The Best Things To Do In + Around Stanford

The Best Things To Do In + Around Stanford

Find natural beauty, farm-fresh cuisine and interesting wine in the Strandveld.

The Strandveld stretches from the mouth of the Klein River, just beyond Hermanus, to Cape Infanta. For such a relatively small area, its list of claims to fame is impressive: Homo sapiens remains that are among the oldest in the world; the southernmost indigenous forest in Africa; and a coastline responsible for over 100 shipwrecks. The Moravian mission town of Elim has the only monument to the abolition of slavery in South Africa.

This is a place of blue cranes and pink proteas, of gentle mountains and steady rivers, of migratory whales and road-rambling horses, of forests and fynbos, and quiet roads through cottage towns.

All roads lead from Stanford, though. It’s the best place to base yourself while you venture southeast, exploring the back roads that lure you in, and tasting the wines that are as curiously unique as the land itself. You’ll discover a series of quiet marvels and be left with a sense of reverence for this rich and storied pocket of the Cape.

Known for its beautifully preserved Victorian and Edwardian houses, this is a town made for meandering. On weekends, all the restaurants, antique shops and galleries open and visitors do the historical walking tour, browse the Saturday market and stroll along the riverside path. Here are our picks of eateries, activities and wine-tastings.

Searles’ Garagiste

Stanford Road Trip Searles Garagiste

Winemaker-turned-restaurateur Derek-James Searle Crabtree has brought a breath of fresh air and youthful creativity to Stanford’s main drag. The eclectic interior is filled with antiques and relics from his father’s theatre-restaurant in Greyton, while the stoep is enlivened by its patrons. The menu changes every few weeks according to the atmosphere of the town and the whims (and foraging success) of the chef; it includes vegan options and great cocktails.
Times Monday – Friday, 12pm – 10pm
Saturday, 9am – 11pm; Sunday, 9am – 8pm
Contact 071 493 6387, derekjames@searles.co.za
Where to find it 21 Queen Victoria Street, Stanford

Madre Stanford

Stanford Road Trip Madre

It’s in the quiet murmurs of approval from diners as their plates arrive, the way the afternoon runs on like a smooth pinot noir, and how the canopy of vines seems to perfectly frame the mountains from the stoep, that compel you to linger a little longer at Madre’s. Widely touted as Stanford’s best restaurant, there’s a down-to-earth feel for life’s simple pleasures, which are showcased in seasonal comfort food.
Times Thursday – Sunday, 12pm – 5pm
Contact 076 585 1504, morne.mtb@gmail.com
Where to find it 12 Du Toit Street, Stanford
Book Now

The Manor House at Stanford Valley

Stanford Road Trip Manor House

Stanford Valley Country Lodge, 10 minutes’ drive out of town, is storybook pretty: in a hidden valley, with mountain views, sweeping lawns, green paddocks and a jumble of whitewashed cottages. The stylish yet very relaxed restaurant is a gem known for its wholesome cooking and hospitality; the eclectic decor (fine art, mid-century modern furniture, characterful bits and bobs) creating an extra layer of appeal. The all-women kitchen team makes modern country cuisine that celebrates regional ingredients and local producers. The best seats in the house are on the enclosed verandah.
Good to know There is also a farm shop and art gallery. It’s worth staying over for access to the excellent network of hiking and MTB trails, fabulous spa and sauna, and pool courtyard.
Times Wednesday, 5pm – 10pm
Thursday – Saturday, 8am – 10pm
Sunday, 8am – 4pm
Children welcome until 7pm
Contact 072 198 0862, info@stanfordvalley.co.za
Where to find it R326, Stanford
Book through DinePlan

Cruise on the Klein River

Stanford Road Trip Klein River Cruise

Drift along the serene waters of the river that skirts past town and look out for cormorants, kingfishers, red bishops and weavers going about their business. You’ll get a good look at the riverside trees and the houses facing onto the water, too. You can board the double-decker Lady Stanford riverboat (BYO drinks and picnic) or opt to paddle in a kayak.
Cost Cruises: R250 per person
Kayak rental: R350 (single), R500 (double)
Times Cruises: Daily, 8am – 10am; 10.30am – 12.30am; 1pm – 3pm; 3.30pm – 5.30pm; 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Kayak: Daily, full morning or full afternoon
Contact 028 341 0358, bookings@ladystanford.co.za
Where to find it Jetty, corner of Church & Du Toit Streets, Stanford

