20 Best Places to Visit in South Africa

South Africa is a land of spectacular natural beauty and diverse cultural heritage, making it an incredible destination for travelers seeking adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both. From the bustling city of Cape Town to the rugged wilds of Kruger National Park, this country is full of unique and awe-inspiring sights and experiences.

South Africa is also renowned for its beautiful coastal towns and pristine beaches, such as Durban and Port Elizabeth. These towns offer a range of activities, from surfing and beach volleyball to whale watching and deep-sea fishing.

Overall, South Africa is a destination that offers something for everyone. With its stunning natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and diverse range of activities, it’s no wonder that it’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

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Aliwal Shoal

Want to see sharks? Chances are if you are heading into the South African oceans your answer will be ‘heck, yes!’. Or at least it should be because diving with sharks is one of the most adventurous things to do in South Africa.

While you can see sharks pretty much everywhere on the shores of the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean, there is a very special place in KwaZulu-Natal: Aliwal Shoal.

Aliwal Shoal is a reef by Umkoomas and its name is usually whispered in awe by scuba divers. There are few dive spots around the world more revered by shark lovers. All year long your chances are pretty good to see Tiger and Bull Sharks, Whale Sharks, Guitar Sharks, Hammerheads, or Ragged-Tooth Sharks that come here to breed. What you will see will depend on the season and of course a bit of luck. Almost guaranteed are some Oceanic Black-Tip Sharks, wonderful huge beasts that seem to have little in common with their Reef-Shark counterparts.

While the water is quite warm in Aliwal Shoal by South African standards, the swell can be rough and the zodiac rides to the dives sites bumpy. Make sure to go with an established dive center and dive guides that value safety above all else. When shark diving in Aliwal Shoal most dive centers will use bait drums on a line to attract sharks. All you do is stay buoyant at a given depth, be still, and watch the show. If a shark happens to bump into you so be it, but needless to say, do not ever try to touch them and just enjoy seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat.

Shark Diving is one of the best things to do in South Africa
Sharks in Aliwal Shoal. Photo by Midnight Blue Elephant.

Betty’s Bay

About an hour and half drive from Cape Town you’ll find the small coastal vacation town of Betty’s Bay in the Western Cape. Far enough from the Cape Peninsula, this place is still a bit of a hidden gem. 

The sleepy town of Betty’s Bay is home to South Africa’s other large penguin colony at Stony Point Nature Reserve. Spend some time here to watch the adorable penguins waddle to and from the ocean. 

Head to the nearby Harold Porter Botanical Gardens to hike the Leopard’s Kloof Trail to get to hike 2 miles to a stunning waterfall. Or hike the 6 mile Palmiet River trail in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.

If you’re feeling adventurous, go on a white water rafting tour at the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.

For golden hour and sunset, be sure to head 20 minutes down to Kogel Bay Beach. This is one of the most scenic beaches in South Africa, with mountains larger than life towering over the ocean and sand. You can even camp here on the beach at Kogel Bay Resort.

August through October is prime time for whale watching along the coast. You can observe from the shores of Betty’s Bay, or drive 40 minutes South to Hermanus, South Africa to take a whale-watching boat tour. 

For food, check out Sea Biscuit for the best breakfast and lunch, and Gnocchi for dinner with a large selection of tapas and wine. And stop at Coffee, on Clarence for great coffee, sandwiches, and pastries with an ocean view.

Betty's Bay is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Betty’s Bay. Photo by Kate Roams the World.

Bloukrans Bridge

If you are an adventure-seeker, then Bloukrans Bridge in South Africa might already be on your bucket list. If this is the first time you are hearing of it, then you should know that it is one of the tallest bungee bridges in the entire world. Bloukrans Bridge is located in Stormsrivier, South Africa.The town of Stormsrivier is on the southern coast, approximately a six hour drive east of Cape Town. 

Bloukrans Bridge stands at 709 feet (~216 meters) tall. It is the tallest bridge on the continent of Africa and one of the tallest bungee bridges in the world. 

Bungee jumping is available for those 14 years of age and older with a maximum weight of 300 pounds (~150 kilograms). There is no fitness level or certification requirement. Moreover, the cost is approximately 1,500 Rand (~82 US dollars). 

