there :)
  • Nu'bar: Hands down the best place to be if you want to go dancing and are looking for a student vibe!  It's also probably my favorite place to go out in Stellenbosch.  It's always packed and the DJs take song requests so it always makes for a good night out
    The outide of Nu'bar
    Where to Stay:
    Since I stayed in a dorm in Stellenbosch, I don't have any personal experience with accommodation, but I would recommend staying in a Guest House as there are plenty in the center of town and within walking distance of everything and anything you may want to see - just make sure it's close to Church Street (this is the main street in town) and you should be safe.
    A Few of my Favorite Snapshots:
    All of the girls getting ready to head out for a night on the town :)

    Wine Tasting at Tokara - I love this pic because it was one of the first times Jurgen and I met :)
    Me and the three best roomies a girl could ask for :)
    Thanks so much for joining me for my first Monday Spotlight :) - I'm really excited to make this part of my weekly routine and hope that it will inspire some of you to start planning on making a trip out here!  Eventually, I would love to make this a weekly link up since I would really enjoy to read about your home town and favorite places to visit!
    Hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing weekend :)


  1. I love this! South Africa isn't necessarily the first place I think of when thinking about travelling, but it's really nice to see some of what the country {or, in this case, a city} has to offer. I'm looking forward to next week!


  2. LOVE this Jen! We have only been to Stellies a few times for wine tasting but my sister-in-law studied there and loved it too!
    Can't wait for next week x

  3. i LOVE this feature!! south africa is definitely on my list of places i must visit!

  4. what a beautiful city! and so much to do!!

  5. Do they have a law school? I could study abroad there this summer! It is absolutely beautiful. I need to start planning a visit for when I have money. Great new feature. I can't wait to learn more about SF!

    Have a great week!

  6. Hey, wow it is really pretty in Stellenbosch. I've never been in the Cape, but we are planning on traveling to as many places as we can in South Africa this year, so maybe we'll make a stop there. So happy that you decided on Clarence! Geez, that place is gorgeous!

  7. Oh my goodness this post made me miss Stellenbosch SO MUCH!!! Love love love it!!

  8. That looks like such a cute place!! I love living in student towns...everything's so affordable, lots of nice people, and endless parties! :)


Thanks for the love!