South Africa is a travel destination that frequently makes it on the list of the most beautiful countries in the world. This spectacular African gem has it all, from rolling mountains to stunning beaches and, of course, world-famous wildlife. The hardest part of planning a trip to South Africa is whittling down your list of things to visit! With so many amazing spots, deciding how you’ll spend your holiday can be
Cape Town and Table Mountain
Cape Town is known locally as the Mother City. Some people will tell you that it’s because this mighty port was the first important settlement, while others will say it’s because Capetonians are so laid-back — they take nine months to do anything! Whatever the reason behind the nickname, Cape Town should be high on any visitor to South Africa’s list.
Even with a population of 4 million, Cape Town is still awash with pristine, unspoiled nature. Table Mountain provides the perfect backdrop to your holiday snaps and is also a great place to go for a hike. On the way up, pay attention to the brightly coloured flowers around you. The Western Cape has its own unique ecosystem. These plants, known as fynbos, only grow here. They need fire to regenerate, so the wildfires that are common in South Africa’s dry season are actually welcome in Cape Town’s wilderness areas.
Don’t feel like hiking? Take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain instead to enjoy the views. Watch out for the wild baboons that live in the area and are fond of stealing food from hapless tourists. If you’d rather play it safe, then head to the Victoria and Albert Waterfront, the trendiest part of town. Here, you can eat at some of the city’s coolest restaurants and indulge in a spot of retail therapy.
Cape Town’s beaches
Yes, we love Cape Town so much that we’re giving it another entry on our list of sightseeing in South Africa hotspots! If you’re a beach bum at heart, you’ll have another reason to fall in love with the Mother City. Fish Hoek Beach is perfect for families, with gentle water and pristine white sand. There are lots of seafood restaurants nearby, where you can relax and watch the world go by.
Early riser? Head to Hout Bay Beach while the sun is coming up, and you might just spot some dolphins frolicking in the surf. This sandy beach has become more popular with visitors in recent years, but if you get there early in the morning, you’ll have a good chance of seeing some of South Africa’s famous sea life. Semi-wild Llandudno Beach is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in the area. It’s
one of Cape Town’s best spots for surfers, so grab your wetsuit and hit the waves!
Kruger National Park
If you want to see animals, you’ve come to the right place. There are no fewer than 42 game reserves across South Africa. The cream of the crop is the world-famous Kruger National Park, which sprawls across an enormous 20,000 square km. It’s home to Africa’s Big Five animals: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo and rhinos. But that’s not all — there are hundreds of species of animals, birds, reptiles
and amphibians living in this nature-lover’s paradise.
There’s no way you can see Kruger in its entirety during one trip, but there are several options for getting around. Stay in a camp or a luxury lodge, take a day or night safari, or try a guided walking tour of the park. If you want to go wildlife sightseeing in South Africa, a trip to Kruger never disappoints. You can even dine on some of the creatures you’ve just seen at one of the park’s restaurants, which serve up such treats as grilled zebra steak or warthog and impala pie.
It’s hard to think of any political figure who is as universally admired as Nelson Mandela. South Africa’s first black president spent 27 years in captivity, and 18 of those were in the prison at Robben Island. Today, this jail has become a museum dedicated not only to Mandela but also to the other political prisoners of the apartheid regime.
A visit to Robben Island is one of the most moving things you can do during your trip to South Africa. You’ll be stunned to see just how small Mandela’s cell was and to learn about the monotony of his daily routine. With a guided tour, you’ll learn all about Mandela’s life and imprisonment, as well as the injustices of the regime. There won’t be a dry eye in the house as you hear about how Mandela forgave
his enemies, including the prison guards who watched over him.
As an added bonus, a trip to Robben Island gives you great views of Cape Town and Table Mountain. You’ll often spot dolphins, seals, sea lions and porpoises in the water when taking the boat out to the island, as this part of South Africa’s water teems with life.
This pretty naval town is a short distance from Cape Town, and it’s an ideal destination for a day trip. The Simon’s Town Museum is a great choice for anyone sightseeing in South Africa. In particular, you can learn the charming story of Just Nuisance, the only dog ever enlisted in the Royal Navy, who served as a
mascot and morale-booster during World War II.
The main attraction in Simon’s Town is Boulders Beach, home to a colony of African penguins. This is the best place in the world for spotting these rare birds, which are far smaller than most penguins and not as fond of the cold as their Antarctic cousins! The penguins have lived in Boulders Beach since the early 1980s, and they’ve grown into a flourishing colony. They’re a delightful sight, waddling on the sand, playing in the water and jumping around the rocks. Just make sure to obey the signs in the area. At certain times of the year, access to some parts of the beach is restricted as the penguins are breeding.
Cape Agulhas has the unique distinction of being the official meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. To the west of this quiet seaside town, the water belongs to the Atlantic; to the east, it’s Indian all the way.
This is the southernmost tip of Africa, and it’s a striking peninsula that juts out over the water. It’s worth walking right to the edge of these rocky cliffs — well, as close as you dare — and looking back at the land. In front of you lies the entire African continent, while behind you is nothing but water all the way to Antarctica. Doesn’t that give you the chills?
