23 best places to visit in South Africa
South Africa is a stunning country with a diverse landscape and rich cultural history. From beaches to mountains, wildlife reserves to bustling cities, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country. In this article, we’ll take a look at the 23 best places to visit in South Africa.
1. Cape Town: A Beautiful Destination with Stunning Views and World-Class Attractions
Cape Town is a stunning city and one of the most popular tourist destinations in South Africa. With its panoramic views of Table Mountain, visitors are treated to breathtaking scenery that is a feast for the eyes. The city is also known for its world-class restaurants that offer delicious cuisine and wine tasting experiences.
Cape Town is a beach lover’s paradise, with a range of stunning beaches that offer crystal-clear waters, soft sand, and spectacular scenery. Visitors can indulge in a range of water sports or simply soak up the sun. In addition to these attractions, Cape Town is home to other must-see destinations, such as the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront and Robben Island. Cape Town is a city that truly offers something for everyone, making it a must-visit destination for anyone planning a trip to South Africa.
2. Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is an iconic destination and the largest game reserve in South Africa, covering an area of over 19,000 square kilometers. It is home to the “Big Five” – lion, elephant, leopard, buffalo, and rhino – making it one of the best places to see these majestic animals in their natural habitat. In addition to the Big Five, Kruger National Park is home to a wide variety of other wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, hippos, and crocodiles. Visitors can explore the park by self-driving or taking guided safari tours to see these animals up close.
Kruger National Park also offers a range of accommodation options, from luxurious lodges to rustic campsites. Visitors can choose from a range of activities, such as walking safaris, night drives, and birdwatching. The park also has a range of facilities, including restaurants, shops, and information centers.
Kruger National Park is not only a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts but also for anyone seeking a unique and unforgettable African experience. Its diverse range of wildlife, stunning landscapes, and range of accommodation options make it an ideal destination for families, couples, and solo travelers alike.
Johannesburg, the largest city in South Africa, is a vibrant metropolis that combines modernity with rich cultural heritage. This bustling city is known for its skyscrapers, bustling streets, and lively nightlife, making it a popular destination for tourists. Johannesburg has a fascinating history and is home to numerous museums and historic sites that showcase the country’s past. The Apartheid Museum and Constitution Hill are just some of the must-see destinations for those interested in learning about South Africa’s struggle for freedom and democracy.
Johannesburg is also a hub for arts and culture, with a thriving arts scene that includes galleries, theaters, and music venues. Visitors can enjoy live performances of jazz, opera, and other genres of music, or explore the city’s many art galleries showcasing contemporary African art.
In addition to its cultural attractions, Johannesburg is also a great destination for shopping and dining. The city has a range of shopping malls, markets, and boutiques, offering everything from local crafts to designer fashion. The city’s restaurants serve up a range of cuisines, from traditional South African dishes to international cuisine.
In conclusion, Johannesburg is a vibrant city that has something for everyone. With its rich history, thriving arts scene, and range of shopping and dining options, it is a must-visit destination for anyone planning a trip to South Africa.
4. Robben Island
Robben Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a place of great historical significance in South Africa. Once a prison that held Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners for many years, it now serves as a museum and a reminder of the country’s tumultuous past. Visitors can take a ferry to the island and explore the prison, which has been preserved as it was during the time it held political prisoners. The guided tour takes visitors through the prison’s various sections, including the cell where Mandela was held for 18 years. The tour is a powerful experience, providing insight into the struggle for freedom and democracy in South Africa.
Beyond its historical significance, Robben Island is also a place of great natural beauty. The island is home to a range of wildlife, including penguins and various species of birds. Visitors can take a nature walk or explore the island’s beaches.
Robben Island is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in South African history and culture. The museum offers a sobering reminder of the country’s past while also showcasing the resilience and determination of its people in the fight for freedom and equality.
5. Garden Route
The Garden Route is a scenic drive along the coast of South Africa, spanning from Mossel Bay to Storms River. The route offers breathtaking views of the Indian Ocean and boasts a diverse range of landscapes, including lush forests, pristine beaches, and charming coastal towns. The route is a popular destination for tourists, offering opportunities for adventure, relaxation, and exploration.
Visitors can explore the region’s stunning natural beauty by taking a hike in one of the many nature reserves or relaxing on one of the picturesque beaches. The Garden Route is also known for its charming towns, such as Knysna and Plettenberg Bay, where visitors can enjoy local cuisine, boutique shopping, and cultural attractions.
The Garden Route is also home to a range of adventure activities, including bungee jumping, zip-lining, and shark cage diving. For those seeking a more leisurely experience, there are several renowned golf courses along the route.