Horse-riding

Stanford Road Trip Horse Riding

Beach or mountain? You have the option of exploring either on horseback with the African Horse Company, which is based at Stanford Hills wine and protea farm. Rides can last from one to six hours (but they also do longer overnight trails of up to a week). The mountain trail on the farm takes you through vineyards and into fynbos, with some of the best views of the Stanford Valley you’re likely to find. The beach trail heads to the untrodden white sands of Walker Bay Nature Reserve.
Good to know Make time for a wine-tasting or meal in the restaurant. There’s also a farm shop (for proteas, wine and home-style goods), plus cottages and 10 AfriCamps glamping tents.
Cost R450 (one hour), R750 (two hours)
Beach ride: R1 100
Times Daily, 9am – 4.30pm (last ride starts)
Beach ride: 10.30am – 1.30pm
Contact 082 667 9232, contact@africanhorseco.com
Wine estate: 072 639 6135 (tasting room) or 028 341 0841
Where to find it Weltevrede Farm, Stanford Hills Road, off R43
Book a 1hr Mountain Ride
Book a 2hr Mountain Ride
Book a Beach Ride

Walker Bay Estate

Stanford Road Trip Walker Bay Estate

There’s something for almost everyone at Walker Bay Estate: a pub-style restaurant with a tasting of Birkenhead Brewery’s six craft beers – including Pot Belly, Laughing Croc and Dead Parrot – plus a pairing of six estate wines with Klein River cheeses (the dairy now has its outlet on the estate – you must try the Gruberg!). It’s the lawns, however, with benches under thatch umbrellas and expansive views overlooking the Klein River Mountains, that are the real star of the show. (For bad-weather days, there’s a fireplace inside.)
Good to know This is a pet-friendly venue.
Cost R95 (beer tasting), R70 (wine tasting)
R170 (cheese and wine pairing)
Times Daily, 10am – 5pm
Cheese shop: 9am – 4pm
Contact 028 341 0013, reservations@birkenhead.co.za
Where to find it R326, Stanford
Book Now

Springfontein Wine Estate

Stanford Road Trip Springfontein

Springfontein’s location, on the spit of land between the Klein River estuary and the ocean, is its own designated wine ward (Springfontein Rim). The 5km gravel road has a lovely way of rattling the tension out of your body, so by the time you have the first sip of organic wine, either under the palm trees on the lawn or inside the Ulumbaza Wine Bar(n), you’re completely relaxed. The stillness, wine tastings and bistro-style food have a way of doing that to you. For something extra special, book a fine-dining experience at the estate’s Wortelgat restaurant.
Good to know There are lovely hiking and cycles trails on the farm, plus African Queen boat cruises on the river (BYO braai and drink) and accommodation.
Cost Wine tasting: from R15 per glass
Wortelgat dining: R975 – R1 375
Boat cruise: R250 per person (2.5 hours)
Times Daily, 11am – 9pm
Wortelgat dining: 12pm – 4pm, 6pm – 10pm
Contact 028 341 0651, info@springfontein.co.za
Where to find it Wortelgat Road, Stanford
Book Wortelgat
Book Ulumbaza Wine Barn

The Gansbaai area was once called “The Foot of Isolation” because the absence of roads and rolling sand dunes made it so difficult to access. These days, the R43 will get you from Stanford to Gansbaai in 20 minutes, but it will take a whole day if you do it right.

Klipgat Cave

Stanford Road Trip Klipgat Cave

Remains found in this seaside cave date back between 65 000 and 85 000 years, making it one of the oldest sites of modern-looking Homo sapiens in the world, and one of only three places in South Africa where such old remains have been excavated. Interestingly, back then the ocean was 140 metres lower and around five kilometres from the cave. It’s accessed from the De Kelders gate of the Walker Bay Nature Reserve, via a boardwalk and a bit of rock-hopping, with information boards along the way to tell its story. Stanford’s Cove, one of the most picturesque bays in the area, is nearby.
Cost R60 (adult), R40 (child)
Times Daily, 7am – 7pm
Contact 087 087 3841, 028 314 0062
Where to find it Normandie Street, off De Villiers Street, De Kelders, Gansbaai

Platbos Forest

Stanford Road Trip Platbos Forest

The last patch of southernmost indigenous forest in Africa is a pocket of hope, resistance and memory. A two-hour walk (it can be shorter) will take you on a circular route past ancient trees covered in moss, old man’s beard and ferns. One of the most striking things about this relic forest, apart from the plant life, is the incredible bird chatter. The “Old Milkwood” in the heart of the forest, a labyrinth and spotting the shy resident wildlife are highlights.
Good to know There are four lovely tented eco-cabins to stay the night (each sleeps two), and two have hot tubs.
Cost R50 (adult), R20 (child)
Times Daily, 8am – 5pm
Contact 082 411 0448, 028 125  0023, info@platbos.co.za
Accommodation: 076 923 3349, admin@platbos.co.za
Where to find it Grootbos Road, near Gansbaai