Another reason why we reckon Cape Agulhas is a good choice for sightseeing in South Africa? It’s one of the best places in the country for whale watching. These gentle giants don’t care whether they’re in Indian or Atlantic waters — you’ll see them on both sides of the divide. Humpback whales and southern right whales tend to show up between June and November. You won’t even need to get out on a boat to see them — they often swim close enough that you can spot them from the shore.
The Garden Route
If your idea of a dream holiday is a road trip, then look no further. The Garden Route is South Africa’s best self-driving holiday, bar none. You’ll hug the coastline, enjoying spectacular views, with plenty of great beaches to stop at along the way. Turn your head to look inland, and it’s no less beautiful: with lush green
landscapes alongside the coast, this route is well-named.
With white sand beaches on one side and glorious forests on the other, Garden Route South Africa is a great choice for anyone who wants to lose themselves in nature. It runs for 300 km, starting at Mossel Bay and running east to Port Elizabeth. Along the way, you’ll see some of South Africa’s finest seaside towns, like Knysna and Plettenberg Bay.
The Garden Route is a great idea if you want to combine a Cape Town Beach holiday with wildlife watching at a game reserve. The start of the route is about a five-hour drive from Cape Town, and you’ll finish in the eastern cape, close to some of the country’s biggest and best game parks.
Getting tired of the beaches in Cape Town? Why not try the beaches in Durban? We just had to add this seaside city to our list of places for sightseeing in South Africa. Durban boasts a fantastic water park and the Golden Mile, some of the country’s best beaches. It’s a great place if you want to enjoy a laid-back, hippie vibe.
Durban is also the birthplace of one of South Africa’s most distinctive and best- loved dishes: bunny chow. The city has long been known for its large Indian population. When they first arrived, they were homesick for spices, so they created this dish, which consists of curry packed into a hollowed-out loaf of bread. You’ll use the bread as a bowl to enjoy the curry, then eat it — if the seagulls don’t get there first! Despite its name, no rabbits are harmed in the making of bunny chow. The curry is traditionally made with mutton, although other versions, including vegetarian curry, are also available.
Many of the most popular places in South Africa are on the coast, but the Panorama Route will take you inland. The towns you’ll see on this intriguing route are gold rush settlements, which were built when people were flocking to South Africa to make their fortune. The tough landscapes and dangerous wildlife claimed many a would-be millionaire’s life — but today, this route is safe, easy to drive, and an
excellent choice if you want a deeper insight into the country’s history.
The Panorama Route follows Blyde River Canyon, where you’ll see dozens of beautiful waterfalls. You can even take a boat trip around the Blyde River Dam, one of the best places to see South African wildlife out in the open. Just don’t be tempted to go for a dip: the water here is home to a thriving population of deadly crocodiles that just love to snack on tourists.
Joburg, as it’s known to locals, is the second largest city in the entire continent of Africa. To be honest, you’ll need to keep your wits about you if you decide to add it to your sightseeing in South Africa bucket list. Sadly, Joburg has an extremely high crime rate, and carjacking is particularly common. It’s best to avoid exploring the city by night and keep a watchful eye on your surroundings at all times.
That being said, Johannesburg is a good base for exploring nearby game reserves, and it has some of its own fascinating sights to visit. The most famous is the Apartheid Museum, a heartbreaking look at the horrors of South Africa’s apartheid regime. You might also want to join a guided tour of Soweto, the famous neighbouring township. This impoverished area may not look like much, but it was home to two Nobel Peace Prize winners: Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Today, visitors can go to their old houses and learn more about the great men. Just make sure to go with a guide, as Soweto is a dangerous place for unaccompanied travellers.
The Drakensberg mountains
South Africans love adventure sports, and the mighty Drakensberg range is probably the best place in the country to get your adrenaline pumping. Trail running, mountain biking, ziplining, hiking, canoeing and white water rafting are just a few of the activities you can enjoy here, surrounded by some of the unspoiled nature that South Africa is famous for.
One of the most exciting spots for sightseeing in South Africa is the King Swing and the 17-metre free-fall drop and swing. You’ll need to climb up a suspension bridge, which seems to dangle precariously between the trees, before jumping with your heart in your mouth. Thrill seekers will love it, but if you’d rather stay with both feet on the ground, don’t worry — someone needs to take the photos, after
The final item on our list is ideal if you want to get away from it all. This is a quiet seaside town in the Western Cape, where everything seems to move at a slower pace. Sit back and relax, enjoying a glass of local wine as you watch the sunset over the beach. Take in a deep breath — doesn’t that feel good?
In this area, you’ll find several hiking trails, many of which lead to crystal-clear inland lakes. Why not visit the Cheetah Outreach Centre, dedicated to the conservation of the world’s fastest animal? This is the perfect place to go when you want to take it easy and recharge your batteries. Gordon’s Bay is also just half an hour from Stellenbosch, the capital of South Africa’s wine country. Take a day trip to admire the vineyards before returning to your own little slice of seaside paradise.
Can’t decide where to go sightseeing in South Africa? We can help! WeRoad’s epic South African tour shows you the very best of Cape Town before taking you on a trip along the Garden Route to the other side of the country. You’ll finish with enough time to go wildlife spotting in Kruger National Park. This is a great way to explore this fascinating country, taking in nature, culture, history, and so much