With international travel still up in the air and conventional school terms and annual leave plans all awry, South Africans are revising their holiday plans to include a more local focus. Discovering (or re-discovering) what our beautiful country has to offer is not without considerable pleasures. After all, South Africa is not a major global tourism destination for no reason.
The Mother City sits at the pinnacle of this offering, with a global gourmet scene, award-winning wine estates and an iconic mountain that is one of the Natural Wonders of The World. And, until international leisure travellers return to the fairest of Capes in their droves once more, we have its splendour pretty much all to ourselves.
Luckily for local tourists and Capetonian residents who love a good ‘staycation’ there’s a wealth of attractions and characterful areas to be found in Cape Town. One such area is the renowned Constantia region. Set against the densely forested eastern sides of the Table Mountain range and sloping down into a valley of vineyards, Constantia offers plenty of must-visit spots for adventurous types as well as food and wine lovers to discover.
There are many reasons to make a beeline for Constantia and plan a holiday break or getaway around the area. Here are our picks for the top spots to Discover in Constantia this summer:
With a heritage that stretches across centuries, Constantia is one of the finest areas to visit when in Cape Town. Fondly referred to as ‘Cape Town’s Vineyard’, this area remains a must-visit wine valley for wine lovers for those exploring the Mother City.
On the Constantia bucket list is Eagles’ Nest, one of the highest vineyards in the Cape, with its slopes facing north, east and west. Offering not only terrific wines but spectacular views over the Cape Peninsula, Eagles’ Nest is perched in a secluded spot high up on the slopes of the historic Constantia mountain range. Here you can enjoy a simple wine tasting in their tasting room, under the trees, or take your wine tasting experience to new heights by tasting the wines in one of their vineyards.
Groot Constantia, founded in 1685, is a historical wonder with an enduring legacy. So famous are the fruits of South Africa’s oldest vineyard that they were enshrined in the novels of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The oldest wine-producing estate in South Africa, Groot Constantia offers fascinating cellar tours, a cultural history museum, the original Cape Dutch Manor House, an art collection, and even, wine tastings. So, you can find out for yourself why ‘Constantia Wyn’ was bought by emperors and kings such as Frederick the Great of Prussia and Louis Phillipe of France, and served to Napoleon in exile on St Helena island.
One with nature
If you want to connect with nature, head out to explore the Constantia Greenbelt network on foot, which includes the tree-lined Alphen Trail or go for the longer haul and take a gentle hike up Constantia Nek, for spectacular views over the valley towards the ocean.
For a slower pace, there’s also the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, which is acclaimed as one of the great botanical gardens of the world. Few gardens can match the sheer grandeur of this setting for a walk or picnic. Take a stroll across The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway – aka the boomslang. This curved steel and timber bridge winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum, offering spectacular panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, garden and Cape Flats.
After all that physical activity, enjoy a hearty breakfast or lavish lunch at Chardonnay Deli. The deli is based in an old farm stall near Groot Constantia, on an historic route that also houses the original police station and the commander’s house. Enjoy a delicious cup of Truth coffee, freshly squeezed super juices or browse the range of handmade items for the home. Sit back, relax and indulge in their freshly baked artisan goods and experience the serenity of the scenic valley surrounds.
You can easily up the ante on the foodie front because Constantia has an incredible fine dining scene. Many of South Africa’s top-rated, world-renowned establishments lie in close proximity to one another, allowing you to dine on seasonal Cape cuisine as often as you wish. Absolute musts on this gourmet hotlist are the multiple award-winning Greenhouse restaurant.
Ready for adventure
Looking for a way to get your heart racing? Be adventurous with SA Forest Adventures’ Cape Town Ziplines. Located at Silvermist Estate, this ziplining adventure in Constantia offers one of Africa’s longest and highest zipline tours and aims to give you a thrilling experience you won’t soon forget.
The 2.3km long zipline tour, which remains open and running whatever the weather, takes visitors on a series of seven cables up to 155m high above the ground, making it one of the longest and highest in Africa. Read all about it here.
Lay your weary head to rest
When visiting Constantia, don’t forget to book a stay at one of the most unique boutique hotels in Cape Town. The Cellars-Hohenort Hotel offers breathtaking views across the Constantia Valley to False Bay and is one of the top places to stay when exploring Cape Town.
With its understated luxury, antique furnishings and original works of art, the five-star destination hotel offers comfort and elegance in every corner. Surrounded by nine acres of historic gardens, with views of Table Mountain, the hotel boasts beautifully decorated rooms, two award-winning restaurants, a tranquil spa, swimming pool, and more.
While at the hotel – if you’re not out exploring Constantia’s many gems – you can experience the historic architecture and award-winning gardens boasting 300-year-old trees that are of national importance. Enjoy revitalising, magical walks around this famous garden featuring various horticultural wonders; from the aforementioned ancient camphor trees, to the abundant rose garden (there are thousands of roses planted on the property), secret doorways, lawns, water features, vegetable and herb gardens. Or, lounge in the warm Mother City sunshine next to the tranquil pool area overlooking the hotel’s very own vineyards.
When you’re ready to venture forth once more, the valley awaits. The Cellars-Hohenort is set deep in the heart of the Constantia Winelands and is the perfect base to visit jaw-droppingly beautiful estates for fine wines, incredible views, and many great restaurants.