Somerset West is a city in the Cape Winelands of South Africa. It is a suburb of the metropole of greater Cape Town, and is administrated by the City Council of Cape Town. Somerset West is mostly a relatively up-market residential district, but the commercial and industrial ereas of the city and surrounds have grown in proportion to the number of inhabitants. An economically significant number of the home-owners of Somerset West are the so-called "swallows", commonly citizens of a European country who keep a second (or third) home in South Africa and migrate with the seasons. As a result, a number of businesses cater for the shopping requirements of these occasional inhabitants, and house prices in some areas are relatively high.
From Cape Town, follow the N2 east and take exit 43 (R44 Somerset West/Strand/Stellenbosch).
From Stellenbosch, follow the R44 south.
Metrorail runs relatively frequent trains, about once per hour, from Cape Town via its Northern line. The closet station to the city centre is 1 Somerset West station but for visitors to the beachfront, alighting at the terminus 2 Strand station is a better option. Journey time from central Cape Town is a bit over one hour.
Commercial flights to Cape Town International airport (CPT IATA), about 30 minutes from somerset west by car. There is no scheduled public surface transport on this route, but there are taxi shuttle services at about R300.
By light aircraft to Stellenbosch airfield, about 20 minutes from Somerset West, on the outskirts of Stellenbosch.
There is no public transport to speak of other than minibus taxis. Most of the town is amenable to cycling, but you need your own bicycle, and there isn't really anywhere to go in the urban area.
- Helderberg Nature Reserve (Follow the posted roadsigns), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily: Nov to Apr 7:30AM to 7PM; May to Oct 7:30AM to 5:30PM.
- Monkeytown Primate Sanctuary, Mondeor Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. More than 230 primates have found a home here
- Erinvale Golf Club, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Somerset West Golf Club, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
There are a lot of dive sites within day-tripping distance on the Cape Peninsula and False Bay coasts. Dive shops and charter boat operators in the Strand and Gordon's Bay on the east side of False Bay are the nearest, and operate mostly from Gordon's Bay to Rooi-els.
- Lourensford, Lourensford Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Vergelegen Wine Estate, Lourensford Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
Somerset Mall is the biggest shopping area of the district. Most classes of consumer goods are available within easy walking distance of the large parking area, at the cost of probably higher prices than in the older commercial area of Somerset West, where parking is more of a problem. It is a large covered mall with restaurants, supermarkets and the full catastrophe of boutiques for fashionware, sports equipment, computer and communications hardware, etc.
In the central commercial part of Somerset west there are also an adequate range of similar outlets, but spread over a larger area.
One of the more convenient, with its own parking area and a small cluster of shops, is Lion's Square. The anchor tenant is the Lion's Square Spar supermarket, which is a relatively small, but upmarket supermarket with in-house bakery, delicatessen and coffee shop. The same building houses a restaurant, IT shop, laundry, pharmacy, and a few clothing boutiques.
- Willowbrook Lodge, Morgenster Ave, ☏ . Very peaceful hotel-guest house set in own garden near the Helderberg nature reserve. D'vine restaurant offers very good dining. Doubles R950-2600.
- Berrydel Gourment Guest House, 28 Berrydel Ave, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. R500-800 per person sharing.
- Albourne Guest House, 61 Lourensford Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ Info@Albourne.co.za. Owners can speak English, German, Dutch, French and Spanish. R285-R535 per person per night, bed and breakfast.
- Somerton Manor, 13 Somerset Street, Bridgewater, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. From R435 to R635 per person sharing.
- Easy Five, 56 Parel Vallei Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1 The Lord Charles (NH), Corner Faure & Stellenbosch Roads. +27 21 855-1040. An upmarket hotel in its own grounds on the edge of town. Boasts Nelson Mandela as a past guest. Caters mainly to tour groups, conferences and airline staff. Well-run hotel with comfortable rooms. Buffet dinners best avoided. It's in an area with beautiful surroundings, this 4-star hotel offers meeting rooms, a fitness centre and some fantastic views. From R1500 for a double.
The urban areas of Somerset West and Strand are contiguous, and there is often confusion as to where the boundary lies. For most practical purposes this is only important when using the telephone directory, as some subscribers are listed in the wrong area. If in doubt, try both.
There is not a great deal for the visitor to do in Somerset West except eat, sleep and generally reside. Social activities tend to centre on a few sports and home-based entertainment. For other activities the inhabitants generally go somewhere else.
- Cape Town is near enough for a night out. The N2 is congested during rush hour, and should be avoided between about 6AM and 9AM on weekdays westbound, and between 3:30PM and 5:30PM eastbound, but is generally OK at other times and over weekends.
- There are good beaches at Gordon's Bay and Strand, and good Scuba diving in Gordon's Bay, Rooi-els and the Cape Peninsula
- Boat rides and boat charters at Gordon's Bay, the Waterfront in Cape Town and Hout Bay
- Stellenbosch has some cultural attractions, and is about 20 minutes away off peak hours by the R44
- There is a public swimming pool in Strand