When you arrive, they will assist you with obtaining your safety equipment, specifically the harness. Then you will make your way to the jump spot, which is the arch platform underneath the bridge. Once they tighten your harness and attach you to the bungee cord, you are ready to fly. The initial free fall lasts for a bit over five seconds, and then you will swing back and forth for a while until your body comes to a stop. They will come down and assist you in returning to the arch platform, and you can be thankful your feet are on solid ground once again! 

Bloukrans Bridge is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Bloukrans Bridge Photo by Beyond the Moments.

Blyde River Canyon

Gaming and safari are the highlights for any first-time visitors in South Africa, and Kruger National Park is a popular location for some of the best game viewing in the region. While visitors usually spend a few days in Kruger, visit the Blyde River Canyon, a magnificent and beautiful natural wonder that may be overshadowed by the wildlife in the area. 

Blyde River Canyon, in fact, is the second-largest canyon in the entire Africa. The best way to explore the canyon from Kruger is by driving and stopping by a few lookouts and points of interest for a day trip on the road. The first stop is at God’s Window, a viewpoint on a cliff that offers stunning views of the Lowveld and the Drakensberg escarpment. The cliff plunges over 700 meters from the vantage point.  

Carrying on your journey to the Bourke’s Luck Potholes. It is a unique sight natural rock formation with thousands of years of making. The potholes were named after a local prospector, Tom Bourke, who predicted the presence of gold, though he found none himself. The Lichen hiking trail is an easy walk that is suitable for all types of travelers. 

Finally, the most photographed feature of the canyon is the Three Rondavels. They are the three round and grass-covered mountain tops on a canyon and they can be easily recognized once you have seen the photographs. “Rondavel” are houses and huts of the indigenous people, these rocks got their name because the three huge round rocks have a good resemblance to those structures. The isolated Thabaneng hill is regarded as a sundial whose shadow indicates the time of day. It is also a perfect location to see the sunset with the light shining on the rocks of the canyon. 

Blyde River Canyon is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Blyde River Canyon. Photo by KNYCX Journeying.

Boulder’s Beach

Boulders Beach is a beautiful and unique destination located near Cape Town, South Africa. Known for its colony of African penguins, this beach attracts thousands of visitors every year who come to witness these charming creatures up close. The penguins are protected from humans, which makes this an ethical animal encounter.

The penguins at Boulders Beach are a delight to watch. Visitors can see them waddling around on the sand, swimming in the ocean, and even nesting in the dunes. The best time to see them is in the morning or late afternoon when they are most active.

Aside from the penguins, the beach itself is stunning, with large boulders and crystal-clear waters. There are also several coves and tidal pools where visitors can swim, snorkel, or simply relax and enjoy the view.

The beach is well-maintained and has all the amenities that visitors might need, including toilets, showers, and changing rooms. There are also several shops and cafes nearby where visitors can grab a bite to eat or purchase souvenirs.

One of the best things about visiting Boulders Beach is that it is easily accessible from Cape Town. It is only a 45-minute drive from the city center, making it a popular day trip destination. Visitors can also take the train from Cape Town to Simon’s Town, where the beach is located, and then take a short taxi or bus ride to the beach itself.

Overall, Boulders Beach is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to South Africa. With its charming penguins, beautiful beach, and convenient location, it is sure to be a highlight of any trip to the region.

Boulder's Beach is one of the best places to visit.
A penguin family at Boulders Beach. Photo by The Directionally Challenged Traveler.

Bourke’s Luck Potholes

There is definitely much to see in the famous Panama Route in the province of Mpumalanga in South Africa. This scenic road will spoil you with stunning natural landmarks one of which is Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Located north of the town of Graskop, the place is not just your typical rock formation site. Bourke’s Luck Potholes is a geological wonder showcasing cylindrical rock sculptures that resulted from the continuous water erosion forming between the intersection of Treur River and Blyde River.

Going around, there are several metal bridges and viewing platforms where you can take a glimpse of the rock structures. Streams and small waterfalls also added to the natural beauty of the site. Better to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon because there’s no shade in the walking trails and the sun gets really harsh midday. Covering a 700-meter circular path, Bourke’s Luck Potholes was named after prospector Tom Bourke who believed that the region had gold.

With a bit of luck (hence the name Bourke’s Luck), he found some at the area. As one of the popular destinations in the province, the site is well-developed with a visitor center and shops. If you have limited time to take the Panama Route, you should definitely not miss Bourke’s Luck
Potholes as it is one of the unique natural sites you can find in the place. You will just be in awe of the spectacular landscape you will see that was designed by nature.

