Picturesque Cape Dutch historic centres surrounded by wine estates and lovely mountains.
Besides Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, there are a number of other stunning places to visit in the northern Winelands. Many Cape Winelands hotels such as Babylonstoren and Hawksmoor House lie in the countryside of the northern Winelands. Others are close to Paarl, Wellington or Tulbagh.
Paarl is the largest town in the Cape Winelands with a beautiful, long, Main Street lined with oak trees and original Cape Dutch houses. The round granite domes, which tower above the town, glisten in the sun like pearls. Hence the town’s name which is Afrikaans for pearl. (Fun fact: these are the largest granite domes in the world after the Rock of Gibraltar.) Paarl has grown rapidly, but the charming historic main road remains (though to the north it becomes a more modern town.)
The KWV Wine Cellars is still the largest exporter of wine and the tours of the vast cellars (covering 22ha) are worth a visit. The famous Cathedral Cellar with its barrel-vaulted roofs features carved red wine vats depicting the Cape’s winemaking history.
The charming country town of Wellington lies only ten minutes’ drive to the north, also surrounded by wine estates, many with good restaurants.
On the edge of the Cape Winelands is the pretty village of Tulbagh. The backstory here is that an earthquake rocked Tulbagh in 1969. This disaster gave Tulbagh the chance to restore their houses to their original Cape Dutch appearance. (This was definitely not the norm in 1960’s town planning anywhere in the world!) Now Church Street is one of the most complete Cape Dutch streets in South Africa with 32 houses having National Monument status.
From nearby Ceres there is a very scenic mountain pass road which connects with the Cederberg mountains to the north.
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