Franschhoek vs. Constantia – Which is Better?

Last Updated on March 28, 2024 by thecapetownblog

Franschhoek and Constantia are two of Cape Town’s top wine regions, but which is better? 

Honestly, I would recommend doing them both if you can, but if you only have time to visit one, then you’re going to have to make a choice! So to make that process a little easier, I’m going to compare the two for you. 

I’ve done the Franschhoek wine tram a few times and I’ve actually lost count of how many times I’ve gone tasting in Constantia. I do have a favourite, but other factors come into play here. So if you don’t have time to read the full article, I’ll just say this: Constantia is more convenient, but Franschhoek delivers a better experience. 

This isn’t a matter of life or death. You’re going to have a great time whichever one you choose, but keep on reading to weigh up which of these two heavyweight wine towns is the best fit for your trip. 

About Franschhoek

Franschhoek is a small town, where there’s not a single blade of grass out of place. The town is right in the heart of the Franschhoek wine valley, where there are tons of wine farms to explore – and lots of them are connected by the famous (or should that be notorious?) wine tram. 

Honestly, I don’t think that the wine in Franschhoek is the best quality. It’s nice enough, but I think the wine in Constantia is better. I think a day in Franschhoek is more about the experience than the wine itself. 

Franschhoek is about an hour’s drive from Cape Town. It’s inland, so it tends to be hotter here than it is in the city. There are plenty of nice hotels to stay in here, and some wonderful restaurants around. I had one of the best meals of my life at La Petite Ferme

You can also read my full review of the Franschhoek wine tram here!

About Constantia 

Constantia is a suburb of Cape Town, and it’s about half an hour’s drive from the central areas. It’s peaceful, affluent, and very green! I always find it hard to believe that technically I’m still in a city while I’m wine tasting out here. 

Unlike Franschhoek, Constantia doesn’t have a wine tram, but there’s a sightseeing bus that can take you between some of the farms. Meanwhile, some of them are within walking distance of each other, and you can also hire bikes at Constantia Uitsig and explore that way. I find the bus the easiest way of doing it though – read my full review here!

Which one is easier to get to?

Constantia, but only marginally. There are a few caveats to this, so allow me to explain…

If you’re driving, Ubering, or using a private driver, then Constantia is much quicker to get to. It only takes half an hour, whereas Franschhoek is an hour away. 

However, my favourite way to go wine tasting in Constantia is to use the wine bus, because using Uber can be a bit of a pain out there. And for Franschhoek, I love doing the wine tram explorer tour so that I don’t have to stay overnight there, or spend loads on a private driver. And with both of these tours, the journey to the first wine farm of the day ends up taking about an hour, so it doesn’t really make a difference. You do have a bit more flexibility with visiting Constantia though. 

Which one has more wine farms?

Franschhoek! There are WAY more wine farms here. I believe there are 10 wine farms in Constantia, although not all of them are open for tastings. Meanwhile, there are about 45 wine farms in Franschhoek. 

If you do the Constantia wine bus, you’ll be able to visit three wine farms in a day. Meanwhile, the Franschhoek wine tram allows you to visit up to five, although personally I like to do four and enjoy a long, leisurely lunch at one of the estates. Usually Bartinney!

Which one is more beautiful?

I’d have to say Franschhoek. The scenery is more dramatic, with craggy mountains and stunning valley views. However, they are both really pretty.

Which one is cheaper?

I usually find that it works out a bit cheaper to go to Constantia, once you factor in transport, tastings, and food. When I take the wine bus, I usually end up spending around R1000, whereas in Franschhoek it’s more like R1,300 – so not a huge difference, but of course it depends on your budget. 

Which one involves more planning?

To be honest, neither of them involves a ton of planning. I would definitely recommend booking the Franschhoek wine tram in advance, though. For the Constantia wine bus, you can book online, but to be honest I’ve often just turned up at the visitor centre and bought my ticket on the day.

What are the best wine farms in Franschhoek?

