Somerset West and the Helderberg Basin are home to a grand mix of wine farms, top-notch restaurants, majestic golf estates, and adrenaline-inducing adventure activities. At only 45km from the city centre, or between 30 and 60 minutes, it’s a great place to add to your Cape Town itinerary. Somerset West is really more of a town than a neighbourhood—you will need to set aside a couple of days to truly explore this beautiful area.
Where to eat and make merry
The Helderberg Wine Route has some of the best wine estates in the country where you can spend the afternoon sipping on fine wines, and snacking on platters. There are also countless restaurants and bars to enjoy, and visitors are spoilt for choice.
This micro-brewery is a little off the beaten track, but it’s well worth a slight detour. There’s a small beer garden and restaurant, and they have 14 beers to choose from, including an easy-drinking Blonde Ale, a Russian imperial stout, and an imperial IPA. The menu offers good quality lunchtime fare, like pulled pork sandwiches and hot wings. It’s the perfect spot for a lazy pint or two and a bite to eat.
The Restaurant at Waterkloof
If you’re after fine dining, look no further than the restaurant at Waterkloof. It’s consistently rated as the top restaurant in the area, and while it isn’t cheap, the food is exquisite. Large glass windows overlook the vineyards, and the venue is stylishly decorated. The cuisine is classical with a modern French twist, with favourites such as the Joostenberg Vlakte duck breast, served with hibiscus-infused oven-roasted turnips. The degustation menu offers a chance to sample many dishes, and is available with wine-pairing.
Bossa Good Times Bar
Bossa is a casual and friendly bar and restaurant, offering tasty cocktails, and delicious burgers and pizzas. It’s enjoyed by locals for after-work drinks and casual dinners, and by families with kids—there is a play area outside. In the evenings the bar is often buzzing with activity, and makes for a lively and social evening mingling with the locals.
MORGENSTER OLIVE AND WINE ESTATE
You would be hard-pressed to find a better view than the one at Morgenster Wine and Olive Estate. The tasting room overlooks a still reed-lined dam, with the Helderberg mountain range looming in the background. They are award-winning producers of olives, olive oils, and wine, and you can enjoy their outdoor seating while you taste their wares. The estate is also home to a lovely Italian restaurant, 95 at Morgenster, where you can enjoy farm-reared meat in traditional Italian dishes.
Steffanie’s is an enduring favourite with the Somerset locals, and for good reason. It has one of the best views in the Helderberg, and is consistently rated as of the best restaurants in Somerset West. The atmospherere is casual but elegant, and guests can book seating on the outdoor terrace. They have an excellent wine list, and serve beautiful meat dishes as well as vegetarian options. Cap it off with some decadent dessert as you soak in the views and vibe of Steffanie’s.
VERGELEGEN WINE ESTATE
Vergelegen is more than just a wine estate. With a 300-year history, and spectacular dedicated gardens, the estate is an attraction in its own right. There is a herb garden, lavender labyrinth, kids’ playground and maze, wetland, rose garden, cellar tours, a number of walking trails, and a library that holds books dating to the 1700s! The picnic lawns are stunning, and there are two restaurants—Camphors and Stables—to choose from.
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, at the foot of the Helderberg Mountains, has 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 the 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. It is wonderfully maintained and 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 among 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 depending on your experience and fitness levels.
Somerset West has a large number of small art galleries to visit, and a few museums and theatres.
THE PLAYHOUSE THEATRE
The Playhouse is one of the oldest theatres in the country, 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.
Somerset West and its surrounds are all about the outdoors. There are endless ways to fulfill your sense of adventure in Somerset West, but here are a few highlights.
There are just 7 500 cheetahs left in Africa and less than 1000 left in South Africa. Thankfully, the Cheetah Outreach programme in Somerset West is doing everything it can to turn things around. The Cheetah Outreach offers you the chance to get up and close and personal with an adult cheetah, which is not something you will quickly forget!
Your one-stop day of adventure starts here! Blue Rock has the lake in Cape Town that caters for water sports, as well as a diving academy that runs scuba courses. There is cable waterskiing, wakeboarding, slalom, and a paintball course.
THE HELDERBERG NATURE RESERVE
The Helderberg Nature reserve is a slice of paradise on the slopes of the Helderberg Nature Reserve. Enjoy a picnic among 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.
WHERE TO STAY
Somerset West has a number of places to stay from B&B’s and guest-houses to luxury lodges and hotels.
NH Lord Charles Hotel
The Lord Charles is set in the exquisite Cape Winelands, overlooking the Helderberg Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean. Facilities include free parking, gym, wifi, a pool, and state of the art conference facilities. The hotel has modern furnishings and a great restaurant too.
SILVER FOREST BOUTIQUE LODGE & SPA
Enjoy 5-star luxury on the slopes of the Helderberg mountain, where sitting pool-side or in the lush gardens adds to the lodge’s sense of tranquility. Choose a garden cottage or forest suite for the ultimate luxury accommodation and spoil yourself with a Silver Forest Spa package or simply relax on the deck with its sweeping view of False Bay.
GUEST HOUSES AND B&B’S
Somerset West has a large number of guest houses to choose from such as De Molen Guest House, Hottentots Mountain View Guest House, and Pink Rose Guesthouse & Spa (gay men only). B&B’s such Somer Place and Two Oaks B&B will provide a home away from home.
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 visitor information centre where staff can help you really uncover the magic on offer in Somerset West.
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