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Think of Cape Town’s southern suburbs and ‘leafy, parklike setting’ comes to mind. The southern suburbs of Cape Town extend from Observatory to Steenberg Estate in the south and Constantia in the west to Ottery eastwards.
Two of Cape Town’s major highways run through the southern suburbs for easy access to the airport and city centre.
The southern suburbs encircle Cape Town’s oldest wine producing area and the national botanical gardens. Also within this area is the University of Cape Town and some of South Africa’s oldest and finest schools.
The area experiences slightly more rain than other parts of Cape Town and is interspersed with lush, green belts and beautiful homes.
Things to do
Here are a few things to do in each of the suburbs –
The 11 wine estates carpet the entire Constantia Valley in greenery in summer. The best-known wine estate is Groot Constantia directly on the Purple Wine Tour bus route, however all the estates have appealing characteristics and are worth visiting.
Adrenalin junkies can experience one of the longest ziplines in South Africa at the Silvermist Estate.
On the border of this elite suburb lies Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, unique for its display of mostly endemic flora. Several Table Mountain hiking trails begin here. A tree canopy walkway called the Boomslang is extremely popular and there are 2 restaurants on the premises. The acres of garden are ideal for picnics and during summer, Kirstenbosch hosts Sunday music events and an open air cinema.
The Rhodes Memorial is situated directly above Rondebosch. The granite memorial is a tribute to Cecil John Rhodes who bequeathed part of his estate to the nation. There are stunning views from the memorial and a popular tea room is alongside.
Enjoy a local production at the Baxter Theatre complex. The annual dance festival is held here in November.
Dominated by its Rugby and Cricket stadiums, Newlands is also home to SABMiller’s Newlands Brewery where beers are produced using natural spring water.
The Montebello Design Centre was setup to promote local designs and the resident craftsmen create truly amazing products.
The Josephine Mill is a working water mill with a small but interesting museum. Purchase fresh ground flour from the miller himself.
The centre of Wynberg is known as Little Chelsea and due to the high amount of historic buildings here, renovations are strictly monitored. Collect a map from the library and follow the historic walk.
Watch a Shakespeare play performed at the Maynardville Open Air Theatre.
Chart Farm comes alive with colour when their roses bloom. Walk through the fields and pick a basket full of roses for your loved one.
Hike through the Tokai Forest but be aware that the forest is used by mountain bikers, trial runners, mushroom collectors and a few baboon troops too.
The Porter Estate alongside the forest hosts an Organic Market every Saturday.
In this bustling suburb is the peaceful Arderne Gardens, a 5ha section of land containing over 300 exotic trees, Japanese ponds and pleasant walkways. You may find it difficult to believe you’re in a suburb.
Cavendish Square is one of Cape Town’s upmarket shopping malls with over 160 stores, more than 20 restaurants and 16 movie theatres to enjoy.
The old Royal Observatory is open twice a month in the evening for star gazing.
The Heart of Cape Town Museum is located at the Groote Schuur hospital. The museum realistically depicts the story of the world’s first heart transplant that took place here in 1967.
The 290ha Rondevlei Nature Reserve consists of a wetland, lake and lagoon. The area is a bird’s paradise and a small population of hippos were introduced several years ago. The hippos have thrived and bird hides are conveniently provided for a possible sighting.
The country’s president has an official residence here and the adjoining Groote Schuur property, once owned by Cecil John Rhodes, can be visited by prior arrangement.
The oldest windmill in South Africa, Mostert's Mill, is located along the M3 highway. Visit on weekends for a demonstration on how the mill operates.
The Kenilworth Racecourse hosts the prestigious J & Met race every year in January and attracts lovers of high fashion and those wanting to enjoy a day at the races.
Die Oog (the eye) is a small conservation area formed around a natural spring. Take a walk through the park and keep an eye out for the endangered Leopard Toad.
The historic Steenberg Farm has much to offer the visitor; wine tasting, two restaurants, a hotel with spa and championship golf course.
Where to Eat
Banana Jam Café in Kenilworth offers authentic Caribbean dishes in beach-style surroundings. Huge selection of rums. Try a Jambalayan dish for a taste of the islands…
The Conservatory at Cellars Hohenort Hotel is a bright, airy restaurant offering nicely balanced dishes all reasonably priced. Open all day including for high tea.
Salushi in Claremont is – you guessed it – a Sushi restaurant, however, the sushi menu is definitely more interesting than the name. The owners have produced a ‘value’ menu to keep costs low without compromising on quality. The Rock 'n Rolla dish is recommended.
Expect wholesome and freshly prepared light meals during the day at Alphen Hotel’s chic La Belle Bistro & Bakery. The dinner menu is a lot more formal with an excellent assortment of dishes.
The Gardener’s Cottage serves light meals under gigantic Camphor trees at the Montebello Design Centre. Super-relaxed atmosphere.
Consistently ranked as one of the top restaurants worldwide, La Colombe at Silvermist Estate offers a variety of menus, all with fabulously prepared, flavourful dishes. Treat yourself to an amazing meal.
The Toad at Josephine’s Mill offers typical steakhouse fare with a surprisingly good wine menu. The venue is located in a quiet part of Newlands.
A vibey wine bar with rooftop deck, Oblivion in Claremont packs the sports fans in with their multitude of big screen TVs.
Peddlar’s has a large outdoor area, a great place to be on a hot summer evening. Traditional pub offering excellent meals, Peddlar’s is popular amongst all generations.
Tiger Tiger is a student hangout with 8 bars and 2 dance floors. Open until very late.
Forester’s Arms Pub & Restaurant (Forries) is one of the oldest pubs in South Africa and normally fills to capacity from Saturday afternoon onwards. Excellent meeting place with inviting pub grub. Popular carvery on Sundays. Forries is listed in the Guinness Book of Records for selling the most beer in the Southern Hemisphere!
Where to Stay
There is a wealth of first-rate accommodation throughout the southern suburbs ranging from large and boutique hotels to guest houses, self-catering options in houses (some on golf estates), townhouses, cottages and apartments and backpacker lodges.
Air:The nearest airport is Cape Town International.
Car Rental: There are several car rental agencies spread throughout the southern suburbs, however, you could rent a vehicle online.
Taxis: Taxi's or Uber are your best options for a fast and reliable taxi service to or from the southern suburbs.
Did you know?
The annual Cape Argus Cycle Tour is the largest [timed] cycling race in the world, attracting over 30000 cyclists to this event. Much of the race is routed through the southern suburbs.
The first Dutch East India Commander Jan van Riebeeck was granted a sect of land in the Green Point area by the DEIC directors (the Lord’s 17) but he exchanged it instead for land in Bishop’s Court. Even back in the 1600s, the area was much sought after! Past residents include Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The maximum security prison Pollsmoor in Steenberg has an onsite restaurant open to the public. The Idlanathi restaurant (Xhosa, meaning ‘eat with us’) serves up ridiculously cheap and tasty snack foods prepared by inmates. Tipping is forbidden.