If you have time for only one historic stop in town, make it the Village Museum, 18 Ryneveld St. (tel. 021/887-2902; Mon-Sat 9am-5pm, Sun 10am-4pm; admission R20), which comprises the Schreuderhuis Cottage (1709), the Cape Dutch Blettermanhuis (1789), the Georgian Grosvenor House (1803), and the Victorian-era home of O. M. Bergh (1850). Each house has a guide in period dress, and the artful styling of the furniture, combined with the accessible explanations on the architecture and fashion of these eras, make these the best house museums in the country. Just around the corner from the museum is the Neo-Gothic Moeder Kerk, or "Mother Church," which is the only monument of its kind in the region, harking back to the early days of the town's development and still a part of community life.

From here, head south along Drosdty Street, turn right onto Dorp Street, and then stroll down the oak-dappled street to see the legendary dusty shelves at Oom Samie Se Winkel (tel. 021/887-2612; 9:30am-6pm Mon-Fri, 9am-5:30pm Sat-Sun, till 6pm in summer), a Victorian-style general dealer (literally, "Uncle Sam's Shop") bursting at the seams with knickknacks. It's a great place to pick up kitschy souvenirs, such as step-by-step bobotie spice packs, dried-fruit rolls, and dirt-cheap enamel plates. Do browse, although you probably won't want to shop here; far better places to pick up a variety of gifts (from homeware to local music CDs) are housed in the Black Horse Centre a little way up the street, on the corner of Dorp and Mark streets.

If your interest is in art, then don't miss the collection of 20th-century South African art at the Rupert Museum (tel. 021/888-3344; R20 adults; Mon-Fri 9:30am-1pm and 2-4pm, Sat 10am-1pm)


The Stellenbosch Wine Route

This is the most established route, with well over 100 estates and farms to choose from, almost all of which are reached via the three major roads radiating from the town center. Note that it's worth double-checking opening times if you're traveling over the weekend. If you head southwest on the R306, you should consider visiting the 300-year-old Neethlingshof (tel. 021/883-8988; Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-4pm; summer closing times 2 hr. later) just for the pleasure of driving up its gracious pine-lined avenue and tasting the Noble Late Harvest. Once there, however, you may find the experience relatively commercial. To reach Zevenwacht (tel. 021/903-5123; Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm, Sat-Sun 9:30am-5pm) -- one of the prettiest wine estates in the country, with a manor house on the edge of a tranquil lake and views all the way to the ocean -- take the M12 to Kuilsriver.

Most of the loveliest wine estates are off the R44 north to Paarl. Your first stop should be the beautiful Morgenhof to sample the merlot and chardonnay (tel. 021/889-5510; Mon-Fri 9am-5pm, Sat-Sun 10am-5pm, earlier closings in winter), followed by L'Avenir (tel. 021/889-5001; Mon-Sat 10am-5pm) to try the Pinotage. The turnoff for tiny Muratie (tel. 021/865-2330; daily 9am-5pm), one of the most authentic and least commercial estates, is next. It's a must not only for its port and berry-rich red wines, but for the satisfying ambience of the estate. Next is Kanonkop (tel. 021/884-4656), famous for its reds; the equally acclaimed Warwick (tel. 021/884-4410); and Le Bonheur (tel. 021/875-5478) -- all on the road to Paarl.


Some of the best estates on the Stellenbosch wine route are on the Helshoogte Pass, which links Stellenbosch with Franschhoek.

Finally, if you're tired of tasting wine, take the 10km (6 1/4-mile) circular drive through the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, stopping for lunch at Lanzerac -- ask for a map from the tourism bureau. This is also where you'll find Neil Ellis (tel. 021/887-0649; Mon-Fri 9:30am-4:30pm, Sat 10am-2pm), another superb wine estate.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.