Marine Big 5 Tour

Stanford Road Trip Big 5 Marine Tour

The name of the tour stems from the fact that you have the chance to see whales, dolphins, Cape fur seals, African penguins and great white sharks on a single trip (though it must be said, to see all five in one outing, you’d be extremely fortunate). In winter and spring, whale sightings are all but guaranteed. The boat goes past Geyser Rock, home to a 60 000-strong seal colony. Added bonus? Proceeds go towards rehabilitating penguins and seabirds, an initiative started and run by Wilfred Chivell, the owner of Dyer Island Cruises.
Cost R1 100 (adult), R550 (child)
International visitors: R1 950 (adult), R1 410 (child)
Free for children under 5 years old
Times Daily, 7am, 9am, 11.30am, 2pm
Contact 082 801 8014, bookings@whalewatchsa.com
Where to find it 5 Geelbek Street, Kleinbaai Harbour, Van Dyks Bay, Gansbaai
Book Now

Great White House Restaurant

Stanford Road Trip Great White House

The best seafood restaurant in the region, 200 metres from Kleinbaai Harbour where all the boat trips depart from, has fish so fresh it feels like it’s swum onto your plate (but always sustainable species only). The chef also makes use of fresh kelp/seaweeds and invasive mussels he collects. While there’s no ocean view, there is a large fireplace, and a southern right whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling, as well as memorabilia from the Birkenhead shipwreck on the walls.
Good to know For more memorabilia of this coastline and relics from the Birkenhead, visit the quirky Strandveld Museum on Seaview Drive in neighbouring Franskraal.
Times Wednesday – Monday, 8am – 10pm
Tuesday, 8am – 5pm
Contact 072 657 3012
Where to find it 5 Geelbek Street, Kleinbaai Harbour, Van Dyks Bay, Gansbaai
Book Now

Lomond Wine Estate

Stanford Road Trip Lomond Wine Estate

This wine estate is 8km from Gansbaai in the Uilenskraal River valley. Nip in for a wine-tasting (there’s a choice of five) and a platter (Stone House cheese, Richard Bosman charcuterie, pâté made with trout from the farm dam) while overlooking a 4km-long lake (“Loch Lomond”) and adjoining vineyards. Visitors can also fish off the jetty or go mountain-biking – there are four routes on site, ranging from 9km to 25km. The eco-conscious farm is a fynbos haven, with 68 hectares of endangered Overberg flora under conservation protection. There’s also an ancient milkwood forest and wetland; visitors are welcome to explore.
Cost R100 – R150 (wine tastings)
R310 – R360 (platters)
Times Daily, 10am – 4pm
Contact 028 388 0095
Where to find it Avoca Stanford road, off the R43 Elim/Bredasdorp road

A gravel track that begins 4km outside Stanford takes you into the very heart of the Strandveld. There are two curious and charming hamlets here: Elim and Baardskeerdersbos. You’ll get the sense that not much happens here other than the odd wayward donkey.

Panthera Africa Big Cat Sanctuary

Stanford Road Trip Panthera

One of only seven true big-cat sanctuaries in South Africa (there are over 300 lion farms), Panthera cares for 28 rescued cats in their 40-hectare “forever home”. A two-hour tour will take you within a few feet of massive Bengal tigers, white lions, black leopards and caracals (as well as more safari-typical lions, leopards and cheetahs). Visits are by pre-booking only, and there are two slots per day. There are special, shorter children’s visits on Saturday mornings (for under-8s); Saturdays also offer a magical sunset visit.
Good to know There is no hands-on interaction for visitors, and no breeding or trade in animals.
Cost R340 (adult), R290 (pensioner), R170 (child)
Saturday child-friendly visit: R120 (child), R190 (adult)
Sunset visit: R490 per person (no under-13s)
Times Wednesday – Monday, 9am or 4pm (winter 10am or 3pm)
Sunset visit: 6pm
Contact 071 182 8368, info@pantheraafrica.com
Where to find it Off Papiesvlei/Elim road, from R326

Marietjie’s Pub & Grill

Stanford Road Trip Marietjies

Marietjie Uys started selling offal and ribs on her stoep in Baardskeerdersbos 19 years ago, and today she has a bar, restaurant and farm stall in her former home – plus a famous cap collection. The shop sells local produce (B’Bos Trout, Bijenbos honey, Stone House cheese, sauces, jams), bric-a-brac, pastry treats and a book of stories about this artists’ hamlet. The menu is simple (if you have more refined tastes, you might prefer the wine estates near Elim). The huge breakfast is legendary, with many people stopping in to start their day the hearty way.
Good to know Local artists open their home studios, and host guest artists, twice-yearly for an Art Route weekend; next up 20 + 21 April 2024. You can also book a sourdough bread-making workshop (info@neiljonker.co.za).
Times Monday, Tuesday + Thursday, 9.30am – 3pm; Wednesday until 7pm
Friday + Saturday, 9.30am – 8pm
Contact 072 452 5210
Where to find it 24 Main Road, Baardskeerdersbos

