Babylonstoren is one of the most spectacular wine farms that you could possibly visit in South Africa! With the Franschhoek mountains, Simonsberg and Du Toitskloof as a backdrop it offers some of the best views in the entire region.
When first arriving at Babylonstoren I blinked twice cause I could barely believe my eyes. I am sure by now, all of you have heard about Pinterest and know what I mean by a “Pinterest perfect photo”. Well, Babylonstoren took this to a whole new level.
Every area on this property looks like it came straight of the most beautiful Pinterest board. There are over 300 different plants to be found here and almost all of them are edible or medicinal and it’s even encouraged to pick & eat while visiting! They are grown in a biological sustainable manner and are freshly served at their restaurant Babel and the Greenhouse.
Sounds pretty good right? Then keep on reading to discover all of the incredible and mostly free things and activities that you can do at Babylonstoren!
9 Reasons To Visit Babylonstoren In South Africa
A little history about Babylonstoren
Let’s start with the name itself. Have you ever wondered where the name Babylonstoren stems from? Well, the koppie (or hill) on the farm made the first owners think about the Tower of Babel, so named it Babylon’s Toren in the 1700’s.
In 1692, Babylonstoren farm was granted to burgher Pieter van der Byl by the then Governor of the Cape, Simon van der Stel. It was him who planted the first vineyards on the farm and who altered the water courses to provide irrigation.
Some of the farm’s earliest structures from that time remain on the farm today, ss such it is considered to be one of the best preserved farmyards in the Cape today.
When new accommodation was added to create the Farm Hotel, every care was taken to ensure that the integrity of the original architecture were reflected. The result is a modern yet authentic sensibility, that takes the farm firmly into the future.
For the garden at Babylonstoren they also looked to the past for inspiration, taking its cue from the Company’s Garden of Cape Town.
In 2007, owner Karen Roos reached out to Taravella, and tasked him with creating a completely edible and medicinal garden. And just like in a Wonderland, each tidy square is brimming with curiosities.
How to reach Babylonstoren
The Cape Winelands are only 40 minutes driving from Cape Town and Babylonstoren is located in Simondium in Stellenbosch.
If you’re driving from Cape Town you’ll need to take the N1 and take exit 47 – Klapmuts. After about 6km more you’ll arrive at Babylonstoren.
If you’re coming straight from the airport you’ll need to take the N2, but you also take exit 47 – Klapmuts to arrive at your final destination.
If you don’t have a rental car you can always take a local taxi. From Cape Town you should pay around €35 to €50 one way.
From Cape Town you can take a bus which goes to Paarl twice a day and takes about 41 minutes. From Paarl you will then have to take a taxi to reach Babylonstoren.
From Cape Town you have a train which goes straight to Stellenbosch every 2 hours. The train ride takes around 1.5 hour and from Stellenbosch you can then take a taxi to Babylonstoren.
You can join a Private Wine Adventure in Stellenbosch where you can fully customize the wineries that you wish to visit. Pricing starts at €115 and you’ll visit 4 different destinations: 3 different wine farms and one where you can enjoy a lunch. This tour is the perfect choice if you have already figured out which wine farms in Stellenbosch you would like to visit but you don’t want to arrange everything yourself. You can even add an additional 5th destination if you want!
When is the best time to visit Babylonstoren
The best time to go wine tasting in Stellenbosch is between September and March. During this time of the year the temperatures are warm and the weather is dry. Another big advantage is that during these months a lot of vintage wines get released.
If you’re looking for the very warmest time to visit Babylonstoren, the hottest months are January, February, and then December.
The busiest month for tourism in Stellenbosch, South Africa is January, followed by February and November. Prices for hotels and flights will be most expensive during these months, though you can save if you purchase well in advance. Tourists are unlikely to visit Stellenbosch in June. Those willing to visit at these times will likely find it the least expensive month.
9 Reasons why you should visit Babylonstoren
1. You can visit the garden at Babylonstoren with a free daily tour
At Babylonstoren they arrange daily tours that start at 10am and leave from the Farm Shop. One of their experienced gardeners will be your guide on this tour, during which they encourage guests to pick, taste, smell and touch while walking through the garden.
The tour lasts 1.5 hours and all you need to do is register in advance.
While the garden tour itself is free of charge you do need to pay a small entrance fee to get access to the gardens. But it’s only R20 (€1).
But this once-off entry fee allows you to register for Babylonstoren Garden Membership using the free Candide app. This will give you unlimited admission to Babylonstoren for 12 months. The Membership fee is only R20 (€1) per person.
Activate your annual Babylonstoren Garden Membership on the Candide app using the unique code you receive at the ticket office. Open the app on your next visit to play with Plant ID or listen to guided audio tours of our Garden and Spice Garden.
You can also interact with Babylonstoren gardeners for expert gardening advice and follow Babylonstoren’s profile on the app for daily updates from the garden.
