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Break away to leafy Constantia

  • 03 May 2017 | Libby Peacock

Spend a relaxing weekend exploring the Cape’s elegant suburb of Constantia and its beautiful natural surroundings. Here are our top five ways to make the most of the area.

1. Go out for lunch ...

Groot Constantia, home to Simon's Restaurant. (Image: Libby Peacock)

… or dinner, or breakfast. Or tea. From award-winning fine dining to a relaxed meal under shady trees, Constantia’s restaurant offerings are among the best in the country and, in some cases, the world. For a special occasion with no expenses spared, head to Silvermist Estate’s famous La Colombe, winner of numerous local and global awards and offering showstoppers such as “pan-seared linefish, cashew, lemongrass, kimchi, coriander, coconut and corn velouté” and “spiced lamb, dukkah and red wine”. Simon’s Restaurant at Groot Constantia changes its menu seasonally, grows its own herbs, and sources local ingredients from the valley and Cape vineyards. This is also a great spot to book an elegant picnic at rustic tables under the trees. Few venues beat local favourite Greens at the small High Constantia centre for relaxed al fresco style. The menu includes mouthwatering burgers, grilled fish, and gourmet pizzas with the freshest toppings ever. If it’s breakfast you’re after, La Belle at The Alphen boutique hotel offers tables under 100-year-old oaks or in the stylish indoor area. For hustle, bustle and buzz, Tashas at Constantia Village shopping centre has a yummy range of favourites – plus people watching of the highest order.

2. Pamper yourself

Known for its fair share of rich and famous residents, Constantia boasts several outstanding spas. For the ultimate in peace, tranquility and elegance, head to the exclusive The Cellars-Hohenort hotel’s stylish Fresh Wellness Spa, surrounded by lavish gardens. The extensive spa menu includes everything from signature facials and body wraps to “superior pamper packages” and spa parties. Located at Steenberg farm, Steenberg Spa’s treatments range from the Inner Peace and Couples Connect massage to the Ultimate Radiance facial, and every manicure, foot massage and other pampering indulgence you can think of. For a less elaborate but equally professional treatment, head to the View Health and Skin Care Clinic at the Old Village at Constantia Village shopping centre for a friendly facial, brow shape and tint, or “face mapping” and skincare-plan recommendation.

3. Get the adrenalin pumping

The treetops are calling! (Image: John Viljoen)

With such incredible natural scenery around every corner, the Constantia Valley is an adrenaline junkie’s heaven. Hop off the City Sightseeing bus at Constantia Nek to release your inner Tarzan or Jane at Acrobranch, offering three tree-top adventures of varying difficulty for kids, teenagers and adults (from R110 to R220; Wednesday to Sunday, school holidays and public holidays). This is a great way to spend a morning outdoors – and the company also caters for birthday parties, company team building and other events. Back on terra firma, lovely Constantia Uitsig wine estate now has a brand-new bike park, open seven days a week to everyone from mountain bikers and BMXers to those interested in cyclocross or improving their bike-handling skills. You can also host a birthday party here. Towards spring 2017, the super-high zipline at Silvermist Mountain Lodge and Wine Estate (a short walk from the Red Bus hop-on, hop-off stop at Constantia Nek) will also be reopening after renovations.

4. Stretch your legs

The Constantia Valley is a haven for hikers. There are a number of walks to try, including the Alphen Trail, a relaxed meander starting near The Alphen hotel on Alphen Drive off Constantia Main Road, taking you along a leafy, green route and ending at the Le Sueur Meadow near Brommersvlei Road, from where you can retrace your steps. Other options include the nearby Brommersvlei Walk – expect to exchange greetings with a host of locals walking their dogs – and the Diep River Trail (interlinking with the Alphen Trail and ending at shady Cecilia Forest). More invigorating hiking is on offer within Cecilia Forest itself, with a couple of options depending on your fitness level and time. Start at the car park across the road from the Rhodes Drive and Hohenort Drive intersection.

5. Explore South Africa’s oldest wine region

Spend a blissful few hours wine tasting at Constantia Glen. (Image: John Viljoen)

Wine was first made in the Constantia Valley, one of the country’s most spectacular wine-growing areas, as far back as 1685. In recent years, a number of new and boutique wineries have sprung up, offering fantastic wines, mind-blowing views and, in most cases, fabulous eateries. Quirky Beau Constantia (one of the stops on the City Sightseeing Purple Wine Tour, along with Groot Constantia and Eagles’ Nest) not only offers wine tasting overlooking vineyards grown on some of the Cape’s steepest architectural slopes, but is also open for lunch Tuesday to Sunday and dinner Tuesday to Saturday. Another relative newcomer is picturesque Constantia Glen, with cheese and charcuterie platters to enjoy with top-quality wines, and tasting experiences including wine-and-chocolate pairings. Among the area’s older stalwarts are historic Buitenverwachting, dating back to 1796 and offering top-class wines and an acclaimed restaurant; stylish Klein Constantia, home of the legendary Vin de Constance sweet wine; and Steenberg, with a five-star hotel, gourmet restaurant and bistro on its grounds.

Leafy elegance at Klein Constantia. (Image: Libby Peacock)

How to get there:

An easy way to access the attractions listed is from our Wine Tour through Constantia. Hop on the Mini Peninsula Tour to get to the first stop of the wine tour on Constantia Nek (stop 21). Buy your tickets online, directly from City Sightseeing bus drivers or book at the ticket offices at the V&A Waterfront (stop 1) or in Long Street (stop 5). Then sit back and discover the Valley’s delights for yourself.