Somerset West is probably best known for being home to Vergelegen ─ one of South Africa’s oldest and most renowned wine estates. However, there is so much more to this town. With the towering Hottentots Holland mountain range, excellent views over False Bay in the distance, and the Mother City only a short drive away, Somerset West is the ideal place for holidaymakers to explore. Therefore, to help you plan your next getaway to this awesome scenic town, TravelGround rounded up the most popular activities and attractions in and around Somerset West!

Activities and Attractions

Blue Rock is all about sun, fun and adrenaline! Besides being a paradise for kneeboarders, waterskiers and wakeboarders, Blue Rock also offers other activities such as paintball, fufi-slide, stand-up paddle boarding, canoeing and various swimming and diving spots. For those of you who just want to relax, there is a beach, a beach bar and shallow water for the little ones, as well as a restaurant with views over the skiing lake.

Bring the family along for a peaceful day at Helderberg Farm at the foot of the Helderberg Mountain. Sit back and relax in the tea garden under the large willows while nibbling on their famous chocolate cake and keeping an eye on the kids on the playground. Make sure you pop in between October and December when strawberry season is in full swing and it’s open for visitors to pick strawberries to their heart’s content. If you’re in the mood for adventure, the farm also offers paintball, laser tag, mountain biking, 4×4 trails, hiking trails and bird watching in the forest.

It’s hard to believe this piece of land was intended to be developed into a suburb of Somerset, but being surrounded by a nature reserve and two historical farms, this idea wasn’t too popular. Long story short, the owner of the neighbouring Lourensford Estate bought the land and decided to develop it himself. The famous golfer, Gary Player, was contacted and in 1995 the first golf estate in the Cape Town area was opened. Today Erinvale Country Estate and Golf Club is one of the most prestigious golf estates in Southern Africa. Spoil the family with a luxurious stay at the Erinvale Estate Hotel & Spa after a round of golf.

Chelsea Village is a unique boutique shopping experience in the heart of Somerset West. If you’re not up for the bustling malls, Chelsea Village offers a tranquil environment in which to stroll around and then relax further with a bite to eat, a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. From gifts, jewellery, clothes and flowers, to antiques, skincare, a hairdresser and a restaurant ─ Chelsea Village has it all!

Helderberg Nature Reserve is situated on the slopes of the beautiful Helderberg Mountain overlooking False Bay. Pack a picnic basket, pick a spot and settle down under the large trees, or take a stroll, enjoy the abundant birdlife and keep an eye out for the lazy tortoises on the lawns. There are also several hiking trails in the reserve, of which the shortest trail is about 2,2 kilometres and the longest will challenge you for about seven hours. The Oak Café on the premises is fully licensed and caters for breakfasts, lunches, teas, takeaways and picnics. So, bring the whole family for a fun-filled day in nature!

On Workers Day in 2000, the Lwandle Migrant Labour Museum was officially opened. This museum is a memorial to the control of black workers through the infamous pass book. It’s the first township-based museum and has won two awards in the last twelve years. Visit the museum and learn more about the migrant labour system, walk through an original historic hostel, meet members of the community and view the whole township on a guided walk.

Wine and Dine

There is quite an interesting history behind Vergelegen’s name. When Willem Adriaan succeeded his father, Simon van der Stel, as governor of the Cape in 1700, it didn’t take long before he claimed a piece of land for himself. It took him three days by ox-wagon to reach the farm ─ hence the name Vergelegen, which means ‘situated far away’. The estate is tucked away beneath camphor and oak trees planted by Willem Adriaan ─ some of the oldest living trees in the country! The original winery, pigeon house and mill are all still on the estate. Book a tour of the cellar and gardens to learn more about the history of this spectacular wine estate.  

Vergelegen has two restaurants: Camphors is situated in front of the historic homestead and overlooks expansive lawns and trees. You can also relax at the Stables ─ a family-friendly bistro with a modern twist. However, Vergelegen’s mystic Camphor Forest is also the perfect spot for a tranquil family picnic in the shade. So, come sip on a glass of wine while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Hottentots Holland mountain range.

If you’re not in the mood for fine dining, the unique and very rustic Im Eimer is the place to be! This German restaurant is a real favourite among the locals, not only for its quality food and live entertainment, but also for its collection of small antiques that contributes to the comfortable atmosphere. Sit outside and enjoy the sunshine in summer, or cosy up inside next to the roaring fireplace in winter. The food is excellent and really affordable, so do yourself a favour and try their enormous eisbeins or traditional schnitzels with a German beer.