In conclusion, the Garden Route is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to South Africa. Its stunning scenery, charming towns, and range of activities make it a perfect place for adventure-seekers and relaxation-seekers alike. Plan a road trip along the Garden Route to experience the best of South Africa’s natural beauty and culture.
Durban is a popular destination located on the east coast of South Africa. Known for its beautiful beaches, warm climate, and vibrant culture, Durban attracts tourists from all over the world. The city is a melting pot of cultures, with a rich Indian influence evident in its cuisine, architecture, and traditions.
Durban’s beaches are one of its main attractions, with golden sands and warm waters perfect for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing. The city is also home to a range of cultural attractions, including the iconic Moses Mabhida Stadium and the Durban Botanic Gardens.
Foodies will love Durban’s cuisine, which is a unique blend of Indian and African flavors. Visitors can explore the city’s many markets and street food stalls to sample local delicacies such as bunny chow and samoosas.
Durban is also a gateway to the stunning KwaZulu-Natal province, which boasts some of South Africa’s most beautiful natural scenery, including the Drakensberg Mountains and the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
In conclusion, Durban is a vibrant and exciting destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or a cultural experience, Durban is the perfect place to soak up South Africa’s rich heritage and warm hospitality.
7. Cape Winelands
The Cape Winelands, located just outside of Cape Town, are a must-visit destination for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The region boasts stunning mountain scenery and fertile valleys, and is home to some of the world’s best wine producers.
Visitors can explore the Cape Winelands through a variety of wine tours and tastings, taking in the beauty of the vineyards and learning about the wine-making process. The region is particularly famous for its red wines, such as Pinotage and Shiraz, but also produces exceptional whites such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
In addition to wine tasting, visitors to the Cape Winelands can indulge in a range of culinary experiences, from farm-to-table restaurants to traditional South African braais (barbecues). The region is also known for its charming towns, such as Stellenbosch and Franschhoek, which offer boutique shopping, art galleries, and cultural attractions.
The Cape Winelands are a perfect destination for those looking to escape the city and experience South Africa’s natural beauty and world-class wine. With its scenic landscapes, rich history, and renowned cuisine, the Cape Winelands offer an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
8. Addo Elephant National Park
Addo Elephant National Park is a stunning destination located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. Home to over 600 elephants, as well as a variety of other wildlife such as lions, buffalo, and zebra, the park is a must-visit destination for animal lovers.
The park was initially established in 1931 to protect the dwindling elephant population in the region, and has since become one of the top game reserves in South Africa. Visitors can explore the park through guided game drives, where they can spot elephants grazing, lions lounging, and herds of buffalo on the move.
In addition to its wildlife, Addo Elephant National Park is known for its beautiful landscapes and unique vegetation, such as the rare Spekboom succulent. The park also offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding.
For those looking for a more immersive experience, Addo Elephant National Park also offers overnight stays in its various camps and lodges. Visitors can fall asleep to the sounds of nature and wake up to breathtaking views of the park.
In conclusion, Addo Elephant National Park is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience South Africa’s incredible wildlife and natural beauty. With its unique landscapes and abundant wildlife, the park offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
9. Table Mountain
Table Mountain is an iconic natural landmark located in Cape Town, South Africa. Standing over 1,000 meters tall, the mountain offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding area. Visitors can reach the top of the mountain via a cable car ride or by hiking up one of the many trails.
Once at the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city, the Atlantic Ocean, and the surrounding mountain ranges. The mountain is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, including many species that are endemic to the area.
Table Mountain is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of activities such as rock climbing, abseiling, and paragliding. For those looking for a more leisurely experience, there are also numerous picnic areas and walking trails to explore.
In addition to its natural beauty, Table Mountain is steeped in history and culture, with many myths and legends surrounding the mountain. The mountain is also home to a variety of restaurants and cafes, offering a unique dining experience with stunning views.
In conclusion, Table Mountain is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the natural beauty and cultural richness of South Africa. With its stunning views and range of activities, the mountain offers an unforgettable experience for all who visit.
Stellenbosch is a charming town located in the heart of the Cape Winelands in South Africa. It is renowned for its picturesque scenery, beautiful architecture, and world-class wine. Visitors can explore the historic streets lined with Cape Dutch-style buildings, which date back to the 17th century.
Stellenbosch is home to some of the best wineries in the world, offering a wide variety of award-winning wines. Visitors can take part in wine tastings, cellar tours, and enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants located on the wine estates.
In addition to wine, Stellenbosch has a vibrant cultural scene, with a range of art galleries, museums, and cultural festivals throughout the year. The town is also known for its outdoor activities, including hiking and mountain biking, with many trails offering breathtaking views of the surrounding vineyards and mountains.