Bourkes Luck Potholes are the best places to visit in South Africa
Bourke’s Luck Potholes. Photo by Go Travel First.

Cape Agulhas

Cape Agulhas is the Southernmost tip of Africa and the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet.  Be sure to take a picture on the marker which shows where the two meet!  As you can imagine, this is a popular place to visit and it can get crowded.  Bring your patience for the crowds or also consider visiting first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.   Note that the beach in this area is very rocky and the waves can be very powerful.   It may not be the best idea to enter the water in this area.

Less than a 5 minute drive from the marker where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet is the iconic Cape Agulhas Lighthouse.  It was the third lighthouse built in South Africa and the second oldest still in operation.  Inside is a small museum, and you can also climb to the top of the tower to check out the view from above.  Beaches closest to the lighthouse are much more suited for swimming and relaxing on the sand.

Cape Agulhas is best reached by car.  The drive is about 3 hours from Cape Town so it’s best to include it as part of your road trip when exploring the wine region (Stellenbosch and Franschhoek) and or the Garden Route.  It can also be reached by a (LONG) day tour from Cape Town.

Enjoy your time in beautiful Cape Agulhas!

Cape Agulhas is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Cape Agulhas is the southernmost point of Africa. Photo by Adventure by Chels.

Cape of Good Hope

Visiting the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will leave you awestruck by the beauty of nature. The Cape of Good Hope is a rocky promontory that is located at the southern tip of the African continent. It is a part of the Table Mountain National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The drive to the Cape of Good Hope is a breathtaking journey in itself, with stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding mountains. As you approach the Cape of Good Hope, you will be struck by the rugged, windswept landscape and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Once you arrive at the Cape of Good Hope, you can take a leisurely walk or hike along the various trails that wind their way through the park. The most popular hike is the one that leads to the old lighthouse, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding coastline.

One of the highlights of visiting the Cape of Good Hope is seeing the wildlife that calls this area home. You may spot ostriches, baboons, and even the rare Cape mountain zebra. The Cape of Good Hope is also home to a variety of bird species, including the African penguin.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take a dip in the cool waters of the Atlantic Ocean or try your hand at surfing or kiteboarding. The Cape of Good Hope is also a popular spot for whale watching, with southern right whales often seen from June to November.

Overall, visiting the Cape of Good Hope is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed if you are traveling to South Africa. The natural beauty, diverse wildlife, and adventurous activities make it a must-visit destination for any traveler.

Cape of Good Hope is one of the best places in South Africa.
Views of the Cape of Good Hope. Photo by The Directionally Challenged Traveler.

Cape Town

Cape Town is one of the most beautiful and diverse cities in South Africa, and it is a must-visit destination for any traveler exploring the region. Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the stunning Table Mountain, Cape Town has something to offer everyone, from its picturesque beaches to its bustling city center.

One of the most popular attractions in Cape Town is Table Mountain, which can be accessed via a scenic cable car ride or a strenuous hike to the summit. From the top, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding coastline.

Another must-visit destination in Cape Town is the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront, a lively shopping and entertainment district with a wide range of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Visitors can also take a boat tour of the harbor or visit the Two Oceans Aquarium to see local marine life up close.

Cape Town is also known for its beautiful beaches, including Clifton Beach, Camps Bay, and Muizenberg. These beaches offer a range of activities, from swimming and sunbathing to surfing and kiteboarding.

For those interested in history and culture, Cape Town has several museums and landmarks worth visiting, such as the District Six Museum, the Castle of Good Hope, and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for many years.

Overall, Cape Town is a vibrant and fascinating destination that should not be missed when traveling to South Africa. With its stunning natural scenery, diverse culture, and range of activities, it is sure to be a highlight of any trip to the region.

Nelson Mandela Statue in
Nelson Mandela Statue in South Africa. Photo by The Directionally Challenged Traveler.


Surrounded by the awe-inspiring sandstone Maluti Mountains, Clarens is an enchanting small town in South Africa’s Free State that will redefine your expectations of a quaint getaway.

Often referred to as the Jewel of the Free State, this serene village is celebrated for its remarkable views, pleasant climate, and rich natural history. Along with its distinctive sandstone structures, Clarens is also known for its flourishing art scene, centered around galleries, studios and shops that line the town square.

