Where to Go in the Cape Winelands

You don't have to limit yourself to a single destination when visiting the Cape Winelands: the popular wine-making towns of Franschhoek, Stellenbosch and Paarl all lie within easy reach of each other and most scheduled Wineland day tours include a taste of all three.

Even closer to Cape Town, the leafy suburb of Constantia is where to go in the Cape Winelands for the birthplace of South Africa’s wine-making industry and to visit some of the country’s oldest and most beautiful estates which lie conveniently close to other places of interest such as the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

For those who prefer to wander off the beaten track, we’d recommend the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley near the whale-watching town of Hermanus or the wine estates of the hugely scenic Route 62. Although not as well-known as Franschhoek and Constantia, these alternative wine routes are equally pleasing to both eye and palate, and can easily be combined with a self-drive holiday along either the Whale Coast or the beach-lined Garden Route.

Franschhoek: award-winning restaurants, magnificent setting

Set against a backdrop of orchards, vineyards and mountain peaks, the little town of Franschhoek ('French Corner') is arguably the prettiest of the Cape Winelands regions. The appearance and atmosphere is that of Provence, and the mood is further reflected by elegant wine estates such as Le Petite Ferme, Chamonix and Mont Rochelle – their names testament to the early French Huguenot influence in the area.

Franschhoek has just one main street but it is lined with art galleries, boutique shops and a number of excellent restaurants. Known as the gourmet capital of South Africa, Franschhoek is a top choice for a food and wine holiday; dine on flavours ranging from traditional Cape fare to French haute cuisine – and the accompanying wine will of course come from the vineyards around you.

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Stellenbosch: classic old Cape town, wide choice of wine estates

The second oldest settlement in South Africa after Cape Town, Stellenbosch is famous as the capital of the Cape Winelands - indeed, there are a staggering 200 wine estates in the immediate area! Many of these farms are open to the public and have daily wine tours and tastings, not to mention restaurants with vineyard views or picnic baskets to be enjoyed on their expansive lawns.

Don’t forget the town itself - Stellenbosch is the perfect place to wander around on foot and you can do a little shopping before enjoying a meal in the shade of its famous 300-year-old oak trees. Head for Dorp Street, the historic heart of the town and a national monument, thanks to its grand display of old Cape Dutch, Georgian and Victorian buildings. Meanwhile, famous Stellenbosch University adds a lively atmosphere to the town, its students filling the many bars and sidewalk cafés.

Constantia: the Cape’s oldest winelands

Most visitors to Cape Town never suspect what sits on the cooler, wetter south-eastern slopes of Table Mountain: just a half-hour drive from the city centre will take you to the exclusive suburb of Constantia, home to palatial houses set on sprawling green lawns, imposing ambassadorial residences and expansive vineyards.

This area was first cultivated in 1685, making the Constantia Wine Valley the Cape’s oldest wine-producing region. Visit Groot Constantia and Klein Constantia, both grand old estates with classic Cape Dutch architecture and offering plenty of opportunities to taste their excellent wine and gourmet food. To work off the calories, you could play a round of golf, explore Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, go hiking on one of the many nearby mountain trails, or hit the beach - it's not far to either the Indian Ocean of False Bay or the colder waters of the Atlantic.

Route 62: good-value wine farms, amazing scenery

Not only is Route 62 one of South Africa's most scenic drives but it is also the world's longest wine route. Starting about an hour's drive out of Cape Town, Route 62 runs through vineyard-sprinkled valleys, over dramatic mountain scenery and past sleepy farming towns before entering the Karoo, the great expanse of semi-desert that covers much of the Western Cape's interior.

Our favourite wine stop on Route 62 is the Robertson Valley, home to more than 50 estates and boasting big names such as Springfield, Graham Beck and Bon Courage. This valley is also where to go in the Cape Winelands for outdoor activities ranging from vigorous hikes in the local Langeberg Mountains to lazy r