Stellenbosch is a popular destination for both local and international visitors, with a range of accommodation options available, from luxury hotels to charming guesthouses. It is easily accessible from Cape Town, making it the perfect day trip or weekend getaway.
In summary, Stellenbosch is a must-visit destination for those looking to experience the beauty, culture, and wine of South Africa. Its stunning architecture, scenic vineyards, and vibrant cultural scene make it a unique and unforgettable destination.
11. Blyde River Canyon
Blyde River Canyon is one of the largest canyons in the world, located in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. This natural wonder offers visitors breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, lush valleys, and the Blyde River itself.
The canyon is over 25 kilometers long and over 800 meters deep, providing a spectacular backdrop for a range of outdoor activities. Visitors can take a scenic drive along the Panorama Route, which offers stunning views of the canyon and the surrounding landscapes. The route includes stops at popular viewpoints, such as God’s Window, which offers panoramic views of the Lowveld.
Blyde River Canyon is also home to a range of wildlife, including baboons, monkeys, and a variety of bird species. Visitors can take a guided hike through the canyon, or go on a boat tour to explore the Blyde River and its hidden waterfalls.
In addition to its natural beauty, Blyde River Canyon is steeped in history, with evidence of human habitation dating back thousands of years. The area is also home to several cultural sites, including the Bourke’s Luck Potholes, a series of natural rock formations that have been eroded by the river over time.
Overall, Blyde River Canyon is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and culture.
12. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is one of the oldest and most renowned game reserves in South Africa. Located in the KwaZulu-Natal province, the reserve is home to the largest population of white rhinos in the world, as well as a range of other wildlife, including lions, elephants, buffalos, and leopards.
The reserve covers over 96,000 hectares of pristine wilderness and offers a range of outdoor activities, including game drives, guided walks, and birdwatching. Visitors can explore the reserve on their own or with a guide, and there are numerous accommodation options available for those who want to stay overnight.
One of the unique features of Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is its conservation efforts, which have helped to protect and grow the rhino population in the reserve. Visitors can learn about the reserve’s conservation programs and get up close to these majestic animals on a guided rhino tracking experience.
In addition to its incredible wildlife, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve also offers stunning natural landscapes, including rolling hills, rugged terrain, and ancient river valleys. The reserve’s rich cultural history is also on display, with numerous archaeological sites and cultural landmarks to explore.
Overall, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve is a must-visit destination for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers, offering a unique and unforgettable African safari experience.
Hermanus is a picturesque coastal town located in the Western Cape of South Africa. It’s a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, particularly those who enjoy whale watching. Every year, between June and November, southern right whales migrate from Antarctica to the warmer waters of South Africa’s coastline to mate and calve. Hermanus is one of the best places in the world to observe these majestic creatures. Visitors can enjoy land-based whale watching from the cliffs along the coastline or take a boat tour for a closer encounter.
In addition to whale watching, Hermanus boasts beautiful beaches and scenic walks along the coastline. The town is also home to many art galleries and restaurants, offering visitors a chance to experience the local culture and cuisine. The Fernkloof Nature Reserve is a must-visit destination, featuring over 1,500 species of plants and numerous hiking trails. Hermanus is an ideal destination for those seeking a tranquil getaway surrounded by nature’s beauty.
Soweto is a township located on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. It’s a vibrant and bustling destination that offers a glimpse into South Africa’s history and culture. Soweto was the epicenter of the struggle against apartheid, and many of the country’s most significant events took place here. Visitors can learn about the township’s history and the role it played in the fight for democracy by visiting sites such as the Apartheid Museum and the Hector Pieterson Memorial and Museum.
Soweto is also a melting pot of cultures, and visitors can experience this diversity by exploring the township’s various neighborhoods. The Vilakazi Street precinct is a popular destination, boasting the distinction of being the only street in the world to have housed two Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Here, visitors can sample traditional cuisine and browse street markets.
Soweto also offers numerous opportunities for entertainment and leisure. The township is home to the Orlando Towers, a popular site for bungee jumping and other adrenaline-inducing activities. The Soweto Theatre hosts a range of cultural events, including plays, musical performances, and art exhibitions. Soweto is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of South Africa’s history and culture.
Knysna is a picturesque town located on the Garden Route of South Africa. Known for its beautiful lagoon and stunning scenery, it’s a popular destination for both locals and tourists alike. The town is surrounded by lush forests and offers incredible views of the ocean, making it a must-visit for nature enthusiasts.
Knysna is also home to a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and water sports such as kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Visitors can explore the nearby Featherbed Nature Reserve, which offers guided walks and boat tours, or take a trip to the Knysna Elephant Park to get up close with these magnificent creatures.