Just a 20-minute drive out of town, you’ll find the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Here you can marvel at the multi-hued sandstone cliffs, explore ancient San rock paintings, and enjoy a range of activities such as nature walks, swimming, horse riding, and canoeing on the Gladstone Dam. Don’t miss the Basotho Cultural Village inside the park, where you can learn about the traditional life and customs of the local Basotho people.

If you enjoy more adventurous outdoor activities, this is your chance to try white water rafting, abseiling, hiking, quad biking, and zip-lining. You can also experience some of South Africa’s finest trout fishing in the Clarence Conservancy Dam and the Caledon River.

With a fascinating history that includes the discovery of dinosaur fossils, Clarens offers guided tours to visit these prehistoric sites. The town also hosts several festivals during the year, including the Clarens Art Festival and the Clarens Beer Festival.

With its remarkable blend of art, nature, and adventure, Clarens is an irresistible destination for anyone wanting to see another side of South Africa.

Clarens is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
Clarens, South Africa. Photo by Faraway Worlds.


The vibrant coastal city of Durban, found along Natal Bay in the province of KwaZulu Natal, is a great option for those looking for a good beach break in the country. Along with this comes a laid-back atmosphere, a foodie hub, and a host of things to do. The city is home to the 5th largest aquarium in the world, Ushaka Marine World. This huge theme park combined with an aquarium offers a great day out for the entire family.

Other attractions in the city include the Durban Botanical Gardens, Moses Mabhida Stadium, Umgeni River Bird Park, and the Golden Mile. The latter is a promenade that extends from Ushaka to the Blue Lagoon, providing expansive views of the Indian Ocean, and is a popular hangout spot for locals and tourists alike. While a big part of the country is surrounded by cold currents, the coastline of this city is dispersed with warm waters and golden sand beaches. The best among them include Umhlanga Beach, Umdloti Beach, and North Beach. One thing you cannot leave the city without trying is a local specialty that is unique to the city, the bunny chow. South Africa is one of the best countries in Africa, and a visit to Durban should not be missed.

Durban is one of the best places to visit in South Africa
A beach in Durban, South Africa. Photo by Rai of Light.

Gold Mines of Johannesburg

The gold mines in Johannesburg are one of the best places to visit in South Africa. Known as the City of Gold, Johannesburg is full of gold mines, and visiting one will offer you a glimpse into the history of the city’s gold rush. The gold mines have played a significant role in the development of Johannesburg and its economy since gold was discovered here in the late 1880s, and visiting one of these gold mines is a really unique experience. You’ll get to learn a lot about the challenges faced by miners here as well as the methods used to extract gold, so it’s very educational too!
You can pay to go on gold mine tours of old disused gold mines in Johannesburg (it’s not possible for the general public to visit gold mines that are still currently in use) – some of these tours will take you deep underground in a cage lift which is really exciting! These are some of the deepest gold mines in the world, going a few kilometres underground!

There is also one disused but very well-preserved gold mine in Johannesburg you can visit for free – called the Ferreira Mine Stope. It was one of the first gold mines built in Johannesburg – you can find the access tunnel (stope) in the Standard Bank Headquarters building in Downtown Johannesburg. Quite incredibly, like many mines, this mine was dug by hand and the pick marks are still evident on the tunnel walls!

The Gold Mines of Johannesburg are some of the best places to visit in South Africa.
A gold mine in Johannesburg. Photo by 24 Hours Layover.

Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park

Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park is one of South Africa’s premier wildlife destinations and a must-visit for anyone looking to experience the country’s incredible natural beauty. Located in the KwaZulu-Natal province, the park is home to various plant and animal species, including the famous “Big Five” – elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, and buffalos.

The park is split into two sections – the Hluhluwe and Imfolozi Game Reserves – and offers visitors a range of activities, from guided game drives, and bush walks to self-drive safaris. No matter how you explore the park, you’re guaranteed to be awed by its stunning scenery and the incredible wildlife that call it home.

One of the reasons why Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park is such a special place is its conservation efforts. The park was established in the early 20th century as a haven for endangered white rhinos and has since become a leading player in conservation efforts across the continent. Visitors can learn about the park’s ongoing conservation projects at its various education centres, which offer interactive exhibits and educational programming for all ages.

Another reason why Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park is also a must-visit destination is because of its cultural significance. The park is located within the ancestral lands of the Zulu people, and visitors can learn about their rich cultural heritage through guided tours and interactions with local communities.