Bartinney

Bartinney is my favourite wine farm ever! The views are stunning, I love the MCC here, and the cheeseboard was out of this world. We chose to stay here for two hours when we did the wine tram because we were all just enjoying the wine and the scenery so much. This one’s on the Navy tram route.

Plaisir Platform 

Plaisir Platform is another gem on the Navy route! We started on the tram, rather than the tram bus, so it was our first wine farm of the day and it definitely kicked things off on the right note. The staff were lovely, the wine was some of the best I’ve had in Franschhoek, and there was also a food market on site so we were able to grab some breakfast to line our stomachs with.

Vrede en Lust

I can’t remember her name, but I have to give a huge shout out to the sommelier at Vrede en Lust got a group of eight slightly tipsy people through a deluxe tasting in just under an hour. She was fantastic and didn’t make us feel rushed, even though the tasting we chose was quite ambitious for the timeframe. 

Again, the views here are just beautiful and we managed to snag the best table! We only spent an hour here but I could have happily stayed for two. Again, this one’s on the Navy route.

Le Lude 

Le Lude is on both the Blue and Green wine tram lines, and it’s known for its fantastic cap classique, which is essentially South African champagne. Because, you know, the whole champagne-only-comes-from-France thing. 

(I only mention this because on posts where I haven’t made it explicitly clear, I’ve had mean comments from people telling me that I’m “sad” and stupid for not knowing the difference between cap classique and real champagne. Yes, really! I don’t always see the point in mentioning it because it’s common knowledge, but I figured I’d bring it up here just to keep the haters at bay…) 

Anyway, the bubbly at Le Lude is super nice and it’s pretty fancy, too! It’s also a very elegant setting for a tasting. I absolutely loved doing a bubbly tasting here, and so if you choose either the Blue or Green route, I would highly recommend stopping here. 

What are the best wine farms in Constantia?

Beau Constantia

Beau Constantia is the grand dame of this leafy suburb. The first time I saw the views here, I was absolutely blown away. You just can’t beat them! It’s a gorgeous, modern wine- farm and the staff really know how to conduct a great tasting. Plus, this is one of the stops on the wine bus route, so it’s really easy to visit. 

Constantia Glen 

I think of Beau and Glen like twins. Both have stunning views, but Beau is more chic and modern, whereas Glen has old-school charm in spades. I really enjoyed the white wine tasting here, although one of them did taste a bit like Ritz crackers. 

My friend and I took an Uber out to Constantia Glen, but you could always visit on a day out on the wine bus. Just keep an eye on the time because it’s a 25 to 30 minute walk to the bus stop, but I think it’s totally worth it. 

Groot Constantia

Groot Constantia stakes a claim at being the oldest wine farm in South Africa, and it’s always a pleasure to visit. My friends and I usually start our day out on the wine bus here. It’s a great option for everyone because the tasting menu offers lots of flexibility, and the staff here are always really attentive. Plus, you get to keep your glass after you’ve finished tasting – my friend, Liam, ended up taking about five of them back to London with him! 

Which one is more fun?

It’s a tough call because honestly, they’re both great, but I’d have to say Franschhoek. The tram is a lot of fun, although to be fair it’s a little misleading as you always end up on a bus at some point. But it’s such a novelty and I love that you can visit so many different farms. 

Which one has better quality wine?

If you’re serious about wine, Constantia is probably the better choice. Groot Constantia’s wine is fantastic and Beau Constantia’s wines are very experimental, especially the ones that were produced during the pandemic. Franschhoek relies more on the novelty factor of the tram, but I did really like the wine at Plaisir Platform and Bartinney. 

For me, I’m not a wine connoisseur, I just like fun days out at beautiful wine farms, so I’d go with Franschhoek. But if you’re doing this to find some excellent South African wines, you may prefer Constantia.

Conclusion – who’s the winner?

Drumroll please!

Overall, I have to say… Franschhoek.

I honestly believe that it’s worth visiting both wine regions if you can. I’ve had fantastic days out in both Franschhoek and Constantia. However, if you only have time to do one, I would say go with Franschhoek. 

For more honest reviews of Cape Town experiences, check out…

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