The Giant Periwinkle

Stanford Road Trip The Great Periwinkle

Established by three legal eagles (advocate Pierre Rabie grew up on this coast), this boutique farm on the slopes of Perdekop just beyond Baardskeerdersbos (1km out of town) has three hectares of vineyards, which produce stellar small-batch wines. There’s a cellar and stylish tasting room in a restored barn; visits are by appointment only.
Times Daily, by appointment
Contact 082 465 8350, pierre@giantperiwinkle.co.za
Where to find it Farm 213/South Cape Vineyards, off the R43, Baardskeerdersbos
Book Now

Moravian Mission in Elim

Stanford Road Trip Moravian Mission

The entire village of Elim has been declared a National Heritage Site and, after a slow drive – or stroll – through it, you’ll see why. Picturesque rows of whitewashed thatch houses line the street, while the Moravian Mission (a church and associated buildings) is pretty much how it looked in 1824 when it was established. The ramshackle heritage centre is interesting, with info about the societies, youth brigades, festivals and brass bands of Elim. Take a walk in the palm-lined church garden to see its Biblical plants, see if the tea garden is open at the water mill, or get a soft-serve cone from the corner shop.
Where to find it On the R43 (40km from Stanford)

Zoetendal Vineyards

Stanford Road Trip Zoetendal Vineyards

Named after a 1673 shipwreck, Zoetendal lies just 3km outside of Elim and offers a pleasant setting on the Nuwejaars River. There is a wine-tasting lounge, and the small, aspiringly upmarket menu at the restaurant caters to those looking for a nice light lunch in the country. It’s not only a wine estate but a fynbos-rich “river estate”, offering kayaking, vineyard walks, hiking and biking trails, birdwatching, plus game drives, riverside picnics and gourmet dinners to guests staying over in the luxury accommodation.
Times Wednesday – Sunday, 10am – 4pm
Contact 072 854 1720, hospitality@zoetendal.co.za
Where to find it Moddervlei Farm, R43/Bredasdorp road, Elim

The Black Oystercatcher

Stanford Road Trip Black Oystercatcher

Dirk Human’s family has been farming this land – home to a wetland of hippos – for generations. Pioneers of the Elim wine ward, they planted vines 25 years ago. The destination includes a restaurant, farm shop, brewery (Fraser’s Folly, which makes a Moer Koffie Condensed Milk Stout, among others) and cottages overlooking the Agulhas Plains. The estate offers wine tastings, chocolate pairings and jam pairings, but the main drawcard is the impressive platter: a selection of charcuterie, smoked chicken, trout gravadlax, pestos, pâtés, preserves, olives, nuts, marinated peppers, artichokes, pickles, crudités, fruit and breads. The barn-like venue has exposed brickwork, wooden beams and a verandah with a view.
Good to know It is a cashless venue.
Cost R75 (DIY tasting tray), R100 (guided wine tasting)
R250 (platter)
Times Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm
Contact 028 482 1618, taste@blackoystercatcher.co.za
Where to find it R317, off R43/Bredasdorp road, 10km from Elim
Book through DinePlan

Strandveld Vineyards

Stanford Road Trip Strandveld Vineyards

It’s worth pushing on a little further to visit the southernmost winery in South Africa, where the windswept vines are striking under the limpid light of the Agulhas Plains. The tasting room is in the farm’s old stable block, and there is seating on the verandah overlooking the gardens. The estate’s flagship white wine, Adamastor, is fittingly named for the sea god of wind and storms. Good to know There are beautifully appointed cottages too.
Cost R60 (wine tasting)
Times Monday – Thursday, 9am – 5pm; Friday until 4pm
Saturday + Sunday, 10am – 3pm
Contact 072 854 1720, 028 482 1902, tastingroom@strandveld.co.za
Where to find it R317, off R43/Bredasdorp Road
Book Now

Given the area’s spectacular and diverse beauty, the Standveld is thronging with places to stay. Stanford abounds with warm country lodges and artistically decorated hotels, while Hermanus’s ocean-facing location needs little introduction. These are our favourites:

What are your favourite places in and around Stanford? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 13 February 2024

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One Response to “The Best Things To Do In + Around Stanford”

  1. gareth

    None of the places in “best places to stay in Stanford ” is actually in the town

    Reply