Regarding the best time to visit, the winter months of May to September are generally considered the best for game viewing, as the cooler temperatures encourage animals to come out of hiding. However, the park is open year-round and offers unique beauty and wildlife sightings each season.

Hluhluwe National Park is one of the best places to visit in South Africa
Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park, South Africa. Photo by Guide Your Travel.

Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in Africa and a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to South Africa. Located in the northeastern part of the country, the park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the Big Five (elephants, lions, leopards, rhinoceros, and buffaloes).

Visitors to Kruger National Park can embark on a guided safari tour, either in a jeep or on foot, to view the animals up close. The park offers several types of safari tours, ranging from half-day to multi-day excursions, allowing visitors to customize their experience according to their preferences and budget.

Aside from the wildlife, Kruger National Park is also known for its stunning natural scenery, with expansive savannahs, lush forests, and meandering rivers. Visitors can take guided nature walks to learn more about the park’s diverse flora and fauna, or simply enjoy the stunning views and peaceful surroundings.

The park has several accommodation options, from basic campsites to luxury lodges, allowing visitors to choose the level of comfort that best suits their needs. There are also several restaurants and cafes throughout the park, serving a range of meals and snacks.

One of the best times to visit Kruger National Park is during the dry season, from May to September, when the wildlife congregates around water sources, making it easier to spot them. However, the park is open year-round, and each season offers its own unique attractions and experiences.

Overall, a visit to Kruger National Park is an unforgettable experience that should not be missed by anyone traveling to South Africa. With its diverse wildlife, stunning natural scenery, and range of accommodation options, it is sure to be a highlight of any trip to the region.

Kruger National Park is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
A leopard in Kruger National Park. Photo by The Directionally Challenged Traveler.


South Africa’s Garden Route is one of the world’s best road trips, and a gorgeous adventure. Of all the lovely places to stop on the journey, Knysna is one of the best. Pronounced Ni-z-Nah, it’s a waterfront town on the Western Cape, and a key stop on The Garden Route. With stunning scenery, Knysna appeals to nature lovers and outdoor activity enthusiasts.

The Knysna Heads, marking Knysna River’s entrance to the Indian Ocean, are an ideal starting point. These impressive cliffs offer stunning views in all directions. Hike to the top of the Western Head to enjoy some of the many excellent trails for all levels, along the water and in pristine nature reserves around the town.

Another highlight, Knysna Lagoon, is a protected marine preserve and an outdoor wonderland. This is your launching point to see whales, dolphins and other marine creatures. Watersports and boat cruises start in the lagoon, and surfing and swimming are popular. If you like the water and marine life, this is your place in Kynsna.

Take a break from all that activity with Knysna’s acclaimed arts scene, featuring an art route of galleries and exhibitions. Also, visit the shops and restaurants at Knysna Waterfront. These bustling docks have something for everyone, where you can eat, shop, and listen to live music. Between these two places, you should easily find some authentic South African souvenirs to remind you of this beautiful country.

Knysna is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
View of Knysna Lagoon. Photo by Mel on the Go.


Oudtshoorn is a charming town nestled in the Klein Karoo area along the Garden Route and it’s definitely worth checking out. You won’t find any beaches here, but what you will find are ostrich farms and breathtaking landscapes. 

Spending 2-3 days in this charming town is well worth it. On your first day, take a scenic drive to Prince Albert via the stunning Meiringspoort Pass. Once you arrive, grab a relaxing lunch at one of the many restaurants or cafes. After a welcome break, continue your journey to the Cango Caves, which you can reach by taking the awesome Swartberg Pass.

No visit to Oudtshoorn would be complete without spending time with the famous ostriches that roam the area. For an unforgettable experience, head over to the Safari Ostrich Farm where you can tour the farm on a tractor-pulled wagon, feed ostriches with a spoon, stand on massive ostrich eggs, and even watch baby ostriches hatching. This is a fantastic family-friendly attraction that’s sure to be a hit with everyone.

After your tour of the ostrich farm, head over to the Cango Wildlife Ranch for the rest of the afternoon. This amazing conservation farm is home to many endangered species, including plenty of crocodiles.

Make sure to book a tour of the Cango Caves in advance, as it’s a really popular attraction. These natural landmarks are simply breathtaking and there are some fascinating stories behind them. Walking through the massive caves is a truly special experience, with the huge stalagmites and stalactites towering around you. 