The town is also known for its delicious seafood, which can be enjoyed at one of the many restaurants overlooking the lagoon. Whether you’re looking for adventure or relaxation, Knysna has something for everyone.
16. Drakensberg Mountains
The Drakensberg Mountains, also known as the Dragon Mountains, are one of the most breathtaking natural landmarks in South Africa. This stunning mountain range spans over 1,000 kilometers and offers incredible hiking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. The Drakensberg Mountains are home to numerous hiking trails that vary in difficulty and offer stunning views of the surrounding valleys and peaks.
The Amphitheatre, a rock wall that is over five kilometers long, is a popular destination for hikers and offers unparalleled views of the surrounding area. In addition to hiking, the Drakensberg Mountains offer a variety of other outdoor activities, including rock climbing, horseback riding, and fishing.
The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including baboons, eagles, and vultures. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, the Drakensberg Mountains are a must-visit destination for anyone who wants to experience the beauty of South Africa’s natural landscape.
17. Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a vast wildlife reserve located in the Kalahari Desert and spanning the borders of South Africa and Botswana. Home to a variety of wildlife, including lions, cheetahs, hyenas, and meerkats, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park offers an incredible safari experience for visitors. The park’s unique desert landscape is characterized by red sand dunes, sparse vegetation, and dry riverbeds, creating a breathtaking backdrop for wildlife sightings.
Visitors can enjoy a range of activities, including guided game drives, self-drive safaris, and wilderness trails. Accommodation options range from campsites to luxurious lodges, allowing visitors to tailor their experience to their preferences and budget. With its unique desert environment and incredible wildlife viewing opportunities, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the natural beauty of Southern Africa.
Pretoria, also known as Tshwane, is the administrative capital of South Africa and a vibrant city full of history and culture. The city is home to a variety of cultural attractions and historic landmarks, including the Voortrekker Monument, Union Buildings, and Church Square. Visitors can explore the beautiful parks and gardens, such as the National Botanical Gardens and the Pretoria Zoo, which is one of the largest zoos in South Africa.
The city also boasts a variety of museums, such as the South African National Museum of Natural History and the National Museum of Cultural History. Pretoria’s vibrant arts scene can be experienced at venues such as the State Theatre and the Brooklyn Theatre, which showcase a variety of performances, including music, dance, and theater.
With its rich history, cultural attractions, and beautiful surroundings, Pretoria is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to South Africa.
19. Jeffreys Bay
Jeffreys Bay, located on the eastern coast of South Africa, is a world-renowned surfing destination that attracts surfers from around the globe. The town is home to some of the best waves in the world, including the famous Supertubes, a powerful right-hand reef break that can produce some of the longest rides of any wave on the planet.
But Jeffreys Bay isn’t just for surfers – it also boasts a vibrant beach culture, with plenty of restaurants, cafes, and shops to explore. Visitors can also take part in other water sports, such as swimming, kayaking, and kiteboarding, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun. With its stunning beaches, great waves, and laid-back atmosphere, Jeffreys Bay is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves the ocean and the outdoors.
20. Cathedral Peak
Cathedral Peak is a magnificent mountain peak located in the heart of the Drakensberg Mountains and is a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers, and climbers. With its striking appearance, towering height, and stunning vistas, Cathedral Peak attracts visitors from all over the world. The peak offers several hiking trails that cater to hikers of all levels, making it an excellent destination for those who want to experience the beauty of the mountains without the need for advanced mountaineering skills. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including baboons, antelopes, and eagles, making it a perfect spot for nature enthusiasts. Visitors can stay in the nearby resort or campsite, both of which offer easy access to the mountain and its stunning surroundings. A trip to Cathedral Peak is an opportunity to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of South Africa and experience the majesty of its mountains.
21. The Cradle of Humankind
Located just outside of Johannesburg, The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to some of the oldest fossils in the world. Visitors can explore the Sterkfontein Caves and learn about the history of human evolution.
22. The Apartheid Museum
Located in Johannesburg, The Apartheid Museum is a powerful tribute to South Africa’s struggle against apartheid. Visitors can explore exhibits that chronicle the history of segregation and oppression in South Africa, as well as the fight for democracy and equality.
23. The Sterkfontein Caves
Located in The Cradle of Humankind, The Sterkfontein Caves are a must-visit destination for anyone interested in human evolution. These caves have yielded some of the oldest and most complete fossils of early humans, including the famous Mrs. Ples.
Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or nature, South Africa has something for everyone. These top destinations are just a few of the many incredible places to explore in this beautiful country. So why not plan your next adventure to South Africa and discover all that this amazing country has to offer?