Have you ever wanted to travel to a popular destination but wanted to escape the crowds and stay outside of the bustling city? Well, if you're travelling to Cape Town, then the Southern Suburbs is your answer. This leafy suburb is home to the oldest wine estate, Groot Constantia, and brewery, Newlands Brewery, among other world-class wine estates and restaurants. It's also the keeper of one of the most extraordinary botanical gardens globally, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
After arriving at Cape Town International Airport, you'll travel along a winding road towards the city. Eventually, you come to a crossroads at the foot of Devils Peak, one of the far ends of Table Mountain. If you turn right, you will officially enter the city of Cape Town, where buildings tower the streets below and where you will find the popular attractions like the Table Mountain cable car station and V&A Waterfront.
Turn left, and you are led to a suburban metropolis, where skyscrapers are replaced with towering mountain peaks and concrete is replaced with acres of trees and greenery. The Southern Suburbs is a well-kept secret among the locals or "Capetonians", but travellers are slowly catching on to its unravelled beauty and serenity.
Sometimes your entire experience of a destination comes down to a single choice: go right and follow the crowd, or go left and create your own story. You choose!
We've taken the liberty to answer everything you may need to know about visiting the Southern Suburbs.
Thanks to its convenient location a mere 20 minutes from Cape Town, the wine-producing Constantia has become the Mother City’s unofficial backyard vineyard. This lush valley is home to the country’s oldest wine estates and Cape Town’s oldest suburb.
With a history dating back over 300 years, the Constantia Valley is the birthplace of the South African wine industry. The region is packed with several award-winning estates offering daily wine tours and tastings. But the nectar from the gods isn’t all Constantia’s vineyards, and Cape Dutch houses have to offer. Here you can also dine on fine cuisine at Silvermist Wine Estate’s celebrated La Colombe restaurant. Or, you can practice your swing at Steenberg’s 18-hole golf course. If you prefer something more low-key, combine a spa day with some sauvignon blanc at Constantia Uitsig.
It is, however, pointless to visit Constantia without trying a tipple. The region is especially renowned for its white wines and dessert wines. Be sure to taste Klein Constantia’s Vin de Constance (previously known as Muscat Capp Constantia), a dessert wine that enjoyed international popularity in the 18th and 19th century and was a favourite of Jane Austen, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Charles Dickens.
1. Conveniently located a mere 20 minutes outside Cape Town
2. Home to South Africa’s oldest wine estate (Groot Constantia) and to Cape Town’s oldest suburb
3. The region’s sauvignon blanc and dessert wines are especially unmissable
4. La Colombe at Silvermist Wine Estate was voted one of the world’s 50 best restaurants by San Pellegrino
5. Steenberg Wine Estate includes a hotel and an 18-hole golf course
6. Combine a spa day with a wine tasting at Constantia Uitsig
Each season brings a uniqueness to this scenic part of Cape Town, but as you will likely be exploring more than just this part of Cape Town during your visit, it would be best to base this off the best time to visit Cape Town.
Cape Town experiences its hottest months over summer in South Africa, between December and February. The days are long, with early mornings and the sun setting much later, so this is the ideal time for enthusiastic hiker’s keen on exploring some of the Southern Suburbs hiking trails, many of which start and end from Newlands Forest or Kirstenbosch Gardens.
Throughout the autumn months, orange and red leaves fall from the trees before winter takes over between June and August. Spring transforms this part of the city into a lush and green paradise, making it one of the best times to experience the rich and flourishing gardens consuming the area.
Wintertime has its own perks, but the Southern Suburbs is well-known to get rather gloomy during winter, with shorter days and the towering mountains keeping this sheltered part of the city in the shadows. With this said, the best time to view the magnificent king protea (Protea cynaroides), South Africa’s National Flower and rightfully so, is during the colder winter months.
The area, located on the opposite side of the mountain to the famous city bowl, comprises a plethora of forests and greenery, making it the ideal place for nature-lovers to position themselves.
Arriving at Cape Town International Airport, your driver will meet you to transfer you into the city, or you will collect your private vehicle for your stay. Either way, you will leave the airport and head in the direction of Table Mountain (yes, you will already be able to see it from the airport)!
As you near Devils Peak, the far-left end of Table Mountain (when viewing the mountain from the city centre), you come to a fork in the national road. Instead of turning right to head into the city centre, you will turn left towards the Southern Suburbs.
There is a handful of exquisite hotels and accommodation options to choose from in this area. The benefit? Many of these properties have large, leafy gardens away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
We are glad you asked! The Southern Suburbs is known for its culinary delights – perhaps the top chefs are looking for more space, or maybe food is becoming more farm-to-table? Either way, a short drive out of the city, or if you choose to stay here then on your doorstep, here are a few restaurant options we would recommend to you:
1. La Colombe – This internationally-acclaimed fine dining restaurant is a treat for the senses. From Asian and French influences to fresh seasonal produce, the experience is elegant in every way. Enjoy fine dining and exceptional presentation in this forest treehouse setting.
2. Chefs Warehouse Beau Constantia – Leisure dining meets small-plate sensationalism at this elite tapas-for-two restaurant. Chef Ivor Jones' passion paired with incredible views over the Constantia valley makes for memorable meals.
3. Skotnes Restaurant & Bar at Norval Foundation – Named after the artist Cecil Skotnes, this is a proudly South African restaurant and bar in every way. The contemporary bistro fare and a focus on the art of eating makes this a cultural and culinary delight.
4. Greenhouse – The minimalist Greenhouse showcases local flavours on the plate in a creative way. Your tastebuds will thank you for their journey through several conceptual flavour combinations.
5. Blockhouse Kitchen - This stylish and spacious 250-seater space gifts you with hearty comfort food. True to their tagline, it's seasonal, social, and simple.
6. Foxcroft – With a bakery and award-winning restaurant in one, Foxcroft serves delicious lunch and dinner. Despite the fine-dining aesthetic, it's not pretentious and, seated in the shade of the oak trees, keeps the experience low-key.
7. Bistro Sixteen82 – Named after the year in which Steenberg Wine Estate was established, Bistro Sixteen82 first opened its doors in 2009 and has been Cape Town's tapas and bistro-style darling ever since. You can expect bistro fare that's seasonal, flavourful and bursts with freshness.
8. Jonkershuis – Nestled inside the historic centre of the Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Jonkershuis delivers classic Cape Malay cuisine surrounded by ancient oak trees and the legendary Groot Constantia vineyards. The views of the peninsula and majestic Constantia Valley are unrivalled.