2. Everything in the garden of Babylonstoren is either edible or medicinal
The garden holds 15 clusters spanning vegetable areas, stone and pome fruits, nuts, citrus, berries, bees, herbs, ducks and chickens, a prickly pear maze, and more.
Every one of the more than 300 varieties of plants in the garden is edible or has medicinal value. They are also grown as organically as possible and in a biologically sustainable manner.
Along the edge of the garden, a natural stream flows from the Simonsberg Mountain to the Berg River, creating a space for indigenous wild olives to flourish.
Wether you’re visiting with a guided tour or by yourself you are highly encouraged to taste the different fruits as you go.
Unfortunately during our visit we saw a couple of people simply tugging off some of the largest prickly pears, all to take a couple of photos… Please remain respectful during your visit of Babylonstoren and don’t destroy their property.
3. Join their Cellar Tour
At Babylonstoren they produce 13 different grape varieties. The Cellar Tour is a walking tour where you’ll learn interesting facts about the farm’s history and wine heritage.
You’ll see examples of different vines and in the production cellar, the entire wine-making process is explained. The tour also includes a visit to the new wine tunnel, offering guests a journey through centuries of making and storing wine.
And after all of this information it’s to go and taste some of the wines! The wine will be served in the wine tunnel and you’ll get an appetizer to compliment each wine to perfection.
Price – R295 (€17)
You need to book your Cellar Tour in advance and you can do so here.
4. Create your own scrub or mask in the Scented Room
The Scented Room at Babylonstoren is an aromatic apothecary located at The Barn. It is a magical space filled with vintage pharmacy drawers and an impressive collection of antique glass pharmaceutical bottles that were found on the farm while it was being excavated, created and built.
At Babylonstoren they have created their own biological products which include shampoos, candles, soap and essential oils. But what’s even better is that they’ve created a new and exciting way to offer guests an interactive experience.
The room smells like a mixture of waterblommetjies, roses and fynbo.
Visitors can blend their own bath salts, body scrubs and face masks, under the caring eyes and knowledgeable insights of Babylonstoren-trained assistants who will help them in choosing the correct formula.
I had so much fun experimenting with all of the different ingredients to create my very own face and body scrub. Once you’re done with creating your very own beauty product it will be carefully packaged for you so you can take it home with you.
5. Spend the night at the unique Babylonstoren Hotel
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience then you simply have to stay at the Babylonstoren Hotel. Just like with everything else at Babylonstoren the rooms of the hotel are immaculately decorated. Think high ceilings, a roll-top bath, a cosy open fire and a bed that feels like you’re laying on a cloud.
Not a single expense was spared to make guests feel like they’ll never want to leave!
6. Enjoy a Farm-to-table lunch in the Cape Winelands
At the rear of the garden, tucked away between the oak trees, the Greenhouse offers guests a wonderful refreshment station after their walk through the garden.
All of the food is served picnic-style in wooden crates with the preserves, jams and salads served in weck jars, while fresh bread from our wood-fired oven come wrapped in the iconic blue-and-white Babylonstoren paper.
No reservation is required – they allocate tables as they become available. There may be a waiting list during very busy times.
Opening hours – Open daily from 10am until 4pm
7. Have dinner at Babel
Housed in the old cow shed, Babel Restaurant is a wonderful mix of Cape Dutch architecture and contemporary glass walls that makes for a simple yet edgy environment in which to try tasty yet often unconventional combinations.
They have a farm-to-fork philosophy which means they like to serve food that is seasonal and that reflects the “pick, clean and serve” approach.
Opening hours – Breakfast: Monday to Sunday, 8am until 10am
Lunch: Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm until 3.30pm
Dinner: Monday to Sunday, 5pm until 9pm
Online bookings for Babel Restaurant open nine months in advance. And yes, you have to be quick cause seats tend to fill up fast!
8. Shop for homeware at the Babylonstoren Farm Shop
The Farm Shop is the main gift shop at Babylonstoren and can be found at the entrance of the gardens. It’s the perfect place for souvenir shopping or to buy a beautiful and thoughtful gift for someone else.
Each item is a labour of love that is nurtured by skilled hands and brought to life by the thoughtful selection of materials and ingredients, many of which are created on the farm itself.
Here you’ll find table wear, calendars, coffee table books and much, much more.
9. Pamper yourself with a SPA Treatment
Like everything else at Babylonstoren, the Garden Spa is inextricably linked to the garden and the ever-changing seasons. Think of it as a living spa, set within a forest of bamboo with tranquil greenery and a myriad leiwater channels to set the tone.
Housed in a pavilion constructed of bamboo, it comprises a hammam, chill room, hot spa and gym.
Charlotte Lint is the founder of Charlies Wanderings.
Charlotte has traveled all over the world and is based in Belgium where she also owns her very own dental practice.
She is an expert on writing efficient travel guides and finding unique places to stay.
Every month she helps over 134.000 people discover the most beautiful places in the world through her detailed travel guides.