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It’s no secret we like wine – and it just so happens that some of the best South African wines are produced just beyond the Cape Town city limits in the Winelands, South Africa district. A trip to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without wandering into the South African wine regions and sampling a bit of the product. Since we don’t drive in foreign countries, we needed to find a way to visit nearby Cape Town wineries without a car. As we are also budget-conscious travelers, it was essential to find Cape Town wine tours that were as economical as possible.
Wine Route Cape Town
Finding an affordable way to visit the wine estates in Cape Town was proving more difficult than we assumed it would be. Our go-to resource for DIY Cape Town day trips – public transportation – was failing us. Our diligent research yielded zero results for a Winelands-Cape Town bus route leading directly to a winery (or better yet, wineries). The local commuter train makes stop in the popular wine regions of Stellenbosch and Paarl, but we couldn’t get a sense of whether the wineries were actually walkable from the station (and an expensive taxi-driven Cape Winelands tour from the station would have surely wrecked our budget!). We found numerous wine tasting Cape Town tours – complete with gourmet picnic lunches and other luxury bells and whistles – but they simply didn’t jive with our Budget Cape Town plan.
Cape Town Tour Bus
Finally, we found a viable option for Cape Town vineyard tours: The City Sightseeing Cape Town Tour Bus. We are not the biggest fans of the big, red, double-decker, open-top, Hop On Hop Off tourist-toting buses – as it has been our experience that they rarely go where public transportation doesn’t (and they charge more, of course). However, the Cape Town Hop On Hop Off tour bus might be the exception because it offers a Constantia Wine Route where no public buses go. Although more expensive than a pubic bus, a one-day ticket includes unlimited travel for the day and – most importantly – the chance to visit some of the best wineries in Cape Town.
The City Sightseeing Cape Town Tour Bus offers multiple loop routes through the city. The loop that stops in Constantia is the Mini Peninsula Tour, or the Blue Line Route. From there, pass-holders need to catch a smaller bus for the Wine Tour, or Purple Line Route, which makes stops at the entrance to three wineries. We can’t imagine there are any easier or relaxed self-guided wine tasting tours in Cape Town.
Top Tip: There is a Vine Hopper bus in Stellenbosch and Cape Town Wine Tram in Franschhoek (which offers Wine Tram-Cape Town transport at an additional cost), but with all of the costs involved, we didn’t consider either of these options to be affordable Cape Town wine tours.
A Day of Constantia Wine Tasting
Ecstatic that we discovered an affordable option for wine tasting South Africa, we commenced our Constantia wine tour mid-day – we had to ensure our timeline was in sync with the Red Bus Cape Town schedule. We found the closest Blue Line Bus stop that would take us from the city, around the university, into the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and on to Constantia – home to some of the top wine farms in Cape Town.
A cool, cloudy day greeted us for our excursion – ideal weather for an afternoon of sipping wine. Although we still weren’t fond of the idea of riding the Cape Town tourist bus, we knew it was our best option for an affordable Winelands tour from Cape Town. When the bus arrived, we “hopped on,” took our seats on the open, upper deck and plugged in the headphones for the provided commentary. We were pleasantly surprised by the stellar views from the upper-deck vantage point and found the recorded guide offered several interesting tidbits regarding the area and history – so far, our South Africa wine tour was off to a good start!
Due to schedule constraints – and wanting to make certain we had time to visit all three wineries on the route – we didn’t “hop off” the bus until we arrived in Constantia. Times aligned perfectly; the Purple Route Bus was waiting for us and we were quickly on our way to some of the best wine estates in Cape Town: Groot Constantia Wine Estate, Eagle’s Nest Wine Farm and Beau Constantia.
Top Tip: If you are looking for things to do in Cape Town on a Sunday, this is a great option because all three wineries on the City Sightseeing Cape Town bus tour are open 7 days a week!
Groot Constantia Wine Estate
Founded in 1685, Groot Constantia is the oldest producing winery in South Africa and over the years, these Cape Town wines have been favored by aristocracy around the world. The enormous estate encompasses 420 acres, inclusive of 220 acres of vineyards, the wine cellar, two restaurants, and a museum – all of which is open to be explored (small fees for museum and cellar). Groot Constantia is somewhat of a tourist attraction all on its own (and, as one of the best wine tasting Cape Town overall experiences, if you only have time for one wine tasting, make it this one!).
