Travel Like a local: Your neighbourhood guide to Somerset West
Affectionately known by locals as “little Germany”, because of its popularity with German tourists, Somerset West is a grand mix of wine farms, top–notch restaurants, majestic golf estates and adrenaline-inducing adventure activities. More of a town than a neighbourhood, you will need to set aside a couple of days to truly explore this beautiful area.
Distance from Somerset West to Cape Town: 46.2km (around 59 minutes)
WHERE TO EAT AND MAKE MERRY: RESTAURANTS AND BARS:
Somerset West has some of the best wine estates in the country where you can spend the afternoon lost in tasting sessions. There are also a number of restaurants and bars to keep you satisfied for days! Do yourself a favour and pay a visit to local micro-brewery Triggerfish
MORGENSTER OLIVE AND WINE ESTATE:
You are going to be hard-pressed to find a better view than the one on offer at Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate. The stillness of the reed-lined dam creates a mellowness you won’t find in the city and the looming Helderberg mountain range is a sight to behold. Suffice to say it sets the mood rather nicely for an afternoon spent tasting olive oils, olives and wine.
VERGELEGEN WINE ESTATE:
With a history dating back to the 1700s, it’s clear that Vergelegen is more than just a regular wine estate. It’s a historical destination that offers so much for everyone. Currently Vergelegen offers wine tastings, cellar tours, nature walks around the award-winning gardens and heritage tours of the house and the library that has books dating back to the early 1700s! When it comes to the gardens, the farm has 17 formal gardens that are looked after by a dedicated team. You can explore both the heritage sites and the gardens at your own pace or on a tour via prior arrangement. Vergelegen has two restaurants – Camphors and Stables – and a picnic option.
It might be a little off the beaten track, but this micro-brewery, complete with a small beer garden and restaurant, is well worth the trip. With 14 beers – ranging from an easy-drinking Blonde Ale, Sweetlips, to a Russian imperial stout and an imperial IPA – and a great menu, including pulled pork sandwiches and hot wings, it’s the perfect spot for a lazy pint or two and a bite to eat.
A relaxed and casual vibe awaits you at the Taste Bistro, whether you choose to dine in the inside space with its open-plan kitchen or in the secluded covered courtyard garden, of this non-pretentious favourite. Offering a bistro-style menu from 11am to 10pm, all produce used is fresh and seasonal, prepared by Chef Anton. If you have any dietary requirements, just phone ahead, and you will be well looked after.
With one of the best views in the Helderberg, both sea and mountain, Steffanie’s continues to rank amongst the best – and most loved – restaurants in Somerset West. Enjoy a light lunch on the terrace – space is limited – or something more substantial from the main menu like the Crispy Duck or Grilled Kingklip. Cap it off with some decadent dessert as you soak in the views and vibe of Steffanie’s.
WHERE TO PLAY:
Somerset West is a golf lover’s paradise with a number of top courses to test your mettle. The Helderberg Mountains also offer some fantastic trails for hikers, runners and mountain bikers.
ERINVALE GOLF ESTATE:
Erinvale Golf Estate nestles at the foot of the Helderberg Mountains with sweeping views of the Winelands and False Bay Coastline. Designed by world famous Gary Player, Erinvale offers a host of world-class facilities that include a hotel and spa.
SOMERSET WEST GOLF CLUB:
This 18-hole parkland course is split into three parts with a railway line and road running through it, but that in no way detracts from your experience. Nestled beneath the spectacular Helderberg Mountains, the location of this course is hard to beat.
HELDERBERG VILLAGE GOLF CLUB:
This beautiful nine-hole course is located in the Helderberg Retirement Village. Wonderfully maintained and open to visitors, golf cars and equipment are available to rent, with a halfway house offering drinks and snacks.
If your idea of play is hitting the stores, and you have a need to shop until you drop, the Somerset Mall has everything you need under one roof, including shops, restaurants, movie theatres and 10-pin bowling.
HIKING, RUNNING AND MTB:
The Helderberg Mountains are a trail junkie’s best friend with a number of different routes and races to take on. The Helderberg Gravity Enduro is a popular event amongst adventure sportspeople, while the Helderberg Farm offers four graded routes for mountain bikers and trail runners. The Mountain Challenge Series is also growing quickly in popularity with a 10.75km, 15km and 24km route dependant on your experience and fitness levels.
THE PLAYHOUSE THEATRE:
One of the oldest theatres in the country, The Playhouse Theatre was first established by the Hottentots Holland Dramatic Society in 1947. It is well known for producing quality productions and over the years a number of improvements have been made to the original building to cater to the modern audience. Reservations can be made through Computicket.
Your one-stop day of adventure starts here! The only safe and water sport-friendly lake in Cape Town, Blue Rock has a diving academy that runs discover scuba diving and scuba courses, as well as cable waterskiing, wakeboarding, slalom and beginners’ courses and a paintball course! What more could you possibly need? Slip into weekend warrior mode and head out to Blue Rock for your adrenaline fix!
THE HELDERBERG NATURE RESERVE:
Situated on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountains, the Helderberg Nature reserve offers a slice of paradise. Enjoy a picnic amongst the abundant natural bird life in the area or if you’re looking for something more adventurous, try any number of the hiking trails suitable for a variety of fitness levels.
There are just 7 500 cheetahs left in Africa and less-than 1000 of these majestic cats in South Africa. Thankfully, the Cheetah Outreach programme in Somerset West is doing everything it can to turn things around. Chiefly used to educate and raise awareness, the Cheetah Outreach also offers you the chance to get up and close and personal with an adult cheetah, which is not something you will quickly forget!
WHERE TO STAY:
Somerset West has a number of places to stay from B&B’s and guest-houses to luxury lodges and hotels.
HOTELS AND LODGES:
Just a 20-minute drive from Cape Town International Airport, the Lord Charles hotel is set against the exquisite surrounds of the Cape Winelands, the Helderberg Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Facilities include free parking, gym, wi-fi, a pool and state of the art conference facilities. The hotel is also set to undergo renovations later this year as it looks to continue offering only the best to its guests.
Located on the iconic Sir Lowry’s Pass, this luxury guest lodge offers all the trappings for an idyllic stay. An outside Jacuzzi and swimming pool, private dining facilities and a wealth of outdoor activities will cater to your every need. A beauty therapist, nail technician and masseusse are also on call.
GUEST HOUSES AND B&B’S:
Somerset West has a large number of guest houses to choose from with Cape Links Guesthouse, De Molen Guest House, Hottentots Mountain View Guest House and Pink Rose Guesthouse & Spa (gay only) all ready to welcome you for a short visit or a prolonged stay, while B&B’s such Somer Place and Two Oaks B&B will ensure your home away from home is fabulous.
If you are looking for a self-catering option, Chelaya Country Lodge, Firmont Guest Suites and Forest Rest have your covered.
ASK A LOCAL:
Nobody knows Somerset West better than a local. When you’re in town be sure to visit the local VIC where staff can help you really uncover the magic on offer in Somerset West.