At Lourensford Wine Estate, once a part of neighbouring Vergelegen, you’ll not only find a wine cellar, but also fruit orchards, a forest, restaurant, coffee roastery, craft brewery, art gallery and the Lourensford Market. Visit the wine cellar for a wine tasting or treat yourself to a specialised Belgian chocolate and wine pairing. The Millhouse Kitchen uses fresh, simple and seasonal ingredients to prepare rustic French and Italian dishes. The little ones are always welcome and they’ve even designed a special menu for them. Indulge in their mouth-watering dishes on the verandah, while keeping an eye on the rascals playing on the grass.

Be sure to visit the Coffee Roastery for some great coffee and browse around The Red Riding Hood Deli for a variety of freshly baked cakes, quiches and muffins. Pop in at the craft microbrewery, ABRU, and experience the brewers at work in this open-plan brewery and taproom. Tastings during the week are available by appointment only, but their beer can also be enjoyed at the market on Fridays and Sundays.

The vibrant Lourensford Market boasts more than 70 stalls and is the perfect outing for the whole family. Come relax and enjoy the festive atmosphere on the lawns or under the majestic trees after you’ve strolled through all the stalls with delectable food, handmade arts and crafts, organic, locally sourced produce, and, of course, the superb wine collection and ABRU craft beer. Local artists serenade visitors with live music, the little ones can enjoy the rides in the entertainment area. Your four-legged friends are always welcome at the doggie bar!

Don’t let the location of Pajamas and Jam Eatery put you off ─ inside lies a proper gem with a stark contrast to its surroundings. This inviting bakery and bistro combines amazing food with excellent coffee, good music and a collection of antiques and classic souvenirs. With the menu always changing to include the freshest ingredients and the chef’s incredible innovations, it’s definitely a reason to return time after time. While you’re waiting for your order, do yourself a favour and browse through their antique collection. If you’re a décor enthusiast or simply love all things out of the ordinary, this is a must-visit.

Vergenoegd is probably best known for its duck parade. This parade is not only a huge attraction and a hit among young and old, but also essential to the farm’s pest-control, as hundreds of ducks consume a startling amount of snails and bugs on their daily patrols. This unique waddling workforce has been in service since 1984! Come cheer the ducks on and linger a while at the Saturday market. Other activities on the estate include picnics, entertainment for the kids, wine-tasting experiences, a tour of the cellar, family runs on Saturdays, live shows and, of course, the [email protected] where you can indulge in mouth-watering food and drinks.

The Country Craft Market in Somerset West’s main road is held every second Saturday during the summer months. This year the market celebrates its 35th birthday and is still very popular among the locals for its high-quality hand-crafted products. The market differs from others in the area as it’s a true ‘craft’ market. This means everything has to be handmade and the artists are required to attend the market. The park-like setting contributes to the relaxed atmosphere and makes meandering through the shaded stalls a lovely experience. Stop at one of the food stalls to take a breather before making your way through the rest.

Schapenberg is nestled in the centre of the Hottentots Holland mountain range and used to be the hill where Willem Adriaan van der Stel grazed his sheep. From here, Waterkloof has an incredible view over Somerset West, Strand, Gordon’s Bay and the entire False Bay. This view is made even more spectacular by the glass sphere from where you experience it ─ the Cellar in the Sky is absolutely breathtaking! Waterkloof’s vineyard is unique as it’s capable of producing naturally balanced grapes. To respectfully transmit this character and balance into the wine, Waterkloof believes in minimal intervention in the process. Besides the unique wines, they also have an exceptional restaurant and offer horseback-riding adventures, guided walks, helicopter trips, and a tour of the estate with a visit to the cellar, an informative wine tasting and lunch.

Accommodation

Somerset West has several excellent accommodation options. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a luxurious holiday or a family-friendly self-catering stay, TravelGround has got you covered!

So, there you have it! Bring the little rascals along on your next trip to the Helderberg. Whether you’re sipping on a glass of impeccable wine, tackling a hiking trail in the Helderberg Nature Reserve, or strolling through all the stalls at a market ─ there is always something more to explore in Somerset West!

Feature image: Lalapanzi Lodge (Travelground)