We just missed the start of the hourly cellar tour and, wanting to make it to two other wineries and needing to mind the bus schedule, we headed for the tasting room. For the grand estate, the tasting room was rather plain, but decorated with paintings of African wildlife (a great reminder of just where we were in the world!). After we sampled their red wines, we set out on a walk in the vineyards. Young, small, bright green grapes hid among the leaves on endless rows of vines. I can only imagine how colorful it must be in the fall before harvest.
Eagle’s Nest Wine Farm
On our approach to Eagle’s Nest, we felt a sense of haughtiness in the air, as signing in with the security guard was required prior to him unlocking the gates. We made our way down the forested path to a small house where the vibe completely changed as we were casually invited to take a seat outside in the forest clearing.
Tables and benches constructed of old barrels were strewn across the lawn and cheerful, unpretentious wait staff rushed around offering tastes and clearing tables. Surrounded in a lush forest of towering trees, bright flower blossoms and a trickling creek made for a unique wine tasting experience, but the vineyards were only visible from outside of the entrance.
The modern, trendy tasting room is the exact opposite of what comes to mind when imagining a wine estate, which is exactly what makes it desirable. The sleek, glass two-story building with ample outdoor deck space provides views over the vineyard out to False Bay. Sushi, rather than cheese, was offered and cheeky signs set the tone for a more contemporary experience.
Their non-traditional style doesn’t stop there, but extends to their line of wines, which have non-traditional labels and names. A visit to the winery wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the ‘Loo with a View,’ which gets my vote for Best Bathroom View Ever.
Summing up our Constantia Wine Route Experience
Considering how much we were dreading riding the Red Bus Cape Town – or the “HO-HO Wine-O Bus” as we’ve affectionately come to call it – we now rate it as one of the fun things to do in Cape Town! At a mere fraction of the cost of Cape Town private tours to wineries, we also think it is one of the best things to do in Cape Town on a budget. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting the three wineries – each with their own distinct ambiance – on our own, rather than with a large, guided group. The tastings at all three of the wineries were well-priced – costing about $5 USD at each estate.
Cape Town Wine Tours
Travelers without the time – or patience – to navigate the Cape Town Tour Bus route to wineries (and ones that have a little more wiggle room in their budget than we had!) might want to consider taking one of the Wine Tasting Cape Town Day Tours. There are some incredibly affordable half-day wine tours from Cape Town – as well as tours that visit multiple top sights and include a Cape Town vineyards tour. Here are some of the top-rated affordable Cape Town Wine Tours that you might want to book for your trip:
South African Winelands Half-Day Tour and Tasting – Join a guide on a tour of Stellenbosch with a wine and cheese tasting at the Stellenbosch Wine Estate. Find out more!
Winelands Full-Day Tour and Tasting – Let a guide lead the way to the top wine estates in Stellenbosch and Franschhoek where you will enjoy wine and cheese tastings. Learn more about this tour!
Full-Day Package-Deal Cape Tour – Enjoy this full-day tour that takes visitors along Chapman’s Peak Drive to Cape Point, makes a stop to see the penguins at Boulders Beach and includes a wine tasting in Constantia Valley. Learn more about this tour!
Top Tips for Your Trip to Cape Town
Cheap Things To Do in Cape Town
Looking for more affordable things to do in Cape Town, South Africa? Check out our 3-Day Cape Town Itinerary for a few more budget ideas! (It includes a few free things to do in Cape Town, too!)
Affordable Accommodation in Cape Town
If you are looking for cheap accommodation in Cape Town, consider using Airbnb. (Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) WE stayed in an awesome Airbnb apartment in Hout Bay – and loved that we had our own kitchen to prepare simple meals at home (huge cost-saver!). However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many Cape Town hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center that fit a wide range of budgets. We recommend starting your search for hotels in Cape Town on Booking.com – like we do when we book hotels!
Before You Go
- Cape Town is a walkable city…but only if you have the right shoes! Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes for your trip. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos (that can later be beautifully compiled into a travel photo book). We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around in any foreign city. Make sure to have a good city map and/or guidebook before arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
More For Your Trip To Cape Town: Read our top tips and detailed guides for Visiting Penguins, A Cape Town Walking Tour, Best Cape Town Beaches, Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Visiting Table Mountain and the Best Cape Town Itinerary!
We want to know: Do you have any tips for taking Cape Town Wine Tours on a Budget? Give us your best advice in the comment section below!
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