The breathtaking landscapes of the Klien Karoo will not be disappointing!

Oudtshoorn is one of the best places to visit in South Africa.
The ostriches in Oudtshoorn. Photo by Wanderlust Storytellers.

Pilanesberg National Park

The Pilanesberg National Park is a wonderful Game Reserve and one of the best places to visit in South Africa for wildlife spotting. You have a good chance of seeing Africa’s “big five” in the Pilanesberg. Lions, elephants, black and white rhinos, buffalo, and leopards can all be found in the National Park. The Pilanesberg Game Reserve is the 4th largest wildlife park in South Africa and lies within the crater of an extinct volcano covering an area of more than 550 kilometres. The scenery is wild and beautiful. 

Located within easy reach of Johannesburg, the Pilanesberg National Park is just a couple of hours’ drive from the city. It’s possible to visit on a day trip but if you want to stay for a day or 2 there is a choice of safari lodges and campsites just outside the National Park.  

You can take a 2-wheel drive vehicle inside the National Park or join a safari tour and visit with an experienced wildlife guide in an open safari vehicle. Once inside the Game Reserve, you leave the car at your own risk. The animals are wild and can be dangerous. 

A very special way to see the Pilanesberg National Park is from the air. Hot air balloon safaris take off in the early morning and you can watch a spectacular sunrise as you float over the park spotting, giraffes, elephants and hippos in the lake. The Pilanesberg National Park is a great choice for a wildlife safari holiday in South Africa.   

Pilanesberg National Park is one of the best places to visit in
Hot Air Balloons over Pilanesberg National Park. Photo by Muy Linda Travels.


Stellenbosch is a picturesque town in the Western Cape province of South Africa, known for its world-class wine estates and Cape Dutch architecture. It is a must-visit destination for any wine enthusiast or traveler seeking a taste of South Africa’s rich history and culture.

The town of Stellenbosch is located just 50 km from Cape Town and is surrounded by majestic mountains and fertile vineyards. The town itself is home to numerous restaurants, cafes, and boutique shops, making it the perfect destination for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

One of the main draws of Stellenbosch is its wine estates, many of which have been in operation for centuries. Visitors can take tours of the estates and sample some of the finest wines produced in South Africa, including Chenin Blanc, Pinotage, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the most popular estates include Spier, Rustenberg, and Delheim.

In addition to wine tasting, visitors can explore the town’s rich cultural heritage through its numerous museums and galleries. The Stellenbosch Museum is a great place to start, offering a fascinating insight into the town’s history and development over the years. The Rupert Museum is another must-visit destination, showcasing an impressive collection of South African art.

For those seeking outdoor adventures, Stellenbosch offers a range of activities, including hiking and mountain biking in the nearby mountains, or golfing at one of the town’s many world-class golf courses.

Overall, visiting Stellenbosch is a must-do for anyone traveling to South Africa. The combination of world-class wine, rich culture, and stunning natural beauty makes it a destination that truly has something for everyone.

Stellenbosch is one of the best places to visit in South Africa
The views of Stellenbosch, South Africa. Photo by The Directionally Challenged Traveler.

Table Mountain, Cape Town

Table Mountain is one of the most iconic landmarks in Cape Town, South Africa, and is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the region. The mountain is a flat-topped peak that rises more than 1,000 meters above sea level, offering panoramic views of the city and the surrounding coastline.

There are several ways to reach the summit of Table Mountain, but the most popular is via the cable car. The cable car ride takes visitors to the top in just a few minutes, offering stunning views along the way. Alternatively, visitors can hike to the top via one of several trails that wind up the mountain.

Once at the summit, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the city and the ocean. There are also several walking trails that offer different perspectives of the mountain and its surroundings, as well as a range of restaurants and cafes where visitors can relax and enjoy a meal or drink.

Table Mountain is also home to a diverse range of flora and fauna, with more than 1,400 species of plants and several animal species, including dassies (rock hyrax), snakes, and birds of prey. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn more about the mountain’s natural history and ecology.

Overall, a visit to Table Mountain is a must for anyone visiting Cape Town. Whether taking the cable car or hiking to the summit, the stunning views and diverse natural surroundings make it a memorable and unique experience that should not be missed.

Table Mountain is one of the best places to visit in South Africa
Table Mountain and Cape Town.

Train ride from Johannesburg to Cape Town

What better and more relaxing way to see a cross-section of South Africa than by train? The line from Cape Town to Johannesburg is a 26-hour journey through a variety of landscapes. Starting your journey in Cape Town is the more picturesque direction, as you will pass through the lush green valleys and vineyards, backdropped by often snow-capped hills, during the day, whereas the other direction, the train enters this territory in the dark. Several hours after leaving Cape Town, you enter a tunnel. You emerge thirteen minutes later into a completely different, arid landscape. You feel as though you’ve stepped into a sci-fi transporter beam, the difference between the two ends of the tunnel is so dramatic as you begin ascending to the highveld, where Johannesburg lies at 5,700 feet above sea level. Choose from three classes of train: the Blue Train if you have a very hefty pocketful of cash to lay down for 26 hours of opulence; the long-distance passenger train to travel on a budget; or the Premier Class for a very comfortable but still affordable (“budget-luxury”) trip that includes your own private sleeping cabin (with turn-down service), plus lounge and restaurant cars. Passengers on this train make dinner reservations to ensure all receive a quality meal, and all meals, including high tea, are included in the train ticket price. The trains can often be delayed, so it is best not to schedule your next activity too close to the estimated arrival time.   

Taking the train from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa
Taking the train from Johannesburg to Cape Town, South Africa. Photo by SKJ Travel.

Read More about South Africa

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Best Destinations to Visit in Africa

Spotting the Big 5 Safari Animals in Africa

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Best Places to Visit in South Africa
Best Places to Visit in South Africa
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9 thoughts on “20 Best Places to Visit in South Africa”

  1. Penguins are going to have to be my number one pick, closely followed by some National Park visits. so many cool animals to see – that plus the sharks. And I’m going to have to ask, but “stand on an ostrich egg”?? I had no idea they were that strong. South Africa looks incredible, definitely enough to keep anyone busy for a while

  2. Such a fabulous list of places to explore.
    South Africa has long been on my list and I’ve even made some preliminary plans but now from this list I have even more to add to it.
    I think I’ll need a month in SA to see all I want to see!
    The Cape Agulhas where the two oceans meet is defo one place I want to visit and Stellenbosch is also there after a friend told me all about that area.
    Great info here – I only know of the Blue train between CT and Jo ‘burg so am interested in finding out about the two other train services you mention.
    I’m bookmarking this post to help me plan a wonderful time in SA.

  3. So many amazing places to see in South Africa. The wildlife is particularly interesting – a safari at Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park, Pilanesberg National Park or Kruger Park (or all three!) would be fantastic. Love that shot of the gorgeous leopard. We’d also really like to swim with sharks and watch penguins. A road trip along the Garden Route really appeals as well, Knysna and Oudtshoorn look like charming places to visit. Great post!

  4. so many great places. Africa is number 2 on my bucketlist but specifically a safari at Kruger. I’d also love to see the sharks but I have to pass on swimming with them lol. a pass on bungee jumping as well, but I’d love to see the penguins and all the beautiful beaches.

  5. Deirdre Jenkins

    I plan on visiting South Africa next year, so thanks for all the recommendations. It will make planning easier!

  6. For historical reasons, being Portuguese, and having been the Portuguese firsts to cross the Cape of Good Hope, I am very curious about South Africa.
    I guess it’s an extraordinary country, with enormous cultural diversity and rich biodiversity.
    Whenever I see photos or read posts, I am dazzled by the landscapes. This article just reiterated my desire to visit the country.
    Excellent tips, very detailed with suggestions of activities for all tastes.

  7. Betty Bay is giving me some serious Jurassic Park/Hawaii vibes. Would love to see this in real one day. The National Parks look great too, from your list I would be intrigued by Pilanesberg. Other than that I’m a bit wary of safety issues in South Africa and would need to do some more research if its safe to travel solo there.

    Carolin | Solo Travel Story

  8. I have family living in South Africa and you have compiled a great list of places to visit. Table Mountain has always been eye caching for me but I wasn’t familiar with Oudtshoorn until I read this post! The Gold mines would be nice to visit too but I would struggle with the compact spaces sadly. Thanks for putting this together. I will certainly use this article if I ever book a ticket to South Africa!

  9. This is really inspiring me to revisit South Africa. I really want to see the penguins at Boulder’s Beach. I love the idea of visiting two oceans at once at Cape Agulhas, too. And I think I’d love Cape Town more than i did Jo-burg. Thanks for the ideas!

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